The AWG Air Force at Work

The 2012 Arctic Winter Games was held in Whitehorse from March 4th through the 10th, and thousands of people – athletes, supporters and fans – came to town from around the circumpolar world to take part. I adapted the name AWG Air Force from the Iditarod Air Force, the aircraft, pilots and support crews who make the Iditarod sled dog race possible.

Although many arrived by car or bus, aircraft played a major part in the transport. Although I missed the planes when they brought people to Whitehorse, I made sure that I was there for the departures right after the closing ceremonies on the 10th.

I was surprised to see this Air Greenland jet arrive a day early – that’s a lot of money to be sitting idle. This is an Airbus A330-223, registration OY-GRN. With 375 seats, it brought people in from Greenland and Sápmi (northern Scandinavia).

Air Greenland A-330 in Whitehorse, Yukon

On the 10th, various snow-removal equipment was busy all day cleaning up the runways, taxiways and parking ramp.

Snowblower at Whitehorse airport

It started snowing in the late afternoon. Though not hard, it was enough to greatly increase the difficulty of getting the planes in and out.

Air Greenland A-330 in Whitehorse, Yukon

C-GANH, a Boeing 737-505 operated by Air North, was the first plane in and out, headed for Grande Prairie, Alberta.

Yukon aircraft - an Air North Boeing 737

Four more Boeing 737s arrived within a few minutes after the first departure. This First Air is a model 737-2R4C, registration C-FNVK.

By the time this photo of First Air C-GNDE, a 737-247(A), was taken at 8:50, the tower was reporting that the plows were keeping the centre 120 feet of the runway clear but there was about 1½ inches of snow to the sides.

Yukon aircraft - a First Air Boeing 737

A broader look at the north end of the ramp at 8:55.

Three 737s on the ramp at Whitehorse airport

And the south end of the ramp.

Busy ramp at Whitehorse airport

Two mushers’ trucks were led onto the ramp by a pilot car, and about an hour later their dogs, sleds and other gear were ready to be loaded onto their plane.

Mushers getting ready to load onto their jet

This Canadian North 737-2T2C freighter, C-GDPA, is ready for the sled dog race teams to be loaded for the trip back to Nunavut.

Canadian North 737-2T2C freighter aircraft in the Yukon

Here’s the fifth 737, Air North’s model 737-400 C-FANB. It would be bound for northern Alberta in an hour or so.

Yukon aircraft - an Air North Being 737 at Whitehorse

At about 9:20 the snow and wind made shooting too difficult so I gave up and headed home. The Alaska Highway wasn’t exactly a treat to be driving on, but it had been an excellent few hours. Those of you who live near large airports might not understand the attraction, but at our very quiet airport, this sort of action is extremely interesting to some of us.

Near white-out conditions on the Alaska highway


The AWG Air Force at Work — 3 Comments

  1. Hi Murray, thanks for the shots taken at Whitehorse. That Air Greenland A330 must have been quite a surprise. I guess they had to arrive a day early because of duty time: it would have been too many hours to fly both legs with just one crew, so they planned an overnight.
    Keep it coming!

  2. I still wonder how people survive in the winters up their. I lived in Elsa a few years, but I left because of the bitter cold. People are tougher then me I guess. See you summer ’12.