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US pilots flock to Yellowknife’s Midnight Sun Fly In

Float planes gather for the 2017 Midnight Sun Fly In
Float planes gather for the 2017 Midnight Sun Fly In. Stephen Fochuk/Midnight Sun Fly In

Pilots and tourists from Texas, Montana, and Washington state are expected in Yellowknife this weekend for the city’s biennial Midnight Sun Fly In.

Organizers expect more than 25 aircraft from across the United States and Canada to attend this year’s event.

The fly-in celebrates Yellowknife’s bush plane heritage and includes a memorial ceremony for the North’s bush pilots, plus a variety of free-to-attend activities.

“For a long time, boat or airplane were the only ways you could get to Yellowknife,” said Charles Dent, who has been one of the event’s organizers for many years.



Official site: Midnight Sun Fly In

“That’s true of most places in the NWT and still, today, when I jump in my airplane and go flying, it’s incredible for me to see just how much of the North is covered in water. Without access to a floatplane, there are so many places that it would be almost impossible to get to.

“One of the reasons for putting on the fly-in is to attract people who don’t live in the territory to visit, get out there, do some fishing, and leave some of their tourist dollars here.”

The fly-in calls the former Wardair float base – at 3518 Wiley Road, just down from the Wildcat Café – its home for the weekend.



On Saturday from 8am till 10am at the Wardair dock, a free pancake breakfast allows members of the public to meet some of the fly-in pilots. That’s followed by a barbecue lunch sponsored by the Fox Moth Society from 12pm till 2pm at the same site.

A fish fry on Saturday evening at the dock, with live music from Priscilla’s Revenge, costs $60 to attend.

On Sunday at 10:30am, a public gathering will be held at the Bush Pilots’ Monument to honour past bush pilots and aviators.

That’s followed by another free-to-attend lunch at the Wardair dock, with a $50 dockside dinner featuring live entertainment to finish the fly-in.

“We want to have the opportunity to share our love of flying in the North,” said Dent, “and celebrate the 24 hours of daylight we have here.

“This is one of the few places in the world where, at this time of year, a pilot who is VFR-rated – visual flight rules – can still fly 24 hours a day, because it doesn’t get dark at night.”