Ron Carlson Arctic Expeditions

Ron Carlson Arctic Expeditions
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Thursday, June 23, 2011

Success in Gjoa Haven

You can track some of my flights on FlightAware

Enter my plane tail number N888BH under

It's free, just subscribe.  Note that only the flights that I file as IFR (under Instrument Flight Rules) are shown.  Until arriving in this region, I have been VFR in many cases.  Many flights here will be IFR.  On most days thus far, Cambridge Bay in particular, has been typically shrouded in very low ceilings (200') and fog, some days with periodic light rain.

I just returned this afternoon from what I think was a very successful 2 day mission in Gjoa Haven.  Met with the Mayor, SAO and others.  Was well received.  It was good that I went, as things seemed to have been in a holding pattern and shelved. Might be described as "administrative delays".  It's always better to meet in person to understand who people are, what may be their motivations, and what are their intentions.  I left this morning after another personal meeting with the Mayor, just prior to departure, and his word was that "now" I will almost certainly be approved at the next counsel meeting, which will be held the evening of July 5th (just under 2 weeks from now).  The question will then be: How long after that before I can commence with scanning?  We'll see.

On ramp at Cambridge Bay Airport
Had a nasty problem on departure day with the AV gas being sold here by the Hamlet of Cambridge Bay.  Engines don't run well when just a little water is mixed with the gas.  In this case, it was "gallons" of water.  Unfortunately, the typical sumping of the tanks was not enough to detect the full extent of the water's presence.  Fortunately I did not take off as the engine didn't sound quite right, and deteriorating.  Then upon more careful examination the full extent of the problem was discovered.  The fuel lines were then disconnected, intensive carburetor flushing, while running the electric fuel pump on an off for a good hour.  After much more sumping (draining from lowest point in tank), I discovered that within the two barrels of fuel that I had just purchased and pumped in, there was approximately 4 to 5 gallons of water mixed in.For those of you who are not pilots, the good news is water does keep itself separate from gas and quickly settles to the lowest point.  So all is not lost.  I just have to devise a better filtration system in my pump, but first best to come up with a separation system.

Gas maintains separation with water
Thanks to the folks at Adlair Aviation (who I should mention here does not sell the fuel).  They were able to  help me expedite the extraction of the water in the system within 4 hours or so.  I then executed an extended high RPM run-up, cycling all tanks.  I then took off and circled the airport at high altitude for a few laps within glide distance of the runway.  When I felt it safe, I departed the zone direct for Gjoa Haven.  I must admit that I was sweating it out a bit over Queen Maud though, as it was hovering in my mind.  My eyes were locked on the dials every almost every second, and I made sure to island hop as best possible (Royal Geographical Society Island).  But as one can plainly see, many miles of ocean crossing is required in the "no man's land".  I can assure you - death can await you down there.

One does not want to land out there now, whether with floats  or wheels...big or small.  In all my flying experiences I have never had any significant trepidation, even when up here back in 2003.  But this was edging on terrifying.  A combination of ponds, shallow lakes interweaving hummocks, old and new leads; no smooth surfaces when you actually get down there close enough to see, looking through the binnocs.  To think: "What if I had to glide down", especially with this fuel incident floating in my head.  That smooth turquoise ice is really a trap - it is not frozen - it's ponds and lakes of seawater of varying depths.

I am in the process of downloading some intriguing pics of the Victoria Strait / Queen Maud Gulf crossing and also from east Victoria Island, Royal Geographical Society Island and of course King William Island; Terror Bay and Washington Bay, from 2,000 to 5,000 feet above (views plotting the direct route from Cambridge Bay to Gjoa Haven).  It  was stunning to see it all at this particular seasonal transition time.

More tomorrow.

 Southeastern coast of Victoria Island, heading east

1 comment:

  1. keep up the blogging Ron. We're living vicariously through you!