Sunday, September 24, 2017

Atlantic Crossing Day 1 KFRG CYFC CYZV CYKL

Day 1 Totals: 968.5nm, 5h28m

My intention was to make it to Schefferville, Ontario, Canada (CYKL) today to get a good start on the trip and we accomplished that without issue!

Lessons of the day:
  • Prepare to be at an assigned altitude (in our case 11500ft) for the Canada border crossing.
  • Get an earlier start than you think is needed!
  • Call your hotel in advance if you can to ask about late arrival

KFRG - CYFC (Fredericton International Airport, Lincoln, New Brunswick, Canada)

Planned Actual
Flight Time 2h24m 2h19m
Distance 430.8nm
Avg. Groundspeed
Fuel 39.7 gal 38.3 gal
Fuel Cost $6.84 USD/gal

After packing the plane and last minute weather checks (all VFR ahead for the first leg), we took off from KFRG (Farmingdale, Long Island, New York) at about 10:40am local time. The plan had been to leave at 10 to make a lot of distance on the first day.

Proposed flights for day 1
We had slight tailwinds and made good time to Fredericton. The recently-overhauled engine was performing well and the Mooney was flying as she was designed. I think we stayed at about 13500 ft. and were seeing 190kts true airspeed.

Since the route is direct and doesn't pass over any restricted areas, I chose to fly VFR the whole way with flight following. I was prepared to file IFR in the air for the border crossing into Canada but I inquired and ATC advised we just had to be on the same squawk code and at 11500ft to cross the border. We ended up a little high due to short notice and were chastised by Canadian ATC. I heard "I need you at 11500 over the border" about 5 miles past the border. Oops.

Weather at Fredericton was not totally clear as the METARs were stating and we ended up having to dodge clouds as we descended into the field. Landing was straightforward, however, with no clouds below about 3000ft.

When landing in Canada you always call customs before getting out of the plane to get instructions. Normally they just say "Welcome to Canada. Here's your reference number," but for my first time in my several flights there they asked us to stay in the plane and wait for agents to arrive.

The agents were very friendly but had an issue with my copilot Joe, who had a warning on his driving record many years ago. Apparently Canada takes that stuff seriously and they needed to make sure he is an upstanding citizen now and isn't coming to Canada to terrorize the roads. It took quite a while for them to sort out but I got fuel and filed a flight plan while this was going on and eventually we were ready.

CYFC - CYZV (Sept-Îles, Quebec, Canada)

Planned Actual
Flight Time 1h26m 1h30m
Distance 261.7nm
Avg. Groundspeed
Fuel 21 gal ?? $206.32 total
Fuel Cost $?? USD/gal
?? $0

By the time we departed Fredericton, weather was rolling in and the departure would be quickly in clouds. I had filed an IFR flight plan so we were good to go.

The flight to Sept-Îles was in fact mostly in instrument conditions, in clouds the majority of the time, however in smooth air. We were given the ILS 9 approach and it was in clouds down to about 420 ft. Always fun to see the approach lighting pop out right where you expect it to be before seeing the runway.

Sept-Îles was an easy (though very rainy) fuel and rest stop. Coffee and a sandwich cured my altitude headache and I filed an IFR flight plan for Schefferville, paid, and got back in the plane.

CYZV CYKL (Schefferville, Quebec, Canada)

Planned Actual
Flight Time 1h40m 1h39m
Distance 276nm
Avg. Groundspeed
Fuel 23.3 gal ??
Fuel Cost $?? USD/gal
$36 for ??

We were back in the clouds right after departure and flew mostly in solid IMC to Schefferville. Because of the moisture, we picked up a decent amount if ice but the TKS anti-icing system kept up with it well. Used about 3 gallons of TKS fluid in the last 2 legs.

Arrival into Schefferville was uneventful. We had intended to fly the RNAV 35 approach but my GPS data was out of date and had an RNAV 36 approach instead and the waypoints didn't match. Ceilings were quite high anyway so Joe flew a visual approach.

We were now quite far north in no man's land. It was about 7:45pm and nobody was at the airport so late as expected, but fortunately the hotel was only a 3 minute walk down the road. Unfortunately there was nobody at the hotel either and we spent some time trying to get in as the front door was locked.

Eventually Martin and François, some nice fellows who were staying there, let us in, gave us a couple of beers, and helped us brainstorm ideas on how to contact management and get into our room, half in English and half in French. We got nowhere but had a fun time chatting and having beers with these guys.

Eventually we left a note for the management, should they reappear, and Martin took us in his truck to the local "Restaurant Bla Bla" where we dined on pizza, poutine, and Labatt Bleue in style, served by a jovial older lady who only spoke French, while hoping the wifi would start working. Martin and Francois had told us not to expect much from Internet and there was no cell phone service anywhere. Our wishes did not come true, however. No internet... Schefferville is pretty remote. It's a mining town, with red dust covering everything. All signs in French, super quaint.

Local cuisine in Shefferville

When we got back to the Hotel, François let us in, though we still had no word from the hotel management. Then our buddy Martin made a few calls to friends and was able to find someone who knew someone who worked at the hotel. She appeared 10 minutes later and checked us in.