Some may be wondering, "What is Bush Flying?" That's okay, there was once a day when this phrase was new to me too. Bush flying refers to flying that is done in remote and rugged areas of the world. Often times planes that fly in the bush are equipped with floats, skis or large tundra tires.
Bush flying originated in remote areas of the Canadian north where the lack of roads made the transportation of necessities (such as food, medicine and building materials)only possible by air. While many people travel to remote areas of the world, few truly get to experience these areas as bush flyers do.
Today bush flying is widely done in Canada, Alaska, the Australian outback and in the tropics. Historically, bush flying was only for the most adventurous pilots, as navigation beacons were often non-existent in the bush and there was no possibility of rescue in case of misadventure. Today Global Positioning Satellites (GPS) and rescue helicopters have made bush flying much more feasible for the typical person.
Bush pilots routinely operate from unimproved airfields which can be little more than relatively smooth patches of land, sandbars on rivers, or firm parts of glaciers. Although bush planes come in all sizes and shapes, a good bush plane will be very rugged and able to take-off and land in short distances. Being able to get in and out of these small strips requires a good deal of piloting skill and bush pilots are very adept at precise flight at very slow speeds (as required for landings and take-offs). Many times bush pilots will operate from strips that require the pilot to land as soon as the terrain is suitable and apply a good deal of braking. Bush pilots often tend to be very self reliant types that are knowledgeable in wilderness survival. The stereotype of a husky pilot with an unkempt beard often accurately portrays the bush pilot appearance. Wild beards and haggered faces are not a prerequisite to being bush pilots however, and today many women are skilled bush pilots.
Bush flying is often done recreationally for people who desire to go to remote areas, but it is also still done as necessity in some parts of the world such as the Autralian outback, Alaska, Africa or Canada. Historically, religious missionaries often flew in and out of the bush to reach people that were otherwise unreachable. Oil exploration, environmental assessments and surveying in remote areas often require the skills of bush pilots. Many bush pilots are avid hunters, fishers and wildlife photographers. Speaking of wildlife photography, the next photograph depicts an awesome bush flyer found just outside Anchorage.
As previously mentioned, bush planes come in a wide variety. A typical bush plane will have a high wing (wing on top of the fuselage) and have conventional landing gear (tail draggers). Popular examples of planes used in the bush are the Piper Super Cub, Cessna 180 and 185, and the DeHavilland Beaver—all of which have high wings and conventional landing gear. Cessna 206s and Piper Cherokees are also used in the bush, but are not as favored by bush flying purists. Having the wings on top allows airplanes to land in small strips that have become overgrown with vegetation. Conventional landing gear is favored because of its ruggedness and the aeronautic ability it allows an airplane to become airborne quicker than an aircraft equipped with a tricycle landing gear.
Perhaps more than other types of flying, bush flying invokes romantic notions of swashbuckling pilots flying off to exotic locations. The image of a Super Cub or Beaver on a glacier or with rugged mountains as a backdrop has become iconic in the aviation community as portraying the bush pilot's lifestyle. But times have changed. Due to the increase in private plane ownership and the availability of rentals and charter tours, bush flying has evolved into a family activity that even the non-pilot can enjoy.
Canadian Airline Blog
Credit: Flyvertosset and unknown writer
Fri, Feb 18 2011 3:01 PM
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