Northern Saskatchewan, Northern Manitoba

Overflight

Northern Saskatchewan, Northern Manitoba
Written by Walt Rhodes
Friday, June 05, 2015

Walt RhodesCrossing over the peaks of Glacier National Park on my way home, the flight appears to have symbolized the 2015 waterfowl breeding season.

Blocking High

Northern Saskatchewan, Northern Manitoba
Written by Walt Rhodes
Friday, May 22, 2015

Walt RhodesIt would be easy to say that we are on Cloud 9 but there are no clouds in the sky. A deep high pressure has kept our skies clear and winds light.

Eastern Shoremen Finish the North

Northern Saskatchewan, Northern Manitoba
Written by Walt Rhodes
Sunday, June 15, 2014

Walt RhodesWith apologies to Rick Harrison of Pawn Stars, I never know who’s is going to be in the right seat of the airplane. I have not kept a record of everyone over the years, but there have been countless individuals of various backgrounds and personalities. Some leave an impression while others you’d like to forget. And, yes, some get airsick, but most don’t.

And the Wheel on the Plane Goes...

Northern Saskatchewan, Northern Manitoba
Written by Walt Rhodes
Thursday, May 29, 2014

Walt RhodesJumping down from the float, I began the pre-flight inspection of N758 last Sunday. The late spring had delayed our start of the survey, we had completed only one day of surveying, and were anxious to get going on this fine morning. The forecast was for a beautiful day of flying.

Departing

Northern Saskatchewan, Northern Manitoba
Written by Walt Rhodes
Monday, May 19, 2014

Walt RhodesAs I close the pages to Chapter 5 of one of the Magic Tree House books, our 8-year-old daughter is doggedly fighting the Sandman. It is a kid-on-Christmas-Eve-waiting-up-for-Santa effort. She is struggling because she knows once she wakes up for school in the morning her daddy won’t be home. She tugs me closer as her eyelids fall.

Who Moved My Calendar?

Northern Saskatchewan, Northern Manitoba
Written by Walt Rhodes
Thursday, May 15, 2014

Walt RhodesCalendars and clocks are artificial scorecards for humans. For the previous six years my old calendars have indicated that I have been in Canada on this date and yet today I am still at home in central Oregon. Maybe I have programmed the calendar feature in my new iPhone incorrectly.

Digesting Spaghetti

Northern Saskatchewan, Northern Manitoba
Written by Walt Rhodes
Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Walt RhodesStaring at the tangle of wires and connections reminded me of a plateful of spaghetti and meatballs, but this serving of pasta didn’t look too appetizing. Due to a series of maintenance issues, my plane and I have been separated for nearly eight months. Like a relative who drops in for a few days over the holidays I got to visit it twice for some flight and visibility testing of a different exhaust-stack configuration, but in the end I had to leave the plane behind rather than fly it home. Over this time, N758 has been through myriad mechanical probes, two official inspections, and countless people have climbed in, over, and through her. It would be an understatement to say a few things got rearranged.

North for the Final Push; May 23-30

Northern Saskatchewan, Northern Manitoba
Written by Mike Rabe
Monday, May 28, 2012

Mike RabeAfter all the troubles we had early in the survey, we finally hit our stride this week. The plane ran great on the ferry north, the weather cooperated, and we had little trouble with the remaining transects. Spring has just sprung in Northern Saskatchewan; the ducks are paired up and the ice has disappeared from the smaller waters. This is the land of black and white ducks: scaup, goldeneye, and bufflehead mostly. So what was that single drake pintail I counted on the last day doing there? I am sure his hen was in the weeds nearby. The insects are just beginning to come out (we can tell that from how dirty the windshield gets by the end of the day). Only the bigger lakes still had ice and it was going out fast. Our last stop was Stony Rapids, where we finished the last transects in record time. Kevin and I were glad to head back south on May 29 and even then, things went well. Smooth air and tailwinds followed us all the way to Bismarck. This year’s survey proved the advice my grandfather gave me years ago--persistence is the only quality that guarantees success in every endeavor.

You Take Mine and I'll Take Yours

Northern Saskatchewan, Northern Manitoba
Written by Mike Rabe
Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Mike RabeIn aviation, you always have a plan B (and C, and D). After consulting with Jim Wortham (Aviation Branch Chief for FWS population surveys) Kevin and Jim come up with plan B. We will return to Bismarck and pick up Terry Liddick’s plane. Terry finished his survey in the Dakotas last week, so his plane is ready and proven. Even though this is not really a safety issue, it could become a problem should we continue north of Fort McMurray with our current airplane. Our next stop, Stony Rapids, has no mechanic to fix a broken alternator belt. Being stuck in Stony rapids waiting for a mechanic to fly in and fix the plane would not help speed along the survey effort. So this is the right decision.

Groundhog Day?

Northern Saskatchewan, Northern Manitoba
Written by Mike Rabe
Saturday, May 19, 2012

Mike RabeNorth (and west) to Fort McMurray Alberta, May 18 - I love basing out of La Ronge, but like all good things, it has to end. Our third stop is Fort McMurray, Alberta; gateway to the tar sands. Known as “Fort Mac” to the locals, this is a boom-town full of new construction and filled up hotels. If you don’t plan this arrival, you could end up sleeping in the plane. Fortunately, like most pilots, Kevin is a compulsive planner and we have rooms waiting when we get here. We don’t have any survey transects to fly in Alberta, but Fort Mac is in eastern Alberta, near the western end of our survey area in Saskatchewan and a convenient base of operations for this leg. We park the plane at McMurray Aviation, which has a well-equipped shop. The mechanic works nights keeping their fleet going, and since the plane is due for an oil change, Kevin schedules it for that evening. This is perfect; the plane gets maintenance at night and we survey by day. In the morning, they inform Kevin that the mechanic found the alternator belt was flipped upside down on its pulley and he replaced it. This is a bit disconcerting to Kevin, since he had alternator belt issues getting to Bismarck and he is worried. I’m not. I am counting ducks in northern Saskatchewan in spring and flying every day. My wife tells me it is over 100 degrees in Phoenix; it is only getting into the mid 60s here. Life is good.

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