Boat in the clouds helps Swede spy on reindeer

Boat in the clouds helps Swede spy on reindeer
A man in northern Sweden uses a rubber boat with wings to get a birds-eye view of his reindeer herd. The Local finds out more about his unusual aircraft and his life in the clouds.

Stig Nordspets, 56, is a self-employed reindeer keeper in Parkalompolo, a community in Sweden’s far north which boasts a grand total of 40 residents (not including reindeer, of course).

While the combination of reindeer, flying, and the Arctic Circle may conjure up images of Santa Claus, Rudolf, and a slew of industrious elves, Nordspets’s work is not all fun and games, and cruising the skies at up to 100 kilometres per hour is hardly for the faint-hearted.

The Local found out more.

The Local: How did you come to think of using a flying boat to keep track of reindeer?

Stig Nordspets I looked around on the internet and saw that a man in Italy had a similar aircraft. So, my thoughts spun away to buying one myself, and that’s where I found this boat, which I bought in Orsa [central Sweden].

TL: Was it your initial idea to use it for reindeer keeping?

SN: Yes, it was, I thought it would be interesting, and it can be rather time consuming to track reindeer on land. Those who want to track them from above normally do so from a hydroplane, but no one that I know of has ever used a flying rubber boat before, so I thought, “Why not?”

TL: Do you ever get frightened being up there alone?

SN: No; it’s a wonderful feeling – I feel free and in charge. I’m so used to it by now. But it can get very unsteady during heavy wind and rain. I’ve never been in danger though, it just gets very difficult to stay up in the air. But when that happens, I just land and wait for the wind or rain to pass.

TL: Why is it so important to herd reindeer?

SN: We need to keep the reindeer tame and manageable because they need to be accustomed to close encounters with humans. You cannot milk a reindeer unless it’s fairly tame. And also, I monitor them from above and report to the reindeer herders on land. It makes the whole process easier.

TL: What do you have planned for your next reindeer-related venture?

SN: I’d like to fly a small gyrocopter sometime, other than that I might look around to see if there’s anything else interesting I can fly.

Derya Aktas

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