The Noorduyn Norseman whose familiar engine sounds out across the waters and through the skies above Red Lake, Ontario and many other small northern towns is a vintage Canadian aircraft - as legendary as its namesake Scandinavian warriors.
Designed by Dutch born R.B.C.Noorduyn specifically to tackle the needs of Canada’s varied seasons and terrain, the storied aircraft has proven versatile enough to gather accolades for many different services over the years and tough enough to fight it’s way into the 21st century as a working aircraft.
Noorduyn designed it to be a bush plane. That’s where it first gained it’s reputation and that’s where it has returned now as a working aircraft. Most of the approximatley two dozen Norsemans still currently in service fly anglers and other tourists into pristine lakes beyond roads’ end - or they ferry workers and supplies to remote exploration camps trying to find Canada’s next mine. A few fly privately for collectors and others who appreciate what they are and what they have done.
Along the way, Norsemans took families to their winter hunting and fishing grounds: delivered supplies, mail and health services to many northern communities and to many Hudson’s Bay outpost stores; took the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in pursuit of justice across Canada’s north; fought forest fires; and experimented with water bombing and in-flight pick-up of military personnel. They also served as air ambulances and military transports during WWII, which earned them fans throughout Europe and recognition as one of the top 10 utility aircraft in the world.
Red Lake and the Norseman were made for each other. The town was and is an end-of-the-road community, supplying many smaller communities further north with goods and services. It is located within reasonable distance of almost countless small lakes boasting excellent fish and wildlife populations. It is also home to some of Canada’s richest and most long lived gold mines and some of the most promising mineral opportunities in the country. The Norseman, with its reputation for hard work and low maintenance, was the aircraft of choice for many. Eventually people looked around and realized that there were more Noorduyn Norsemans flying there than anywhere else - and Red Lake became known as the Norseman Capital of the World.
Although the world is changing, Red Lake is still a town where working and recreational aircraft are in high demand. And although Beavers, Beech 18’s, Otters, Cessnas, Cubs and others have joined it in filling the skies, the Norseman is still a ffixture in Red Lake.
Together they form a critical mass for the ongoing celebration of small aircraft - and the annual Norseman Festival.