Bush flying
Bush flying is a term for aircraft operations carried out in remote, inhospitable regions of the world. Bush flying involves operations in rough terrain where there are often no prepared landing strips or runways, frequently necessitating that bush planes be equipped with abnormally large tires, floats or skis.


The term bush flying most likely came from a term to describe the land in Southern Africa
Southern Africa
Southern Africa is the southernmost region of the African continent, variably defined by geography or geopolitics. Within the region are numerous territories, including the Republic of South Africa ; nowadays, the simpler term South Africa is generally reserved for the country in English.-UN...

, bush. This term came to describe any remote wilderness areas beyond clearings and settlements, where bush pilots operated.


Bush flying is the primary method of access across the Canadian
Northern Canada
Northern Canada, colloquially the North, is the vast northernmost region of Canada variously defined by geography and politics. Politically, the term refers to the three territories of Canada: Yukon, Northwest Territories, and Nunavut...

 and Alaskan tundra
In physical geography, tundra is a biome where the tree growth is hindered by low temperatures and short growing seasons. The term tundra comes through Russian тундра from the Kildin Sami word tūndâr "uplands," "treeless mountain tract." There are three types of tundra: Arctic tundra, alpine...

 and the Australia
Australia , officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a country in the Southern Hemisphere comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is the world's sixth-largest country by total area...

n Outback
The Outback is the vast, remote, arid area of Australia, term colloquially can refer to any lands outside the main urban areas. The term "the outback" is generally used to refer to locations that are comparatively more remote than those areas named "the bush".-Overview:The outback is home to a...



In Canada, the first real use of bush flying was for exploration and development, while in Alaska, transportation was the main purpose. Later, bush flying became important during rescue operations.


After the Armistice with Germany
Armistice with Germany (Compiègne)
The armistice between the Allies and Germany was an agreement that ended the fighting in the First World War. It was signed in a railway carriage in Compiègne Forest on 11 November 1918 and marked a victory for the Allies and a complete defeat for Germany, although not technically a surrender...

, Ellwood Wilson, a Canadian
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

250px|thumb|right|Foresters of [[Southern University of Chile|UACh]] in the [[Valdivian forest]]s of San Pablo de Tregua, ChileA forester is a person who practices forestry, the science, art, and profession of managing forests. Foresters engage in a broad range of activities including timber...

 employed by the Laurentide Company in Quebec
Quebec or is a province in east-central Canada. It is the only Canadian province with a predominantly French-speaking population and the only one whose sole official language is French at the provincial level....

, realized that airplanes could be used to spot forest fires and to map
Cartography is the study and practice of making maps. Combining science, aesthetics, and technique, cartography builds on the premise that reality can be modeled in ways that communicate spatial information effectively.The fundamental problems of traditional cartography are to:*Set the map's...

 forested areas. Early next year, when Wilson discovered that the U.S. Navy was giving Canada several war-surplus Curtiss HS-2L
Curtiss HS
The Curtiss HS was a single-engined patrol flying boat built for the United States Navy during World War I. Large numbers were built from 1917 to 1919, with the type being used to carry out anti-submarine patrols from bases in France from June 1918...

 flying boats, he asked to loan two. He then hired Captain Stuart Graham to fly the planes. Graham and his engineer, Walter Kahre, then started to fly the first HS-2L to Lac-à-la-Tortue
Lac-à-la-Tortue, Quebec
Lac-à-la-Tortue is a small community of 2,500 inhabitants in Quebec. Formerly a separate municipality, it has been one of the seven sectors of the city of Shawinigan since the municipal amalgamation of January 1, 2002. The name Lac-a-la-Tortue is French for Turtle Lake.-Mayors:From 1895 to 2001,...

 on 4 June 1919, arriving on 8 June 1919. The flight had covered 645 miles
Milke were an electro-indie band from London, England. Their work features distinctive vocals and electronic hooks. Milke have had airtime on BBC's Radio 1 Pete Tong show with their first release, "She Says" . Milke also appeared on the Ministry of Sound Compilation in 2006 and Krafty Kuts Fabric...

, the longest cross-country flight
Cross-country flying
Cross-Country flying is a type of distance flying which is performed in a powered aircraft on legs over a given distance and in operations between two points using navigational techniques; and an unpowered aircraft by using upcurrents to gain altitude for extended flying time...

 executed in Canada at the time. He then delivered the other HS-2L to Lac-à-la-Tortue.

Equipped with the aircraft, the first bush flights occurred when fire patrol and aerial photography began in the summer of 1919 in the St. Maurice River
Saint-Maurice River
The Saint-Maurice River is a river in central Quebec which flows south from Gouin Reservoir to empty into the Saint Lawrence River at Trois-Rivières, Quebec. The river is 563 km in length and has a drainage basin of 43,300 km² ....

 valley. Graham and Kahre continued this service for two more seasons, but it became so expensive that the Laurentide Company underwrote
Underwriting refers to the process that a large financial service provider uses to assess the eligibility of a customer to receive their products . The name derives from the Lloyd's of London insurance market...

 the operation. In response, it was split into a separate company called Laurentide Air Services Ltd. with Wilson as president as president and former Royal Naval Air Service
Royal Naval Air Service
The Royal Naval Air Service or RNAS was the air arm of the Royal Navy until near the end of the First World War, when it merged with the British Army's Royal Flying Corps to form a new service , the Royal Air Force...

 instructor and barnstormer William Roy Maxwell as vice president. These were the first bush flights in Eastern Canada
Eastern Canada
Eastern Canada is generally considered to be the region of Canada east of Manitoba, consisting of the following provinces:* New Brunswick* Newfoundland and Labrador* Nova Scotia* Ontario* Prince Edward Island* Quebec...


In Western Canada
Western Canada
Western Canada, also referred to as the Western provinces and commonly as the West, is a region of Canada that includes the four provinces west of the province of Ontario.- Provinces :...

, after Wilfred May was discharged from the Royal Naval Air Service and moved to Edmonton
Edmonton is the capital of the Canadian province of Alberta and is the province's second-largest city. Edmonton is located on the North Saskatchewan River and is the centre of the Edmonton Capital Region, which is surrounded by the central region of the province.The city and its census...

, a Montreal
Montreal is a city in Canada. It is the largest city in the province of Quebec, the second-largest city in Canada and the seventh largest in North America...

A businessperson is someone involved in a particular undertaking of activities for the purpose of generating revenue from a combination of human, financial, or physical capital. An entrepreneur is an example of a business person...

 offered the city of Edmonton a Curtiss JN-4
Curtiss JN-4
The Curtiss JN-4 "Jenny" was one of a series of "JN" biplanes built by the Curtiss Aeroplane Company of Hammondsport, New York, later the Curtiss Aeroplane and Motor Company. Although the Curtiss JN series was originally produced as a training aircraft for the U.S...

 after he found success in the city's real estate
Real estate
In general use, esp. North American, 'real estate' is taken to mean "Property consisting of land and the buildings on it, along with its natural resources such as crops, minerals, or water; immovable property of this nature; an interest vested in this; an item of real property; buildings or...

. Mayor Joe Clark
Joseph Clarke
Joseph Andrew Clarke was a Canadian politician and lawyer. He served twice as mayor of Edmonton, Alberta, was a candidate for election to the Canadian House of Commons and the Legislative Assembly of Alberta, and was a member of the Yukon Territorial Council .-Early life:Clarke was born in...

 and city council accepted the gift, prompting May to ask to rent the plane. City council and May agreed to a price of CA$
Canadian dollar
The Canadian dollar is the currency of Canada. As of 2007, the Canadian dollar is the 7th most traded currency in the world. It is abbreviated with the dollar sign $, or C$ to distinguish it from other dollar-denominated currencies...

25. May and his brother Court May completed the necessary paperwork and raised the required capital
Capital (economics)
In economics, capital, capital goods, or real capital refers to already-produced durable goods used in production of goods or services. The capital goods are not significantly consumed, though they may depreciate in the production process...

 to form May Airplanes Ltd. George Gorman, a pilot, and Peter Derbyshire, a mechanic, joined the first commercial bush operations in Canada.

Wop then asked the publisher of the Edmonton Journal
Edmonton Journal
The Edmonton Journal is a daily newspaper in Edmonton, Alberta. It is part of the Postmedia Network.-History:The Journal was founded in 1903 by three local businessmen — John Macpherson, Arthur Moore and J.W. Cunningham — as a rival to Alberta's first newspaper, the 23-year-old...

 to fly copies of the paper to Wetaskiwin, 70 kilometres (43.5 mi) south of Edmonton. He accepted and the next day, Gorman and Derbyshire flew the newspapers along with 2 sacks of advertising circulars, following the rail line to the city, announcing the service to communities along the way.

Bush flying in Canada is commemorated by a public museum, the Canadian Bushplane Heritage Centre
Canadian Bushplane Heritage Centre
Canadian Bushplane Heritage Centre , located on the north bank of the St. Marys River in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, Canada, is dedicated to preserving the history of bush flying and forest protection in Canada...

 in Sault Ste Marie, Ontario.


Alaska is the largest state in the United States by area. It is situated in the northwest extremity of the North American continent, with Canada to the east, the Arctic Ocean to the north, and the Pacific Ocean to the west and south, with Russia further west across the Bering Strait...

's first bush pilot was Carl Ben Eielson, a North Dakota
North Dakota
North Dakota is a state located in the Midwestern region of the United States of America, along the Canadian border. The state is bordered by Canada to the north, Minnesota to the east, South Dakota to the south and Montana to the west. North Dakota is the 19th-largest state by area in the U.S....

A farm is an area of land, or, for aquaculture, lake, river or sea, including various structures, devoted primarily to the practice of producing and managing food , fibres and, increasingly, fuel. It is the basic production facility in food production. Farms may be owned and operated by a single...

 boy of Scandinavia
Scandinavia is a cultural, historical and ethno-linguistic region in northern Europe that includes the three kingdoms of Denmark, Norway and Sweden, characterized by their common ethno-cultural heritage and language. Modern Norway and Sweden proper are situated on the Scandinavian Peninsula,...

n descent who flew during World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

. After the war, he moved to Alaska as a mathematics
Mathematics is the study of quantity, space, structure, and change. Mathematicians seek out patterns and formulate new conjectures. Mathematicians resolve the truth or falsity of conjectures by mathematical proofs, which are arguments sufficient to convince other mathematicians of their validity...

 and science
Science is a systematic enterprise that builds and organizes knowledge in the form of testable explanations and predictions about the universe...

 teacher in Fairbanks
Fairbanks may refer to:Places in the United States*Fairbanks, Alaska, city*Fairbanks, California, unincorporated community in El Dorado County*Fairbanks, Mendocino County, California, former settlement*Fairbanks, Indiana, unincorporated community...

. However, he soon persuaded several citizens to help him acquire a Curtiss JN-4
Curtiss JN-4
The Curtiss JN-4 "Jenny" was one of a series of "JN" biplanes built by the Curtiss Aeroplane Company of Hammondsport, New York, later the Curtiss Aeroplane and Motor Company. Although the Curtiss JN series was originally produced as a training aircraft for the U.S...

, flying passengers to nearby settlements. He then asked the postal operator for an airmail
Airmail is mail that is transported by aircraft. It typically arrives more quickly than surface mail, and usually costs more to send...

 contract. The post office
Post office
A post office is a facility forming part of a postal system for the posting, receipt, sorting, handling, transmission or delivery of mail.Post offices offer mail-related services such as post office boxes, postage and packaging supplies...

 accepted the proposal and in 1924, Eielson received a de Havilland 4 that would be used to make eight mail runs to McGrath
McGrath, Alaska
As of the census of 2000, there were 401 people, 145 households, and 99 families residing in the city. The population density was 8.2 people per square mile . There were 213 housing units at an average density of 4.4 per square mile...

, 280 miles (450.6 km) away.

Planes used

Bush flying involves operations in rough terrain, necessitating bush plane
Bush plane
A bush airplane is a general aviation aircraft serving remote, undeveloped areas of a country, usually the African bush, Alaskan and Canadian tundra or the Australian Outback...

s to be equipped with tundra tires, float
A seaplane is a fixed-wing aircraft capable of taking off and landing on water. Seaplanes that can also take off and land on airfields are a subclass called amphibian aircraft...

s, or ski
A ski is a long, flat device worn on the foot, usually attached through a boot, designed to help the wearer slide smoothly over snow. Originally intended as an aid to travel in snowy regions, they are now mainly used for recreational and sporting purposes...

s. A bush plane should have good short take-off and landing capabilities. A typical bush plane will have wings on top of its fuselage
The fuselage is an aircraft's main body section that holds crew and passengers or cargo. In single-engine aircraft it will usually contain an engine, although in some amphibious aircraft the single engine is mounted on a pylon attached to the fuselage which in turn is used as a floating hull...

 to ensure that they do not make contact with any overgrowth in the landing area. They will normally have conventional "tail-dragger" landing gear
Conventional landing gear
thumb|The [[Piper PA-18|Piper Super Cub]] is a popular taildragger aircraft.thumb|right|A [[Cessna 150]] converted to taildragger configuration by installation of an after-market modification kit....

 as it has a greater aeronautic ability than tricycle landing gear, and is more suited to rough surfaces. The increased upward angle of the taildragger configuration gives the propeller more clearance from the ground allowing it to avoid striking large rocks, logs and other debris that might cause damage. However tricycle gear ("Nose wheel") bushplanes are capable of landing almost anywhere a tail dragger can, provided it is equipped with suitable oversize high flotation tires and is correctly loaded.

See also

Bush pilots
  • Punch Dickins
    Punch Dickins
    Clennell Haggerston "Punch" Dickins OC, OBE, DFC was a pioneering Canadian aviator and bush pilot. Northern Indians called him "Snow Eagle;" northern whites called him "White Eagle;" while the press dubbed him the "Flying Knight of the Northland."-Early years:Clennell Haggerston Dickins was born...

  • Arthur Massey Berry
    Arthur Massey Berry
    Arthur Massey "Matt" Berry was a pioneering Canadian bush pilot.-Early years:Born on a farm in March, Ontario, near Ottawa, on June 19, 1888, Arthur Massey Berry entered the First World War as a Captain with the 153rd Battalion of the Canadian Expeditionary Force...

  • Rusty Blakey
  • Ernest Joseph Boffa
    Ernest Joseph Boffa
    Ernest Joseph Boffa was a pioneering Canadian bush pilot.-Biography:Born on April 16, 1904 at Piedmont, Italy, Ernest Joseph Boffa relocated as a young child to Canada with his family, living first in calgary and then in Thunder Bay , Ontario. He left school in 1918 to go full-time at his job in a...

  • Wilfred Leigh Brintnell
    Wilfred Leigh Brintnell
    Wilfred Leigh Brintnell was a pioneering Canadian aviator.Born at Belleville, Ontario on August 27, 1895, Brintnell joined the Royal Flying Corps in Canada in 1917. A pilot, Brintnell instructed until his discharge in 1919, for the RFC at Fort Worth, Texas; the Royal Air Force at Camp Borden,...

  • Earl Frederick Crabb
    Earl Frederick Crabb
    Lieutenant Earl Frederick Crabb was a World War I flying ace credited with six aerial victories. After World War I, he was an aviation pioneer and bush pilot. He returned to military aviation during World War II...

  • Carl Ben Eielson
  • John Emilius Fauquier
    John Emilius Fauquier
    John Emilius “Johnny” Fauquier DSO & Two Bars, DFC was a Canadian aviator and Second World War Bomber Command leader. He commanded No. 405 Squadron RCAF and later No. 617 Squadron RAF over the course of the war. A bush pilot, prior to the war, he joined the RCAF as a flight instructor in 1939. He...

  • Martin Hartwell
    Martin Hartwell
    Martin Hartwell was a Canadian bush pilot. On November 8, 1972 Hartwell was given a charter to fly from Cambridge Bay, N.W.T. with three passengers who had just arrived from Spence Bay; a pregnant Inuk woman named Neemee Nulliayok, a 14 year old Inuk boy named David Pisurayak Kootook , and an...

  • Hugh Lamprey
    Hugh Lamprey
    Hugh Lamprey was a British ecologist and bush pilot.He became famous for his UN report on desertification in the African Sahel region, where he stated that "the desert southern boundary has shifted south by an average of 90 to 100 kilometres in the last 17 years"...

  • Wop May
    Wop May
    Captain Wilfrid Reid "Wop" May, OBE, DFC , was a First World War flying ace and a pioneering aviator who created the role of the bush pilot while working the Canadian west....

  • Russel Merrill
    Russel Merrill
    Russel Hyde Merrill was an Alaskan aviation pioneer. Born in Des Moines, Iowa, he became a U.S. Navy pilot during World War I, becoming Naval Aviator No. 469...

  • Grant McConachie
    Grant McConachie
    George William Grant McConachie was a Canadian bush pilot and businessman who became CEO of Canadian Pacific Airlines ....

  • Welland Phipps
    Welland Phipps
    Welland Wilford "Weldy" "Angayuroluk" Phipps was a military pilot and prisoner of war during World War II, a pioneer bush pilot, inventor and a territorial level politician.-World War II:...

  • Maxwell "Max" William Ward
  • Noel Wien
    Noel Wien
    Noel Wien was an American pioneer aviator. He was the founder of Wien Air Alaska, Alaska's first airline.-Biography:...

Related articles
  • Royal Flying Doctor Service of Australia
    Royal Flying Doctor Service of Australia
    The Royal Flying Doctor Service of Australia is an emergency and primary health care service for those living in rural, remote and regional areas of Australia...

External links

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