Review by Astrolorraine -- The Last Bush Pilots

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Review by Astrolorraine -- The Last Bush Pilots

Post by Astrolorraine »

[Following is a volunteer review of "The Last Bush Pilots" by Eric Auxier.]
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3 out of 4 stars
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Eric Auxier’s The Last Bush Pilots is a classic flying buddies adventure story set in the Alaskan wilderness. Two pilots dreaming of airlines go tough it out in Alaska in order to get twin-engine time and rough weather flying chops. I give this read 3 stars out of 4 . Being an aspiring pilot myself, I love aviation books and this is up to par in the genre. It contains all the classic topics you need to scratch your aviation itch: talk of radio navigation, spark plugs, checkride tension, gripes with the FAA and of course the healthy mix of respect and fear of weather that every good pilot has. However, there is more to the book than that. I was expecting no real plot or character development and instead lots of flying adventures (which would have been just fine). You do get those, but also all types of interesting subplots that all come neatly together at the end, and much more character backstory than in most adventure books. There were also some deeper running themes that added depth to the story, such as domestic violence or the conflict between seemingly arbitrary or misguided regulations (FAA), and field experience (“fly by the seat of your pants” pilots). The book was also clearly professionally edited and I found only three typos.

Besides all these points, I liked best how the author gives us a feel for Alaska’s rugged wilderness and even weaves real indigenous peoples of the Pacific Northwest Coast (the Tlingit) into the plot. I appreciated the colored aeronautical chart at the beginning of the book to help get a feel for the geography of the place. There are also beautiful black-and-white illustrations at the beginning of each chapter (and sometimes in the middle of a chapter) that seem to be drawings rendered from actual photographs.

The writing was somewhat cliché at times, but what I disliked most was the awkward treatment of women. For example, one of them gets molested and then starts dating the molester, but this isn’t part of the “domestic violence is bad” arc. This is her “finding love” arc. There are only three women that have plot time and each is a complete cliché: You have the annoying ex-girlfriend. You have the sexy native who is described as a wild beast under an innocent façade, complete with a back-alley rape that turns into passionate lovemaking… and there is the only female pilot in the story, who gets the full machismo treatment from the obligatory “you need to get laid” to “you look cute when you’re angry”, and every sexist slur or sexual innuendo you care to imagine.

The depth of plot and of most characters and the awesome flying scenes would have made this read a 4/4 for me, but I knocked one star off for how I cringed in about every scene involving a female character. You might want to know that there is mild profanity throughout the entire book, as well as a couple erotic scenes and sexual assault scenes.

Despite this, I think this book will be enjoyable to readers who like stories about aviation, the rugged “frontier” life, the great north etc. If you’ve enjoyed aviation fiction by the likes of Roald Dahl, Antoine de Saint-Exupery, CC Bergius or adventure stories in the tradition of Thor Heyerdahl, you will probably love this.

The Last Bush Pilots
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Post by Honest-reviewer »

I’m not an aviation freak, but this plot seems interesting. Thanks for your wonderful review.
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