Temsco Heliccopters, Inc.

Frequently Asked Questions


General Tour Questions

What is the difference between Juneau & Skagway?

They are separate towns or ports in Southeast Alaska. Juneau is located at the southern end of the Juneau Icefield, while Skagway is at the northern end of the Icefield. They are approximately 90 miles apart, so we do go to different glaciers in each location.  Both towns offer excellent opportunities for flights with TEMSCO Helicopters, whether you want to land on a glacier or go dog sledding.  Please look at your itinerary and tour options to find which location is best for you.

What is the best time to go?

Southeast Alaska is situated in a Coastal Temperate Rainforest.  Predicting the weather from month to month is nearly impossible.  Nonetheless, the beauty of this environment shines through all summer long.  Our days are long, so whether your excursion is in the morning or the afternoon really makes no difference.  The best time of the day is whatever time works best for your schedule.  

What should we wear?

We recommend that you dress in warm layers. Rain gear is a good idea, as Juneau and Skagway are both in the Tongass National Rain Forest.  A hat, gloves, and sunglasses are also recommended. We have lock boxes at each location, in case you don’t need everything.

What gear does TEMSCO supply?

We supply each passenger with glacier boots.  Guests are encouraged to dress in layers and bring rain gear if they have it.

Do guests need special clothing or shoes for the glacier walk?

We encourage guests to dress in layers, and to bring a rain jacket if they have one.  Guests should wear comfortable walking shoes/sneakers; our glacier boots slide over their normal footwear. 

What sizes are available in the glacier boots?

The glacier boots are available in a wide variety of sizes, from XS through XXL. We also have children’s snow boots for very young kids.  The glacier boots are made by Neos and have studs on the bottom for additional traction. However, guests should always watch where they are walking, as the terrain may be uneven.

What is the temperature on the glaciers?

The temperature on the glacier can vary each day and change every hour.  As an average I would guess in the 30’s degree Fahrenheit but it can be warmer or colder, so guests are encouraged to dress in layers.  Just because it is 80 degrees on the dock next to the ship, it does not mean it will also be warm on the glacier. In fact, it can be colder on the glacier, because the glacier cools the air and creates its own wind.

Will we see wildlife?

TEMSCO Helicopters complies with the flightseeing/wildlife viewing practices adopted by the Alaska Travel Industry Association.  These guidelines were established to be sensitive to, and insure, the continued viability of area wildlife.  We do sometimes see a variety of wildlife (mountain goats, eagles, bears, etc…) but we do not sell or advertise it as a wildlife viewing situation. 

FYI, there are no penguins in Alaska.

Is there an age limit/requirement?

A parental consent form is required for all passengers ages 12 to 17 that will be flying on any of our tours unaccompanied by a Parent or Legal Guardian.  Children under the age of 12 are not permitted to fly without a guardian.  Parents/guardians will need to be on the docks prior to departure time if a waiver needs to be signed and TEMSCO must be notified prior, so as to have those waivers dockside.

What are we allowed to bring on the tour?

You are welcome to bring your camera or binoculars, but will have to leave the cases behind.  TEMSCO has a no bag policy. We have lock boxes here where you can lock up your belongings.  This would include but is not limited to back packs, diaper bags, camera & binocular cases, purses, ‘fanny’ packs, etc…

Are you able to accommodate disabled people?

Please refer the “Difficulty-Level” question at the end, for each individual tour.

 

Helicopter Questions

 What type of aircraft do you fly?

Our primary helicopters are AStar 350 Series.  These helicopters are designed for a smooth ride with minimal noise.  They offer a 180 degree panoramic view, giving you a magnificent perspective from any seat.

How many passengers per helicopter?

Our primary helicopters are the AStar 350 series and can carry up to 6 guests and 1 pilot. Seating in the helicopter is based on weight and balance of all the guests in the helicopter.

Can I sit in the front seat? Can I have a window seat?

This request cannot be guaranteed. Seating is done according to weight and balance of all the guests on the flight.

I am pregnant. Can I fly in a helicopter?

This is something that should be discussed prior to your trip with your personal doctor.

What is the temperature inside the aircraft?

Our helicopters have heaters in them. They are kept at a comfortable temperature for everyone on board.  On the glacier, the temperatures can vary quite a bit, so guests are encouraged to dress in layers.

How is the seating arranged in the helicopter? What seat has the best view?

There are normally 2 passengers in the front seat and 4 in the backseat. The views are good from all seats.  Seating is based on weight and balance of all the guests in the helicopter.

Can I talk to the pilot?

Each guest has a headset and has the ability to talk with the pilot; during which, everyone on the helicopter will be able to hear you.

Is the narration delivered through headsets or just by microphone from the pilot?

Each guest has a headset in order to hear the pilot narration during the flight.

Are oxygen bottles allowed?

Small oxygen tanks may be taken, provided they are airline-approved cylinders and secured to the body much like a waist pack.  No pull-along styles or oxygen-makers will be allowed on the flight. Prior notification is required.

What is the maximum altitude flown during glacier excursions? Generally, we do not exceed 7000 feet in altitude, but that can be altered according to the day’s conditions and the flight.

 

Dog Sledding Questions

What types of dogs are at the dog camp?

These dogs are known as Alaska Huskies. They are not the fluffy Siberian Huskies that people generally have as pets.  They are smaller, thinner and more athletic. These dogs LOVE to run like a marathon runner. These are the same dogs that compete throughout the winter in races such as the Iditarod and Yukon Quest.

How much time do you spend with the dogs on the dogsledding trip?

On the dog sledding excursion you will spend approximately 1 hour at the dog camp which includes 20-25 minutes of dog sledding.  You will also have time after the sledding portion to meet the puppies and take photos of the dogs.

Is the Dog Camp on snow or on ice?

The camp is located on the snow cover of the glacier. 

How many people ride on the sled?

There are usually 4 guests total per sled trip.  Each team of dogs pull two sleds and each sled carries 2 guests.  The musher is always standing behind the first sled with up to two guests sitting in front of the musher.  The second sled has a guest sitting in front with a guest standing in the back.  Each guest will have the opportunity to stand on the back of the second sled and assist the musher with braking and commands.  There are also plenty of opportunities to stop and take pictures. 

I hear the Dog Sledding tours by helicopter are cancelled a lot?  Is this so??

The location on the glacier for the dog camps (for all the glacier dog camps) is located around the 3000-3500 foot level.  As a result, when the clouds come down glacier, the dog tours maybe affected and get cancelled.   We keep a constant eye on the weather and try very hard to offer the guests a later departure time, if possible, if the tour does get cancelled on the original time.  In some cases, we may also be able to offer a different tour that utilizes a different location than the dog camp.  For the guests that do go to the camp, we hear repeatedly that is the highlight of their cruise and Alaska experience.

 

Weight Surcharge / Cost Questions

What is your weight policy?

It is our policy for passengers weighing 250 pounds or more to be charged for an additional fee of $100.00. This will allow the guest additional space on the aircraft. If the guest may be close to the 250lbs on the day of flight, they are encouraged to purchase the surcharge at the time of booking.  They can easily be refunded later, if needed.  Failure to purchase may result in being delayed to a later time or cancelled due to weight and balance of the aircraft. 

TEMSCO Helicopters reserves the right to weigh any guest; we have FAA-approved and state certified scales at our bases.

Why is there a weight restriction?

We have a weight surcharge, not a restriction, for safety, weight and balance of the helicopter as well as passenger comfort.

I weigh 269 and my wife only weighs 130 do we still have to pay a surcharge?

Yes. The weight surcharge is on a per person, per seat basis.  The surcharge will provide the guest with extra space in the helicopter.

Is there a discount for children?

Children are charged the same as an adult as they are occupying a seat.  It is a requirement of FAA that on their second birthday and beyond, that they are required to have their own seat just like on a commercial jet.

What about infants?

Infants up to their 2nd birthday (please note #30 above for on their second birthday) can be considered a lap child and sit on the parent’s lap during the flight.  They will not be charged, but the infant’s weight will be added to the parent’s total weight.  If this puts the combined weight at 250 lbs or more, the weight surcharge would be in effect.

Why are the tours so expensive?

Our top-of-the-line helicopters are American Eurocopters, which are very expensive to purchase, operate, and maintain. We have a large ground crew of employees to ensure that each passenger is provided excellent customer service from when they leave the dock to the glacier and back.  Not to mention that each helicopter costs over 2 million dollars each (for only 6 seats per flight) and it is the only way to hover down and land on a glacier.

For the dog sledding tour:  there are between 240-300 dogs plus the staff that live on the glacier all summer.  All set up and teardown of the camp as well as all food and supplies must be flown in and out.  By the beginning of July we go through around 12,000 pounds of dog food for each camp.

 

TEMSCO Company/Safety Questions

Is flying with TEMSCO Helicopters a good choice?

TEMSCO has very high safety standards. We pride ourselves in being a founding member of T.O.P.S. (Tour Operators program of Safety). Here are also a few ‘feathers in our cap’ per se: 

-  We are the first responder called for helicopter support in search and rescue operations.

-  We are the first called for medical evacuations in the outlying communities, as well as for cruise ships during the summer tourism season.  

-  We are the first called by the Police Departments (local and state) for helicopter support and assistance.

So, if the paramedics, police departments, and rescue teams are looking for helicopter support and assistance, they call TEMSCO Helicopters.

Could you give a brief discussion on TOPS and TEMSCO’s status in the organization?

‘The Tour Operators Program of Safety’ (TOPS) is a voluntary organization of which TEMSCO is a founding and current member.  The TOPS mission statement:  “The T.O.P.S. mission is to provide the public with access to scenic areas while in the care of good, safe and professional helicopter air tour operators”.  It was established to provide additional safety and tour quality parameters above and beyond what is required by FAA regulations.   The areas of Management, Pilot Qualifications & Training, Maintenance, Ground Support Personnel and Aircraft Equipment are areas that are covered by the program.   

For more information and to see the additional requirements that a T.O.P.S. operator like TEMSCO does above and beyond, please visit the website at www.topsafety.org

What are the emergency provisions that are available on the glacier in the event a group is unable to fly away from the glacier due to bad/deteriorating weather?

In the event passengers would have to spend the night on the glacier, each helicopter is equipped with emergency food and supplies.  In addition, at the base camps of both Juneau & Skagway glacier tours, we maintain a tent with additional overnight equipment and supplies.  At both Dog Sledding Camps (Juneau and Skagway), there are guides who live up at the camp throughout the summer, so guests would be well provided for.

TEMSCO keeps a constant monitor on the weather in order to avoid this situation. Though, if it were to happen, the guests would be well taken care of.

 

Difficulty-Level Questions/Information

What is the level of difficulty for walking – how long/far do I to walk?  If people with some disability that are not wheelchair-bound just want to watch without getting out of the helicopter, is that a possibility??

In regards to the level of walking, I will address each tour individually.  Please note that TEMSCO Helicopter employees are not able to lift a guest into or out of a helicopter:

JUNEAU TOURS:

-   Mendenhall Glacier by Helicopter & Guided Walk:  Guests will need to be able to get into and out of the helicopter unassisted (or with a little assistance).  They will also need to be able to walk a minimum of 30 meters over potential uneven/rocky terrain. Guests must also be able to stand/walk on the glacier for the 20-25 minutes during the guided tour.  Guests are not able to stay in helicopter, as the helicopter will drop them off on the glacier and return to the helicopter base with other passengers.

-   Pilot’s Choice Glacier Explorer:  Guests will need to be able to get into and out of the helicopter unassisted (or with a little assistance).  They will be able to stay in the helicopter, if they choose, on the landings as the helicopter will stay with them on the tour.

-   Dog Sledding on the Mendenhall Glacier:  Guests will need to be able to get into and out of the helicopter unassisted (or with a little assistance).  They will also need to be able to walk a minimum of 30 meters over potential uneven snow and stand/walk for the 1 hour while at the dog camp.  Guests are not able to stay in helicopter, as the helicopter will drop them off on the glacier and return to town with other passengers.

SKAGWAY TOURS:

-   Glacier Discovery by Helicopter:  Guests will need to be able to get into and out of the helicopter unassisted (or with a little assistance).  They will also need to be able to walk a minimum of 30 meters over uneven/rocky terrain. Guests must also be able to stand/walk on the glacier for 40 minutes during the guided tour.  Guests are not able to stay in helicopter, as the helicopter will drop them off on the glacier and return to town with other passengers.

-   Dog Sledding and Glacier Flightseeing:  Guests will need to be able to get into and out of the helicopter unassisted (or with a little assistance).  They will also need to be able to walk a minimum of 30 meters over uneven snow.  Guests are not able to stay in helicopter, as the helicopter will drop them off on the glacier and return to town with other passengers.

-   Skagway by Helicopter:  Guests will need to be able to walk a minimum of 50 feet to and from the helicopter.  In addition, they will need to be able to get into and out of the helicopter unassisted (or with little assistance).  While this tour cannot accommodate wheel chair bound guests, it is suitable for guests with limited mobility.

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Flying for TEMSCO allows me to have the peace of mind of excellent maintenance with superb support and no compromise in safety.

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