Snugly fit between the Anchorage neighbourhood of Spenard and the city's international airport lies the world's busiest seaplane base: Lake Hood, with adjacent gravel strip. For many people, arriving by airliner, this is their first outside view on Alaskan soil and it is a view to remember. Literally hundreds of floatplanes and light land-planes plus a handful of twins (piston and turbine) are moored and parked on the shores and aprons of the Lake Hood area. The circuits are buzzing with traffic and all of this takes place just half a mile from the main airport's runways. Air traffic control is therefor provided from the ANC tower.
For those interested in floatplanes and Alaskan general aviation this place is paradise. Whether walking or driving, nearly every spot can be reached and owners usually do not object at all to notes or photos being taken. Lake Hood even features a museum with several aircraft from Alaska's aviation history outside and a lot of info inside.
As the map shows the seaplane base actually consists of two lakes connected by a dual canal and a number of mooring areas. The longest and most used water runway runs east-west through the southern part of the canal, with the northern part acting as a taxiway. Both lakes can be used for taxiing or take-offs and landings. Towards the end of the year the water freezes over and Lake Hood becomes a skiplane base.
Nearly all of the shoreline acts as mooring area and all around the lakes planes are parked on small aprons and in hangars too. Several larger ramps are on the west side and between them runs Lake Hood Taxiway, connecting to the international airport. At Lake Hood, taxiways and roads are integrated with most parts used by planes and cars. Please look for the signs indicating where driving is prohibited, and always yield to aircraft.
You cannot miss Lake Hood. It is within walking distance of the airport terminals and well-accessible by car. Floatplanes are approaching the lakes from every direction so you could even get here by just looking at the sky and following them in...
1Main water runway
The E/W is used a lot and spot 1 is an exciting place to watch the action. The planes race by at just a few meters's distance. There is ample parking space with picknick tables and trash bins to make your stay comfortable. The low fence does not obstruct photography. Even aircraft landing on the strip can often be photographed from here.
This is where you find the Alaska Aviation Museum ('Heritage' was dropped from the name), plus the bases of some interesting operators including the Civil Air Patrol. The latter have a restricted ramp but most of their Beavers and Pipers are parked in public areas when not flying.
The largest aprons for aircraft with dry feet, centered around the intersection of Lake Hood Taxiway and Postmark Drive. A place to wander around and find the odd Norseman, An-2 or a bunch of derelict Commanders among the many more common single reciprocals.
More aprons, hangars and mooring points - with planes everywhere. Have a look but respect the operational needs please.
5Strip & apron
The Lake Hood Strip, with FAA code Z41, is just 670m (2200ft) long and yet some of the STOL bush planes use only a fraction of it to get airborne. Again, the parking lines parallel to it are packed with light singles and the area is freely accessible.
North of the canal, artificial shoreline was created to accomodate the loads of floatplanes. Various air taxi and flight-seeing operators reside in this area, as well as some aircraft dealers including a famous turbo conversion outfit.
7Lake Spenard north
A more quiet part of the shores but with some commercial activity nonetheless. Good for a different view on the flying in the eastern half of the lakes, including action photography in the evening.
8Lake Spenard east
Approach this corner from the junction south of it. Usually difficult for landing or take-off shots except in early morning, but always good for a closer examination of the planes on the shore.
Due to the compactness of the area, even aircraft landing on Lake Hood Strip can often be photographed from the shoreline. (Spot 1, Aad van der Voet)
Close-up action at spot 1 as a Rust's Beaver step-taxis by over water runway E. (Erik Sleutelberg)
|119.100 / 363.200||Anchorage Center|
|Only operators with fleets including aircraft heavier than a Ce206 are listed.|
|Alaska Air Taxi||Ce206/7, DHC-2, DHC-3, PA-31|
|Jim Air||CeU206, PC-12|
|Katmai Air||CeU206, CeT207, DHC-2, DHC-3, PA-31|
|Ketchum Air||CeU206, DHC-2, DHC-3T, J2F-6|
|Newhalen Lodge Flying Service||CeU206, DHC-2|
|Regal Air||CeU206, DHC-2|
|Rust's Flying Service||CeU206, DHC-2, DHC-3T|
|Trail Ridge Air||CeU206, DHC-2|