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CT across Canada....a smoky ride

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Last week I was asked to ferry a CTSW from British Columbia (BC) to Montreal.  The new owner, Patrick, a low time UL pilot, wanted a CT NOW, and there is one for sale …….2300 miles away!

Weather forecast was good for the week but western Canada was hit by a heat wave, which made the grounds VERY dry and caused many forest fires in BC and Northern Ontario, our planned route...as long as we could get out of the mountains, we should be OK.

This 2006 edition is equipped with ‘usual’ dual Dynon, but has also a constant speed Kaspar propeller and 3 axis auto-pilot. I have flow with Dynons before, but first time with CS prop and AP (which we didn’t used). My 2005 CT has nothing of these ‘gadgets’. I wanted it light.

So, we left from YUL (Montreal) on Saturday morning, and arrived to Cranbrook, BC in the PM where Heinz and Margot picked us up and drove to Fairmont Hot Springs airport where they live. That’s in the Rockies…but we didn’t see much of the mountains, as the area was surrounded by forest fires and the hour drive north gave us an idea of the terrain to fly back south the next morning.

It was 30°C + and visibility was …low… to say the least. The rest of the day was spent to visit the plane and get acquainted with the various systems. All papers work done and Patrick went to bed now a new member of the CT flier’s community.

We took off Sunday morning with no wind, but visibility marginal…sideways and a bit less ahead. Fairmont Hot Springs is located in the Columbia Valley in the Canadian Rockies between the Purcell and Rocky Mountains. I was glad I got some experience in ‘’valley flying’’ in New Zealand. (Thanks: John, Roy, Greg & Jacques #1). There is a VFR route on the VNC map, so, we kept the plane over the dotted line in the GPS and 2 hours later, we were in Lethbridge, Alberta, where the visibility had improved a little but at least we were over the prairies for the rest of the day so we could fly safely low level… as visibility was getting worst at altitude.

We relaxed in Lethbridge, cleaned the windshield, cowl and wings of the zillion bugs and took off for Swift Current, SK, for a planned fuel stop. Then, we realized that we should have left with a prepared lunch in the morning… lunch was now our new ‘mission’…

We landed in Moose Jaw municipal to found nothing but 4 bags of chips which didn’t last very long. There was nobody at the airport, located way out of town. We kept going east, visibility was getting better and found a grass strip adjacent to the small town of Grenfell, SK.

Ten minutes walking from the field and we were sitting in a restaurant with a decent meal…it was really time for me… ouf!  The next flight was for 3.2 hours and we landed at Lyncrest airfield, just outside of Winnipeg.  A very nice (gorgeous) Bell 47 helicopter had just landed few minutes before us, and Scott, the pilot, gladly gave us a ride (by car) to the nearest motel.

That was it for the 1st day, about 950 miles in 7.8 hours as planned…  ALL GOOD…almost… as after removing the cowlings, we discovered some oil ‘trail’ under the belly and we had the voltmeter reading only 13.2 volt since the start… well…..something to look at once back home…

…but we didn’t have to wait that long…

Lyncrest is an ‘’recreational aviation’’ airfield and is home of the Springfield Flying Club. They have a nice club house and the next morning, a couple of members were there to help with the fuel. After refueling with Mogaz, and a thorough inspection of the plane, we headed east for Kenora, Dryden and Thunder Bay, our next stop for fuel and food. Half way, as our route was going south, the air was getting smoky again because Northern Ontario was also affected by numerous forest fires. We went back to IFR mode (I Follow Roads) and made it to Thunder Bay where we got a ride for the lunch and refueled with Avgaz.  Next target, Sault-Ste-Marie, following the Lake Superior northeast shore all the way as visibility was very very very ordinary.

About an hour later, and an hour before Wawa, the voltmeter started to indicated a lower voltage. 13.2…13…12.…11. 9.9 is the last # we saw before everything went black.

No Dynons, no radio, xponder or intercom… Patrick’s Garmin 796 switched to battery power....and flying with the dial airspeed and altimeter…with rugged terrain below and not much of horizon ahead, side and below visibility were so so... but ok for now.  We made it to Wawa, NORDO, with a dead battery … found a motel … and it was beer o’clock!

Now what’s next Jacques?  Patrick’s asking me: do you know anybody in Wawa…?    Well, guess what… about a month ago, a guy on my field sold his 912 equipped Murphy Rebel to a guy from…Wawa!   I called the seller, who gave me the new owner’s phone # …left a message and we went to bed with all kinds of scenarios in our heads.

6 am next morning, who’s knocking at our door…? The Rebel owner (Patrick as well) coming back from his night shift at the mine.  He went to pick up his F250 and some tools and we headed to the airport, grabbing a coffee at the motel.  We did some test to conclude that we needed another voltage regulator and why not another battery if we could find one. We drove to his place, removed the regulator from the Rebel, managed to get a battery that fitted the case (using some MacGyver tricks) and we were good to go by noon….  Voltage meter now showing…13.2 same as from the start…hum…???  So, we closed as many breakers as we could; (Lights & Autopilot).

As we made it en route, the CS propeller was stuck to fine pitch, riding low and slow, IFR again, we reached Sault-Ste-Marie where visibility had improved a little but was very still hazy. Landing just before us, a C172 en route for North Bay (our next destination) and was coming back to file an IFR flight plan as VFR was not possible. Well…not looking good Patrick… let’s think about it. We had bought our lunch before leaving Wawa, and an hour or so later, we decided to give it a try. Meantime, we learned from the seller that the CS  prop system was using the autopilot breaker. Ah ah! This was the source of the prop…blem.  The terrain now was much more friendly and we could fly safely at low altitude (still IFRoad).  The visibility kept getting better and from Sudbury to North Bay, it was very nice.  North Bay has a 10,004’ runway, we thought it could be busy, but not. No COM on the frequency for the ½ hour before arrival.  I think I woke up the controller.


The voltage had stayed at 13.2 and the next morning, it was a smooth ride over fog banks covering the forest below. Petawawa military gave us permission to cross a CYR zone but away of CYR511, so we divert a little and made it to Gatineau, Québec and from now, COM were in français… A little rest, a good check under the hood and we’re ready for the last stretch to Beloeil airport CSB3 where Flight Design C-IZZI is now based. There are now 4 CTs in Québec, of the 21 in Canada.

About 2300 miles and 20 hours flight later, we put C-IZZI in his new hangar, I drove Patrick home, we had a good lunch and I drove the 2 hours back home (CST7) with good memories and a voltage problem to solve.


few pictures below

BC trip Google Earth.jpeg

BC trip_02.JPG

BC trip_06.JPG

BC trip_08.JPG

BC trip_12.JPG

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go ahead    you have the best plane for that  

life is short   live your dreams  don't dream your life


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Great trip report Jacques.  You're much braver than I.   Let us know what resolves the voltage concern.

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Looks like quite an adventure!  Sorry about your mechanical issues, but it seems to have worked out. 

That visibility looks to be as bad as anything I have flown my CT in.

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