Northern Pilots and Airlines Operate at a Level of Professionalism Unmatched

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Thunder Bay – BUSINESS – Across the skies of Western and Northern Ontario are aircraft. From the Cessna Caravan, the Pilatus PC-12, the Dash-8 and the Basler BT-67, right up to the largest commercial aircraft making their way overhead to distant destinations, our region has a very busy airspace.

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There are many skilled pilots, aviation mechanics, and all of the logistical support and staff to keep supplies, and people moving across the Far North of Ontario.

As a reporter, I have had the experience of flying with North Star Air, Thunder Airlines Ltd. and Wasaya Airways LP. Some of the other airlines, Bearskin Air, Air Bravo, Niigaani Air and, thankfully Ornge Air, I have not yet flown with. I say that of Ornge Air only because it is the air ambulance and I hope to never need their services.

All of the air travel in our region, from people and packages to large cargo means lots of flying.

The skill and confidence of the pilots in our region is second to none. So too are the skills and talents of the ground crews and flight support staff.

These aviation companies fly in some of the most challenging conditions to be found anywhere.

While many of us are complaining about the cold weather, pilots and flight crew as well as the ground crews at airports across our region work long hard hours to keep things moving.

There are few experiences like it.

Winter flights are always interesting. Temperatures in the far north can be decidedly cold.

One trip to Cat Lake offered an glimpse of how people in the north rely on fuel delivery to keep the lights on.

On one trip to Washaho Cree Nation, Fort Severn, the furthest north community in Ontario, the cold and the wind chill were at -67. That was cold enough to freeze my Samsung Galaxy phone solid.

One trip with Goldcorp Musselwhite, we had made all the stops delivering turkeys to Northern communities, and at extreme cold, the battery on the aircraft failed. We were basically at the airport. To demonstrate how absolutely amazing northern communities really are, within five minutes of a phone call, a steady stream of vehicles started arriving to take us to the local restaurant where we could wait while a crew flew up with the needed equipment to get us home that night.

An aside, if you are ever in Kingfisher Lake, the French fries in the restaurant are probably the best in Ontario.

Flying cargo into the North is a big task. Here in this older video, Northern aviation legend Frank Kelner talks about the Basler BT-67.

There are stringent regulations and requirements for flying in Canada, and especially in Northern Ontario and points further north.

All incidents involving aviation are logged and investigated by Transport Canada.

Training levels and requirement mean, if something happens, it is investigated, and reported.

Daily the CADORS list out all of the various incidents and updates that happen.

Those investigations and reports are done to insure safety and keep all those who fly safer.