The (very) chilly morning in Fort McPherson started in a local school – they invited us over for breakfast that they cooked themselves.
Students asked questions about aviation, about jumping out of the plane, about how fast we fly and what years our airplanes are built.
Even in a small community like this, the school goes up to great 12 and provides “graduation”, but often the technical knowledge and skills are not sufficient to pursue a chosen career. So to catch up, students often end up taking additional courses after school. Northern Lights College came up as a frequent post-graduate school choice.
Later we also learned about the variety of population of Fort McPherson. It might seem mostly “native”, but it’s actually a mix of Gwich’in and Inuvialuit people. These two groups have lost-lasting tradition of not getting along, especially when inuvialuits were starving and had to steal the others’ stashed meat.
But the past is the past. For the last 15-20 years Fort McPherson is actually the place where the two groups of people now peacefully coexist.
On our next couple of stops, we will meet more inuvialuit people, especially in Tuktoyaktuk, who are famous for their throat singing.
And another priviledge they have in Tuk: only natives are still allowed to hunt nahrwhals. Nahrwhals (unicorn whales) are pretty much the underwater unicorns. They use their long and strong horn to wack the fish, that they will shortly after leisely catch and eat.
Nahrwahls live in the Arctic Ocean. They are beautiful, rare and protected. But the natives are still allowed to hunt them – but in a traditional way only: spear fishing from their kayaks. Considering the size of Nahrwals, it will be quite a challenge. Our hotel lobby in Inuvik had a beautiful carving of this hunting scene.
Local man camp in Fort McPherson invited us for lunch. The highlight of it for me was discovering the delicious “banik”. What looks like a simple bun, is the most delicious fried thing that can go with a warm soup – especially when it’s +2 degrees outside and strong wind!
We shortly after commenced the airshow. As you can tell, in the absence of tie downs, never hurts having a spare tire :)
The show was over the river, and – as usual – we had 100% attendance. The excitement was unstoppable!
And – who knows! – maybe there are a couple of air bosses that we will soon see coming from here!
Thank you Fort MsPherson for a very warm welcome! Mahsee Cho! Shortly after, we took our “Flying Circus” back on the road. Pardon, in the air. By the way, we figured that we are probably the first flying carnival since the 1950s times of barnstormers! The flight from Fort McPherson to Inuvik was short and beautiful. With one wheels-up show on the way (we have to make sure not to miss any community North of 60th!), we had a chance to enjoy the gorgeous delta of MacKenzie River.
Inuvik is a 3500 people town, but it used to have up to 10 000 people living here. If is a local “bigger” town, with commercial scheduled service at the airport, a hotel and a few stores. Although there’s some industry here, most of its citizens are natives. This is the place where first nations meet inuit. Winters are here cold, but beautiful.
It seemed like we felt every frost heave on our drive from the airport to town. But outside down, it has its very special beauty.
Canadian Arctic Aviation Tour so far:
Distance flown: 1852 nm (3430 km)
Airshows flown: 19