The Best Episodes of Ice Pilots NWT
This documentary series follows the pilots of the Yellowknife-based Buffalo Airways, which still flies Second World War airplanes to transport people around Northern Canada.
#1 - Coming Home
Season 3 - Episode 13
Rookie waterbomber pilot Scott gets his first taste of action when Buffalo responds to an emergency callout to fight fires in Alberta. Mikey and Rod think they hit the jackpot when they buy a million dollar firefighting plane on eBay at a bargain price. Joe marks his 50 years of flying by returning to the place he grew up in his historic Norseman. And Arnie shows up in Yellowknife to cheer on daughter Caitlin in a cancer fundraiser.
#2 - Aussie Ace
Season 5 - Episode 5
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.
#3 - Second Chances
Season 6 - Episode 5
Newly minted copilot Jeff Tapper is excited for his first revenue DC-3, but his inexperience shows when he botches the approach and bounces the landing three times, nearly running off the runway. Meanwhile, for new rampie Prefkar Mony to realize his dream of becoming a DC-3 pilot, he needs to first pass the written IATRA test. He’s been studying for months, but on his first attempt, he fails. With the help of pilot/mechanic Chris Staples, Prefkar retakes the test and passes, but his victory celebration is short-lived when he’s blamed for leaving an expensive shipment of medicine marked “Do Not Freeze” in a courier van during a minus 30 weekend. Later, Mikey and Katie decide to find Joe a new dog and choose Muffy, a three-year-old dog from the SPCA who is ready to leave her pups. They bring her back to the hangar for a test drive. Joe brings DC-3 CUE out of retirement to test fly the plane for Buffalo’s summer sked duty and he brings along Jeff—and Muffy—to see if they’re Buffalo material.
#4 - Rock Stars and Rampies
Season 5 - Episode 6
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.
#5 - Power Struggle
Season 3 - Episode 6
Duane lands a huge contract for the Electra and puts enormous pressure on mechanic Adam to prep the plane without the help of his mentor Chuck. Kelly plans her Mexican wedding, but Jynelle's sudden resignation leaves her in the lurch. The power goes out in Yellowknife, spurring Joe into crisis mode.
#6 - Big Plans, Bad Luck
Season 6 - Episode 6
Mikey talks to a 15-year-old aviation buff in England via Skype, who has discovered that Buffalo’s DC3–WZS–flew on D-Day. This inspires Mikey to do something special for the 70th anniversary. He invites Cory to do a tandem parachute jump and finds out that Cory’s grandfather was a paratrooper at the invasion of Normandy. Meanwhile, Mikey takes mercy on Prefkar, working the ramp in Hay River, and offers him a chance for some pilot training on the morning DC-3 freighter. But when the time comes, Prefkar learns that he’s been bumped for pilot David Alexandre. It gets worse for Prefkar when he’s given another chance and this time the fog rolls in. Prefkar might not stick it out at Buffalo. Mikey’s D-Day plans get even bigger when he contacts the Princess Patricia Canadian Light Infantry, who were part of the Allied airborne forces that dropped behind German lines in 1944. He pitches his plan—a reenactment jump from WZS, an actual D-Day plane. But there’s a hitch: the plane needs to pass inspection, and Mikey needs to lose weight to make the cut for tandem jumping. Mikey tries everything he can think of—from juicing, working out with Dan at the gym and even sweating it out in spin class. Cory and Mikey go over what they need to refit DC-3 WZS for a static line jump. Cory is sent on a scavenger hunt for parts in Red Deer and finds a brand-new bracket from the 1940s—but they still need to find the missing rear bracket, and nobody even knows what it looks like.
#7 - Big Boost
Season 3 - Episode 5
When a ferry breakdown causes a gasoline shortage in Yellowknife, new manager Duane begs Chuck to return and prepare the Electra for a fuel haul. Cory leads a clandestine rescue mission to retrieve an abandoned C-46 and Mikey escapes to Ottawa for a birthday joyride in a fighter jet.
#8 - Five Seasons
Season 5 - Episode 13
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.
#9 - Checkflight
Season 6 - Episode 4
Buffalo Joe has been a captain on the daily sked for 34 years and his 70th birthday is next week. Joe might have to stop flying if he doesn’t pass his medical and that could spell the end of Buffalo. Before Joe leaves to undergo five days of medical tests at the Mayo Clinic in Phoenix, Arizona, he calls two rampies, Sam Storm and Jeff Tapper, into his office to greenlight their DC-3 checkflights. Both Jeff and Sam have slogged away for eight months waiting for this chance. But on flight day, Sam is sick to his stomach from eating bad eggs the night before. Sam is not about to let a bad egg beat him and he helps Jeff prep DC-3, LFR. Just before takeoff, nausea wins—Sam has no choice but to back out and there’s no telling when he’ll get another chance. Jeff, on the other hand, has to overcome the jitters that have haunted him ever since he was in a crash landing earlier in the year. Mikey, Rod and his family prepare to greet Joe with a birthday cake shaped like a DC-3. At the last minute, Mikey gets a call that Joe isn’t coming back today; instead he’s decided to celebrate his own way—going for a ride in a classic 1940 Boeing Stearman biplane.
#10 - The Finish Line
Season 2 - Episode 7
A multi-stop mission to the Far North pits Devan, Scott and Adam in an ongoing battle for fuel and oil as they circuit their destinations. Audrey goes on a northern adventure escorting a team of dog mushers to the 2010 Arctic Winter Games.
#11 - On the Move
Season 1 - Episode 6
A charter flight falls through the cracks after the McBryans attend a wild family wedding, and an irate Joe pulls captain Justin from the Turkey test flights to do the job. Justin's task is to move an impatient Brit, his dog and all his worldly possessions to a remote northern outpost, but the weather isn't cooperating. Meanwhile, Devan ponders a job offer in Africa - leaving girlfriend Jynelle to ponder their future.
#12 - Cold Start
Season 5 - Episode 1
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.
#13 - Target Practice
Season 5 - Episode 11
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.
#14 - Dambusters
Season 3 - Episode 2
Buffalo gets into the stunt flying business when veteran pilot Arnie flies the DC-4 for the re-enactment scene of a famous WWII bombing raid. A routine C-46 flight becomes dangerous when a hole in the plane's aging exhaust system sets off the fire alarm, and Devan has to decide whether or not to shut down an engine mid-flight.
#15 - Dark Skies
Season 4 - Episode 1
Joe performs stunt landings for a film crew; new employee Ryan tries to prove his worth in Hay River; a dental hygienist gets thrown into the hot seat.
#16 - Crash Landing
Season 4 - Episode 6
Just months from retiring, Electra captain Ray Weber leads his crew on a multi trip mission that requires landing on a rough ice strip on a remote lake. The ice strip landing goes fine, but when the plane takes off from the strip, the right landing gear gets stuck in the wheel well. Ray and his crew try to get the wheel down but to no avail, and are forced to perform an emergency landing that they'll never forget.
#17 - For Sale By Owner
Season 4 - Episode 7
When South Korean buyers come to Buffalo to look at a water bomber, the pressure is on mechanic Cory to get the plane ready. But a landing gear emergency puts him and chief pilot Justin in serious danger. Rod and Mikey salivate over a fleet of P3 Orion water bombers up for auction at a California fire fighting conference.
#18 - Gear Up, Gear Down
Season 3 - Episode 4
Frustrated with her lack of flying and stuck in a rut as a courier driver, Audrey decides her time at Buffalo is over. Devan, Ian and Jimmy deal with a hydraulic fluid leak in the C-46 on the valley run, which forces Jimmy to crawl into the "hell hole" and crank down the landing gear by hand.
#19 - Snowplane
Season 5 - Episode 3
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.
#20 - Gear Lock
Season 5 - Episode 4
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.
#21 - A Very Buffalo Christmas
Season 4 - Episode 5
A week before Christmas, Buffalo agrees to lend a hand to an RCMP initiative to fly toys to isolated communities in the north. But a series of problems with the Electra leave the company in a jam. An excess of holiday freight overwhelms cargo manager Kelly, and despite a visit from her buddy Arnie Schreder, recovering from his cancer treatment, her stress peaks after a clash with Joe.
#22 - Shut Down
Season 4 - Episode 2
Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper visits Buffalo Airways; Joe clashes with inspectors; the Electra crew flies to Sachs Harbour for a meaty assignment.
#23 - Power Crash
Season 5 - Episode 9
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.
#24 - Frozen Solid
Season 5 - Episode 8
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.
#25 - The Doghouse
Season 3 - Episode 10
Duane's decision to leave the Electra crew unsupervised while he spends time at home jeopardizes the completion of a major contract, and could cost him his job. Young DC-3 co-pilot Graeme sees his chance to move up to a bigger plane disappear when he falls out of favour with Joe.