By GA8 Airvan, Toronto to Boundary Bay, May 2014

10th May. Dinner was at a Chinese restaurant. I am always impressed by the joy and happiness the Chinese have for good company and food

11th May
Time for an early morning check flight in the Airvan with Mark Brooks. 1 hour 6 minutes.
I stayed in the Monte Carlo Inn at $101.59 per night.
The Airvan is built to take eight people and so the centre of gravity needs a lot of attention. Flying two up the CG is too far forward unless you put something in the back. This meant buying two 20 litre petrol cans, filling them with water, and putting them behind the rear seats. This brought the CG well into limits, even a little towards the aft limit which is a much better position for cruising flight.
The weather was good for an afternoon departure but David had a dinner invite with his uncle and I was invited out for dinner as well.

12th May
Regrettably the weather was not going to be nice for us today.
The objective was to depart early and fly to Sault Ste Marie. There would be no going over the top into a strong headwind; we fly low into a headwind.
First of all I needed to fill the fuel tanks, we added 229 litres at a cost of $513.39, and I knew I would be in trouble with my credit card.
Fortunately I had a credit card to buy fuel for Teds' Chimunk and Decathlon and he allowed me to supplement the fuel costs by using this card.
The problem with buying fuel and even paying for a hotel room is that they often reserve a larger sum of money on your credit card and this may make it difficult to put additional fuel charges on it.

I walked into the Million Air FBO building and saw an Asian lady there... I recognised her, we had flown the Citabria together off to the west side of Vancouver Island to drop her fathers' ashes in the Pacific so the currents may take them by way of New Zealand home to Japan.

Without some ballast the aeroplane would be too nose heavy - David's i-Pad would be very useful for checking the weather

Takeoff was at 12:30z enroute to Sault Ste Marie. The weather deteriorated as we flew with light rainfall before Tobermory, and all the way up the islands passing Gore Bay and into cold wet Sault Ste Marie with a landing time of 14:48z.

At Sault Ste Marie the tanks took 37.8 litres port, and 105.1 litres starboard [142.9] an obvious imbalance in the fuel flow. $298.74.

We should always try to go as far as we safely can; make as much distance towards your objective as you can.
It was drizerable MVFR all the way to Marathon and we had Wawa as an alternate.
At the time we checked the weather, Wawa was enjoying sunshine!

May is still winter in northern Ontario. I must remember this next time

Takeoff from Sault Ste Marie was at 15:56z and the strong crosswind landing at Marathon was at 17:15z.
Marathon always has a crosswind, and on this day it was a bloody cold one!
After several tries, putting the credit card in the self serve fuel and switching on the pump, we finally located the real switch we needed. This was not helped by the cold.
The tanks took 23 litres in the port tank and 59 litres in the starboard tank. 82 litres cost $184.50.

It was cold and lonely at Marathon... The airport caretaker stopped by in his SUV and said hello, but he was not allowed to take passengers in his vehicle. He suggested we take a taxi to the nearby café as it would be too far to walk.
Two vans turned up at the airfield and the drivers gave us a lift to the café which would not have been a long walk after all. Certainly not a distance worth bringing a taxi out from the town.

We had lunch at Marathon before setting off for Sioux Lookout

After a good lunch, (I had chicken noodle soup), a lady gave us a lift back to the airfield.
The weather onwards was marginal, Thunder Bay would not be reachable, but we could distance ourselves from Lake Superior and its weather by going to Sioux Lookout.
Takeoff was at 19:43z, off with the strong crosswind at a precise ninety degrees to the runway. We climbed to 3,000 feet and flew in the cold air, OAT was -1ºC, and so the drizzle formed ice on the leading edges.
We descended to 2,700 feet and the ice disappeared... Not bad for a 300 foot change in altitude.
Abeam Lake Nipigon at 20:27z it was +1ºC at 2,900 feet.

David took the picture of my slipping approach to Sioux Lookout

Approaching Sioux Lookout in the grot the Flight Service chap said that we would arrive at the same time as a Bearskin Metroliner so I offered to slow down, but then he reckoned we'd get in a couple of minutes ahead if we kept the speed up.
Our approach was close in with a slipping turn to land on the wet runway and clear before the Metro arrived on final. We landed at 21:34z.

An FBO chap gave us a ride to the Forest Inn via another hotel which did not have anyone at the desk... The Forest Inn was in fact the best choice, and we dined there as well.

13th May
In the morning David gave me the bad news that it would be IFR all day, it said so on his i-Pad navigation program.
The breakfast was good, as was the conversations we had with people there. First Nations/Native guys, and a psychologist from Vancouver.

We went for a walk... First to the tourist information office, then to the Slate Falls Airways float plane base where we met Matt, then into the town itself.
The Cessna 150 looked like a lot of fun

It's always interesting seeing historical items

I had lunch in a café, David wasn't enamoured with this place and so we walked back to Tim Hortons for his lunch

Because the weather was likely to be bad all day we had resigned ourselves to staying at the Forest Inn for another night and had kept our rooms.
But during the walk back the sky began to clear and there were a few glimpses of the Sun.
This meant a hotel bill of $180.74 which included a $40 late checkout fee. Next time check out, and if there's no hope check in again later..

30 litres was put in the port tank, and 82 litres was put in the starboard tank, 112 litres, $250.04.
Takeoff was at 21:02z, we were heading for Winnipeg below the cumulus clouds... For a while we went on top at 5,200 feet, but there were mountains up there and a 23 knot headwind.
We dropped back down to 2,500 feet and flew from ray of sunshine to ray of sunshine dodging the rain here and there.

There was a bit of dodgy weather as a last bit of low cloud had to be flown under before it cleared up just after I'd made contact with Winnipeg Arrivals.
This time we were landing at Winnipeg International and we were routed overhead the airport as a regional jet landed below to join left downwind 31 to follow a Dash 8 before landing at 23:20z.

This time I had pushed it and we averaged 69 litres an hour, so 54.6 litres was added to the port tank, and 104.1 litres to the left. $369.27. I added a quart of oil to the engine.
We were given very good service at the Shell Aerocentre, I gave a couple of them Murray Mints as one, (David I believe his name was), is from Cleethorpes in England.
It's a lot better here as instead of an expensive taxi ride, we simply took the hotel bus to the Sandman Hotel.

You can expect good service from FBOs at major North American airports. After dinner we invited Nattacha out for a hot chocolate (chorp Thai girls)

David had left his i-Pad charger at the Louis Riel Hotel on the outbound flight.
We'd met Nattacha at the Sukhotai restaurant and she had picked the charger up for David. This meant a $15 taxi ride to the Sukhotai restaurant for dinner.
This time I ordered 'no pepper' please kao pad gai, chicken and rice.

14th May
This would be a long day....
Light snow drifted down from a 2,200 foot overcast at Winnipeg International Airport, it was very cold... This same day, two provinces over, the temperature would be considerably different.
I ensured the engine had a good warm up before we departed at 16:13z and turned west.
The horizon was a thin sliver of bright blue; through the typical Prairie visibility we could see the good weather ahead.

We flew low into the headwind

At 17:48z I recorded Sky Clear (SKC) on my pad.
A climb to 4,500 feet meant flying in very turbulent air so we descended again.
At 500 feet above ground the ride was much better, but we once again climbed to 4,500 feet as we approached Regina.

Flying over the yellow terrain with a few red bits - passing a modern 'no name' grain elevator

We took the opportunity to do a bit of VOR tracking

Regina was reporting +10ºC, a nice change from the Winterpeg we'd departed.
We were cleared straight in runway 26 and "speed up please!"
We landed at 19:06z after 2 hours and 53 minutes in the air, and taxied over to the Shell Centre.
The left tank took 57 litres, and the right 111 litres, total 168 litres [$322.83].

Airborne from Regina at 20:13z we climbed to 4,500 feet where I wrote "Kangaroo thermals" on my pad... It was rough and so a descent was made hitting one big bump on the way down through 2,800 feet at 21:37z which rearranged the water filled petrol cans tipping them with the ropes restraining them to sit on their fronts with the spouts down... But they did not leak.
The ride was a lot better low level, and this reduced the amount of the headwind.
It was clear all the way to Medicine Hat where we landed at 22:34z.
The left tank took 41 litres, and the right 85.6 litres, 126.6 litres [$260.55].

David wanted to stay at Medicine Hat again, but the weather was good, the day longer as we were going west, and so another two and a half hours would take us as far as Nelson BC which would, I suggested, be a much nicer place to stay.
The temperature at Medicine Hat was +21ºC, a huge difference from Winterpeg the same morning, and this begat a new problem.
I started the engine, it ran, but died with the electric fuel pump switched off... Oh dear, what's wrong with the engine, being stuck at Medicine Hat with a duff engine was not ideal...
I started it again, this time leaving the fuel pump on, and the engine ran rough for several minutes. I considered this to be vapour lock, and this aeroplane seems to suffer very badly from this problem.
After several minutes the engine smoothed out after the bubbles in the fuel system worked their way through.
Yes, the cowl flaps were open!
I did not forget the fuel pump 'on' as we took off from Medicine Hat and headed west towards the Rockie Mountains.

Takeoff was at 23:30z, and we climbed slowly to 6,500 feet which was reached at 23:38z, then up to 8,500 feet reached at 23:57z, and finally 10,500 feet as we crossed the foothills before entering the Rockies north of the Crowsnest Pass.
The idea was to fly direct to Cranbrook and then into Nelson and at 10,500 feet it was an easy ride across the high mountains. At one point we were at 11,000 feet.

Many Empire Air Training Plan airfields still exist

Crowsnest Pass was off to port as we flew direct to overfly Cranbrook

Descent was started soon after St Mary Lake to arrive on schedule at circuit height for Nelson.
The wind favoured 04 and so I flew along the valley past the field, went around the bend and did a split arse turn to come back to the runway.
Landing was at 02:00z (7pm PDT) in good time for dinner.

I'd sent a text to Sebastien (a long time, PPL student) who lives in Nelson and he met us as we tied the aeroplane down.
We went to the Hume Hotel, and then to the Busaba Thai Café where we had the best Thai food of the journey.

Ahan Thai

Normally I walk around, but we found a steep loose stone precarious path short cut to the airfield

15th May
At Nelson I did not fill the fuel tanks, we did not need it, I simply added 103 litres to the right tank only and it was near full. I added another quart of oil to the engine.
We were off at 18:50z... Climbing out I had a pang of worry about the fuel cap... I do these things automatically and don't always remember doing them.

Here's a video taken of our departure from Nelson: The Airvan departs Nelson

A recent incident in the Super Decathlon, where I was doing a lot of inverted flying with a fuel cap missing resulting in landing at Chilliwack with near empty fuel tanks, was in the back of my mind.
In that case I should have double checked the caps after we'd added fuel as I 'nearly' always do, whoever put the fuel in. But it was cold and raining that evening and so I let the side down and got caught for it. As pilot in command it was my responsibility... I know better since one person left the oil cap loose in the Condor and this plasterd the aeroplane in oil... I always check the oil cap after someone else has checked it, and I do likewise with the fuel caps, except this particular time.
I think the fact that the next stop was to be Chilliwack, this association brought the fuel cap to my mind.

We flew west over Penticton at 8,500 feet, and towards the Princeton VOR which was Notamed as being out of service, it seemed to work though. Yes, I even checked NOTAMs on this trip!
Passng south of Hope we played chicken with a mountain... It was yellow on the moving map with 'Terrain' selected, but looked higher than we were. Of course we missed it. As we approached we could see more and more behind it, meaning we were above it, but at a distance it looked risky.
It's when you see less and less behind the mountain that you need to be concerned.

The valley was ahead, and so we descended to cross midfield and land at Chilliwack for lunch.
Landing was at 20:36z.

Taking off from Chilliwack I noticed the maximum RPM was 2,400 on the tachometer which was low, but the digital engine monitor showed 2,480 which was more like it. It seems the Tachometer had become inaccurate.

We flew over Pitt Meadows for David to take some pictures and then home to Boundary Bay.

I had a booking at Pitt Meadows at 17:00 PDT and so after unloading the aeroplane I flew there... It was a bit of a waste of time as an apparent oil pressure problem meant one circuit in the Diamond there, and so I flew back to Boundary Bay.

After unloading the aeroplane I flew along the river to Pitt Meadows

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