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Chopper service a go in Arviat

June 19, 2024  By Darrell Greer, Local Journalism Initiative, Kivalliq News


Arviat helicopter pilot Kelly Owlijoot is taking to the skies this week with a new venture he hopes will attract a lot of folks who like to get to popular fishing areas without the dangers inherent to travelling by snowmobile this time of year. (Photo courtesy Kelly Owlijoot)

Helicopter pilot Kelly Owlijoot has his eyes set on attracting customers and maybe landing his first Arctic char with a new business venture he’s launching in Arviat, Nunavut, this week.

The venture will see customers be able to rent Owlijoot and a Jet Ranger helicopter for $2,100 an hours, or, per fishing trip, whatever the case may be.

Owlijoot said much of the established rate rotates around the cost of his fuel in any given area, with, of course, some areas being cheaper than others.

He said, hopefully, he’s see people banding together for a trip to split on the cost.

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“With it being $2,100 in Arviat, we can bring three people, for example, who can then divide the cost at $700 each,” said Owlijoot.

“The flight will be 30 minutes going out and the same coming back to make-up the hour. The people who have shown interest so far have been mostly those looking to go on a fishing trip.

“This is the time of year Arctic char are going downstream. It’s also kind of hard for people to reach the good fishing places due to a lack of snow on the ice and the instability of the sea ice. It could be slushy or broken up and dangerous.

“So, with the helicopter, we can avoid all that stuff and just head straight to the fishing areas that people are looking forward to checking out. I’ll have to hang out with them for the day because it would cost too much to go there, come back and then go get them later in the day.”

Owlijoot said he doesn’t mind spending the day with those going out to fish.

He said he only gets paid when he has revenue flights with the customers paying, so, nobody in the chopper with him, nobody paying.

“I’d rather stay out there all day rather than just flying around picking-up people or cargo. I like nature, so I’ll probably fish too.

“I’ve actually never been Arctic char fishing, myself, this time of the year, so I thought this would be a good opportunity for customers to pay for a trip that I could enjoy too.

“After I thought it over, I told my boss about it and he’s been pretty supportive. So, the company’s going to make money, and I’ll have some good times out there, hopefully, doing a little fishing and spending time with the people who go.”

How many people Owlijoot can take on each trip depends on the total weight of everything getting on the chopper, including the weight of the people themselves.

Owlijoot said he could actually take four people, but they wouldn’t be able to bring fishing gear, extra clothes, food or other things of that nature. That’s why he thinks three people per trip is the perfect number.

And, he adds, everybody on board, no matter where they end-up sitting, will have a great view of everything they’re flying over.

“Quite a few people have shown interest and are messaging me. I’ll be making my first trip this week, weather permitting. It’s only the first week that I’ve had the news out and people are booking already.

“As far as price goes, it’s always $2,100 from Arviat. It doesn’t matter, really, where we go, as long as it’s no more than one hour flying time, in total, out there and back.

“I think it’s a good idea and will really take off, but, like anything else, only time will tell.”

News from © Canadian Press Enterprises Inc., 2023

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