West Coast Weekend

by Dale Erhart

Diary of an Amphibious Adventure

On a scale of 1 to 10, we'd say those grins are a 10!
The dockhand is probably thinking they don't want to come ashore.
He's probably right!

Here is Dale's account of one of his early Challenger voyages as well as some thoughtful comments for others considering acquiring their own Challenger:

Like many professional pilots, my love for aviation has drawn me back to the roots of stick and rudder flying. An amphibious ultralight that can carry two people and has the performance to fly medium range trips in the mountainous areas of British Columbia seemed like an impossible fantasy until I came across the Challenger II.

After 10 months of building, I had achieved my goal and wanted to test the plane against my growing expectations. I can say that they were all exceeded, and in Spades. The plane is truly a delight and many friends and relatives have now experienced the tremendous opportunity that the Challenger can offer for those who seek affordable adventures. My wife Laurel absolutely adores the plane and a diary of our weekend trip to Cowichan Lake may help explain why.

Laurel and I took off from Courtenay Airpark some 120 winding air miles away from the lake. After an enjoyable 1 hour and 40 minutes we touched down on a lake in another part of paradise on Vancouver Island. Cowichan Lake is pristine with much of the shoreline protected by forestry land reserves. Our good friends have one of the lucky cottages in this breathtaking area and their dock, nicknamed "The Runway", more than adequately supported our flying operations all weekend long.

The journey was breathtaking as we lifted the gear shortly off the end of the runway to engage in low level ocean front flying down the east coast of Vancouver Island. Sea lions, fishermen, executive homes and rugged rocky cliffs were just a few of the many scenes we admired in the panoramic kaleidoscope that smoothly unfolded before us.

Once at the lake it was time to unload our gear and start the festivities. Cottage life is wonderful with sailing, swimming and playing with the children in and out of the water. In the evening we attended a Community Hall Dance at Youbou and stayed until 1AM. The next morning we swapped more old stories before a swim and water-ski ride.

Time to go home and another adventure as we flew 10 minutes to the town's marina to be greeted by many boating enthusiasts who envied the freedom we were enjoying. After an ice-cream and gasoline top-up, we graciously thanked the folks for their kind compliments about our Challenger.

We lifted off to circle overhead seeking mountain lift that hanggliders in the area are known to utilize. At times the hot day made the climb look abysmal at 100 feet per minute in the sinking valley air, but once a bit closer to the sunny mountainside, 700-900 feet per minute ascents were quite common and we quickly reached our 3000' altitude. This felt good to do before venturing down the Cowichan Valley beyond gliding range of our host lake.

In a few short minutes we could see the Georgia Straight once again and it was time to throttle back to get down at the low level scenery we had enjoyed so much the previous day.

Approaching home we called Comox Tower to hear the friendly voice of an old friend and fellow aviation enthusiast working the mic. Then it was down with the landing gear as we completed the checks to land on the runway by the sea.

The plane is now tucked away in it's hangar and all is made ready to launch on an adventure to Comox Lake tomorrow.

I would defy anyone to find a better machine for this type of operation within even double the investment. My advice to anyone who might enjoy this type of plane is to get one quickly, build it carefully and invest in the upgrades that you require. Then learn to fly it well and go out and enjoy what the Challenger does best - put big smiles on peoples' faces.

There is a great shot of Dale's Challenger at Sproat Lake, Vancouver Island, home of the giant Mars waterbombers, in the Hotshots section of this web site.
Look for Tranquility Base!

For another of Dale's excellent pictures check out the Challenger Gallery.
Look for Crankin'n'Bankin'!

And don't miss Dale's video in our Challenger Cinema!
Look for Ten Months To Build A Lifetime of Enjoyment!

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