Segments in this Video

Bush Flying (07:25)


Johnny May recalls the search for a woman who had fallen from a sled. The Inuit descend from people who migrated from Siberia thousands of years ago. About 12,000 live in Nunavik.

Eskimo E8-606 (03:39)

May recalls his first visit to Black Point, while on a hunting trip with his father, Bob Martin May. May discusses his father working for the Hudson’s Bay Company and adapting to a challenging region.

Nunavik Lifestyle (02:25)

May discusses his childhood at Black Point and describes travel in the past. William Tagoona and Louisa Berthe-May, May’s brother-in-law and wife, recall enduring cold, hunger, and disease.

Interracial Relationship (06:14)

May’s sister, Mary May-Simon, describes her father as “an intelligent and determined man” who quit the Hudson’s Bay Company because of its policy regarding white men marrying Inuit women. May recalls his grandmother and an ill-fated sled trip.

Forced Assimilation (07:27)

May discusses breaking his clavicle at the age of five. Bob Martin May’s journals document daily life with the Inuit and the end of their old way of life. May-Simon remembers being punished for speaking her native tongue.

Traumatic Experiences (07:33)

The May children did not have the same rights government-provided education. Berthe-May recalls her boarding school and describes a racist dentist. Adults who bear the psychological scars of this era are known as the Lost Generation.

Inuit Activism (04:55)

Tagoona describes meeting his brother-in-law in 1973. May describes the incident that inspired him to become a pilot and his flight training as a teenager.

Atrocity in Nunavik (03:46)

May recalls changes that occured at home while he was at flight school, including the massacre of sled dogs by government officials. He describes the pros and cons of snowmobiles in the region.

"Pengo Pally" (06:21)

May describes improvements that came with the bush pilots and how flying was different during his early career. Berthe-May describes the impact of her husband's career on her daily life.

Legendary Bush Pilot (05:43)

The Mays’ daughter, a hospital manager, visits. May’s familiarity with the region. He recalls resuscitating a child and an accident that nearly led to his own death.

Indigenous-Owned Airline (05:37)

May serves on the board of Air Inuit, whose planes are emblazoned with May’s love note to his wife. Its parent company manages royalties for Nunavik’s natural resources. May takes special interest in young pilots from Nunavik.

City vs. Traditional Life (07:36)

Many Inuit see Montreal as a promised land. Over 40% of the population in Nunavik lives below the poverty line. The region suffers from a housing shortage, high crime, infant mortality, and high dropout and suicide rates. Author Jean Désy speaks of a growing identity crisis.

Outside Influences (05:42)

Désy discusses the elements, air quality, and “a special kind of light” that exist in the North. The Inuktitut language is making a resurgence, but the Inuit are increasingly becoming a culture of consumers. Companies covet the region’s natural resources.

Natural Resources (04:20)

Changing conditions have led to a project dedicated to harvesting Nunavik’s resources sustainably. May discusses the impact that global climate change has had on the region.

Community Acknowledgement (05:05)

May is recognized for his service after flying more than 34,000 hours and many rescue missions. He reenacts a tradition, called the candy drop.

Credits: The Wings of Johnny May (02:05)

Credits: The Wings of Johnny May

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The Wings of Johnny May

DVD (Chaptered) Price: $179.95
DVD + 3-Year Streaming Price: $269.93
3-Year Streaming Price: $179.95



Johnny May is the first Inuit bush pilot in Nunavik and a legend among his people. During the 34,000 hours of flight time he's logged, May has lived through adventures worthy of the novels of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, and has had an extraordinary view of transformation in the Arctic from his perch in the sky. He has watched as the Inuit went from nomadic life to a sedentary existence, and as climate change has melted the permafrost. But throughout the upheaval Johnny May has witnessed over the years, one thing remains constant: May's deep love for his wife, Louisa. Since his earliest days in the air, his plane has sported the same Inuktitut message for her: Pengo Pally, which means, "I miss you." The Wings of Johnny May is an airborne documentary that sweeps us into the northern skies to discover a unique culture through the eyes of an exceptional man.

Length: 84 minutes

Item#: BVL190494

Copyright date: ©2013

Closed Captioned

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