Jump to content

Recommended Posts

Can't use a helicopter for hunting in AK, but you can use one for fishing. However, a bush plane can get you in nearly anywhere a helicopter can, for WAY less money. It'd really only make a big difference for sheep hunting, as you could get dropped in on top of the mountain, instead of the bottom.


The companies flying mediums are withering away and no one here can afford to operate anything big. Not enough work. There are a few bush operators working with small ships, mostly R44s, most of whom I wouldn't work for. Hopefully the industry recovers up here, but that will require the feds to ease up on mining and O&G, which I really don't see happening in the near future.


I've been lucky enough to work with some old timers who've shared some pretty neat stories. They aren't the type to write a book about themselves though. They just want to make enough money to pay the alimony ;)

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

I've just bought this, hope it's a good read...



Nine Lives Of An Alaska Bush Pilot

By Ken Eichner

Here's a good read about helicopter bush flying in Alaska. Written by Temco's founder I believe. At least the same family. It's a good read. One of the few fun reads by civilian helicopter pilots.

Here it is on Amazon


Link to post
Share on other sites

Whenever I hear about bush flying in Alaska its always small tail draggers and sea planes. Never any helicopters.


Why is that?

The term 'bush pilot' refers to airplane pilots that fly off airport. Since that is what helicopters normally do, the term really doesn't have any meaning in the helicopter world. Since most of Alaska was developed/settled before airplanes became common in Alaska, most of the settlements are near bodies of water. So seaplanes and ski-planes are the faster and less expensive method of transportation compared to helicopters. Plus they tend to be able to carry more than helicopters. However, like the rest of the world, there are situation where the helicopter is a much better fit than the airplane. So like kona stated, until the federal government releases the hold they have over a large portion of Alaska, the market for helicopters will be limited.


Personally I have a big issue with the term 'bush pilot'. I have run across a good many 'float plane pilots' that call themselves 'bush pilots'. There is a great deal more to being a bush pilot than having a float rating. The real bush pilots have a more intimate relationship with their aircraft and the area they fly, than they do with their SO. Personally I have taken a lot of what is left of these so-called bush pilots than I ever cared to. Their attitudes wrote checks that their experience level couldn't cash.

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 2 weeks later...

I'm a dual guy and most of my experience has been out of Kodiak, AK. We fly a mix of wheeled and float planes.


Pretty much echoing what others have said. Hunting laws don't allow use of helicopters.

From a sporting prospective, I think it's great that's it's like that. Using a helicopter would take away much of the challenge of getting to such remote locations.


Cost is a big one too. A beaver on floats that can carry 1500lbs of payload at $700/HR vs a helicopter with the same space and weight capacity isn't even in the same ballpark.


As far as what makes a "bush pilot". It's the ones that fly in the "bush" for a living. Anyone can be a mountain pilot on a beautiful, calm, sunny summer day. Add 30kts of wind, less then 1000ft ceilings and 3sm vis and fly in those conditions regularly in mountainous terrain, safely. That takes a well trained, and experienced pilot. Not someone with an amphib 185 and private SES.


The reason Alaska has "bush" pilots is because of the necessity of the missions. Most places don't require the use of small aircraft to function, where many villages and individuals in AK do. Otherwise no one would be flying in conditions like that.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Create New...