The Great Arctic Air Adventure comes to Television

Doug 1 Comment

Yes friends, it took three years, sixty hours of HD footage, and thousands of production hours, but the film of our grand adventure is finally finished. AND – the Seattle PBS station, KCTS Channel 9 will air the film on Wednesday, Sept. 7, at 7:00 PM. KCTS will be airing this as a pledge drive, so tune in and enjoy the show. You can get a copy of the DVD in return for a small pledge, so please consider supporting PBS and the GAAA!

Warm Regards,

Mark and Doug

Happy New Year GAAA Mates!

Mark Comments Off

January 2009
Kenmore, WA

The GAAA is hitting the lecture circuit. Here is our speaking schedule so far this year:

Saturday, February 7th, 2:00 PM at the Museum of Flight in Seattle. (
The show will consist of slides and video from the trip with commentary from Mark & Doug . This event is first come, first served, open seating and we expect it to fill up quickly. If you would like to attend, please let Doug or Mark know by February 1st, as we are allowed to save a block of seats. The cost is $14 (less a variety of discounts if you qualify), which also gets you into the rest of the museum.

Friday, February 20th at the Embassy Suites in Tukwila, WA, Washington State Seaplane Pilots’ Association Grounded Hogs Banquet. Contact Jack Yager, Treasurer, 206-722-0254,

Saturday, April 18th 1:00 PM, Owl-on-the-Town event at Kenmore Air in Kenmore. This event consists of a tour of the Kenmore Air Beaver rebuild facility, a free copy of Marin Faure’s book “Success on the Step: Flying with Kenmore Air”, our GAAA presentation and hors d’oeuvres. The cost is $99 per person which goes to benefit the Overlake School in Redmond, WA. Please contact Doug Allen at 425-467-1014 or Thanks to Doug Allen and Kenmore Air for donating time and space for this benefit event.

A couple of weeks ago I drove down to the airport to sweep the snow off the wings of N2SF. She sat patiently on the tarmac, a fresh white coat insulating her like an Inuit sled dog hunkered down in an Inuvik white-out. I’m not sure, but she appeared to be begging to be fired up and taken for a spin.

A fluffy buildup of 4-5 inches had warmed and became saturated by a slushy rain, making it heavy. As Beaver wings are designed for air pressure on the underside, it was time to remove the snow load on the top. Sweeping precariously from a slippery ladder, and float pumping kept the body warm, but driving slush and a cool wind required frequent interruptions of the work to warm exposed hands. Where have we been through this before?

I couldn’t resist firing up the Pratt & Whitney to circulate some warm oil through the cylinders. As she sputtered to life, the signature blue plume of exhaust smoke flurried around the fuselage and off into vacuity. We sat together in the rain, the familiar rumble bringing temperatures to the green arc for a quick run-up to charge the battery. We’re ready to go again! But on this day, that was the extent of it, and so goes the winter flying.

We have been putting several video clips together in preparation for the GAAA presentations. We still enjoy our meetings together, albeit they don’t carry the same sense of urgency as our decision-making chats on the GAAA trail.

Our thoughts frequently return to the Arctic and our friends in Canada. Thinking of Ozzie, our host in Resolute, I checked for the current weather there. It’s -35d.C with a north breeze at 24 km/hr. This puts the wind chill factor at -45d.C. They are forecasting a warming trend and it should get up to -29d.C by the end of the week. Sounds like a good time to break out the golf clubs Ozzie. The website lists the time of sunrise as “none”.

While our days here in Kenmore are already getting longer, we pause to express gratitude for them.

Until our February report,
With warmest regards to all our GAAA mates,

Mark and Doug

November GAAA Update

Doug Comments Off

Jim Clark, GAAA filmmaker, fellow adventurer, and hale fellow well met, spent the better part of October logging the video footage. For those of you not well versed in the relatively arcane jargon of filmmaking, logging includes capturing the footage from the various media, and organizing the material by subject matter. In the case of the GAAA, the video was shot from two HD cameras as well as an HD camera pan/tilt unit mounted on the front of the float. With over 60 hours of footage, logging is a daunting task in itself, but yeoman effort from Jim produced a well-organized catalogue of the footage.

On October 27, Mark, Doug, and Jim spent the day reviewing the footage. It was a good time, and brought back many memories that are rapidly fading as we resume our lives. Who could forget Eric dancing a jig sans pants, crawling out on a bucking wing in high winds to refuel, or, ahem, herding musk ox from the air. Anyway, at the end of the day, we felt that the footage could support an interesting and entertaining film about the adventure, and spent some time developing possible “threads.” (story lines) Full disclosure here, the recent economic downturn has not left the GAAA leaders unscathed, so we will be looking for some outside funds to complete the film. Next step is to develop a trailer and go on the road to potential sponsors.

Meanwhile, Mark and Doug are putting together a live travelogue of the adventure for presentation to interested local aviation groups.

Thanks for checking in, and we look forward to our December communiqué.

Doug & Mark

October 1, 2008 – Update from Kenmore, WA

Mark No Comments

We are gradually assimilating back into normal life here in Kenmore. Doug has returned to work on an innovative new piece of medical equipment. Mark is busy keeping his real estate projects on track during a challenging economic period. The rigors of the GAAA have perhaps prepared him well. Emmy is letting him keep his beard for now.

Our thoughts frequently wander back to our time in the Arctic. Is it possible that we miss the raw air, the piercing winds, the cold hands and the wet feet? Could we possibly pine for the low scud, white capped lakes and turbulence? Certainly, we miss the spectacular, the unimaginable, and our mates.

This month we are getting together with film maker Jim Clark to review the footage shot on the trip. Jim has been going through the tapes and seems to feel we have some excellent footage with which to work.

We have also discussed returning to the pole. It remains a lofty goal. But our time together on the GAAA trail has taught us that thorough planning, a solid team of caring workers, and persistent effort in the face of difficult circumstances, win the day in any endeavor.

We will keep you all informed. Look for our next blog on November 1st.

Warmest regards,

Doug and Mark

Episode 45 – Home Sweet Home

Doug, Mark 1 Comment

Part 1: Coming Full Circle (Mark)

As was the case the night before at Buffalo Pound Lake outside of Moose Jaw, a full moon enlightened the tents all night long on the shores of Eagle Lake. A full moon seems to carry with it some odd powers, and as was the case the night before, nearby dens of coyotes howled their form of text messages back and forth to each other, gossiping most of the night.

Unlike wolves that have a distinctive howl, coyote howling seems to be a family affair. The coyote song combines a plethora of voices from a high pitched “yip yip yip” to a small-dog-accidentally-kicked-under-the-dinner-table yelp, to a melancholic screech, in a chaotic serenade that crescendos for a moment, and then dies off. Separately located dens provide a stereo affect. Dozing off in your sleeping bag, you convince yourself that they are finished for the night. Then you faintly hear the class clown coyote, (you know the one, he just can’t keep his mouth shut) with his evil coyote smirk and his wimpy little whelp, and the rest of the colony can’t help themselves, and the whole rock show starts all over again. The cacophony is exacerbated by the fact that the classical music lovers of Eagle Lake, the mallards, Canada geese, and frogs that are so plentiful there, try to drown out the imposing rock stars with their own concert.

So much for sound sleep at Eagle Lake. It was magnificent, however, and well worth the lack of sleep on the eve of our homeward leg.

The dawn brought more moonlight, cool still air, a blanket of dew on the tents and a blanket of fog on the lake. Autumn is coming to Alberta. We awoke to country music, as one of the heifers from a nearby farm must have gotten separated from her cow gang and started bawling. One could hear lousy cow impersonations coming from the tents as well.

Leslie Pringle of the Eagle Lake RV Resort ( graciously offered her fax machine for faxing our customs forms to Seattle, as well as a send-off cup of coffee. Thank you again Leslie, for the hospitality.

The Beavers broke glassy water and started the arduous westbound climb towards the Rocky Mountains in smooth air on what promised to be a perfect last day of flying. The day did not disappoint.

As the heavy Beavers got busy with their morning chores in workmanlike fashion, slowly gaining altitude in warm inversion temperatures, we followed the highway out of Calgary up through spectacular Banff Provincial Park. Doug Devries recalled a 1982 venture when he and a friend pedaled 750 miles from Calgary to Vancouver over this same highway, albeit with fewer lanes and less traveled than it is today. This was just an earlier version of ambitious adventure for Doug. My experience is that if you hang out with him long enough, you will find yourself engrossed in some wild scheme to bike, canoe, dog sled or fly to a far region of the earth. The bumper sticker “Get in, sit down, hang on, and shut-up!” comes to mind. I realize that I have been hanging on for 45 days now, and am happy for it. In some way, I realize that I am better for it as well.

The Rockies regaled us with striking granite monoliths sporting dustings of snow on the upper ledges, hanging glaciers, and small glacier-fed lakes in every conceivable shade of green and blue. We buzzed our good friends John Hamler and Cindy Helgesen at Big White Mountain outside of Kelowna, BC. Chatter on the radio and within the cockpit was friendly and fun, as the six of us tried to capture one last time and hopefully for all of memory the joys of our hours together. Jocular ribbing was frequently accentuated with a “woo hoo!” or a “hoo ahh!” or a “What’s your position?” or a “Roger that.”

We touched down for our last fuel stop on beautiful Skaha Lake in the arid town of Penticton, BC. We were cutting the corner for home like horses returning to the barn, deviating from our original published course, which included two stops after Calgary in Vernon and Mission, BC.

As we slid onto the beach, our good friends Fred and Dawn Hamilton of High Arctic Lodge were pulling their Beaver C-GSUE out of the water and across the highway to the Penticton airport for the winter. Fred had quite coincidentally, just moments before our arrival, returned from his season at Cambridge Bay. We joked that poor Fred had been flying across Canada trying to avoid the two pesky Beavers from the US, but no matter where he went, from the 69th parallel of Cambridge Bay, to the 49th parallel of Penticton, he just couldn’t get away from us. It was a friendly reception on the beach under the hot BC sun.

With a mere three and a half hours of fresh fuel on board, and flight plans filed for two hours to Kenmore Air (KS60), we took off in formation for our final leg, turning an early crosswind to avoid one of the many fire bombers based in Penticton. She was taking off on another run to douse a forest fire in this scorched country. The skies were also a-buzz with helicopters, tethering water buckets replenished in Skaha Lake and zipping off towards ribbons of rising smoke emerging out of nearby deep canyons. What a contrast to our Arctic ports of call!

Another slow climb ensued and the last vestiges of this mountainous region of Southern BC passed by under the EDO’s. (The floats on the Beaver.) As we crossed the 49th parallel into familiar US airspace, Doug and Mark shared some thoughts on the radio, mostly thanking each other for making such an adventure a reality. We recalled the high points of the Yukon, Bathhurst Inlet, landing at Resolute Lake, ice bergs, polar bears, the Maine Fly-in, Ottawa, and of course, our magical evening with the legends of De Havilland in Toronto. We also recalled some tough times such as the difficult leg to Resolute, the treacherous arrival at Baker Lake, the endless low pressure trough swirling around the 60th parallel, and the biting Arctic wind that somehow pierces the best windbreakers money can buy.

The real high point though for both of us has undoubtedly been the people: The wonderfully diverse cultures of Canada; The warm and generous Canadians in every corner of this amazing country that came out to greet and assist us when we needed it most; The RCMP officers that came to our aid in the Arctic villages; Our gracious hosts in Maine, Ottawa and Toronto; Our valued team members Tom F., Tom M., Jani, Dan S., Michael, Steve, Dick, Vince, Dan N., David, Lisa, Robbi, Norma, Rick, Doug N. and Brian, who supported us in so many ways, lifted our spirits from segment to segment with fresh team chemistry, brought in food and treats from home as well as good weather, did so much of the hard labor required to load and unload airplanes on windy beaches in driving rains, and set up the camps and got dinner going night after night; Our camera crew of Eric Thiermann and Jim Clark that willingly traded the comforts of a studio for the rigors of the Arctic to capture some amazing images of our adventure for a movie later. They are both consummate professionals, always ready with a smile and a laugh to lighten the sternest mood; The web subscribers that have faithfully followed our progress, sent us emails of encouragement, endured our occasional technological shortcomings, and flattered us with your genuine interest; Our support crew at home of David and Carol Good, Robbi Devries, Emmy Schoening, Carol Murphy and Brian Marquardt; And finally, our dear family and friends that encouraged us, tolerated our absences and financial excesses without complaint, and welcomed us back with open arms. Thank you all for making this trip possible.

We cleared the tall ridges of the North Cascades and started the long high speed slide (if you call 130 mph “high speed”) from altitude to avoid the floor of the Seattle Class B Airspace. Doug remarked that we didn’t have to fly far from home to witness some of the finest scenery in North America, a subject on which we are now experts. As the North end of Lake Washington came into view, we couldn’t resist a low pass over Kenmore and Arrowhead Point on approach. We had to readjust our approach path for the many boaters out enjoying a perfect September afternoon. Boats? Now there’s something we haven’t had to deal with in a while!

As we pulled into the familiar Kenmore Air dock to clear customs, we couldn’t help noticing a small gathering of friends and family there to welcome us home. After customs, long awaited hugs and handshakes were exchanged on the dock. Thanks to friends Van and Eve Van Rennes, Matt Mostad with Cooper and Cos, as well as Phyllis and Ken Smith for taking time out to come down and greet us. Also on the dock were Robbi and Doug’s mom, Mary Lou, with Mark’s wife Emmy and son, Brian. Greg Munro, Director of Operations for Kenmore Air, and Todd Banks, the GM, offered congratulations.

Then it was back to Doug’s house for a neighborhood reception graciously hosted by Robbi. Mark and son Brian jumped off N2SF to cool off. Mark’s two year old niece, Ava, not recognizing her bearded uncle asked “Where’s Uncle Mark?” Our thanks go to our neighbors that joined to make it a special homecoming for all of us. It was a wonderful finale to our Great Arctic Air Adventure.

Tonight’s shout out goes once again to our hosts at the Toronto Aerospace Museum, with some corrections for Episode 40. The Board members in attendance were Ken Swartz, Lyle Abbott and Robert Cohen, the Marketing Chair. Not only did we miss Wayne Barrett’s name, referring to him as “Dwayne”, but we neglected to mention that he is the Chairman of the Museum. It turns out, that Wayne personally sponsored the dinner. Wayne, please do not let the fact that we missed your name interfere with the warm regards we have towards you, and our debt of gratitude to you for making this once-in-a-lifetime event possible for us! We will always remember. Thank you, Ken, for pointing out the errors.

Evening has now settled on the Arrowhead Point community. A full moon rises over Lake Washington, with its ribbon of light sparkling on the calm waters of twilight. They glisten off the wing tops of N2SF, parked at the head of the dock still loaded with freeze-dried food and GAAA gear, a job for tomorrow. Could it possibly be the same Canadian moon that caused the peaks of the Yukon to glow? Could it possibly be the same Canadian moon that electrified the ice bergs off Resolute Bay with their florescent light? Or the same Canadian moon that woke up the coyotes of Saskatchewan and Alberta?

We’ve indeed come full circle.

Part II: Episode 45: Reflections on The Last Imaginary Place (Doug)

On Day 45, the last day of our arctic odyssey, our flight took us across both the Canadian Rockies and the North Cascade mountain ranges. The jagged peaks and icy glaciers provided by any measure some of the most spectacular scenery on the planet. Oddly, as this dramatic panorama unfolded below, we were delighted, yet not moved as we were by the relatively drab arctic tundra. The gorgeous beauty of our home turf was a familiar and welcome site, but our lack of awe and wonder started me musing about the allure of exotic places.

The need for change and variation is a basic human need, though it often goes unrecognized and as a result unmet as our lives unfold. How many times have we seen the careers of our fellows begin as a passion, transition to a responsibility, and ultimately end up as a burden? For me, our travels through the arctic, though at times harsh and unforgiving, satisfied that need for change, as it was a land of unknown people and places.

In the book, The Last Imaginary Place, Robert McGhee opens with a discussion of why the arctic so effectively captures our imagination. Historically, we as humans tend to fill in the gaps of our knowledge with assumed truths or myths. The sun was a God that must be appeased, and the earth was a flat plate that dropped off into an abyss at the edges. As both travel and knowledge increased, the myths were replaced by scientific explanations, but not without a cost. The allure of the unknown is a powerful force and makes for a great story, and so it is today that we still enjoy a good yarn about the latest Sasquatch sighting, or the origin of crop circles.

The arctic is still a relatively inaccessible place – you really can’t book a “Pleasant Arctic Holiday” cruise through your local travel agent. Nunavut, the largest Canadian arctic territory, encompasses 750,000 square miles, yet has a total population of less than 30,000 people, making it one of the least populated places on earth. This is a place beyond the end of the road, a land that does not support the basics of food production such as farming or ranching. Wood, still the most commonly used building material of our society, is non-existent in the arctic. Visitors must adapt – the arctic is unyielding and unforgiving.

Our time machine, the venerable de Havilland Beaver seaplane, provided unique access and insights to this unfamiliar place. By air, from our vantage high above the ground, we observed the “big picture”, a mosaic of lakes and rolling tundra, punctuated by the occasional esker rising from the plain. Upon landing, our craft became a boat, conveying us to the shores where we set up our nightly camps. Once on the tundra, we experienced the other arctic, an unexpected ecosystem teaming with life against seemingly impossible odds. A curious ferret popping up from the tundra like a jack-in-the-box, a pair of sik-siks scolding the intruders, a curious caribou wandering by to gawk at the visitors who dropped in from the sky, a pair of regal arctic swans floating in the distance, all part of a community of life thriving in an unlikely place.

I’m home now, and trying to re-integrate into my old life – a great one to be sure – but as I fumble with the now-confusing digital remote control, or inch along the traffic jam on highway 405, my mind returns to the arctic, the last imaginary place.

Hmmm, we still have that unused fuel sitting up there in Eureka…

From N47d.44m.12s., W122d.15m.59s.,

With warm regards and our heartfelt thanks for your support,

The GAAA Team

PS: What’s Next?

Over the next few weeks, Mark and Doug will be reviewing the video footage with videographers Jim and Eric, devising a plan to bring this amazing adventure to life in the form of a film. We plan to update on our activities around the first of each month, through both the email list and the BLOG, so check back often for new info on our progress.

They are HOME!

Dave No Comments

Those of you watching the interactive map have by now noticed that Mark and Doug returned home to Lake Washington yesterday evening.

Today they have been busy unwinding and unpacking some really dirty airplanes. They just asked that I do a post letting you know they are home safely and working on a final blog.

Norma, forwarded this link to a great article in Vintage News. Thanks Norma!

Your GAAA webmaster

Episode 44: Trading Places

Doug 5 Comments

From August 3 through September 8 our family vicariously lived the adventure of the GAAA team from the comfort of our home computer. One of our rituals was to check the web site first thing each morning, and continue checking until we were greeted with a recap of the most recent day’s adventure. We found ourselves buying maps and checking web sites to gain more information about locations and the people the team was visiting. We found ourselves cheering them on upon touchdown after a challenging flight or when a milestone was reached. We lived their successes and their challenges.

This all changed September 8 when I flew to Toronto with Doug Nelson to meet the team on the final leg. We would soon be joined by Brian Marquardt and Jim Clark to add support for Mark Schoening and Doug DeVries.

Have you ever become so fascinated with a movie that you wanted to magically slide yourself into the role of one of the characters and the action? As the two Beavers piloted by Mark and Doug and the team on the 5th leg of the adventure pulled up the ramp at Toronto Island on the 8th, the transformation for me began.

Each day has left me with such an appreciation for the opportunity to be able to participate in an event such as this. Today after leaving a lake just outside of Moose Jaw , Saskatchewan , we flew over the breadbasket of Canada , the plains of Saskatchewan and Alberta . Our destination was Eagle Lake , 30 miles east of Calgary , Alberta . What a reception we received upon arrival. Leslie Pringle, the proprietor of Eagle Lake Resort in Strathmore, hosted the team for the evening. Taking time from his family to help the team with a critical fuel delivery at Eagle Lake was Ralph Tiede (thanks also to his wife Joan). Realizing the team’s morale might be in need of a boost after the team had spent an hour or so “schlepping” our gear to our campsite for the night, Dorothy and Bill Werbowski were kind enough to treat the team to some very well received refreshments. Thanks, eh!

Does this movie have a happy ending? With so much good will, kind thoughts, and support from wonderful folks on both sides of the border, it can’t miss.

Now, the moment you have all been waiting for; The questions for GAAA Jeopardy!

How many fuel stops has the GAAA made as of September 12th?
Who is the RCMP Detachment Commander in Baker Lake , Nunavut ?
Who is Dan’s college buddy from Houston , TX that joined the GAAA on Segment 1? Or, who caught the biggest trout on the GAAA trip?
In what month and year did the first Beaver fly off the runway at Downsview? Who was the test pilot that flew the first flight? (Did you know that due to an oil pressure problem, the first landing in the Beaver was an engine out, dead stick landing? Way to go Russ Bannock?)
How many Beavers did DeHavilland of Canada manufacture?
What items have fallen overboard along the route of the GAAA?
What items has the GAAA Team dropped into fuel tanks while re-fueling?
What item is still inside a tip tank on N2SF?
How many drums of fuel does the GAAA Team have cached at Eureka at the 79th parallel? Or, how many drums of fuel did the GAAA Team cache at Resolute at the 74th parallel?
In which town did the GAAA Team stop for a seaplane fly-in?

Shout outs tonight:
Pure bred American Eskimo dogs, Nikita and Dakota. Thanks for stopping by.

Thanks to Cynthia, Leslie and Eli for the great campfire. Thanks Betty for the fire wood.

From Eagle Lake , Alberta ,

The GAAA Team

Episode 43: Groovin in Moose Jaw

Doug No Comments

For us, this trip through the great white north has at times tested our skills, tried our patience, and questioned our resolve. This Great Arctic Air Adventure is fascinating to us in part because our experiences are so different from our every day lives. Our concerns center around keeping the planes well fed, finding a good campsite, and marveling at the every changing panorama below us. We also stress over more important issues, such as how to wash our socks, clip our nose hairs, and how to offload certain bodily solid wastes while floating in the middle of the lake.

But for our Canadian hosts, most of this is a part of everyday life, and they seem to dismiss the vicissitudes of northern life with gross understatements such as describing a 40 knot wind as “a bit of a blow, eh?”

Of all the sterling characteristics of our northern neighbors, perhaps the most endearing is their ability come with cool names for their cities and villages. For example, in the U.S. we have places like Juanita Bay , which tells me nothing about the place. Contrast this with our fuel stop yesterday at Thunder Bay , which conjures up visions of a fierce and untamed place. In fact, the Canadian Water Aerodrome Supplement, a book which has taken on biblical significance for the GAAA team, describes the place as having “strong gusty winds and large ocean swells”. A place well named.

Tonight, we are camped about twenty miles north of Moose Jaw . Now I am not exactly sure how they came up with this descriptive epithet but it just kind of sums up the place. I guess they could have named it Mouse Femur, but it just wouldn’t have captured the essence of the place.

After flying some nine thousand miles over the last six weeks, perhaps Mark and Doug have become a bit complacent about our flying. Our landing here at Buffalo Pound Lake (I rest my case re the name thing) jerked us back to the reality of flying seaplanes into new places. Doug managed to log four touch downs with a single approach, while Mark demonstrated some rather unique docking strategies, including a rather interesting maneuver where the plane is docked rudders first. The dock, intended for boats, had several strategically placed steel poles that appear to have been designed to prevent the occasional rogue seaplane from docking here. Not to worry, the GAAA team successfully evaded these hazards and made it to the dock, where the birds are roosted for the night.

Anyway, after entertaining the local boaters with these antics, we got the planes tied and packed our gear up to a very cool Provincial Park , where we set up camp. As we speak, we are probably violating several regulations by tying up our planes at a boat dock and camping in a closed park, but so far we have not been arrested and hopefully we will be out of here before our presence causes an international incident.

Our shout-outs tonight go to local Moose Jawer’s Liam, Tristan, Quinlan, and Kaden, some great kids with a love of airplanes. Also many thanks to Bill Nyman for hauling a couple of hundred gallons of avgas out to us here at Buffalo Pound Lake . Thanks Bill, you’re the best.

From Brian, love you tons Mama and Papa, and looking forward to seeing you soon.

The GAAA Team

From N50d 35.7m, W105d 24.7m

P.S. The “questions” for the GAAA Jeopardy will be posted in tomorrow’s BLOG, Episode 44.

Episode 41 & 42: Over Ontario

Doug No Comments

Lift off from Anjigami Lake was followed by a pleasant ride in light chop past Wawa and Marathon , Ontario along the north shore of the expansive Lake Superior under gray skies and deteriorating weather. By the time we made Back Bay, we were on the deck in the scud making 180 degree turns. We touched down in a small bay on the lee side of Granite Point (N48d.42.2m, W88d.32m) for lunch.

We passed the time fishing in the hard Great Lakes rain, playing 20 questions, and calling flight service on the phone. After several hours, armed with a good report from Thunder Bay , we finally lifted off and followed the highway into town. We settled the floats down inside the breakwater (needed to protect the harbour from the huge swells that rise up out of Lake Superior during the stormy season) an hour before dark.

Thunder Bay is obviously a busy seaplane base with a couple of dozen airplanes based there. It also sports two very nice docks, a ramp and modern hanger. As it was late in the day, things were pretty well buttoned up, so we tied down the Beavers for the night.

This morning we started our search for fuel in the right spot, the office of Alan Cheeseman, President and Owner of Wilderness North, the premier fly-in fishing and eco-adventure operator in Canada . Wilderness North offers first class wilderness fly-in camps, serviced by their own fleet of single turbine Otters and of course, a Beaver. Alan also provides special opportunities for disabled war vets through a program called Project Healing Waters. Volunteers from the US fly disabled vets from the Iraq war up to Thunder Bay , and Wilderness North flies them in and teaches them how to fly fish. (Google “Project Healing Waters”.)

Alan also sponsored a post 9/11 good will flight in a single turbine Otter across the US , symbolically delivering firemen’s helmets from FD’s in Canada to FD’s in the US . He was invited to climb down the ladder at Ground Zero and place the Canadian flag there on behalf of his country. Alan is another warm hearted Canadian whose path has crossed ours along the route of this great adventure. If you would like to join Alan in his good works, or join him for an adventure of your own, we encourage you to contact him at or visit Thanks also to Evan for his help on the dock. Good luck on your moose hunt.

As the fog burned off, we climbed out of Thunder Bay for a magical flight over the Lake of the Woods region of Western Ontario . We flew over literally thousands of lakes and colorful fall foliage before making an early camp on a deep blue lake. A walleye fishing tournament broke out with no fewer than a dozen of the pesky critters caught and released. Doug Nelson also landed a trophy pike that weighed no less than 15 pounds.

Who wants to play GAAA Jeopardy? Email the questions for the following answers to our webmaster David Good in the next 48 hours and win a GAAA hat for the most correct questions. (In the event of a tie, prizes are limited to the first 10 winning participants.) The correct questions will be included in the blog for Episode 43. Hint: Many answers may be found in previous blogs.

1. 27 stops as of September 12.

2. Corporal Cam Lockwood.

3. Michael Putterman

4. August of 1947, Russ Bannock.

5. 1692 (Beaver trivia.)

6. 2 float pumps

1 chart

1 lense cover

1 pair of waders

1 computer

1 cellphone

1 cute blonde

1 baggage cart

2 jerry can spouts

1 folding chair

7. 2 jerry can spouts.

8. 1 jerry can spout.

9. 8 drums of fuel cached.

10. Greenville , ME.

Have fun!

Tonight’s shout outs:

Congratulations Chris Wilsey on making the South Bethlehem HS varsity soccer team, and David Wilsey on making the JV as a freshman. Great work guys!

Pop is sending special hugs to Coopie, Cos, Patter Whack, Sasha and Lucas.

Keep up the good work to the LAPD.

Butch sends his love to Bunny.

Jeez Nels!

We just keep on truckin’! Tomorrow we start across the prairie.

GAAA from N49d58.46m, W94d.58.86m es 41

No Blog tonight….

Dave No Comments

Just heard from Doug by email. There will not be a blog tonight, low ceilings and poor visibility prevented much forward progress today. The GAAA team is safe and warm at Thunder Bay.

Your Webmaster

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