Wednesday 21 May 2014

A New Dream turns Nightmare, ..again!

Meet Frank!

As you may have noticed I'm usually not short on words, even though the English Language ain't my first one and it seems to occasionally fight me all the way. That seems less by trying to express myself but more so in trying to understand my fellow man. My linguistic filters kick in real fast, sometimes maybe a bit too fast and it can lead to misunderstandings. If you ever hear me say, "..SOOoo what is it again you want to do?!", it actually means NO, I'm not interested in helping you and NO I'm not interested in hearing about it any further, NO as in pardon me, my fucking filters just kicked in and you've been filtered out as "special". By this I'm not saying that I think you fell off the short bus, only that I'm aware that the world is full of special people kinda like you but not really and I think you are unlike them which actually really makes you one of them. Nice to meet you, but right now my filters are working overtime, ..SOOoo what is it again you want to do?

Frank and C-GOHW at CZML

Frank is undoubtedly one of these special folks and pretty much the kind a guy that if you tell him it can't be done, he will show you a way on how to do it. My kind a guy in many ways, free spirited, strong minded, but with a certain lack of what I'd call healthy fear. Fear is good, fear keeps you alive, but fear can also stop you from doing anything at all. Having worked with people in extreme adventurous situation all my life, spend hours on Predictive  Index, Managing for Success and lots of other "schmooze training" with CMH, done a Banff Centre Management Course it still sometimes hasn't prepared me fully for these type of personalities. It is nearly impossible to manage them, at best you can assist them to acquire new skills and hope for the best. In Aviation this is a scary thing, as you can teach them to fly but not how to make always sound decisions, at least what you as the instructor would perceive as a "sound decision".

Frank called me one day and enquired about learning how to fly. He's got a ranch up by Fort StJohn and would like to fly from his home strip. Nothing wrong with that idea. Start with the usual steps, Medical, Ground School, get the paper work done and then come and see me for the fun part, the actual flight training. 6 weeks after the first call he was done with the ground school and on his way down from the great white north to slightly greener pastures here in the Cariboo.
Get him checked in into our luscious accommodations on a "Pilot Rate" and off we go to the airport and start our training on OHW. Things are progressing well and they usually do when you have guys with a bit of previous exposure to flying and even more so with folks that operate machinery. Used to pushing levers and getting a certain reaction from the machine, it's just the added rush of leaving the ground in the process. Of course its a hell of a lot faster than your old John Deere AND to make it more of a challenge you have to learn to land the bloody thing!

Didn't take Frank long to catch on, but the April weather sent us some more snow and with the outlook rather poor for the next week to 10 days we decided to split the training into two sessions. To say that Frank was totally enamoured by the 701 would be an understatement. No big surprise there when compared to the powered parachute he had a chance to fly previously. He was becoming seriously interested in buying one, no real surprise there either! With Hans more or less gone to his new domicile in  Columbia and having little use for it, it was just a matter to come to an agreement. And so Frank went home as the proud new owner of OHW and figured next time down he'll take the bus to fly OHW home, right across the Rockies on his first major X-country.

How could one note be enamoured by this beauty?

Needless to say the filters slammed down once again real hard and were immediately followed by that question in the first paragraph of this post. Maybe consider the "alternative" and safe route along the highway. I mean IFR, as in I follow roads, rivers, railroads and so forth. Nope, he was set and its gonna be across to Tumbler Ridge and home from there. It kind of left me in silence which basically meant it ain't worth the argument! Still some time to go by and training to be done before it will happen.

Part two of training was completed and as planned Frank was ready to fly home. Working down the list as usual, as the time arrived to solo some high speed taxi's guess what, ..take me and my rather heavy personality out of a 701 and the thing just flies off. Having learnt a lesson the first time and briefed Frank on the incident, to him it did not come nearly as much as a surprise when OHW decided to loft itself once again to higher levels. This was followed by 5 touch & goes, a bit of a shaky landing and a huge grin. Good on you Frank, ..but it was supposed to be a "Taxi Exercise" not a first Solo. Lesson learnt in all this; once you get out, you better have your student ready to go flying! Finishing off the solo part is easy as it is only 2 hours and with a perfect evening you might as well keep going. While Frank is zipping around CZML with his new Perma-Grin I decided to check the weather.

Not the greatest for the his intended flight home and even worse in the days to follow. So the decision was made to leave early and follow the Hwy to Quesnel, west of Prince George and on up to Mackenzie. Fuel up and than either follow the Hart Hwy though Pine Pass to Chetwynd, out towards Hudson's Hope and turn NE for home. Good Plan, much better than crossing the Rockies, Thank you Weather Gods!
Dropping Frank off at the airport and after helping him ready to get going there is really only the worst thing left to do; sitting helplessly at home on your computer and watching little icons appear upon every page refresh in the Spot Tracking page. I personally insist that anyone who goes solo on my watch carries one!! I highly recommend to anyone who leaves the local circuit to use one as well! Remember Hans going into the trees at CZML, the aircraft disappeared into lush greenery and not 50m away from a busy highway could not be seen. AND his ELT never went off! We have been using Spot Tracking since 2007 in our company aircraft with great success. I could fill a few pages worth on why to use them, but believe me there is very few excuses not to!!
Going good, all to plan, little slower than figured and Quesnel as a fuel stop. Man, you can zoom in and actually see the location icon being right at the fuel pumps. And off we go again, slightly west to avoid Prince George Airspace, next bling, OK more west, another bling, even more west, bling again, wtf?, far west is he going? At this rate he's going to be in Vanderhoof and not just W of PG! Send him a text on the mobile phone, lets see if he gets it? Next bling, 90deg E from the track and in line for Mackenzie. You gotta like modern technology!! There is free ice cream at Mackenzie Airport if you fill up so why would you not stop there? Getting the latest Metar's and this sidetrip having taken much longer than figured put Frank way behind. Winds have kicked up and his landing in Mackenzie was a bit rough so I was told later by him. Horrible x-wind and gusty as hell, his words, not mine as calls me confirming his arrival. I told him to have a afternoon rest on the couch, let the winds subside and have a beautiful evening flight home. And so he did, a bit rough through Pine Pass but after that great cruising at 9500' all the way home.

Couple days after getting home Frank addressed some minor vibration issues and we decided to maybe change the rather dried out out and cracked engine mounts. Change completed, test flight, engine failure in take off, lack of fuel was the culprit and after closer inspection a pinched fuel line. This was followed by another phone call, "Willy, you adjusted on propeller blade wrong. It's way out of whack!" Not possible so my reply, as I always double check after the final torque and I knew they were dead on when we installed the new Warp Drive propeller. Check again, well guess what? The propeller blade is moving inside the hub, no not the hub, the hub thats glued to the blade.. WOAH, that's a Warp Drive Problem, I'd say a serious problem and while I've heard of it I actually never came across one. Good think the guys at Warp Drive are really good to deal with when it comes to warranty, but of course Frank cant wait and has to source his own slightly used prop that turns out it didn't fit or work, can't recall anymore. Anyhow finally its all up and running again a many a flights followed. OHW once again not only crossing the country, but high mountains, open oceans and endless forest wilderness. I guess it takes a guy like Frank to do these kind of trips, the 701 doesn't know any better what's below and Frank has fullest trust in his abilities flying his birdie to all these exotic exciting places. And then came the move to Grand Forks, BC and with it another somewhat "memorable" flight I've been told. New playground, new challenges, upgrade to passenger carrying, full stall and wing drop on take off, the adventure just never seems to end with Frank being Frank and doing what Frank does best, seeking out new adventures and expanding his aerial horizons. And it finally let him back to Renata a nice beach he has been before, except on this day it wasn't all so nice to him. A light wind, not too much but hard to get pegged, just getting played on final, a bit of a drift and seconds after touch down its all over. The world literally has just turned upside down for Frank in C-GOHW!

"Renata Beach" on Upper Arrow Lake 

At least Hans kept it right side up! 

In some ways and as stupid as it sounds there was a certain amount of relieve in all of this. While the plane was done once again, Frank was perfectly fine and given all the previous incidences we thought he'd probably hang up his wings and call it quits. I should have known better, not Frank, not by long shot, and the adventure was about to begin for him all anew but in a different plane.

You can follow Frank's Canadian Aviation Adventures here.

As for C-GOHW, it's not over yet, the story continues. See our next post.

Saturday 16 March 2013

Rebuilding the Dream

After returning home all happy from Rotec Engines in Vernon and knowing that the rest is just sheet metal and some readily available parts from Zenithair it was on to moving the BushCaddy parts out of the way, momentarily and get working on the rebuild. The wing ended up on my 4' x 16' table and it was actually an easy repair. 

Left - Pilot Side Wing Repairs 

 Replacing the rear baggage bulkhead

I do love Zenair/Zenithair products for the ease of build and/or repair. You can call me anytime to do some work for these capable airplanes, as long as the in the UL category or I'm a part owner, which by now I was. While the material cost was rather low, the labor was extensive. Renovation kind of expensive almost, as in double the cost and triple the time it seemed. While the wing went along well, the Fuselage was laser levelled into the jig before any parts were removed. Checking for alignment, mainly in the tail section, it seemed the brunt was all taken up by the bottom sheet mid section and the side panel. Top and Pilot side was all good and so was the tail section. Lucky again! 

The new upgraded Nose Gear - more for looks as the old one was ok. 

Thanks to my wingman Willis it went together really well

..and off we go once again! 

The "Check Flights" went well! 
Notice the new panels Co-Pilot Side and Bottom of Fuselage

(Carolyn - If I help you fix this thing of course I want to fly in it!)
Carolyn and me at our favourite little Stop Over 
Slats were left off and replaced with VG's 

There is a few upgrades that went in the process that I really liked. The VG's on the Elevator are almost a must in my opinion as it really increases the authority at lower speed and allows to hang on to a more prolonged flare. Furthermore the drop at the end is not nearly as bad, if encountered at all during nose high full stall landings. 
The VG's on the wings vs the slats, I can do with either. Again, in my experience the VG's make for a more docile and predictable flying during flare. Speed is not that much and in all reality is a wind factor when it comes to ground speed as it is. The slats are really what makes the 701 fun, but they need to be understood, especially during take off and landing. You have to know (feel) when you are flying on the slats vs the wing. This only comes with training, practise and experience. There is a noticeable "translation" during take off when going from slat to wing. Do this at full gross, low to the ground and you might be in for a surprise. Again the same applies being too nose high, flying the slats on landing. When she stalls, she stalls, she's done and you better have that nose wheel straight and your remaining heights is only 6" at best. Blow this and you will do some damage! 
Having flown the sister ship the Savannah XL from ICP in Italy a fair amount too, you cant really compare them too closely. The Savannah has more wing for one, more room for another, a filled in center section over the cab, more lift therefore and better airflow into the tail. But it's not a 701! Is it better? Is a GM better than a Chevy, they are the same yet different. Depends what one is after. If you are a big guy like me there is certain attractions of the Savannah, but than I can go CH 750, longer wings, more room, but...  You can't go 750 without the additional weight penalty. The Savannah C-IRTX, now in QC, weight in at 2lbs different from OHW. Weights were taken on digital scales. Yes, they were that close. 
As for engines, the 912S makes the difference of doing a full power run up by skidding across the apron on locked up brakes, where with the 912UL you would sit there bobbing the tail up and down. And there is that cruise speed factor with the 912S, trust me I know of that one! 

Monday 11 June 2012

Nothing's ever "FINAL"!

June 11, 2012 - Import completed ...aah!! We ended up having to add several items such as a proper float bowl and carburetor heat and last but not least a manual altimeter in case our trusty MGL gives us a blank look or runs out of battery. The option would have been a second battery as a back up. HMMM, let me think, static port, about a foot of plastic line and a small gauge that fits in pre-cut hole vs battery, wires, switches, panel removal, soldering, testing. Potential of smoke and adding to the possibility to get the earlier mentioned blank stare from the MGL.

Finally the all proud N500ME is carefully removed and C-GOHW is placed on the Tail. We really liked the new ident GO Hans Wilhelm or GO Hans & Willy (his last name is actually my first name) and also OSCAR HOTEL WHISKEY  just rolls of the tongue as easy as it is looking at this beauty of a CH-701SP. One couldn't be more happy and proud! And one should know, that when ever this tremendous Fat & Happy Feeling overcomes you, something is about to burst your happy little bubble.  And so in this case. Well, tighten the seat belts in your lazy chairs because you are about to go on ride from dream through despair right down into your deepest darkest nightmarish hell you can only imagine as a friend, fellow aviator and flight instructor.

Now lets start with the actors of this little episode mainly our main character, Hans. He is what one might consider slightly past the spring chicken age, with the soup pot still distantly, but nevertheless gently whistling his name. Usually that's where all seasoned roosters end up sooner or later.
As for myself I lag slightly behind, I can see the odd steam coming off the pot, but haven't my heard my name nor smelled it for that matter. But that might have to do with the fact that both of us generally try to remain upwind from this ungainly end. Always dotting the i's and leaving very little to chance may have been working in our favour too, ..thus far. Now I wouldn't say we are notoriously obsessive compulsive, just a little more "Swiss" than the average Canadian, him more than me since I only have a Swiss Grandma, the rest being Austrian and therefore I feel somewhat watered down in this how many corners make a perfect square department.

Next lets pick the perfect day. How about a nice June day with blue skies, no wind, the smell of fresh cut grass and the sound of chirping birds in the air. While we are at it, lets make it the first Anniversary of our departure from Zephyrhills, Florida and the official day of the 701 Dream was taking flight. And here we go:

The rather perfect Day - Runway 15 Grass @ CZML

After a long flight across the country, followed by numerous hours in the Circuit doing touch and goes, full stops, high speed taxis, aborted take offs, forced landings, precautionary approaches, short "the list" covering as much as one can cover before as an Instructor you decide it's time to take off the training wheels and send them down the road, pardon me, runway in this case by themselves. 
What could possibly go wrong on a day like this? How about everything and than some! Two facts right up front, one being that I'm a big boy at 6'2" and 2??+ and the other that early CH-701's flew on a Rotax 503 just fine. Now having explained myself upfront, here is how the story unfolds. The goal for Hans' first solo outing was to do some high speed taxis and get a feel for the aircraft with the reduced load of just him on board. Lets just say that by the time he added half throttle on a downhill run the 701 lofted upwards, which would not be totally unexpected but not the goal of the exercise now was it. Nope! NoSsiree! Realizing his initial mistake Hans decided to cut power by pushing the throttle all the way in, which to his surprise really yawed the aircraft, (yup, they do that at full power) and about the time it hit full power and a real good Yaw to the left, ..he cut power. And that is C-GOHW or Cee it Goes Over High Wires or wire fences for that matter. And then The Noise stopped, no screaming engine, no breaking trees, no singing birds, no nothing, silence, that really ugly silence and the moment you realize everything just went to sh...! 

 "I never touched the fence!" 

 Hans was ok, the poor birdie not so much!

Thankfully a Kiev Propeller that just shattered away.

Jogging down the runway to the place he disappeared into the foliage left me rather out of breath, I confess. By the time I arrived, Hans was out of the airplane, not a scratch, not a bump on him. Only problem, ..he was on the other side of the airport fence. Another jog back to the truck and a drive around the airport to get Hans, who by the time had arrived on the nearby highway. 
Can't even see the plane from the Highway, ..let's just go for coffee and breakfast. I quit smoking some time ago, but was in dire need of a real good shot of caffein, maybe even a little Irish Cream instead of milk might be in order!! 
Walking into the nearby restaurant we run into Nick, the airport manager and we tell him about our early morning mishap. Did you turn the ELT off, comes his first reply. Of course not, hell, ..lets order breakfast and up I go again to check on the ELT. It never went off. The impact and the settling down into the greenery has cushioned it enough to never trigger the switch. Lesson learned on that one, I guess you oughta crash a bit harder to trip the thing. 
After breakfast, line up some help such as my good friend and ever willing co-pilot/student Ken J. to start cutting out around the plane. Call for the picker truck and try to minimize any additional damage to the aircraft. In retrospect, would I have to do it again, I'd pull the wings right away. But we were just over the fence and the insurance adjuster most likely rather sees a whole airplane. Couple hours of work and out she comes, looking like a big joyride attached to the crane. Maybe we can make some money with it at the Arlington Fly In since it seems they have been getting more joy rides than aviators over the last few years. 

"The Arlington Joy Ride" 

And there goes the dream! One year to the date that we departed Zephyrhills and its all in shambles. Or is it? Going over the aircraft and looking at the repairs, it seems starting from new might be the way to go. After the insurance adjuster brought in some AME's from Vernon to appraise the rebuilding cost the decision by the insurance was to right  it off, with an option to purchase the remains if one is interested. After lots of discussion between Hans and me we came up with a plan and decided to purchase OHW back. It's a gamble, especially the engine and prop strike. So as a step one, the wings and tail came off, the fuselage went into my Toyhauler and the road trip to Rotec in Vernon was on its way. A couple nights at the local beach in my trailer relaxing and word came back that the engine and re-drive are fine and no damage was found. Well, in that case, how hard can it be to rebuild this poor ol' gal. Can't be that bad, folks are starting from scratch and kits all the time, furthermore the folks at Zenithair and Zenair are super good to deal with and parts are just a phone call away. 
As they say, nothing is ever final, it's just a new beginning! 

Saturday 5 November 2011

The "Final Chapter"

November 05th, 2011

Well, ...when we tied N500ME down at the hangar at Oroville, WA and made our way north to Kelowna, BC (on June 22nd, 2011) and even when I posted the last blog shortly thereafter, I thought we would be back at OS7 and fly the plane home within a couple of weeks. And that was allowing a bit of extra time for the FAA paperwork. I would like to explain a few points on importing an aircraft into Canada and also how little mistakes can add a lot of time (and money) in this endeavour. Flying between the countries is easy and here is your 155 page guide on how do, compliments of your AOPA/COPA Organizations. But don't despair it is all summarized in a one page checklist, however I do recommend to get the whole document titled "The AOPA/COPA Guide to Cross Border Operations (United States / Canada)" 28th Edition - July 2011from either website.
You can download it and print either the one page check list or the whole thing (recommended) punch holes and place it in a three ring binder, which I did and brought with me for the final leg from OS7 to Pentiction (clear customs) to Kamloops and up to the 108 Mile Airport (South Cariboo Regional).

About a month later, having the CofR filed for a third time and finally corrected initial and subsequent mistakes we received the proper documentation from the FAA. For your info there is a 24hr comply period in place with international operations on CofR transfers at the FAA. Unfortunately by the time this came about Hans was off on another trip attempting to climb Mt. Huascaran in Peru. So we got all paperwork in place ahead of time including a letter allowing me to import the aircraft and fly the aircraft as a non-owner. On August 22, Carolyn and I, set out to the Okanagan to FINALLY bring it home. Arriving late we only had time to wash, repair a broken P-Lead and do a quick run up and test flight. All checks out ok, including the guy driving the thing. By the about 22:00 PST I place the phone call to the Canadian Border Service Agency to organize the first step of our flight. You will have to file for your flight with them, CBSA, at least 24 hours but no less than 2hrs prior to your flight. Fine, try to take off at about 07:00 tomorrow and it all should work out. While on the phone with a very pleasant female officer she explained to me that the aircraft still shows as a DC9 with that ident and also that all taxes, in this case the HST, has to be paid in full. Ooops, OUCH, and $$$$ all at the same time and with Hans out of reach on some High Camp my frustration level is hitting yet another high mark. How hard could it possibly be???
Carolyn ready to go! 

OH, WELL! Enjoy a sleep in at the "Oroville Hilton" with a relaxed breakfast and off to the airport for a little flight. Might as well enjoy the airplane on this side of the line. Fukeneh! And besides it is good for the aircraft to be flown after sitting for two month. And that's my story and I am sticking to it!
Carolyn beside me with the camera we take off south towards Tonasket for our little local VFR trip. Orchard after orchard and the most beautiful August Day one could possibly order for flying.

 Off on 15 and south bound from OS7 - Oroville, WA
 Orchards and more Orchards! 
 Okanagan - Summer Playground
On Final for 15 - OS7

After about an hours worth of enjoying "Hans' Toy" and the Okanagan's Scenery from above we find ourselves back at the airport tying down N500ME once again south of the line. Now, it will have to wait until Hans is back! 

Fast forward to October 04th, 2011 with Hans back in the Country and assuming we have all the paper  work sorted out and in place and a binder full of documentations with us we set out once again to Oroville. As we are crossing over the Coquihalla to Kelowna we get a taste of the coming winter with the first snow blanketing the highway. Yup, August would have been a great time to finish this, I am thinking to myself. Days are much shorter and the first pacific storms add a bit more "Umph" to the local climate, as in winds and turbulence. This time, even though we arrive three hours earlier than in August it is nearly dark and no sign of the aircraft on the airport. Not where I tied it down, nor in any of the open hangars! HMMM?? "It is fully insured, right Hans?" "Not Funny" comes the teeth gritting reply as he makes his way to the other hangars. Okay, time to phone Stephen the airport manager to solve this puzzle. And so it does about a minute into the phone call. "YEAH, after you left I had an opening in my private hangar and knowing Hans would like a Hangar I moved it in there!" A few minutes later he rolls in and we have just enough time for a quick wash and stash on the flight line. By now it is also out of Annual, hence the August Attempt to fly it home. 
Luckily there is a local AME on the field, Bill, and we pre-arranged with him to help us with the Condition Check the next morning. Arriving after another restful night at about 09:00 and ready to "lend a wrenching hand" to Bill we get the cowlings off and start with an oil & spark plug change. By 13:00 we are outside again, ready for run up and once again finds me filing an Arrival Report for Pentiction with the CBSA and a flight plan including Transponder Code with the US Flight Services. So far, easy breezy, I can handle this. 14:30 sees me off OS7 Pentiction bound into gray, drizzly fall afternoon. 0.5 hrs of flight time I am down in Pentiction and directed by the tower to the CBSA Office parking. Now that was easy and walking into the office they are fully prepared to import a DC9  ... "NO, it is a CH 701 SP, and YES it is an LSA and only holds two". "I already explained this to the lady on the phone in August." "What Lady? I don't know, ...the pleasant one on the phone in Winnipeg!" "Sorry we have no record of that, but do you have all the paperwork with you?"  ..."HMMM, No, BUT..., ... Hans should he here any minute and he is the 
owner!" "...and it is all in his truck!" 

Okay, we were not as organized as we thought and I will spare you the conversation until Hans arrived with the rest of the documents, but like to add a few points that will help you cross or import your aircraft. 

1.) Be organized and if you are "only the Pilot and not the Owner", let the the Owner do it! Much less paperwork. Or at least have the owner present to answer possible arising questions you can't answer.  

2.) Assure that besides the standard aircraft documentation you also have all the proof of purchase, such as the listing, the bill of sale and a copy of the form of payment for the aircraft and of course sufficient funds to cover the taxes. For forms of payment you can visit their website. 

3.) Be on time, while the guys and gal's at the CBSA are usually ready and prepared for your arrival, leave at least an hour or two if this is an import and not only a border crossing. And this includes making sure all the paperwork is in the vehicle that arrives at the office first, be it the aircraft of the car. 

4.) If you are flying back and forth more regularly between the US and Canada sign up with the CANPASS program. It will expedite your crossings and allow you to use some alternate airports. 

5.) Absolutely get a copy of the above mentioned Guide for Border Crossings and flick through it. 

And last but not least, remain patient and pleasant to the officers and their efforts and you will be done in no time. However in our case and no fault of the CBSA, it was too late to carry on towards Kamloops, so Hans dropped me at a close by motel and he carried on driving home. 

October 6th, 2011 - Pentiction
A glance out the window at 06:50 into a somewhat dreary morning with the last bit of darkness still hanging in confirms a VFR flight to Kamloops. A quick and what should really be a soul warming Coffee from the hotel turns more into a yet another repulsing dark brew that barely substitutes what the early morning pilot needs for fluids. Anyone ever had a great hotel/motel coffee? Maybe someone will upgrade to a Tassimo system one of these days? Being in walking distance to the airport I stroll over and try to get onto the airport without having to put in the extra mile up one side of the fence and than down at the other side. Have we slightly overdone airport security? Anyone still walks? Anyone up yet and in the office? Make that a NO on the first three tries. Finally at Demel Aircraft I am able to sneak through their office and out to the flight line saving me from the extra hike up to the Terminal and back down to button of 33. 
08:20 off at CYYF and northbound towards Kelowna. As expected a bit lumpy, cloudy, some fog, bearable but with out a doubt the worst start to a day since trying to find Dyersville in the Tennessee Fog. Memories are seeping in as I am cruising above HWY 95 north. Yup, the trucks are once again faster than me! A short while later I call Kelowna tower for a Clearance through their zone, get to Squak 7010 and carry on over Westbank north. West of Vernon about an hour into the flight and looking north towards Salmon Arm it is not looking great. Fog, dark clouds and I am trying to make up my mind between going through Falkland and probably getting pummelled (as usual) or attempting the Shuswap route. And against my better judgement I turn NW towards Kamloops. Not 10 minutes later, and just behind the ridge from Falkland, I am starting to severely pay for my intrepid spirit. We are getting not only pummelled, we are getting hammered by winds and turbulence. Never fails! Behind a passing cold front, venturi effects of valleys, altitude, everything comes into play.  Bullshit, like I didn't know any better! Chalk that one up to to poor decision making and a slight case of "Get-homeanitis".
The poor 701 is getting tossed from side to side, wing venting, rattling, bucking and buffeting, power back, slow her up, not much better, how much slower can you go... and now the the sink is starting. Power back in, slow the descent, hold her level. "What you mean hold her level?" I can barley hold on to the throttle without bending it, it being halfway out. Is that why Zenair's have that "Holy Shit Handle" welded to the door post? Well, it is getting real good use right about now, trying to stop me from vacating the cabin in almost any and all direction. The fasten your seat belt sign came on some time ago, reset the headsets from hitting the ceiling, hold'r steady and ride it out! At this point I am really starting to dislike the MGL Mini Extreme with is flickering arrow indicating the wind direction and it's pulsating numbers between 25 and 37. Like you can't feel what's going on, now we need fancy gizmo's to confirm your worst fears! Breathe, breathe deep, we love this sh..., we love flying, we love airplanes,  we love what we do!! With all due respect your honor, it feels more like impending doom and divorce than love. Besides, if this is what love feels like I have had just about enough for the moment.
Slowly as we are creeping into a major westerly now towards Monte Lake things calm down somewhat.  At least to the point where I can pry my death gripped fingers off the youknowwhat handle and back down towards the controls. Coming out over LaFarge, just east of Kamloops I get a hold of the Airport and  latest weather. Clear and winds at 260 @ 15 gusting 22. The last five miles take nearly 10 minutes and if you've ever wondered if CH 701 hovers  ...they do, ...somewhat! With the given winds we would have certainly been contenders for the next STOL competition in Valdez looking at our roll out. Knowing this might be a bit of a challenge to taxi, landing close to Bravo and taxi off for the apron made life easy. Over to MountainAire we go and 2.1 hours later, I am treated to a real brew. 
Once again, I am waiting out the winds and by 16:40 I am off to the final leg from Kamloops to CZML. And what a difference from this morning, once out of Tranquil Creek and up into the Highlands the winds subside and we are cruising at 75mph over the forests and lakes that we call home. In the distance the peaks show off their fresh dusting of snow. Ahhh Love, wonderful love at last. Now this is more like the reason we do this. Sunset, silver shining lakes, smooth cool air and the trees below getting into the fall colors. A few swooping turns over Hans's House later to announce finally the home coming of N500ME.  Turning final for 33 at the 108 Mile Airport! What a journey, and kicking back on the couch with a Walmart Road Map in my lap I am retracing our route across the continent. Not bad, not bad at all! The little airplane that could, would, can and will. As long as you have a dream! A CH-701 Dream.

 The Cariboo Mountains
 Beautiful North Thompson River Valley
 Winter is coming - Quesnel Lake

Wonder if he is going to get some skis? A big grin slides onto my face as I am thinking about all the places one could go and all the fun one could have having a CH701 on skis. This would bring almost a whole new meaning to "Plane - Skiing". After all in this country where we have 8 month of winter and 4 month of poor skiing it would only add to "THE POSSIBILITIES"!   :-)  Get the drift?!

"So Hans, are you going to get some skis?" Well, if he does I am certain you will be reading about it right here. If not, well there is always the Yukon come next Spring! Stay posted! 

Signing off for now, Willy T.  

Tuesday 28 June 2011

Homeward bound...

Wednesday June 22nd, 2011

All went according to plan yesterday. After checking in and catching up on some sleep in the afternoon, Hans arrived at 21:30 in Missoula. With the plane being flight ready it was a matter of a simple walk around this morning and off we went at 10 to Six. What? No Tower!? Change Frequency, still no answer! All-right than... call the intentions and lets get going before someone changes their minds, picks up the mic, talks back and makes you taxi for ever for no good reason. "Zero Mike Echo is through 4000 and clear to the North West"! Still no answer. Who cares, we are gone!

At about 7 am we are nearing Thompson Falls, MT and Hans' Bladder is once again calling for a stop ...nearest preferred! With being in a Canyon and the airport straight ahead I simply pull power and the 701 slides down like on the rails of a roller coaster, momentarily flashing us a yellow range speed signal from the MGL Extreme. Solid, capable, little aircraft. The more we fly and understand this plane the more we realize the attraction by so many. And we come to question why so many have had to fiddle with this design,  and really none have succeeded. Certainly not by sales numbers, otherwise the flight lines would have to be littered by Pegazairs, and Savannah's, just to name a few.
Our respect goes out to Chris Heintz for his design abilities and to the greater Zenith Aircraft Family for providing a great product from plans to kits, to quick-builds. I'd say we've put it to the test on this trip!

 Coming up on "Thompson Falls"

Looks like home! 

A lazy turn over the midfield and a nice landing into a gentle breeze and this time we are both off for the morning break. 10 Minutes later we are airborne again and heading along the valley for Sandpoint, ID.
Scenery, scenery and more scenery! I have been on the roads below on a Motorcycle Trip a few years back and remember looking up into the mountains. Not sure which one is better, I love riding, but you can't beat the view from a CH 701. It is the perfect low and slow scenery cruiser.
At 07:44 we arrive in a yet still and sleepy Sandpoint. Turn the watches back an hour and we are off again sooner than we landed. Home Stretch...

 Scenery from above! 

Low and slow...

One more little challenge is provided by the Monashee Mountains reaching into northern Washington. But after the Rockies, this is certainly a lesser obstacle and with 5600' we clear through some of the lower passes and are on a zooming descent into Dorothy Scott, speak Oroville, WA. We are clocking nearly 100mph groundspeed on a NW bound track once we reach the Okanagan. YaHoo!!!

On the downwind for Runway 15 we can see the bridge across the lake at Osoyoos, BC but it remains us denied for some unfinished FAA paper work. Mainly a properly filled in C of R. So we have to stop here, park it for a week and hopefully we can carry on soon once more NW bound.
47.8 hrs from Tampa to here in 26 legs in an aircraft that is not known for its cross country capabilities, but rather its off airport use. Well we had some of that too! Hans and I, have come to re-think some of the Ch-701 hearsay. We beg to differ on some of the "not really cross country suitable" and "yeah, but its too small" (...really, I am 6'2" and pack 220lbs with me at the leanest of times) and so many other rumours.  Don't believe everything you hear [...or read ;-) ]!
And yes, there is limitations; weather, timing, season, power, weight, distance and fuel use. Bigger is not always better. It ultimately comes down to a sign hanging in our office, the one and only I may add...       

...Learning to fly takes about 45hrs, learning when to fly can take a lifetime!

As we are strolling across the field my phone message light goes off. It's Russell from Flightcrafters "Congratulations, you made it to Canada!" Well, not quite, but as good as, we are only 2 miles short!!!

I guess the Spot Tracking is still working! Is it?

 Dorothy Scott - Oroville Airport, WA

Awaiting a new C of R and ...

                             ...after all, for Hans and N500ME the Adventure is only beginning!

 To finish off here, we would like to extend our sincerest "Thank You" to all those that we have met on this trip, have assisted us in a time of need and have touched our life's with their generosity! It will be remembered! See you in the Great White North!

With best regards, Willy T.

Solo across the Rockies...

Tuesday June 21st, 2011

We are three weeks into this adventure now and what should have been a shared highlight of the trip, crossing the Rockies, has left me solo, tired and worn in the left seat. Hans' seat occupied by the iPad in lieu of the Navigator and First Officer.
05:42 sees the wheels leave the ground and I am westbound along HWY 90 now for a little while. In a steady cruise climb I make it up to 6500' and than level off and head for Livingston. Beautiful Morning flight, a few little burbles, but nothing to serious for the first bit of flight. As we are nearing Livingston and Bozeman it is changing and by the time I head into Bozeman Pass the little Rotax is working near full capacity, angrily clawing itself up to 7000' into a buffeting headwind. The foam grip is getting a bit of a squeeze, no doubt.

 The "Big Hurdle"

 The awesome Montana Scenery...

...and still places to put down

No way we could have done this with both of us on board and gear and fuel. The little 701 is steady, although getting closer to the limitations put forth by being set up for sea level operation. Mainly re-adjust the prop to these new heights. Never the less at 07:00 we are passing the first hurdle at 7000' and as soon as we are through the air gets smoother again. Fuel stop in Three Forks and off again for the next Hurdle, Pipestone Pass at 6453' and on via Butte down to Missoula. Climb out is this good and I am glad to be alone, simply for the reduced weight. The aircraft is also a bit lighter in the winds, but you can't have everything. As I am nearing Pipestone Pass the air starts to act up again, buffeting winds coming through the pass and crossing over we find ourselves at 7600', the highest altitude yet for this little Aircraft. And once again, as soon as we are through the pass it gets smooth again. Wow!
Now all that's left is a slow descent into the canyon down to Missoula, talk to the tower, straight in is approved and at 10:50 MST during shut down, we have a mission accomplished, crossed the Rockies.

The local "Northerstar Jet Center" is really helpful with fuel, car, food and getting me lost. No actually, I can do that just fine by myself, getting lost that is. As I am looking for a Pizza Place for lunch and try to follow the little map handed to me by a local flyeress, I am getting lost. Just tired and not with it a 100% i guess. Last night and this flight certainly wore me a bit.

Okay keep driving,  "Well look at that, ...a Subway!" As I pull in, I not only see the Bus Station, but also a small Hotel. Talk about lucky once again, everything in one place. Food, bed, ...get Hans from the Bus tonight ...and carry on tomorrow. Gotta love it when a plan falls into place!

 Looking "downhill" from Missoula

The "Northstar Jet Center" 

HWY 94 WEST...

Sunday June 19th, 2011

The weather is not playing along. Despite our best efforts and early departure from the Motel 6 we find ourselves back there at about 3pm and checking back into our rooms from last nights. Wind, Wind, Thunderstorms and more wind. Time for a rest, and after 8 days of flying, waiting, flying, and a bit more waiting a bit of rest is actually good. Laundry, a bit writing, phone calls, connect with family and hope that tomorrow will be a better day, wise.

Monday June 20th, 2011
 The Yellowstone River


Airborne at 06:10 and some nice morning flying! Hans is on the first shift and we switch up after about 45 minutes. The Yellowstone River below us and Highway 94 beside us we are cruising west. Not fast, but sufficient at 4500' and a bit of a headwind. After another 30 minutes or so Hans is getting uncomfortable in his seat ....brauch a WC!  or something like it is coming over the intercom. You need a what? ...already! We just took off! Okay, push "Nearest" on the 296 and the winner this time around is Hysam, MT for a brief Morning P-Stop. A quick little snack, granola bar and chocolate served on the cowling and we are off again westbound for Billings. It's again getting lumpy and bumpy and its only 8 am. I somewhat expected this and it is actually not as bad as I recall from previous trips east of the Rockies. The only problem we are a lot lighter than the Cessna 172, 180, Tripacer, etc. that I've been in before. But we are still making good time. Just prior to entering the Billings Zone, we contact approach and get a new Transponder Code to pass by along the north side. About halfway through the zone a desperate look from Hans' face is reaching me ...not again?! Yup, better go right now!!! NOO, you are not!! We can't just disappear of the radar and I am not about to declare an inflight..., make that a "coffee related liquid disposal" emergency. "Hans, you better clench and breathe for a few minutes longer...
And just about that time the controller calls with an "...Frequency Change approved, have a nice day!"
Nice day my ass... Out comes the power, and down we go into a freshly seeded Alfa Alfa field somewhere northwest of the airport. There is no longer time for a nearest search on the 296, nearest right now is right below us! Turn into wind, flare, nose down, stop ...and Hans has already departed the Aircraft and is providing valuable nutrients to the fresh grass. Walking back to the still running aircraft he's got the biggest grin yet on his face. Would it not be for knowing any better, one might think he just picked up and RV10's that big!!!
Back in and on the Headset comes the concerning question; "We gonna get outta here?" Good Question! With the Altimeter showing 4200', being on Turf, Grass and 2/3 fuel, this might be interesting. And in order to get into wind it is uphill. NICE!
We taxi to the bottom end and attempt the take off into wind diagonally across the field, almost, come one, nope, better abort while we have the room. Back down to the corner we go again, add some flap and bring it to full power on the brakes. Let'r run and the nose comes up and with a couple of hops, a bit of a gust we are flying and barely clearing the fence on the other end. Not much of a climb rate, but also nothing in the way, no trees, no power lines, no houses. Thanks God for that, because the little bird is labouring up to altitude. Finally back up to 4600' I release the flap and there is no gentle way of doing that. No long Johnson bar to release slowly and with my still sore elbow they just plunk themselves up. The according Nose drop sends Hans on a nervous Jump, sorryboutthat... got to get used to them things!
Another half hour of flight gets us in Columbus, Montana and to "Uncle Sam's Cafe", the local hang out, alternate Police Station and "Pilot Lounge".
Breakfast in good company at 10:30 and with the winds trying to pull the sock of the pole, it is time to fill up and await the afternoon. No better place than Columbus for that. It was chosen after a discussion with a fellow Luscombe Owner in Miles City and we have to admit ...great choice!!! Beautiful new airport building (see Photo) and Hardin, the local A&P let us use his internet to see the radar and flight briefings ahead. Where ever we look wind, more wind and a few disturbances, remnants of an unstable airmass. Oh well! Hurry & Wait again!

 The "Wolterman Memorial" 

 If you get stuck...

...this is the place to be!!!

By 18:15 and with the winds dropping to a more manageable 10 to 12 knots we decide to give it a try to see if we can get up to Big Timber. We get the answer pretty much one climb out when the winds push us back down into the Yellowstone River and we desperately try to get some heights. This is not going to happen. Full Power, nose up high and I can barely maintain altitude, never mind climb more than a few hundred feet. Time to blow for a hasty retreat out of this mess and return to Columbus. Now this was a horrid 30 minutes of flight. Winds, gusts, up, down and sideways and we are playing with altitude and temperature.
After a brief discussion we decide to check in for the night and hatch a new plan. After some discussion we agree that it may be best to go across the Rockies solo and meet up again in Missoula. Now that only leaves a means for Hans to get to Missoula. No Bus from Columbus, not even a stop, so we drive back to Billings in the Courtesy Car.  Finally and shortly before midnight I am back in Columbus and heading for Bed. Flying by 05:30, this will be a short night! Not really the best plan for the possibly toughest leg ahead, crossing the Rockies!