Airplanes on skis?
If you’ve been to Parry Sound before, you’ve more than likely seen the floatplanes that take off from Georgian Bay Airways base located across the road from 40 Bay Street Bed & Breakfast. Many of my guests take advantage of their Fly & Dine to Henry’s – a world famous fish restaurant only accessible by air or boat on San Souci Island.
Normally, we don’t see the planes from November until April – but 2014 is different! One of their planes has been equipped with skis – to enable it to land on ice in the winter. I spoke with owner Keith Saulnier, to learn more about this new opportunity.
Georgian Bay Airways stores their planes at the local airport over the winter. Once they arrive at the airport in the fall, the floats are taken off, and the planes are put on wheels. The skis are then installed above the wheels. The airplane takes off on wheels, and once it is airborne, the skis are hydraulically dropped down over the wheels. He says that it is not a lot different flying planes with skis than with the floats they use in the summer. What is different is the noise you hear when the plane lands on the fluffy snow topping Georgian Bay's ice – he describes it like the noise you here when you go down-hill skiing or snowboarding…a big shushhhhhh!
The plane will be used primarily to help the Ministry of Natural Resources with things like moose counts, monitoring ice fishing, etc. However, it is also available for charters, training for others that would like to be able to fly on skis and offering rides at various winter festivals.
So, if you happen to be at one of those winter festivals, and somebody says “Georgian Bay Airways is here giving tours” you aren’t hearing things!