by Kyle Artelle
The field crew has just ended the final round of helicopter sites. I stayed on terra firma for this round, and as such the past few days have taken on a more relaxed pace. With my feet firmly on the ground and with time to reflect on the weeks gone by my head has been in the clouds (apologies for the cheesy mixed metaphor) thinking back to the first two rounds of helicopter travel when I was fortunate enough to be part of the heli-crew. Fond memories of these experiences quickly transitioned to an appreciation for the man who made them possible, a long-time Raincoast supporter and team member named Don Arney.
Don is a fascinating man who would make a great protagonist in a book or perhaps a made-for-TV movie series. He’s a brilliant inventor by trade, an extremely well-practiced and established transcendental meditator, and a friend and mentor to the entire crew. Each year he graciously donates not only his baby, a dapper, fuel-efficient little chopper named Gizmo, but also the fuel to fly us all around the Great Bear Rainforest and his time and expertise in bringing us to some unimaginably remote and otherwise inaccessible sites in the heart of coastal grizzly bear territory. The attached photos only hint at the kinds of places his fabulous machine allows us to access, and the incredible piloting skills involved in the process.