Retiring pilot says goodbye to the North
Yellowknife (Aug 25/00) - It's not the planes, it's the people.
That's what Capt. George Chivers says he's going to miss the most about being an airline pilot.
Last Friday, Aug. 18, was Chivers' last day on the job. The Canadian Airlines pilot is retiring, his final flight departed from Yellowknife and arrived in Edmonton.
As he taxied into the Yellowknife Airport following a flight from Norman Wells, a group of co-workers and friends watched anxiously, waiting to say their final goodbyes to a well-loved man.
Chivers has been flying for 33 years, most of that time in the North.
His career started in the Air Force, and he's flown a variety of planes, from DC-3s and T-33s to Hercules.
"I flew Hercs for seven years," said the good-natured Chivers as he rested in the airport during a brief stopover.
"I did 5,000 hours on those planes."
Chivers' total flying time? An amazing 24,000 hours.
"Not many pilots make it to this point," said Chivers, with a mixture of pride and amusement. "A lot of people have helped me over the years."
Chivers, also an aircraft engineer, has plans to continue flying in his retirement. He has a runway on his property just outside of Edmonton, and he owns his own planes as well.
"I have one I've flown since 1958. It's a 1941 Tiger Moth," said Chivers.
Chivers can say what too many people can't: "Flying is what I've always wanted to do. It's been really nice to make a living and raise a family doing something that I love.
"This day is tough," continued Chivers. "It's been my privilege to have worked in the North with these wonderful people and it's been a wonderful career. I'm going to miss it and them."
And with that, he left, a quick and emotional exit for the plane.
As he headed towards the runway, two fire trucks shot streams of water over the plane in a water salute to Capt. Chivers.
It may not have been as exciting as the bikinis that greeted Chivers in Norman Wells, but it was a respectful tribute to a long and successful career in aviation.