ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Don

 

Don Hamilton was flying virtually all his life. He took his first flight with his barnstorming father in 1939 and logged tens of thousands of hours as Pilot in Command in some of the world's most rugged aircraft. He earned his private pilot's certificate at the age of eighteen and his commercial ticket two years later. He joined the Royal Canadian Navy Reserve where he accomplished instrument training, became proficient at performing aerobatics and practised carrier landings. Later he earned his Class One instrument rating and Air Transport License.

After a brief stint of aerial spraying in the Canadian Maritimes, Don headed north where he would ultimately spend the majority of his life and flying career. He flew aircraft in support of building the DEW (Distant Early Warning) Line. Don and his family were based at some of the most northern and remote communities in Canada. He flew animal surveys for proposed pipeline routes, search and rescue missions, X-ray surveys, scheduled mail flights, support for aerial mapping and medical evacuations throughout the Arctic region - summer and winter in grueling conditions.

Don was appointed chief pilot of Northward Aviation after they took over Pacific Western Airline's bush operation, and was responsible for their crews in remote locations throughout Alberta and Northern Canada. During his career, he flew for seven years as a corporate pilot flying Dorniers, Beech King Airs, Douglas DC-3s, and Grumman Gulfstreams. Don was also Chief Pilot of large aircraft for Contact Airways and Buffalo Airways and was instrumental in Buffalo Airways investing in their first DC-3's.

Love of flying, a thorough knowledge of the Arctic and entrepreneurial spirit led Don and his wife Marlene to open one of the first sportfishing lodges north of the Arctic Circle. Arctic Outpost Camps evolved into High Arctic Lodge, which continues in operation today. It is the northernmost hunting and fishing lodge in North America. Today High Arctic Lodge is owned and operated by Don's son Fred - a third generation Hamilton aviator.

His over fifty-year career as a pilot spanned a historical period of development in the Canadian North. Don flew various types of aircraft during his illustrious career - everything from Fleet Canucks to AT-6's to DC-3's to Guflstreams and from Piper J-3's to Cessna 206's - from wheels to skis to floats. Don's flying experience was incredibly vast. From growing up in southern Canada to living on the Arctic Frontier, Don not only lived history, he helped create it. His story is told first-hand, as it should be as he was there in person.

Sadly Don passed away in 2009. His life long companion, Marlene, and their four children, Fred, Jim, Gord and Wendy and their families now make their homes in and near Kelowna, British Columbia. Darrell Couts,

Pilot and a friend.

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