A few weeks ago, Eric Auxier asked if he could mail a copy of his latest novel. Since I spend half a day commuting to and from work, I always try to keep a book or two in my bag to help pass the time. I was excited to receive a thriller written by a fellow airline pilot. In addition to being a blogger and self proclaimed “adventurist,” Eric is also a captain for a major airline.
A few days later, a signed copy of The Last Bush Pilots arrived in my mailbox. The novel’s synopsis read like it was following in the footsteps of other realistic aviation thrillers. (Pilots write the best aviation novels. Authors with zero background in aviation often embarrass themselves attempting to write about our favorite hobby and profession.)
“MAYDAY, MADAY! I’M GOING DOWN, I’M GOING D-”
So begins the literary thrill ride that is “The Last Bush Pilots.”
Two young pilots, Daniel “DC” Alva, and Allen David Foley, take on the world’s most dangerous flying: the Alaskan bush. But Mother Nature—and a beautiful Native Alaskan—stand in their way.
Southeast Alaska Seaplanes, Juneau. Retired airline captain, Chief Pilot Dusty Tucker pilots a renegade band of flying misfits. Meet legendary bush pilot Jake “Crash” Whitakker, equally adept at landing planes and ladies—and “crashin’ ‘em” as well; prankster pilot Ralph Olaphsen, who once set an extinct volcano ablaze on April Fool’s Day; and no-nonsense Check Airman Holly Innes, trying to cut a respectable niche in the notoriously macho bush pilot world—while escaping a dangerous past.
Amid Alaska’s volatile skies, DC and Allen face escalating challenges in and out of the cockpit. As the two cheechackos, or greenhorns, learn the ropes, they are also roped into Crash and Ralph’s hare-brained scheme, Operation Dirty Harry. Under the suspicious nose of Draconian FAA Inspector Frederick Bruner, the pilots hatch a plot to hijack and rescue a planeload of orphaned bear cubs. Moreover, mischievous Tlingit Indian Tonya Hunter, as wild and unpredictable as the land in which she lives, plays the two lovestruck cheechackos against each other.
But the true villain of the story is Mother Nature herself. Alaska’s notoriously fickle weather and rugged terrain take on a life of its own.
Can the two cheechackos survive Her relentless onslaught and launch their fledgeling airline careers?”
In a nutshell, I loved it. Eric is a gifted writer with a remarkable talent for telling a story. As I was turning the pages, I had to remind myself they weren’t written by one of my favorite best-selling authors. If this is the level of writing Eric has achieved on only his second novel, he has a very successful career ahead of him.
There are three points I’d like to make about The Last Bush Pilots.
First, I’m featured in the novel. No, not literally… but, I’m there. Although Eric has never met me and probably had never heard of my blog when he wrote it, I’m definitely there. I am part DC Alva and part Allen David Foley.
I was never an Alaskan bush pilot. But, I was once a young(er) man wanting to be an airline pilot. In these characters, Eric captured the early ambition, determination, and thought process of every successful pilot. As I read, forgotten feelings and emotions came to the surface. It wasn’t all that long ago that I would have done anything to get into the cockpit of an airliner. Now that I’ve endured a roller coaster career, I often overlook everything I accomplished to make this ride possible. Thank you, Eric, for reminding me of how it all started.
Second, I’ve known every character in the book. Some were acquaintances in previous jobs and others I work with today. Perhaps there are only so many different “molds” of folks who work in and around aviation? If you’re outside the aviation industry, read the story and pay attention to the characters. They are spot-on. My favorite was Inspector Bruner. The FAA has a lot of great inspectors… but, there are some who are the spitting image of ole fictional Frederick.
Finally, it’s just a great story that educates the reader about Alaska and the challenges facing those flying in America’s Final Frontier. This thriller, filled with many subplots, takes unexpected twists and turns as DC and Allen gain flying and life experience. It also provides a few good laughs along the way.
Eric left a few of the story lines unresolved at the end of the book. I’m already looking forward to the sequel.
To visit the purchase page for The Last Bush Pilots, click here or either picture on this post.
Click here to visit Eric’s blog: The Adventures of Cap’n Aux.