New to backcountry flying and want a great place to find out how to get started? Or are you a veteran backcountry pilot looking for like-minded souls?
Whichever you may be, you are in luck. There’s a meeting place on the web that was created just for you: BackcountryPilot.org. Started in 2004 by software developer and backcountry pilot Zane Jacobson, the website features news, stories, tips, and a forum for pilots to share information.
An updated version of the site launched about a year ago, with even more features and content on all things related to backcountry flying.
According to Jacobson, he started the site about 10 years ago as an alternative to other type-specific forums.
“There were forums for Maules, Super Cubs, Champs, Skywagons, Cessna 170s, etc., but I felt that there was really an opportunity to transcend the type focus and unite pilots’ common interest in backcountry and bush flying, because that was what I loved and wanted to discuss — I didn’t care what aircraft anyone flew,” he said. “I also wanted to contribute something to the flying community, and as a career software developer, this was the one thing I knew how to do.”
Boasting more than 4,500 registered users, the site is a place where backcountry pilots can interact with each other.
“I think that pilots from all walks of aviation can appreciate the sentiment of flying into the mountains or the most remote regions of Alaska, Canada or Africa, and the sense of adventure that it stirs, but for some pilots, that is the sole reason they fly,” Jacobson said. “We have members who’ve been career bush pilots in Alaska and the Yukon, or other regions of the world that are just as vast and unpopulated. On the other end of the spectrum, we have aspiring student pilots and those who are excited just to be learning how to fly tailwheel aircraft. The common thread is that getting out into the backcountry to camp, fish, hunt and explore — away from civilization and pavement and traffic — is the main objective.”
According to Jacobson, he’s noticed that the community of pilots using the site has arrived at a “great equilibrium.”
“The pros and veterans enjoy passing on their knowledge as much as the greenhorn pilots enjoy picking their brains,” he said.
But it’s not all roses, he notes.
Whenever you get a group of pilots together, expect strong opinions — and that’s just what you get at BackcountryPilot.org.
“The opinions are very strong at times, and can differ greatly, especially about some timeless topics like risk management, land use, regulation, liability, whether three-point or wheel landings are better in a crosswind, or even if one could escape an imminent crash in a surprise box canyon by pulling a Hammerhead maneuver,” he related. “Sometimes it’s raucous and laughable, but it’s always fun.”
Amid all that discussion, some real friendships are forged, according to Jacobson.
“Some would argue that’s the best thing about the website,” he said. “Members routinely post informal, impromptu fly-outs or get-togethers, and we even have a few larger annual fly-ins throughout the year. Personally, I’ve made a large number of friends on the site that I fly with or visit often — some amazing, interesting, and generous people, and it reinforces my decision to start the site in the first place.”
The newest version of the site launched about a year ago and, according to Jacobson, “it’s been more fun that ever.”
While the forum continues to be the most popular feature among users, he said he is most enthusiastic about the feature stories that showcase users’ photos and videos.
“Some of the photos our members shoot are simply mind-blowing, and I’m enjoying putting them on a stage for the world to enjoy,” he said.
“Also, with the help of some great writers in our community, we’ve published a host of informative articles in the ‘Knowledge Base,’ with the intent to compile some of the best and most useful information from the forum into an organized encyclopedia-type resource” he continued. “Topics range from flying technique, to preferred modifications for certain aircraft types, to wilderness survival.”
As with most online communities, BackcountryPilot.org has a dedicated core fan base. Jacobson estimates that about 30% of the site’s registered users are “daily addicts” who stay engaged in conversations in the forum, or post photos and videos to their profiles.
“Some are what we call ‘lurkers’ who just enjoy reading, without actually posting,” he noted. “That’s the beauty of it though — I’ve met people out in the wild who tell me they enjoy lurking but they don’t really want to post anything, and that’s okay. The site is meant to be consumed for its knowledge and entertainment value.”