Famed bush pilot and former star of the Discovery Channel series “Flying Wild Alaska,” Jim Tweto, died in a plane crash on Friday, June 15, along with his passenger.
Witnesses described the scene of the crash as Tweto’s Cessna 180 encountered difficulties gaining altitude during takeoff, ultimately leading to the fatal incident. An SOS signal from the plane’s onboard satellite equipment pinpointed the crash site 35 miles northeast of Shaktoolik, Alaska.
The bodies of Tweto and his passenger, Shane Reynolds, were recovered by Alaska police from the crash site. Tweto’s daughter, Ariel, confirmed the tragic news of her father’s and Reynolds’ deaths via Instagram, where she voiced her deep sorrow. “My dad and a wonderful hunting guide and friend of our family passed away this afternoon,” Ariel wrote.
The Tweto family gained fame on the Discovery Channel’s “Flying Wild Alaska,” a show which spanned three seasons beginning in 2011. The series chronicled the family’s small airline operation in Unalakleet and shed light on the trials and tribulations of Alaskan bush flying, including airdrops and perilous takeoffs.
The National Transportation Safety Board is currently investigating the crash. Tweto, originally an Alaskan hockey player for the University of Alaska Anchorage, discovered his love for aviation and subsequently founded his own aviation business.
Shane Reynolds is mourned by his wife, Gina, and their daughter in Idaho.