Excerpt from “Alaska Highway Flight Log” – Chapter: “Talkeetna And Homage To The High One”

Published May 22, 2017

Don Sheldon’s Town

It was Monday morning and we had planned to fly to the bush pilot center of Talkeetna, about two hundred miles distant. Along the way we hoped to snap photos of Denali, North America’s highest peak at 20,320 feet.(33) But our mechanic Todd Murray told us the tailwheel rebuild had been delayed by the late arrival of parts. He hoped to finish it by Wednesday, he said. We passed the news along to Will and Debbie and they offered one of their HughesNet company vans for the journey. Cooler weather was forecast so they gave us HughesNet winter installer jackets with company logos and company baseball caps. For the next couple of days we would be the HughesNet Satellite guys.

The land route to Talkeetna is Alaska Highway 3, the Parks Highway, which connects Fairbanks and Anchorage, about 355 miles away. We were on the road only about ten minutes when a problem wafted up from the floorboards: The van had an odor problem. The Johnsons have two older dogs and one is incontinent. We cleaned out some dog poop on an earlier run in town but the odor remained. The only thing we had to counter the foul air was a can of Dr. Scholl’s foot spray and I applied some to the back interior of the truck. That seemed to help. We could pick up something more powerful down the road, we decided.


(33) The name comes from the native people’s word Deenaalee, or The High One.
It was originally named Mount McKinley by locals at the end of the 19th century
and became the official name in 1917, honoring President William McKinley who
was assassinated in 1901. The Alaska legislature petitioned the U.S. government
in 1975 to change the name back to Denali and in 2015 President Barack Obama
announced the name change while on a visit to the state.