Alaska Wild in a Cessna 185

Get a stunning look at the remote terrain of Alaska's Brooks Range.

George and Charlie Mendes took off in two Cessna 185 taildraggers for the Brooks Range in Alaska to hunt Dall sheep. (Photos courtesy of George Mandes)
Fireball is a 1962 Cessna 185 that was completely restored 5 years ago after decades of Alaska air taxi use.
George and Charlie follow the Sheenjek River north into the Brooks Range.
George and Astro glass a drainage for sheep not far from where they spotted a lone, black wolf.
George and Charlie look for sheep at their high camp atop the mountain, amidst the clouds.
George turns “base to final” while landing off airport.
After a long day of flying, all are happy to be on the ground.
**Three caribou hardly give a second look to George, Charlie and Astro as they wander the Brooks Range. **
**The trio wakes up to fresh snow and freezing temperatures atop the mountain. **
Almost clear of terrain, George and Charlie exit the Alaska Range.
George and Charlie encountered a sudden increase in groundspeed, then turbulence on the north end of Isabel Pass. Lenticular clouds are visible above and to the west of them.
Fireball sits in the Brooks Range after landing at the sheep hunting strip. The wind was blowing strong enough that George and Charlie were forced to land downhill. Old antlers mark the start of the usable portion of the landing area.
George glasses the high country, up a drainage, for Dall sheep. Fresh snow is visible on the peaks. The tundra is stunningly beautiful here in early fall.
With hunting gear in tow, Charlie stands in the Brooks Range with Fireball and Tigger in the background. Both Cessna 185s feature the Alaska mods that make for good off-airport performance.
George and Charlie fly out of the Alaska Range, just north of Palmer. Soon they were descending into thicker air, clear of the terrain, and on the home stretch back to their destination.
This was the view George and Charlie woke up to one morning — stunning, if you weren’t looking for white sheep.
The trio had a 1,500-foot vertical climb up this rocky spine to get up to the level of the sheep. They worked hard to keep the weight of their gear down to the lightest amount possible, which really helps in terrain like this.
George and Charlie camped out at this convenience store in Circle City. The store owners were nice enough to let them hook their iPads into their satellite internet and make this their home for two nights.
Brooks Range is a mountain range that stretches about 700 miles from western Alaska to Canada's Yukon Territory. To read more, check out the full feature, "Alaska Wild in a Cessna 185" by George Mandes.