As some of you may already know, my other passion in life is aviation. At the age of three, I was bit by the flying bug while touring around with my dad in his fathers Piper Colt enroute for him to earn enough flight hours to some day make a living flying. Many years have past since the afternoon I sacrificed my fathers hat in a violent fit of motion sickness from the right seat of that old Colt. Now that I’m old enough to see over the dash I’ve acquired many hours myself in the left seat of various small airplanes. Hats off to anyone who would do that for a living though, I’ll stick to the computer world.
Several years back, my father and I traveled to South Bend, Indiana to purchase a Beechcraft Sundowner and bring it back to Canada where it would serve many sorties in the Rocky Mountains and the far north of Saskatchewan while I earned my own pilot wings. But old retired people don’t fit into Sundowners (knees ya’ know), so up for sale that airplane went and thus began the search for something that would rise above mountains yet not cause bankruptcy in the process.
An extremely early morning flight took us to this Cessna 182 Turbo RG in Cornwall, Ontario. With the gear tucked into the belly it was also nearly 50% faster than the ol’ Sundowner! Fill the oxygen tank in this bird and no mountains could possibly stand in the way. After a thorough inspection and test flight, the cheque was signed and off to the hotel we went to plan the journey back to Saskatoon for the next morning.
We departed Cornwall at 7:07 A.M. and turned towards Ottawa where we would join the airway to our first pit stop – Sudbury. This was our first real opportunity to shake the plane and see what worked and what didn’t.
The first leg was obviously my fathers. Due to a lack of transmit button for the radio on my side of the airplane, I was relieved from the duty of radio officer as we navigated through the busy airspace of southern Ontario. In the end it worked out, as I was able to snap this great picture of downtown Ottawa.
I looked over at our moving map display on the iPad to discover it was no longer charging. Re-seating the cigarette adapter did nothing to solve our lack of power and all circuit breakers were in the correct positions, I removed the adapter to discover the USB plug was hot to the touch! Neither of us really wanted to get the paper maps out and use radio navigation aides to get us home. I remembered I had another power adapter in my bag – which was unfortunately out of reach in the baggage compartment. Fortunately there was enough battery in the iPad to get us to Sudbury to retrieve my adapter from the baggage compartment.
On arrival in Sudbury, another minor scare greeted us in the form of oil all over the side of the engine cowling. I really wish I would’ve remembered to take a picture of the mess, but we were too busy working the problem. Pulling out the oil dipstick revealed that we had lost two quarts of oil over the last two hours. In a flash, the engine cowling came off to determine the source of what was clearly a very nasty leak – but none was to be found! Despite the owners manual indicating the capacity of the oil sump being 8 quarts, we choose to heed the advice of our mechanic that it was most likely over filled and instead only held the six quarts we now had. A five minute mutual risk assessment dictated we continue on our journey, even if it was still leaking oil we wouldn’t run out by the time we got to our next stop – Thunder Bay.
With the oil wiped off the side of the plane and the replacement power adapter in place, we continued on our journey – this time with myself at the controls. I took the opportunity to play with the auto-pilot, a first for me. In calm air it would hold altitude near flawlessly and with a little bit of help it would also hold a heading too, great for those long straight trips – as most flights tend to be.
We choose to take air ways that would lead us around large bodies of water in case of engine failure, which led us straight over the town of Marathon where we would make our turn for Thunder Bay.
We arrived in Thunder Bay to discover that our mechanic had indeed been correct, the engines oil reserves still sat at six quarts – thanks Ken! This was great news, as we could continue our journey home with a bit more peace of mind. A weather briefing for our next leg to Winnipeg indicated the weather had closed in near the Manitoba – Saskatchewan border, likely impeding our progress for the final leg to Saskatoon. Since neither of had any desire to stay in Thunder Bay, we decided to empty our tanks and fill up the airplanes and head for Winnipeg in hopes the weather had improved by then.
Now in Winnipeg, we crossed our fingers and checked the weather. The weather that was threatening to stop us at the border was now just west of Saskatoon, making it was safe to continue. However we choose not to waste too much time on the ground in Winnipeg, the same weather briefing also indicated the storm front that had been chasing us all day was set to collide with the nasty weather system near Saskatoon around 11pm. So we topped up the tanks again and made haste for our warm beds.
Our gamble paid off, now safe on the ground outside the hangar – we made it to home safe to fly another day. After two days of extremely early mornings, we were both exhausted. We filled out the log book and headed for bed, barely 8 o’clock.
I look forward to many more adventures with this plane.