Tuesday night finished on Wednesday. It was well past midnight when I finally had all shopping done, instructions written, arrangements made and everything packed. Always takes longer than you plan. And yes, of course, everyone comes to you with “just one quick question” ignoring the big note on the door “I am not available”.
The same Wednesday morning, woken up by the excitement (and the worry about the weather briefing) rather than the alarm, I was soon on my way to the airport. Flight services’ briefing was in a nutshell “Mam, you would need to either drive or take a commercial flight today”. As if either was an option! After a couple of weeks of severe clear weather, we were paying a rainy price for it right now. If I could get out of the Vancouver Lower Mainland, the rest was easy. Weather cameras showed some blue holes in the clouds in Hope area, so I decided to give it a shot.
Departure was a mix of excitement and worry.
Taking off from Boundary Bay and making it at 1000’ eastbound, then going on top of the first layer – all started not bad. But the camera lied and approaching Hope, there was not a chance to go on top of the second layer of clouds. In fact, the two layers started closing in on me. And with mountains ahead was just not a desirable combination. I went back and landed in Chilliwack airport. Well, 40 miles progress is better than nothing, right?
Shortly after I saw a familiar plane land. Ross Granley, another performer in the Arctic Tour and a friend, just arrived with his Yak! Although the reason for his landing was more of mechanical nature, which always sucks on the road.
Eventually patience paid off! A real blue hole in the sky developed, and I did not delay the take off. By 5000’ I was well on top of all cloud layers and headed Northbound.
Beauty truly starts at home!
By Lillouet area, clouds became well scattered. Some isolated thunderstorms in Prince George area were easy to fly around. And thanks to extra 5 gallons of fuel I added in Chilliwack, I was able to make it to MacKenzie non-stop. This is one of my favorite fuel stops! Not only the fuel here is almost 50 cents per liter cheaper than in Prince George, but the friendliest FBO manager ever Vicky would offer you an ice cream!
Quick refuel, and I was on my last leg to Rainbow Lake. For a moment I hesitated – with all the weather delays it was already approaching 5pm, which is 6pm Alberta time. And I was departing for another 2.5h leg into the mountains. It would not combine well with the night time. Checked Foreflight, and it told me the next sunset 2250. I totally forgot how far North I was and how little night time is here. Soon there will be none at all!
Crossing over the Rockies was beautiful.
And I was happy to rejoin our team upon arrival to Rainbow Lake.
Evening was short after a long day. Warning signs are to be taken seriously.
This is a summary of the day:
Canadian Arctic Aviation Tour so far:
Distance flown: 642 nautical miles