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Day 25: Polar Bears

I was enjoying my late breakfast, when my hosts greeted me very enthusiastically and told me to drop everything and get into the car. A polar bear was spotted in town! Soon, half a dozen cars were closing in on the source of the shot gun noise, like a swarm of bees attracted to your fresh summer cocktail. Our cocktail started to move and in true Hollywood style we started the pursuit. We were rewarded with a glimpse of a polar bear, trying to escape all the hussle while swimming (!) away in the Hudson Bay. A good start for the day, but I wanted more.

Before noon, they drove me around past a lot of creeks and beautiful landscapes. We visited the museum and learned about the history of the Fort of Churchill. A very strong settlement, which was surrendered when the first enemies knocked on the door.

To thank my hostess (and partially because she knew where the Polar Bears were living), I took her for a flight in the afternoon. She vaguely showed a rather large area where the polar bears ‘might’ be. We made sure the shot gun was within reach. Started the engine, shat down the engine again to remove the pitot heat cover (good impressions!), restarted the engine and flew into the blue sky. No need to worry about the weather, which is good in an area where the closest alternate airport is 3 hours flying away.

Her absolute certainty – “There WILL be polar bears !”- from earlier diminished with every mile we came closer to said area – “Usually there should be polar bears somewhere around here”. Phrases as “Once you see one, you will see many” didn’t really comfort me that much. Since it was impossible to buy decently priced Avgas in Churchill, it was important to keep the duration of the flight under an hour. It was about time to turn back when we saw the mighty white creatures we were looking for. They were spread across the coast line, trying to cool down a bit, since they were after all permanently wearing a thick furry coat. We flew down a bit to make better pictures. It was quite unexpected to see them laying there, completely unaffected by our presence.

Suddenly, we saw another airplane at the horizon. Another small single engine plane was dropping by to take a look at the polar bears. We cleared the area and set heading for Churchill. My passanger asked to go see the Beluga whales at the other side of the bay, but unfortunately this would take up too much time. On our way back we noticed a ship wreck. Apparently it was too expensive to dismantle it or destroy it, so they just let it be. It’s not every day one gets the chance to inspect the hull of a ship from an airplane, so we gladly used this opportunity. This had a pleasant side effect: a big school of Beluga whales was swimming around in that area. Quite unexpected and wonderful to see. Every now and then a white fin would emerge from the water.

Ten minutes later, I was tieing down the airplane once again. Now it was time to try out a local dish: raindeer ! I expected a big chunk of meat, but was disappointed when some small stew was served instead. To complete my nourishment, I convinced my chaperones to try out the fishing rod from the airplane. It was meant as a part of my survival equipment. But due to circumstances, I never got around to actually using a fishing rod. After all, how hard could it be, right? Much harder as you would expect it turns out. I managed to get the reel stuck 2 times, broke the string 3 times, all without catching a fish. The mosquito’s did get a lot food though, as they managed to suck my blood through my t-shirt and even left red dots on that same t-shirt. I got sick of it all and we returned ‘home’ without a fish. For now…

Very itchy, the evening was concluded in front of the television once again.

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