Alaska Seaplanes held a cookout for residents of Tenakee Springs on Wednesday to celebrate the operational debut of a new amphibious floatplane.
Having cookouts and giving free rides is a regular occurrence when the company adds a new aircraft to its fleet, said marketing manager Andy Kline.
“We try to do community meetings,” said Kline in an interview. “Doing a road show like this is special for a new plane.”
Representatives from the company flew hot dogs, drinks and cake out to Tenakee, holding a cookout for residents, while offering a chance to go on a flightseeing tour around the town via raffle. Dozens of residents came out on bikes and all-terrain vehicles for a chance of food and a free plane ride.
“Any excuse to get together is a fun thing,” said Tenakee Springs Mayor Dan Kennedy in an interview. “Seaplanes has treated us real well.”
The Cessna 208 Caravan is the newest addition to the Alaska Seaplanes fleet, bringing the company to 15 aircraft, Kline said. In addition to carrying up to nine passengers along with cargo, it’s capable of landing on both runways and in the water.
“It was so awesome to see everyone in Tenakee,” Kline said. “Everyone came out.”
With a ferry terminal that only finished construction several months ago, Kennedy said, the town had had months without a visit from Alaska Marine Highway System vessel. Seaplanes carried cargo and passengers to the small town a few dozen miles south of Juneau. Tenakee Springs is also one of 10 towns that Alaska Seaplanes has a contract with the United States Postal Service to deliver mail to, Kline said.
“The pandemic was an interesting time,” Kline said. “Passengers went down, but mail and cargo went up.”
The new aircraft, which arrived in Juneau in April, will serve Pelican, Angoon and Elfin Cove as well as Tenakee, Kline said. Its amphibious capability will serve it well in those four towns, which do not have runways.“It’s something that’s pretty special, that these communities are connected by seaplanes and ferries,” Kline said. “We’re big fans of the ferry system.”
The only way communities in the Southeast can do well for themselves, and in turn support Alaska Seaplanes’ operations in the region, is if the ferry system can support the residents of the region, Kline said.
“Communities in Southeast Alaska depend on the ferry system to thrive,” Kline said. “We’re proponents of the recent proposal to get more funding for the ferry system.”
The aircraft has entered active service, flying commuter routes to and from Juneau to those communities it serves, Kline said.
• Contact reporter Michael S. Lockett at 757-621-1197 or firstname.lastname@example.org.