In the summer of 2015 aviation writer Bill Walker, joined by fellow pilot Albert Finocchiaro, flew from coastal South Carolina to Fairbanks, Alaska, in Walker’s 1956 tailwheel Cessna 172. Flying low and slow up through the American heartland, across Canada and along the famed 1,387-mile Alaska Highway and then back, the two pilots completed a 7,000-mile flying journey of discovery. Walker’s detailed flight notes form the heart of this book, Alaska Highway Flight Log, chronicling a cross-continent journey that is at or near the top of most general aviation pilots’ travel wish lists. The author’s hundreds of feature stories for the national publication General Aviation News have always focused on the human interest aspect of flying, and he does not disappoint in this book, presenting in words and outstanding photographs the entertaining story of an aerial adventure trip to America’s Last Frontier, the great state of Alaska.
The Alaska Highway Flight Log began as a five-part series of articles in General Aviation News in 2016. The articles were written from the author’s comprehensive daily notes taken during the Alaska trip. Reader reaction to the series was highly favorable, leading to an expansion of the stories to this full-length book. Alaska Highway Flight Log is complete with detailed maps, an in-depth log showing the individual legs of the trip and a collection of the best of more than 2,000 digital photos taken during the flying journey.
The original idea for the Alaska Highway Flight Log came 20 years earlier on a driving trip Walker made through Canada and up the Alaska Highway. “It was during my many hours behind the steering wheel on the Alaska Highway in 1995 that I came up with a plan to fly the route,” Walker writes. “The magnificent valleys of the Northern Rockies, through which the Alaska Highway passes, would be even more spectacular from the air, I knew. There were a couple of significant obstacles at the time to making the trip. First, I did not have a pilot’s license and second I did not have a plane. Over the next few years I acquired both and in the summer of 2015 finally made the journey that was two decades in the planning.”
The journey did not disappoint in any way, Walker writes, “The trip to Alaska is one of those ultimate journeys for aviators because it takes most of them completely out of their comfortable environments, not for just a four-hour stint or for four days, but for weeks or longer. We were in the air 74 hours, flying more than 7,000 miles. It was probably the longest flying trip I will ever undertake and perhaps the best I will ever fly, although I hope there is even better to come.”