------- Forwarded message follows -------
From: Bob McDonald
Subject: Home safe from Montebello !
Date sent: Mon, 4 Feb 2002 16:52:34 -0500
To: Bill & Doreen Hill, Bryan Quickmire, Claude Roy, Gord Ekstrom,
Gord Harrington, Jean-Claude Lachance, Norm Hull, Ray Nash, Terry Mayhew
I guess this year's Montebello weekend could best be summed up with
the words "Going far? Go by car! Time to spare? Go by air!" The
weather played a deciding role in how we all got to Montebello this weekend.
I may go down in the history of Challenger Fly-in distance awards .....
as "the next door neighbour" who was blown off course for a lowly
97 miles to collect the furthest flown award.
I also was fortunate enough to have Ray Nash along with my truck
for the return trip home Sunday. Heavy snow preventing Challenger departures
with reduced visibility. I was also lucky enough to have another flying
buddy "Big John" call and offer to drive my truck if I was going
to attempt a retrieval Monday a.m.(today). Departing at 6:30 a.m. we drove
back to Montebello, along the way I felt increasingly anxious as high winds
and drifting snow buffeted my F-150.
I had pretty much resigned myself to having gone for a nice early
morning drive until I approached the group of Challengers (engines running
!!!!) in the harbour. I watched as four Challengers very cautiously taxied
out onto the Ottawa River ice through the fresh fallen snow, wings rocking
in the wind. One by one they departed into the strong winds..... I smugly
thought to myself "they will be back shortly" as they climbed
off into the sky heading for Embrun and Carleton Place.
Realizing they were not coming back, I thought that I could always
have a go at it.... so I took the covers off "MCD" and warmed
up the engine as per the Rotax seminar recommendations (really enjoyed
that seminar). As I followed the 4 Challengers' tracks out onto the Ottawa
River ice the tracks faded away, drifted over in 15 minutes, right then
it dawned on me where I was.... "I hate thin river ice", without
further waffling on my part I powered up the Rotax and "MCD"
got the heck off that ice !
I climbed to 1500ft, tightened the seat belts (twice) and settled
in for the ride. GPS showed a respectable 75 mph ground speed given the
outside winds, ETE Cobden 1hr - 40min. Actually once I settled in, it was
not quite as bad as I thought it would be, heater working, EGT & CHT
normal, RPM 6000, fuel 60 litres. All was going well and I had a pretty
good view of the back of the parliament buildings as I flew past them.
No " CF-18 interceptors" in sight.... another good thing ! At
Arnprior things started to get tense, off to my left toward Carleton Place
was a line of heavy snow storms....(hope Claude, and the other Challengers
are tied down safe?). The path ahead along the Ottawa River was clear,
but I noticed that the tractor trailer below me following Hwy#17 (he filed
IFR ... I Follow Roads) was pulling away, GPS confirmed my observation....
"ground speed down to 55 mph, and a snow storm on my butt" !
I scanned the gauges, and took comfort in the rumble of the Rotax steadily
pushing me toward Cobden and home.
Crossing mid-field the wind sock below looked like it had a crow
bar in it, 45 degree cross-wind. Other than being bounced around on final
by mechanical turbulence the Challenger made the landing look easy. Taxing
in the deep fresh snow, wings rocking in the wind.... I taxied to the front
of my hangar.....past Doug & Norris who were busy digging out the snatch
block and cable to winch their ski equipped Citabria out of the hangar.
I opened my hangar door, picked up "MCD" 's tail and gently pulled
her back into my hangar, closed my hangar door, unloaded "MCD"
and walked out to the flight shack's wood stove..... past Doug & Norris
who were still digging and winching. Politely asking "What are you
guys up to ?" I got the answer "going flying !" Thinking
about it, on my way to the flight shack I came to the conclusion, "sure
glad I own a Challenger".
Having given up my Cessna 172 and having no desire to own or fly
a 150 or a 40 yr old tail-dragger, I resigned my self to owning a Challenger
as a compromise. Admittedly a Challenger is not a C-172 in cruise speed
for cross country or in people / baggage capacity ...... but it is still
a capable aircraft which tends to surprise me with its abilities.
Having flown 50 hrs since August I still have a lot to learn about
my Challenger. I no longer think of my Challenger as a compromise but as
a different kind of flying. I think I am falling in love !
Best regards - Bob
P.S. - I didn't just buy a Challenger, I gained an extended family.....
a very large and fun family, if Montebello is any indication.
P.S.P.S. I never really flew my C-172 in the winter (grass strip
and a pain in the ass to start) so this winter flying / touring is something
new and wonderful..... with a little healthy respect regarding snow storms.
Never flew skis before..... remember "No Brakes" !
This winter my Challenger is opening a whole new world to me....
haven't even taken my snowmobiles out of the backyard. I have 3 snowmobiles,
past president of the local snowmobile club for 8 yrs, and currently the
Operations Director OFSC District 6. All I can get excited about is flying
my Challenger !
Dreaming about flying floats for the first time this spring.......
lots of "firsts" with my Challenger. I would like to try soaring
as soon as I install a VSI this spring (and before I attach the "boat
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