Growing up in Tasiilaq, Greenland’s largest town on the east coast with 2000 people, Aputsiaq Kristensen spent his childhood doing ‘crazy things’ with a father who fueled his thirst for adrenaline.

“I inherited the active and explorer gene from my alaala (East Greenlandic for father). Since I was one-and-a-half years old, I’ve been skiing and snowboarding, and have even gone to Norway and Canada to represent Greenland in competitions.”

"...I’ve been skiing and snowboarding, and have even gone to Norway and Canada to represent Greenland in competitions.”

“When I was thirteen I built my own jump ramp for a snowmobile and placed it on a football field..."

Building stuff in Tasiilaq

While it’s always fun to travel overseas, Kristensen says that he was lucky to grow up in Tasiilaq. With a boat and a snowmobile, he was able to get around and explore the surrounding areas easily enough. And he could always build and create stuff.

“When I was thirteen I built my own jump ramp for a snowmobile and placed it on a football field. Then I had to collect enough snow to allow for the jumps,” he said with a smile, continuing, “I still make big boy toys such as a wake skate – it’s a wakeboard, like a snowboard but for towing on water. That’s just one of many things.”

Education in Greenland

This hands-on approach to adventure also paved his education path.

“It’s very difficult to get education opportunities in Tasiilaq, but it was also difficult to leave my home”, Kristensen said.

In order to get education above middle school, the youth of Tasiilaq must travel far and wide to study. Kristensen moved to Sisimiut on the west coast to go to gymnasium (high school), choosing it for its endless snowmobiling adventures. Now at 21 years-old, he’s based in Greenland’s capital, undertaking a 4.5 year flight technician apprenticeship with Air Greenland. In his second year, he shifts between gaining practical experience in the hangars of Nuuk to a theoretical education in a technical college in Hvidovre, Denmark. 

“It’s very difficult to get education opportunities in Tasiilaq, but it was also difficult to leave my home”

“I’ve always been pushing myself to understand how things work inside out, so it is pretty cool to learn about helicopters in this way..."

Helicopters are the lifeline

“It’s been fun so far, I’ve learnt a lot,” Kristensen said. “Last year I helped out in a major inspection of a helicopter. We had to strip down a Bell 212 model, remove all the parts, inspect it and then put it back together for a test flight. It’s important to know how they are built, what they do and how they fly.

This detailed understanding of how things work is just part of the comprehensive training that the Air Greenland apprentices go through, as aviation is one of the strictest and most regulated businesses in the world. And it suits Kristensen well.

“I’ve always been pushing myself to understand how things work inside out, so it is pretty cool to learn about helicopters in this way. I like to design based on the knowledge I’ve gathered from working with things, so I have fantasized about building my own helicopter or an airplane from the bottom up. And one day, I’d like to take an education to fly too,” Kristensen muses.

Considering how dependent Tasiilaq is of the chopper, it is fitting that this young apprentice is fascinated by these lifelines of Greenland. 

“Helicopters fly to more places than planes in Greenland, and are used more in field work and also heli skiing tours. It would be awesome to be part of that. My hometown of Tasiilaq is a beautiful place with high mountains and lots of good untouched snow. It is a gorgeous place to heliski, so perhaps one day I can combine my passion with being outdoors and building things with helicopters and flying one day.” 

“Helicopters fly to more places than planes in Greenland, and are used more in field work and also heli skiing tours..."