Backcountry Pilot: Flying Adventures with Ike Russell

Front Cover
Thomas Bowen
University of Arizona Press, May 1, 2010 - Biography & Autobiography - 207 pages
0 Reviews
When people get together around southern Arizona, there's a good chance that somebody will say, "That reminds me of the time I flew with Ike Russell. . . . " A backcountry pilot famous for his jaunts into the wildest, most remote regions of the borderlands, Alexander "Ike" Russell has become something of a legend since his death in 1980, and the stories surrounding his flights never fail to amaze.

This book combines biography and oral history by offering a wide range of anecdotes and remembrances about Ike by friends and family. Many describe the great adventures and gut-wrenching close calls that have become enshrined in local folklore as classic "Ike Russell stories," in all their hair-raising and hilarious splendor.

Russell was an easterner who moved to Arizona for his health and got his pilot's license in 1948—despite suffering from a respiratory disorder that would have kept other men firmly anchored to the ground. Over the years he flew scientists and other scholars to remote field locations in Mexico's Gulf of California and Sierra Madre Occidental that otherwise might not have been investigated. He often landed on short and dangerous airstrips and never seemed to mind running out of gas, getting caught without provisions, or attempting night landings in unlighted terrain. He took along a teapot wherever he went—and wherever he stopped, his first priority was to brew a quick cup.

Backcountry Pilot is the story of a larger-than-life adventurer, with those who knew Ike sharing tales tall and true about his famous exploits, brushes with fate, and sometimes narrow escapes from the jaws of disaster. It includes reminiscences by such scientists and friends as botanist Richard Felger, whom Ike frequently flew down to Seriland; ethnohistorian Bernard Fontana, whom Ike took to Tarahumara country; and paleoecologist Paul Martin, who talked Ike into a nine-month trip through Africa over totally unfamiliar terrain. A concluding chapter by Thomas Bowen offers a brief biographical sketch of Russell.

Ike Russell was a central figure for a generation of people who studied the southwestern desert and who helped others see it as a biological treasure rather than a wasteland. More than a highly skilled bush pilot, he was an extraordinary human being who touched the lives of everyone he met. For those who never got the chance, Backcountry Pilot secures Ike Russell's legacy in the desert skies.
 

What people are saying - Write a review

We haven't found any reviews in the usual places.

Contents

Cathy Moser Marlett
26
Of Course Theres Enough Gas dean brooks
49
Bringing the Desert Bighorn Lamb Home
55
Marooned on a Desert Island Susan Randolph
64
The Sierra Mad re Occidental
73
Letter from the Rascon Ranch
80
East Africa and Madagascar
88
Africa and Madagascar
89
You Dont Need to Be Relatives to Make a Family hector DAntoni
130
Learning and Teaching
139
First Flight Paul Dayton
140
The Old Pilot and a Young Stud DRUM HADLEY
143
Wearing the Wings ken mcvicar
144
Lessons from the Master peter Marshall
147
Saved Ronald jacobowitz
150
Because Its There bob russell
152

Africa PAUL S MARTIN
90
Looking for Lemurs on the Great Red Island Alan walker
99
South America 106
106
Southern Mexico and South America
107
Lights Out in Ixtepec William t Starmer
108
A Magical Musical Tour of Mexico Mary mcWhorter
114
South America Paul S martin
119
Landing a Butterfly chuck Hanson
154
Grace David russell
155
Closing the Loop douc peacock
165
Farewell
175
The Crate Luke russell
176
Que en Paz Descanse Bernard L fontana
180
Copyright

Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases

About the author (2010)

Thomas Bowen is Professor Emeritus of Anthropology at California State University--Fresno and a research associate at the University of Arizona's Southwest Center.

Bibliographic information