Thursday, August 6, 2009

Of Oxygen, Octane and Coincidental Encounters

Bren and I arrived at Stony Rapids Airport this morning only to find our Cessna engulfed in a swarm of small but ferocious insects. Insects have a habit of making themselves at home in an aircraft's pitot tube, which, if plugged will give erroneous airspeed readings. Fortunately the night before I had sheathed my pitot tube in it's cover, sometimes called a "peter heater" and the bugs' only mischief was few bites behind the ears during the pre-flight inspection.

While we were preparing C-FMDS for the day's flying, we noticed a familiar looking Piper Navajo getting fueled. Sure enough, it was John Lovelace of "Wings Across Canada" fame who was just returning from flight across Canada commemorating the 100th anniversary of the first Canadian aircraft's flight, the Silver Dart.

Flying today was largely in Visual Meteorological Conditions (VMC) with a layer of light cumulus clouds between 4,000-5,000 feet. At N60 50' W102 we entered the Standard Atimeter setting Region, setting our altimeter to 29.92 instead of the nearest local altimeter setting. Also a first for me was flying an approach using true headings rather than magnetic headings. With a GPS I must confess it wasn't particularly difficult.

Our flight time today was 3:22 minutes and we used just about a half a tank, 44 U.S. gallons of fuel. my

The real fun started when we arrived in Rankin Inlet. After finding overnight parking we were greeted by a couple of airport employees who called the fuel service for us. The fuel truck pulled up had a tank full of Jet-A fuel, which would toast my 230 horesepower Lycoming 540 engine in a hurry. When we asked for Avgas, our fueller replied "How may drums would you like?"

And did I mention that uncorking and hand pumping the fuel from drum to aircraft wasn't included in the price? Moreover, neither was the pump! I'm a city boy, it's a big deal for me self-fuel my plane let alone figure out how to uncork a drum. Fortunately a local medivac service, Keewatin Air not only rented us a pump, but also helped us hook it up to the proud and heavy blue fuel barrel parked by our plane.

We emptied most of 205 litres of 100 low lead into our tanks a donated the remainder to the local ATV and boating crowd. The nice folks at Keewatin Air used their medivac expertise to refill our oxygen bottle, which was something we couldn't get done in Grande Praire or Fort McMurray. While most things in the north are incredibly expensive, the oxygen, at $25 for the fillup, was less than half the cost of getting it done in Vancouver.

All told, our cost for the fill-up was: $370 for the fuel drum (no refunds for unused fuel), $50 for the pump working out to a total of about $2.00 a litre. By comparison fuel in Stony Rapids was $1.75/ litre and at the South Terminal in Vancvouver $1.50/ litre. Northern hospitality, on the other hand, was priceless.


  1. The Spot tracking doesn't seem to be working today. The route shows you as still in Stony Rapids...

  2. Wow, I thought you only had to buy barrels of 100LL in Greenland! Even Greenland has a truck now! Will you stay at "Accommodations by the Sea" in CYFB??? Oh, no! I just realized our list of places to stay never got to you! Operator error. However, I just emailed it to you now.