Taking to the skies with canadian bush pilot Guy Cannon

The HickerPhoto.com team take to the skies with Guy Cannon to get the lowdown on Canada's youngest bush plane pilot.

Text by Michelle Hicker, Pictures by Rolf Hicker

Picture of the youngest canadian bush pilot Guy Cannon Making history in the aviation world seems to be what one top Canadian pilot does! Guy Cannon is a remarkable man who started out as the youngest bush plane pilot in Canada and possibly the world, a title he still holds even today and he continues to push the boundaries of aviation history.

During our 2007/2008 Honeymoon Canada production which took us clean across Canada, we met up with Guy and ended up spending 10 days with him in Thunder Bay and Red Lake. Rolf had met Guy over 15 years prior while he was flying an Ultralight in Newfoundland for a series of film productions with Cinematographer Alen Milic called Exploring Horizons, by Arctic Jungle Films where he traveled to remote locations in Canada, Europe, North Africa, USA, and South America with a film crew and production team. Guy was instrumental in providing the means to film many unique aerial perspectives in a variety of aircrafts including an E-Z Flyer Ultralight.

Picture of a aerial photo shot with canadian bush pilot Guy Cannon In the beginning at the tender age of 14, Guy, who was barely able to see over an instrument panel let alone reach the pedals of a plane, was frequently asked if he'd like to fly his father's friend's float planes. Of course he never turned down an opportunity ... what kid would, but what he wasn't aware of is that his fellow occupants were dozing in the back seat and not paying attention. In fact they weren't aware of anything until he'd wake them after he'd landed the plane and shut it down at the dock!

Since those early teen years, Guy has racked up many, many hours of flying time (10,000 plus hours) and has achieved certification in many areas of aviation such as a class one instructor (highest rating), group 1 instrument rating which means he is capable of flying single or multi engine aircrafts on wheels, floats or skis, during the day or night and in the clouds. He is also rated as an instructor for Ultralights. Always willing to extend his experiences, Guy has been tested to fly a variety of aircrafts including Turbo Otters, Beavers, Harvards, and Stearman World War II aircrafts as well as aerobatic types.

Aerial picture of Ouimet Canyon in ontario Canada Resting a hand on the cross bars at the front of a Cessna, a habit formed during his youth when he'd needed to hoist himself up out of the seat to look over the instrument panel, Cannon gave the HickerPhoto.com team an aerial tour of his home town area recently which was loaded with local information about the geology and history of Lake Superior, Ouimet Canyon and Sleeping Giant Provincial Park. As a pilot, Guy possesses the uncanny ability to fly an aircraft in such a way as to work with the needs of a photographer or film-maker while remaining within the safety perimetres of aviation.

Although today the cross bars are not necessary as a means for him to see over the dash, Guy continues to make aviation history in Canada.

aerial fine art picture of sea scape in Lake Superior Besides being a pilot trainer based in Thunder Bay, a bush plane pilot for Wilderness North, a fly-in fishing lodge in Northern Ontario, and spending 10 years running a flight school as a class 1 instructor, Guy has also taken on a new project in conjunction with Wilderness North which sees him delivering fuel to remote outposts in Northern Ontario ... by air.

Enter the Air Tractor - AT802, an aircraft which has been used around the globe in agricultural and firefighting applications. Canada's version, however, has been modified by Conair of Abbotsford in British Columbia, for bulk fuel hauling - the first of its kind in the world.

picture of the air tractor plane With an increased fuel carrying capacity, the modified Canadian version of the Air Tractor is capable of hauling 4000 litres, in 2 separate hoppers. It is certified to carry jet fuel, diesel fuel, gasoline, and stove oil products. Protected against lightening, cold weather flying, and featuring a line which would prevent the aircraft becoming entangled in power lines, the AT802 also features a quick fuel release system which would see the hoppers empty in seconds should an emergency situation occur. Special attire is also needed to operate the aircraft including fire retardant clothing, special helmet, and gloves. In fact in all honesty, guy is literally sitting on and flying a bomb.

The peculiar looking Air Tractor which has a bulky midriff and streamlined front end, with looks reminiscent of the Spitfire aircraft of the 1940's, is powered by a powerful turbine engine which is operated, in his case, solo from a two man cockpit.

picture of the air tractor plane taking off Guy has been involved with test flights and working with Transport Canada and has now completed numerous fuel deliveries to isolated and remote outposts such as the First Nations communities of Sandy Lake and Deer Lake in the far north of Ontario. These and other natural resource or mining communities are not accessible by conventional means such as road or water - only by air, and therefore rely heavily on the deliveries Guy makes.

As one of the only pilots to have flown the Air Tractor in it's transformed state, Guy is currently writing the operating and safety manual for the aircraft and will train future pilots in the aircraft's operation.

The HickerPhoto.com team was honoured to spend several days with Guy in both Thunder Bay, as well as in Red Lake where we were among the first to be introduced to and provided with in-depth information about the new Air Tractor aircraft and it's place in the aviation world of Canada today. As one of the top pilots in Canada, we're looking forward to visiting Guy again soon and will definitely line up for more flying with him for aerial photography from a small plane.

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