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 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".


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