Michael McBride is a man from Alaska who loves Africa – and who loves flying and wilderness and people and having fun; and all the other things a Bateleur would love. In fact, without Michael there would be no Bateleurs, in our sense, at all. It was Michael’s letters about flying missions for LightHawk to combat the threats of clear cutting 400-year-old Sitka spruce trees in Kachamak Bay State Park while we were fighting the threat of mining on the Eastern Shores of St. Lucia that resulted in the idea of a similar organisation in South Africa.
A member of the Board of Advisors for LightHawk, Michael put Nora in touch with their top management …..and the rest is history. He is a man of many parts: ex American Air Force Captain, commercial pilot, licensed skipper, carpenter, lodge operator/owner, philosopher, music maker, wilderness guide and lecturer, ornithologist and archaeologist and more.
Michael McBride is the founder and operator of the Centre for Alaskan Coastal Studies, winner of the National Science Foundations award for excellence in science education. He played a major role in preserving the Kachemak Bay State Forest, was elected to the Smithsonian National Board for two terms, is a fellow of the Royal Geographical Society of England, and was elected to the Explorers Club of the United States in 1978.
Ask anyone who has ever visited his self-built (with wife Diane) Kachamak Bay Wilderness Lodge, which for several years was among the top 100 lodges in America as well having been featured as America’s Best Wilderness Lodge. But first and foremost Michael is an environmentalist and conservationist who has fought long and hard and exhausting battles (some won and some lost) in their cause.
His latest concern is the Bush threat to drill for oil in The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Michael and Diane have also been at the forefront of environmental education. He has enthused and delighted thousands of students at his lodge and at the Center for Alaskan Coastal Studies which he founded, and has been involved with Smithsonian youth programmes and lectured and fundraised far and wide. “I have my plate full” he wrote once “with 16 staff, volunteer flying for LightHawk, as a Trustee with Nature Conservancy, on a Board for our Governor and finally on the Smithonian’s International Board.” And now he has The Bateleurs too.