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Bush Flying: For the adventurous ones

Some of the most exciting, yet challenging flying that I’ve had the opportunity to do (so far) has been in the ‘bush,’ or some version thereof. Searching for unmanned airfields, often not on the charts. Or pushing the carb heat to the wall in preparation for a ‘chop and drop’ approach into a meandering river. It’s always a matter of keeping the options open. You never know what might be waiting when the wheels, or floats hit the deck.

Sometimes it’s ankle deep sand, with mole mounds littering the strip. Or stones as big as golf balls threatening to strike a leading edge. Mole hills and cow patties with tall trees choking the strip. Or half sunken debris with completely crazy hooligans jetting down the river, playing chicken with your prop. Palms sweating and heart beating a little faster just recalling some of these flights. 

And that’s just the strips. Throw some terrain, bad weather or a herd of buffalo into the mix and things start to get real interesting. Pushing the envelope here is a fine line between immense focus or testing your skill and reckless stupidity. Which is usually the result of multiple mistakes lining up at the right time ending in the wrong result. They’ve even got a name for it, the Swiss cheese model of accident causation. 

Flying in the bush is about thorough planning and always giving yourself an out.

Even a little doubt, remember the out.

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Rhett Shillaw