Monday, April 14, 2008

Ice Capades

(Simcoe ice shots at the end of the post)

“Flight line, this is OYR”…I released the button and waited for answer. It did not come. I thought may be my handheld radio was not working and powered up the plane radios. “Flight line, this is OYR” yet again was met with nothing but silence. My buddy and I looked at each other in complete disbelief, frustration written all over our faces.

It was a few months of not flying or flying at night, and a few months of not flying, period, for my pilot friend. The weather was supposed to be miserable for 5 days straight, but as my booking time came up, the skies miraculously parted, winds died and plane was available and had nothing broken in it. There was just one little problem. There was an icy rain the night before and the airplane was covered in ice blobs of various size and we could not raise maintenance over the radio to ask for the de-ice. With ice covering the critical surfaces such as wings and tail, we could not fly.

The sun was starting to shine and melted some, but not enough for me to deem it flyable. We thought of turning the plane so that sun would reach all the surfaces, but thought better of it as winds were starting to pick up and natural melting would take time that we did not have.

Running out of ideas and time, I remembered something: “Do you have an old credit card?”. My buddy looked at me funny, until I mentioned that I read about people cleaning the ice of the planes with the credit cards. Naturally, in that story, the protagonist was stuck in the middle of nowhere in Africa, while we were standing on the apron of one of the biggest flight schools in Canada with sizeable maintenance department, but at that moment we could as well have been in Africa, as if that plane did not get clean in the next 30 mins, we were not flying anywhere.

Desperation and desire to be in the air made for an incredible teamwork and, with a little help of the sun, loosening some of the ice, we scraped the plane clean in 15 mins and soon were strapping in for a local flight.

I was happy to have my pilot buddy along as I really enjoyed our night flight a few months ago. Plus I wanted to take some shots of the ice status of the usual diving spots, so having a second pilot in the cockpit would allow me to concentrate on a camera instead of trying to fly and shoot at the same time.

We had a bit of the wind up our nose and our progress towards the Lake Simcoe was slow, but I knew we’d pick up the time coming back, so was not worried. We chatted about training and renting successes and frustrations and daydreamed about plane ownership – the usual thing pilots do.

Soon, we arrived at the Lake and I passed controls to my buddy, and pulled my camera. For a next little while we flew towards the diving spots and then my buddy was executing various turns as I tried to get a good angle. The lake was still completely iced over, but the ice was very thin in a lot of places and I predicted it would start cracking and disappearing within a week.

Eventually, the time was up, I took the controls back, flew us back home and even managed a fairy decent landing. A happy end. And the pictured turned out OK too.

Cooks Bay and our left wing

Kemperfield Bay - still very frozen, but very thin ice.

Go Trains at Barrie terminal. I take the Barrie Go trains to work, so was neat to see where they parked them over the weekend (the service is Monday to Friday).

Centennial Beach

Big Bay Point Dock, 2 angles

The point