Monday, June 30, 2008

Bush Flying

While immersing myself in the usual aviation research, I found this from the Centennial Of Flight website...

Bush Flying

"The terms “bush pilot” and “bush flying” evoke images of the golden age of aviation—swashbuckling pilots with flowing silk scarves skillfully maneuvering a vintage aircraft into the most inhospitable regions on Earth. In this case, unlike many legends, these romantic images are very close to reality—bush flying is one of the last vestiges of aviation's early roots and is still relied on by many isolated communities to provide a vital lifeline. In the Canadian and Alaskan wilderness, where landing strips were few and widely scattered, most planes had to be adaptable to skis and floats, taking advantage of frozen rivers and lakes in the winter, then switching to floats in the summer months. Many fixed-gear aircraft also relied on tough, over-sized tires to handle the problems of landing on the rocky banks of streams and rivers, and to compensate for soft and spongy ground.

Alaska, Australia, and the barren northern territories of Canada are the locales most commonly associated with bush flying, although its impact extends equally to the rain forests of South America and the jungles of Africa. Mail, medicine, food supplies and dry goods, cargo, and human interaction are just a few of the precious commodities delivered by bush flying pilots.

Veteran Canadian bush pilot C.H. "Punch" Dickins, in a 1962 speech, concisely defined bush flying as “a pilot and mechanic, who are ready and willing to take any kind of a load to any destination, on or off the map, within the limits of their aircraft, and the financial resources of the customer.” Dickins' idealistic definition also touched upon the day-to-day hardships faced by bush pilots the world over—scarcity of satisfactory landing strips, dynamic and often challenging weather conditions, inadequate radio communications, erratic work loads and often insufficient cash flow, and the unknowns of satisfying a customer never before seen by flying to a location never before visited.

In the years following World War I, seasoned American and Canadian combat pilots, enamored with the thrill and freedom of flight, soon turned their attentions to peacetime pursuits that would permit them to earn a living from their flying skills. Some turned to the lucrative barnstorming circuit, others to the practicality of crop-dusting, while the most adventurous were drawn to bush flying...."

Bush Flying
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