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Paul Nopper, the peripatetic aerial adventurer

Story by Kenneth Armstrong • trip Photos by Paul Nopper – first published fall 2003

Paul Nopper 2 revised

Basic equipment for a 10-day, 70-hour adventure from Brantford, Ontario to Baffin Island. The golf club was used in Iqaluit, the capital of Nunavut, and left there.

At anytime, anywhere, during your cruising flight you might look down to a glacier, a strip of beach or a clutter of rocks in the barrens to find a diminutive Husky tail-dragger and an aerial explorer, the intrepid Paul Nopper. Deserts, ice flows and rocky barriers are only a few of Paul’s haunts as he searches North America for the most photogenic topography and adventures.

While Nopper exudes an air of confidence gained from his flights of fancy, he invests plenty of time in preflight preparation to ensure there are no unpleasant surprises. Although his Aviat A-1A Husky is a two-place STOL aircraft, he flies solo to allow enough storage room to carry the mandatory supplies for the trip plus equipment to cover exigencies. A goodly amount of this gear is photographic to capture movie and still images of the awesome scenery that unfolds during Paul’s epic outings.

Five adventures ago in 2001 he completed a trip he labelled “North by Northwest,” which took him from his Brantford Airport base north to Akimiski Island in the new territory of Nunavut and then across the breadth of the prairies to Fort McMurray and along the Athabasca and Slave Rivers to the Northwest Territories. Imagine the planning needed for this cross-country, which is equivalent to flying to the southern tip of South America. Paul notes he needed to consider aircraft range to ensure adequate fuel and also the availability of “go-juice” along the route. In remote northern regions, fuel costs as much as milk! On the topic of food, Paul has some suggestions for additions to aircraft cargo for these long missions. He recommends soups, porridge, beans, granola bars, juices, water, trail mix, bagels and apples. These are meals that require only boiling water to prepare or that can be eaten as is. Although some food returns home on the completion of his trip, the excess is carried as part of a prudent survival plan.

So, what sort of skill level is necessary to accomplish these dream flights? As you might expect, Paul built his experiences with shorter trips to popular destinations before heading into the desert and northern wilderness. Paul initiated flying with the Hamilton Flying Club (HFC) at age 18. However, after acquiring his licence and logging 54 hours he discovered women, and as his money evaporated so did his flying dreams. Twenty-five years later with a wife and children and a secure profession as a computer programmer, he returned to the HFC, reactivated his dusty logbook, and soloed again.

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To view Paul Nopper’s photo gallery, click on the photo below:

To view a photo shoot of Aviat Husky C-GMLT by Eric Dumigan, click on the image below:

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