Tim Pope earned his pilot’s license after seeing Alaska from the air and relishing the view. He’s been sharing that view with others for three decades. Tim lives on the Kenai Peninsula, and realized the potential for flying visitors just across Cook Inlet to some of the best bear viewing spots in the world.
His business combines these bear viewing excursions, along with flying supplies to high-end backcountry lodges, and taking hunters and fishermen out to remote locations.
Q. What do you do?
I am an Alaska bush pilot.
Q. What’s unique about what you’ve created?
We are unique because we do everything, and don’t just focus on one type of trip. We haul freight, take guests to their summer fish camps, bear view, flight see, take lodges their groceries and supplies, and run charters to Montague Island. Our days are filled with variety.
Q. What life experiences led you to where you are today?
Since I was a little boy I've dreamed of flying. My dad took me up in his little plane, and then a friend took me up here in Alaska. There is nothing I would rather do than show visitors the best of Alaska, here in Alaska's playground.
Q. What makes Alaska special for you?
I love the people that live here and I love the good folks that come visit. The beauty and freedom here is better than anywhere else in the world. (If there were a better place in the world, I'd be there!)
Q. What are your favorite places and/or experiences in Alaska? What have you learned from them?
Southcentral Alaska is the best playground in the state. There’s all this cool stuff right here within a short distance: from the best skiing in Girdwood, to snowmachining, hiking, and camping. In a half-hour flight you can get to the best fishing and bear viewing. You can see Denali on a clear day. Harding ice field is nearby. There’s the right amount of people. It’s just so perfect all the way around.
I also loved family trips when we would fly out to ice fish on a lake at a remote cabin. Whether we caught something or not, it didn’t matter. Sometimes it was bitter cold. But the smiles on the kids’ faces when they hold up a little bitty fish, those are wonderful family memories.
Every bear viewing trip is always great, too. Wild animals are sometimes as curious about us as we are about them, and generally give us our space.
Q. Tell us a favorite story from an Alaska trip.
Eight of us were on a bear viewing tour, walking to see if there were any bears in a nearby meadow. We turned around and two bears were nonchalantly following us down the trail.
We stepped off the trail and they simply walked right by us, as if we were just a neutral part of their environment.
Q. How does the Alaskan wilderness make you feel?
When I take visitors on a flight, their enjoyment at seeing Alaska is inspiring. I still remember feeling that way the first time, when a friend took me in his plane to check out a glacier.
It’s hard to describe the feeling of flying in Alaska. You hear it described as “freedom” a lot. I’m so used to going up and being able to see everything. You forget about other problems in the world. Everything kind goes away as you look at creation.
The Alaska Wilderness magically makes you feel closer to God, and closer to loved ones. Alaska gives you a romantic sort of feeling toward the land…it’s a feeling of love.
Q. What inspired you to go into the Alaska tourism industry? What feeling or memory or change would you like your visitors to leave with?
I love tourists, who are generally so enthusiastic and friendly. I love hearing their stories from all over the world.
I'd love to be the one that helped them fall in love with creation and its beauty, which may be an introduction to the Creator.
Q. Alaska.org’s mission is to show visitors a more authentic Alaska experience. What are those qualities?
When we show visitors the beauty of a glacier, or animals, or historic culture, it’s an experience that takes them back to the basics of life. It shows what is really important. That’s the Real Alaska.
How does it change an Alaska vacation?
If I go to Disneyland, I know what to expect. In Alaska, most visitors are surprised when they experience an emotional attachment to the beauty and uniqueness of the state. Many would love to make this home if they could.
Q. What are 3 words that sum up what Alaska means to you?
Heaven On Earth