Adlair Aviation goes all the way back to 1956, when German-born Willy Laserich decided to take his commercial pilot’s license, and his new bride Margaret, to the great white north. Their children- Paul, Joann and Rene, were born in the north. He began his aviation career in the Northwest Territories and by 1966, Willy and Margaret had made their permanent home in Cambridge Bay, Nunavut. The early years were very lean; the main priority was being able to afford to put fuel in the aircraft so that Willy could bring much needed supplies and groceries to the remote communities of the arctic. The Laserich’s quickly became well liked community members and were known throughout the North as trustworthy, honest, and compassionate people- embracing the Inuit culture and experience that was the north. Willy and Marge adopted their fourth child, Bessie Tologanak, in 1969.
Family of Fliers
The sons, Rene and Paul, both went to flight school as soon as they were old enough to fly (even though all three children practically spent more time in a flight deck than they did in school). After battles with Transport Canada and major competitors, and several aircraft types later, by 1983 the Laserich family had pulled together a small fleet of aircraft and the official name “Adlair” was born (which means “eagle” in Willy’s native-tongue language). Adlair Aviation became the primary air medevac service to the Kitikmeot Region of Nunavut in the central arctic- whenever there was a patient needing emergency transport to a hospital from one of the remote communities (Gjoa Haven, Kugluktuk, Taloyoak, Resolute Bay, Kugaaruk, Bathurst Inlet, Bay Chimo to name a few) Willy and his sons were the first call from the outpost nurses.
Part of the Community
Adlair, to date, has flown over 7500 medevacs. Willy Laserich, alone, completed over 100 search and rescue operations, all out of his own pocket and never submitted a bill to the families of a loved one lost. He was beloved by the Inuit people, and named each one of his aircraft after a respected Inuit elder in the Kitikmeot region. Willy flew until he was 75, his last flight being 2 weeks prior to his passing in November of 2007. Willy was inducted into the Canadian Aviation Hall of fame in June of 2010, nominated by aviation icon Max Ward. In 1996, Willy stopped logging his flight hours in his personal journey log at 44,000- maintaining a perfect safety record in 50 years of flying. He was an extraordinary, outstanding individual with dedicated flight crew, flight nurses, ground support, and family beside him all the way. It is upon Willy and Marge’s exceptional standards which our foundation was formed.
The Laserich family invested their lives in the north, building infrastructure within their Cambridge Bay community. While Willy and Rene were up in the air, Marge took care of all of the meals and accommodations for the flight crew. Joann was the Base Manager, taking medevac calls and dispatch and making sure everything ran smooth. Bessie, a gifted seamstress, made repairs to engine tents and sewed warm clothes for her family and the flight crew. Along with flying around the clock, Rene built two large homes for family and staff accommodation. Rene also built a hangar/shop for the Lear Jet acquired in 1991. This Lear was very special, as it could land on gravel and cut down flight time for medevacs by half. Adlair was also the first charter company to introduce King Air’s to the Kitikmeot. As recently as 2011, Rene completed the second hangar in Cambridge Bay that has the capacity to house the entire Adlair fleet, plus vehicles and equipment- one of the largest hangars in the Kitikmeot Region! A base in Yellowknife was also established by older brother Paul, who built a hangar with executive administrative offices on the upper part of the building. This hangar is where Paul created Diamond Aviation which is still in operation today. Diamond Aviation is a partnership with Adlair that operates the Shell petroleum dealership for refueling aircraft landing in Yellowknife.
Our Word is our Bond
It’s that same passion for pioneering that drives us today. We are still family owned and operated. Paul Laserich was the General Manager of Adlair for many years but since his recent passing in 2011, Rene Laserich (who flew medevacs with his father for over 32 years) has now taken on the role of General Manager in Yellowknife. Ian Blewett, who has flown with Adlair since 1981 and was like another son to Willy, is still on board and is now our Chief Pilot. Jesce Laserich-Walker (Joann’s daughter) has taken on the demanding role as Base Manager in Cambridge Bay. Bryan Laserich (Rene’s son) is an Aircraft Maintenance Engineer for the business and works both in Cambridge Bay and also in Yellowknife, keeping the aircraft up to our highest of safety standards. Adlair is unique amongst the other air charter operations in the north- we proudly maintain the character of the Bush Pilot era, the good old days where a handshake was as good as a contract and the north was the last frontier. Adlair is as northern as an airline can get, since it is in fact the only one actually established north of Yellowknife in the Kitikmeot Region. We think you will enjoy your flying experience with us, you will feel the true spirit of the north- fly with Adlair!