Vanessa Nelson – New Floatplane Pilot!

J-3 Cub pilot and owner Vanessa Nelson is one very happy lady. She, and several of her best buds, just returned from a floatplane course in Talkeetna, Alaska, where she earned her Airplane Single Engine Sea (ASES) rating. ‘Congratulations!’ and a big ‘thank you’ to Vanessa for submitting her story and some great pictures.

Brooke Roman, CFI and Vanessa Nelson, newly minted ASES.

I went back again this year to Alaska Floats & Skis, where they have a whole fleet of “shortwing” Pipers: Piper Pacers (PA-20/22’s) on floats and/or skis, depending on the season. Last year, in May, I took the skiplane course with Don Lee and learned to land on glaciers, as the very first recipient of the Northwest Section Scholarship from the 99’s. This time I brought along my husband and some of our friends, and took the floatplane course with Brooke Roman, CFI, who is another LLT’er. I had flown with her on floats one time last year to get just a taste of float flying, but came back this year to complete the full ASES. I passed my checkride June 30, 2017.

CFI and Alaska Floats & Skis owner Don Lee, my husband Shannon Nelson, and me, in a Pacer on tundra tires flying up Ruth Glacier on Denali.

My little group had a blast! It consisted of my husband, (who is not a licensed pilot and has only had a handful of flying lessons to be sure he could land in case there was a problem), three male pilot friends, and two of their wives who like to ride along. Out of our group of 7 people, three of us earned our float ratings and one, who already had his float rating, took the bush plane course.

Our whole group, out for a meal in the town of Talkeetna. L to R: Bob Robertson, Curt Jutzi, Mary Jutzi, Judith Arnell, Charles Arnell, me (Vanessa), and my husband Shannon Nelson.

Everyone in our group got up in the air at least once, as the two non-pilot wives went up on a sightseeing flight, one of them rode along with her husband on a bush flight or two, and my husband came with me on a bush flight with Don after I passed my ASES check ride.

The ice was spectacular viewed from the air.

Bob, Curt, and I took the floatplane course and passed our ASES checkrides. Charles already had his float rating and took the bushplane course. Everybody had fun!

Click any image for slide-show view.

“I’ll definitely be back again.”

Vanessa Nelson
Oregon (J-3 Cub based at Twin Oaks Airpark, 7S3)


Alaska Floats & Skis was featured on Alaska Wing Men on the National Geographic Channel. Check out this YouTube video excerpt featuring Don Lee.