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Fairbanks Winter Tourists Keep Talkeetna Man Flying High

Japanese tourists visiting Fairbanks, Alaska, provide pilot and owner of Talkeetna Aero Services, Eric Denkewalter, the majority of his business. Piloting a Piper Chieftain twin-engine airplane, Denkewalter shows the vast expanses of the Alaskan frontier and the peaks of Mount McKinley to excited clients. Among the more interesting daylight views is the fata morgana, an optical illusion created when alternating warm and cold layers of air bend and shift light rays. "It's a type of mirage caused by temperature inversions," says Denkewalter. "When you go from 20 below zero to zero and up, the mountains rise up like palisades and there are moving things on top that look like flying saucers." Though the business thrives during the winter months, Denkewalter is considering expanding tours of Mount McKinley into the summer.

March 11, 2009

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