I’m not an adrenalin junkie. In fact, I try to avoid things that scare me into an adrenalin rush. But see the world from a helicopter? I’m there. My tour of Yellowknife by helicopter with Acasta Heliflight gave me a whole new perspective on both flight and Yellowknife.
Most know what it’s like to fly in an airplane. But a tour in the skies by helicopter is a whole different experience. John Buckland, our pilot, was the personification of quiet, confident competence. Like he was driving his car to the grocery store.
The laborious thunk-thunk-thunking of the rotors notwithstanding, takeoff was smooth; weightless. Unlike the nose-down acceleration that you see on TV, we hovered only a few feet above the ground as we slowly “taxied” to the airport runway. And then away we went. I’ve lived in Yellowknife for decades. Yet I’ve never seen my city from this perspective. The shape of the land gives instant logic to travel on the surface. A myriad of lakes and water-holes punctuating urbanity, and yes, we clearly see the scar on the landscape that is the remnant of Yellowknife’s gold mining history.
It’s the difference in perspective between a foggy day and a clear one; between what you see in a forest versus a field. On the ground, we see microcosms. From the helicopter we see the intersection of wilderness and city; the interconnection of waters and land; roads and buildings. We see how the microcosms connect.
In 20 minutes, we had seen the city highlights: the dome-shaped legislature; the colourful houseboats on Yellowknife Bay; the causeway that separates Yellowknife’s mainland from Latham Island. We had ventured out toward “cottage country” and over the scarred landscape of Giant Mine.
Landing was even smoother than take-off… We exited the aircraft, I and my travel-mate were still flying. As only a 19-year-old can express, “that was fricken awesome!” Indeed. Exhilarating in fact. An energy rush of the best kind. Like my morning double-double cappuccino on steroids.