Rishabh Gopal

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700 Miles closer to THE NORTH POLE

It all started with a little funny remark. Leonard said to me and Sachin, “Hey, you know what? We should go to Churchill and see the whales, the bears and the Hudson Bay”. I replied “Yeah right, I wish I could go on a trip like that”. Sachin was already all excited about the plan because he had never been anywhere else in canada apart from Steinbach and Winnipeg. Just like that, within 5 minutes, it was decided that that we would do a trip to Churchill. Little did we know that it was going to be a trip of a lifetime, not only for us, but for a lot of people around school as we found out after our return. Now, I did not have any time building to do but Sachin and Leonard had plenty of hours to build. So, I was like the dummy on this trip. I guess I could call myself as the photographer, since we ended up taking more than 3000 pictures.

Sachin and Leonard were the perfect guys to go on a trip like this because Sachin was a very fun, outgoing guy who loved to have fun. And Leonard to top both of us, acted like a fun-crazed teenager through the whole trip. The last thing you’d notice about him is that he’s a father of two. Anyway, we had talked to Adam, and the mechanics, and got the perfect Super-long range tanked 172 we wanted (C-GPTO. Our trip was a GO! We left Steinbach by car, had to drive to St.Andrew’s and take the plane from there.

We took off St.Andrew’s on the 22nd of August, 2012 at 0900. Our route was to pretty much head Straight North along the shores of Lake Winnipeg, stop by Berens River and Norway house and then make a complete stop at Thompson. We had reached Thompson around 1300. We then took a little break, gave our lovely little plane the fuel she needed, and then journeyed on, into the unknown (for us, but apparently not for our horse, the plane had flown that route before). We finally reached Churchill around 1700, looking at awe at the Hudson Bay right in front of us. It was the blue-est thing I’d ever seen in my life.

We spent the next few days, roaming around Churchill, meeting every single person including the mayor of the town. We got to do some snorkeling with the Beluga whales, play with them, walk along the shores where the British once fought the French, in Princes Wales Fort. We also saw two polar bears, and risked enough to get about a 100 feet away. And trust me, it was totally worth the risk. What we did not expect to see was the Prime Minster of the country, doing a northern-tour of Canada. What are the odds eh? We got to take a picture with him, he’s a very nice guy. We got to meet so many wonderful people in that town. Churchill is a must see for anyone who likes adventure, and wants to push adventure to its limits. It was a very extreme town for most parts of the year. But definitely, definitely worth spending money for.

Our trip was supposed to last only for three days, but we got weathered in. So, we got to stay there two extra days, and saw another polar bear by accident. The trip just got better and better.

We finally left on the 27th of August, saying our last goodbyes to the lovely people of Churchill and the majestic Hudson Bay. We reached St.Andrew’s with no problems at all by 1600.

Even though I did not log any hours, I am really grateful to Sachin and Leonard to even offer me such a trip. I would like to thank those two before I end this article.

This trip to Churchill was the best trip I’d ever made in a long time, and I am certain that it would one of the best ones in my life. People reading this article, especially pilots, I encourage you to fly out to Churchill (you’d probably want to go around mid August-mid October, because that’s when the bears are around) and enjoy the vastness and the richness of this beautiful country we live in, and get to know more about our history. There’s a lot to learn from people Up North.

Known is a drop, unknown is the Hudson Bay and more…

Wishing all of you lots of happy and safe landings,

Rishabh Gopal

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