DA20-C1 ferry flight from Ontario to BC




August has proven to be a very busy month and the weather has been good.

I managed to schedule a few days to go and pick up a Diamond DA20-C1 'Evolution' up from Ontario with a WestJet departure on Monday morning 14th August.
I took the bus and the SkyTrain to Vancouver Airport early on Monday morning... I went to the self serve check-in and it told me it was too early to check-in for my flight. What?
I queued and went to see the agent.
My flight had been canceled and there was no room on the next flight to Calgary which was full and I would not make my connection, and so I was canceled until the next day!
A severe hail storm had rattled Calgary with golfball sized hail stones the night before and so flights were canceled!
The check lady gave me my boarding passes for the next day and vouchers for breakfast, but I looked at my bus ticket and there was still time on it to get the Skytrain back to Richmond so I skipped this offer.
If my bus ticket had expired I would be due to pay $8.50 to go home from the the airport and so I chose to go.
The ticket would expire before I got on the bus and so I bought another $3.75 ticket for two zones at Bridgeport station.

I did not waste the day... I flew to Sechelt and finished the check time required to get Matthew off solo in his RV9A.
So instead of going to Ontario I did Boundary Bay - Sechelt - Nanaimo - Qualicum Beach - Sechelt - Squamish - Boundary Bay.

I repeated my journey to the airport on Tuesday morning.
I noted that Hawkair were departing from the next gate to my flight and had a feeling I'd run into Steve who was a former CFI at Boundary Bay but who now has a job flying for Hawkair. We chatted for a while and this passed the time.

I was given a window seat in row 12 (F) for both legs to Calgary and to Kitchener - Waterloo. This is the best seat if you need legroom.
This is also the emergency exit seat and I was surprised when I saw the exit opens outwards rather than inwards (and then throw it out) as I've seen on other aircraft. The flight attendant believed all emergency exits worked this way and had a slight argument with me about it!

At Kitchener-Waterloo I wandered into the Flight School where I did a deal to buy two Katanas a couple of years ago.
John from Aviation Unlimited came to pick me up and to introduce me to the DA20-C1 I was to ferry back.

As ever I found a snag on the aircraft. There was play in the noseleg elastomer pile (I'd replaced one of these myself in a Katana in Thailand). Not a deal breaker, but the next morning I talked to the mechanics about it and decided to ensure all my landing would be soft gentle greasers while protecting the noseleg... That's what the elevator is for isn't it?


Wednesday morning at 17:13z I'm on my way westwards

When I fly across time zones I write and log the time as 'z' (GMT/UTC) as there is less danger of a mix up.
The wheels left Kitchener - Waterloo's runway 14 at 17:13z and I headed westbound at 3,000 feet.
Toronto Centre gave me flight following on 135.30 pointing out the heavy rain from the towering cumulus either side of my track.
At 17:44z I was approaching Lake Huron and so I climbed to 4,500 feet to cross it.
The weather was 'sky clear' across the lake.

Next stop was to be Minneapolis Flying Cloud Airport (KFCM).
Airborne from Oshkosh (22:20z) I once again contacted Millwaukee on 127.00 for flight following who told me first to squawk 4650 and then 6216 and at 22:35z I was passed to Minneapolis Center on 124.40. At 22:52z I was being lost on their Radar and so I was told to squawk 1200 (VFR) and try again on 125.30 when south of Eau Claire.
My log shows us crossing the Chippewa River at 23:40z....

We crossed the Mississippi River and threaded our way around the southern part of Minneapolis's airspace and into Flying Cloud Airport.

There are three FBOs at Flying Cloud and it was suggested that Premier Jet had Diamonds and so I went there.
Very posh, and it was $50 per night for hangarage... I looked at the western sky and the approaching Cb I knew was in there and decided it was best to hangar the aeroplane.
Thunder, lightening, and rain did indeed pass through later in the evening but not so bad as the nasty storm in Calgary that caused Monday's WestJet flight to be cancelled.

I looked at the hotels in the region and chose the Hampton in Eden Vale which on the map appeared to be near several places to eat!
It wasn't, and typical for such places in US city environs built to accommodate cars and not pedestrians, it wasn't actually close to anything.
I walked across the highway to a Subway, it was empty, then I walked over a bridge across a freeway to a shopping area and bought myself a sandwich and an iced lemon green tea in the coffee place just before it closed at 21:00.

The wheels left Aberdeen's runway at 18:16z... I'd picked up two small water bottles and a Twix for enroute survival.
'Into a headwind fly low', except this meant a very bumpy ride as I worked the streets of clouds for lift with descents in the blue bits between 3,000 and 3,500 feet.
In the lift we could speed up or climb to descend at speed through the areas of sinking air.
Power setting was by throttle position and not by RPM as the speed and the altitude were variable!

It was hard work even after I'd climbed to 4,500 feet north of Fort Yates.

We landed at Dickinson North Dakota (KDIK) at 20:12z and I added 10.85 US Gallons of Avgas to fill the tank again.
It's not bad for an aeroplane averaging 115 Knots groundspeed with a headwind.

I drank a vitamin water drink and ate a cake out of the vending machines before taxying out at Dickinson for a takeoff at 21:07z.
The headwind was moderating as I was entering a calmer quadrant of the high pressure area and so we climbed to 8,500 feet to enjoy a smoother ride enroute to Glasgow... Then I didn't get to Glasgow!
I was talking to Salt Lake Center for flight following and she asked me if I'd read the NOTAM... Er, no!
It turned out Glasgow was closed for runway resurfacing and what do I want to do now?

I fidgeted with the maps... Centre suggested going to Williston... Yes I could go back a bit, but that's not ideal. I decided to go ahead to Wolf Point - Clayton which while being a bit short of the distance I'd hoped to make, it did have fuel, and I could re-plan on the ground.
I diverted to Wolf Point - Clayton (KOLF) and landed there at 22:26.
I added 7.5 US Gallons of Avgas... Now I needed the Great Falls sectional... I'd hoped to pick this map (missing from my collection) up at Glasgow and here I was, somewhere in Montana without the means to navigate beyond Glasgow!
Then I discovered all I needed was the Canadian, Regina and Calgary VNC maps which had enough of the US south of the border for me to carry on westwards. I had these with me :)

I was shown where the key and the sign out sheet was for one of the two courtesy cars provided by Montana's Aviation community.
I took the van down to the town, took a room in the Super 8 motel, and walked to the local pub where grilled liver and onions with mash potatoes and veggies was the special. A British delicacy!
I had a glass of the local beer to wash this down.

Thursday night's phone calls reminded me that I had bookings back at Boundary Bay on Friday and where was I?
But trips like this take time, and I was already a day late because of the hail storm in Calgary on Sunday.
Nevertheless the weather was good and I woke up to have a good breakfast.
The microwave was very efficient, and my porridge exploded in it!

At Cut Bank I left $20 for the use of the courtesy car and then I added 14 US Gallons of Avgas to the aeroplane and the tank was full. 14 USG for 2.5 hours airborne = 5.7 GPH which is very good for 120 knots cruising! Fuel was $5.80 per USG which is $1.52 per litre or between 30 and 50 cents a litre cheaper.

I was able to file my eAPIS 'Notice of Departure', request Canada Customs at Cranbrook, and file my flight plan in time for a departure at 15:30z.
In the end I was airborne five minutes late at 15:35z, but this did not matter as I arrived only one minute late at Cranbrook at 17:01z.
I crossed the 49th parallel bang on time at 16:30z at 49N and 11437.33W.

I climbed to 8,500 feet out of Cut Bank aiming for the pass shown on my map, and I contacted Great Falls radio to open my flight plan and get a cross border squawk code.
As I approached the mountains I climbed again to 10,500 feet for an easy ride over the lower peaks before descending again to 8,500 feet and then gently into the valley where Cranbrook is situated.
'Made a slant base/final approach to 34 for an almost on time landing.

Last Leg

I phoned Canada Border Services Agency and was given a report number for my entry back into Canada.
Then I went for the obligatory pee and bought a bottle of water for the final leg of my journey.

At Cranbrook fuel was $79.82 for 38 litres or $2.07 per litre, $8 per US Gallon so about $2.20 more than Cut Bank!
I take it back, I've saved a lot of money on petrol flying across the USA! (Around $200 saved).

I'd flight planned to takeoff from Cranbrook at 17:40 for a two and a half hour flight to Boundary Bay. But a few people chatted to me... A Jazz Airlines pilot who had once taught in the two Katanas I picked up in Kitchener Waterloo a couple of years ago, and a group of CASARA people from Winnipeg who were asking about mountain flying...
So I was finally airborne at 17:53z, just 13 minutes late, and climbing leaned half way for an additional 80 RPM in the climb back up to 8,500 feet in the direction of St Mary Lake.

Cranbrook Radio gave me a squawk code, 0040, I was surprised at this but kept it throughout my trip westwards.

The ride was smooth with the odd bump of sink or of lift. I sought the lift and made good use of it!

It was bumpy as I passed high over Penticton.

I stayed high passing Hope over the mountains to the south of the field and then taking a gentle descent into the Lower Mainland to be at 3,500 feet near Mission and 2,400 feet to pass over Langley before approaching the Nikel where CZBB tower recognised the squawk code I'd been given at Cranbrook and told me to join right base for 30.
I landed at Boundary Bay at 20:24 after 2 hours and 31 minutes in the air. In other words I was a whole minute later than I should have been! I'd flight planned for only 2 hours 30 minutes.

In the journey logbook I registered 17.1 hours in the air and 19.2 hours on the Hobbs meter.

I stayed in a Comfort Inn, $105 a night and took a $45 taxi ride to the airport on the Wednesday morning.
I needed to see the mechanics who'd inspected the aeroplane and to advise them on what I'd found. The response was that the play was within limits (Sea Land Air Flight Centre does not allow any play as a rod can be bent and this is more expensive), the maintenance was not to a standard I'm used to, but it was nothing I have not seen before.

Usually the vendor ensures the aeroplane has a full tank of fuel when it is picked up. This was the case when I picked the Scirocco up from California a couple of weeks before, but this was not the case now! I added 64 litres of fuel and paid $127.52.
I bought a brick (aka The Canada Flight Supplement) from the flight school so I would have up to date airport information.

I had with me the maps to fly north over the lakes to Thunder Bay on to Winnipeg and across the Prairies... But it seemed to me that the southern route would be interesting and offered more airfields on the way.
I decided to file an eAPIS, a flight plan, contact US Customs, and then fly into Saginaw Michigan.

I noticed that no air was coming from the vent on my side and made a note on my pad to check it out.
Later I found the scat hose that delivers this air was not connected to the other side of the vent! I wondered if anything else was unattached in this aeroplane!

As I approached Saginaw ATC told me they had closed my flight plan.
I slipped in for my first greaser landing of this trip at 18:41z. As I say all landings were to protect the noseleg on this flight!
I taxied to the FBO, hangar 4 and the Customs bloke came out to ask me some questions, check my documents, and I was cleared for entry into the USA. 10 USG were added.

I had noted the blackness of the exhaust before my departure and so I leaned the mixture throughout this trip and now it's a healthy sandy colour.

The FBO had water, and I was given a banana and a RiceKrispies bar for enroute rations.
I was hoping to buy some US maps, but they had none. Instead I was able to download and print the information I needed on their computer.

We left theground at Saginaw at 19:49z and climbed to 3,000 feet.
Minneapolis Center provided flight following.
I approached Lake Michigan and climbed to 4,500 feet to cross it on a direct route to Oshkosh. Millwaukee Center now provided flight following until I was on a straight in approach to Oshkosh.

The wheels touched gently onto Oshkosh's runway at 21:38z.
I added 8 USG ($43.97) but this only filled the tank to about 7/8 full. The FBO here did have nearly all the maps I needed and so I bought them. Even with a GPS it's nice to fly finger on the map tracing one's progress across the country.

Cities in the US do not always have an easily accessible heart and so it's a lonely wander that a visitor such as me takes.
I have been to many places with heart in this world... I understand why people need to feel they belong perhaps to a sports team fan club, or to a church, where they can feel comfortable with allegedly like mnded people
.
It's perhaps one reason why 80% of Americans go to church and 80% of Brits don't! Britains cities have the brilliant invention known as a Public House where strangers are not that way for long as they are part of society without conforming to a particular team or church.

In the morning I ate a good breakfast, printed off the information on airports I would need for the day's flying, and got a ride in the hotel's free shuttle back to Flying Cloud Airport.

It's always good to get local knowledge from pilots who fly in the area within which you would pass.
Mike at Premier Jet gave me some advice and we worked on a flight plan on the internet.
I would route to Aberdeen, then Dickinson, and then Glasgow before crossing the border and on to Lethbridge.... That was the plan!

The ATIS reported 2,500 feet overcast and I was airborne under it after taking off at 15:26z.
Once again I had flight following for only part of my flight to Aberdeen and I had to contend with a quartering headwind all the way.

Aberdeen (KABR) AWOS was 330/16G21, 4,700 feet Broken, temperature 18 dewpoint 7, 3013".
We landed at 17:37 and added 11.5 US Gallons of Avgas.

I went fo a pee, said hello to the lady in the airport building and then I was off to Harve, taking off at 23:06z.
Once again I contacted Salt Lake Center for flight following but they soon lost me on Radar and I was on my own at 00:06z.
Airfields in this area were on 122.80 and there was the occasional calls - chat - and parachute dropping notification on this frequency.

We landed at Harve at 00:38z and taxied in... There was nobody there.
I'm tired and I'm hungry and bugger it I'm going to Cut Bank it's only another hour.
Takeoff was at 00:47z and I headed in the smooth air westbound with the lowering Sun.

I thought I'd check out Shelby, close to the highway to Lethbridge and Calgary, there must be a place to stay...
Looking down at 01:30z I saw no-one there either... So I continued.

It was 01:46z when after an orbit over the town we landed at Cut Bank. That's enough for the day.
A few blokes turned up with stands for spectators to watch the cars and aeroplanes during the weekend's automobile and aeroplane fly-in/drive-in show.
I walked into the airport building and discovered that Cut Bank was built in 1942 as a B17 training base. There were museum artifacts from this time; it was a very pleasant place to be.
US Customs turned up, but not for me. They were there to see in a Cessna Conquest bringing miners home from Canada.


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