Meeting History

September 26, 2014

What a fabulous day! Arcadia is overnighting in style, in the beautiful 1936 Dominion Bridge-built hanger in Lethbridge. Back in the day, it was TCA’s hangar. The flight I am re-enacting certainly pulled up in front of it and refuelled; it didn’t stay the night because it had a date in Vancouver. (Maybe the pilots wouldn’t have minded staying, with 12 hours already under their belts.)

But I’m jumping ahead. First we have to get there . . .

It was a beautiful morning in Regina. Here is the view from my hotel window at dawn:IMG_0302Colton from CTV news met me at the airport to get a few more shots of the airplane and film my takeoff. The wind was 130/17G22. Dustin from the Esso FBO volunteered to escort Colton closer to the runway. I took off from the B1 taxiway, so it would be gear up abeam Colton and Dustin.

Here is the first turn on the Regina Niner Departure:IMG_0305The first hour to Swift Current is smooth. But the OAT at 8000 feet is +21° C! I have never seen it that warm before at that altitude. The Jetstream is way north and the big high south of it is one of the warmest blobs of air I have experienced. It was so hot and the sun so bright my iPad overheated and shut down. Here’s a new thing that can go wrong! I know batteries can get low. But there is always something else, isn’t there? Here is my solution:IMG_0314So I leave the iPad off for the next hour, occasionally feeling under the paper to see if it’s cool yet.

But there’s gotta be a transition . . .IMG_0321This is the harbinger of an interesting ride. Turboprops on climbout are reporting turbulence in these clouds, and I think I know why: this is the east end of a mountain wave. Sure enough, suddenly the ride at 8000 is bumpy too. After a while it smooths out, but it’s eerie: I feel that something is going to happen. Suddenly I am pushing forward to maintain altitude, the True Airspeed rising from 165 to 175 knots. I decide to jot down times and winds. Then I am pulling back to hold altitude and the TAS drops below 160. After 15 minutes I look at my log: the cycle is 6 minutes from updraft to sinker and back. The wind is 200/60. Smooth. But I really have to pay attention to hold altitude.

This was the baby mountain wave, the controllable, smooth one. If it had been stronger I would have had to slow to Va, the maneuvering speed. And I might not have been able to hold altitude. I would have had to alert the controller and go with the wave.IMG_0325Now we’re over Medicine Hat – almost there! It is a GPS to 23. The wind is 240/13G20, but it is forecast to blow 35 knots. My plan is to land before it does. We ask for and receive direct NORIG for the RNAV 23 approach. Soon after, the controller comes back with cleared to the Lethbridge airport for an approach. Here we are approaching NORIG:IMG_0334There is continuous light to moderate turbulence on the descent. When I switch to Lethbridge Radio he reports the wind is now gusting to 25. I’m going to get there before the worst of it. Here is a shot off the right wing on short final:IMG_0342I’m in the West! Isn’t that beautiful?

Geoff Price greets me on arrival. I called him yesterday to arrange an oil and filter change. He quickly acquaints me with the surprise: I had no idea this hangar existed!IMG_0380The hangar is (thankfully) a heritage site, unlike its sister in Winnipeg. It is a beautiful piece of architecture.

The doors are a classic of mechanical design. And it is historic. The flight I am re-enacting stopped here. Here is TCA’s route structure in 1939.IMG_0356You can see the route we are doing. And here is dear Arcadia getting her oil changed:IMG_0360The mechanic is Bill Mehlen. And the hangar deserves a blog to itself. Stay tuned.