BUSH AIR - South Africa
Africa's 1st and only genuine
Bush Pilot School
Bush & Mountain Flying handbook




Available soon !
Bush & Mountain Flying handbook by CC Pocock
Order your copy now. R395.00 incl. postage. (ZA only).


First and foremost, to Shirley Johnson. Without her, I may never have written this book.

This book is dedicated to all the pilots from all over Southern Africa and the world that have attended my Bush and Mountain flying courses as well as all pilots that either fly or plan to fly in the remote regions of the world. Even if you never intend to become a professional bush pilot or ever fly in to remote bush or mountainous areas, the sole purpose of this book is to serve as an introduction and advanced guide to the world of Bush and Mountain flying so the reader may acquire more knowledge and understanding of the subject.

I hope that this book will be of value to all of you.


About this book

What motivated me to write this book is that there has never been a comprehensive book written on this highly misunderstood and advanced subject of bush and mountain flying that focuses on operations in the subtropical and tropical area's of the world and in particular Southern Africa.

There are other separate books on bush, mountain, float and ski flying available. However, the content applies mostly to the far northern regions of America, in particular Alaska. Africa for example, is so vastly different in so many ways that most of the information found in these books is totally irrelevant to the African Bush Pilot.

This book focuses mainly on highly advanced techniques and skills required to operate safely in remote and extreme conditions. However, before reading this book any further, please read the Disclaimer and Warning, as most of the flying techniques mentioned in this book are of such an extreme nature that they should never be attempted by any poorly trained, non-proficient or inexperienced pilot.


Disclaimer and Safety Warning.

Whilst every care and effort has been taken in compiling the information in this book, the author will not be held responsible for the accuracy of the contents nor any legal action arising from the use thereof.

The information contained in this book is of a highly advanced and extreme nature and intended for use solely as an educational guide only. All pilots intending to learn any of the techniques mentioned in this manual should attend the authors Bush Pilot Course or at least obtain advanced training or instruction from an instructor properly qualified and experienced in similar advanced bush and mountain flying techniques.

It is the responsibility of the pilot to ensure that all techniques, procedures, maneuvers, maintenance and repairs explained in this manual are fully within his/her capabilities and furthermore uses any information in this book entirely at his / her own risk. Most techniques in this book cannot be learned by simply reading about them and then going to try them out.

The techniques in this book explore the very edge of the airplanes performance envelope and include flying close to stall speeds at low altitudes and thus are extremely dangerous to inexperienced pilots without the required skills and judgment.

It is the responsibility of the pilot in command of an aircraft to ensure that he/she complies with the regulations of the country that he/she is flying in and any information in this book that may lead to the contravention of any rules, laws or regulations should not be used except maybe in an emergency.



Any pilot who is looking for training or mentoring in these skills and techniques should seek it from an appropriately skilled, experienced and knowledgeable pilot in this field and not some flight instructor who's claim to fame is a few hundred (or even thousands of) hours flying around the cabbage patch, running tourist charters into game reserves or flying airliners.

A flight instructors rating does not necessarily qualify one as an instant flight guru knowledgeable in all aspects of flying nor does it make one an appropriately skilled, experienced and knowledgeable pilot in bush and mountain flying. Most flight instructors are themselves relatively low time pilots and inexperienced in general aviation. They only know what they were taught during their PPL, CPL and instructors training which consisted mainly of a lot of theory, procedures and basic flying techniques which they pass onto the PPL or CPL that they are training. They themselves may never have explored the full envelope of the aircraft that they fly or expanded their own envelope (Advanced techniques, skill and knowledge). You may learn a lot more from an experienced Private Pilot than most flight instructors.

What I am trying to drum in here is that one must be very careful when choosing an instructor or pilot that claims to be a pro "Bush Pilot" or a flight school that offers "Bush Pilot Courses". Most so called "Bush Pilot Courses" are nothing more than a glorified tourist gimmick taking the pilot away from the familiar tar runway environment for a few circuits at a grass or dirt strip outside the city limits in the stock standard school trainer.



Most people do not know the real meaning of the terms "Bush Flying" or "Bush Pilot". Many pilots believe that they are "bush pilots" merely because they have flown in a remote "bush" environment and landed on suitably maintained dirt or grass strips of an acceptable length in some standard airplane. Virtually any pilot with a fresh PPL can do that. You may have done some bush flying, but you may not necessarily be a bush pilot!

Bush flying is a term for aircraft operations carried out in remote, rough and inhospitable regions of the world. Bush flying involves operations in rough terrain where there are often no prepared landing strips or runways, frequently necessitating that bush planes be equipped with abnormally large tires, floats or skis.

Bush flying as it is known today originated in the Canadian and Alaskan tundra and eventually further South into the African bush, Australian outback and jungles of South America and Papua new Guinea. Originally started to provide logistics like food, medicine, and mail to isolated communities, bush operations grew rapidly to geological, wildlife and reconnaissance expeditions, hunting, climbing and hiking etc

Bush flying has attracted many of the world's most famous aviators whose pioneering exploits helped push back the frontiers on some of the most inhospitable parts of the world.

A bush pilot is a person who is able to fly a light to medium size aircraft safely in and out of places that would normally be regarded by most other pilots as "marginal", "too dangerous" or "impossible". Generally these are area's that are inaccessible to most aircraft and other means of transportation. Furthermore, a bush pilot should be able to maintain and repair the aircraft and survive in the bush.

A bush pilot should have a thorough knowledge of the hazards of bush and mountain flying, have a higher than normal level of skill and judgment and be fully competent and proficient in the advanced techniques required to safely fly in these areas. The life-and-death nature of bush flying also means that bush pilots frequently resort to unorthodox and untested methods for accomplishing the job. Many common aviation practices where pioneered in bush flying.

Bush pilots must fend for themselves because they are so far from help. Critical skills range from survival to mechanical and electrical skills for airplane repair to hunting, trapping, shelter building and first aid.

Bush pilots need to know how to deal with common engine, airframe, electrical and avionics problems that may occur from time to time including important maintenance issues. When operating out in remote parts of the bush it may not be possible to get a qualified aircraft mechanic to assist you.

This type of flying, combined with unpredictable weather and distance from help means that bush pilots have to be very resourceful to be successful, or all too frequently, just to stay alive. A "Jack of all Trades" - chief pilot, cook, hunter, mechanic, medic etc.

A bush plane needs to be properly equipped for operating in remote and rough areas. Such an aircraft should be fitted with a reliable and powerful engine/s, strong landing gear and high floatation oversize tires and the pilot should always be ready for any eventuality and carry the necessary basic tools, spares and survival equipment.

Bush Flying is a highly specialized and skilled art!



  • Dedication
  • Acknowledgements
  • About this book
  • Disclaimer and Safety Warning
  • Training Introduction

Section 1: Aircraft Operations

Bush Flying

  • High wing or low wing?
  • Tail wheel or nose wheel?
  • Tires
  • Brakes
  • Propellers
  • STOL kits
  • Getting to know your airplane
  • Maximum power for take-off
  • Stabilized approach
  • Ground Effect
  • Runway length
  • Take-off distance
  • Optimum speed for short field take-off
  • Optimum speed for short field landing
  • Flaps
  • Taxing
  • Unimproved, soft and rough surfaces (Off airport landing sites)
  • Tying down an airplane

Take-off's and landing's

  • Short field take off.
  • Short soft field take off.
  • Short field take of over an obstacle.
  • Short soft field take off over an obstacle.
  • Crosswind take off.
  • Short field landing.
  • Short field spot landing.
  • Short soft field landing.
  • Landing over an obstacle.
  • Cross wind landings
  • Dogleg strips and winding roads
  • Uphill / downhill strips
  • Taking off or landing with a tail wind
  • Taking off with a cross wind Gross weight Density altitude.

Mountain flying

  • Introduction
  • High elevations
  • Wind and turbulence
  • Mountain Waves
  • Determining wind direction
  • Downdraft and updrafts
  • Mountain breeze
  • Valley breeze
  • Anabatic lift
  • Mountain ridges
  • False horizons
  • Weather reports
  • Flight planning and flight plans
  • Sunset
  • Night & IFR flying
  • Radio
  • Emergency landing sites
  • Your airplane
  • Safety
  • Scud running bad weather
  • Low flying
  • Point of no return and abort point
  • Landing
  • Take off
  • Canyon turns
  • Narrow canyons
  • Emergency 180 degree canyon turn.


  • Emergency turn in cloud
  • IMC emergency descent through cloud.
  • Emergency spin descent through cloud
  • Recovery from a spiral dive
  • Night emergency descent and forced landing.
  • Forced landing (Day).
  • Returning to runway after engine failure


  • Low level navigation & dead reckoning (The "Bush Pilots VOR").
  • Determining distance and visibility
  • Night landings at bush strips
  • GPS approaches into bush strips

Section 2: Survival

Survival kit, Tools and Equipment

  • Communication and navigation
  • Survival kit - food & water
  • Survival kit - personal
  • Survival kit - tools
  • Aircraft Tools
  • Fire extinguisher
  • First Aid Kit
  • Signaling equipment
  • Miscellaneous items
  • Survival Pouch


  • Basics of survival
  • Prior to a forced landing
  • After a forced landing
  • Camp site and shelter
  • Latrine
  • Establishing communication
  • Signalling
  • Food and water
  • Plants Worms and insects
  • Trapping
  • Preparing the kill
  • Cooking
  • Finding water
  • Walking to find help

First Aid

  • Before administering first aid
  • Bleeding
  • Broken Bones
  • Neck, Head or Back Injuries
  • Drowning
  • Burns

Emergency Resuscitation Procedures

  • Opening air passage
  • Artificial Breathing
  • Pulse
  • Artificial Circulation

Section 3: Camping (Recreational and expedition).

  • What to take with
  • Setting up camp
  • Securing the aircraft
  • Tent
  • Tarpaulin "A" frame
  • Latrine
  • Fire place
  • Kitchen table
  • Communication
  • Showers
  • Scullery area
  • Washing line
  • Rivers
  • Weather

Breaking Camp

  • Garbage disposal
  • Dumping excess water
  • Environment conscious
  • Loading the airplane
  • Pre-flight.

Section 4: Aircraft Technical

  • The reciprocating aircraft engine.
  • Engine operation.
  • The 4 strokes and 5 event cycle.
  • Engine management
  • Pre-flight Cylinder Lubrication & Compression Test.
  • Pre-start Priming
  • Throttle and propeller pitch control
  • Mixture control (EGT)
  • Cylinder head temperature (CHT)

Basic engine fault diagnostics and repairs.

  • Mag drop
  • Dead mag
  • Rough running engine after start
  • Extremely rough or vibrating engine after start.
  • Hand starting the engine.
  • General maintenance and repairs.
  • Oil and filter replacement.
  • Wire locking.
  • Air filter cleaning and replacement.
  • Tire and landing gear repairs & maintenance.
  • Loss of brake pressure.
  • Propeller maintenance and repairs.
  • Airframe repairs.
  • Windshield cleaning and repairs.
  • Fuel, re-fuelling, AVGAS / MOGAS, testing for water and alcohol.

Electrical and avionics, fault diagnostics and repairs.

  • Master switch fails to activate aircraft electrical system.
  • Starter switch fails to activate engine starter motor.
  • Avionics circuit dead.
  • Battery not charging.
  • Battery not holding charge or engine difficult to start.
  • Radio and intercom problems.

Section 5: Appendices

  • Index
  • List of photographs and illustrations
  • Glossary


Copyright (C) Bush Air. All Rights Reserved.