When I flew from the town of Churchill over Canada’s Hudson Bay, it was hard to imagine I was in North America, heading north towards the Arctic. The views somehow took me to another place, another continent, one I couldn’t quite put my finger on.
There were six people seated in the small sea plane behind us and I chatted for the majority of the trip with Jim Cockburn, our pilot. He was flying a plane from an outfit who call themselves “Wings over Kississing”.
He says they have 15 planes or so and when it gets colder, many of the planes will use wheel skis for landing. The outfit has bases in Flin Flon (main base), Thompson, Lynn Lake, Churchill, and many strategic fuel caches, where they’ll take you off the beaten path – picking you up where the road, rail, and most other airlines end. The airfares range in price but I heard one reference that they charge roughly $13-14 per mile.
Jim has been flying since 1984, certainly long enough to invoke confidence in this passenger, who frankly has had faith in pilots with only hours of training, not years.
“I wouldn’t be ‘any good’ in a big city,” says Jim, who grew up in a town of farming villages and communities of only 100 people in Manitoba.
He says he’s moving to a larger town – Thompson, which people from the area refer to frequently as its a main town in the area. By main town for this part of the world, it means 12,800 residents.
The beauty of the water and vegetation below me — from land to water and back to land again — was breathtaking.
Hudson Bay drains a large area, roughly 1,490,900 square miles, which includes parts of Ontario, Quebec, Saskatchewan, Alberta, most of Manitoba, southeastern Nunavut as well as parts of North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota and Montana. It is the second-largest bay in the world after the Bay of Bengal.
Have a look at what I experienced on that very sunny Manitoba day in late August.