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

Mechele R. Dillard's picture

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!


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