"You won't want to put it down while the midnight sun still shines!"--Airways Magazine
"MAYDAY, MADAY! I'M GOING DOWN, I'M GOING D--"
Two young pilots, Daniel "DC" Alva, and Allen David Foley, take on the world's most dangerous flying: the Alaskan bush. But Mother Nature--and a beautiful Native Alaskan--stand in their way.
Southeast Alaska Seaplanes, Juneau. Retired airline captain, Chief Pilot Dusty Tucker pilots a renegade band of flying misfits. Meet legendary bush pilot Jake "Crash" Whitakker, equally adept at landing planes and ladies--and "crashin' 'em" as well; prankster pilot Ralph Olaphsen, who once set an extinct volcano ablaze on April Fool's Day; and no-nonsense Check Airman Holly Innes, trying to cut a respectable niche in the notoriously macho bush pilot world--while escaping a dangerous past.
Amid Alaska's volatile skies, DC and Allen face escalating challenges in and out of the cockpit. As the two cheechackos, or greenhorns, learn the ropes, they are also roped into Crash and Ralph's hare-brained scheme, Operation Dirty Harry. Under the suspicious nose of Draconian FAA Inspector Frederick Bruner, the pilots hatch a plot to hijack and rescue a planeload of orphaned bear cubs. Moreover, mischievous Tlingit Indian Tonya Hunter, as wild and unpredictable as the land in which she lives, plays the two lovestruck cheechackos against each other.
But the true villain of the story is Mother Nature herself. Alaska's notoriously fickle weather and rugged terrain take on a life of its own.
Can the two cheechackos survive Her relentless onslaught and launch their fledgeling airline careers?"
From the Author
For example, in Chapter 3, Eagle & Salmon, the scene where an eagle with a salmon in its talons flies inches over the boys' heads while they're chatting on the Juneau Airport ramp, happened to me. It remains one of the most breathtaking scenes in my life. And in Chapter 22, The Sky Fell, DC faces the bush pilot's ultimate fear. That experience also happened to me, and proved to be a watershed moment in my flying career. Readers of my blog at capnaux.com will recall the true story in my post, The Sky Fell. Moreover, the way both pilots handle their emergency landings come from hours plying the Southeast Alaska skies, contemplating exactly just what I would do if faced with those situations.
In another incident that inspired a subplot for this book, I did indeed fly three orphaned bear cubs. As in the novel, a poacher killed their momma sow. While those real-life cubs found homes in zoos in the Lower Forty-Eight, I wanted to spin a fun yarn exacting poetic justice on said poacher; hence, the Doyle brothers in the book. And, by the way, bear cubs really do stink to high heaven!
Some minor facts have been altered to serve the story. For example, Etolin Island, not Pleasant Island, contains the Roosevelt Elk herd. I also have to confess that real-life credit for character Ralph Olaphsen's genius "volcanic" April First hoax goes to one Oliver "Porky" Bickar.
A major theme that shapes this book is Alaska; the land, the people, their way of life. But Alaska's dominating trait, in this book and in real life, is the weather. In The Last Bush Pilots, Mother Nature is personified as the Ultimate Adversary, and modern day bush pilots would do well to think of Her as such. She dominates every decision we make, from how much fuel to take, what route to fly, even whether to launch or not. To that end, the most accurate scenes in this book, I believe, are the ones that take place in the air.*
I may have only spent a scant summer season in that magical land called Alaska, but the lessons and impressions stuck with me for life.
And inspired this novel.