Flying Wild Alaska: Jim, Ferno, and Ariel take a final bow in series finale

To the surprise of many fans, the Tweto family decides to move on from life in front of the Discovery Channel cameras.

As fans now know, that’s it for Flying Wild Alaska.

After three years of showing fans what life is like in Unalakleet, running the largest regional airline in Alaska, the Tweto family said goodbye to life on the small screen and, perhaps, Era Alaska, as well.

It is too bad that the show is ending; it was one of the good ones in reality television, and in TV programming overall. It was nice, family-friendly, entertaining and a learning experience, all wrapped up in one Friday night package. But, apparently, the Tweto family is going in a new direction with their lives, and it doesn’t appear that there would be a show for filming next season.

It was a bit unclear, exactly what Jim Tweto plans to do. He does not seem like the kind of man who can just sink into retirement and put his feet up. Well, he does have his cabin project—not a small project—but he was the top dog at Era for a lot of years. That is a lot of responsibility off of one’s shoulders day-to-day—the good part—but also a lot of importance and power to give up, as well—the bad part. No one wants to go from being in the center of the spinning hub to feeling unneeded.

So, he’ll have to find out what his happy medium is.

Era Alaska started as a single operation by Jim and Ferno. “Just because you start something and it gets bigger, doesn’t mean you are qualified to run that anymore,” Jim said of his flying empire.

He does have a point.

Unqualified or Unwilling?

Well, it’s not so much that Jim Tweto is “unqualified” to run Era Alaska at this point. No, it seems that he is as singularly knowledgeable and qualified as any one person could be. Rather, Jim is just the kind of man who likes to run things, as Ariel suggests, on a piece of paper he keeps in his shirt pocket. But, with 800 employees, the works have just gotten a bit beyond the shirt-pocket-checklist method, and Jim Tweto isn’t interested in going there.

Nothing wrong with that.

It would be impossible for most of us to do our jobs nowadays without our computers. Some jobs, like my own, simply would not exist to be done without the Internet. And, most people have either acquiesced to that or have never lived in a world where it wasn’t that way. But, there are still a few hold-outs, like Jim Tweto and my own dad, who are just not interested in doing it any other way than the way they have done it for 30+ years.

Again, nothing wrong with that.

Jim Tweto has been running Era Alaska from that shirt-pocket checklist for a lot of years, and one would suspect that, if he really wanted to, he could keep on going. But, as he seemed to have finally accepted, it was becoming too difficult, too complex, to do reasonably—probably had been that way for a long time. And, as he and Ferno both indicated, it was taking his entire life being wrapped around the business for him to keep up and do it all. So, he seemed to have found himself at a crossroads: Move into a new phase of management, or into a new phase of life.

Seems Jim chose the later. What that means exactly—stepping down slowly, breaking away from daily operations completely, or actually selling the family business—was unclear, perhaps even to him at the time of filming. But, fans, no doubt, wish him and his family happiness, whatever the path might be.

Fans will no doubt miss the Tweto family, especially since Ariel did, in fact, finally get her private pilot’s license; it would have been nice to see where she went from there. But, she sounded as if she may want to be venturing away from the everyday at Unalakleet, as well, so it would not be surprising if we hear more from her in the future. She has, after all, been involved with the production of the show itself, as one will see by reading the credits of the episodes. And, perhaps Discovery will even throw us fans a bone with a special now and then, to catch us up with our favorite flying family.

Good luck, Tweto family; Friday nights just won’t be the same without you.

Image: Discovery Channel


Submitted by Linda & Mark (not verified) on
This was one of our favorite shows and it has been very difficult to accept that it is over. We loved the Tweeto family, especially Ariel, and will miss the beautiful scenery and the education we received about its culture. We wish the best for all of the family and hope that retirement fullfills their every dream. Perhaps they would consider updating us from time to time about their progress on their new cabin and what is happening in their life. Jim mentioned something about digging for gold up there and I hope he hits the "motherload"!

Submitted by Linda & Mark (not verified) on
I should have said "paydirt" instead of "motherload" on my previous comment.....

If he hits the "motherload," maybe he can hire the guys from "Gold Rush" to come and work for him ... they might be looking for jobs themselves if this next season does not pan out ... just an idea ... :D

Submitted by J Plummer (not verified) on
I do not understand why the season and series was ended like it was with so many unanswered questions. Who will take over Era? Will Jim or any of the family stay in some capacity? Among others. I feel that us fans are getting the short end. Please don't end it here. At the least tie up loose ends. It's crazy but even through a tv show you feel close to the cast.

What got me was the suddenness of it all. Until it was brought to my attention Friday evening, b/c of the info on the Dish Network listing, I had no idea it was the SERIES finale. I may have just not been paying attention, missed something ... but there wasn't even anything on the Discovery Channel Flying Wild Alaska page about it being the SEASON finale, much less the SERIES finale ... and, I went back to my recording from last week ... the little "ghost" in the corner just said "2-hour Finale" ... nothing about series, season or otherwise ... I don't know, maybe I missed something somewhere, but I was disappointed that Discovery kinda dropped this one on the fans, loose ends and all.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on
I think there's a small misunderstanding which the show doesn't reveal or correct. When you look at the show it seems that the Tweto family actually ownes Era Alaska and that they founded the airline. This is something that is only partially true. Era Alaska is the operating name of several airlines which at their part are all owned by HoTH Inc. HoTH was formed with the merger of Frontier Flying Service (founded in 1950), Hageland Aviation Services (which was founded by Jim Tweto and Mike Hageland in 1981) which formed Frontier Alaska, a year later Era Aviation (founded in 1948) was acquired and the name changed to Era Alaska (yet the holding company is still HoTH Inc.). Again a year later Arctic Circle Air Inc. (founded in 1973) was acquired. Now, HoTH Inc is owned by 3 shareholders which includes Jim Tweto. Jim ownes 11% of HoTH Inc. while the other shareholders are owning 39 and 50% of the company. I asume the Tweto family remains one of the 3 shareholders (at this point nothing has changed according public records) and they'll probably stay in the management board. It was a nice show and it's a pitty that it has ended but at least Discovery could have been a bit more clear regarding the actual status of the Tweto family in the Era Alaska group.

Submitted by David Jay (not verified) on
I really think Jim Tweto might have been pushed out by Hoth. That is the only explanation I can think of to this mystery. The ERA website has been sanitized, too. The ERA Facebook page beats around the bush and won't answer questions either. This seems to be a typical example of a company founder being pushed aside by the money guys. Hopefully Jim got a huge financial windfall from HoTH and its owner Hoth.

Submitted by Carol and Bob (not verified) on
This was one of the best reality shows on TV and one of only a few we watch. So sad that the season finale came too soon. This was an extremely educational show, and we learned so much about the culture of our most remote state. It was truly a family show, and certainly entertaining watching Ariel grow as a person and as a pilot. We hope there will be follow-up shows in the future, instead of just leaving devoted fans up in the "air"!!!

Submitted by Ernie (not verified) on
I'm very sad that this show is ending. I respect Jim Tweeto's decision completely but this has been one of my favorite shows ever since I discovered it. The Tweetos and the other pilots were real people who seemed like friends. Good luck to Jim, his family and Era Alaska!

Submitted by Randy (not verified) on
Great article very well written. I too will miss the show. It was surprise to me when they said series finale.

Easy to write something good with such a good subject; certainly will miss such a quality show/quality family.

Submitted by Vagrante13 (not verified) on
This was one of the best reality TV shows out there and didn't appear to be scripted with fake drama like alot of other reality based shows. I hope there will be some kind of spinoff to this show.

That's what I'm hoping, too ... could be one reason they kept the series finale so quiet ... may have wanted to monitor viewer reaction, get an idea if maybe fans wanted one ... I'm thinking, <em>Flying Wild Ariel</em>, proving her flying prowess around the world ... LOL ... any other suggestions?

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on
I haven't felt this bad about a series ending since they ended Daniel Boone when I was 10 years old, or there abouts... OK, I'm a sap, I admit it... I had adopted Aerial as my own daughter and will truly miss her, terribly... Last words...being the sap that I'm, I hope she and John Ponce find themselves together someday...they were so cute together...where's my kleenex...;-(

OMG! I have ALWAYS thought they were adorable together! I thought it was just me, b/c I've actually never heard anyone else suggest it ... :D

Submitted by Bob Howard (not verified) on
I am new to the reality show's. I turn 66 in 9 days ,Capt in Vietnam,x CEO of a NYSE company ..One of my son's said (3years ago) Dad I think you will like this new show.. Wow fell in love with the series on the first show. I love the message that Jim and his tuff as nails BEAUTIFULL wife Ferno show. The FAMILY..Which is everyone that works for ERA. The sense of Family that is Alaska. This show I will miss.I need to know that everyone is Okay. Thanks Everyone Bob

Submitted by Donna (not verified) on
Too bad tonight was the series finale. What a great show. I hope Discovery does a follow up show(s). There are so many loose ends. The Tweto's showed that you don't have to vulgar and offensive to be successful on t.v. Best wishes to a great family and I hope to see how their cabin and retirement turns out!!

Submitted by Happy in Napa (not verified) on
I am so bummed that the series is going off the air. I think the Tweeto's underestimated the interest their show brought to Alaska. It was the perfect vehicle to promote our 50th state, the unique challenges of living there and how people everywhere have more in common then differences. I can imagine having cameras hanging around can be a pain, just seems like they left before any of us were ready. I will miss them and the beauty of Alaska they brought to us every Friday. I hope we do get to see them again. Maybe the two brothers who appeared in the last few episodes can carry on the show.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on
Hi it's Ariel. Thank you so much for the nice write up. We all loved doing the show! We all loved doing it but are all ready to move on. My mom and dad don't really like being in the spotlight so....and my folks are in love with the cabin and I want to go explore the world. I'll keep you all posted :)

Submitted by Walter Sledjeski (not verified) on
Congrats Ariel on becoming a fellow pilot. Thanks for the 3 years that you and your family gave us. The BEST show on TV will be missed.

Submitted by DonW (not verified) on
Ariel, thanks for a fun show. Very best to you and your family and ERA crew. You've become a bit if a regular on Craig Ferguson's show, and I see you're scheduled for Friday. Keep us updated as to Unakaleet, and keep flying! Congrats on your license!

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on
I'm sure at this point the world is your oyster...yours to enjoy...and you will make great friends where ever you have a great time! It's got to be tough to have cameras around all the time when you just want to live your humble little life like most of us do.... Though, I think what made the show great was watching just regular folks in an uncommon setting. All the best to you! BTW...might start thinking about about your commercial and instrument ratings...just a thought... ;-)

Submitted by Lobo (not verified) on
Ariel... it was such a pleasure to get a peak at your family from week to week. I can't imagine the grind of having to produce a "reality show" would be, given the logistics. Your folks and I are in the same generation, so it was also interesting to see your Dad's reluctance to adapt to technology! It made me laugh. However, all in all, the relationships you have with your family and many friends and colleagues just seemed so genuine. Also, major congrats in obtaining your pilot's license. You had some great tutor's in your Dad, John Ponts and "Juice". Best wishes in whatever life brings to you and your family. You will all be missed by this northern Californian.

Submitted by SHEP the SEAL (not verified) on
I had planned to go to Alaska JUST to pay you to fly me around the state! Now that you all are not involved with ERA, I will NOT allow anyone else to pilot me around! I guess I w ill save a lot of my money that way. Pity! Old SHEP...Navy SEAL retired

Submitted by Phil and Shar Roos (not verified) on
Thanks to the Tweto family and this great show - I dusted off my pilot's license and renewed. I improved/cleared a medical condition to be able to do it (pre-diabetes). I bought a plane. My beautiful wife Shar is 40hrs into her training, due in no small part to the inspiration of Ariel and the entire show that demonstrated the thrill and beauty of flying. We will become/remain a flying couple! I was so shocked that my favorite is one for the history books and hope to see what's next for them. I can imagine that Jim Tweto was probably tired of the time in front of the camera and wanted to slow down and get back to basics. The combination of running the company and "performing" was a lot of stress. I wish the family all the best - thanks so much for the impact on my family!

Submitted by Larry (not verified) on
There are only about 650,000 pilots in the USA. That means that as a pilot I am in a VERY small minority of the population. Given such a low percentage, the interest in General Aviation is very low which results in very little television relating to it. The show was over dramatized, but was still wonderful. Not only was it great to see TV relating to General Aviation, but the scenery and the flying in Alaska was just great, not to mention the Tweto's being such great people. I REALLY hope that the show goes on in some way or is replaced with something similar. My thanks to Discovery & the Tweto's for some great Friday nights of entertainment.

Wow--sounds like you two are ready for your own flying show! Congrats on the hard work I know it took, particularly on getting your pre-diabetes under control, which must make your life better all-around.

Submitted by Crd2nd (not verified) on
It was surprising to realize that Fridays show was it for Air Alaska. Going to miss what I thought was the best "reality" TV show. Good luck to the Twetos. Now my Fridays are free

Submitted by Terry (not verified) on
To live in the hearts of those you leave in not to say "Goodbye".

Submitted by jo borchardt smith (not verified) on
what a show it was so interesting to see a part of alaska i did not even think about the remote villages the lifestyle and stuggles of the people that live there the beauty,hardships and wildlife and learning about flying this was television at its best i can only hope that something this wonderful comes alone to fill the place of flying wild alaska oh and last but not least the hot pilots

Submitted by Bill W. (not verified) on
I discovered this show very late in the game and only saw a few of the last seasons episodes. I kept watching for it on the schedule but didn't see it. Now I hear it's gone! As a Private Pilot I thought it was extremely well done and a wonderful showcase for General Aviation and Alaska as well. I became an instant fan, especially of Ariel and her pursuit of the Private Pilot Certificate. I respect the Tweeto's decision and wish them the best. They will be missed! I think I'll see if the series is for sale on DVD. It could be a suggestion for a Christmas gift!

Submitted by Blair (not verified) on
What a great family. I learned to fly in Kodiak, and understand the challenge of Alaska flying. I fly in the lower 48 now, and Alaska made me a better pilot. Always a student. Would like to see the progression of the Tweeto cabin as a series. God bless you all in whatever you do.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on
The only reality show I have ever watched more than once. The Tweto family is great and I cannot imagine the challenges they have faced in running such a big operation in such a vast and wild wilderness. I wish them all the best and a big 'Thanks' for allowing us to share a little bit of their life.

Submitted by Fly High (not verified) on
Excellent series and one that will be missed greatly. Thanks to the Tweto's for sharing a glimpse of the Alaskan way of life. I wish Jim and his entire family both related and extended the best in the future.

Submitted by Darla (not verified) on
Thank you so much for sharing your lives with all of us! You have become Friday night friends that we looked forward to seeing every week! I am so sad it's over. Such a down to earth family with good values and work ethic. I wish you all the best and really hope to see follow ups esp. Ariel and her endeavors! You are a daughter any parent would be proud to have!!!

Submitted by Creighton (not verified) on
As a Pilot and as a Family Man I am saddened to see this Show end. I enjoyed watching the Tweeto Family and all of the other Pilots and friends and family that actually made me feel like family. This was probably one of the best reality shows I have ever watched. Little Ariel ,getting her Pilots liscence is a huge accomplishment. I only pray for blue skies above and keep the dirty side down.

Submitted by David94597 (not verified) on
So sad I loved hat show and will write Discovery to tell them. I mean how many stupid guns shows and reptile/critter shows can they have. Bring back this good one.

Submitted by Wolf (not verified) on
Goodbye and best of luck to the Tweto family with whatever they choose to do. Thanks for having us and all the good time with you. It's really sad to see a great show like this end...

Submitted by Nancy and Carl (not verified) on
TV is just not the same without the Tweto family. We surely understand your wanting a little privacy after the past years. We miss you and wish you all the best. We hope you understand how much you have become a part of our lives and our hearts here is W.Va. We would watch you on Friday and then when getting together with family on the weekend, we would talk about you all. (only good things) God bless you and your family. Please keep us updated.

Submitted by Walt and Sue (not verified) on
It was a Friday night ritual. Having the Tweto family, their employees and pets in our home, on TV of course. Never have we anticipated watching any other story as we did Flying Wild Alaska. These are honest hard working people providing a service no one else can to people who need it. The stories in each episode were wonderful showing the hard work, the dangers, the sad and fun. We will miss them. Thank you Discovery for bringing Era into our home.

Submitted by Walt and Sue (not verified) on
It was a Friday night ritual. Having the Tweto family, their employees and pets in our home, on TV of course. Never have we anticipated watching any other story as we did Flying Wild Alaska. These are honest hard working people providing a service no one else can to people who need it. The stories in each episode were wonderful showing the hard work, the dangers, the sad and fun. We will miss them. Thank you Discovery for bringing Era into our home.

Submitted by Walt and Sue (not verified) on
It was a Friday night ritual. Having the Tweto family, their employees and pets in our home, on TV of course. Never have we anticipated watching any other story as we did Flying Wild Alaska. These are honest hard working people providing a service no one else can to people who need it. The stories in each episode were wonderful showing the hard work, the dangers, the sad and fun. We will miss them. Thank you Discovery for bringing Era into our home.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on
It is too bad that this show is ending. It was interesting to watch the pilots fly in different types of weather. Also, watching Ariel flying and getting her licence. Good luck to them in the future.

Submitted by skip hall (not verified) on
tweto mountain 13000 ft. plus nne of leadvill , co hope you can find it. thanks for the shows. skip hall

Submitted by MOJO (not verified) on
Well, Ariel was splendid on Craig Ferguson, in Scotland. I, too will miss the show. To say nothing of Ariel in a Kilt.

Submitted by Marco Davids (C... (not verified) on
My family and I are extrmely sad that this show is coming to an end. Goodluck to the Tweto family.

Submitted by Janet R. (not verified) on
I'm Very Sadden to hear about the Flying Wild Alaska, and like some other fans I didn't know that last year was the final show, brings tears to my eyes it was such a Great Show and We Loved the Whole Family and we Wish You All Luck in what ever You may end up doing. Friday Nights Will Not Be the Same, I had my DVR set in case I wasn't home to catch it. Love To You All

Submitted by Wally (not verified) on
Just started watching season one again and enjoying one of the best reality shows there has ever been. I wish all the team of Era Alaska the very best. I Hope someday, Discovery will do a follow up on the show so we can all see how they are doing...........