Feb 19, 2007

Martin Hartwell

I just posted this comment on Sulako's blogsite in response to his excellent story of life as a medevac pilot. It is an interesting, though sad and perplexing story from Canadian aviation history:

For a short summary of a medevac flight gone horribly wrong, check this wikipedia entry: Martin Hartwell

This was one of the most famous air search and rescue missions in Canadian aviation history. At one point the search was called off, and it was only through determined lobbying by Mr. Hartwell's friends that it resumed.

A year or so later, Hartwell showed up at the flying school where I worked. He needed some dual time to brush up his skills and re-establish his proficiency to return to work.

I remember him as a shy quiet man and certainly a capable pilot. Sadly, there were jokes made behind his back along the lines that I'd better check his flight bag for salt and pepper shakers before agreeing to fly with him.

Until we face a situation like his, we have no idea what we would do to stay alive.


Anonymous said...

After thirty years as an airline pilot, hopefully I've learned a thing or two...


Apparently not.

This didn't "go horribly wrong". It was caused.

Anonymous said...

I had the privilege to know Martin for several years. We have no right to judge him until we are, ourselves, faced with the same life or death decisions. BTW, he had 2 broken legs during his ordeal.

George Chase

Aluwings said...

George, I agree - thanks for commenting.

Anonymous - Why take a cheap shot from under the cover of the internet? Make your point based on the facts and put your name to it.

Anonymous said...

He flew for a spell in my hometown and was very well like a respected. Survival is paramount when death is not an option.

Anonymous said...

i knew martin very well from my tsay at norman wells
he was a shy loner but friendly

i wrote a short story about matrin in the REDBULLETIN journal
to be found online engl/edition june page 96

Anonymous said...

beeing an active bush pilot in 4 continents including arctic and antarctic and having had a few close calls in the past 45years i often thought of that episode caused by a sequence of events that had a tragic end for all families and martin always trying to do his best and suffered greatly from it all he is not to blame bush flying is still risky jma

Paul nygaard said...

I know these are old posts,but i lost a friend today.i respected marten and he like me as a friend,,
I was a Young pilot who didnt know what i didnt know.
Martin was patient with me an never asked me to do anything out of my comfort zone.
I find it unbelievable how flyers and nonflyers can berate martin personally and professionally from the comfort of their chair in a well-lit room with central heating blowing nicely on them..
Its dispicable..unprofessionable and ignorant!
until yu have flown ww2 technology aircraft,with a directional gyro that precesses as quickly as the wind changes direction,your only navigation aid is hundreds of miles out of range,and when in range floats around like a whiskey compass on a carnival ride,then yu might learn some respect for the skills of a northern pilot.
Throw in poor weather like ice fog and snow with low visability and your best gut instinct about what direction the wind may be coming from and yu may start to get the picture.
Marten did his best with what he had. Did he make mistakes. Maybe,but what pilot in those conditions hasnt at one time or another.the north is not a forgiving playground. Its real.and marten lived it the best he could..
Rest in peace marten.
From paul nygaard