Flight Journal: Flying the Big Radial’s Norseman in northern Ontario

Back in the Big Radials Noorduyn Norseman for this flight journal. This time I’m skipping halfway across Canada to northern Ontario for reasons that will become clear soon. This journey is an out and back flight simulating the kind of supply drop that a Norseman could have undertaken in some of the northern communities during its heyday. Let’s get to the mission at hand!

Seaplane operations

The Province of Ontario in Canada is the second largest province in the country and its official size is 1.076 million km². You could easily fit Germany and France inside the borders of Ontario and still have room to fit in Portugal and Belgium with still some room to spare. While most may be familiar with Toronto or Ottawa, cities in the south of the province and in the most populated area in Canada, the northern part of the province is a very different place. It’s here, at Saulte Ste. Marie, that my journey begins.

Dominated by Canadian shield rock, home to old mountains and hills that have been smoothed out over millions of years of erosion, and carved by the last ice age into many thousands of small lakes, this is a sparsely populated part of the province although ironically its still just about halfway to the most northern part of the province.

Flying the north

Starting from Sault Ste. Marie waterfront, a seaplane base in MSFS, I wanted to try out the Norseman in a supply drop to a community located over 120km to the north called Chapleau. While Sault Ste. Marie is well populated (73,000), the town of Chapleau has just over 1,000. It’s well known for its game preserve and fishing. It’s serviced by road in modern times but in the early days it was primarily rail and then airplanes that helped connect the community. All three are essential in modern times.

Picking a seaplane variant, I started up the Norseman and used the deployable water rudder to position the airplane for a takeoff. Ahead of me on the water is the Sault Ste. Marie international bridge. On the left is the United States, on the right, Canada. The Norseman has a long takeoff run with the float version (both in sim and in real life) so the challenge was to make sure I was airborne before the bridge. It ended up being a bit closer than I expected.

Soon I was climbing, gently, and heading north to my destination!

In the back were some crates for delivery. Outside the window, brooding skies and thick clouds at multiple levels.

After a lengthy cruise, I arrived at Chapleau and set about landing the airplane. First, I identified the lake to land on and did a pass over the area to make sure that I had the area scouted out. Then I circled around and brought the aircraft in for a smooth landing flying low over the land and giving myself the maximum amount of water to land on.

It’s not present in MSFS but there is a dock here and a designated seaplane base located in the downtown. There’s some other quirks here as the water isn’t entirely flat and conforms to some of the geometry in the area. It’s not a huge problem but it is a bit quirky.

After dropping off cargo and picking up some passengers I taxiied the aircraft back down the lake to the point where I landed it. Again, with a long takeoff run (although unburdened by heavy cargo), the aircraft needed as much room as I could give it. And so I set about taking off with my getting airborne just in the nick of time. Phew!

With rain closing in all around I flew the Norseman all the way back to Saulte Ste. Marie and did a very special fly over before landing the airplane successfully.

A very fun flight in the Big Radials Norseman! Full review is coming later this week!


5 Comments Add yours

  1. CC says:

    Your blog is very interesting I love flying 👏


    1. ShamrockOneFive says:

      Thanks for reading! I love flying and flight simulations quite a bit myself ☺️

      Liked by 1 person

      1. CC says:

        I plan to learn soon 🙂 oh really I should look into that

        Liked by 1 person

  2. CanadaOne says:

    Good thing you went now before the blackflies. No way you could outrun them in that thing. They would have got into the cabin and chewed you to the bone.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. ShamrockOneFive says:

      I have experienced this before! Nothing like being bitten by a black fly and having a chunk of your skin flown away!


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