Everyone talks about Southern hospitality, but I have a newfound respect for Northern hospitality. Northern Hospitality isn’t something I’d considered until I recently visited the town of Whitehorse in the Yukon. For all of my south-of-the-border friends, the Yukon is a territory in Canada that is way far north. So far north from Arizona that it would be hard to fathom what I'm talking about when I say that fireweed grows everywhere, and it’s light for 24 hours in the summer and dark a lot longer than you would like in the winter. It is a special place where a handshake and a “thank you” can go a long ways. While on my flying contract in the NWT with the amount of hours I spent flying, I needed to get my routine maintenance done on the helicopter. I searched around for some R44 helicopter mechanics in Whitehorse and stumbled upon "Rodan Air". The owner, Justin, was one of these Northern guys who would help out a friend in need and he instantly treated me like a friend. His staff was great and they all went above and beyond to make sure “Romeo” was running top notch. Justin even invited me to his house for a Sunday family supper! I also met Delmar, the owner of Capital Helicopters, who I had heard lots about through other pilots. He was really helpful in pointing me in the direction of some cool spots to fly the helicopter. I had never been to Whitehorse but have heard a lot about the town and knew quite a few people in that area, especially during that time of year when the outfitters and guides were gearing up for the hunting season. I was even lucky enough to get a night out in Dawson City (which is even farther north up the highway) and stay with a fellow bush pilot, Dan Reynolds. His family invited us to stay at their ranch and even lent us a vehicle to use. He must think I am an excellent driver, or doesn’t care for that car very much! Dawson City was a very interesting place, and if you haven’t been to “Diamond Tooth Gerties” to watch the dance hall girls then you need to! I was especially excited about this part of the journey because I was able to fly with Dan into some of his back country. Dan has been flying fixed wing for years and now is pretty into the ultra-lites. To be honest I'm not 100% sold on them, pretty much how Dan is not 100% sold on a belt driven helicopter, but I’ll save that for another blog.
The northern territories of Canada are unique in their own way, they have so much history and a lot of open space to enjoy. Life seems to be a whole lot simpler up there. I love all of the lakes and how cell service is next to none when out of the city. When I am traveling or stopping by a new town I think it is important to get to "know" the locals; I find it shows the character a lot more than the bars, restaurants and souvenir shops. I have always joked about moving up to the Yukon, and after all of the Northern Hospitality that I felt and all of the great experiences that I had this summer, I might just have to make a few more detours up north with Piper.