PASSINGS: Harmon Helmericks

Harmon Helmericks

Explorer of the Arctic, bush pilot

Harmon "Bud" Helmericks, 93, an Arctic explorer, bush pilot and author best known for writing "The Last of the Bush Pilots," died Jan. 28 in Wickenburg, Ariz. A cause of death was not given.

He was considered a leading authority on Arctic ice and Arctic conservation and resources. Helmericks also developed a method to drill for oil in the Arctic Ocean and served as a consultant to businesses during early oil exploration.

In the early 1940s, he migrated to Alaska with his first wife, Constance, and traveled by canoe for a year to reach the remote location where they would build a home.

They co-wrote four books about the region, but "The Last of the Bush Pilots" (1969) -- the story of Alaska's courageous flying frontiersmen -- was one of several titles Helmericks wrote on his own.

After a divorce, he married his second wife, Martha, in 1953 and raised his family on a homestead on the North Slope of Alaska. He also established a commercial fishing operation and worked as a big-game guide.

Born in 1917 in Gibson, Ill., Helmericks was raised on a farm. He studied engineering at the University of Arizona and served in the Army Corps of Engineers in Alaska during World War II.

-- times staff and wire reports