Flight to Ellesmere island (Nunavut)

August 5, 6 - 2004

How to get to Ellesmere island? Getting to Ellesmere island is long and expensive, the flight from Edmonton requires one stop in Yellowknife, one connection in Ikaluktutiak (Cambridge Bay) and one layover night in Qausuittuq (Resolute Bay), before boarding the chartered Kenn Borek Air Twin Otter to Alexandra Fiord airstrip located in eastern Ellesmere.

Canadian North B737-200
The long flight to Ellesmere island begins onboard a Canadian North's B737-200 bound for Ikaluktutiak (Cambridge Bay) via Yellowknife.

 

Canadian North B737-200 Inuktitut language
The aircraft is configured as combo for cargo and passengers. As it is flying to Nunavut, the Inuktitut is one of the language spoken aboard and the safety card is written in Inuktitut alphabet as well.

 

Yellowknife
Approaching Yellowknife. The area is surrounded by dozens of small lakes, I'll stop here for 2 nights coming back from Ellesmere.

 

Flying over canadian arctic Flying over canadian arctic Flying over canadian arctic
After a brief stop in Yellowknife, the flight continues north to Ikaluktutiak (Cambridge Bay), crossing the Arctic Circle. The landscape is dominated by many islands, separated by sea having some ice even in August.

 

Flying over canadian arctic Flying over canadian arctic
Approaching Ikaluktutiak (Cambridge Bay). There are no trees, but just flat tundra spotted by hundreds of ponds and nameless lakes.

 

Cambridge Bay airport
Cambridge Bay This Canadian North's Boeing 737-200 is certified to operate on gravel or snow covered runways. Although not paved, the runway has standard lights and is VOR/DME and NDB equipped.

 

Beechcraft 99 Beechcraft 99
Once in Cambridge Bay, I meet my travel companions and the we board this Kenn Borek Air's Beechcraft 99 bound for Qausuittuq (Resolute Bay).

 

Kenn Borek Air
As the total weight was excessive, it was necessary to load our luggage on this slower Twin Otter, departed earlier. It was possible to observe the aircraft at about halfway, flying at a different flight level. See you later, luggage!

 

Pack Ice Pack Ice
The flight to Resolute Bay or Qausuittuq (I prefer to indicate the towns using their Inuit names... "Qausuittuq" means "The place with no dawn") is about 2 hours long and flies over pack ice. We finally land on another gravel runway, ILS equipped for full guided instrument landing.

 

Resolute Bay airport Resolute Bay airport
Resolute Bay airport At the airport terminal, the Beech 99 is moved into an hangar, now we have just to wait for our luggage, before having a short rest in Resolute Bay, continuing to Ellesmere the next morning.

 

Resolute Bay airport
The nice air terminal at Resolute Bay airport.

 

Kenn Borek Air Twin Otter Kenn Borek Air Twin Otter
The following morning, a chartered Twin Otter await us. The non-stop flight to Alexandra Fiord on Ellesmere Island was just less than 3 hours.

 

Arctic ocean
Above: takeoff from Qausuittuq and then over the Arctic ocean. Left: southern Ellesmere.

 

Over Ellesmere Over Ellesmere
Flying over Ellesmere's main icefield, just before descending to Alexandra Fiord.


 

Over Ellesmere Over Ellesmere
Photos of Ellesmere island's glaciers taken before landing in Alexandra Fiord.

 

Over Ellesmere
Flying inside Alexandra Fiord before landing on the remote airstrip.


 

The approach and landing is indeed more complex, requiring a procedure turn at an altitude higher than the highest obstruction, then executing a kind of missed approach, before actually landing.

 

Dash-6 Twin Otter Dash-6 Twin Otter
Dash-6 Twin Otter Dash-6 Twin Otter
After loading the previous group, the Twin Otter flies away, leaving us alone in the wilderness of Ellesmere island.

 

Ellesmere island
The magnificent landscape of Ellesmere island.

 

Alexandra Fiord Alexandra Fiord

 

Alexandra Fiord
Well... it's now time to pack our kayaks and begin to explore Ellesmere island.

 

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