My buddy Tim is building hours for his ATP rating and so he said if I wanted to plan some really high time trip let him know. I'm always up for a good adventure so we immediately began planning a trip to Alaska! I did some research, had a rough route in mind, and generally was getting stoked as that has been on my bucket list for a long time now. We got talked out of Alaska, however, due to it being a less than ideal time of year to launch (Sept 2nd).
Since Alaska was too much potential bad weather we pivoted to start planning a South America trip, which would have us flying down the Caribbean and into Suriname and French Guiana. I had a route mapped out, hotels in mind, and even managed to get us guest passes for the Ariane rocket launch since the ESA does launches from Kourou in French Guiana! Had most of the logistics figured out and finally heard back from insurance agent that we could not obtain the required liability coverage for the trip. How disappointing this was is an understatement.
Undeterred and with about 1 week to go before our proposed launch date of Sept 2nd, we pivoted again and planned a North East Canada trip with the real culmination of it being the hope of making it up to Iqaluit. My Sweden plans that got shot down this year, again due to insurance coverage, had Iqaluit as the launch point to Greenland and of particular interest in general for its remoteness. We decided to take Sky Scraper, Tim's RV-10, and he picked me up on Saturday Sept 3rd and off we went.
We stopped in Jersey area to fuel up and promptly did the Hudson corridor following that. It was REALLY AMAZING and way cooler than I thought it would be. I definitely want to do this again with Brandi and Lucy! We then headed off for Block Island (KBID), just South of Martha's Vineyard. We walked a mile or two into town and enjoyed a nice dinner and then headed back for the airport to a treat of fireworks on our departure. Late into the night after a long day we finally settled down in Boston Executive FBO at KOWD airport. We crashed on the couches in the FBO. Super nice folks there with a really nice facility.
We woke up and hopped in the courtesy car, which was a pretty nice Mercedes to boot, and headed into Boston to check a big box of Tim's list. We arrived at the famed Mike's Pastry shop and enjoyed a delicious, although indulgent breakfast. We departed Boston area and headed North and enjoyed a scenic flight up the coast to Caribou in North Maine (KCAR). We fueled up and then launched for Canada after doing the Eapis, ArriveCan, and CanPass dance. Our port of entry was Yarmouth (CYQI) in Nova Scotia and it was an uneventful flight over beautiful waters. Per my usual experience clearing customs in Canada, we parked the airplane on the ramp, called from my cell phone to let them know we have arrived, and they told us we were good to go. Not sure what that accomplishes, but I'm not complaining since we never have to unload and schlep a bunch of baggage around!
We mostly flew the coastline of Nova Scotia and headed up through Halifax towards Prince Edward Island. We noticed a neat military base near Halifax named Shearwater. We landed in Charlottetown (CYYG) as the sun was setting and were hungry for more than the inflight snacks we were nibbling on, so we took a taxi into downtown area on the water and enjoyed an awesome sea food dinner at Water Prince. We again crashed for the night at the FBO pilot lounge in lieu of a hotel.
We launched for Bathurst in New Brunswick (CZBF) to meet up with my buddy Troy, who had flown all the way out from Calgary to visit his family in the area. We enjoyed a lunch at Pizza Delight with Troy and a couple of his buddies and then per our normal aggressive schedule we launched Northbound for Sept-Iles (CYZV) for fuel. Fully fueled up again we had a nice weather window after a cold front had moved through the north area and so we shot all the way up to Kuujjuaq and made it in that evening. It was hours of untouched terrain full of tiny lakes and rivers. Landing in Kuujjuaq was the first time of the trip that I felt like we were somewhere foreign. The Inuit language was often on buildings underneath English, the weather was a little crisp, and things were a little different than every day Canada or USA. It was awesome! A small snag arose in that our couch surfing strategy was met with an unexpected twist. This tiny little remote town had a pretty serious airport terminal and not a small FBO. It was akin to any international airport terminal and not somewhere you just thrown down a sleeping bag. So after finding out all the hotels for the night were booked up full and talking to the janitor as he was cleaning up the place we found ourselves eating cat food (tuna right out of the can) and unexpectedly all alone in the terminal. So we threw down our sleeping bags! Around 1040pm as we were just settling in for the night, lamenting the bright lights we would be enduring all night, and miraculously the lights cut out at the perfect time. We slept so good, but knew we better be up and packed before the airport opened the next morning.
We had our sights on Iqaluit the whole trip with hopes that weather would cooperate. We were in great luck and the weather was perfect for a stab at it! We burned 3 hours walking into town to find a hose at a hardware store to siphon fuel out of the 55 gal drum (they dont provide a pump we learned). We were ready and dawned our immersion suits. The Hudson Straight had water temps around 3c that time of year and NOT something survivable without a raft and suits, if even then.
The flight had a nervous energy to it as the desolate land broke free from any sign of trees or any other life. As we soared up the coast we saw numerous boats in the distance that we later laughed about because they turned out to be icebergs! For some reason that was unexpected, but then again we were really far North at this point.
We made it! Iqaluit (CYFB) was magical with its multi colored buildings, its camp ground area by the river, and its remote and exotic vibe. We fueled up, got shuttled into town briefly for a char sandwich, which was excellent, and then sadly we made the call that we didnt want to take any chances of getting stuck and so we flew back to Kuujjuaq. On our way back we zoomed a couple icebergs, which was incredible! We arrived back in Kuujjuaq and this time however, no such luck in crashing the terminal as it was closed and locked up for the night. So we got a hotel for the night, breaking our streak of FBO surfing. On the plus side, more cat food for dinner for the second night in a row. We laughed pretty hard about our hobo meals, but mostly it was to cover up the tears as we choked back more canned food and some horrible smelling dried jack fruit that Tim had brought. Late that evening I popped out of the hotel to see if there were any Northern lights activity (there wasnt) and ended up chatting with some locals and they were very friendly and as interested in me as I was in them.
Tim and I talked about our plan for the day and it was to head Southbound and stop somewhere either Quebec, Montreal, or Ottawa. After having yet another cat food meal for lunch at Riviere-Du-Loup (CYRI) I think we were both ready to sprint home. We hit Albany, NY (KALB) to clear customs back into the US and enjoyed breathtaking clouded sky coverage on the way home. We flew over 1700 nm from way up North Canada back to home at McCollum (KRYY) in this one day. I hopped out and unloaded my gear. Heroically Tim soldiered on the rest of the way to his home near Orlando, FL.
Of course none of the pictures or my descriptions do justice to the epic journey. We roughed it a little, learned a lot, and had one hell of an adventure in 5 days and 5,000 miles!