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UPDATE: What Happened to Ariel Tweto?

Since the conclusion of Flying Wild Alaska, Ariel Tweto hasn't slowed down at all.
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After Flying Wild Alaska, what’s Ariel Tweto been up to?

UPDATE 10-12-16: After three seasons of Flying Wild Alaska, earning her private pilot certificate, and going through some serious stall training with MzeroA, Ariel Tweto is still excited  to explore her love for spending time in the air. Just yesterday, she shared on her Instagram account that she’s taken her first paragliding lesson, and is excited to continue learning the fine art of gliding.

The Discovery Channel’s Flying Wild Alaska was a rare gem among reality shows. Not only was it about aviation, but it featured likeable people doing interesting things. For three seasons we were immersed in the day-to-day operations of Alaska’s largest regional airline, Era Alaska, as its personnel dealt with the challenges of operating in the beautiful but harsh Alaskan bush. Central to the story was the flying Tweto family: Jim, Era’s Chief Operating Officer and in-demand bush pilot; his wife Ferno, Station Manager and self-described “cargo girl;” and the sisters Ayla and Ariel, multi-tasked ground crew, ticket sellers and receptionists. Along the way we got to know Ariel Tweto as a major character but not necessarily the center around whom the story revolved. However, there’s a lot more to Ariel Eva Tundraq Atauchiaq Tweto than first appears, as we learned when we had a chance to talk with her last April.

Ariel Tweto standing on a runway in front a tailldragger airplane.For one thing, there would never have been a Flying Wild Alaska without Ariel.

The genesis of Flying Wild was Ariel’s appearance on the game show Wipeout. This is often referred to as the “Where’s the pole?” episode. That’s what Ariel shouted when she couldn’t spot the pole in the Pole Vault obstacle, despite it being right in front of her (she said later that she thought the pole would be yellow). Ariel charmed the audience during the contestant interview with her comments about Unalakleet, the remote Alaskan village she was from, and her ingenious revelation that she had “never been kissed” (because of this the episode is also referred to as the “Never Been Kissed” episode). This made such an impression on the producers that they approached her about doing a reality show. Her father Jim initially expressed skepticism about the marketability of the show’s concept, not understanding how anyone could find their ordinary life in any way interesting. Much to his surprise, people did, a lot of people.

In this “look at me!” age of Instagram and Periscope, it seems odd that someone might not want to be on TV, but that’s the case for one member of the Tweto family, Ariel’s younger sister Elaine. In our interview, Ariel described Elaine as a “genius,” an accomplished pilot with multiple ratings, including instrument and rotorcraft. Although confirmation is lacking, it seems likely that she plans to carry on in the family business.

The show ended after three seasons, ostensibly because Jim had decided to retire. It seems sad to think of someone who has flown for so long and done so much for aviation giving it up, and suspicion surfaced that this couldn’t be the whole story, that perhaps something was terribly wrong? “No, he’s flying more than ever,” Ariel said in our interview. The family had had enough of cameras being in their faces at every turn, so it was decided to end the show gracefully, on a high note, instead of dragging it out until it became an ordeal.

Although Flying Wild is over, Ariel Tweto has continued her media career along several paths. She hosted the Sundance Institute’s Native Shorts television series in 2013 and the Miss Alaska USA pageant in 2014. She was a guest on the Late Show with David Letterman and appeared no less than fifteen times on the Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson (who is himself a pilot).

She is involved with MzeroA Flight Training’s Flying Again feature film and made a training video with them titled “Turning Stalls With Ariel Tweto” which was released on Youtube June 4, 2015.

One major television project is a series titled Covering Alaska that is planned to air this year. On the lighter side, her non-aviation acting gigs include a Brazilian beer commercial!

An ad for a Brazilian beer featuring Ariel Tweto.

A distinctive feature of Flying Wild Alaska was that it did not shrink from the darker issues affecting life in rural Alaska, such as the high teen suicide rate. A poignant episode in the first season dealt with just such an event and its effect on the close-knit community. Ariel’s effort to address this problem is a nonprofit called Popping Bubbles. It was originally intended to raise suicide awareness but “it’s gone way beyond that” into the realm of actively motivating young people. The idea is that individuals tend to stay in their “bubble,” their comfort zone, but this “bubble” can become a trap, isolating rather than protecting its occupant. Ariel urges young folks to “pop the bubble,” to get out of their comfort zone and live their lives to the fullest.

Ariel Tweto standing next to the propeller of a small single engine aircraft.Ariel may be unique in that she started training in a Cessna 207, “graduated” to a Cessna 150 and finished in a spanking-new Cessna 172. Complications along the way included landing in a 15-knot crosswind on her first solo and handling radio problems during a solo cross-country.

None of this kept her from completing her practical test and getting her license in April 2012. These days she keeps her skills sharp by flying during her visits home to Unalakleet and with Lynn Freeman of Build-A-Plane when she’s in California.

There may be a rotorcraft rating in her future because her father Jim has added a Robinson helicopter to the fleet, to make it easier for them to fly to their cabin.

Flying Wild Alaska may have gone to DVD and Netflix, but star Ariel Tweto is still going strong. Whatever project she undertakes next, we can be confident she’ll bring to it the same enthusiasm and spirit of adventure that made Flying Wild such a hit in the aviation community.


  • Dalee Sambo Dorough says:

    What an inspiration for young people and in particular, young Inuit women. We have roots in Unalakleet [Inuit] as well as North Carolina [Waccamaw Siouan]. And, though not inspired by Ariel and the so-called “reality” show, our daughter, Hannah, received her Private Pilot license before graduating high school in 2013. Later, in February 2014, she flew our 1960 C182 from Anchorage, Alaska to Clearwater, Florida to gain her Instrument Rating, one of the most difficult ratings to receive. In just over a month and a half, she completed the course, passed both the written exam and practical [flight] exam — all on the first try, then flew home. To sum it all up, we received one of the most precious gifts ever. This past Christmas, she gave us a book that she wrote, bound and constructed a beautiful cover for, entitled “The Fifty Hour Journey.” As noted in her Introduction, commenting upon gaining her Instrument Rating: “It’s always a good thing to have, it makes you a better pilot, more aware, makes the flying smoother.” We’re proud of her achievements, but we’re even more proud to have her as our daughter.

  • Deleu y says:

    you re a particularly lovely person, with the greatest courage I never saw, and highest minds and preoccupations about your fellow natives I share your concerns and your action, I admire you quite much and support at upmost your action from my so far place. in french it s said “chapeau Ariel”. I hope I’ll recieve news from you on facebook.

  • Bob and Jeri says:

    When we were young we dreamed of living in Alaska. Life changed our plans but now, in our 70s, we watched this family and their friends and co-workers in Flying Wild Alaska (over and over) and “we are there.” Thank you to the Tweetos for our getting to be part of their journey. We find their strength and their amazing courage phenomenal. We are grateful that they allowed us to be a part of their journey. We hope that they ending of their trip has been as exciting as the wings that flew them through that wild part of Alaska.

  • Mike and Joyce says:

    We are enjoying the reruns of Flying Wild Alaska on the Outdoor Channel here in tiny little Mink Shoals, West Virginia. The Tweto family is amazing! Thank you for sharing your lives with us. And Ferno, you are a hero, a very strong lady indeed.

  • Nick says:

    Marry me, Ariel!

  • Kenneth Schell says:

    I am a private pilot and really enjoyed the TV show and we fell in love with the family and cast, my wife and I wish them great success.
    God Bless
    Kenneth & Georgia Schell

  • Margaret Earle says:

    I would like to hear how the whole family is doing! In fact, what has happened to entire cast n what they are doing now. Thanks.
    I think this was one of your best TV shows and couldn’t was for each one! Margaret Earle, Alabama

  • Kaz21 says:

    Ariel has attention deficit disorder (ADD). Doesn’t anyone else recognize this. That why she shouldn’t fly solo.

    • Flyboy1 says:

      Thanks for bringing that up only a select few can see this clearly. She is misleading the public of who she really is. I’ve met people that known her personally from one of her college professors, a couple of natives ( one from the village of where she lives, another that use to wrestle with her back in highschool), to several folks that use to work with her dad. None of them said anything positive about her and speaks of her lack of intelligence, but only that she seeks attention and she hides a lot. It’s sad. Many have praise her sisters especially the youngest one as the be the smartest and prettiest out of the whole bunch.

      These shows besides her own show, that she has been doing been given her a boost in ego, to become narcissistic, to crave more attention,and also helped to cover up who she really is. But, also these shows type cast her to be nice young innocent female , but not smart at all. She does not realize that she has given away most of her handicaps on social media. I am not going to speak of those handicaps. KAZ21 you already pointed out one of them. Only the spiritual awaken can see through some of her bull crap she idolize to be or represent ! I know she is not dumb, but is perceive to be by many folks that new her not connected through hollywood or her fame. I know Ariel is smart even though she has possible condition. She just has so much to hide and tries to present herself as a saint to many. Well she is not a saint. I hope one day she becomes real and actually speak from the heart of which can really help others that have her condition. I believe a lot of what she says and does she is not being real (sincere), until the real her comes up and ego drops then I will have more respect for this person that world perceive to idolize!

      • Harry Jackson says:

        You can have ADD and be very intelligent, most are….which is likely the case here. When a person with ADD finds something that they really enjoy, they often hyperfocus, and are able to complete tasks much as a “normal” person, or mind would do. Sadly, it sounds as if your jealousy is guiding your reason to take the time to bash her successes. She may be an “airhead” but she’s enjoying life, and has found success. There’s certainly nothing wrong with embracing society’s “good girl” image, and avoiding any negativity she may or may not posses. Perhaps if you were to live life a little more carefree, then you might enjoy it a bit more, and not seek to bash those that are winning the game.

      • Sandi says:

        Jealous much???

      • James Klien says:

        KAZ21, you are quick to point out what you perceive as a medical diagnosis with out valid proof
        of what you think is real. I am a private pilot and I have known other pilots who have ADD and are flying right now in 2018. Medication controls, or helps control this diagnosis. What you should be
        doing is celebrating her ability to become a private pilot in a land that is harsh and difficult to navigate even on a good day. One should not be so quick to judge, or point out something that is not proven. Other people can be harsh and quick to judge other peoples success.
        Do you not think that if her ADD was in fact indicated that she would have gone onto fly? or better yet received her license?

        I wish her the best in anything she does.

    • Mark says:

      Maybe that is why she is so hyper all the time. But she is a fun hyper. Kept her wits together when flying. Loved to see her on Late Night TV.

    • Janice Cole says:

      PS. I would really like to know what you suffer from mate? You must be so far up your own jacksie, you cannot see the wood for the trees! DAHHHH!

  • Lindsey Jones says:

    I must say that I truly miss Flying Wild Alaska and the Tweto’s especially Ariel and her love for flying. I certainly enjoyed those three years of episodes and hopefully one day there will be an update on the family business and just maybe Ariel’s business being carried on in the family traditions.

  • Gary Blackburn says:

    I so miss the TV show but at the same time I understand Dad’s desire to gain back his sanity and privacy and like all his endeavors did it perfectly. He and his wife have done an awesome job raising the kids and he should protect what they have together !!
    So far as Ariel goes, well I’m 67 years old and have had a crush on her since the first show that I watched. She made me a dirty old man…. hehehe

    • The program is still available in reruns on the Quest channel on broadcast TV. I first discovered the program by channel surfing on my antenna and I’m hooked. As a private pilot and the son of a CFI, I was born to fly. Most cable and satellite systems do not broadcast Quest. Check your local listings for times and days.
      As for your crush, you’ll have to stand in line behind me. 😀


    Meu interesse em conhecer o Alaska passou a ser a minha prioridade depois de assistir a série “PERIGOS NO AR”

  • Pamela Conley says:

    My husband and I were quite fond of Ariel. We thourghly enjoyed Flying Wild Alaska. It was the first “Alaska” show that we were introduced to. Now, there are several shows that we won’t miss!

  • Kenneth Scott says:

    Miss this show so much, They really need to bring it back and get rid of that stupid Alaska Bush people…..yeah I’m a fan of Ariel…………


    I HOPE YOU ARE ALIVE AND WELL. Ariel and family.

    • Mark says:

      So do I like I miss Arctic Air on the Canadian side of the Arctic region. Both were great shows to watch, especially after my Alaska-Yukon visit in June.

  • Louis Pelletteri II says:

    That was a great show and I throughly enjoyed watching every episode. I still miss it.

  • Fanie Snyders says:

    I loved watching Ariel. Even before she got her wings as a pilot I thought she already was an angel. What a beautiful and positive young lady. Alaska looks amazing. In South Africa, we never get snow in the cities. I enjoyed the shows and God bless them all.

  • John G says:

    I miss this show. I, myself don’t think I could ever handle living in such an environment. It is very educational to learn what it takes to survive in the remote areas in the world. My hats off to the pilots that have to fly in those windy, snowy, freezing conditions.

  • Comrade Sense says:

    ADD is another crock of lies perpetuated by the psychologists and pharmacy companies. We need far less psychologists and far less drugs. Analyze this, @$$h@ts!

  • John Cashell says:

    Ariel: The world is great with people like you living life to its fullest, which in turn, inspires many other people throughout the world to do the same!! Keep smiling and keep being the wonderful, fun loving person you are forever and day!

  • Cathy Jones says:

    Does anyone know all seasons are available on DVD and where I can get them? Amazon Only Has Season 1.

    • Anders Clark says:


      The episodes are all available digitally through Amazon, or digitally through Discovery’s website, but I’m not seeing anywhere you can currently purchase a DVD set of all three seasons. I’ll do some poking around and see if I can turn up anything, but they might be preparing a new set, so they’re just unavailable while they update the DVDs.

  • George Daley says:

    The Twetos are a real American family, you might say, “Pioneers”. Their success as a family, and in business should be applauded and studied. Thanks to the Twetos for sharing.

  • River Lady says:

    Just discovered this wonderful series in reruns on antenna tv station called QUEST in Oregon. Never had cable.
    The series warms my heart due to my grandmother being born in Unalakleet in 1893 while her father from Norway was running a NCC trading post and roadhouse for those traveling by dogsled. He did this when not doing survey work or mining near Nome. Her mother was the daughter of a Russian prince who stayed in Alaska after it was purchased from Russia. It is exciting for me to see the areas where the family lived. They also lived in St Michael where they had family. Many thanks to the Tweto family and friends for letting us in on their world.

  • Dward says:

    Kaz21 and Flyboy1….

    Ariel is a beautiful, sweet, down to earth product of her environment and hard-working, wonderful parents. Your rather bizarre assessment of her leaves the rest of us wondering what sort of strange axe to grind you possess where she is concerned. Perhaps you should focus on your own goals and aspirations as opposed to pretending you have some sort of insight into the imperfections of celebrities who you have no personal relationship with.

    And to the dirty old men? I don’t think she has waited all this time to allow herself to be soiled by even the mental machinations of you grossies.

  • Dave D says:

    Ariel should go into modeling. Cuteness X 1,000.

  • Lynne Weir says:

    I have been watching this show since it first arrived here in texas. The Alaskan scenery is gorgeous, and the flying is nice. However, one thing that seems not to change, and it really MUST is ARIEL TWEETO’S Voice! It really should be possiblr to find good voive coach for her, anf/or a speech therapist. To help.hee learn to moderate that nasal, “screechy” voive. She is a beautiful girl, obviously smart and talented, and is a great shame that the effect is utterly ruined the instant she opens her mouth.! This is not an uncommon problem, especially for young women that have been raised in isolated villages wher1e there is little, if any exposure to mainstream patterns of speech. If she wishes to continue in the public arena, maybe even become a “star” shevis going to HAVE to learn to speakin a more moderated, – even mainstream style. The hollywood types who must certainly be around helping with the technical aspects of the show, could certainly steer her towards a good speech coach – and she should take advantage of it, sooner, rather than later. That shrill, whiny tone will not serve her well as an adult in show business.

  • Ernie Ferreira says:

    I too loved the show, the family, and especially Ariel! I would love to fly with her and explore Alaska. Now if I could just shed sixty or so years maybe I could take the cold better.

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