Ice Pilots Makes U.S. Premier

Ice Pilots premieres in the U.S. this week: Is it worth the watch?__

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Buffalo Airways’ Curtiss C-46, One of the
stars of the new National Geographic
Channel Series, Ice Pilots.

Reality TV continues to present the wild side of flying. This week a hit Canadian aviation series, Ice___ _Pilots, makes its U.S. premiere on the National Geographic Channel. The 13-part first season, which airs on Fridays at 10 p.m. ET/PT (check local listings), follows the adventures of the pilots of Buffalo Airlines, based in Yellowknife in the Northwest Territories as they fly their vintage iron, including this Curtiss C-46 Commando, on missions that, given the geography and the climate, are anything but routine. When winter flying means taking a mechanic with you on every flight, and being prepared means bringing nearly a whole airplane worth of spare parts with you when you travel, you know things are going to get interesting, and they do.

For pilots, there might not be enough technical discussion of things like weather, terrain and the deeper mechanical issues behind keeping Buffalo's fleet of relics flying. Still, the constant screen time for the airline's gorgeous vintage airplanes, with a lot of first rate air-to-air footage, is alone worth the price of admission. In addition to the Commando, Buffalo operates a Douglas DC-3 and DC-4 and a Bombardier CL-215 water bomber. The series follows not only the legendary owner of the airlines, Joe McBryan, but also a group of young pilots competing for flying time and cutting their teeth on the culture of bush country flying in World War II-vintage iron while trying to survive conditions that would try the toughest veterans. Be forewarned: the language gets a bit salty, but then again, when it's 30 below and you've got to change a blown tailwheel in 30 knots of wind, who would believe it if it didn't.