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Home Story Discover the Northwest Territories on a soaring flightseeing tour

Discover the Northwest Territories on a soaring flightseeing tour

It’s the gleam you’ll see in the Northern sky, and the hum that comes echoing down the canyon. It’s a wing dipping to wave hello. A silky-smooth touchdown on the broad river. A can-do frontier spirit, flying free.

It’s the journey that’s also the arrival — the vehicle of dreams.

Here’s why you need to hop on a bush plane in the Northwest Territories right now.

The Northwest Territories is a flightseeing paradise. Aerial tours glide off in all directions, with stunning landmarks and wild beasts providing a spectacle from above. Buzz over the glorious East Arm of Great Slave Lake, gaze upon galloping herds of bison in Wood Buffalo National Park, ogle the stately peaks of the Mackenzie Range, or soar over the unpeopled Barrens where caribou rule the land.

Where the road ends, life begins – and bush planes are how you get there. Hop a “flying taxi” to one of our wonderful naturalist lodges, fishing camps, national parks, wilderness rivers or other remote oases.

Flying in a small plane is cool. Landing on water? Even cooler. If we could pick just one vehicle to use for the rest of our life, it would be a floatplane. If you’ve never been in one, this is the place to have your first floatplane experience.

Runways? We don’t need no stinkin’ runways! Just strap a set of skis on a Twin Otter and you’ve got the ultimate go-anywhere flying machine. Ski planes are ubiquitous in the Northwest Territories. You can charter one to take a sightseeing tour, skimming low over our winter wonderland. Ski planes are also a great way to get out to Aurora-viewing lodges. So buckle up and prepare to catch some air.

Wanna keep your feet on the ground? You can still revel in the remarkable history of Northern flying. Several of our museums showcase the bush planes of the Northwest Territories, including the Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre in Yellowknife, the Norman Wells Historical Centre, and the Historical Aviation Museum, also in Norman Wells.

Speaking of spots that honour aviation, no trip to the Northwest Territories is complete without a pilgrimage up the stairs to Yellowknife’s Bush Pilots’ Monument. Perched atop “The Rock,” this landmark is a memorial to frontier flyers who lost their lives in the Northern sky. It’s also the best lookout in town, with views over Houseboat Bay, Back Bay and Old Town.

Fly with a real live bush pilot – like Fort Simpson’s legendary Ted Grant, who’s been soaring over the canyons of the Nahanni for decades, ferrying paddlers to their put-ins, climbers to the high country, and sightseers to famous Virginia Falls.

Meet Hay River’s maverick “Buffalo Joe” McBryan, whose iconic Buffalo Airways flies DC-3s that saw service in World War II, and which star in the wildly popular reality TV-show Ice Pilots NWT.

Experience that feeling when you wave goodbye to the bush plane and you realize you’re all alone. It’s like the weight of the modern world lifts from your shoulders, setting you truly free.

If you like to soar the Northern skies, you’d be crazy to miss the bi-annual Midnight Sun Float Plane Fly-In. Taking place in Yellowknife for four days in July, the event welcomes flyboys (and girls) from around the world, who wing their way here for a celebration of aerial culture.

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