YELLOWKNIFE, NWT — Canadian North Airlines bid farewell to its last Boeing 737-200, a unique jet aircraft designed to land on gravel airstrips, with a final flight on May 6. Typically, jet planes are not designed for gravel runways as flying debris can damage the undercarriage or be ingested by the engines.

 However, the 737-200 can be retrofitted with a special kit from Boeing, enabling the installation of gravel deflectors, reinforced protection, and engine modifications to keep debris out.

Despite the kit's effectiveness for northern airports, it is unavailable for newer models, and sourcing parts for the 200-series planes has become increasingly difficult. Canadian North once operated up to six 737-200s, but now the last one, fleet number 584, also known as the "Spirit of Yellowknife," completed its final journey on Saturday, May 6, 43 years after its construction and over two decades after its acquisition by the airline.

The final flight, from Yellowknife to Cambridge Bay, was piloted by Captain Dawn Macfarlane, whose father, Captain Cecil Hansen, picked up the aircraft from Boeing Field in Seattle in 1980 when it was purchased by Dome Petroleum for Arctic exploration. Canadian North marked the occasion with a private ceremony at the airport, celebrating the legacy of the 737-200, which began and ended its service in the Arctic.

Canadian North is a wholly Inuit-owned airline based in Kanata, Ontario, providing scheduled passenger services to communities in the Northwest Territories, Nunavut, and the Nunavik region of Quebec, as well as southern destinations including Edmonton, Montreal, and Ottawa. The company's slogan is "Fly the Arctic."