Book review: ‘Hearts of Courage’

In January 1943, an Electra piloted by Alaskan bush Pilot Harold Gillam crashed in foul weather on its way from Seattle to Anchorage. Gillam died trying to find help for the survivors. One other passenger also died after a couple days. Miraculously, four others survived nearly a month in the wilderness with little to eat, only the clothes on their backs and minimal survival gear.

John M. Tippets’ father, Joe Tippets, was one of those on the aircraft. Much of the survival story in Tippets’ new book, “Hearts of Courage,” is related as father told it to his son. In addition to the survival aspect and courage shown, the author has done considerable research into the crash and the harrowing survival and rescue experiences with the end result a fascinating, larger than life experience.

Tippets was a member of the Mormon Church and he credits his faith for surviving the crash and the ensuing days and weeks in sub-freezing weather, hiking down the side of a mountain and making his way, with one of the three other survivors, to the beach and ultimately having sailors on a ship spot them.

Hearts of Courage also includes numerous photos of the crash scene and additional information about Gillam, as well as flying operations in Alaska during the war years.

Copies of Hearts of Courage are available from Amazon and most aviation bookstores. Retail price is $19.95. You can also contact Tippets by email:

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