Tuesday, April 10, 2007
Recycling Crashed Aircraft
Way back in the days of the 'Cold War', the Americans and Canadians built a series of radar sites which stretched across the Canadian north. The idea was to provide an early warning for missles coming over the North Pole from the old Soviet Union. The sites together made up the 'Distant Early Warning' system or DEW line, for short. The huge radar towers had another use: providing people like me with a clue to where I was when out on the water!
Everything required for these sites had to be flown in as no roads went to these remote areas. However, not every aircraft landed on the runway as the above photo suggests. This particular one crash landed quite close to the village of Hall Beach where it entered a new supply chain.
Once the military had stripped the aircraft of what they wanted, the local Inuit began using the plane for a variety of items they required. For example, the soft aluminium could easily be worked into harpoon heads. The sheeting from the aircraft's skin made a perfect material for making kudlik, the seal-oil lamp used to heat traditional snow houses and tents in the old days. When we found this old one lying on the beach at Iglujjuaq, we used it to keep the chill and damp out of our tent. Less heavy than the old soapstone versions, it was the perfect portable heating implement!