lauantai 6. helmikuuta 2010

From Rhode Island to Iqualuit

When we arrived to North Central Airport , Providence, Rhode Island we met Ed Carlson who is training North Atlantic flying. He is going to be with us with the Atlantic crossing. At afternoon we arrived, Ed kept to us first session of ground school, about north Atlantic weather. The weather is the single most important factor in North Atlantic flying. We also greed with local aircraft mechanic about doing 100 hours maintenance to our plane. The 100 hours was not yet due but this was last location where maintenance could be done and it is wise to had it done before Atlantic crossing.
From N756DS Adventures
To reduce weight of airplane so that it can hold three persons and all rescue stuff we needed to remove all unneeded stuff. We sent all United States Jeppesens, our IFR training books and other extra stuff by mail our home in Finland. It took four United States big flat rate box to send it. When i compared alternatives, the USPS flat rate box, costing around $50 was best way to send books and other heavy stuff. When we got our plane Thursday afternoon from maintenance, we got next difficult task to squeeze all stuff to plane including life raft and three imersion suits that Ed has for us. The squeezing stuff was not so easy at all and we needed to do weight and balance many times that we could believe that so full stuffed plane can fly at all. Later we learned that the plane did not had any difficulties to fly or take off with all stuff inside. When plane was finally loaded we noticed that it is too late to go any more because Canadian customs will be closed before we arrive there.

From N756DS Adventures

Finally, Friday morning we directed to Presc Iles (KPQI) airport near by United States northern border. We refueled there and did border crossing formalities. We needed to fill United States eapis forms via internet. Jut filling the forms took two hours. It is much, much more complicated than for airliner pasangers . For private plane you need to fill everything about airplane you are flying, who owns it, who is operator etc, who is crew and who is passenger and lot of details. If you like reduce time spent there, i recommend to check the form before. If you are European traveling with Visa Waiver, you need also leave the green visa waiver there to be delivered to USA Imigration. We was also needed to call canadian customs that we are arriving Canada two hours before our estimated arrival.
From N756DS Adventures

When we had all of these formalities done, i filed IFR plan just because it was still as easy as it is always in United states. We arrived to Sept-Iles in beautiful weather, landed and refueled. Then I called Canadian customs that we have arrived, they just give to me validation code via phone and no other formalities was needed. Then we fly as VFR to Wabush where we were night. That was nearly last place on our trip where we found reasonable priced lodging without any problems. Later finding place to sleep was always matter of worry.
From N756DS Adventures

In Wabus we checked weather in Kuujjauq, Metar and TAF was indicating weather that was not good at all. There was also problem that if we could not to land Kuujjuaq, it is just our range limits return back to Wabush.

From N756DS Adventures

After little investigation with maps, we found one airfield between them that has also Avgas, Shefferville. Later we found out that Shefferville was also last place in North Canada where you can get Avgas at reasonable price and get it all. We had also problem that there was Notam that said that Kuujjuaq had run out Avgas barrels. Ed had bought one barrel but we were not sure is it there waiting us or not. Cellular phones stopped working when we crossed canadian border and they stayed silent until we arrived t Greenland. We filed IFR plan to Kuujjuaq because we were expecting IMC there. We flew couple of hours over inhabited terrain and when we arrived to Kuujjuaq, weather was turned to be pretty VMC.
From N756DS Adventures

From N756DS Adventures

Kuujjauq is small under 2200 citizen city in Nunavik, autonomous Inuit area in Quebec. All Nunavik has under 12000 inhabitants even the land area 443,684.71 km²is larger than Germany 357,021 km2 . We Finns are learned to think northern Finland, Lapland as sparsely populated area ( 100000 inhabitants in 98,946 km²). When we landed, we went to check Avgas barrels and we found one for us, least we had fuel for next day flight.
From N756DS Adventures

In Kuujjuaq we went first night to Auberge Kuujjuaq Inn and i was shocked when i saw a credit card receipt to sign. Then when we got into our rooms had shower and returned to have
dinner in restaurant, they told that kitchen was closed before 9pm and no food anywhere in this day. There is no other restaurants open later.

From N756DS Adventures

Next day we were unable to depart due weather and even expensive Kuujauq Inn was fully booked. After help of Air Inuit staff we found a nice guest house kept by local Catholic church and even with reasonable price.
From N756DS Adventures

In Iqualuit we wee first night in Navigator Inn with 179 dollars per night. Next night there was no free rooms, we asked tourist info about hotels to go. At first they proposed insanely priced Frobisher Inn, even we don't look like ones having American express Platinum card with unlimited credit in our pocket. After a while we got phone number of one small Bed and Breakfast place, Rannva's Bed and Breakfast. The place was excellent, Rannva was friendly, house was inside beautifully decorated and indicated her great architectural skills. There was magnificient scenery to bay and village. Much better than overpriced boring hotel.
From N756DS Adventures

Lessons to learned about lodging. Lodging in Northern Canada is expensive and availability may be poor. Without mobile phones and Internet it will be really difficult to find place to stay especially if you arriving in at weekend or evening. Good idea would be book at advance but there is problem that due weathers you don't know what exact date you are arriving. Tent may not be so bad alternative at all. And remember to have mosquito poison, they are really hungry and you ay not get it until grocery store is opened next day.

Would I go there again ? Definitely yes. Area is super beautiful, there it is worth of seeing. Scenery and vegetation is completely different where you may be used in other places. There is all kind of terrain, tundra, permafrost, mountains, fjords, lakes, ice lakes etc. You chose what do you like. Local people are kind and friendly it is really worth of meeting them and learn something new about their culture and ways of living.

From N756DS Adventures
Our experincies, whay do you need to know about Flying in arctic Canada, in Nunavut and Nunavik

I decided to collect some hints about flying in Canada after finding them out by hard way. Many things affecting to flying in Canada differs a lot from flying in Europe. Our route was from Presque Iles, United States to Sept Iles, Canada, then lodging one night in Wabush, then couple of nights in Kuujjuaq in Nunavik ad then couple of nights in Nunavut, Iqauluit .

Couple of first issues I noticed. Cellular phones stopped working immediately when we crossed Canadian border and started to work once again we arrived Greenland airspace. If you plan to fly in Northern Canada, I strongly recommend to have a satellite phone. We also discussed with NavCanada Flight service station and they said that satellite phones are now standard way to make position reports. The distances between nearest airports can be several hundred nautical miles so you will be out of airplane radio coverage most of the trip.

Second issue is that in Canada, aviation maps and approach plates are nearly impossible to get. I first asked them from some United States pilot's shops but they did not have them. Then i was thinking that if they are not sold in United States, may be they are sold in Canada but as unpleasant surprise, they are not sold either in airports in Canada. Also, in United States and Europe, Greenland etc all approach plates and least IFR enroute maps are available online but once again Canada is exception, no maps online. Only way to get Canadian maps and approach plates is pre-order them by mail from NavCanada.
From N756DS Adventures
When you fly there, is is soon evident why all required arctic rescue equipments are needed. There may be over hundred nautical miles to nearest road village. If you need to do forced landing, there is no-one that hear your maydays in 121.5 and no one can find your airplane in thousands of square kilometers area if you don't have ELT. Hand GPS is good to have but in case of emergency, do you have means to recharge it ? Magnetic compass and paper map works always.

Roads and railway ends in Shefferville, after it, all cities are like distant islands. All supplies need to be delivered by airplane or ship and that is immediately visible in price. Shefferville is last stop where you can buy Avgas by normal way, after it, most airports don't have it all. There may be or may not be Avgas in Kuujjuaq, check it before. If there is, you need to buy full 50 gallon barrel at time even if you need only 20 gallons. What to do for rest 30 gallons ? That's your problem. I got explanation that it is no longer allowed to sell Avgas to anyone else from unsealed barrel. In Kuujjuaq price was 700 dollars for 50 gallons, 14 dollars/gallon. It may be good idea to carry enough fuel to get directly Iqualuit, there 50 gallon barrel costed under 500 Canadian dollars. When calculating fuel, there is not so many alternates if you can't get to your destination due weather and in most of cases the alternates don't have Avgas.

From N756DS Adventures
Even it is possible to fly to Europe via northern route, Iqualuit, Kangerlussuaq, Kulusuk, Reykjavik without ferry tanks, i start to believe that having 20..50 gallons extra ferry tank installed into plane leaves much more options in fuel planning and may save it's price quickly.

From N756DS Adventures

Yet an other issue, Hotel prices were multiplied by factor of four in Kuujjuaq and in there is no competition. Two hotels, Motel level but price like five starts Hotel, Auberge Kuujjuaq Inn, 299 from double room. Waiting weather improve in Hotel may cost a fortune and both hotels may be fully booked. We found one nice quest house kept by Catholic Church with reasonable price level in Kuujjuaq. As sleeping bags are mandatory rescue equipment, small hiking tent may save it's price in one night.

Iqualuit has more hotels and price level half of Kuujjuaq , you may get room under 200 dollars per night but hotels may be still fully booked. There are bed and breakfast places in Iqualuit but without mobile phone and Internet they may be difficult to find. Tourist info tries always offer most expensive places first and you really need to require something else.

tiistai 24. marraskuuta 2009

perjantai 6. marraskuuta 2009

Landing to Oshkosh

Video about landing to Oshkosh 2009 with N756DS is here:

perjantai 21. elokuuta 2009

We arrived safely to home Wednesday 19.7.2009 evening. The trip was finally over and i felt so good to be at home with my cats. There is lot of stories to tell, many blog articles are waiting to be published. i just need to finish them and chose pictures attached. We got around 200Gigabytes of picture and video material with our EOS 5D mk II .

Our route was following N756DS route in Great Circle mapper

That makes about 9000 Nautical miles and that is not counting yet my Instrument training in Palo Alto or that many legs were not great circle but airways via fixes. You can find more precise tracks and IFR plans from Flightaware N756DS

torstai 20. elokuuta 2009

N756DS video

I quickly collected some video clips from our collection. I created this first because I really loved the
scenery in the Kulusuk, really beautiful mountains:

maanantai 10. elokuuta 2009

Palo Alto to Oshkosh, over the rockies via northern route

After i passed my instrument check ride on Wednesday, we decided to leave as early as possible in Thursday morning. We knew that the trip is over 1700 nautical miles so we can't get it done in one day. Limiting factors are that it needs three to four refueling breaks, Oshkosh airport is closed 8pm and we don't like to cross rockies in darkness.

We knew that there is overcast clouds around 1000..1500feet every morning in SF-bay until 10amm but sun is raising at 6am. We decided to leave hotel 4.30am, went to Palo Alto ( KPAO ). We packed the plane and filed IFR plan with Aopa flight planner web site. Palo Alto tower was closed at this time. We tried activate our IFR plan from ground but radio connection was so bad that we could not do it. Also activation from air was not an option, ceiling around 1000 ft and we were surrounded by mountains and San Francisco Class B airspace. The controller asked us to call him via phone and we got our plan activated via phone. We took off about 6am and climbed immediately inside of cloud. "Climb 3000 expect 6000 within five minutes, fly runway heading, turn 060 within one nautical mile" . There was now in practice what instructor said, the five minutes is essential because there are mountains inside of these clouds and to get top and over mountains we needed more than 3000ft. I got maybe 5 minutes actual inside of clouds and then we climbed to beautiful morning sunrise over the clouds. It was looking a like mountain tops were islands n sea of clouds. After half of hour flight controller cleared us to climb 13000ft for crossing the rockies. When we were fling over 12500ft, it is mandatory to pilot use supplemental oxygen if flight lasts over half of hour. We had also pulse oximeter, small device that measured oxygen saturation from fingertip and we followed all of the time oxygen levels.

After we crossed first part of the mountains, we landed after three and half hour flight to Elko for refueling. The good point in this northern route is there is not so damn hot on aground. In Elko, local FBO had once again excellent facilities for flight planning and we filed IFR plan to Casper . We crossed great salt lake and salt lake city, then long, long flight over dry plains where was growing about nothing.

When we get more near by Casper, plains started to graduately turning more and more green. I Casper . We did know that we can't get to Oshkosh today and it became soon dark. Once again helpful person in local FBO booked hotel for us in our next stop Sioux Falls. We activated or IR plan and continued to Sioux Falls.

Soon it was completely dark and just few lights around. When it was dark and airport was unfamiliar, we decided to ask ILS approach even it vas complete night VFR weather. Once again friendly local FBO called hotel shuttle for us andwe were in bed around 11pm, long day when we woke up around 3am.

Next morning we woke up 6am, too little sleep but it is still better than nothing. We had still three hours flight to Oshkosh. We took off from Sioux Falls 7am and headed towards to Oshkosh. We flew as VFR, weather was good and it is easiest to get Oshkosh as VFR. We used VFR flight following for beginning of our trip but then before Oshkosh, Notam requires us to switch transponder to standby 20 miles before Oshkosh. Transponders just could not work there when there is hyge amount of aircrafts around. We were flying over scattered cloud layer but when we came more near by we decided to descend under of clouds. Oshkosh air traffic controller is very exceptional, airplanes fly pre defined routes just in listen only mode. Then when we were over the Fisk village, tower just said "Diamond Star over Fisk, rock your wings", "Well done" we did it and then he said that turn left , follow road to base runway 31. There was other airplanes landing from right donwind and we just fitted between then as zipper. Finally we were in Oshkosh !!!!

After landing to runway 31 we was thinking that soon we get plane in parking and in the exhibition area but it was not so simple. In Oshkosh aircraft is guided to right place based what sign you put on your window. GAP is General Aviation Parking, GAC General Aviation Camping, EAC is Experimental camping etc. We were guide from one crossing t other, all around all exhibition area then all around runway 21 to passenger terminal area in most opposite corner of airport. It took one hour to taxi in crass with aircraft with small wheels and wheel pants. I wonder why they guided us so far when there was a lot of free places before it. Do they have some strange algorithm not re-using aircraft parking lots if someone has used it couple of days earlier ? I can't find any sense that at all. When we got our plane in parking, there was small man in small tractor selling tie down rope and hooks so that we get our plane tied down. Guide also said that there is buss transportation to exhibition area. We were thinking that is is fast and we can come to pick up our stuff later. I was so, so wrong. it took three hours from landing until we were inside of exhibition area. One hour for taxing plane and tiedowns. Then one hour waiting buss and buss trip all around Oshkosh city and then final last hour queuing tickets in main gate. Little bit later we learned that in case of our plane would be parked some location before passenger terminal, there would be 5 minutes buss ride about every 10 minutes, and separate small aircraft entrance with much less queue.

When we finally got in, i must say that Airventure was really worth of it and we will be there also next year but the Airventure is subject of other blog entry.