[06/19/14 - 10:12 AM]
Smithsonian Channel to Premiere "Aerial America: Alaska" on July 6
In a special extended back-to-back two-hour programming block, Smithsonian Channel celebrates the last great frontier.

[via press release from Smithsonian Channel]


NEW YORK June 19, 2014 - Soar across the dizzying heights of Mount McKinley. Swoop down on the glimmering seas surrounding Kodiak Island. Hover above stunning aqua-blue melt ponds on the world's largest glacier and crawl across the barren landscape left behind by the biggest volcanic eruption of the 20th century, as the most expansive aerial series in U.S. television history takes flight on a stunning journey across our nation's largest state: Alaska. In a special extended back-to-back two-hour programming block, Smithsonian Channel celebrates the last great frontier, taking flight in AERIAL AMERICA: ALASKA, premiering Sunday, July 6 at 8 p.m. and 9 p.m. ET/PT.

This is not the Alaska of crude television caricatures, but a place of stunning beauty and rich diversity. As icy glaciers and treacherous wilderness trails sweep by below, some of Alaska's most treasured and unusual landmarks are revealed, providing a rare perspective on the 49th state, its rich history and mind-blowing sights that are best appreciated from the air. Alaska's extreme weather and treacherous terrain help make for a thrilling flight across America's last frontier.

The first hour, AERIAL AMERICA: ALASKA'S LAND OF FIRE AND ICE, begins over the snow-covered high peaks of Denali National Park, as a team of climbers flies out to base camp to begin their daring climb up the highest mountain in North America. Aerial America journeys into the treacherous peaks of the Alaska Range to reveal some of its more than 400 glaciers, including The Ruth, a vast ice-filled canyon that's almost twice as deep as Arizona's Grand Canyon. The breathtaking ride continues south to Alaska's Ring of Fire, where 130 volcanoes stretch out to sea. And cameras capture stunning images of the Katmai Peninsula, a steaming, barren moonscape still surrounds the Novarupta caldera and Alaska's famous Valley of 10,000 Smokes, site of the largest volcanic eruption of the 20th century.

AERIAL AMERICA: ALASKA journeys across one of earth's most amazing sights, the longest and largest glacier in North America: the Bering. Viewers get a rare chance to crawl just a few feet above this remote icy world, peer down into its deep shifting crevasses, and hover over the brilliant blue melt ponds that dot the Bagley Ice Field, high up at the Bering's source.

Back down in the rivers and streams that flow out of Alaska's mountains, Kodiak brown bears, fresh out of hibernation, feast on salmon in one of Kodiak Island's many streams.

Along the way, this episode reveals the impact that early Russian fur traders had on Alaska's small coastal villages and imparts the tragic story of how one native Alaskan tribe was ambushed by invaders at a place called Refuge Rock.

AERIAL AMERICA swings west over Bristol Bay to witness the largest salmon run in the world and follows women competing in one of Alaska's most extreme events, as they scramble up and down a 3,000-foot mountain as fast as they can during the Mount Marathon Race.

The second hour, AERIAL AMERICA: ALASKA'S CALL OF THE WILD, soars in search of adventurers and dreamers lured north by the call of the wild. One of them was would-be survivalist Christopher McCandless, immortalized in the book and film Into the Wild, who starved to death along Denali National Park's Stampede Trail while living in the abandoned Bus 142, which still stands on the same site today.

Viewers will learn how Alaska has lured outsiders ever since the first humans to reach North America stepped on Alaska's shores from Asia 40,000 years ago.

AERIAL AMERICA is there at the starting line of the 2013 Iditarod and then follows its brave mushers and their teams of dogs as they compete to win "the World's Last Great Race" - all seen from the air.

The episode explores what it takes to survive on Alaska's high peaks, from the mountain goats that call the Juneau Mountains home, to a legendary bush pilot named Don Sheldon, who managed to build himself a cabin high up on Denali's flanks.

In the Alaska Panhandle, Smithsonian Channel retraces the brutal route that early prospectors followed on their way to the Klondike gold fields... and captures how a 21st century exploratory mining team has to shuttle in by helicopter and then cling to platforms on the edge of a mountain in its search for buried treasure.

Along the way, AERIAL AMERICA: ALASKA reveals some of the great species that call The Last Frontier home, from the bald eagles that soar over its waters, to the sea lions that crowd its shores, to the whales that come to Alaska every year to feast.

AERIAL AMERICA offers the ultimate "bird's eye view" of our nation, the compelling stories behind its rich history... and the seemingly endless beauty of its land. Shot from a helicopter armed with a state-of-the-art CineflexV-14 HD camera system, each episode uses breathtaking aerial cinematography to reveal what makes each of the 50 United States unique - from beautiful natural landmarks, to sites of important turning points in history, to fascinating locations far off the beaten path... and the rich variety of wildlife that calls each state home.

AERIAL AMERICA is produced by Tusker Television for Smithsonian Channel. Tusker Television's Executive Producer is Toby Beach. Executive Producers for Smithsonian Channel are David Royle and Charles Poe.


Smithsonian Channel(TM), owned by Showtime Networks Inc. and the Smithsonian Institution, is where curiosity lives, inspiration strikes and wonders never cease. This is the place for awe-inspiring stories, powerful documentaries and amazing entertainment across multiple platforms. Smithsonian Channel combines the storytelling prowess of SHOWTIME(R) with the unmatched resources and rich traditions of the Smithsonian, to create award-winning programming that shines new light on popular genres such as air and space, history, science, nature, and pop culture. Among the network's offerings are series including Aerial America, L.A. Frock Stars, Secrets, Mighty Ships, Mighty Planes and Air Disasters, as well as critically-acclaimed specials that include Civil War 360, 9/11: The Heartland Tapes; MLK: The Assassination Tapes and The Day Kennedy Died. Find out more at www.smithsonianchannel.com.

  [june 2014]  

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