We had a long day ahead of us: transit to Fort Simpson with several wheels-up airshows, visiting the school, flying Fort Simpson airshow, and then another transit – to Yellowknife. But we were on the other hand looking forward to sleeping in the next day.
Nancy mentioned that since the beginning of the trip, she was riding nothing else but a twin otter, so I offered the citabria ride.
No, it does not go as fast as the twin otter, but of all team members we had the most sightseeing of all. Even despite a little bit of weather and 20 kts of headwind, it was a nice flight.
We can definitely see the difference now as we are moving South. Norman Wells is appx. 700-800 people town, Fort Simpson is about 1300. Fort Simpson is now the first stop in a while that has actual road (not just ice road) access. Temperatures are getting warmer too.
Sometimes the echoes of civilization greed are more here than we would like it to be. In all the small communities further North, we were welcomed by people offering help from their hearts. And yes, we paid for some of it, some was even brought to us for free to support the project. At no point did we feel taken advantage of or ripped off. But the Fort Simpson fuel guy told us there would be a 100 dollars per plane call out fee to get gas for airshow aircraft – regardless what time of the day! It was waived eventually, but it was a sad reminder of the civilization greed…
We started our time in Fort Simpson with a school visit. The kids could have been more excited, and asked lots of questions.
It was a sunny show with light wind. The town gathered on the river shore, as we sky danced over the river at our 34th airshow of the Tour.
Shortly before the departure I was at the CARS operator’s office. A young man, local pilot, walked in and I introduced myself: “Hi, I’m Anna”. “I know” – he replied, standing and smiling. For the life of me, I could not remember where I met him! “I instructed in your school 4 years ago”. OMG! Well, in my excuse, he did grow a beard and his hair turned grey, hence not that easy to recognize. But the aviation world is truly small! Back in 2013, Thor was working for Wolverine Air prior to coming to Canadian Flight Centre to instruct, spent about a month in the big city, realized that it was not for him, and returned back to Wolverine. He now lives in Fort Smith and recently married a local girl. We did not have much time to chat, because his Cessna 206 passenger was waiting.
The transit to Yellowknife was smooth like silk, and at 8500 feel we finally found a couple of knots of tailwind.
And upon our arrival to Buffalo Air in Yellowknife, there was already barbecue and live Newfoundland music!
It was so relaxing to sleep in the next morning, and we are finally having a well needed day off. Yellowknife is an awesome place for it. Despite the fatigue, we did not want to miss anything in exploring the town.
Yellowknife is a relatively big Northern city (about 18000 people) and is the capital of Northwest Territories. It also has a strategic military importance: along with Inuvik, Iqaluit and Churchill, it is a “forward operating base”.
Yellowknife consists of old town and new town. Modern part is the same as any other city – office buildings, coffee shops etc. But the old town is the true gem with a number of small art galleries, rustic eateries and random decorations on the rocks, logs, and even garbage bins!
We checked out the dock. There are quite a few floating houses here. I wonder how they do in local winter?
A place not to miss is the bush pilot monument in the middle of old town. If nothing else, it opens a panoramic view of the old and new town.
Speaking of pilots. Have you watched “Ice Pilots” TV show? It was right here, at Buffalo Airways in Yellowknife. But visit this place not because of the TV drama, but for the history of actual bush flying they’ve done.
For dinner, upon recommendation of the local guides, we went to Bullock’s for the true Northern experience. They serve only fish. And even if you have to wait in line, it’s worth it! The place is not the one that will attract you as you walk by it on the street.
But the Arctic char filet was absolutely delicious! It tastes similar to salmon in a way, but more tender. Go for it pan fried, and it just melts in your mouth!
Tomorrow is an airshows packed day – for many communities surrounding Yellowknife!
Canadian Arctic Aviation Tour so far:
Distance flown: 3916 nm (7252 km)
Airshows flown: 39