NV25 Blog: 06-27

Last updated 2022-07-07


My attempt to fix the broken P-lead was not successful and getting assistance from base personnel wasn’t going to happen, so I made a risk-based decision: continue to Thunder Bay with a hot mag, and shut down by setting throttle to idle, setting full brake and disembarking to physically ground the mag until the prop stopped. A manageable risk so long as no-one approached the aircraft and I took care of all fueling. In addition, if I did need to leave the aircraft unattended for any time, I could permanently ground the mag very easily. Somewhat later than planned, I got going on the first of three legs for the day.

Cleared for take-off at YWG I actually had to stop as I approached the runway, raise my visor and stare across the airfield to convince myself that I was not hallucinating. I’d caught a glimpse of a specimen of a type I hadn’t seen for maybe 55 or even 60 years – a Bristol 170 Freighter! And I wasn’t wrong, as subsequent research easily revealed: https://www.flickr.com/photos/mjscanlonphotography/46226638115.

The weather today was glorious, light and very high cloud, and again, helpful tailwinds. Ever since leaving California I’d not seen another aircraft whilst en-route, save maybe a trailing airliner, but today was different. Below me was a high-wing float plane , pulling slowly ahead. When I gave my first position report on 126.7 he responded that he was in the same location, just a little concerned as to my precise location, but I was able to reasure him that apart from me already having him in sight, there was no prospect of me overtaking him, and after another 20 minutes he was lost from sight.

Kenora (research the origins of that name) was a quick turn-around. The airport manager came out to take a look at the Chippie and let on that he was from London – not the one in Ontario, either. These Brits get everywhere. I departed for Atikokan, which was a lovely airfield, massess of yellow flowers along each side of the runway and no-one there but me – seems good for another quick turn-around . Not to be.

Search as I could for any means to pay, I couldn’t find one. No notice as to what to do, so I walked across to the admin building. There I found a notice stuck on the door to call the given number if fuel was required. This I did, only to be given another number to call. I called it and was told someone would be out to see to my needs. “When?” – “In about ten minutes” . 35 minutes later someone showed up, unlocked the pump switch and I filled her up. Then I was asked to complete a form with my name and address, and they’d send me the bill. So open to abuse. My advice – if you are Atikokan way and need fuel, try to avoid it if you can. Not a good fuel stop. I was on the ground longer than it took to fly the final leg to Thunder Bay. I probably could have made it without the stop, but I would have been well into the 30 min reserve.

I went looking for help to fix the P-lead. The first guy I asked was another damn Brit and when he learnt that I had a Chipmunk in need of his attention he could hardly get over to it fast enough. He’d grown up near Shoreham airfield and had memories of Chippies flying around there. These must have been privately-owned, not CoAT – he wasn’t that old.

I found hangarage with Bear Skin Airlines and then made a call to a friend who knows the GM well. I got plenty of advice to inspect the engine in the morning before proceeding, so that’s the plan.

I then got a taxi to take me to the Airlane hotel, where the team had stayed on their way through in 1997. Such a contrast to the Fort Garry – this place was a seedy dump. I didn’t even dare take my shoes off! Went to sleep in an enforced state of depression caused by the dingy room I was in! The low point of the whole trip so far, and in fact EVER!

Stats: 3.5 hrs logged, 3.0 hrs flown, 346 nm track.

IF faced with the choice of rocks, trees or water, I’m at least prepared for the latter,
though the temperature would probably render me imobile!
Kenora International – quick turn-around, and look at that sky!
The pleasant but inefficient airfield of Atikokan (CYIB, so you can avoid it!)
One feature that was on the 1997 ONC chart and not hard to find (outbound Atikokan).
Beautiful scenery but nowhere to go –
even the bright green patches are either weed on the lakes or marshy terrain, and I see no roads.
Final for YQT 30
The Airlane hotel, then and now