My favourite type of flying adventure is the ferry flight, bringing an airplane with quirks unknown to its new home base. In this adventure, my father and I are off to Cornwall, Ontario to acquire my father’s new Cessna 182.
We had completed the pre-purchase inspection the night before, including removing every cover reasonably removable and performing a thorough visual inspection. After a few quick laps in the traffic pattern to test electrical systems and a cheque signing, we returned to our hotel for a hot meal and to plan our trip home the next morning.
Come morning we were utterly amazed how humid the Ottawa Valley gets, even in the fall. Still not entirely sure why we did not put the wing covers on the night before, we made quick work of removing all of the light frosts that had accumulated overnight.
Departing Cornwall at 7:07 AM, we set our sights north westbound to join the airway for Sudbury. This first leg was our first opportunity to give all of the systems a good shakedown test to see what worked and what didn’t. Just before we traversed Ottawa’s airspace, I grabbed our handheld radio to make sure it would work in the event of a power failure.
Years back, on the first leg of another ferry flight from South Bend, Indiana back to Saskatoon, we failed to notice the alternator charge needle physically stuck under the glass. The lack of a working indicator snowballed into us not recognizing a failed alternator and subsequent battery depletion in time. The result was a loss of radio communications inside low-level Chicago airspace post 9/11. The controllers were quite relieved once we managed to reach them on the phone from the ground at a nearby uncontrolled airport.
All the same, I was glad to see the handheld radio power on and hear the terminal controllers voice.
Since the right seat lacked a push-to-talk for the radio, our first leg had me in the right seat as a passenger instead of manning the radio. With downtown Ottawa now under our wing, I quickly snapped a photo of the landscape to document this brief but exciting journey.
Barely a half hour into the mission, we encountered our first glitch. I glanced over at our moving map on the iPad to discover the unit was no longer charging. After running my hands across the charging cable to make sure both ends were plugged in, I discovered a power adapter so hot to the touch that I endured minor, first-degree burns!
Working on the suspicion that even the cigarette lighter ran off the 24-volt electrical system instead of 12-volt, I grabbed another adapter I had in my flight bag that accepted both voltages, and we continued on our day without the need for our paper maps. We would later discover that I was correct. The 12-volt cigarette lighter standard was not a thing until a few years after this plane took to the skies. Cessna’s in years following stepped down the voltage in the outlet.
Pulling into Sudbury, we were horrified to discover a massive oil leak all over the side of the engine cowling. Pulling the dipstick revealed that we had lost two quarts of oil, but the mess was so big we could not determine the source of our leak. A quick call to our mechanic back home put us at ease, despite the fact the manual said the oil sump held eight quarts, it was best only to use six quarts. He let us know it had most likely just blown out the oil breather.
While eating lunch, we checked the weather for our next leg and began to decide exactly how much we trusted the engine to keep turning. Even though we had life jackets on board and the good wishes of our mechanic, we opted to take the northern route around the lake to Thunder Bay.
Our next leg had me in the left seat, and I wasted no time fiddling with the autopilot. In smooth air, it did a great job of keeping us pointed at our destination, only having to intervene a few times going through light turbulence.
We were happy to discover six quarts of oil still onboard when we arrived in Thunder Bay. Thanks, Ken! Welcome news for us, we could stop worrying about the engine which had otherwise operated flawlessly, and focus on the weather closing in on the eastern border of Saskatchewan - an imaginary line we had yet to cross.
By the time we arrived in Winnipeg and picked up yet another weather briefing, the storm had moved well out of our way. We were now confident in the aircraft enough to continue into the night, and it was time for some good old fashion radio navigation. I tuned up the VOR’s both in front and behind us, dialled in our radial, while ForeFlight gave us a third opinion on our progress humming away on the iPad.
The weather gamble paid off, and we made it back safe and sound to Saskatoon. We filled out the log book and headed for bed, barely 8 o’clock. One full day of airline and car travel, followed by one full day of flying leaves a person exhausted!
The total trip covered 2,200 kilometres and took us 13 hours in total. As a citizen of Western Canada, I am often too quick to write off the east. Ontario hosts a beautiful countryside, with very friendly people. I cannot wait to revisit the province some day.