Great Circle Airways is out to prove that while Saskatchewan is known as the Land of Living Skies, the landscape in the Southwest has an unmatched beauty when viewed from above.
Pilot Mike Campbell is currently offering aerial tours of the Cypress Hills from the Maple Creek Airport, with the trip giving stunning views of the Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park.
"I've flown from Alberta all the way to the East Coast," he explained minutes before the ride. "These flights out of Maple Creek are some of my favourite scenery to look at."
The tour takes in Adams Lake and Coulee Lake, along with Fort Walsh National Historic Site of Canada in the West Block, the stark prairie and surprisingly high number pockets of water in The Gap, plus the activity and campsites located in the Centre Block.
"We go from flat prairie to hilled forest. It's an amazing transformation. And we fly over some lakes on the way too."
Now is an ideal time to fly, with harvest colours, lush green forest, and the shimmering waters of the lakes and dugouts along the flyway.
"I'm getting some good comments. Everybody really likes the experience when they get up there," Campbell admitted. "This is one of my favourite locations to fly from."
Airplane buffs will also enjoy the flight aboard Campbell's vintage 1957 deHavilland Beaver. While there are lots of DeHavilland Beaver's still in use, Campbell is the only one currently using one for commercial sightseeing tours in Southern Saskatchewan.
He first flew the plane while working as a pilot for a fishing lodge in northern Saskatchewan, and this is his seventh season of flying the plane after purchasing it from the lodge. He estimated there are a half dozen DeHavilland Beaver's still in operation in northern Saskatchewan, but primarily the planes are flown on the BC coast and across Ontario.
"Even back when they were new they were revolutionary. They consulted bush pilots before they designed the airplane with what pilots wanted in it. They tried to incorporate everything into one design. I think they pulled it off because it was a very popular airplane. They built over 1600 of them in the 20 years they were making them."
His plane was originally utilized as a military plane from 1957 through to the 1970s, and over the years it has lived up to its workhorse reputation.
"They haul a big load. It's not a fast airplane but for the load that it takes it can get it where it's going fairly quickly. They are definitely workhorses."
Individuals interested in booking a flight can contact Campbell at 741-1881. The site seeing flights are $120 for adults and $100 for children 10 and under.