Alaska’s Bush Pilots “tell it like it is”

“That’s Alaska flying right there folks,” says a pilot standing with a rifle next to his plane after a shoreline landing in Alaska. A brown bear has come to check out this new visitor but the pilot remains wary. “These are not cuddly, warm bears you can pat,” he says. “These are wild beasts.”

Alaska’s Bush Pilots face tough flying conditions on a daily basis and as you’d expect many of them have untold stories. But how do these pilots actually make a living and what kind of flying work do they do?

The answers are in this latest movie by Jim Oltersdorf, a renowned photographer and film maker. The hour long documentary shows the commercial operations and the aircraft that these pilots fly. It also highlights the advanced avionics they rely upon for flights deep into the bush. As Jim says, it’s a compelling story of those who do this for a living.

The best part is, they tell it themselves.

Jim has already made a film about Alaska’s pilots as the ‘Real Deal” but his  second movie focuses right in on the commercial operations flown by the pilots. Jim spent five months filming this new one in response to emails and feedback from pilots who had watched his first film. “There was an incredible interest in not only how these men fly in the extreme and remote wilderness but also the varied kinds of the aircraft used,” he says. “Pilots from around the world asked that if we ever produced another documentary, that we incorporate educating the viewers about the latest technologies and equipment so they could gain an understanding of the assets available.  Most importantly, it is presented by the pilots who fly these machines that have a complete understanding of it.”

Co-producer, Laura Hinz, says the documentary truly is ‘the real deal’ and based upon the actual people who live and fly in the region. “What you hear and how it is told comes straight from those of whom we interviewed without any prompting,” she says. “They tell it like it is. ”

For advanced DVD copies, please see or e-mail Jim himself at

About Author

Dan Tye Dan came up with the idea for Adventure 52 after realising there wasn't a single publication focusing on adventure. He has been a pilot in the RAF, a ski instructor and has spent the past 12 years as journalist for motorcycling, flying and adventure magazines.

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