It has been a windy, rainy couple of days here which has cast a shadow over many of our spirits. And, sadly, Red Lake has had an airplane lost to its waters, taking two lives with it. On Thursday, May 30th a small float plane fell from the sky during take off on Bruce Channel which is the channel that runs between the mainland and McKenzie Island. At that time the McKenzie Island Ferry was taking passengers home across the channel as well. My heart and prayers go to the family members and to those who witnessed this horrific event.
Also, a helicopter went down, I believe on the same day, further North of us. It was an air ambulance helicopter that was on a mission to pick up a patient in Attawapiskat. It went down about a mile from taking off in Moosonee, I think. Two pilots and two paramedics died. This is the same air service company that transported my father to Winnipeg in the middle of the night three years ago when he had a heart attack. They do such a valuable and needed service but it is very dangerous.
When gold was first discovered in the Red Lake District, flying in was the only way to get here, other than by canoe and later the barges coming up the river system. We did not have a road in for quite a while. Planes are an important part of our history and for those living in Northern communities they are still the only way in and out for most.
Every day, during the summer, the planes take off and land, outside my window. I absolutely love them. And I respect the pilots who can take off on the water and land. It takes skill and experience.
Of course, my dad, had to try out flying, too. That was just his nature. He bought an airplane and took some lessons in the early 50’s. He crashed his Tiger Moth airplane into the ice and nearly died. He was lucky that some fishermen found him. He was on his way to pick up a sick child on a trap line when that happened. Anyway, that was the end of his flying career.
Red Lake ,also, was the home to The Flying Bandit, Ken Leishman, for the last part of his life. He was Canada’s famous gold/bank robber who escaped using airplanes. He died in a plane crash carrying passengers going for medical treatment. You can read more about him here http://thiswaswinnipeg.blogspot.ca/2008/07/flying-bandit.html
Life is precious.