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.  

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