For me a fly-in canoe trip is the best of both worlds. You get to experience Northwestern Ontario’s pristine wilderness from the land and air. But between the canoe and float plane, I think the latter is the quintessential mode of transportation in NWO. I say this not only because a float plane is quicker, but because with a float plane you’re not limited to your destinations by portage trails. Yes, you need a large enough body of water to land on, but we’ve got no shortage of those here. When doing research for this issue I stumbled upon an article about two flying prospectors: Lloyd Rochester and Bobby Cockeram. In the piece from The Northern Miner, it stated how back in 1926, Rochester and Cockeram flew for the first time from Sioux Lookout to Red Lake, a trip that usually took them six days by canoe. Shortly after this, the two decided to buy an aircraft and the next year formed Prospectors Airlines. In terms of accessing logging, mining, or fishing camps, float planes have played an important role in shaping the history of our region and in connecting surrounding communities.
As part of our cover story, Kat Lyzun chats with pilot and trailblazer Liz Wieben, who logged her first flight at age 11 and carries on her family’s aviation legacy. We also take a tour of the Northwestern Ontario Aviation Heritage Centre where our region’s history has been collected, preserved, and celebrated. From Norsemen to Otters, we present some info on the most popular float planes used in NWO. Plus, Tiffany Jarva gets a look into the operations of the adventure fly-in tourism operator Wilderness North, Emma Christensen gives the rundown on the Canadair CL-415, an amphibious aircraft that is a cornerstone for firefighting not only in Northwestern Ontario but the around the world, and we talk to pilot and photographer Rich Hulina about the beautiful air-to-air photography featured in his book Bush Flying Captured II.
So whether you’ve logged many hours piloting a float plane or have never stepped foot in one, we hope you enjoy this month’s issue.