By: Jodi Westrick
Contributed by Betsy Sanner Ayala
Flemming Bisgaard is the head of Bisgaard Trading in the heart of Ilulissat, Greenland right in Disko Bay. He has been a pilot for Air Greenland for over two decades and is one of about half a dozen specially designated pilots who fly the Sikorsky helicopter, which acts as an ambulance in the air.
For approximately six months out of the year he is on call for any emergency that may arise in all of Greenland. Last year when we were filming in Greenland, a very unfortunate event happened where four people were flown into Nuuk in a helicopter from Siorapaluk, which is over 1,000 miles away from Nuuk by air. Due to a terrible case of botulism from eating Kiviak, or auk birds preserved in the hollowed-out body of a seal, one elderly man died. The unknowingly bad Kiviak was then served at his funeral where it was eaten again, and his daughter died. Flemming and his fellow pilots are on call for such emergencies.
Flemming was also the head of operations for the Ice Cold Gold crew when we shot in Ilulissat, serving Josh Feldman and Eric Drummond.
1) Where are you from? How would you describe the town where you live?
I was born just a few hundred meters from the coast of the North Sea in a small fishing town called Jutland, Denmark. That’s probably why I had such a good feeling about Ilulissat, Greenland. I had my first job in Greenland in 1995 where I worked as an apprentice for a (black)smith. Soon after I started my helicopter pilot education, and was hired the year after on the Sikorsky helicopter in Ilulissat. I have been working 3 weeks on and 3 weeks off ever since.
The Town of Ilulissat is the most perfect and special place. Normally the weather is very good, and the sun shines almost 24 hours a day during the four summer months. There are a lot of fishing activities in Ilulissat with 4,500 citizens and about 3,000 dogs. All the sled dogs are used only for working. When it’s tourist season the town becomes very active with lots of cruise ships and many visitors.