The next generation
Local pilot lives the young aviator's dream

Mike W. Bryant
Northern News Services

NNSL (July 16/99) - Didn't every kid want to be a pilot when they grew up?

Most people rarely hang on to their childhood dreams, but for Gerry Honigman, chief pilot and part-owner of Arctic Excursions, the dream never faded.

"It's something I always wanted to do I guess," Honigman said.

Honigman became a pilot when he was just 16 and hasn't looked back since. With his business partner, Mike Wood, Honigman has watched his business grow steadily since the two opened for business in the spring of 1997.

"It was a perfect match," Honigman said. "Mike had already been working as a manager (retail sales manager at Petro Canada) and learned how to run a business, while I had gained flying experience working as a pilot in the North."

The two met at aviation school in Abbotsford, B.C., in the early '90s and became fast friends. Honigman followed Wood up North where he had no problem landing a job as pilot in Fort Smith.

"The only thing that broke me away from there was the idea of starting up my own company," Honigman said, referring to his flying days in Fort Smith.

In the short time Arctic Excursions has been operating, Honigman and Wood have flown everything from mining equipment to fishing rods. As a bush pilot, Honigman has come to learn that Northern flying is anything but boring.

"Every day is different," Honigman said. "Generally, the thing with bush flying is that everything is not generally scheduled. A lot of things are left to the last minute.

"On an average day, we could be flying cargo to a mining camp, come back and put the seats back in and fly tourists on a local tour for a half-hour."

Arctic Excursions fly customers on hunting and fishing trips, half-hour tours, to mining camps and some government work.

"I don't question what needs to go where, I just get it there," Honigman said. "We try to offer competitive prices and the highest possible safety and service."