Ice Pilots NWT is back on the air.
The reality show that follows the adventures of Buffalo Airways began its fifth season on Oct. 23.
To celebrate, the company again held a premiere in Hay River of the new season’s first episode.
This year, viewers across Canada and in numerous countries around the world will get a look at what winter really means in the NWT.
Mikey McBryan, the general manager of Buffalo Airways, said much of the show’s new season will involve the big cold snap last winter.
“Where everything went into a complete deep freeze,” he said. “This is the year where it all goes to hell temperature-wise.”
McBryan never thought the reality show would last this long.
“Growing up in Hay River, going to the purple school there, I never ever thought that television would be even possible, not even plausible,” he said. “And when this whole thing came about, we just did it like one day at a time. And one day you wake up and you been doing it for five years, which is amazing.”
It is obvious Hay River is still excited about the show, judging from the roughly 120 people who turned out to see the premiere at Riverview Cineplex and the round of applause when the first episode ended.
“From the beginning, Hay River has always been home for all of us, the McBryans, and for the company itself,” McBryan said. “This is where the DC-3 lands at the end of the day and overnights. So this is home.”
A premiere would not be anywhere else, he added. “Hay River would be the only place we would do it.”
McBryan expressed thanks to everyone in Hay River.
“It’s been undying support,” he said. “If the world was like Hay River, Ice Pilots would be the most popular show. It’s just been amazing.”
Wally Schumann Sr. has attended all the premieres in Hay River.
“That’s the fifth one I’ve been to and they’ve all been excellent,” he said.
Schumann said the reality show has lots of action, and problems for Buffalo Airways to solve.
“They live with problems, it seems like,” he said of the show. “It’s excellent.”
Plus, he said it is really good for local people to be featured on such a show.
Terry Barrett also thought the premiere episode of season five was awesome.
“It’s just excellent for the town,” he said. “It’s good publicity. Good for Hay River. Good for Yellowknife. Good for the North.”
The 13 episodes in this new season, will bring Ice Pilots to a total of 65 episodes.
McBryan said he would like to see it continue into more seasons.
“I’m shameless,” he said. “I’d sign for on for season 40.”
However, he said he doesn’t know how many more seasons the show will last.
“I have no clue,” he said. “It’s always a surprise. We get this magical call from Vancouver and they say, ‘We’re coming back.’ One day they’ll say, ‘Best of luck.'”
The show is created for the History Canada channel by Omni Film Productions of Vancouver.
McBryan said being the subject of a reality show hasn’t changed Buffalo Airways.
“For the core of the business, we fly airplanes. and the TV show really doesn’t affect that because people in Deline don’t care if you’re on TV,” he said. “They just want their food. As a core of the business, it doesn’t change.”
So the day the TV show ends, Buffalo Airways will be doing the exact same trips as if the show never existed, he added. “The show is still just an observer.”
However, he said the company’s merchandising side is 100 per cent because of the show, but only a small part of the overall business.
McBryan said, while Buffalo Airways’ older airplanes are used to sell the show, people fall in love with the characters and that’s what keeps it going.
The show is seen in many countries.
That includes Russia, where it is watched by 1.5 million people – a figure which McBryan calls amazing.
— Paul Bickford