New Eyes = New Sights

Canada's Favourite Advanced Ultralight

Letter to the Canadian Challenger email list from Bryan written April 12, 2007.

Challenger Sights & Cinema

Hello Challenger Fans,

Spring is here and the amphibs are on my Challenger. Judging by the ice on the lakes though it will be a little longer before my floats actually get wet. Meanwhile, a large swamp about 4 miles from Edenvale Aerodrome has overflowed into the adjacent farmland and is providing amazing aerial wildlife viewing opportunities.

On past flights to the swamp I've seen great blue herons, golden eagles and even a bald eagle. Talk about strange bedfellows! In Challenger flights this spring I have enjoyed seeing zillions of ducks and geese, a couple dozen white swans, and two sandhill cranes - all overnighting on their migrations north.

Friday evening there were two coyotes standing at water's edge watching these delicious morsels bobbing around just beyond reach. Their mouths were watering! Little did the coyotes know there was a flock of about 50 wild turkeys foraging two fields over! Maybe the coyotes should have a spotter in a Challenger! The usual herds of deer were conspicuously absent - probably because their escape routes into the safety of the swamp were flooded. Often you can see foxes, raccoons and the occasional beaver.

When I got home I downloaded the GPS track from the Garmin 296 to my laptop. Here's the flight path as shown by Garmin's MapSource:

The circles in the lower centre are me watching the coyotes watch the birds. The circle halfway along the upper right portion of the track is where I spotted the wild turkeys. The loop at top right is where the deer usually hang out at dusk. All those circles in the upper left were back at the aerodrome doing a few circuits until it got too dark. Not a lot of straight and level!

Then I clicked twice in MapSource and it transferred the track to Google Earth for a satellite view of the flight:

This is much more interesting because you can clearly see the delineation between farmland and swamp. You can't see the floodwaters because the satellite image is not real time - you can tell by the foliage that it was taken in the autumn. I'm sure you get the picture though! You can see the runway layout at Edenvale under the GPS tracks. Adjusting the tilt and zoom knobs in Google Earth produced this view of the flight - it's what you would see from an airplane at 5,000 feet:

Ain't modern technology grand! Speaking of grand, this flight was grand! I logged 0.9 hours from taxi to shutdown. It included four takeoffs and landings on amphibs. It yielded some pretty kewl sightseeing with a world class Georgian Bay sunset thrown in for good measure. It consumed 11 litres of regular 87 octane car gas for an out of pocket cost of about ten bucks.

I've now got close to a thousand hours in my Challenger C-FXSL. Even though we've done long trips far afield I can still be hugely entertained without having to go more than a handful of miles from home. This continues to impress me about the Challenger. This August will mark the 40th anniversary of getting my wings in the air cadets and after 40 years I'm not easily entertained or impressed!

We often read in the aviation press about Challenger owners who have flown thousands of miles across the country. We read about Challenger owners who have spent weeks in formation with other owners exploring venues well off the beaten path. My wonderment with this little airplane is that while it is more than capable of carrying you on such expeditions you don't have to have seven league boots to enjoy the plane if family or work schedules don't permit long absences.

Two other Challenger flyers of like mind are Ian Coristine and Bruce Brown. Over many years in the Challenger community both have made epic voyages into the setting sun yet both continue to enjoy those short local hops.

Through the miracle of high speed internet we are pleased to bring you a video of a flight of about 10 miles from Brockville Airport to Ian's cottage in the 1000 Islands. Ian is flying the Challenger seen on camera and Bruce Brown is flying the Challenger with the camera. Louis Pouliot edited the footage and set it to music.

It's in the Challenger Cinema titled Journey Home and captures the essence of low and slow!

Enjoy the show! When you're done, turn the computer off and go explore your local area from the air, from lower than 5,000 feet. The key is to look at old sights from a new vantage point with new eyes! You may not be lucky enough to have a swamp in your back yard but I guarantee you'll be surprised at what you will see that you didn't even imagine was there!


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