blending an assortment of thoughts and experiences for my friends, relations and kindred spirit

blending an assortment of thoughts and experiences for my friends, relations and kindred spirit
By Alison Hobbs, blending a mixture of thoughts and experiences for friends, relations and kindred spirits.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Day 11: islands in the mist

The sales manager of the Prince Arthur drove us to the airport herself, in the courtesy car, telling us of her hopes for Thunder Bay and her hotel. They're close to the U.S. border so are always hoping for American tourists to create a livelihood.

Chocks away at the F.B.O. and an easy take off from the intersection of taxiway Bravo with Runway 25. We were flying VFR again, in the hope that the morning fog would have lifted sufficiently for us to land 220 km away at Marathon. There was no fog in sight at the start of this flight; we had an unimpeded view of the water beneath our wheels and our lifejackets on, again. We were flying last week's route in reverse, along the line of islands to avoid the straight line across Lake Superior, and as we began to veer east we did notice the sea of low lying fog ahead, with islands sticking out of it like lumps of pudding in white custard; actually it was far more beautiful than that and I did my best to get some good photos. The reflections in the window pane frustrate me though. Not until the last 20 miles did we realise that Marathon airport would be in the clear; otherwise we'd either have had to fly on to Chapleau without stopping or return to Thunder Bay!

Chris refuelled at Marathon, knowing how to work the self service pump this time but still getting his hand trapped when recoiling the big hose. Flying's a hazardous occupation! Fortunately a lady was at work in the airport who could tell us which direction to take along the highway to find some lunch at a gas station restaurant, so we didn't need to unpack our emergency pot noodles and search for a kettle. And the walk stretched our legs.

For the next, longer leg, were cleared to North Bay airport via YSP AR16 YLD RR10 YSB V316 YYB at 7000 ft, which meant we would be travelling nearly the whole route in uncontrolled airspace. With no internet access at either the restaurant or airport in Marathon, Chris had had to phone for an old fashioned flight briefing from Winnipeg flight services, and I'd only heard his side of the conversation, so wasn't sure what to expect in the way of clouds en route. They were small and low enough to start with, and we were soon through and above them on our climb to 7000, but after about 20 minutes the clouds began to climb too, and then we were disconcertingly in and out of the tops for miles. When in the clouds it was bumpy flying. Our few moments' respite between clouds were in smooth air. As we progressed, the clouds got higher and bumpier and more joined up, though I kept hoping for them to thin out, and they did for a while, around the half way point above Chapleau. Over the airwaves though, we were beginning to hear the voices of other pilots in planes large and small finding themselves in difficulty to the south, especially around Toronto, because big storms were building there.

North Bay with TCUs to the east of Lake Nipissing
The city of Sudbury with its famous nickel mine chimney came in sight 2 hours 20 minutes after our take off from Marathon, and then we turned left and said to one another, we're nearly there (at North Bay). But we had a biggish cloud ahead on our own route and despite the fact that ATC had allowed us to start our descent there was nothing for it but to go through the middle where it was raining heavily, dark and turbulent (probably towering to about 10000ft, not much more). Chris delights in these challenges, but I don't so much, and what it would be like inside a fully grown towering cumulus I don't like to imagine. We were probably only in that cloud for about 10 minutes and Chris was managing to look up waypoints on the computer and talk to ATC and so on while I was clinging on to the strap and making complaints. I hope he just ignores me. What a relief to come through to the Other Side and see Lake Nipissing and North Bay and, indeed, the airport ahead, all in sunlight and calm Visual Meteorological Conditions. We'd been cleared for the VOR / DME approach to runway 26 via DAVUM but didn't need it because we'd got clear of the clouds.

PTN (the C172 on the right) with larger aircraft at CYYB
After we landed two Westjet Boing 737s landed and taxied onto the ramp behind us having been diverted from Toronto. The passengers all had to stay on board. Chris and I could get out of our own plane and now we're at one of the Travelodge hotels in North Bay, and I'm going to have a swim in the pool. We ate at Wacky Wings this evening where you'd be able to wear what looks like a dead chicken on your head if it were your birthday party.


CWC said...

The Modis people ( love that ship-wake stuff. And dust storms. And gravity waves. They don't have this one that I can see. Is it on the north shore of Superior?

Alison Hobbs said...

Yes, all the islands pictured are on the north shore of Lake Superior between Thunder Bay and Marathon.