Experience what it really means to be “off the grid” with Discovery Channel’s “Flying Wild Alaska”
America was introduced to the Tweto family in January of 2011 on Discovery’s latest addition to its Alaska lineup, “Flying Wild Alaska.” The show chronicles the adventures and challenges faced by a family making its living in one of the state’s most iconic professions. (Alaska has six times as many pilots per capita as the rest of the United States, and 14 times as many airplanes.)
In Alaska, the majority of communities are not connected to a major hub city or the rest of the country by highway, so private and commercial pilots provide a lifeline to the outside world by delivering food, mail, emergency services and just about everything else. The patriarch of the Tweto family, Jim Tweto, owns a commuter airline serving 75 Alaska communities that started from humble roots in the tiny, remote village of Unalakleet on the coast of the Bering Sea. The show offers viewers a glimpse of life in rural Alaska, where communities of a few hundred (or maybe only a few dozen) people are critically dependent on air carriers for basic daily life. Visitors have several options for seeing this lifestyle firsthand.
- A small regional airline not unlike the one owned by the Tweto family, Warbelow’s Air Ventures out of Fairbanks, will take visitors along on a unique tour of Alaska Native villages as they deliver the mail and other goods to isolated residents. Available as either a full- or half-day tour, Warbelow’s Bush Mail Flight tour will visit communities in the central area of Alaska’s Interior, including several Athabascan communities along the Yukon River. Other options include wildlife viewing by air and a tour that takes visitors to the Athabascan village of Anaktuvuk Pass and Gates of the Arctic National Park. Tours are available in winter, too. For more information, visit Warbelow’s Air Ventures.
Flightseeing in Alaska is a great way to catch a glimpse of Mount McKinley or other remote areas of the state. Primary flightseeing providers are Rust’s Flying Service, Talkeetna Air Taxi and Temsco Helicopters, although smaller companies also offer tours. Trips range from an hour fly-over of Denali, to three hours with a glacier landing and time to hike on the glacier, to a full-day tour with half that time spent on the ground dog sledding, bear viewing, or any other number of activities. Check out any of these Alaska tour operators to also incorporate hiking, dog mushing or other adventurous activities into your flightseeing itinerary.