Tom Betts to Share his Bush Pilot Adventures Monday

Bandelier’s Chief Ranger Tom Betts will talk Monday at Mesa Public Library about his life and times as a bush pilot in Alaska. Courtesy photo


Celebrate America’s national treasures with a talk and slide show by Bandelier National Monument’s Chief Ranger Tom Betts about his life and times as a bush pilot in Alaska 7-8:30 p.m. Monday, July 23.

This National Parks Night event is in conjunction with the current exhibit of photographs of national parks in the Mesa Public Library Art Gallery, Enchanted Parks: A Photographic Tale of Life in Our National Parks by Leslie Bucklin.

For Tom Betts, the National Park Service is family. He is a second generation National Park Service (NPS) Ranger, following in the footsteps of his father who retired as the last flying Superintendent of Mt. McKinley National Park in Alaska (now known as Denali National Park and Preserve.) 

Betts started his career as a volunteer in Crater Lake National Park in Oregon, worked as a seasonal Law Enforcement Ranger in Crater Lake, Lake Clark National Park and Preserve in Alaska, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park in Hawaii, and Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks in Wyoming. 

Betts began his permanent career with the NPS in 1985 as a River Ranger in Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona where he met and married his wife, Beth Betts, also a second generation Park Ranger. 

From there he went to Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado as an Area Ranger, and then moved back to Yellowstone National Park as Sub-District Ranger. 

While at Yellowstone he and Beth had their two children, Dana, 21, and Drew, 19. 

Betts couldn’t resist taking a job back in Alaska in Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve as a District Ranger/Pilot where he stayed for 13 years flying NPS aircraft in the incredible wilderness found there. 

For the last three years, he has been at Bandelier, where coincidentally, his father-in-law worked in the mid-60’s and his wife had the wonderful experience of spending part of her youth. 

Betts graduated from Oregon State University with a BS in Animal Production in 1979, and occasionally assists his brother with his veterinary practice. 

Betts continues to fly for pleasure and maintains a personal airplane.

Visit for details and updates on this and other county and library programs and events.


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