CM . . .
. Volume VIII Number 15 . . . . March 29, 2002
What makes someone want to be a bush pilot? Young and old talk about childhood experiences - making model airplanes from plastic and wood, drawing pictures of planes, hearing planes flying overhead, and flights with fathers or uncles who were pilots. Bush Pilot: Into the Wild Blue Yonder explores the life and work of pilots who use planes both with skis and floats to access the remote areas of Northern Quebec.
The film shows the breathtaking beauty of the forests and tundra of Northern Quebec. It gives the viewer a real sense of the life of a bush pilot. Pilots cut down trees with a chain saw and hammer together a makeshift dock because one does not exist at a fishing camp into which they must fly. They fill in travel information at the end of the day to conform to Transport Canada regulations. Pilots check their planes and make repairs when necessary. They load and unload oil drums, food supplies, backpacks, moose antlers, and American sportsmen. They jump into boats to travel to the shore, they meet with dispatchers, they prospect for minerals, they talk about their love of flying, and they talk about the dangers.
They all know of someone who "went too far" or who "pushed the limit." The film explores the work of one older bush pilot who flies a DC-3; the plane is one of the few left in the country. He is a seasoned pilot who made the comments that introduce the review. He also added, "It takes 45 hours to get a license but a lifetime to learn how to fly."
The film spends a little bit of time exploring navigation before and after GPS Global Positioning System. It was fascinating to watch a dispatcher and pilot plan a trip using a huge wall map covered with push pins and a long piece of string. Many of the older pilots say that navigation is simple now with GPS and that new pilots would have trouble flying using map navigation.
The film is not narrated, and the language of the pilots is simple ensuring that the subtitles do not interfere with understanding the film. Students in grade 4 should be able to read the subtitles. The pilots are diverse and interesting characters with stories and opinions that add to the film. While an interesting film for use in career studies as well as for social studies and language arts, it would have been nice to see a female bush pilot represented in the film.
Jennifer L. Branch is an Assistant Professor in the School of Library and Information Studies and the Department of Elementary Education in the Faculty of Education at the University of Alberta. She is also the Coordinator of the Teacher-Librarianship by Distance Learning Program.
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