Although I was able to piece together much of the overall history of the DC-6A that sat on the tarmac of the Yellowknife Airport for all of those years, there is a period of time that had remained somewhat unaccounted for.
As noted in the original story – “Toppling a Sacred Cow,” which was published in May, 2012 on both this site and in the Yellowknifer newspaper - under the title of “Aircraft not part of Air Force One” - this aircraft was declared surplus by the USAF in 1974, and then appeared to have gone into something of a black hole, until purchased by Northern Air Cargo, out of Fairbanks Alaska, in 1987.
I know it sat on the tarmac at the Yellowknife airport for part of that time, but what it was up to - if anything - when not collecting dust in “YK” remained a mystery.
Shortly after the story ran in the Yellowknifer, I received a call from Kim Sherritt, who works for Diamond Aviation in Yellowknife.
Kim went on to explain that she was very familiar with this aircraft, and informed me that not only did it operate in the Canadian Arctic for much of the period in question; it was owned and operated by a true northern legend – Willy Laserich.
While not exactly a household name – not yet anyway – Willie was an aviation pioneer, rebel, and one of the finest pilots to ever fly north of 60.
During his remarkable career he logged over 40,000 hours, and among his many airborne missions, flew thousands of medevac flights, and participated in over 100 search and rescues.
Founder of Altair Leasing and Adlair Aviation, Willy was nominated by none other than aviation legend Max Ward, and subsequently inducted into the Canadian Aviation Hall of Fame in 2010.
For more on this true northern legend, who once referred to himself, and those that flew for him as “Willy and the Bandits,” click on any of the following links, or simply Google, Willy Laserich.