As David B had posted on the Pacific Pilot blog a week prior, our flight plan was going to be taking us to Courtenay Air Park, located on Vancouver Island, just outside of CFB Comox's military airspace.
Courtenay Air Park is an 1800' paved strip with many hangars and outside tie-downs for the planes, helicopters, and floatplanes that call Courtenay home. The air park also boasts a little cafe, as well as a few restaurants a short walk off the airport property.
This trip up to Courtenay was going to be the first time I would be bringing my Dad (Daryl) along for some Pacific Pilot fun.
We were slightly delayed leaving Vancouver for Delta Air Park, and once we got to the Jodel hangar, I sent David B a quick text to see where him and the gang were. I got a reply saying that they were just airborne. My Dad and I didn't want to keep our friends waiting in Courtenay, so we expeditiously got the Jodel out of the hangar, pre-flighted, and fuelled, then got a squak code from Kamloops FIC, and then we were off.
We departed CAK3 (Delta Air Park) and passing through 600' we contacted Boundary Bay outer tower on 127.6 to get clearance to fly direct to the Alex Fraser Bridge. From there it was over Burnaby Lake, through Vancouver Harbour, along the Sunshine Coast, over Lasqueti Island and across the strait to a point just north of Qualicum Beach. All this had been familiar routing up until now, but I hadn't flown in the Courtenay/Comox area before, so I was cautious and constantly checking the map to be very sure of my position in this new and unfamiliar area.
Thankfully, I did some pre-flight planning and found the Comox VFR Terminal Porcedures Chart in the Canadian Flight Suppliment (CFS). It all looked straight forward and simple. The hardest part would end up being identifying the call up point "Bowser." Talking with Comox tower was painless and while we edged closer to Comox, we could hear radio calls from the gliders and towplanes of the Royal Canadian Air Cadet Gliding School operating at the base.
Upon reaching the call up point "Royston," we switched to Courtenay's air traffic frequency of 123.35, and joined the circuit to land. The winds were quite strong from the north and we ended up following a local ultralight on a right downwind for Runway 31.
Because Len and Lee, and David B were already there, it left very little space in the visitor parking area for my Dad and I to park the Jodel.
In fact, there wasn't a space in the north parking area, but not wanting to taxi all the way to the south parking area, I was able to tuck the Jodel in beside David B's Tornado and all was well.
With the Jodel chalked, my Dad and I wandered across the apron to the cafe where Len, Lee, David B, and his parents Frank and Silvana were enjoying a coffee on the patio while they waited for us. We sat and chatted a while and then the two Vagabond drivers decided it was time to head home. Soon after they took off, we bumped into Grant, who David B had been in communication with regarding previous pacific pilot fly outs. But, this was to be the first time we would be meeting him in person. Grant had flown up from Nanaimo and was rather impressed with David B's Titan Tornado.
After a close look at the Tornado, and a brief sit down in the cockpit, Grant invited us down to where he parked his Zenith 601, that he had flown up in.
We had a good chat with Grant, and taken a good look at his plane too, but with our stomachs grumbling, we knew it was time to find a place to have lunch.
David B's parents had driven up from Nanaimo, so we had ground transportation to wherever we wanted to go. We ended up at the Black Fin Pub in Comox, where we all enjoyed a very nice meal and chat.
After Lunch, David's mom got on his case for not having a life vest for his over-water flights. So, before heading back to the airport, we found a marine supply shop, and David's parents bought him one.
Now back Courtenay Air Park (CAH3), we topped up our tanks, said our good byes to Frank and Silvana, then took off for home.
I kind of felt bad that my Dad wasn't able to meet the all other regular members of the Pacific Pilot group, but it was still a very enjoyable day.
Southbound we flew, then across the strait, past Sechelt and Gibsons, and through the harbour to the Second Narrows Bridge.
At this point I decided to try something new. Normally I would continue eastbound over Burnaby Lake, decent to below 1200', then fly directly to the Pattullo Bridge and call up Boundary Bay tower for clearance to the Alex Fraser Bridge, then directly south to Delta Air Park. That routing is perfectly fine and keeps you clear of YVR's approach, but the last time I flew through there I watched a Cessna 172 cut the corner closer than I ever had and even though I started out well ahead of him, he ended up getting to the Alex Fraser Bridge a few minutes before me. He had flown from the Second Narrows Bridge directly over top of Metrotown, then on to the Alex Fraser Bridge, and eventually on to Boundary Bay Airport (CZBB). So this time, with my Dad on board, we plotted a new course and flew home via Metrotown.
It indeed shaved off a couple minutes from our trip and it expanded my familiarity and understanding of the somewhat intimidating airspace surrounding Vancouver International Airport.
Once on the ground and with the Jodel tucked away for the night, we drove over to King George Air Park to meet up with David B. While there, Darryl, Sharon, James, and Stumpy (Greg) retuned from their excursion to Bamfield. They were all going to be joining us at Courtenay, but the lack of fog in Bamfield was too tempting, so they had gone there for the day.
After all the planes had been put away, we headed to the Big Ridge Brew Pub for dinner. It was really nice because it gave my Dad the opportunity to meet some of the other members of my flying community. As it turns out, the two Dar(r)yls had far more in common than their first names, and everyone had a great time. As we were finishing dinner we got an invite from Jodi Rueger to help her solo dunk her tailwheel student, Frank Baker. He had already completed his private license and was dunked accordingly. Now he was learning the art of tailwheel flying and that night was going to be his first solo on Pro IFR's Citabria. To mark the occassion, Jodi enlisted our help in getting Frank drenched.
So we arrived at Boundary Bay Airport and met up with Jodi, who was outside monitoring her pupil's solo circuits. While she did so, we filled up some buckets for the impending soaking, and then we waited for Frank's return to terra firma.
Jodi wanted it to be a surprise, so she staged a fake photo shoot of Frank in front of the Citabria and kept him distracted while David B and I snuck up on him with our buckets of cold water. Needless to say, we got him good!
After the soaking, we clearly had to go for some celebratory beverages with Frank, but as it was getting late, we didn't stay long, we wished Frank one last congratulations, and then we all headed home. What a day.
Until next time, fly safe, and fly smart!