Bush plane

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An American Champion Scout. Note the oversized tundra tires, for use on rough surfaces.

A bush airplane is a general aviation aircraft used to provide unscheduled passenger and freight services to remote, undeveloped areas of a country, such as the Alaskan tundra, the Canadian north (or bush), the African bush, or the Australian Outback. They are used where ground transportation infrastructure is inadequate or doesn't exist.[1]

Common traits

Since a bush plane is defined by how it's used, a wide variety of different aircraft with different configurations have been used over the years as such, however experience has shown certain traits to be desirable, and so appear frequently, especially on aircraft specifically designed as bush planes. None of these traits are mandatory - merely that they are commonly seen features of bush planes.

  • The undercarriage is designed to be fitted with floats, skis or wheel/skis to permit operation from water or snow (primarily for Alaskan, Canadian and Russian use).
  • High wings ease loading and unloading, particularly from docks, as well as improve downward visibility during flight and increase clearance to reduce the potential for damage during landing or take-off. A high wing is less likely to be damaged during loading or unloading than a low wing.
  • Conventional or "taildragger" landing gear—two large main wheels and a small rear wheel reduce both weight and drag, increasing the load the aircraft can carry and its speed and it reduces excessive stresses on the airframe compared to a nosewheel. A failure is also less critical as a broken tailwheel is easily repaired and won't prevent the aircraft from flying, unlike a broken nosewheel.
  • Short runway requirements, typically gained through high aspect ratio wings and high-lift devices such as flaps, slots and slats to improve low speed flight characteristics, allowing shorter ground rolls on landing or takeoff.
  • Very large, low-pressure tundra tires may be fitted to enable the pilot to operate from broken ground. It's not uncommon for a bush pilot to land (and take off) from unprepared surfaces.

Current and historical bush planes

Years in brackets are of first flight.

Aviation museums with large collections of bush planes

Appearances in the media

See also


  1. "Bush planes used in areas where roads do not exist".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. Anderson, 2004, p.82
  3. Foster, 1990, p.74-79
  4. Foster, 1990, p.189-191
  5. Foster, 1990, p.174, 190
  6. Foster, 1990, p.191
  7. Anderson, 2004, p.31
  8. Foster, 1990, p.97, 102, 175
  9. Foster, 1990, p.156
  10. Foster, 1990, p.64-65, 156
  11. Foster, 1990, p.191, 197
  12. Foster, 1990, p.43-45
  13. Foster, 1990, p.48
  14. Cole, 1986, p.4
  15. Foster, 1990, p.74, 131, 188
  16. Foster, 1990, p.139
  17. Foster, 1990, p.105, 200
  18. Foster, 1990, p.173, 190
  19. Foster, 1990, p.199
  20. Foster, 1990, p.199, 201
  21. Foster, 1990, p.202, 207, 210
  22. Foster, 1990, p.177, 188
  23. Foster, 1990, p.204
  24. Cole, 1986, p.34-38
  25. Foster, 1990, p.135
  26. Foster, 1990, p.107, 115, 138
  27. Foster, 1990, p.136, 138
  28. Cole, 1986, p.49-55
  29. Foster, 1990, p.4
  30. Foster, 1990, p.53, 56-57
  31. Foster, 1990, p.52-53, 56-57, 70-71
  32. Cole, 1986, p.39-42
  33. Foster, 1990, p.152, 155
  34. Foster, 1990, p.207-208
  35. 35.0 35.1 Foster, 1990, p.197
  36. Foster, 1990, p.204, 208
  37. Foster, 1990, p.36-41
  38. Foster, 1990, p.180
  39. Foster, 1990, p.101-102, 158, 166, 188.
  40. Foster, 1990, p.180-181
  41. Foster, 1990, p.95-98
  42. Foster, 1990, p.142-143, 174, 188
  43. Foster, 1990, p.195, 198
  44. Cole, 1986, p.45-48
  45. Foster, 1990, p.47
  46. Foster, 1990, p.194


  • Anderson, Frank W.; Downs, Art (2004). The Death of Albert Johnson - Mad Trapper of Rat River. Surrey, BC: Heritage House Publishing Co. ISBN 1-894384-03-2.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Boer, Peter (2004). Bush Pilots - Canada's Wilderness Daredevils. Canada: Folklore Publishing. ISBN 1-894864-12-3.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Cole, Dermot (1986). Frank Barr - Bush pilot in Alaska and the Yukon. Edmonds, WA: Alaska Northwest Publishing Co. ISBN 0-88240-314-1.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Foster, J.A. (1990). The Bush Pilots - A pictoral history of a Canadian phenomenon. Toronto, ON: McClelland & Stewart Inc. ISBN 0-7710-3245-5.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Keith, Ronald A. (1972). Bush Pilot with a briefcase. Toronto, ON: Doubleday Canada. ISBN 0-385-07049-7.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Matheson, Shirlee Smith (1994). Flying the Frontiers. Saskatoon, SK: Fifth House. ISBN 978-1895618518.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Terpening, Rex (2006). Bent Props and Blow Pots - A Pioneer Remembers Northern Bush Flying. Madeira Park, BC: Harour Publishing. ISBN 1-55017-381-2.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Lua error in Module:Citation/CS1/Identifiers at line 47: attempt to index field 'wikibase' (a nil value).
  • Milberry, Larry (1985). Austin Airways - Canada's Oldest Airline. Toronto, ON: CANAV Books. ISBN 978-0969070337.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links