Ice-thickness measurements are needed to calculate fluxes through fast-flowing outlet glaciers in Greenland, Alaska, Patagonia and Antarctica. However, relatively high attenuation of radio waves by dielectric absorption and volume scattering from englacial water hampers detection of the bed through warm deep ice. In the past we have had success measuring ice thickness of temperate glaciers using a ground-based monopulse radar system operating at low frequencies (2 MHz). Here we adapt the same system to operate from an airplane. Test flights over Bering Glacier, Alaska, USA, detected the bed through ice up to 1250m thick. Flights across the Seward–Malaspina Glacier system, Alaska, resolved the ice thickness of Malaspina Glacier, but strong hyperbolic-shaped returns obscured the bed echo through the Seward throat. It is likely that this clutter in the signal was caused by off-nadir returns from chaotic surface crevasses that are ubiquitous in the throat region.