Cowboys of the Sky

Cowboys of the Sky

Cowboys of the Sky

Posted on 09/26/2022 Evan Swensen
Cowboys of the Sky

We’ve published the works of Author Mastermind Steve Levi since 1989. Steve is the author of Cowboys of the Sky.


At the time of the first printing of Cowboys of the Sky, Steve Levi’s books were mostly Alaska history nonfiction books. I say mostly because it’s not uncommon for Steve to speculate on facts to make a good historical story more interesting—and his speculations are probably pretty close to being true—or the truth readers would believe—or at least like to believe.


The Cowboys of the Sky description includes, “Through photographs and anecdotes, you’ll meet brave and colorful pilots, the true cowboys of the sky who carved the face of America’s Last Frontier.” Steve writes in a manner that brave, colorful dead pilots become even more brave and more colorful.


The manuscript Steve submitted revealed that the author was not a pilot. He wrote that pilots used wind to land and take off in short distances. The manuscript explained that a pilot could land into a strong headwind and stop in a short distance and takeoff going downwind and take off in a short distance—I guess thinking that the wind would push the plane so it could quickly pick up speed. While that may be true for sailboats and big trucks, it doesn’t work with airplanes. A bush pilot in a light plane would run out of runway before he could gain enough airspeed to take off.


Consequently, readers of Cowboys of the Sky find this paragraph, “Many pilots used the power of the wind to their advantage. If the wind is constant over the landing strip, the pilots will face their planes into the wind and then cut back on the power. As they cut back on more and more power, the plane will gently settle to the ground. Conversely, on takeoff, the pilots will face their planes into the wind and add just enough power to rise off the ground vertically. Under these conditions, it is possible to take off using zero feet of runway.”


Well, almost zero feet. The record takeoff and landing at the Valdez, Alaska Extreme STOL competition is a ten-foot landing and 14-foot takeoff:


One of the brave, colorful bush pilots is Archie Ferguson. Steve expanded Archie’s story in his book, Archie Ferguson, Alaska’s Clown Prince and Craziest Pilot in the World


We made a short video about Archie and Steve’s book:


You can find Cowboys of the Sky at , and Archie Ferguson at .


Like all Author Masterminds, Steve’s approachable. You can communicate with him by email:

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