Not long ago, a pilot named Mike Singer,
who had spent a decade as a writer and technology evangelist on Microsoft’s Flight
Simulator team, sent a text to another pilot
friend bemoaning this sad state of affairs.
Mike had been watching episodes from a
short-lived sci-fi western series called
Firefly, which got him thinking about how
space travel in the future might be a lot like
ocean travel in the past. “I think we were
born either 50 years too late or 500 years too
early,” Mike wrote.
Aidan Loehr, the friend who received
that text, begged to differ.
“There’s plenty of adventures, right here
and now,” he argued. “It’s always out there.
The problem is, most people don’t go find it.
And it rarely falls in your lap. You have to go
out and look for it.”
Aidan should know. Because if the folks
at Central Casting wanted to find a real-life
version of Indiana Jones, they’d need look
no further than Aidan’s doorstep. Seriously.
He’s an experienced Alaskan bush pilot, has
flown relief supplies in Africa and Caravans
in Nepal, and has ferried airplanes around
the world, accumulating more than 17,000
flight hours in only 20 years. He’s also an
accomplished rock climber and mountain
climbing guide who’s shepherded clients up
peaks ranging from Alaska’s Denali to South
America’s Aconcagua and mountains in
remote regions of China.
Aidan has flown a team of puking sled
dogs into Bethel, Alaska, bivouacked overnight on sheer rock cliffs in Yosemite, and
been held at gunpoint in the Congo. And
while he’s not an expert on world antiquities,
he’s impressively well-read and knowledgeable about philosophy, literature, and world
events—a result, perhaps, of having a lot of
reading time while waiting for flight or climbing conditions to improve. Oh, yeah. And
despite his laid-back, thoughtful persona, he’s
also a former Marine, so he could probably
hold his own in a tough scrape.
All of which is to say, when Aidan told
Mike that he thought the age of adventure
was still alive and well in the world, he
knew whence he spoke. But exchanges
like that one, which were a running
theme between the two friends, eventually
sparked an idea.
Mike and Aidan met in the early 1990s,
when the two of them were working as line
guys at Seattle’s Kenmore Air seaplane base
and dreaming of getting adventurous flying
jobs in Alaska. Even then, they’d been frustrated at how little information was available
on the subject.
Twenty years later, however, the
friends realized that Aidan now had a
wealth of knowledge about a wide variety
of non-conventional flying jobs in the
world. Mike, meanwhile, had accumulated
a wealth of knowledge about computers
and Web technology.
“He had all this experience, and I had
this technology expertise,” Mike says. “And