Flight-Seeing Tours

Let this year be the year you broaden your horizons and heighten your senses with an aerial tour.

A Bird's Eye View

From 2,000 feet overhead, you see Sunset Country the way the eagles and gulls see it. Lake charts finally make sense. And it’s water, water everywhere. If you've never considered doing an aerial tour maybe this is the year you broaden your horizons and heighten your senses. If you have considered it, you're already on your way. Read on for what you need to know to plan, book, and make the most of it. 

“Passengers are always surprised at the different colours of the water in the lakes,” says Dave Beaushene, who operates Nestor Falls Fly-In Outposts with his wife, Michelle. One lake that stands out on their flight-seeing circuit is Crow Lake, which he says looks like the Caribbean.

Another bonus is that you can choose to fly in a DeHavilland Beaver, the iconic Canadian-made “workhorse of the north,” with its famous roaring Pratt & Whitney radial engine.

Nestor Falls Fly-In Outposts

Nestor Falls, Ontario 

Nestor Falls Fly-In has five planes: Cessna 185 and Cessna 206 for two people, a DeHavilland Beaver for four people, and two Otters for eight. All planes have intercom and headsets for each person, so you can ask questions of the pilot, who can also point out particular landmarks.

Their standard flight-seeing circuit is a 15-minute loop over Crow Lake, Lake of the Woods, Caliper Lake, and back to Pine Lake. “If people want to fly over a specific destination, we can do it,” Beaushene assures. 

People can drop in to Nestor Falls Fly-In Outposts to ask about a flight. The base is on Nestor Falls Fly-In Road off Highway 71 in Nestor Falls. If you don’t want to take a chance on availability, call ahead to 1-877-653-1524 or local 807-484-2345, who can also answer any questions about pricing.

River Air

Minaki and Kenora, Ontario 

River Air offers 20-minute flight-seeing trips from Kenora’s Harbourfront and Minaki. Drop in to see if there is a plane and pilot available or call the Kenora dock at (807) 468-7104 or the Minaki base at (807) 244-6531.

Trips are about 30 minutes in total, including taxi, take off, and landing. Passengers don’t have to bring anything—except a camera. 

The eclectic DeHavilland Beaver waits at the docks. Photo: Jay Whetter 

River Air has four plane models that can handle different-sized groups. Their Cessna 180 seats one to three, DeHavilland Beaver seats four to six, Cessna Caravan seats seven to nine, and DeHavilland Otter seats eight to nine. Depending on the plane, prices range from $225 to $575 plus HST for the 20-minute circuit. Flights can be extended for an additional cost.

Northwest Flying

Nestor Falls, Ontario 

Northwest Flying in Nestor Falls offers 20-minute rides in its DeHavilland Beaver, twin-engine Beech 18s, or Cessna 180. Prices range from $200 to $400 per ride, depending on the plane.

“People are always blown away by how much water we have around us,” says Shane Pope, owner of the family business.

Larger groups flight-seeing with Northwest Flying can ride in the big silver Beech 18.
Photo courtesy of Northwest Flying

As with all flight-seeing tours, visitors can drop into Northwest Flying and ask about a quick ride. But if dropping in, Pope recommends coming between 11 am and 2 pm, which is the usual lull time between their scheduled drop-off and pick-up flights to fishing lodges. Visitors will probably want to choose fairly calm days, he adds. Call them at (807) 484-2126.

“Our experienced pilots brief the passengers about what to expect,” Pope says. “The planes travel 110 to 140 miles per hour, so we can cover quite a bit of ground in 20 minutes.” If people have a specific destination they want to see and if that destination takes longer to reach than a 20-minute round trip, Nestor Falls adjusts the cost. Pope just took a bunch of workers from the Rainy River mine to have a look at it from above. “The size of the mine was impressive,” he says.

Superior Airways (Formerly Chimo Air)

Red Lake, Ontario 

Chimo Lodge on Roderick Lake is a beautiful fly-in lodge in Ontario's Sunset Country.
Photo courtesy of Chimo Air Service 

Chimo Air had been operating out of Red Lake since 1995 and was recently bought by Superior Airways. They have several planes, everything from an eclectic Norseman to an Otter. Superior Airways also runs Chimo Lodge on Roderick Lake

You can even enjoy a beautiful sightseeing tour followed by a delicious dinner!

Ignace Outposts 

Ignace, Ontario 

Ignace Outposts and Ignace Airways are located centrally along HWY 17, north of Thunder Bay, and south of Dryden. The perfect in-between place to take a trip into Ontario's northern interior. 

Excellent Adventures 

Red Lake and Ear Falls, Ontario 

Excellent Adventures offers flightseeing tours out of Red Lake, Ontario. Whether you are in Red Lake for the day or staying at a drive-in resort and want to get a birds-eye view of the area, you won't be disappointed with an aerial tour. 

A large group heads out to their fishing trip of a lifetime! Photo courtesy of Excellent Adventures 

Whether you're looking for a quick 20-minute tour or the whole shebang, Ontario's Sunset Country has numerous flight services, outposts, lodges, and tours to exceed your every small aircraft need! 

About Jay Whetter

Jay Whetter is a journalist and magazine editor based in Kenora, Ontario. He has also written a children's book called "The Adventures of Geo the Pebble." He likes quieter outdoor pursuits like canoeing and hiking, and loves to discover amazing new places. To contact Jay or order a signed copy of his book, email whetterj@gmail.com or call 807-468-4006. His Twitter handle is @KenoraJay.

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