Spam is for Eating, not Deleting

Obviously, it's been awhile since I've posted.  I've missed it!  It's not that I've lost interest or that I haven't been flying, but somehow, life and work have gotten in the way of my hobbies, and I'm certain that most everyone can relate to that!  Additionally, I've been hit with so much spam emails on the website that it's almost impossible to wade through.  As irritating at that is, I realize that it goes with the territory of managing a website.  There's still a lot of  stories and pictures, and a lot of airplanes that need to make their mark here, so I won't let some silly spam get in my way!  Now all I need is some motivation....


Sag Lake Welcomes Back the Past - (C-FYCX)

A deHavilland DHC-3 Otter is cool.  An Otter with a turbine engine is cool as well.  But the fact that turbine Otter C-FYCX is docked on my lake makes it the coolest Otter ever.  It's been a long time since I've seen an Otter on Sag Lake; ever since the Canadian Customs station closed there's been a significant reduction in airplane traffic to the lake.  But once again, a DCH-3 is snuggled up to the Customs dock, wearing a whiny PT6A in place of the original R-1340 radial.  I think they call this progress..... 
C-FYCX holds serial number 44, and has undergone a Vazar turbine conversion.  It now has a PT6A engine that produces 750 s.h.p.  This airplane is really quiet, although it still makes the distinct whine of a turbine, which is always a thrilling sound to hear.  I guess I hear enough raspy radials that I can appreciate another kind of engine once in a while, particularly since it powers such an awesome airplane.   C-FYCX is owned and operated by Wilderness North outfitters, offering fly-in fishing adventures, based in Armstrong Ontario. Their website is very comprehensive and features a great photo gallery of the airplanes.
Seeing this Otter on Saganaga Lake takes me back to a time when airplanes of all makes and models were common on the lake, and while I still love airplanes as much now as I did then, I usually have to travel a bit farther to see them these days.  I really need to turn my resort into a fly-in outfitter....
My dad sitting left seat.  A PT6 Powell.  
All photos courtesy of Sherry Powell


Forest Service Firefighter - (N193Z)

I met N193Z this past July, when it flew a water drop demonstration in the Grand Marais, MN harbor.  The Forest Service owns and operates 3 piston Beavers, and though I'm familiar with all of them,  I've not spent any time with the pilots, so this visit was enjoyable and educational.   N193Z was built in 1957 and holds serial number 1162, so it's a young Beaver.   It's condition inside and out is spectacular, not all that surprising for a government ride. After spending some time with the pilot, it was clear that he takes pride in not only his career, but in the airplanes that he works with.    He does a large amount of the maintenance himself, in addition to quite a bit of modifications.   This Beav has a 125 gallon tank that can be filled on the step, and though the amount of water it carries isn't a lot, it's still a very effective tool in fire management.  I've been on a couple fires where these Beavers have come in to give us a hand, and a deHavilland water drop is an incredible thing to see.  And especially to hear!
My plan is to visit the Forest Service Seaplane Base at Shagawa Lake in Ely, MN this coming week, where with any luck, I will find these identical airplanes at rest.  Due to the current dry conditions and small fires in the area, they might be off being superheros, but surely at least one will be taking the day off. 


All my old friends are back for another summer, and it's been great having them around again.  I've met a few new airplanes as well, and enjoyed some interesting conversations with their pilots.  I've had the pleasure of a few incredible flights this summer and hopefully there will be a few more!  I just can't seem to stay on the ground for too long.  From the sound of a Beaver just off the water only 20 yards away, to the sight of the Lake Superior shoreline from 1000 feet,  to the feel of the spray of a water drop, airplanes will always continue to inspire me, all the while making me incredibly lonesome for some time in the air.


Lake Country Air Service

With rare exception, it's every pilot's dream to be able to create a business from flying, expanding a passion into a job. John Justad has done that, and he's done it with a deHavilland Beaver.
N31457 made it's appearance on the website back in March 2007. I've known this airplane and it's different owners for quite a while, and one day at Sky Harbor in Duluth, I met it's current owner, a man who had big plans for this Beaver.

John owns and operates Lake Country Air Service, a scenic air tour service that serves Northern Minnesota. He's based at either the Webb Lake Airport in Hackensack, MN, or Sky Harbor Airport in Duluth, MN. From either departure, the view is incredible!
Floatplanes are synonomous with the Northern Minnesota area, and go hand in hand spectacularly with the "land of 10,000 lakes". To enjoy the scenery of this region from the air is bound to be memorable. To enjoy the scenery in a Beaver is just icing on the cake!
Drop by Lake Country Air Service's website for more information about rates, schedules, and contact information, along with a profile of N31357 and some interesting links. John has some great photos on the website as well, and it's evident from them alone that he too has a passion not only for flying, but for the Beaver as well.If you're ever in Minnesota's Northland, looking for some adventure that involves beautiful scenery, airplane exhaust, and a radial rumble, contact John and schedule a flight. He is professional, courteous, and always makes time to answer questions or tell a good story.


Kita's First Flight

I'm convinced that fall is the best time to fly, and I'm always looking for an excuse to fly during the time of year when the air is clean and cool, and the scenery is breathtaking. I'm also convinced that flying is best enjoyed with the ones you love, so last September, I decided that Kita was ready to log her first hour in the air, in C-182 N9011T. I told Dan straight up that this flight wasn't going to be any fun for any of us, naturally over-reacting to a situation where the dog picks up on the person's stress, and is no better off because of it. I made way too big of a deal about this, and in the end, I can see a lot of things I could have done differently...
Since I adopted Kita a couple years ago, I've been slowly introducing her to airplanes, and she's been inside them before. She's very calm in almost every situation and considers an airplane to be my pickup truck with wings, but I'd never fired up an engine with her inside, never taxied with her, and have never left the ground with her before, so obviously it was a little nerve-wracking.
Knowing that dogs will do anything for freeze dried liver, I loaded my pockets with a healthy supply and put Kita into the airplane. Getting her in was easy, getting her back out at the end of our flight, not so much. The day I chose to fly was so windy and warm that I almost grounded us before we got going, thinking that turbulence would stress her. But I figured as long as we'd come this far, we could go a little farther.
Taxi and run-up were only nominally stressful, I think because the sound and vibration of the engine was so unfamiliar to her. I don't remember much of the take off, having spent that part of the flight stuffing my girl with dried liver. I figured it was a good sign that she was eating; dogs that are stressed beyond measure generally don't eat at all. Once we were in the air, she relaxed a bit and at one point laid down on the seat and closed her eyes. She seemed confused by the fact that the ground was so far below us.
I was finally able t
o relax and enjoy some air time, and in between handing out liver and baby-talking to my dog, was able to get some pictures. By the time we landed, Kita was all mellowed out, and after we docked and got out, she wanted to get back in. She climbed up on the floats and tried to hop into the airplane, which I suppose is an encouraging sign that she might want to fly again someday. The most challenging part of the entire flight was getting all the dog hair out of Dan's airplane. German Shepherd's shed profusely under normal circumstances; under pressure, the shedding is way more intense. Now that she's got her first hour behind her and appears to like it, I will for sure take her up again. It just seems natural to me to have a dog along when I'm flying, combining two of the things I enjoy most.


Serendipity, Sunsets, & a Salad - (N12DM)

Resting in the harbor in Grand Marais, MN
I'd been waiting for this airplane all summer long, and last September, when Pete flew N12DM to his cabin on Sag Lake, we made plans for a visit. By the time I was able to make it over to his cabin, it was late in the day, so our time in the air that evening was against the backdrop of the most incredible sunset I've ever seen. Possibly because I was seeing it from a slightly higher altitude than I'm used to. Naturally, I forgot to bring my camera along, but maybe the images of that day are best viewed in my imagination. Thinking back on all the flights I've ever made; in the snow, through the rain, and way above the clouds, I can't think of one that was as beautiful. A view of the lake that I grew up on and make my home, painted in the burning orange of fading light, will be remembered and never equaled.
In an unexpected but appreciated coincidence, I ran into N12DM once again a few days later, this time at the Grand Marais airport. And so we were in the air once again, for a short flight to the harbor, where we did lunch at a waterfront restaurant.
A whole bunch of unexpected events led to my meeting up with this airplane again, and in the end I experienced some memorable time in the air. I suppose coincidences like these are one of the rewards of chasing airplanes, and the fact that the floatplane community is such a small circle of friends.


Turning Back Time - (C-GKBW)

C-GKBW, serial number 310, wearing it's first North American numbers. This Beaver has undergone a number of changes since it posed for this picture. It still looks timeless.
Someone who knows I'm obsessed with this airplane sent this picture to me, and I can't remember who. The photo also lives on DHC-2.com , so with apologies to Neil, I didn't rip this image out from under you!


Form Follows Function

My fascination with wildfire air tankers began years ago, because who could not be impressed with the size and sound of these gorgeous airplanes? And since then I've been fortunate enough to see them often, following them to fires in our area like a predator. Out of all the airplanes I've seen fight fires, naturally the Canadair CL-215 is close to my heart. Due, no doubt, to it's radial engines. Recently though, I've discovered a contender to my favorite airplanes category that I might have overlooked...
On a run to Thunder Bay a couple weeks ago, I got cleared to visit the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources airbase, where I found CL-415 C-GOGH waiting for me. CL-415's are often mistaken for their piston sisters from afar, but the 415 is individual and has several variations from the 215, not in the least it's turbine engines. Bombardier modified the 215 with PW123AF turbines and designated them as the 215T. In 1993, the company began production of this newly modified aircraft, under the designation of CL-415. C-GOGH was built in 1998 and has serial number 2034.Some of the features of the 415 over the 215 is increased operating speed and weight, and a larger water capacity, as well as updated avionics. There are a lot of statistics about this airplane that are worth researching, but I have little patience for anything but the basics. 415's are operated all over the world, and many of them live and work in Canada, an advantage for those of us who get to hang out with them instead of just seeing them from a distance. Often the first indication of a forest fire is not the smell or the sight of smoke, but the whiny sound of these airplanes on their way to do battle.

The stress on the flight deck during fire operations is incredible, and with only a two person crew aboard, a pilot and flight engineer would have their hands full just controlling straight and level flight in an airplane as heavy as a 415. During the intense currents and heat of a forest fire, these bombers would waste fuel loads and increase the risk of accident without some direction from something a bit smaller and faster to help them position for water drops.
This is where the air tankers get a little help from their friends, in the form of a spotter. Leading the the Ontario MNR's 415's is C-FMUM, an Aero Commander built in 1971. All I was able to figure out about this airplane is it's serial number, 3100. I know that several different designations of the Aero Commander were manufactured; please see above paragraph regarding patience...

Respect must be given to the airplanes and crews, both on the ground and in the air, who operate under stressful and dangerous conditions, working hard to change the outcome of fires that have the ability to alter our landscape forever.


A Girl can dream...
This summer has not been friendly for flying, which is my only reasonable excuse for the lack of recent posts. Dan and I took C-182 N9011T for a sassy run against the shore of Lake Superior and up along the Canadian border, one of my more important flights, since I got his promise that he'll fly Kita the next time. It would only be proper that my Girl will get her wings with floats underneath her.
Joe Boxer getting to know C-GDZH.
Sapawe Air and Canoe Canada have brought the Beavers in a few times to my dock, so I got to spend some time with my old friends on floats. At the Hayward, Wisconsin airport, I rubbed shoulders with a Lear Jet, which is way out of my league, and Sky Harbor was my home away from home, since I can never not go there whenever I'm in Duluth.
For one weekend in July, my dad and I visited the Superior, WI airport to hang out with the B-17 Aluminum Overcast. I got my start in aviation because of my dad, and I value the time I'm able to spend with him and all the stories he has; he should be the one who writes the website.
Oshkosh came and went without me again this year, but judging from the phone calls, e-mails, and texts that came my way, it sounds like I missed a good time. I generally prefer to visit airplanes without the crush of a thousand people around me, but I can make an execption for one week out of the summer, something I intend to do for sure next year.

KCKC's airport dog, Stinson Vincent.
Summer is almost over, and it's absolutely shameful that the hours I spent in the air were so few. I know I shouldn't count my time with airplanes in terms of hours logged, but by the lessons learned, and the people and the dogs that I share it with.