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How do I Become a Bush Pilot?

Becoming a bush pilot requires obtaining a private pilot license, instrument rating, and commercial pilot license. Additionally, gaining experience in diverse weather conditions and terrains is crucial. Consider specialized bush pilot training for skills like short takeoff and landing techniques.
Jessica Ellis
Jessica Ellis
Jessica Ellis
Jessica Ellis

A bush pilot is a certified aviator that works in extremely remote locations, like the outback of Australia or the wilderness of Canada and Alaska. Highly skilled professionals, bush pilots are the ultimate adventurers, prepared to handle any emergency from spotting forest fires to warding off wildlife. Becoming a bush pilot requires extensive training and multiple certifications. Though different regions may have different licensing requirements, expect to spend several years training to become a bush pilot regardless of location.

The first step on the road to become a bush pilot is to obtain a basic private pilot license (PPL). This can be achieved through taking a training program at a certified flight school and passing several intensive tests. Following this first section of training, a pilot will need a commercial pilot license (CPL) in order to offer business services, crucial for anyone who wants to become a professional bush pilot.

Many bush pilots have backgrounds working for crop dusting services and other businesses that work in rural areas.
Many bush pilots have backgrounds working for crop dusting services and other businesses that work in rural areas.

For those who wish to be able to transport passengers, and additional level of certification is also required. This license is called the air traffic pilot license or ATPL. Though training requirements for these programs may vary regionally, most areas have relatively similar programs and tests required for certification. Some of the things learned while in training include plane maintenance, flying, basic medical training, air traffic protocols, and safety training. Students must show aptitude in both written and practical tests before being granted any of the licenses.

Bush pilots work in remote areas, such as Alaska.
Bush pilots work in remote areas, such as Alaska.

Some specialized training is required to become a bush pilot. Since bush pilots work in rugged areas where landing strips may be non-existent, they often use planes that can take off or land in water or on snow. Most bush pilots must be comfortable in dangerous flying areas such as mountain ranges, and be prepared to handle safety emergencies a long way from supplies or airstrips. Many flight schools offer additional training courses that may help a person become a bush pilot.

Many bush pilots use planes that can take off and land in water.
Many bush pilots use planes that can take off and land in water.

One of the advantages for a person who wants to become a bush pilot is the ability to be his or her own boss. Bush pilots often own their own planes and choose their own work. While it may not pay as much as commercial piloting, bush piloting is ideal for adventure junkies that want to be independent and live the romantic life of a wilderness adventurer. One major step on the road to become a bush pilot may be to buy a plane that is capable of handling the terrain in the area.

The "bush" is a part of Australia which is unsettled and undeveloped, but not as remote as the Outback.
The "bush" is a part of Australia which is unsettled and undeveloped, but not as remote as the Outback.

Once certified, not all bush pilots work independently. Some liaise with larger companies to ferry passengers and goods to remote locations. Others may work with fire departments as spotters, searching remote and dangerous terrain for outbreaks of fire. A bush pilot may even work with government-run drug prevention organizations to spot growing sites of illegal drugs such as marijuana. These jobs may be done full time or may be in addition to a pilot's independent work.

Jessica Ellis
Jessica Ellis

With a B.A. in theater from UCLA and a graduate degree in screenwriting from the American Film Institute, Jessica is passionate about drama and film. She has many other interests, and enjoys learning and writing about a wide range of topics in her role as a PracticalAdultInsights writer.

Learn more...
Jessica Ellis
Jessica Ellis

With a B.A. in theater from UCLA and a graduate degree in screenwriting from the American Film Institute, Jessica is passionate about drama and film. She has many other interests, and enjoys learning and writing about a wide range of topics in her role as a PracticalAdultInsights writer.

Learn more...

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    • Many bush pilots have backgrounds working for crop dusting services and other businesses that work in rural areas.
      By: Sly
      Many bush pilots have backgrounds working for crop dusting services and other businesses that work in rural areas.
    • Bush pilots work in remote areas, such as Alaska.
      By: juan35mm
      Bush pilots work in remote areas, such as Alaska.
    • Many bush pilots use planes that can take off and land in water.
      By: pollux
      Many bush pilots use planes that can take off and land in water.
    • The "bush" is a part of Australia which is unsettled and undeveloped, but not as remote as the Outback.
      By: Tupungato
      The "bush" is a part of Australia which is unsettled and undeveloped, but not as remote as the Outback.