Private Boaters

Our Gem Air office staff has decades of Idaho boating experience in the Frank Church Wilderness, so we can answer a lot of questions. We’ve also flown Middle Fork flights for decades, so we’ve seen pretty much every kind of trip. If you got lucky enough to pull a Middle Fork permit from the Four Rivers Lottery, we can help you out with flights to Indian Creek, Thomas, Bernard, and more. If you want to do some pre or post season boating, we have flights for that too. We can fly your whole crew and all your boats, or just a few drinks and coolers. We’re happy to help you in whatever way you like!

Something to keep in mind while considering flights: Many Idaho boaters have found that Middle Fork flights from Salmon, Idaho can save money, as shuttles from Salmon to Cache Bar are cheaper than from Stanley. And if you get to Salmon a day early, you can shuttle your own vehicles, eliminating the shuttle cost all together.

Interested in other Frank Church backcountry adventures? Check out our backcountry page

Middle Fork Flights

Getting Started with Middle Fork Flights

We’ve put this information page together to help give you some starting information, but the best bet is to give us a call. That’s because private trips are all different, and once we talk to you, we’ll have a better idea of how to help with your particular trip.

Volume Considerations

Whatever you decide to fly in, you can only fit so much weight and volume in a plane. So, the more dense the gear (pack fluffy stuff down, make sure no boxes start empty, etc) the less likely you’ll run into volume problems. 

A good way to cut down on volume? Share boats!

Boat frames need to break down – they don’t fit through our doors otherwise! 

We fly a lot of hardshell kayaks, but they do take up a lot of space. If possible, plan to show up at the airport with your kayak already packed and ready to fly. 

Timing Considerations

We try to have all of our backcountry flying wrapped up in the morning if possible, and most groups fly in the day before they launch. 

Middle Fork flights will frequently start between 6:00am and 8:00am, and it frequently takes a couple of laps to get in, if you are flying everything. 

Sometimes, we

If you have timing constrictions that you are worried about, give us a call and we’ll work on a solution.

Other Resources

Do you need to rent gear? Blackadar Boating  (208-756-3958) or Idaho River Rentals (208- 720-3679) can hook you up.

Do you need help with the shuttle? Blackadar Boating (208-756-3958) or Salmon River Transport (208-993-9143) can help you out.

Do you want help with your menu/food pack? Salmon River Food Packs (208- 756-7002) has you covered.

Gem Air Aircraft

What our aircraft can carry depends on the strip and route to be flown, and can also depend on weather. To give you  ballpark idea of what our planes can do, we’ve included some rules of thumb below – just keep in mind that the maximum loads for your flight may be different, depending on conditions and route. Want more info on our aircraft? Check out our aircraft page

Cessna 172

Can carry up to 500lbs. Good for flying 1 or 2 passengers into the backcountry, or some food supply boxes (most boat coolers won’t fit). 

Cessna 206

The backcountry staple. Can fly up to 1000lbs into the backcountry. Great for moving up to 4 passengers with personal bags, or smaller gear loads. 

Britten Norman Islander

The backcountry pack mule. Can carry up to 1,700lbs into the backcountry. Great for moving gear or larger groups of people. This airplane gets the most use from our private boaters is the most frequently chosen by our private boaters!

If you know how many people and boats you have, we can give you a good guess on which planes we think we’ll need to use for your Middle Fork Flights. Give us a call to talk about what you’ve got in mind, and we’ll give you our best ballpark.