I know when I was considering being a bush pilot, I wanted to know what was involved. By watching these bush pilot series, I got a much better understanding of what it would be like and which area would be best for me.
Worst Place to Be a Pilot
Seasons : 1 (4 Episodes)
Follows young pilots around Indonesia, this helps you get an understanding of what pilots go through working for Susi Air and how remote the flying can actually be. Matt Dearden (we interviewed him) features quite prominently and this is where I first encountered him and his website. This bush pilot series is really dramatized to give it mass appeal but the core of what is going on is pretty accurate.
Seasons : 1 (10 Episodes)
Well of course this one had to be on the list. We even interviewed one of the pilots that was in this series, Malcolm. This series also follows young pilots getting jobs in Maun, Botswana. It is a bit out dated these days but still entertaining to watch. The main company it focuses on is Wilderness Air
Flying Wild Alaska
Seasons : 3 (31 Episodes)
Dam you film producers and making everything seem so dramatic. This series is another awesome one at the core, just remember the dramatic side that has been added. Following the family run company in Alaska into the mountains
Alaska’s Ultimate Bush Pilots
Seasons : 3 (17 Episodes)
The most recent of bush pilot series to be released. I like this one alot as it is not only new pilots coming through but experienced bush pilots showing what things are really like. Also based in Alaska (duh) this follows the company Island Air.
Seasons : 6 (65 Episodes)
This series follows Buffalo Airways in Yellowknife, Canada. These guys fly old World War type aircraft, like the Dc-3 and 4!
Thank you so much to our readers Josh Cisneros and on twitter Ronan Kelly for reminding to add the most successful of all the Bush Pilot series. I know, I know, how could I forget to add the most popular of all of them!
If there are any series I have missed out here, I would be happy to consider adding them. Please comment with your suggestions below
Flying in Papua, Indonesia has many challenges. Including the rapidly changing weather and massive mountains. Here’s a list of the airstrips in Papua that I think are the most challenging.
This list was determined but chatting to pilots around Papua and getting their opinions. All images from http://mattdearden.co.uk
#4 Wipon Airstrip
Length : 500m
Width : 20m
Slope : 0% 20% 0%
Hazards : 1.) Threshold is not defined
2.) Touchdown elevation 7750 ft
3.) First 250m Not useable due to landslide
4.) Almost full Power needed to get to parking area
#3 Salema Airstrip
Length : 210m
Width : 15m
Slope : 23% 17% 21%
Hazards : 1.) Very steep touchdown zone
2.) Extremely short, no margin for error
3.) Runway erodes very badly due to locals not maintaining runway
#2 Bugalaga Airstrip
Length : 498m
Width : 30m
Slope : 14% 8% 24%
Hazards : 1.) Headwind can cause dangerous downdraft on final
2.) Steep slope causes strong optical illusion
3.) Speed must be kept up on last part of runway beasue of steep slope
4.) Quartering tailwinds after 10:30 AM
#1 Doufu Airstrip
Length : 549m
Width : 14m
Slope : 4% 0% 18%
Hazards : 1.) Narrow runway creates illusions
2.) Must land on centre of runway as runway is so narrow
3.) Clay surface becomes extremely slippery after rain the previous night
4.) Hard to see when making approach
This is just some of the crazy runways you can experience in Papua, do you have any others you would add?
If you enjoyed the pictures from this post, you should check out our 5 best pilot Instagram accounts post
Why exactly would I make an entire website for Bush Pilots and here’s some of the reasons I someone becomes a Bush Pilot!
Take a plane to many different destinations and remote locations that not many people in the world get to see
Runways are usually placed in hard to reach places with not much margin for error.
There may not even be a runway in some cases
Every area has its own way of communicating on the radio and even the way the ATC communicates is different.
With a South African accent in Papua, I had to pronounce some of my words like an American for the ATC to understand
When you’re living out of a single bag for a week at a time. This makes a person think about what they really need and not just things that they want
Jumping right into the deep end and living with the people. Learn quickly how to communicate with them is vital, especially when it comes to food and weather updates
Staying in a different room every night of the week. You can use your career to travel and work at the same time, spending 2 years in each area
Most of the airstrips you’re going to are very remote where the plane is usually the only link to the area. Sometimes it’s not even an airstrip you’re landing at
Getting to live and fly with the people of the culture of an area. It really does broaden how you see things
I have been listening to the podcast inspiredpilot.com (perfect for when there is a delay with weather or waiting for cargo/pax) where he asks the pilots he interviews for pilot advice, “What is the best piece of aviation related advice you have ever received?”.
This is my favorite part of the podcast and I thought having a list of all the useful pilot advice would be handy.
- Instagram account is run by a Pilot only and no reposts
- Mostly aviation based photos
- Quality photography
This pilot inspired me to go buy a drone. His mavic pro photos of the crazy Papuan airstrips get me keen to see them for myself. I personally use the dji spark with the skeleton cover and chuck it in my headset bag to get pictures of the runways. (affiliate links)
BIO: Papua, Indonesia based C208 pilot for Dimonim air
FREQUENCY: Once a month
This chopper R22 and R44 pilot became massive on Instagram because of her pretty face. Her photos are just as good though.
BIO: US based helicopter pilot that flies all around the world
FREQUENCY: Every 4 days