Alaskan Bushwheel: Helping GA pilots get to where they need to go

It’s an iconic brand: Alaskan Bushwheel tundra tires.

The tires are sold around the globe, but retain a special connection to Alaska, with Alaskan pilots making up about a third of the company’s customer base.

But when Bill Duncan bought the company in 2000 from Alaska Tire and Rubber Co., he moved it Joseph, Oregon.

IMG_9907Like so many companies — not just in aviation but in other industries —Duncan was a satisfied customer who first bought the company’s product, then the company.

“The year before we started the company here in Oregon, Bill had traveled to Alaska to purchase an airplane,” recalled Nicole Winn, office manager. “Upon seeing the tires and going about purchasing a pair for himself, one conversation lead to another.”

IMG_9910Moving the company to Oregon was fueled by the bottom line. “The logistics for the availability, as well as transportation of raw materials, was less expensive to Oregon than to Alaska,” she noted.

Once the new owners learned the techniques involved in building such unique tires, they started upgrading the building technology, rubber formulas, retesting and tire construction.

The range of products now include Alaskan Bushwheel and Airstreak tundra tires, Maule heavy duty and extended gear, tailsprings, 10-inch Alaskan Bush Wheels that run with the 8:50 or 29-inch tire and tube combination, tailwheel parts and assemblies that are direct replacements for the Scott 3200 and 3400 series, as well as its “baby Bushwheel” tailwheel assemblies. Also available are the new Performance STOL slotted flaps.

DSC_0020“Those are just the major items we produce,” Winn noted. “We also have many safety items, logo’d products, and tire treatment products.”

The folks at Alaskan Bushwheel pride themselves on helping general aviation pilots get to where they need to go: “Whether it is the backcountry of Idaho, the deserts of Utah, the Alaskan tundra, your favorite gravel bar for that prize fish or you just need to go check on the ranch, we’ve got what it takes for your airplane to expect the unexpected,” she said. “All of our products are FAA approved parts and we have Supplemental Type Certificates available for a number of different airplanes, including the Cessna, Piper, Husky, Scout, and Maule, just to name a few.”

Alaska 05 part 2 029Customers include GA pilots all over the world, including sport pilots, outfitters, missionary pilots, and pilots with government agencies, such as Fish & Game, the Forest Service and the Department of Interior.

“We have products in Europe, South America and all over the U.S.” Winn said. “Alaska makes up about a third of our business.”

100_0308[1]Under the new ownership, the business has grown from a four-man, one tire per day operation in a single hangar to a 15,000-square-foot manufacturing facility at Joseph State Airport (JSY) with 12 employees, producing hundreds of tires per year, along with its other many products and assemblies.

And expect more: “We’ve always got new products on the research table,” Winn said.

But you may have to wait.

“With the changes in the way the FAA is run, 10 years ago we could get products approved in a much faster fashion,” she noted. “We have products just itching to be released that have been on the approval trail for two years and some longer. This year we’re hoping to present our direct replacement Cessna tailsprings and Maule axles, along with one other common item on all general aviation aircraft.”

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