Episode 75. Bush flying in Alaska, with Patrick Carter

Patrick CarterHaving flown everything from aerobatic airplanes to airliners to seaplanes, Patrick Carter loves to apply the lessons from one part of aviation to another. In this episode, he takes us inside the world of Alaskan bush pilots to explain the skills they need to stay safe, how to evaluate off-airport landing sites, and how to manage changing weather. Patrick also talks about handling emergencies far from airports, as he learned first hand on a recent flight in a Super Cub. Patrick is an advocate for flying with video cameras, so he shares practical advice for mounting cameras externally and capturing audio. In the Ready to Copy segment, Patrick shares a helpful airline travel tip, his favorite aerobatic maneuver, and what he looks for on test flights after maintenance.


  • How bush pilots stay safe: “Most of these guys that might fit into the legend category… pass way more than they take on landings.”

  • Managing weather in Alaska: “A lot of it is evaluating weather as we go, and never letting ourselves get into a situation where we don’t have an out.”

  • Bush pilot skills for airline flying: “In the airline world we use a concept called latest touchdown point… that’s also something that might have originated in the bush flying world.”

  • Patrick’s accident: “In an instant, it went up on its nose… it sank to the axles.”

  • How insurance helps: “For me, that made insurance worth it. Almost more than the financial aspect was the ability to make decisions based on safety and not finances.” 

  • Advice for making an off-airport landing: “Number one: seek out instruction… it’s worth every penny.”

  • Mounting cameras on your airplane: “You can mount a camera with the approval of your A&P anywhere that doesn’t adversely affect aerodynamics, weight and balance or structural integrity.”

  • The value of video for pilots: “I realized this isn’t just for aerobatics, this is for all flight training. If we video debrief, we’re going to have better retention.”

  • Advice for airline travelers: ”Be nice to the gate agent. They may not have the ability to upgrade your seat that day, but they probably have the ability to downgrade it. So, karma is real.”

  • Something to look for on a flight after maintenance: “Are the doors sealed up? That also leads to carbon monoxide, so I check that after annual.”


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