In the opening chapter of Gary Paulsen's Hatchet, we learn that Brian is traveling in a Cessna 406, a type of bushplane, also spelled bush plane, to Canada to visit his father for the summer.
Bush planes are private planes used to transport passengers and cargo to remote, rugged areas such as to the wilderness areas of Canada, Alaska, Africa, or Australia. They are great for landing on rugged terrain because they are designed for durability, to be able to land without long runways, and to be able to land on snow or water.
Brian is traveling to Canada because his parents have recently divorced, and the judge has granted Brian's father "visitation rights" during the summers, whereas Brian would be staying with his mother during the school years. Brian was specifically heading to Canada because his father worked in the oil fields of Canada, having just developed a new drill bit:
His father was a mechanical engineer who had designed or invented a new drill bit for oil drilling, a self-cleaning, self-sharpening bit. He was working in the oil fields of Canada, up on the tree line where the tundra started and the forests ended. (Ch. 1)
It is Brian's first time flying in any sort of plane, ever, and, unfortunately, his first flight does not turn out very well. The pilot has a major heart attack, drying and crashing the plane, leaving Brian stranded in the wilderness by a lake, far away from his destination.