Monday, April 26, 2010
Comox & Snowbirds
After a LONG wait for my engine and prop to come home after an exceptional overhaul and paint job at Ameritech in Redding it was time to fly off the 15 hours.... below 2000 feet and full power.... where better to go than Comox, BC to watch the Snowbirds final practice? Michael Town put in a tough couple of days getting the Edge back together and by early Thrusday afternoon she was ready to go!
I chose to fly up the west cost all the way to Vancouver island to where the Snowbirds were finishing their 3 weeks of training... check out my track from SPOT MESSENGER here:
My Flight Path
I had a later start than expected after my 4am wake up but the flight worked out perfectly! I went all the way up the coast of California, Oregon and Washington.... I cut inland to clear customs and cross the water to Vancouver Island!! The coastal hills were so green and the sunset over the mountains in Canada was breath-taking.... here are a few pics from my journey...
I stayed the night in Nanaimo, BC where I cleared customs.... very easy by the way... just a phone call to CANPASS after filing a flight plan and your EAPIS....JUST DON'T FORGET EAPIS!! I continued my journey from there up the coast to a little airpark just West of Nanaimo called Courtenay.... it was stunning!!! This airpark is full of float planes and sail boats and very cool bush planes that you would expect to see north of the border... I had a sporty landing trying to avoid the beautiful Ravins, Bald Eagles and Harings as I touched down between the trees and rolled out between Beavers, cubs on floats, sail boats and hangars... Check out the view from above:
I had a very cool parking spot too, check out my neighbor!! An extended cab Beaver!! Steam gauges and all :)
And now the fun begins.... yes the flight below 2K along the ocean and past beautiful mountains into Canada was fun... but me and 20 guys with fun jets.... even better!! I walked the few blocks to the hotel where everyone was staying and had some dinner and a few drinks with the gang.... Canadians are all so nice.... funny accents and all 'Eh?' haha. The next morning was to be their final 'Beach Show' where the public was invited to watch... I had the opportunity to stand front and center with Eric Willrich and Dan Rossi (the boys in red) to listen in to the radios! Needless to say you could tell that they had all been practicing every day for 3 weeks because everything was beautiful, crisp and nicely presented... the crowd loved it! The morning and afternoon were chilly with a bit of rain and clouds but as they would call it... we had a perfect 'Snowbird hole' at show time! I met the Snowbird's 'number 1 fan' Gordo who made the 'snowbird cut-outs' in the first picture of this blog and did a great job of introducing the team over the Mic to the crowd! The birds have a few new tricks up their sleeve for 2010 that I'm sure everyone will enjoy and I can't wait to see them again later this year in Janesville and a handful of other locations!! Oh and I'm pretty sure that Marc doesn't usually wear the 'very cool' stache in this pic hehe :)
And of course I can't forget to mention the last night pub outing.... I believe they called this the 'stale beer pub' though my beer wasn't stale at all haha. To get there we walked past the airpark where my Edge sat and I had the opportunity to show the entire team, including their General my Edge!! Happy looks quite happy sitting in it and I'm pretty sure that if I gave him the key he would have been flying in an instant :) It was a great time and a very cool opportunity to take part in their last evening celebrations and toasts and see what happens 'behind the scenes' of a jet team....
And now we are getting to the final leg of my journey!! After a good nights sleep I packed my bags and walked back to the airpark where the Edge waited for me.... looking at my watch thinking I'm running on perfect time I should have remember what my Grandma always says.... 'time to spare...go by air' and I was about to prove that true! The card reader on the fuel machine wouldn't read my card so I sat there trying...and trying... and trying.... no one was working because it was a Sunday (note to self....traveling on Sunday's through small towns is not the best idea if you are in a hurry)... finally a very nice man and his wife came over and offered to buy my fuel for me and I could send them a check later... what did I say, Canadians are so friendly!! As I was fueling the plane I saw 2 very cute little girls on the walking path looking over the path and seeing as someone had just done a nice thing for me I thought that I could do a nice thing for them so I invited them and their parents over to check out the Edge! The little girls took turns sitting in the plane and trying the controls and trying on my headset and I think that we might just have a few more women aviators on our hands in another 15 years! They even waited to watch me take off.... I love that part of aviation!
Once on my way I waved goodbye to Canada as I crossed the water and landed in Boeing Field to pass through customs...also a pain free process... looking at my watch again I thought that I was doing alright if I didn't run into too many more delays....
That being said my fuel pressure started acting up on me and jumping all over the chart so I landed as a precaution to check things out.... delay number 2!! After a bit of searching a sweet old man helped me to find a mechanic to take a look at things.... the fuel lines all seemed fine and nothing was leaking so it must have just been the gauge.... but everything happens for a reason I think and that kind mechanic just happened to have a troop of cub scouts out at the airport for a field trip that day! Good deeds should never go without another in return so I happily gave a tour of the Edge and let the scouts check out the cockpit one at a time and try on the headset..... who could resist those smiles??? Here they are :)
Next fuel stop in California..... I landed only to discover that no one was working and had to back track 10 miles to another airpark....where again.... no one was to be found..... luckily after about 45 min I was able to track down someone fueling a small airliner and they were able to fill me up. What did I say before? 'Time to spare...go by air...never time to be in a hurry!' I was able to make it home before sunset and the last leg went very smooth and the lighting on the coast and through the hills was magnificent.... Once back in Tracy I found that they had re-painted the parking lot in the few days I was gone and I was left with my very own parking spot hahaha, sorry guys!! Thinking that my journey was over I started the drive back....only to make a wrong turn and my 1.5 hr drive turned into a 3.5 good thing I was in the car by then!! It was in all an amazing trip and entirely worth every second of the journey :) After all... life is about the journey... isn't it? Safe flying to everyone and let the summer begin!!
Coming up next.... Airshow in Japan!!!