Ferry Flight - Part 2 Canada

Jesper Eriksson

Part 2 of the ferry flight journey takes our pilots on a new adventure to Canada, heading north towards Greenland and crossing the first little part of the Atlantic. You can't always predict the weather and our pilots are actually getting stuck for days and needs to tie down the aircraft due to really bad weather conditions. 

>>Read the first part of the journey: Ferry Flight - Part 1 USA<<

Des Moines - Sault Ste. Marie

We woke up on the day after, checked the weather while in our hotel rooms and decided that it seemed good enough for some more IFR flying. We went down to the breakfast, right when it opened, and had a quick sandwich and an apple and then we left with the airport shuttle to the FBO (Fixed Base Operator). At the airport we printed our flight logs, checked the weather, NOTAMs, did our normal pre-flight walk around the aircraft to make sure it was safe for flight. Then we took off. 

It was one of those lovely morning departures where it is clouds overcast at 300 feet and rainy. But just a minute after entering the clouds we broke out on-top to see only blue skies and a beautiful sunrise in the east.

Blue skies and beautiful sunrise

Unfortunately for us the clouds obscured great parts of Iowa, Wisconsin and Michigan. But on the other hand, we got to enjoy snacks and blue skies on top – while the people on the ground only got rain and overcast. So, we did not mind.

Approaching Sault Ste. Marie

After about three hours it was time to start our approach planning for Sault Ste. Marie, Canada. We got the airport weather and it would hold for a visual approach. The cloud ceiling started to clear up as we overflew Lake Superior and when we got the field in sight, we were cleared for the visual approach.

Sault Ste. Marie is literally just on the US/Canadian border, and the city is actually divided into two parts. Sault Ste. Marie, USA and Sault Ste. Marie, Canada both of which have their own airports.

Approach to Sault Ste. Marie

So, when we were cleared for the visual approach, the tower emphasized that it was in fact the Canadian airport we were cleared to land on. I assume this was for good reason, I can imagine that there have been incidents where aircraft have mistaken the US airport for the Canadian airport and vice versa. Resulting in both landing in the wrong country, but also landing without a landing clearance.

We already included this into our approach briefing and managed to land in the correct country! Jokes aside, it was a pretty approach.

Next destination: La Grande Riviere Airport

After landing we called up CANPASS which is where general aviation aircraft declare that they have landed and wishes to enter the country. Since we declared that we would arrive the day before, this went very smoothly and we had finally crossed our first international border on this ferry flight!

It was a great feeling to have made some real progress. But there was no time available for celebration, we went straight to the terminal to buy some refreshments and visit the restroom. Then we went to the FBO, checked the weather and re-fueled the Cessna's (and had to explain twice that, YES, we indeed wish you to fill up the Cessna's with JET fuel).  

After this we got airborne again just on time to beat the darkness at our estimated time of arrival at our next destination – La Grande Riviere Airport.

The special thing about this leg was when the air traffic controller advised us that “We will lose both radar and radio coverage in about 10 nautical miles. Monitor enroute frequency and contact La Grande Riviere when 80 miles from the airport.”

The special thing about this leg was when the air traffic controller advised us that “We will lose both radar and radio coverage in about 10 nautical miles. Monitor enroute frequency and contact La Grande Riviere when 80 miles from the airport.”

This in itself is not dangerous, we just monitored the enroute frequency where other traffic reports their position, and we report ours to know whether there is a risk of conflict. However, it felt a bit strange to be all alone out there over the wilderness. It was times like these it felt so great that we had one Personal Locator Beacon each, as well as the Emergency Locator Transmitter built in to the aircraft plus all our survival gear.

Just before sunset we landed in La Grande Riviere and took a taxi to Radisson in Quebec, Canada. 

Stuck in La Grande Riviere

There we got stuck a couple of days due to bad weather, with icing conditions and strong winds. We had winds on the ground gusting up to 55 knots, which meant that we had to tie down the aircraft, make them as heavy as possible to avoid having two airplanes go flying without us.



Video blog: Stuck in La Grande Riviere Airport

Radisson is a small village with approximately 250 inhabitants. The main industry up there is the huge hydro plant. Our days consisted of flight planning, checking the weather, and going out to the airport to check on the aircraft. Sit in the terminal waiting for weather and then going home.

While planning our flights, one day we got this interesting warning, which means that our speed forward is slower than the windspeed, which meant that if we would have taken off – we would have blown back to the USA again.

Finally a break in the weather

After a couple of days, we had a break in the weather. So, we climbed into our immersion suits for the first time and proceeded northbound to Kuujjuaq, where we had a quick fuel stop and then crossed the first little piece of the Atlantic. This was only the beginning of course. However, it felt great after landing in Iqaluit knowing that we now really are on our way back to Europe and the new OSM Aviation Academy base in Norway. 

Video: Inbound to Iqaluit

Tomorrow, we would start planning for our next leg from Iqaluit in Canada to Kangerlussuaq in Greenland. Hopefully,  the weather is in our favor this time?

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