Flying to Extremes: Memories of a Northern Bush Pilot
By: Dominique Prinet
ISBN: 978-088839-755-3 [Trade Hardcover Color]
ISBN: 978-088839-755-3 [Trade Paperback B&W]
ISBN: 978-0-88839-234-3 [eBook color]
Binding: Trade Paper
Size: 5.5" X 8.5"
Publication Date: December 2020
Recalling some of most memorable escapades ever conducted in the Canadian Arctic with bush planes, Flying to Extremes takes place in the late ’60s and early ’70s from a base at Yellowknife, in the heart of the Northwest Territories.
Beyond recounting so many near-mishaps, this book is also about colourful people: the trappers, prospectors, miners, adventurers and gold-ingot thieves who constituted the fauna at the main bar in Yellowknife in those days. For Arctic dreamers, there was always the flight to the Nahanni River, with its Deadman’s Valley, hot springs, tales of lost or dead prospectors, the many airplanes crashed in pursuit of gold, and much more Nahanni lore.
This entertaining book recollects Prinet’s adventures as a young man while capturing the humour, beauty, danger and unique culture of northern communities, in the dramatic landscape of the Canadian Arctic. Readers familiar with the region and those who can only dream of visiting it will both find this title a nostalgic and captivating read.
In the 1960s, Dominique Prinet worked as a commercial bush pilot in the Canadian Arctic and High Arctic, on floats in the summer and skis in the winter, navigating with an astrocompass since this was long before GPS had been invented. He holds an airline transport pilot licence and has more than 5,000 hours of flying. The stories in this book describe some of the adventures he experienced in northern Canada.
Following classical studies in Paris, he took an electrical engineering degree from UBC and an MBA from McGill, paid for by his intensive flying in the Arctic. He worked as VP for Nordair while teaching microeconomics to MBA students at McGill for about 12 years. He moved to Vancouver in 1988 when asked to join Canadian Airlines as their VP Marketing, then went to Tanzania, in East Africa, to turn around the national airline and manage it for five years under a World Bank project. Dominique has climbed several 12,000-foot peaks in the Alps and the Rockies has crossed the Atlantic in a sailing boat and Nepal on foot, flown around North, Central, and South America in a private single-engine plane, and crossed Africa in a small jeep. Much later in life, at 70, he obtained his private helicopter pilot licence. He spent his retirement years as a sailing instructor and instructor evaluator and has published several books on celestial and coastal navigation.
“Riveting, harrowing and completely inspiring: Flying to Extremes is a treasure for aviation fanatics, Northerners and for everyone looking for the one book to remind you that life is to be lived and celebrated. Dominique Prinet, mahsi cho for documenting your northern adventures for all future generations. WOW! What a life! What a read! BRAVO!"
--Richard VanCamp, Indigenous Dogrib writer from Fort Smith, NWT. Author
of international reputation, and recipient of numerous awards.
“Writing with clarity, humour and precision, Prinet flies us into a world of endless snow and ice and dim, grey winter days over a sparsely settled tundra. He recalls a desperate flight through terrible weather, his single-engine plane icing up and heading down, wondering whether he should wake the sports fishermen snoozing peacefully in the overloaded cabin amid boxes of fish and gear to tell them they’re on the verge of crashing. While rescuing his bride from their plane as it sinks through ice, he meets an Indigenous trapper who drove his dog sled through the bush to find out why a plane had landed but not taken off. The adventures—and misadventures—of an Arctic bush pilot make for a bracing read!”
--Honourable Pat Carney, Former Federal Cabinet Minister and Senator
"Flying to Extremes is an incredible account which many might classify as humanly impossible. Often without daylight and running out of fuel, hindered by unreliable maps, and beaten down to a few feet above the barrens by blotted windshields, Dominique Prinet manages to get home with skill and courage. These pages should be compulsory reading not only for aviation enthusiasts, but for by anyone thinking of throwing in the towel and screaming “I quit!” Dominique Prinet never does.”
-- Robert Grant, Northern Bush Pilot, 12,000 hours, author of three books on bush flying in the North.
“I have known Dominique Prinet since 1966 when he had a mechanical problem at Coppermine. Flying to Extremes is one of the most insightful books on aviation prior to the 1970’s in the Polar Regions of Canada. This was mostly flying by the seat of your pants. During those early days, navigation was by astrocompass, the odd radio beacon, and paper charts which left large blank areas where you made notes and drew in the landmarks as best you could.."
-- Ron Sheardown, Northern Bush Pilot, 20,000 hours, Canadian and US Airline Pilot, Alaskan Aviation Hall of Fame.
“Flying in the polar night by minus 55° F, finding a fuel cache of a few barrels dropped off during the previous summer, filtering the gas and pumping it by hand into the wing tanks, using a gyrocompass reset from sights on the moon and stars, …, and way beyond the reach of radio beacons, such is the daily job of the bush pilot writing the little known story of flying in the north."
-- Michel Didier, Ph.D., B-747 captain, Air France.
“I have never seen, in all my years, a more tenacious, ingenious, obstinate, durable, fantastic young man, whether it be in the Armed Services or in civilian life…His capacity for work is unlimited, his concern for his passengers was almost fatherly, and his sense of responsibility toward his plane and the company which employs him is outstanding."
-- Dr Seymour Wishnick, M.D., Chicago (passenger)