The mystique and adventure of bush planes are woven into the fabric of American society. Making modern life possible in the most remote wilderness regions throughout the nation (particularly Alaska) bush planes play an essential role in the survival of those who reside in these areas. Bush planes assist in being able to deliver and obtain food, fuel, supplies, mail, tools, medical supplies, parts for vehicles, etc., where other means of transportation are virtually impossible to pass through.
Anglers and hunters have also relied upon bush planes for many generations in order to be able to get them to difficult regions which are simply too hard to paddle or hike to but where the wildlife is in full abundance. In this brief article, we will be shedding a little light on some of the top American bush planes that have truly set the course for wildlife enthusiasts to be able to access some of the most beautiful and remote locations in the USA.
Piper Super Cub
The Piper Super Cub was initially crafted from the design of the Piper PA-11, and its lineage can be traced from the Taylor E-2 Cub and the J-3 both from the 1930s. In roughly 40 years of production, more than 9,000 of these planes were built. The Super Cub was built between 1949-1983 and then again between 1988-1994. It is really of no great surprise that wide open spaces can not always be found in the backcountry, which means that bush planes need to be capable of nailing short landings and takeoffs. The Super Cub bush plane is an absolute champion in the STOL (Short Takeoff and Landing) category. Due to the fact that it is more than capable of being able to get up and down incredibly quickly, this bush plane is able to access shorter, off-airport landing regions including gravel bars and flat-tundra benches. It has been noted that pilots have even successfully notched landings on sloped mountainsides and glaciers.
The Super Cub is a two-seater bush plane with a pretty small carrying capacity (1-2 people, plus a light gear load). The Super Cub boasts cruising speeds of upwards of 115 mph and a 460-mile range so you can easily make it to virtually any destination you are seeking to go.
In 1963, the six-seat Cessna 206 was first introduced to the market as a model and would not formally be built until 1986 which was when Cessna went on to halt the production of their single-engine bush planes. The 206 would then be re-introduced back in 1998 and today the total number of Cessna 206’s in production is over 6500.
Cessna has noted that this bush plane is the “sport utility of the air,” quite an accurate statement to say the very least. The Cessna 206 provides users with a super powerful engine, comfortable interior, large load-hauling, and rugged construction. This plane provides pilots with helpful oversized tundra tires and can land on some of the most uneven, rocky, and roughest surfaces. This super versatile plane also allows for skis and floats as well. This plane remains incredibly popular to this day, largely thanks to its 163 mph cruising speeds and 840-mile range.
Originally built in 1936, the Grumman Goose is an amphibious flying boat that was designed to serve as a high-end eight-seater commuter plane for well-to-do businessmen in the Long Island region. The Goose was the first monoplane by Grumman as well as its first commercial airline service and first twin-engined aircraft. This would all change during WWII, however, when it served as a military transport plane.
The Grumman Goose is large and very fast (with a cruising speed of 191 mph) machine, not to mention it floats, which makes it the perfect bush plane for those who opt to fly with larger groups of anglers and who pack more gear. The Goose gives you the opportunity to be able to land right on the water, taxi up to land and quickly offload your equipment for fast and easy fishing. The Goose is also great on land landings making it perfect for hunters to be able to get to the backcountry as well.
The Quest Kodiak is a relative newcomer to the world of American bush planes, having made its maiden voyage in 2004. This one offers users a single turboprop engine along with fixed tricycle landing gear. It is more than capable of delivering effective STOL operations from airfields that are unimproved, and it truly is one of the top-rated bush planes on the market today (over 250 of them were delivered in 2018 alone).
The Kodiak can carry up to 9 passengers and 1 pilot and is over 34’ in length, with a height of over 15’, and a wing span area of 240 square feet. The Kodiak also boasts cruising speeds of 174 KTAS and can reach up to 12,000’. This bush plane is capable of flying for approximately 10 hours and it has a maximum takeoff weight of 7255 pounds with a reversible constant-speed feathering type of propeller. This plane really has it all for those who enjoy hunting and/or angling in packs and with increased amounts of equipment.
American bush planes are most certainly are an essential factor when it comes to being able to hunt and fish in some of the most unique and remote areas of our nation, and it is certainly not surprising that they are relied upon by so many simply to be able to survive and get the items they need. It’s fitting that bush planes are incredibly durable and resilient just like the homesteaders, hunters, trappers, and anglers that use them. Long live the bush plane and the way of life that surrounds them.