When we were putting together the itinerary for our Ice Pilots Northwest Territories adventure, I wasn’t sure it was humanly possible. In 4 days I was expected to co-pilot a Buffalo Air DC-3, snowmobile over frozen lakes and drive an Inuvik sled dog team. Add -20 temperatures and zero down time into the mix, and that’s one challenging assignment.
Our adventure began with a visit to Buffalo Air in the booming city of Yellowknife, NWT. This infamous airline is home to Ice Pilots who have been flying cargo and people to every corner of the North since 1970. DC-3’s make up the majority of their fleet, and Buffalo’s Pilot-in-Chief Joe McBryan is the undisputed authority on these hearty machines.
Buffalo Joe has spent thousands of hours in the air, and calls it “the closest thing to being an eagle”;. He also takes aviation very seriously – just ask pilots Scott Blue and Tyler Sipos. These up-and-coming aviators describe their boss as incredibly knowledgeable, and even more demanding. To say I was nervous to fly with him is an understatement. Luckily, I caught him on a good day, and my co-pilot experience couldn’t have been better. It only took a couple of turns to realize why flyboys subject themselves to the gruelling Ice Pilot life. Flying DC-3’s is addictive.
Unfortunately, I wasn’t allowed to take the DC-3 all the way to Inuvik – so I took one of Ice Pilots most popular stars instead!
Mikey McBryan is Joe’s son and the fast-talking, deal-making GM of Buffalo Air. He’s also somewhat of an Arctic Ambassador, and he jumped at the chance to guide me through 2 action packed days in the “Land of the Midnight Sun”;. Mikey’s crash course in Arctic living included an impressive Inuit athletic demonstration, a thrilling high speed snowmobile ride, and a twilight snowshoe trek. And yes, I did captain my very own dog sled team. Big shout out to the good people of Arctic Adventures, Juno, and the rest of the pack for helping me become an official Arctic Adventurer!