The Badass Life of an Alaskan Mountaineer, Bush Pilot, and Mom

Leighan Falley has worn many hats, and they’ve all required skill, courage, and strength.


Leighan Falley isn’t an ordinary mom. She wasn’t an ordinary kid or young woman, either. The Fairbanks native grew up among the stunning landscapes of the Alaska range, taking rambling adventures with her parents, an ex-mountain guide and a glacier scientist. She made her first attempt on Denali at 17 and went on to become a guide on Denali, a heli-ski guide in Valdez, and an avalanche safety course instructor. When she got pregnant, she decided the best way to keep the remote mountains a part of her life as a mom was to become a commercial bush pilot.

Now the proud owner of her own plane, a Piper Pacer, Falley spends her workdays glacier flying and her evenings at home with her family. The plane has become the ultimate family camping vehicle, and she and her husband Tucker Chenoweth and daughter Skye regularly fly deep into the wilderness, introducing Skye to the same wildlands that have shaped Falley’s remarkable life.

Read more about Falley here. Photo courtesy Yeti

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Showing 10 comments
  • Rick P.
    Reply

    Amazing woman, gorgeous film! Thanks for publishing this! Also…I want that plane (the Beaver, the Pacer…okay, any plane!).

  • Kevin
    Reply

    Great stuff Abbie, keep em coming….

  • Mo
    Reply

    I’m assuming that’s her husband at the very end? Would’ve been nice to hear something about him too. It’s like he didn’t even exist in her story.

    I guess that’s “feminism” for you these days.

  • Mo
    Reply

    Does she sell her beautiful drawings at all? They were gorgeous!

    • Swenson
      Reply

      Baby daddy. Husbands are so old fashioned.

  • pete
    Reply

    So what makes het a badass exactly? Got moms in South Central dodging bullets. Perhaps it is because she is a woman. No man would be considered a badass for working a fishing boat in AK or flyin’ or guiding or raising a kid. What am I missing? Media companies like to focus on attractive women. That is all I learned. Seems like a wonderful person. No shade to the her.

    • Jamie
      Reply

      Pete, I agree with you. The fact that she is a woman should not have been the focus of the story. Let her actions as a human be the story. They will speak for themselves. I just got the last issue of Outside magazine that was nothing but women. In a regular issue they would not have been included, because their stories were just not that remarkable. They were put there just so Outside magazine could be on the woman bandwagon and get more subscribers. REI now has a woman initiative. You are naive if you thing it is anything other than trying to capture a larger market for their products. Let’s celebrate cool people, doing cool things, and not play this gender game. Leave that to the political correctness folks in the cities. Let’s not pollute the outdoors with divisiveness and getting on a gender team. Everyone sees through this.

    • Roberta
      Reply

      Yes Pete, men are considered badass for being fisherman, or bush-pilots in the amazing landscape of Alaska! Mike Meekin for example, bad ass and hero! Or consider the hit show Deadliest Catch. Just let this video be what it is, a beautiful, abbreviated profile of an interesting and strong person, a role model for young people to connect with their passions, their communities and live full lives!

  • Tristan Campbell
    Reply

    Great story, stoked to see a strong woman out there in the air!!

  • Sally steele
    Reply

    I think a movie should be made about this girl. A true Alaskan lady. I know probably 50 Alaskan women
    Books or tv series could be made about. Talk about reality shows. Some of their stories give women hope
    For a better tomorrow . Surviving some of their days and weeks are amazing.

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