Mosquitoes and rain …in the midnight sun

By Doug Schmidt, Star Country Reporter, Pelly Lake, NWT, Saturday July 20, 1996
 

Larry Leaney's protective bug netting keeps mosquitoes at bay

Larry Leaney's protective bug netting keeps mosquitoes at bay

Marvin Fields squints as strong winds keep the rains blowing horizontally

Marvin Fields squints as strong winds keep the rains blowing horizontally

It's midnight, but the sun's up and shining...

It's midnight, but the sun's up and shining. So is Tim Gillies who took advantage of the 'nightlight' to collect tundra souvenirs, such as caribou antlers and the front grill of an abandoned jeep

Marvin Fields, a Windsor materials handling expert, measures one of the Mosquito's tow supercharged 1,500 horsepowered Rolls Royce Merlin engines to see if it'll fit in the bush plane

Marvin Fields, a Windsor materials handling expert...

 
The Arctic wind howls, and the cold July rain races along the flat barrenlands tundra, falling - if that's the word - horizontal to the ground.
They build their mosquitoes tough here in the Canadian North. Undeterred by the unfriendly elements, the ravenous beasts smell warm human bodies and are on in airborne blood lust.
"I hate the dirty little buggers, I hate them," wails Tim Gillies. He's the head of the group that got this Windsor party to its isolated target, a 40-metre high sandy delta outwash plain. This plateau is what remains of the mouth of a mighty river that disappeared with the last northward-receding ice age.
Gillies is cloaked in full battle dress - a white, single body plastic suit, his entire head covered in mosquito mesh and his hands protected by gloves. Ankles, wrists and neck have been sprayed down with liquid bug repellent, but the sustained buzz attack is still driving him nuts. He flails wildly at the incoming squadrons like King Kong against the biplanes atop the Empire State Building.
 

Mosquito Battle

 
By killing the laughably few among the countless that are mocking and eating us, Gillies hopes against all hope that "maybe the others will get the message."
When the never-ending winds aren't blasting the rain drops horizontal, they're whipping up sand and dust to find their way through layers of clothing and on to every square inch of skin and into every body orifice.
Welcome to the Arctic, welcome to first-class adventure without the comforts of even coach class.
Describing the charms and challenges of Canada's vast northern expanse is primarily a matter of describing the weather and its ways. Tellingly, perhaps, the Inuit language of Inuktitut has a relatively small vocabulary but is loaded down with more than three dozen words describing what the rest of the world simply refers to as snow.
 

Weather's presence

 
There might not have been any snowfall, but the weather was certainly one of the big ever-present challenges for a Windsor group that returned Monday after a week in the Nunavut barrenlands just south of the Arctic Circle.
The four, members of the local Canadian Historical Aircraft Association's Mosquito Bomber Group, trooped up to the Northwest Territories to salvage what remained of a Second World War era bomber that crash-landed exactly 40 years ago while on a survey mission.
With every broken, twisted and melted bit of the doomed Mosquito airplane recovered and flown out, the members of the expedition all agreed - the mostly foul weather dished up by the Arctic didn't come close to dampening their enthusiasm over a mission accomplished.
 

Paul Squires, Tim Gillies, Larry Leaney and Marvin Fields check to see if a crane can handle the weight of the engine

Paul Squires, left, of Yellowknife, and Windsor's Tim Gillies, Larry Leaney and Marvin Fields check to see if a crane can handle the weight of the engine

Randy Cyr calls home from the Arctic. Using a built-in map and compass, he pointed the phone suitcase toward the nearest satellite and dialled the number

Randy Cyr calls home from the Arctic...
 
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