RAF Alaska Liaison Jeff DeFreest and his wife Kari – who serves as an RAF VP of Appreciation – have the privilege of accessing many of Southeast Alaska’s US Forest Service lakefront cabins available for rent. They are enthusiastic about promoting and preserving the experience for others who wish to visit the Alaskan wilderness and stay warm, dry and secure for a few dollars a night.
DeFreests are sharing some resources beginning with the November-December issue of Water Flying. On page 5, you’ll find the article on these facilities, and a comprehensive website of 122 of the cabins. Originally researched and created by Montana RAF supporter and pilot Tom Bass in his straight-float Cessna 180, pilot Bill Rusk called the directory “an incredible resource,” and was concerned about its future when Mr. Bass retired from flying. The online directory is now managed by the Seaplane Foundation, sponsored in part by the Seaplane Pilots Association, and is administered by Mr. Rusk.
DeFreest is concerned that Alaska’s fly-in lake cabins are threatened with decommissioning due to lack of use. He points out that the USFS tracks cabin utilization based on reservations made through the Recreation.gov website or mobile app.
“Awareness and recognition of the cabin system should bolster utilization, and in turn the Forest Service will keep them up,” DeFreest said. He urges pilots to explore the remarkable opportunities to enjoy Alaska, and book accordingly. It is not necessary that you own and fly a seaplane. Water Flying points out that there are other ways to access these gems.
“The RAF has been great to agree to help with the cabins and their utilization. They are an incredible resource and the floatplane equivalent of backcountry airstrips. They are the epitome of ‘recreational aviation,’” Mr. Rusk added.
Submitted January 30, 2024
By Carmine Mowbray