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Sandspit, Gateway to Canada's Galapagos, Haida Gwaii,
Queen Charlotte Islands:
by Jerry W. Bird

terrace-prince rupert mapWhen Sandspit's Airport Manager phoned for some additional cartons of Air Highway Traveler Magazine and Supermap, it was a signal that things were cooking up north, and not just Sockeye salmon on the propane grill. Our media marketing plan was "on target" in an important market segment. Why? The clientele at Sandspit Airport in the Queen Charlotte Islands is not made up of your ordinary garden variety passengers. These people are first and foremost outdoor sportsmen from the USA, the Calgary Petroleum Club and Vancouver's Howe Street, who come to the North Pacific to catch big fish. They're not shy about paying top price for their fun. The charter boats, float planes, helicopters - whatever it takes. This is the kind of good news we love to pass on to our advertisers, without whom we could not produce the magazine in the first place. British Columbia.

We had already experienced a good reaction at Prince Rupert, so this was the icing on the cake. It was part of a circulation plan that involved over 30 locations, primarily airports, corporate jet bases, seaplane bases and heliports throughoutLocated off BC's northwest coast, this archipelago, once considered remote, is now easily accessible by air to Sandspit on Moresby Island.

You can also fly to Masset on Graham, Island, or take BC Ferries from Prince Rupert to Skidegate. Made up of the peaks of a submerged volcanic ridge of the continental shelf, the "Misty Islands'. live up to their nickname; local mountains and shores are often shrouded in a mysterious and evocative mist. The rugged and rocky west coast of the island faces the ocean, while the east coast has many broad sandy beaches. Named by British Capt. George Dixon , in 1787, one of the first European explorers of the region, after the wife of George III, the Queen Charlottes contain some of the best examples of temperate rain forests in the world.

For 10,000 year these Islands have been the traditional home of the Haida Indians, skilled carvers and mariners, who paddled their dugout canoes as far as San Francisco. See examples of their art and culture, including beautifully carved totem poles at Haida Gwaii Museum near Skidegate, Ninstints, a United Nations World Heritage Site, is the best preserved totem village in the world. There are over 500 archeological and historical Haida sites.

Canada's Galapagos: The fog-shrouded waters of Haida Gwaii, aboriginal name for the Queen Charlotte Archipelago, teem with sea life, including salmon, herring, halibut, rockfish, mussels, crab, starfish, sea urchin and octopus. Armadas of Gray, Humpback and Killer Whales skip along the surface, and sea-birds abound. Cape St. James is home to large colony of sea lions. Isolation from the mainland has given rise to a unique subspecies of wildlife. Adventurers can head out from Queen Charlotte City or Sandspit to explore this far-flung archipelago, or explore the endless sans dunes of Graham Island's Naikoon Provincial Park. The southern end of Moresby Island is part of Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve and Haida Heritage Site. Reservations are required to visit the area, which is accessible only by boat or plane. The many recreational opportunities include kayaking, sailing, scuba diving and boat charters. Many licensed commercial operators offer various tour packages including visits to ancient Haida villages such as Ninstints. Many fishing charters operate out of these local communities. It's an ocean salmon paradise, with floating resorts and fly-in lodges. The eastern shores of the islands facing the Inside Passage have many broad sandy beaches.

An exciting variety of activities
• Explore ancient Haida cultural sites, such as Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve Site

• View natural history, old-growth rain forests and abundant sea life, birds and mammals.

• Hike into sub-alpine areas, remote lakes and spectacular stream settings.

• Be a "beachcomber" and stroll the many islands in the archipelago's southern reaches

• Relax in the natural hot springs.

• Explore historic mining sites and cannery operations'

• Enjoy canoeing, kayaking and snorkeling in coastal waters

• Discover dozens of excellent photo opportunities.

• Enjoy fishing at the Queen Charlottes floating lodges. Few places in the world offer a better chance of boating a trophy "tyee" a chinook or king salmon of at least 30 lbs. Halibut fishing is also exceptional; most halibut weigh in at 15 to 35 lbs, but they can also be huge - some at over 300 lbs.

For leasing, business opportunities, flight information and airport services, contact Sandspit Airport
(604) 637-5313, Fax (604) 637-5661

Letter from a reader ...

I was browsing the internet looking for an aerial view of the airfield at Sandspit and came across your email address.  My hobby, along with a number of other chaps is flying Microsoft Flight Simulator 2004 (or FS9 as it is also called).  If you are not familiar with it, it does provide a remarkable level of virtual reality.  This afternoon, along with four other chaps we were flying a simulated SAR mission out of Sandspit.  One of the chaps is from the UK and the others are Americans while I am Canadian.  I actually flew out of Sandspit in September 1954 with a crew doing aerial photography.  The airport itself was our primary area.  I was the photo/navigator and officer in charge of the operation.

We, and the aircraft (C-47) were based in Rivers Manitoba.  As the only photo qualified navigator on the base and since we had a photo equipped aircraft, RCAF HQ's would send us jobs to fly that were of lesser priority than the ones 408 Photo Squadron was involved with.  At the time I was a photo interpretion instructor at Rivers and was also the base photo officer.  It was a great situation.  Between instructional duties with courses I had my filing drawer full of photo jobs to be done and an aircraft waiting.  The Sandspit job was one of those.  I had developed a techinique whereby I could pretty well guarantee framing the entire airport property in one frame.

So I was wondering if by rare chance you might have a copy of the overhead vertical photograph we took back in those days.  Since then, according to what I have seen on the internet, Sandspit has grown many fold.  If by chance you do have an aerial vertical photo I wonder if it would be possible to scan it and send me a copy.  My UK "Flight Sim" friend is skilled at embellishing the stock scenery in the simulator and he has already added some scenery to Sandspit using his own imagination.  If he had an actual aerial photograph to work from it would be even better.  1954 was a long time ago, 50 years ago to be more precise.  I am now 76 and have only a vague recollection about where things were around the airport.

I apologize if this seems a frivolous request, but it was worth a try.

Sincerely, Alex Saunders

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