Episode 34: Back in the USA

10:23 am Doug

We departed Lac des Plaines seaplane base at Havre St Pierre with Captain-in-training Dan Noble flying left seat in Mark’s Beaver. Doug, unaware of the crew change in N2SF, received several curt “stand-by” responses from N2SF in response to the usual plane-to-plane banter. Evidently instructor Mark had informed trainee Dan of the three priorities of flying (in decreasing order of priority): aviate, navigate, and communicate. However, the relatively useless drivel that passes for communication between our planes has become a central part of the adventure. Having your wingman out there looking out for you and sharing your pain during the stressful times has become a key part of the experience, and when the radio goes quiet there is a sense of loss, of being a lone castaway abandoned in the expansive skies. So we were all happy when Captain Mark finished his training duties and resumed his role as our aviation talk show host.

Banking the Beavers to the south west, we spent some time exploring the unique stone sculptures of Mingin Islands National Park, all the while assuring the inquisitive CARS radio lady that we were maintaining the (ahem) requisite 1,000 feet AGL. Tiring of harassing the good folks of Havre St Pierre, we climbed to 4,500 feet to cross the Saint Lawrence Seaway via the Strait of Jacques-Cartier and the Strait of D’ Honguedo. For the GAAA’ers, flying at this altitude is equivalent to peering down from high-earth orbit, as we normally fly low enough to “smell the roses”. Up here, where normal aviators fly, we see the forest, but not the trees. We see the ancient game trails, but not the caribou or moose who travel them. In short, we are seeing the big picture, but missing the rich details below that have so connected us to the land on this journey. Not to worry – having crossed the strait, we descended to tree top level and were immediately rewarded by the sight of a big bull moose wading across a lake in search of a fresh feeding area. We are once again bound to the good earth.

Pressing on, we landed at Jackman Lake and taxied to the Moose River Seaplane Base to clear Customs, where we were talked through a rather dicey docking by fellow pilot and proprietor Steve Coleman. The procedure went something like this:

1. Land on Jackman Lake, into the wind and as close to the mouth of the Moose River outflow as possible.
2. Water taxi into the flowing river, being ever vigilant to hug the right bank and avoid the sharp rocks to the left.
3. Taxi past the dock, and move to the RH side of the river with right wing hanging over numerous obstructions including boats and small float planes.
4. Make a left180 degree turn against the current in a wide spot in the river that is really not wide enough to turn a Beaver. Tighten turn by raising water rudders midway through the turn, allowing the current to accelerate the turn. (A newly acquired skill for the GAAA pilots).
5. Brush shrubs on far side of river with right wing.
6. Pull plane into very small space on dock, careful not to hit N2SF ahead, or the boats behind with the tailplane.
7. Remove soiled undergarments and replace with a clean set, or the closest facsimile found aboard.

After clearing customs, we took off for our final destination of the day, the Greenville Seaplane splash-in, located on Moosehead Lake in Maine. After a formation flight over the docks, we set up for final approach and touched down at about 5:00 PM. While on approach, we noticed an upside down seaplane bobbing “floats up” in the water surrounded by several boats. Not to worry, we later learned that the ultralight seaplane flipped over when caught by an errant gust, but the pilot was safe and the craft was soon righted with little harm done.

We were immediately whisked away for a cruise and dinner on Moosehead Lake, sharing our stories of daring-do with fellow seaplane enthusiasts. Later, after setting up camp at the airport, we crawled into our cozy bags and reflected on the days events while listening to the occasional sweet sound of an arriving aircraft.

It was another Great Day for the GAAA.

Doug and the GAAA Team

N45 27.8 W 69 35.6

Leave a Comment

Your comment

You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

Please note: Comment moderation is enabled and may delay your comment. There is no need to resubmit your comment.