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Thread: The "Bush Pilot"

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    Member akaviator's Avatar
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    Default The "Bush Pilot"

    I have to chuckle a little bit when guys get defensive about calling modern day pilots "bush pilots".

    "There are no bush pilots left". "That era ended 20, or 30, 40, or 50 years ago..."

    "Real bush pilots flew with a whiskey compass and a map drawn on a caribou hide..."

    So if one was to pull all instrumentation from his plane sans the whiskey compass (which he serviced from the same shot glass he had with breakfast) and never picked up a map other than one he drew, can he be a bush pilot?

    There's a certain romanticism involved in all this.

    We do have tremendous advantages over the first generation of north country pilots, but I know Noel would have loved to been able to hit "direct..enter".

    I think if a guy spends his life traipsing around the wilds of Alaska in a light airplane, dealing with the elements and all the decision making involved with it should not be slighted if referred to as a bush pilot nor should he receive rebuke for receiving such a title.

    It's a good bunch of folks on this forum, just thought I'd throw that out as I enjoy my morning coffee.

    I'll be flying to Baton Rouge later today at FL320...not bush flying.

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    I'll second that Akaviator. If anything, the term "Bush Pilot" is a term of endearment that triggers some of the best memories of my life.

    Hey, if you happen to fly over Shreveport/Bossier City, LA on your way to Baton Rouge tip your wings a couple times so we know it's you.

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    Thumbs up

    I'm not much ahead of those early guys in my champ, altho I don't have any whisky on board. I've been all over this state and some "outside" with just a compass and a chart. I do have GPS to help me now but the essentials are all that is nessescary if you do it right. Many of my flights don't get above FL .05 ;-) I do love flying this way but there are times when it would be nice to dial in "FL higher" and go direct (like the time I spent a week waiting for the for to lift!

    Have fun in Baton Rouge and thanks for the view.

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    I really get a chuckle when guys flying planes; with limited insturmentaion, built after the ERA ended, that land on sandbars, ridges or on floats want to be called bush pilots.

    I like listening to the stories from the guys that flew during the ERA and saw the changes that ended it. There are fewer and fewer of them left.
    Tim

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    The bush denotes anything off the road system, villages, fishing camps, hunting camps beaches, sand bars, so yes there are still lots and lots of bush pilots today.
    The winner isn't the person with the most gold when they die, but rather, the person with the most stories.

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    Quote Originally Posted by headoutdaplane View Post
    The bush denotes anything off the road system, villages, fishing camps, hunting camps beaches, sand bars, so yes there are still lots and lots of bush pilots today.
    I'm with ya.

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    Don't forget you can watch them on TV too.
    Tim

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    Really?
    Don't forget to check the wxcams and fss wx and make sure your sectional is current too.

    Yeah, just like the bush pilot of old.
    Don't forget your satphone!

    Not even close IMO. But whatever u need to feel good.

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    Don't forget you can watch them on TV too.
    If Discovery Channel, the History Channel and National Geographic were available in 1950 I bet a bunch of the old time bush pilots would have been on there too. I've met some of the old timers through the years and several were great pilots and shameless self promoters. Some, like Cliff Hudson, could give a rip less.

    Some guys that have been on T.V. weren't shameless promoters, but great pilots none the less. Don Lee, recently on the National Geographic show, and Doug Geeting had a video out when VHS was still the craze, are excellent pilots with extensive off airport experience. Both these guys are every bit the pilots the pioneers were 50 years ago.
    Bunny Boots and Bearcats: Utility Sled Mayhem

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    Good feedback. Some almost seem offended at the thought of calling a modern era pilot a bush pilot. It really describes where the pilot is flying and the type of aircraft they use. Mr. Wien and his contemporaries were pioneers. We can't really call this generation of pilots pioneers, but they are bush pilots.

    Maybe we shouldn't be called hunters anymore because we don't use a club and spear...we're "harvesters", or maybe even farmers.

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    Quote Originally Posted by akdoug View Post
    if discovery channel, the history channel and national geographic were available in 1950 i bet a bunch of the old time bush pilots would have been on there too. I've met some of the old timers through the years and several were great pilots and shameless self promoters. Some, like cliff hudson, could give a rip less.

    Some guys that have been on t.v. Weren't shameless promoters, but great pilots none the less. Don lee, recently on the national geographic show, and doug geeting had a video out when vhs was still the craze, are excellent pilots with extensive off airport experience. Both these guys are every bit the pilots the pioneers were 50 years ago.
    exactly!!!

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    Landing off airport is the definition of a bush pilot? Just one landing or more?

    Can I be a bush pilot in the lower 48? (landing off airport of course)

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    Quote Originally Posted by AK-HUNT View Post
    Landing off airport is the definition of a bush pilot? Just one landing or more?

    Can I be a bush pilot in the lower 48? (landing off airport of course)
    Yes you can! and you can be a fighter pilot if you ever get to fly in a fighter.
    Tim

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    Quote Originally Posted by akaviator View Post

    Maybe we shouldn't be called hunters anymore because we don't use a club and spear...we're "harvesters", or maybe even farmers.
    No you would still be a hunter, just not a bush hunter.
    Tim

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    Quote Originally Posted by mit View Post
    No you would still be a hunter, just not a bush hunter.
    That's funny!

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    So if I'm analyzing this correctly, it sounds as if mit and ak hunt say there are no more bush pilots and you can never consider yourself one? Because of good weather reporting and maps?

    And I'm wondering what your aviation backgrounds are. Interesting stuff.

    I'm an 8000 hr pilot, about 1/2 Alaska time, about 1/2 that in non urban roadless settings (didn't want to use the B word). Lived in Alaska most of my life, and had the honor of spending time with a couple of great pioneer bush pilots...Noel Wien and Albert Ball Sr, and many who started their careers flying Alaska in the '50s and '60s.

    Thanks for all your opinions!

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    I started my flying career flying C-207's out of Unalakleet. I was told we were called "rural pilots."
    Louis Knapp

  18. #18

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    Over here - in the first days of venison recovery guys would hike in, cut some stumps and scrub off a river flat until it was passable for a supercub to land on, fill it up with carcasses until there was barely room for a pilot and fly it out to the nearest strip and a waiting truck. they didnt use the term bush pilot - just pilot, but they were well worthy of the title.

    The fact is that regulations haven't permitted that for a long time now and thats the only reason it doesn't happen any more. ( helicopters took over the venison industry ). That doesn't mean there aren't pilots with every bit as much skill that given the same circumstance would be every bit as cabable - those days are a thing of the past, but the pilot is not no matter what they're called.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Downunderpilot View Post
    Over here - in the first days of venison recovery guys would hike in, cut some stumps and scrub off a river flat until it was passable for a supercub to land on, fill it up with carcasses until there was barely room for a pilot and fly it out to the nearest strip and a waiting truck. they didnt use the term bush pilot - just pilot, but they were well worthy of the title.

    The fact is that regulations haven't permitted that for a long time now and thats the only reason it doesn't happen any more. ( helicopters took over the venison industry ). That doesn't mean there aren't pilots with every bit as much skill that given the same circumstance would be every bit as cabable - those days are a thing of the past, but the pilot is not no matter what they're called.
    In Alaska, helicopters are outlawed for the transport of game, game parts, and/or any equipment used in the taking of game. At least that used to be the law. I reckon it still is . . . . .

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    Don't know what Mr Pid or Float Pilot think about this, but from where I stand, weather is the most defining part of "bush flying." And if a pilot can't fly "basic panel," he has no business flying on the other side of that range over there. The runway we used to use at our lodge at High Lake was blown off the lake ice with a small John Deere tractor and snow blower attachment. It was 970' long x 12' wide, had vertical sides (of course!), and was plenty sufficient for a C-206 on wheels when carrying three full drums of diesel fuel, one passenger, and full fuel. Jay Huduson was just beginning to fly with his father in those days, and was rerstricted from that spot because it didn't leave much room for error. Doug Geeting used it with Hudson's C-185 many, many times.

    The former lodge owners, Kenny and Mary Oldham, both guides, had installed a specially made crystal in their lodge radio transmitter so that she could read poetry through the open mike whiile Ken was making his ADF Super Cub approach to the 1,200-ft bladed strip beside the lodge buildings. I'd call some of those folks "bush pilots," and there are still many of them left, for sure.

    For my own part, I established an ADF approach to King Bear Lodge on the Yentna River, downstream from Skwentna. I could drop a C-206 in there in some pretty scabby weather. And before some of you guys get on my case for flying in 50-feet and 1/4-mile, please remember that those "old guys" from years ago did it almost every day. So - - - - - I still think that weather has a big part in "bush flying."

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