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Faces of Cordova: Stephen Richards

Flying You to the Beautiful Nowhere

Steve Richards is a pilot and full-time Cordova, Alaska resident. With his DHC-2 Beaver airplane or R44 Robinson helicopter, he takes visitors to places few have explored. Steve has flown thousands of hours, through the lower 48 and Alaska, but as much raw natural beauty that he’s encountered over the years, he says Cordova, Alaska is “the prettiest place on the planet.”

To truly appreciate the majesty of this untamed land, you have to work for it. Steve can get you there but it’s up to you to plan accordingly, pack the right gear, including a reliable outdoor cooler, and change your perspective. Some of the best experiences in life have to be earned.

Altering Perception

Cordova isn’t for the weak. From enduring extreme weather to repurposing equipment to meet a new challenge, residents and visitors must be strong in mind, body, and spirit. In Steve’s experience, the best way to enjoy life in the farthest corners of the earth is to build flexibility into your daily life and adjust how you think about time. “Prepare to spend some time out here,” Steve recommends. If your flight back home is on Saturday, don’t schedule to be picked up on Friday. Steve can’t fly out to come get you if he can’t see the ground.

Just lose yourself in the moment. The visitors who get the most out of Cordova are the ones who ask Steve at the pick-up location, “you’re here already?” Leave the schedule behind and don’t be in a hurry when exploring the backcountry.

Gearing Up for Adventure

Outdoor adventuring and remote living require a commitment to versatility and equipping reliable gear. Steve put it like this, “every bit of gear I have, I look at it and think, could I live on this? I’m into gear that works as advertised…that does what it says.” When venturing out into the wild, it’s common to find yourself making do with what you have for a few extra hours or even days depending on conditions. It’s not only important to buy quality, durable gear but to maintain it properly. Take care of the gear and it takes care of you when you need it most.

The three R’s of dependable outdoor gear: rugged, reliable, and ready. Can it go with you from the rainforest floor, up the mountain, and to the glacier above? This is the type of terrain you find in coastal Alaska. Your gear better be ready to go hard and that goes double for the aircraft that Steve maintains every day. You just never know what you’re going to find farther down the trail or up in the air.

Wherever your next adventure takes you, pack great gear and plan for the unexpected. The wilderness has a funny way of throwing you off schedule and testing your equipment’s limitations. “Be versatile, leave yourself some extra days, and have some alternative activities lined up,” Steve suggests. Can’t go wrong with that advice when exploring the great outdoors. And if you’re looking to get way off the grid, get a hold of Steve over at Ridgeline Aviation in Cordova, AK. For well rounded travel planning information, visit


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