Up here, where distances are great and roads are rare, bush planes seem as common as birds. With hundreds of aircraft operating in our friendly skies, you'll have plenty of chances to spot the winged beasts in flight. But not everyone can identify the most prevalent species of bush planes. Here's a handy birder's-guide-style primer:
Physical characteristics: 6.8m long; highly recognizable by its eager, snub nose and open, friendly face, the Cub's low-hanging belly and stocky legs lend it a slow, sturdy air.
Voice: The butterfly of bush planes, it flies nearly silently.
Habitat: A regular of lakes in the Northwest Territories; congregates around amateur pilots and tour operators.
Population: 19,888 (produced 1938-1947)
Related species: Super Cub
Notable fact: The Cub is the most popular training plane.
DeHavilland Twin Otter
Voice: Quiet growl; intermittent low shooshes when propellers reverse direction mid-flight.
Habitat: Cold, remote regions.
Population: 844 (produced 1965-1988, 2008-present)
Related species: The single-engine Otter
Notable fact: In 2001, when Antarctica's resident doctor needed a medevac from his -60C winter outpost, the Twin Otter was the only plane rescuers trusted to perform the mission.
Habitat: Well adapted to ice; requires a long landing strip.
Population: 607 (produced 1936-42, 1950)
Related species: None. It's been said that the only replacement for a DC-3 is another DC-3.
Notable fact: Starred in the History Channel's long-running show Ice Pilots NWT.
Physical characteristics: 7.9m long; feline nose, slender tail; agile, lither, maneuvers well, highly responsive; can fly on floats, wheels or skis.
Voice: On take-off, it emits a ping, followed by an uninterrupted, sopund-barrier-breaking screech.
Habitat: Wild mountain regions
Population: More than 4,400 (produced 1961-1985)
Related species: Found Bush Hawk
Notable fact: Founder Clyde Cessna tested all his own prototypes and once leapt from an inverted plane mid-flight.
Physical characteristics: 11m long; box-shaped snout, wiry legs and square wingtips; unattractive but spry.
Voice: Noisy growl, similar to the Beaver.
Habitat: The Northern Pilatus nests in Norman Wells, Northwest Territories, year-round.
Population: 562 (produced 1959-present)
Related species: Helio Courier, Helio Stallion
Notable fact: The Pilatus holds the world record for highest landing by a fixed-wing aircraft: In 1960, it touched down on a 5,750-metre mountain peak in Nepal.