(Photo: Effie Wister)

BROWN HYENA - Cape Cross, Namibia, Africa.

The Brown Hyena is one of the more elusive residents of the Skeleton Coast. It survives off of sea birds, seals, and beached whales. There is no fresh water in this part of the world, so some of the Hyena's fresh water comes from the morning dew that it licks off of the rocks along the foggy coast. This Hyena, being held by Claytor, was nearly killed by a jackal when it was very young. It was rescued by a seal harvester at Cape Cross, and now is his pet.

TOM CLAYTOR was born in Philadelphia, USA in 1962. His interest in aviation began as a small boy working on his grandmother's farm. She used to fly a Waco-F named "Bushelfoot" and in the evenings would recount stories of biplanes, horse pastures and wide open skies. Claytor started flying when he was age 17. While attending Colby College in Maine, he worked at the local airport in exchange for flight time. It was here that seaplanes were used to transport hunters and fishermen to the backwoods of northern Maine. This was his introduction to bush flying. Today, Claytor is a commercial helicopter and airplane pilot with instrument, single and multi-engine land and seaplane ratings; he has over 3,000 hours flight time - most of it in the wilderness.

In 1985, Claytor graduated from Colby College with a B.A. (Physics) and was awarded a Thomas J. Watson Fellowship (IBM) to travel to Africa. He then spent three and a half years working as a bush pilot and a documentary film-maker in Africa. During this period, he spent time with Aviatrix and Author Beryl Markham - the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic from Europe to America and who subsequently published the book "West With The Night." He also spent time with George Adamson - a leading conservationist who lived in the wilderness of northern Kenya with his pride of lions. Claytor assisted with various documentary films as a pilot, researcher, and assistant producer including: National Geographic's "Rhino War," National Geographic's "Serengeti Diary," National Geographic's "The Great Lakes," and Discovery's "Ivory Wars."

Claytor's other passions include African mountains and rivers. He has summited the Hoggar, Brandberg, Kartella, Kilimanjaro, Ruwenzoris, Mt. Kenya, Mt. Cameroon, Virunga, Mulanje, Tsaratanana, Inyangani, High Atlas, and most recently Thabana Ntlenyana - not all of them were gained on the first attempt. White-water kayak descents include the Tugela and the Zambezi gorge (class V).

Claytor had encountered many interesting and wise characters in his travels through the remote parts of Africa. He had seen the impact of communication through film and how important it was to share knowledge with the outside world. In all remote areas, bush pilots were the link between civilization and the wilderness. Claytor had the germ of an idea - to circle the world in a bush plane, to seek out a worldwide fraternity of bush pilots, to find characters and stories that could help us understand the wilderness and why it is important, to capture these individuals and stories with words, photographs and film, and to try to share these experiences with others.

Only as far as we seek, can we go.... Only as much as we dream, can we be....