Take a look at Aileron's Top 10 incredible destinations around the world where pilots can fly by light aircraft in the most stunning, exciting and sometimes challenging conditions around.
The sheer excitement and pleasure of flying is about being able to choose where you go, who you go with and how you arrive. As winter creeps in and you’re dreaming of your next holiday, you might find some inspiration in the unique opportunities a flying holiday can offer, either as pilot or passenger.
1. Rainbow Bay, Alaska
Situated on the largest lake in Alaska, Iliamna Lake, Rainbow Bay is so remote there is no fixed address and it is only accessible by flying into Pedro Bay - a public use airport and the closest major road is180 miles away. Travellers here will witness breathtaking views across the snow-capped Alaska Range on the approach. It’s a fantastic destination for hiking and the lake is popular for fishing.
2. Lady Elliot Island, Australia
If you are in search of crystal clear waters and over 1,200 species of marine life, Lady Elliot Island is the perfect place to put on your flying wish list. You can only reach this picturesque island by chartered aircraft or your own private plane. It’s just 100 square acres in size, meaning you can successfully walk around the whole island in under one hour!
3. The Galápagos Islands, Pacific Ocean
The Galápagos Islands is a UNESCO world heritage centre, a volcanic archipelago, often called a living museum because they are considered one of the world's foremost havens for wildlife lovers. The Islands are a province of Ecuador but still 1000km from the Ecuadorian coast, and only two of the remote 127 islands have airports - Baltra and San Christobal. On the approach, you can keep a lookout for legendary wildlife inhabiting the islands such as giant tortoises and yellow land iguanas.
4. Ittoqqortoormiit, Greenland
Getting to this airport is about as adventurous as pronouncing it! Say it It-oh-kwa-kwaor-tow-mEEt. You can only catch a flight here once or twice a week. However it is well worth the effort if you wish to see the beauty of the Northern Lights or observe incredible wildlife, like polar bears, in their natural habitat. Kayaking, dog sledding and fishing are just some of the variety of other activities you can do in this spectacular location.
5. The Skeleton Coast, Namibia
The ominous named Skeleton Coast in southern Africa is a stunning scene of scattered shipwrecks and skeletons of marine life strewn across stark shores. What makes it more of an extraordinary trip is that only 800 people are allowed to visit the spectacular region each year and this remote location is only accessible by organised safari plane.
6. Saba, The Caribbean
Saba is a small island in the Dutch Antilles in the Caribbean, home to the shortest commercial runway in the world at Juancho E. Yrausquin Airport. Only 1299 feet long, perched on top of this tiny island, the strip is flanked on one side by high hills, with cliffs that drop into the seat at both ends. Jet aircraft can’t land here due to the runway length, however small aircraft like the BN2 Islander and Twin Otter, or helicopters can land here.
7. Nauru, Pacific Ocean
Nauru is the world’s smallest island nation (10,000 inhabitants), and the most unvisited country in the world and accessible most easily by private plane. If you plan your trip carefully, there are miles of untouched white sandy beaches to explore and for history experts, discover the remnants of Japan’s Second World War occupation scattered across the island.
8. Peru, South America
As far as remote flying goes, South America is among the toughest places in the world to be a pilot. Airlines and pilots have to be kings of improvisation. Thousands of tourists take to the air in light aircraft every year to see the spectacular ancient Nazca Lines from sky. There are plenty of light aircraft tour companies that can take you, but as with everything when travelling, if you’re going to fly here ensure you do so with a reputable company that has a track record of safety and reputable maintenance.
9. Okavango Delta, Botswana
This is a popular spot for wealthy safari travellers who want to ‘escape to the bush’ and the area is host to a variety of safari resorts, with some incredibly unique and luxurious ones among them. A unique experience made even more special is by arriving by bush plane. A number of companies in the area operate small Cessnas to these resorts, but travellers should be prepared that geographically they might be susceptible to tropical storms, dust clouds, and strong turbulence along the way.
So there you have it: nine spectacular locations to take a small aircraft. Some might be a challenge, but there’s no denying that flying here offers some of the most exhilarating flying there is to be had, as passenger or pilot. If you have the opportunity to be pilot flying on excursions to any of these impressive destinations, don't forget to log it in your Aileron Pilot logbook.
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