Tok Air Service

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as.ks.ak

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Whip

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I just returned from a hunt with 40 Mile Air. There was plenty of chatter among other hunters (not employees) about Tok Air and Zach. None of what I heard was good. The guy sounds like a jerk off.
 

Terrence M

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Mar 2, 2020
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I can’t say I’ve heard many good things from locals about his service. My only interaction with him was at a landing strip where he was trying to ask my dad where we had been dropped off for our hunt. As for the helicopter deal it sounds like just a bad situation that wasn’t something that’s his fault at all.
 

elkguy

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I was considering using his service last year: however, after a bit of research, it painted a pretty good picture of what kind of guy he is. This validates those findings.
 

Kevin Dill

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No comment on the actual incident.

I have this rule I adhere to: It's bad practice to fly with any pilot who is generally disliked by other pilots....especially if it's a character thing. Mutual respect is important in their profession. I won't be in the skies with someone who cuts corners, is angry or defiant, is confrontational, arrogant or self-important. If they want to wear a black hat, let them ride a horse.
 

Wrench

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I'm trying to contact one of my old coworkers who's a Toker his whole life.....he'll have the skinny. Life in Tok is pretty western compared to America. Stop by the bears den and ask about rifle contests where the losers have to eat a cat turd....
 

AKBorn

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I'm trying to contact one of my old coworkers who's a Toker his whole life.....he'll have the skinny. Life in Tok is pretty western compared to America. Stop by the bears den and ask about rifle contests where the losers have to eat a cat turd....

Takes a different kind of person to live long-term in Tok, it gets COOOLD there in the winter...
 

Wildwillalaska

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Kenai, Alaska
Saddens me to read this. I’ve flown with both 40-Mile and Zach at Tok air. Had nothing but positive experiences with both. Zach has quite a bit of repeat business, which I think speaks highly of his service. I do know he works hard to maintain his strips and due to pressure and shenanigans likes to try to keep them as secret as possible since they are not private. He wants people to sign confidentiality agreement for location and camp minimum distances from the strips so they are not obvious to others. Makes sense when he goes through the initial landing risks and improvement labor, but certainly don’t think anyone should be prevented from taking off or harassed. If landing to say howdy and ask how they happened upon it, different story. Guess the facts and video will tell. I’ll throw it out there that I do personally like Zach. he went above and beyond on our 2018 sheep hunt to ensure late pickup and comfort during the shuffle into the mix where folks who it was their scheduled departure and had other flights to make rightfully took precedent.

On the heli ride terms, think that is simply more of information and notice to the clients. Unfortunately two of my buds just got a big bright orange helo ride today off the north slope and back to Kota after weather had them pinned an extra week. After a couple days of no food and the tent finally shredded in the 50+ mph winds, blowing snow, and temps in the teens, coast guard picked them up. They are hoping to make it back on Monday to retrieve all their caribou, camp, gear, rifles. Makes sense, CG grabs folks, saves lives, ain’t fn around with imploded camp, meat or armed individuals in a helo.

He was giving me grief as I flew in the day before about having the wife’s puffy pants with me. Wore the hell out of them too. Had horrid weather, worst out of all the years I’ve hunted Kotz, but after hearing back from them, no more complaining. And these weren’t unprepared newbies, it was like their 12th or 13th fall Kota hunt, both are salty gents from southeast, my main bud is a wildland surveyor and spends most of his time in the wilderness for extended periods, so when they said it was bad and needed help, it must have been absolutely horrible, or at least out of beer.

Hope the fellow members still had a great hunt and found success.
 

Wildwillalaska

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I'm in no way inferring any members or Zach engaged in shenanigans. I have zero knowledge, first, second, or third-hand of what went down there. I was simply saying from my use of his services in the past he works hard to try and keep the specific strip where he lands secret, so they don't get marked and advertised or torn up or whatever. Have heard of strips getting destroyed requiring hard touch downs to repair--not saying here or even in the Wrangells--but that neck of the woods is not the only place that has has historically experienced competing pressure from the sky. My perspective is if its public land, then belongs to all of us, and we can all use, period.

I have no dog in this fight and certainly not enough information to say anyone engaged in shenanigans or wrongdoing. Wasn't there and don't know. I just hate seeing these events happen at all and certainly hated to see Zach was the one accused of being at fault since my experiences with him had been nothing but positive.
 

Kevin Dill

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Pretty good commentary so far. I'll keep my comments away from the actual incident, or who is at fault. I will say this:

I'm well aware that pilots work hard to maintain their airstrips and often many of them. Airstrips do grow up with vegetation, or experience erosion/debris from high water events. Maintenance is part of the deal if a pilot is going to land somewhere year after year. It's an obvious issue if someone (else) occupies the airstrip with hunters, even though it's public land. The honor system should apply, but it often gets tossed in favor of making money. Imagine yourself spending lots of time and money to prepare for your hunters, only to have someone jump in and use your hard work to make money for themselves. It's asking for trouble.

That said, it's an occupational risk for pilots using public land. I've seen pilots put up dummy camps and do other things to protect 'their' locations, especially in areas of higher air traffic. All it seems to take are 2 pilots with conflicting methods to compete...suddenly you've got hard feelings, attitudes and mutual insults. The table is completely set to have a feast of troubles.

No matter how any of this plays out, it's not good. Who wants to be in the middle of angry conflict somewhere in the bush....an airplane wanting to land or depart....hunters caught in the middle....firearms around? Pilots need to do everything possible to AVOID each other and keep distance. Without doubt, a pilot who deliberately cuts in line to use a strip (he knows other pilots are using and maintaining) needs taken to task for that. But it's also a good possibility that a given pilot sees (or knows of) an airstrip which has existed for many years and is considered to be a 'first-to-land' location. He gets there first and that's the unwritten rule.

When you run a business on public land, you need to understand you're going to have a chance of people being in there. Like it or not, you're going to be sharing it. You don't have the right to interfere with their lawful presence and activities, even if you know they willingly made every effort to beat you at your own game.
 

NUGGET

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he works hard to try and keep the specific strip where he lands secret

:LOL:

You can't beat the entertainment on these websites.

Funny story from last weekend. Took the kiddo's out caribou hunting and while we were packing my daughter said " I hope that Zach doesn't come and block our parking spot". She's pretty sharp for a 7 year old.
 
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NUGGET

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I've seen pilots put up dummy camps and do other things to protect 'their' locations, especially in areas of higher air traffic
Which is illegal in the SOA if you are a transporter. Yet is relevant to this thread....
 
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gbflyer

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Feb 20, 2017
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On the forest in SE it’s also illegal to improve a strip. Perhaps different in the interior. Operated fly in fishing for years here. More than once boat guides tried to block landing areas. Usually just moved over 5 feet and landed anyway, haha.
 

Dexter Grayson

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Feb 13, 2017
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Kenai, Alaska
I’ll reiterate what Will said. In my personal experiences with Zack his hospitality and professionalism has been top notch. Excellent pilot and zero shenanigans. I hate to see this type stuff happen.

Also, there’s always three sides to every story.
 

NUGGET

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Oct 7, 2019
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I’ll reiterate what Will said. In my personal experiences with Zack his hospitality and professionalism has been top notch. Excellent pilot and zero shenanigans. I hate to see this type stuff happen.

Also, there’s always three sides to every story.
Yeah three sides to a story. The one side received citations. That right there shows quite a bit of character of the one side.

I watched while that same side called the other transporter c********’s and actually grab one of the pilots.

Of course Zach will be professional to clients. You’re giving him money. Duh. It’s how you handle yourself around others that makes you a professional.

But hey if blocking strips and calling people names Is your definition of professional then have at it.
 

mwestvang

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Nov 12, 2012
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I've been flying out of Tok for many years, This individual has many stories of stolen waypoints, using strips of others etc. I know with his rep in the community of bush pilots, I will not fly with him. One year he dropped moose hunters off one ridge over from a camp so they sat there looking at each other.
 

NUGGET

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Oct 7, 2019
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I've been flying out of Tok for many years, This individual has many stories of stolen waypoints, using strips of others etc. I know with his rep in the community of bush pilots, I will not fly with him. One year he dropped moose hunters off one ridge over from a camp so they sat there looking at each other.
What? No way! If you talk to him he's out there pioneering all those strips. it's a lot of hard work making all those strips. That's why he's in such great shape....oh wait. Anyways nothing like landing on your former employer's strips and walking down the ridge to make a new strip. "pioneering" new strips where no ones been and areas that haven't been hunted! Yet there's conflict every year with him. It MUST be the other guys. Yeah thats right! The other guys!

FWIW I heard he also arm wrestled jesus and beat him 2 out of 3 times. Just a rumor though....
 
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