Mike Fell of Pathfinder Aviation, operating out of Homer, Alaska was pleased he had TracMap GPS systems when asked to fertilize the ice road, and also seed and fertilize a 500 acre gold mine.
Mike was familiar with TracMap, as he had been introduced to it by New Zealand pilots when they had assisted him with the innovative and very successful aerial eradication of rats on Rat Island, Aleutian Island Chain, in 2008. So when he was asked to fertilize the tundra the ice road runs on, he again called in New Zealand assistance in the form of pilot David Gale from HeliOtago in Dunedin, New Zealand.
The project involved fertilizing about 12 miles of the tundra the ice road runs on. Because of the compaction created from the road, the ice of the tundra melts a month later than normal, and the resulting 4 week delay in summer growth was having a cumulative negative impact on the native tundra.
Mike reports that the project has been so successful that he has already been booked to do a far larger distance next year.
While David was in Alaska he also flew an operation to seed and fertiliser ground reinstatement of 500 acres of a gold mine 30 miles north of Fairbanks. "I don't know how we would have done it without TracMap" said Mike. "While the road was quite straightforward, the mine work was such a convoluted shape trying to fly it without the TracMap GPS would have been impossible".
The photo shows New Zealand pilot David Gale in action over the ice road, and hovering while refilling the spreading bucket.
To find out more about Pathfinder Aviation, click here.
The 2008 project to eliminate rats on the aptly named Rat Island and smaller surrounding islands at the end of the Aleutian Islands chain was the largest aerial pest eradication project ever undertaken in North America. Organized as a joint project by Island Conservation Inc., the Nature Conservancy and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, it proved very successful, and has resulted in a dramatic recovery of birdlife on the islands.
The photo at right shows TracMap in use midway through the aerial program on Rat Island. Find out more about this project by clicking here.