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Day 24: Revisiting ‘Old’ Friends

The day started with a lot of clouds gathering over Cambridge Bay. I returned the ATV to its rightful owner and got picked up by the aforementioned friendly pilot. It became soon very clear this would be my first IMC departure. From an uncontrolled airport without Radar coverage. Luckily the surrounding hills were almost flat which greatly improved the safety of said departure.

The preflight checks were completed. The apron almost deserted. The little skyhawk veered to life for a 7 hour flight. A smooth take-off and a slow climb (as expected) followed. I entered the clouds around 500 ft and exited at 4000 ft. I was flying between two cloud layers, something I find a bit depressing normally. Not a very good visibility, grey everywhere, not a spot of blue sky. Yet, on this flight, it felt quite comfortable. It gave an illusion of safety: a small cocoon of safety around my tiny cockpit bubble. The sun slowly evaporated my cocoon. I burned more and more fuel, so I could again fly a bit higher. The layers of clouds started to break down, accompanied by the occasional rain shower. This was followed by a mixed blue/white sky and some isolated CB’s (thunderstorm clouds).

648 NM later, the familiar sight of Churchill was visible at the horizon in the perfect blue sky. I made a smooth landing (without thunderstorms this time) and phoned my hosts I left behind 2 weeks earlier. This time they showed me a different side of Churchill: the green fields with the streaming water and the beautiful lakes. I wanted to fish in them! But not tonight, tonight was reserved to watch ‘Friends’. Oh yes, one can travel to any corner of the world, and yet, everybody knows Friends.

I went to bed and relived the trip in my mind. As much as Churchill was a turning point of leaving civilization when going north, it was now a clear turning point of re-entering it.

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