Australian comes to NWT to pursue dream of flying


Myles Dolphin/NNSL photo
A passion for aviation and a thirst for adventure brought Will Dyer to the NWT in January.

Will Dyer could be piloting large aircraft in his native Australia right now, but he’s much happier living and working in Hay River’s northern climate.

The 25-year-old from Brisbane, who grew up dreaming about a career in aviation, actually declined a job offer in his homeland in favour of coming to Canada. He did so despite not having heard back from the company he so desperately wanted to work for, Buffalo Airways.

I’ve always been into classic planes – the DC3 in particular,” Dyer said. “There aren’t too many in Australia. They’re mostly used for nostalgia flights on the weekend. At my old job, I’d jump on the Internet any chance I could to research where I could work on one of these.”

After obtaining a work visa, he flew to Vancouver and spent two months converting his air transport rating, which involved taking a series of theory exams and a flight test.

During that time, Dyer kept sending Buffalo letters and resumes, but still hadn’t gotten a reply.

If persistence is the key to getting what you want, Dyer has certainly exemplified that.

While awaiting some paperwork to go through, he visited friends in Wisconsin. Then, he called Buffalo’s office in Yellowknife and told them he’d be there in a few days.

I just bought a one-way ticket and went,” he said. “When I stepped off the plane, it was 40 below and I thought, ‘What have I done?’ But when I walked over to the office and saw those planes, I thought they were awesome.”

The employees thought he was just another tourist passing through, interested in seeing the planes because he’d seen them on the reality television program ‘Ice Pilots NWT’.

Dyer told them he was serious about working for them and, three days later, Buffalo Airways general manager Mikey McBryan shook his hand to officially welcome him to the company.

Dyer has been working in Hay River for almost 10 weeks and does a variety of things in a single day. He prepares the aircraft in the morning, loads the freighter, sorts out freight, delivers it, picks up packages in the afternoon and sorts more freight at night.

You have to do the grind before you can be a pilot,” he said, adding his passion for aviation stems from being exposed to planes at a very young age.

His father flew privately when he was younger and Dyer would go to air shows and build models as a child.

Although he still hasn’t quite adjusted to the northern environment, he finds the town and landscape beautiful and can’t wait for the summer.

I want to learn to fly fish and maybe get a canoe,” he said. “I had trouble adjusting to the lack of sunlight at first because in Australia I’m used to watching the sun pass overhead. This is a great experience. I’m slowly getting to know people in town and my folks at home are very supportive of what I’m doing.”

— Myles Dolphin