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Flying Wild Alaska rare family-friendly reality television

Mechele R. Dillard's picture

The Tweto family stars in one of the positive shows in TV land, Discovery Channel's Flying Wild Alaska.

Flying Wild Alaska aired its season premiere on the Discovery Channel last night, and in doing so, it also served as a reminder: There are good reality television shows, with good people and good messages to send, out there.

Most reality television out there is full of conflict. That’s not to say that it’s not often entertaining—watching dads fight with sons, bikers fight with chapter brothers, or religious societies running counter to ways that are considered acceptable in today’s mainstream are all entertaining, one must admit, even if they don’t leave us with a great feeling when we click off the television. After all, we keep watching, don’t we? If we didn’t, shows like these would go away, and they don’t appear to be going anywhere anytime soon. But, Flying Wild Alaska is reality television of a different feather: It actually makes one feel warm and fuzzy inside after watching it, and perhaps a bit more educated, besides.

The Tweto family is one of those rare reality TV families who actually seem to love each other. They enjoy each other’s company. They like spending time together. They miss each other when they are away from each other. They worry about each other. They help each other. They bring out the best in each other. They are actually people that a parent can feel okay with their children watching.

Why Flying Wild Alaska is a 10 p.m. show, it’s hard to imagine, as family-friendly as it truly is.

Last night’s episode contained several examples of why this is one of the good shows on television today. Ariel, the 24-year-old daughter of Jim and Ferno Tweto, acts kind of flaky at times—she has a lot of energy, and seems to have trouble focusing it sometimes—but she has a heart of gold and, it appears, really does have a lot of determination to accomplish things she wants to do, like getting her pilot’s license. And, when something bad happens, like three snowmachiners getting lost in -35 F weather for hours, she is willing and anxious to jump in and be of any help she can, without even knowing who they are. Of course, when she found out in last night’s episode that it was a good friend who was lost in the snow, it made the situation more personal to her, but the fact is, she was out there searching before having any idea who she was searching for, other than it being three lost Alaskan neighbors.

“It may seem like one extra pair of eyes isn’t going to make that big of a difference,” Ariel explained in a camera cameo when she asked to go up and help look for the three anonymous snowmachiners, “but if one person is looking out on this side of the plane and I’m looking out on this side, you have a way bigger chance of finding that person.”

Fortunately, the snowmachiners were found alive and basically okay. They had some frostbite, but they did all the right things, it seemed, including duct taping their faces. Who knew that duct tape could help save one from the cold of an unwanted night out in the Alaskan wilderness? But, watching this show, all kinds of little educational tidbits are dropped along the way. Hopefully, the viewer will never have to use most of them, but you just never know.

Flying Wild Alaska Medical Drop Saves Life

Pilot John Ponts also had a moment of helping an Alaskan neighbor in the show. Living completely alone in Kavik, a research and hunting camp about 500 miles north of Fairbanks, Sue Aikens developed a potentially deadly case of pneumonia. With no neighbors, no roads closer than 100 miles, and no way to reach a doctor, John Ponts made an airdrop of antibiotics for Aikens, likely saving her life.

Era Alaska, of course, is not a non-profit organization; no doubt the Twetos and their pilots make a better-than-good living flying commuters, families, equipment and supplies throughout the Alaskan bush country. But, they do it with heart, and they never seem to forget that the people they are doing these things for are just that—people.

Just one question: Does Ariel have to wear that crazy hat all the time?

Flying Wild Alaska is, definitely, one of the good ones out there in reality TV land; it airs on Friday nights at 10 p.m. E/P on the Discovery Channel.

Image: Wikimedia Commons


Submitted by Rev Bill (not verified) on
What you see in the TV series is founded in reality. Yes, it's dramatized to maintain interest but the basic elements of each "story" are real. The family is just what you see. When I fly through Unalakleet they're really there doing just what you see them doing on TV. Thing is, in general terms they're an exceptionally functional and loving family. But in terms of Unalakleet families, well, they're about average. And that's good; very, very good.

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