Next Episode of Ice Pilots is
not planed. TV Show was canceled.
What's it about: This documentary series follows the pilots of the Yellowknife-based Buffalo Airways, which still flies Second World War airplanes to transport people around the north. Reminds us of: Ice Road Truckers in the air. The buzz: Since History Television is using words like "ice pilots," blizzards" and "frozen lakes," I'm going to go out on a limb and say this will be like Ice Road Truckers, but with airplanes. Does that mean I won't watch? Are you kidding?? I'll be glued to the set. The chance to see pilots dealing with crappy weather, loopy passengers and potentially dangerous cargo – all being shipped around in planes made in the 1940s – is a recipe for disaster. And great TV.
This season opens with a meltdown when the C-46 suffers a major gear collapse on the runway, sending the entire Buffalo crew scrambling. As the coldest winter in decades grips Yellowknife, every pilot and mechanic in the company faces the huge challenge of keeping the aging fleet in the air. Buffalo's livelihood falls heavily on Joe's Lockheed Electra until a freak accident threatens to ground the plane. Hearing of an Electra up for sale, Joe heads on an urgent mission across the Atlantic. As the record-cold winter stretches on, a young hotshot pilot journeys all the way from Australia to earn a place in Buffalo's DC-3. And a longtime member of the Buffalo family leaves for good.
Buffalo Airways is still reeling from the recent accident – especially mechanic Chuck. Mikey tries to lift spirits by setting up a hockey shootout against a squad of NHL players that the airline is transporting around the north. He drafts a team and Buffalo's best players – including Chuck – test their shots against Ottawa goalie Craig Anderson. Young DC-3 co-pilot David flies farther north than he's ever been, facing a mysterious landing gear problem on approach to a remote Arctic airstrip. When his captain gets flustered, the rookie has to keep his cool.
Joe preps for a race in an antique snowplane – a 1940s ancestor of the snowmobile, powered by an airplane engine and devoid of brakes. No one knows what will happen when he unleashes it on frozen Great Slave Lake. The water bomber crew, led by Justin and Cory, try to move their two fire-fighting planes from Turkey to a maintenance facility in Wales, but get tangled up in red tape, threatening to ruin their chance of meeting up with Iron Maiden front man Bruce Dickinson. Rampie and cocky aspiring pilot Chris Staples pushes his way onto a C-46 flight, where he makes a critical mistake. AJ makes a last-second overshoot.
After a breakdown uses up the last of Joe's spare DC-3 engines, he enlists former Buffalo pilot Devan Brooks to ferry another plane all the way from Quebec. Flying 3,000 kilometres in a DC-3 that's been mothballed for 7 years, Devan faces a critical hydraulic leak at the worst possible moment. As a massive cold snap paralyzes the hangar, a major landing gear problem strikes the nightly passenger flight to Hay River. Captain Justin Simle has to make a snap decision with a full load of passengers on board – including his own newborn son.
Following almost a year of repairs after its crash landing, Buffalo Airways' Electra returns home to take on an urgent mission – returning to the very ice strip that set off the problems last year. It's the ultimate test for the plane and the crew. DC-4 co-pilot Tyler makes a major decision about his future, but now he has to face Joe. A pilot shows up out of the blue – all the way from Australia. Will Dyer has ten times the experience of a normal novice and quickly works to win a seat in a Buffalo cockpit. But the company throws him a curveball that puts his future in doubt.
Joe's stress over the state of his water bombers, currently being stored in Wales, sparks an angry blow up with Cory, pushing Cory and Rod to head to the UK for urgent repairs. A day of culture in London leaves the hosers cold until they hook up with their British host, Iron Maiden's Bruce Dickinson. But at Bruce's Welsh facility they run into snags that threaten the work. David flies with Devan in the C-46, hoping to show how much he's learned. But when David badly botches a takeoff, Devan threatens violence. Instead of flying, hotshot Aussie Will gets stuck working on the ramp in Hay River, pushing him to a harsh ultimatum.
Mikey joins the Canadian Rangers for an extreme outdoor training experience farther north than he's ever been. While he's gone, a military Aurora takes refuge in Buffalo's hangar for important repairs – pushing Buffalo's own mechanics out into the bitter cold. What should be a simple fix turns into a multi-day ordeal and the Air Force has to go head-to-head with Chuck. Joe flies to California to bid on a fleet of firefighting planes that could revolutionize his company. But he discovers he has tougher competition than he ever expected.
It's Joe's 69th birthday and he's never flown a helicopter before. So Mikey plans a special gift of chopper flight lessons, complete with surprise pickup in front of the Buffalo hangar. Mikey jumps in for the ride as Joe struggles with the unfamiliar beast – and both McBryans will learn if they've finally found an aircraft that Joe can't master. Another cold snap has cut off heat and power in a small northern town. AJ and James battle a frozen engine before they can head up with a load of supplies. On the way home, an engine fire forces the crew into an emergency shutdown.
The Electra has become Buffalo's winter workhorse – the one plane they need to keep flying. During a High Arctic delivery mission, a 5,000-pound power unit tips off the forklift and crashes to the ground, smashing the fuselage – and sending Mikey into crisis management mode. With no backup Electras, Joe races to Atlantic Airways in Coventry, England on an urgent mission to scoop one up from other potential buyers while back at Buffalo, Mikey tries to prove he's really management material.
Co-pilot Graeme Ferguson gets the biggest opportunity of his short career when Buffalo needs to train a second Electra crew. But none of Buffalo's piston-pounders have prepared him for a plane this big and this fast. When Graeme fumbles a landing, he has to prove he's ready for his big chance after all. Meanwhile, Chris Staples gets to take the test he's been dreaming about – to qualify as a co-pilot in the C-46. But he'll have to take it with one of the toughest captains on the crew. When the C-46 breaks down in Deline, Adam Smith rushes to the rescue and Chris might finally get his chance to shine.
The Electra is still working around the clock and Buffalo is ready to pick up another, the second of its new British acquisitions. Joe and Mikey head across the Atlantic to fly home their new baby, ending an era of British aviation. Devan preps for fire season with some wild target practice in the DC-4 to see if his aim lives up to his cockiness. When James' son enters the local soapbox derby, James builds a Buffalo-style racer and finds out how his ugly green machine stacks up against the slick and pretty competition.
Mikey and Joe visit the Hamilton air show where Mikey has planned a major surprise for Father's Day. Joe is going to ride along in a CT-114 Tutor Jet with the famous Snowbirds. While Joe prepares for the big event, Mikey decides to conquer his fear of heights. He travels down the highway to Toronto and tries out the CN Tower "Edgewalk." But he's determined to go even higher. After all the bonding he and Joe have done in Hamilton, Mikey takes his first pilot lesson with Joe as the teacher. It turns out there are some heights Mikey still fears. As spring warms up Yellowknife, a longtime member of the Buffalo family announces a surprise departure.
It's been a wild five years for ICE PILOTS NWT. To celebrate the milestone, we pull back the curtain for an inside glimpse into the production of the TV show, and allow the cast of Buffalo characters to reflect on how it's affected their lives, for better or for worse. And we meet the cameramen who navigate prickly personalities and brave minus-forty conditions to capture the footage that has made ICE PILOTS NWT a cult phenomenon.
Adam Smith(Adam Smith)
Rod McBryan(Rod McBryan)
Scott Blue(Scott Blue)
Justin Simle(Justin Simle)
Devan Brooks(Devan Brooks)
AJ Decoste(AJ Decoste)
Arnie Schreder(Arnie Schreder)
Mikey McBryan(Mikey McBryan)
Joe McBryan(Joe "Buffalo" McBryan)
Kathy McBryan(Kathy McBryan)
Ray Weber(Ray Weber)
Christine Povey(Christine Povey)
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