Bush Flying, Wilderness Aviation, STOL Aircraft, Backcountry Flying

In this video I talk about bush flying, otherwise known as backcountry flying or wilderness aviation, and STOL aircraft.

Before I begin I would like to thank Paul Carlson for suggesting this subject. Thank you Paul!

Bush flying is a big topic covering many diverse areas of aerial activity so for this video I’m going to concentrate on fixed wing flying only.

Bush flying refers to aviation that takes place away from conventional airfields and airports.

It is the flying that occurs in untamed natural environments and consequently the aircraft involved will have modifications to suit a particular area.

They may be equipped with floats for water landings, skis for landing on snow, or very large tyres for landing on rough terrain.

Bush pilots have a particular set of skills that can only be gained through steady experience over several years of practice.

Landing a floatplane requires knowledge of the effect of currents and manoeuvring to dock the aircraft like a boat.

Flying over wilderness areas in a single engine aircraft leaves no room for errors of judgement.

Any mechanical mishaps can result in a long delays for rescue while you wait in areas where the wildlife may be too curious for comfort.

Adverse weather can close in rapidly in mountainous areas forcing the pilot to make quick decisions about diversions.

So bush pilots tend to be very experienced aviators with knowledge that covers a variety of subjects.

Apart from a thorough understanding of the aircraft and its limitations, bush pilots will also know about the weather in their particular area, and probably some wilderness survival skills too.

The absence of any prepared runways or at least very short and difficult to find airstrips means that the aircraft used in bush flying need to be of the STOL type i.e. short take off and landing.

They are often high wing aircraft for several reasons; to enable better downward visibility for the pilot, and to lessen the impact of any vegetation or other obstacles during take-off and landing.

High wing aircraft are also easier to load and unload.

Bush flying aircraft are often tail draggers too as these lessen the risk of prop strikes on ground obstacles.

But there are plenty of exceptions; the Zenith STOL CH 750 is one notable example.

Ask anyone about bush flying and the aircraft that spring to mind are probably single engine types like the de Havilland Beaver.

In fact, there are dozens of aircraft designs that could be considered ‘bush planes’ due to their STOL capabilities.

But de Havilland aircraft deserve a special mention since their family includes the Drover, Otter, Caribou, and Twin Otter, as well as the Beaver.

Continued in the video…


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