Monday, February 1, 2010


Just what the heck is a bush pilot anyway? There are as many definitions as there are personalities and opinions in the world of aviation. I don't think there are very many "Bush Pilots" left in the world these days, mainly because my definition stems from the roots of aviation in Alaska.

A Bush Pilot to me is someone who takes an airplane and pioneers new roads through the sky and new landing areas on the ground, working with whatever Mother Nature gives them at the time and hoping that the airplane can take the abuse. There aren't too many areas in Alaska that haven't been explored by airplane by now, so I feel that the good old days of taking off into the great unknown are part of aviation history now.

Another definition of bush pilot is anyone who regularly flies in "Bush" Alaska, which is characterized by any of the hundreds of villages off the road system in Alaska, but which have a State maintained runway. That's where I got my start, flying freight and mail to remote villages for a cargo airline. Most of what I use to keep me alive in an airplane today I learned out there.

Some would call my husband and me bush pilots. We disagree. Just because we use our airplanes as the ultimate RV/SUV for hunting, fishing, clam digging (or whatever else you can think of that's "off airport" in Alaska) doesn't mean we didn't know where we were going when we took off or if there was a reasonable area to try to land in when we got there.

Some call us crazy for using our airplanes the way we do because of the "risk" involved, but I say we're all crazy just for getting in our cars and driving on the highways every day. At least when we land and take off in the backcountry the only real variable is us and our judgement.

1 comment:

  1. For those of you wondering... the video is from a hunting trip my husband and I took in August of 2008. The airplane is my husband's 1953 Cessna 180 and he is piloting it. The location is the headwaters of the "Sag" River in the Northeastern corner of Alaska on the North facing slopes of the Brooks Range. Yes, it was a successful Dall Sheep hunt.