August 4 2011
A number of participants in the Meet the Buffalo event flew out of Yellowknife to Fort Simpson this morning but we decided not to. We did go out to the airport, but it was to fuel up our Cardinal and to meet the General Manager of Adlair Aviation, Paul Laserich. He’s the son of the founder of the airline, legendary bush pilot Willie Laserich.
In rapid-fire conversation and in between numerous phone calls, Paul chronicled the history of the airline based on the acquisition of each plane. It was amazingly detailed; we soon had information overload. He also shared some family history and when he told us of his Dad’s passing, he choked up and we were all overwhelmed with emotion.
Paul’s passion for aviation stems from the life his father lived in the north and a childhood spent flying in the most demanding situations imaginable – sleeping in an airplane on an isolated air strip, witnessing the birth of one of the six babies born in Willie’s carer on flights en route to hospitals, and being part of the making of history and the opening of the north to transportation.
His generosity in sharing those stories is unfathomable. I left with an armload of booklets and photo albums containing newspaper clippings, a wealth of stories.
Willie Laserich died in 2007 and was inducted in the Aviation Hall of Fame in 2010. He is remembered as a legendary pilot so devoted to aviation and the people he served that he rose to and conquered every challenge and set-back in his path.