Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Bush Pilots in Alaska

Welcome to the second day of my A to Z virtual tour of Alaska. I'm delighted that you're here and can't wait to tell you a little more about that great state.

As I researched Alaska for my new book, Cold Justice, I knew I wanted one of my characters to have had experience as a bush pilot. The plane above is a DeHavilland Beaver. Many bush pilots in Alaska believe this is the best plane to fly. Well, probably not that exact plane, but you know what I mean.

 Flying in Alaska requires a special person, someone who likes a challenge, someone who is organized and prepared, and someone who has a big heart and a plane-full of courage, because they are going to need all those skills and much more.

Alaska is 365 million acres in size and has 33,000 miles of coastline. It's so large that the state has two time zones and seven different climate zones. Because of the geographic position of Alaska it experiences wide variations of daylight summer to winter. And the weather can turn treacherous very quickly. Weather reporting points can be far apart, making it difficult to report adverse weather. And flying conditions are generally worse in mountain passes than are reported in stations along a route. Blowing snow and strong winds are common hazards during the winter months.

So guess what time of year I set my book? You've got it. Winter.

I had to research planes, weather conditions, pilots, pilot jargon, and so many other things that have to do with bush pilots. But I came away with a deep respect for those brave people who are a lifeline to the outside world for many remote villages.

 I won't tell you which character I chose to be a bush pilot, but this video might give you a clue. The clip is a little long, but really gives you the flavor of what piloting in Alaska is like.

So, would you want to be a bush pilot?



  1. Nooo, this is definitely not something I'd want to do, haha. It's super interesting though. You learned a lot in your research and now your readers will, too!!

    1. Laura,
      After doing the research and finding out all a pilot has to do, I don't think I would want to fly either. But oh how I admire pilots. :)



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