2020 was an epic flying year for my son Daniel, his friend Theo, and me as we had the opportunity to fly our new plane across the country, to its new home in Nova Scotia from its previous home in Kamloops, British Columbia.
The idea for a new plane started in May of that year when flying in our 172 to the south shore of Nova Scotia. My wife suggested that a bigger plane with longer range would be ideal for future travel. Well, that was it for me—the hunt was on. After an exhaustive search of the usual plane ads, Daniel found a beautiful 1962 Cessna 182E in the unlikely Facebook marketplace.
After contacting the owner for more information and learning the annual inspection was due, I let the owner know that I was very keen on the plane and wanted to observe the inspection. Mountainaire Services in Kamloops (CYKA) put some work aside and agreed to help us out. Once the logistics of cross-Canada travel in a pandemic were figured out, one-way tickets from Halifax to Vancouver were purchased and the adventure was on.
The annual was snag-free with a few minor repairs that were taken care of. The previous owner, Carlos, was a pleasure to meet and work with. Although the plane was well loved and a great find for us, it was hard for him to let it go.
As a flat land, east coast pilot, I felt it was prudent to hire a check pilot for the route through the mountains. With the inspection and sale complete and weather coming in for the next few days, we planned to leave the next day. Dan and Theo, licensed glider pilots and Air Cadets, were excited to be a part of the adventure and were helping out as much as they could. Hand flying for 2500 miles was a big task.
We chose the VFR route through the mountains from Kamloops (CYKA) to Revelstoke to Golden through Kicking Horse Pass, along Lake Louise, past Banff to Springbank (CYBW) in Alberta. The Purcell mountains and the higher Rockies were spectacular and quite foreboding in their sheer size.
We were lucky to have Tyler along as he gave me some more good tips on dealing with wind, what side of the ridge to fly, and pointers on weather and clouds that were at the tops of some of the peaks. Flying alongside a sheer cliff at 7500 feet with it continuing on up to over 10,000 was a memorable moment. As we flew along it felt like the wingtip would graze the trees and snow-covered peaks.
We landed without too much trouble in Springbank (CYBW), topping off tanks and dropping Tyler off to fly back to BC commercial. We were excited to see the continent ahead of us. 300 miles of the world’s most beautiful scenery were behind us and we were surprised at how fast it seemed to go by.
Our next leg took us over the flatlands of the Prairies. The horizon seemed to stretch beyond forever. We landed at Yorkton Municipal (CYQV) in Saskatchewan just at dusk. The FBO there, called Leading Edge Aviation, had someone waiting for us even though they had closed a few hours before. An almost 500 nautical mile and 3.3 hour leg. We had a nice tailwind and our groundspeed at times was over 170kts.
Our next day started fairly early as we planned to make it to somewhere in western Ontario, overflying Manitoba. So far the trip had been CAVU but the clouds this morning in Manitoba had us bouncing around at 3500 feet under a fairly solid layer of cumulus. The scenery gradually changed from orderly fields of canola and other crops to the hard, lake-filled wilderness of the Canadian Shield. We discussed the role that floatplanes have in a remote area such as this and the fun you could have in the wilderness with thousands of lakes to choose from. The stop in Dryden was as far as we wanted to go that day. We covered 479 nm that day, almost all of it in bumpy air. It was a long day.
That evening we thought we might plan the southern route along the shore of Lake Ontario due to forecasted weather further north in Timmons. It was calling for snow! The FSS controller suggested we try closer to the Great Lakes and down to Manitoulin Island for our first stop, as it was showing clearing later in the morning. The flight was a 7500 ft. cruise without a cloud in the sky as we passed Thunder Bay, Ontario. The combination of the remoteness of the wilds and the size of Lake Superior really had us talking about the vastness of our country. Our stop in Gore Bay, Manitoulin Island (CYZE), Ontario, was a quick fuel-up for us and the plane. This leg was a 4-hour, 510 nm stretch of pure Canadian wilderness.
On our way to Ottawa now we decided to do a fly by of downtown Toronto. Flying down the peninsula between Lake Huron and Georgian Bay was impressive and totally not what we expected to see. The clear blue water and sandy shoreline reminded me of flights to the Caribbean. The controllers for Toronto Pearson (CYYZ) airspace allowed us entry into the corridor along Lake Ontario at 2000 ft., flying past the CN Tower and Toronto Island. The city center controller allowed us a low, 200-foot pass over the runway at Billy Bishop Toronto City (CYTZ). After this fun diversion we were on our way to Rockcliffe (CYRO), Ottawa. Another 3.5-hour, 500 nm leg under our belt. This made for a 1000 nm day.
Next day, the departure from Rockcliffe was held up by a low cloud base that was expected to lift. We planned to make it to Nova Scotia in one long leg. We spent a while dodging cumulus and had a hard time selecting an altitude to be comfortable. At 3500 we bounced around for most of Quebec and Maine. Our route took us past Montreal and southeastern Quebec, over Maine to New Brunswick and to our home in Debert, NS (CCQ3). It was our longest leg: 4.5 hours and 543 nm.
From the 28th of May, my first contract with the owner, to the 13th of June when we landed at home, was roughly two weeks. I am still amazed how everything worked out so perfectly for us. My wife Wendy said from the start it was the right plane at the right time. This trip will always be one of my fondest flying memories.