February 2-3, 2002
12th Annual
Winter Rendezvous
Chateau Montebello, Quebec

The Now Famous Email

Here is a delightful email which we thought you might like to share. It was circulated among some of the Montebello attendees shortly after the event.

Bob McDonald flew his Challenger C-IMCD to Montebello on the Saturday from his base in Cobden. This earned him the "Farthest Flown" award. After he flew home on Monday Bob penned an email to a few of his Challenger flying buddies, some old and some new he'd met at Montebello. Bob wanted to let them know his bird was tucked safely in its nest and to inquire about their return flights.

Not only is the email well written but it totally echoes the pleasantly surprised first impressions of the majority of new Challenger owners, particularly those with General Aviation backgrounds. Few people understand that they don't have to miss out on flying during our Canadian winter. For example Bob writes:

    "I never really flew my Cessna 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."

As you'll read, Bob's Challenger really isn't a pain in the ass at all. Plus snow storms are very much less intimidating when you fly a STOL airplane on skis where anything white is an instant runway! Tiptoeing around in a 172 on wheels looking for a plowed runway when it's snowing doesn't quite provide that option.

Bob's email is an interesting and enjoyable read. Without further ado, here it is!

------- 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 docks").

------- End of forwarded message -------

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