Monday, July 11, 2005

Day 3 Recap

Have no fear, fans of all ages, the IFR Pilot and Trusty Dad are once again safely on the ground. We're "camping" at the Holiday Inn in beautiful Grand Prairie, Alberta, Canada. No mid-day update was available due to total lack of internet access at all prior stops. Anyhoooooo, y'all want the details, not the complaints, right?

Morning came bright and early in Galsgow, Montana. You're probably thinking that I'm going to compaint about a crick in my neck after sleeping on the floor. But you'd be WRONG, buddy. Because shortly after I posted last night and laid down, we're were not-so-rudely interrupted by Keith. Now know to me as "Wonderful Keith," he told us that we should be bunking down on the bunk beds in the pilot lounge. Apparently, that was in a part of the building that we hadn't explored once we figured out how to get into the FBO office in Glasgow. So, Dad grabbed the top bunk, I watched a bit of TV, then zonked out in the bottom bunk.

Here's the obligatory picture of Glasgow International Airport:

We took off at 8:05 local time and headed for Lethbridge, Alberta to clear customs. I spent what seemed like 20 minutes on hold with the folks at CanPass. The weather was gorgeous:

Before long, we were crossing the 49th parallel, changing the squawk code to 1200, and invading Canada! Here's how it looked on the Garmin 430:

And here's what the Dynamic Duo looked like as they crossed the border:

Not too much later, we contacted Lethbridge Radio, reported 40 miles out, and, soon enough, were on the ground without incident. There were pretty stiff winds out of the west, 15 knots gusting to 20, but they were pretty much right down the runway. Greaser landing, and 2.7 hours in the book.

Clearing customs on the ground was totally painless. Pickup a direct connect phone, tell them who were were, confirm no changes in the declarations made by telephone earlier, and get the confirmation number. Bam, that's it, we're legally in Canada.

After getting topped off, we hit the FBO to do some flight planning. The line guy who is also a pilot suggested that we skip the Edmonton stop I initially mentioned, and head for Grand Prairie. He said there were plenty of services and amenities available there, and it would be a fine destination. Sold! So, I planned a route north to Edmonton Red Deer, then west to Grand Prairie.

We then went in search of lunch. That was a non-starter, as vending machines were the only option and we didn't have any Canadian coins. No problem, we dug into the supplies we brought and "feasted" on Starkist tuna lunches and granola bars.

Obligatory picture of Lethbridge:

Wheels up at 12:59, we headed north, then west. Started out at 8500 MSL, but just west of Red Deer, I had to drop us to 6500 due to clouds. The terrain quickly turned pretty desolate west of Edmonton. We were in a pretty much continuous light chop, and it was irritating me. Dad, on the other hand, smiled and continued listening to the Bluegrass Junction station on the XM Radio. (Mark, thanks for suggesting that we get one of those!)

About 30 miles south of Whitecourt, we started seeing some showers and I had had enough of the chop. Made a decision to divert to Whitecourt and see what developed. All was well until 5 miles south of the airport, when Whitecourt radio reported that winds had gone from calm to 270 gusting at 20, as a small storm passed over the airport. We circled to the west, then turned for the downwind. I made a short, tight approach, and before you know it, I was laying in the airport lounge with my eye closed.

Two quick hours later, after topping off and picking the brain of a King Air pilot that had just landed, we left for Grand Prairie. Sorry, forgot to take a picture of Whitecourt -- but, let's be honest, there's really not much to see there.

A little over an hour later, we were on the ground in Grand Prairie. Dave at Stow Air topped us off, hooked us up at the local Holiday Inn for $89 Canadian (about $73 US, I think), which includes shuttle service to and from the airport. And, free high speed internet access.

Tomorrow, we're off for Dawson Creek and points beyond. Stay tuned for more updates as things develop.


Sam said...

Glad to hear the trip is going well so far. I'll be following along.

Jason said...

Argh, I am so jealous reading about your trip while sitting here at work! :)