Only seven men have ever piloted light aircraft over the barren wastes and through the treacherous fogs of the North American arctic. The youngest to do so is Michel St. Arnaud, a 22-year-old French Canadian. Mike was 6 when a bush-flying friend of his father, then a newspaper editor in Trois Riviéres, Quebec, took him up in the jump seat of a Stinson. "From that day on flying was the only thing in my life," Mike recalls. Precisely at 9 a.m. on March 16, 1954, Mike's 16th birthday, he reported for flying lessons. And precisely a year later, the day he became 17, which in Canada is the absolute minimum age for a private pilot, Mike got his license.
Mike's arctic assignment came last summer when he flew a Piper Super Cub 2,000 miles to join a geological expedition at Fort Good Hope inside the Arctic Circle. For the next two months Mike dodged arctic storms, flew over the bleak Beaufort Sea, only 300 miles from the North Pole (no one has ever taken a light plane over the pole itself). When ground-level fog rolled in, Mike flew below land level in dry river beds. Says Mike: "I can't wait to get back there."