Welcome to Fly The Impossible

Day 21: Repair ?

The first thing I did this morning, was contacting the mechanics. The part arrived late in the evening the day before, and they could clear their schedule to install the part. My enthusiasm levels rose again while I rushed to the airport. When I arrived at the airport, they were already working on the plane. Half an hour later the part was installed and it was time to test it! I looked for the keys of the airplane (I didn’t have to use them for quite a while now) and put them in the ignition. A thumbs up from the mechanic and the battery switch was on. As I did countless times the past few weeks, I pushed in the mixture, primed the plane and with a very nervous gesture engaged the starter. Nothing. Absolutely nothing happened. All the enthusiasm I gained that morning was drained away as quick as a horny polar bear.

The magical technicians brought back their stuff and started measuring the electronic circuits again. Their conclusion was that the battery was (almost) dead as well. Although my faith in them had fade a bit, I had nothing to lose by letting them try to refill it. They drove off to their work shop in their cool red truck. This gave me time to socialize with the ‘tower’ controller of Resolute Bay. It turned out his girlfriend was the artist who painted the white rocks that displayed the name of Resolute so proudly for everyone to see. I admired their Patience score board, saw some pictures of other airports in the North, read some maps.

An hour and a half later a red truck drove back to my airplane. The refilled battery -apparently it lost some acid (?) – was installed and I hopped into the airplane. Switched the battery on, reset all the switched and prepared the key. The technicians told me to keep the engine running once it started. I found their optimism comforting. My fingers were shaking a bit as I started to turn the key. Normally, when you start the plane, there is always a very short time between turning the key and actually noticing any effect. This takes about one tenth of a second, but it felt like an eternity this time. But then, although hoped for yet unexpectedly, the starter engine started making sounds. A few rotations later, the engine was running.

The engine was running.

A bolt of joy was rushing through my veins. Ten minutes later I received a signal that the battery was charging normally and the alternator was working as it was expected to. I shut down the engine and secured the airplane. The cowling was reattached and the plane was ready to fly. It was around 3 o’clock in the afternoon so I decided to stay in Resolute for one more night and leave the next morning.

The technicians guided me to their office so I could pay them their hard-earned money. The office was occupied though, which gave me the pleasure of joining a pilot meeting of the local company. I must have looked like a very trustworthy person, since nobody asked me to leave or even acknowledged my presence there. It took 45 minutes of curious looks and glaring before the boss coun’t stand it anymore and asked in a truly Canadian accent “Who the hell is this guy ?”. “Don’t worry, it’s the Cessna pilot” was the technicians response, Followed by general laughter and some weirdish looks. Until today I still don’t know if that should have been interpreted as a compliment, a pity laugh or an insult.

When all the paperwork was done, I hitchhiked back to the hotel. Tomorrow I would finally leave this place. A few days earlier, I received an invitation on the Avcanada bulletin board from a beaver pilot in Cambridge Bay. He was impressed by my trip and offered me a ride in his airplane if I would come to Cambridge Bay. Normally, the plan was to return via the east coast of the Hudson Bay. However, the fuel consumption was higher as anticipated and I was getting a bit tired and starting to long for familiar faces, so I recalculated my route and decided to plan a trip to Cambridge Bay. I found some friendly people on the almighty internet willing to offer me a bed there. Only one problem: I had no real name of the pilot, and he never replied to my message that I was coming to visit him.

Those were worries for tomorrow. Now it was bed time.

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