Most people have heard about -40 degrees and many have experienced it but not many have started a radial engine in it. For the folks at Buffalo Airways, it's all in a day's work and now the daily drama of the airline, charter and firefighting contractor based in Yellowknife, in Canada's Northwest Territory, is coming to living rooms in more comfortable climes. The Canadian cable network History Television (not to be confused with the U.S.-based History Channel) is premiering Ice Pilots NWT Nov. 18 at 10 p.m. As Buffalo Airways general manager Mikey McBryan told AVweb in a podcast interview, the television network didn't have to create the television series. Buffalo Airways, with its fleet of ancient airliners (including the two of the last commercially operated C-46 Commandos in the world) was a reality/documentary television series waiting to be discovered.
McBryan's father, "Buffalo Joe" McBryan founded the company in 1970 with a couple of Cessna 185s and it's grown to become one of the largest and most eclectic aviation companies in the North. Although it operates a few relatively modern designs like King Airs and CL-215 water bombers, the backbone of Buffalo Airways is the round-engine fleet of Commandos, DC-3s and DC-4s that are a lifeline to remote communities throughout northern Canada. Weather is the constant variable and the young pilots who come for the challenge and adventure often retreat to more hospitable careers after a stint under the frigid conditions and iron hand of Buffalo Joe. Talks are under way to distribute the show in the U.S. and in the meantime the show will be streamed on the Ice Pilots Web site.