Arctic Air prepares for TV takeoff

If you're looking for excitement, you might want to look up. Way up. Bush pilots lead some of the most adventurous, not to mention treacherous, lives in the North.

If you’re looking for excitement, you might want to look up. Way up.

Bush pilots lead some of the most adventurous, not to mention treacherous, lives in the North. So, it’s about time somebody made a television show about these high-flying cowboys and cowgirls.

The newest CBC drama, Arctic Air, is an hour-long adventure series set in Yellowknife. It features a renegade bush airline and the colourful cast of characters who keep it flying.

Actor Adam Beach plays Bobby, son of a legendary Dene bush pilot, who returns to his roots after life as a Vancouver venture capitalist for a diamond exploration deal.

Kevin McNulty is Mel, a cantankerous old-school bush pilot, who is great at flying but not very good with business.

And Pascale Hutton plays Krista, Mel’s beautiful daughter, an ace pilot herself and possible rival/love-interest for Bobby.

Aside from the adventurous lives of pilots and those who love them, the show will also focus on the changes brought about by the recent exploration boom across the North.

It was a challenge filming in the North, said Ian Hay, a producer with the series.

“It takes some time to get your head around it. The logistics of getting up there and just dealing with the elements and the light,” he said.

“If you need a piece of equipment, it’s not as simple as running down to your local film equipment rental house.”

The crew often had to improvise, running down to Canadian Tire to jury-rig something up.

“But it sure beats the heck out of shooting in Vancouver five days a week, with the rain and the same old, same old all the time.”

While the majority of the interior shots are done in Vancouver studios, the cast and crew made about three trips up to Yellowknife, spending about 15 days shooting there.

Hay recalls having to stop and wait for a group of wood bison to cross the road while on his way to an early morning shoot.

This week Hay was just finishing up the last day of shooting before the new year in Vancouver when the News reached him to talk about the show.

The production has a series of sets in the studio, including an airport hangar, offices, a hotel and – that most ubiquitous of northern locales – the local bar.

They’ve also got the fuselage of a DC-3, minus the wings and tail, for all the interior shots of the plane.

But all of the high-flying action is the real deal.

“In my opinion, you can’t really fake it,” said Hay.

The film crew spent the majority of its time in the North getting aerial shots and filming the planes in flight.

The series’ first season will have 10 episodes.

Hay and the rest of the crew would love to continue on beyond that, but it will be up to CBC to decide if it wants to sign for a second season.

If there is a second season, the Yukon may get to make a cameo appearance.

“They’re flying, right, so there’s always talk about getting these guys out to different places,” said Hay.

“But you’ll have to talk to the writers about that.”

Arctic Air: Yukon has a nice ring to it.

The show premieres Jan. 10 at 9 p.m.

Contact Chris Oke at

chriso@yukon-news.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Yukonomist Keith Halliday
Yukonomist: Are they coming?

One of COVID-19’s big economic questions is whether it will prompt a… Continue reading

Yukon MP Larry Bagnell, along with Yukon health and education delegates, announce a new medical research initiative via a Zoom conference on Jan. 21. (Screen shot)
New medical research unit at Yukon University launched

The SPOR SUPPORT Unit will implement patient-first research practices

Yukon First Nation Education Directorate members Bill Bennett, community engagement coordinator and Mobile Therapeutic Unit team lead, left, and Katherine Alexander, director of policy and analytics, speak to the News about the Mobile Therapeutic Unit that will provide education and health support to students in the communities. (yfned.ca)
Mobile Therapeutic Unit will bring education, health support to Indigenous rural students

The mobile unit will begin travelling to communities in the coming weeks

Premier Sandy Silver, left, and Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley, speak during a live stream in Whitehorse on January 20, about the new swish and gargle COVID-19 tests. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Swish and spit COVID-19 test now available in Yukon

Vaccination efforts continue in Whitehorse and smaller communities in the territory

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police detachment in Faro photgraphed in 2016. Faro will receive a new RCMP detachment in 2022, replacing the decades-old building currently accommodating officers. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
Faro RCMP tagged for new detachment

Faro will receive a new RCMP detachment in 2022, replacing the decades-old… Continue reading

In a Jan. 18 announcement, the Yukon government said the shingles vaccine is now being publicly funded for Yukoners between age 65 and 70, while the HPV vaccine program has been expanded to all Yukoners up to and including age 26. (1213rf.com)
Changes made to shingles, HPV vaccine programs

Pharmacists in the Yukon can now provide the shingles vaccine and the… Continue reading

Parking attendant Const. Ouellet puts a parking ticket on the windshield of a vehicle in downtown Whitehorse on Dec. 6, 2018. The City of Whitehorse is hoping to write of nearly $300,000 in outstanding fees, bylaw fines and court fees, $20,225 of which is attributed to parking fines issued to non-Yukon license plates. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
City of Whitehorse could write off nearly $300,000

The City of Whitehorse could write off $294,345 in outstanding fees, bylaw… Continue reading

Grants available to address gender-based violence

Organizations could receive up to $200,000

In this illustration, artist-journalist Charles Fripp reveals the human side of tragedy on the Stikine trail to the Klondike in 1898. A man chases his partner around the tent with an axe, while a third man follows, attempting to intervene. (The Daily Graphic/July 27, 1898)
History Hunter: Charles Fripp — gold rush artist

The Alaskan coastal town of Wrangell was ill-equipped for the tide of… Continue reading

A man walks passed the polling place sign at city hall in Whitehorse on Oct. 18, 2018. While Whitehorse Mayor Dan Curtis is now setting his sights on the upcoming territorial election, other members of council are still pondering their election plans for the coming year. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Councillors undecided on election plans

Municipal vote set for Oct. 21

Whitehorse City Hall. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
City hall, briefly

A look at decicions made by Whitehorse city council this week.

A file photo of grizzly bear along the highway outside Dawson City. Yukon conservation officers euthanized a grizzly bear Jan. 15 that was originally sighted near Braeburn. (Alistair Maitland/Yukon News file)
Male grizzly euthanized near Braeburn

Yukon conservation officers have euthanized a grizzly bear that was originally sighted… Continue reading

Most Read