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Backpacker Magazine – Online Exclusive

Ask A Bear Christmas Present

Usually, our bear answers burning ursine questions, but this week he's dropping off a holiday gift.

by: BEAR

  It takes a lot to rouse me out of my midwinter slumber, so I hope you appreciate this Christmas gift. Several months ago, pictures began circulating on the Internet about an Alaskan plane that had been ravaged by a grizzly bear that smelled fish on in. The resourceful pilot put the abused Piper back together with duct tape and plastic, and eventually flew it back to civilization.

For months, rumors swirled: Was this a hoax? Could you really fix a plane with duct tape? Thanks to the Alaska Dispatch, we now know the story is real: Bush pilot Luke Miller, 28, actually had his plane torn apart by a hungry grizz somewhere on Sept. 27-28 of this year. 

The pilot won't release photo rights to publications, so we can't show you them here (I get enough legal trouble during hunting season), but they're easy enough to find on the Internets

The pilot's dad, Mark Miller, and family friend and hunting guide Gary LaRose say the plane was parked next to a moose shed that had been raided numerous times by the hungry grizz. Puzzlingly enough, though, they say there was no meat or fish within the plane, except for a vacuum-sealed bag of meat the bear missed when he was busy shredding the tires, interior fabric, and outer covering of the plane. 

Instead, LaRose theorizes the bear was out for revenge:
"He was pissed," LaRose said. "His easy food source had dried up and he was out for revenge."
Now, we bears are not a vengeful sort when humans aren't around, so it's unlikely any rage was directed to the plane on purpose. If anything, I was extra hungry, and I'd already learned that the shed had meat in it. When that turned up empty, I probably just saw the plane as another shed to try. In late September in Alaska, things are already getting tight for me, so I'm willing to go for broke...on your plane, if need be.

After that event, the bear never came back. The pilot made makeshift repairs out of plywood, Plexiglas, and 25 rolls of duct tape. I'm betting he won't park near the meat shed again anytime soon.

(Read more in the Alaska Dispatch.)


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Dec 22, 2011

Myth busters went after this story to see if a shredded plane could be put back together successfully:

Dec 22, 2011

Myth busters went after this story to see if a shredded plane could be put back together successfully:


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