Pilot Paparazzi

Written by Walt Rhodes
Monday, May 28, 2012

Walt RhodesWhen you fly an orange airplane, especially a big one on floats, you tend to attract a lot of attention. It’s a rare day if we land at an airport, no matter how remote, and no one comes up and wonders what we’re doing. Caleb is great about answering everyone’s questions, which allows me to tend to fueling or securing the plane. But no matter how popular everyone tends to make us feel, you have to remain humble, because there are always others who are larger. As AC DC sang, it’s a long way to the top.

A large portion of the survey in this crew area occurs in the Northwest Territories, and no one is bigger in this part of the world than the bunch that flies a vintage fleet of distinctly green airplanes. This is Ice Pilots NWT territory, which is now in its fourth season on television. Based out of Hay River and Yellowknife, Northwest Territories, Ice Pilots NWT follows the stories of Buffalo Air and its characters, namely Buffalo Joe and his son, Mikey.

As a fan of the show, my camera was at the ready. Low and behold, while coming in for a landing at Hay River, none other than Buffalo Joe came on the radio behind me and followed us in for a landing in one of the company’s iconic DC-3s. We talked about ducks and airplanes, I got to sit in the cockpit of one of their DC-3s, and Buffalo Joe invited us to stop by the company’s hangar once we arrived in Yellowknife. Star struck, maybe; paparazzi, youbetcha.

Hanging out with Buffalo Joe of Ice Pilots NWT in Hay River, NWT.

Hanging out with Buffalo Joe of Ice Pilots NWT in Hay River, NWT. Photo by Walt Rhodes, USFWS

Mikey McBryan of Ice Pilots NWT and pilot-biologist, Walt Rhodes, share a laugh in the Buffalo Air Hangar in Yellowknife.

Mikey McBryan of Ice Pilots NWT and pilot-biologist, Walt Rhodes, share a laugh in the Buffalo Air Hangar in Yellowknife. Photo by Walt Rhodes, USFWS

One of Buffalo Air’s DC-3s getting a checkup in Yellowknife.

One of Buffalo Air’s DC-3s getting a checkup in Yellowknife. Photo by Walt Rhodes, USFWS