Flying Wild Pilot Jim Tweto Killed In Crash


Legendary Alaska bush pilot Jim Tweto has been confirmed as one of two men who died in the crash of a Cessna 180 near Unalakleet, Alaska, on June 16. Tweto was flying the 180 and the other victim was Idaho guide Shane Reynolds, a family friend. Witnesses said the aircraft failed to gain altitude and crashed shortly after takeoff. No official details are available. His daughter Ariel confirmed the tragedy in a Facebook post, saying her dad died “doing what he truly loved.”

Tributes are pouring in for Tweto, who was considered a household name in the North for his bush and mountain flying exploits. He moved to Alaska on a hockey scholarship in 1973 and started flying shortly afterward. He eventually became the COO of Era, Alaska’s biggest regional carrier. But he was probably best known as the central figure in the 2011-12 Discovery reality show Flying Wild Alaska, which followed Tweto, his pilots and family through the challenges of Alaska wilderness flying.

Russ Niles
Russ Niles is Editor-in-Chief of AVweb. He has been a pilot for 30 years and joined AVweb 22 years ago. He and his wife Marni live in southern British Columbia where they also operate a small winery.

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  1. Tweto seemed like a fixture servicing rural communities in Alaska. Go with God and tail winds to you Jim Tweto as you fly West.

  2. Enjoyed that show back in the day. Even really good pilots are susceptible to fate. We all need to be ready to return to God.

  3. During my decade long aviation stint in sub-Sahara Africa a local legend lost his life in a “bush” context related accident. Having just replaced this pilot at his previous post I was naturally shaken by his death, wondering what I was doing out there if this environment could claim someone like him. His death inspired in me a recommitment to safety by increasing my own respect for the environment in which we flew. That environment more than others can ruthlessly claim lives. It’s one thing to compete in STOL competitions with tricked out single purpose airplanes. It’s another to do the everyday work with utility workhorse airplanes demanded by aviation in the outback. Condolences to the families of both men.

  4. My sincere condolences to the families. Let that be a lesson to me and my students; that even the best pilots are subject to the vagaries of nature and mechanical issues. Fly safely, always be on your guard, but understand that this flying business has risks and fate is indeed the hunter.