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“Too Awesome for Words!” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Family Air Tours

Family Air Tours
1249 Tongass Ave, Ketchikan, AK 99901
(907) 247-1305
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Certificate of Excellence 2014
Attraction details
Carrollton, Texas
Top Contributor
226 reviews 226 reviews
77 attraction reviews
Reviews in 82 cities Reviews in 82 cities
92 helpful votes 92 helpful votes
“Too Awesome for Words!”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed August 1, 2012

This was the best excursion ever! Dave flew my dad and I to Anan Bear Observatory. We walked the half mile to see the bears feed on salmon. There were 7 black bears there that day. Dave was very personable and fun to chat with during the flight. As he did not have another flight scheduled, he waited for us to come back from the observatory and was there to get us back to the cruise ship in plenty of time! Dave and Gretchen were just awesome and it was the best part of our cruise. Absolutely book with Dave - even if you can't get to Anan due to permit control, you can still see the Misty Fjords and other sights. It was so much fun!

Visited July 2012
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55 reviews from our community

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Date | Rating
  • English first
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English first
Corpus Christi, Texas
Senior Reviewer
7 reviews 7 reviews
5 attraction reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
2 helpful votes 2 helpful votes
“Fly with Dave!!”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 23, 2012

We booked with Dave and Family Air a few months before we arrived there to fly to Manzanita Lake for 4 days. He had gear there that we got to rent at a better price than other local outfitters. The flight in was fun and beautiful, The lake stay in the cabin was great (but bring a air mattress, foam pads don't cut it!). We had a great time and will do it again. Thanks Dave for your help.

Visited July 2012
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Slidell, Louisiana
Senior Contributor
31 reviews 31 reviews
8 attraction reviews
Reviews in 23 cities Reviews in 23 cities
45 helpful votes 45 helpful votes
“great flightseeing tour”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 12, 2012

My wife and I were booked on the Misty Fjord-Glacier tour with Dave on 6/23/12. We selected Dave and Family Air because he is the only flightseeing company that would book a glacier flight for only 2 people. The other companies require a minimum of 4 people. Gretchen picked us up in front of our cruise ship dock. She was very friendly. It was a sunny day in Ketchikan, but that was causing turbulence. Dave said that the flight over the glaciers might be very turbulent, but still safe for flying. Dave said it would be our choice if we wanted to proceed with that portion of the tour, and he would credit our credit card for this portion of the tour if we chose not to proceed. This was our first experience on a seaplane, and we loved the experience. My wife could have done without the turbulence, but Dave has no control over the weather. Even with the turbulence, she did not experience any airsickness and still enjoyed the flight. We decided to not do the glacier tour. The Misty Fjord tour was great. The scenery was very pretty. It was a cool experience flying into a fjord. My wife likes waterfalls and we saw plenty of these. Dave is very personable and gave great commentary on Kethikan, the island, and the fjords. The turbulence prevented us from landing on the lake and going ashore. He did do a water landing near a friend's boat. They had just caught a 50 lb fish. It would have been great to land in the lake and walk on shore, but standing on the pontoons in Misty Fjords was a good consolation. We enjoyed the trip and I wouid like to return to Ketchikan on a cloudy (hopefully not rainy) day to fly over the glacier on Dave's plane.

Visited June 2012
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North Apollo, Pennsylvania
17 reviews 17 reviews
8 attraction reviews
Reviews in 13 cities Reviews in 13 cities
7 helpful votes 7 helpful votes
“One word..."WOW!"”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed June 26, 2012

Had an awesome time with Dave flying over one of the most spectacular places I have ever seen! Dave has such a great personality and was a great pilot and guide. This tour was definitely one of the highlights on our Alaskan cruise and my husband & I would recommend Family Air to anyone who wants to go exploring the skies of Misty Fjord and see amazing scenery and even bears! Let me just say this...when we go back on our next trip, we will be booking another outing with Dave!

Visited June 2012
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Miami, Florida
Senior Contributor
40 reviews 40 reviews
36 attraction reviews
Reviews in 22 cities Reviews in 22 cities
69 helpful votes 69 helpful votes
“Best day and highlight of our entire Alaskan vacation”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed January 12, 2012

Pros: Most amazing wildlife sightings of my life, Dave (the owner) goes above and beyond for his customers. Read the last paragraph for photography advice.

Cons: We got slightly queasy on the float plane ride over, there is no guide to the platform

Recommend?: Absolutely!!

Tips: Bring long and short lens, wear rain pants, waterproof jacket/shoes, sign up for the photo blind as soon as you get there, don’t bring ANY food products (even gum, nothing!), probably wouldn’t recommend this for small children. Use the bathroom at the beginning of the trail, if you need to use the one by the platform you may very well get stuck when a bear sets up shop right outside (we saw it happen twice).

This WAS the highlight of our trip, which is good since we planned the entire Alaskan vacation around this one excursion. We chose to cruise in July, because that is when Anan Creek is at its height. In August there are other options (Traitors Cove I believe?) but my research indicated Anan Creek was the best of the best.

The cruise ships do not offer excursions to Anan Creek and instead take passengers to Neets Bay (I think is what it was called). On the day of our excursion we heard that the cruise ship excursion had not seen a single, solitary bear.

To get to Anan Creek from Ketchikan and back in one day, you must take a float plane. We went with Family Air Tour (owned by Dave Rocke). Because this was such an expensive excursion, we made the mistake of waiting a bit longer than we should have to book it, and booked it after everything else. I called 3-4 months in advance of our trip to book it, and there were no more permits available for that day. Aaaahhhhh!

Remember the part about our whole trip being based around this one excursion? So lucky for us, Dave was amazing and actually called around to other tour companies and secured two permits for us *whew*

On the day of our excursion, Family Air picked us up just outside of the cruise ship terminal. It was raining (as usual in Ketchikan). I had rain pants, and both my mom and I had rainproof jackets. Dave told my mom she would be miserable all day once her jeans got wet, so he actually loaned her a pair of rain pants at no extra charge. We loaded up the plane and were off. I thought I had read that there were NO bags of any sort allowed on the plane (guess that was just the helicopter ride I took) and found out that I was wrong. Dave would have been fine with a small bag.

I brought both my DSLRs, plus my 24-105 lens and my 100-400 lens. I also brought a flash, that I found out from Dave I couldn’t use, so I left it in the plane. Dave didn’t have any issue about how heavy everything was, which was good. The plane ride over was a little rough and my mom and I got a little queasy.

Once we got there Dave pulled right up to the beach and helped us off. I had no issues, but someone with mobility problems might have had a difficult time. Then we got a safety briefing from the rangers and we were off…on our own. It’s about a ¾ mile walk on an uneven trail. The larger groups had escorts who carried pepper spray and guns with non-lethal rubber bullets. We had…the two of us. The rangers did tell us what do if we saw a bear…and yeah, we saw a bear. I came around one of the blind curves they tell you about and there was a black bear about 10 feet away from me. I did as the rangers instructed and it continued towards me for a few steps, then exited the trail to the right. That was a close one friends. My mom really wanted to turn around, but I talked her into continuing. We had another close encounter of the bear kind about 50 yards later, and then finally arrived safely at the platform.

Once at the platform it was the most incredible wildlife experience of my life. There are bears EVERYWHERE!! Everywhere you look are black bears, and we had one grizzly that was a particularly amazing hunter, and beautiful bald eagles. If you like wildlife viewing, I cannot possibly recommend this tour highly enough.

Once our time was up we made it back to the beach, we latched onto a larger group leaving (with one of the armed-ish guides). Dave waits for you in his plane while you’re doing the bear viewing. The ride back was a bit smoother, and then they dropped us off at the cruise terminal. So remember that flash I couldn’t use, that I left in Dave’s plane? Yeah, it was still there. I called Dave, but there wasn’t enough time to get it before the cruise ship left. I gave Dave my address and credit card and asked that he ship it to me. Dave ended up shipping it home to the next day at his own cost. That was so nice of him since it was my bonehead self that left it on the plane.

For photographers: I primarily used my 1 D Mark III with a 100-400 lens. I didn’t need any telelconverter with that lens. When you get there, immediately sign up for the photography blind, it gets full fast. They allow five people at a time in the blind. When our turn for the blind came up, we walked down a staircase and entered the photography blind that is almost on level with the water. The people in the time slot before us did not want to leave and I did have to get a bit forceful (verbally) and tell them that they needed to leave, there wasn’t enough room for everyone. I only had my 100-400 and the Grizzly was RIGHT THERE and I had too much lens : ( I made do and got some good shots, but I wish I had my shorter lens. I had brought it with me, but didn’t want to leave “the action” by running up to grab another lens. When you go the hide, bring everything with you. When we first arrived the platform was packed and getting some shots was a bit difficult (even more so for those with tripods, which I did not have). However about 45 minutes later it started to rain and ¾ of the people hid under the roofed structure. I threw a rain sleeve over my camera and continued on with everyone else in my way. It was great.

Visited July 2011
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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