Welcome to Fly The Impossible

Day 7: Crossing the Border

I shared a shuttle back to the airport with the crew of a regional airline. They told me their favorite activity is to watch people in the airport. To each his own I guess…

The lady at the FBO handed me the bill for the overnight parking, and for a moment I felt like I was in Europe again. I would learn later that they would probably have waived the costs if I got fuel from them instead of the cheap fuel station. Trying to be a cheap bastard doesn’t always pay off. Too bad.

The previous evening, I had to give an ETA for my arrival at Muskoka airport (CYQA) in Canada. I underestimated the efficiency of the shuttle van, so I had to kill some time in the airport waiting for my estimated time of departure. I felt like a real airline pilot already!

Flying from Lansing to Muskoka didn’t pose a problem. Crossing the border over Lake Huron was stunning. It also cause a little bit of discomfort: being 15 minutes away from either shore line, what if the engine would quit ? I then realized I was planning on flying 10 hours over ice water, so 15 minutes shouldn’t be too much of a problem, or should it ? Once the lake was behind me, I could see the scenery change from the US style (houses, fields, roads) to the more Canadian style (water, forest, lakes, small hills).

Half an hour later, I spotted Muskoka airport, made a smooth landing, and taxied to Craig’s hangar (the technician I was supposed to meet). It took a while to find the correct hangar because there were no signs on the airside, only at the roads on the other side of the fences. I took a guess and found a locked down hangar. Nobody to see. Strange. I then realized it was a Saturday, which might explain why people aren’t working of course…

To give you an idea of the airport layout: the hangar was at the other end of the 1800m runway as the apron. There was no road, so I had to walk through the high sticky grass, which is very nice if you have soft shoes that suck up all the seeds and your hay fever pills are somewhere deep down in the airplane. I did remember to bring my passport, because the custom officers should be around the airport as well somewhere. One soul was working on a Saturday on the airport, and confirmed I was parked at the correct hangar. I  continued my long journey under the hot sun, and reached the air-conditioned apron building. First I tried to sort out the customs problem. I called the same number as the night before, and a friendly voiced told me the customs officers should be there anytime. I was to stay in the airplane at all times. So I informed her I didn’t have a phone in my airplane. This turned out to be no problem, if I would stay very close to the airplane. At this point, I didn’t mention the airplane was alone and almost 2km away from my present position. I had to look for the customs officers, as they were supposed to be on the apron. I waited patiently in the building, and they were waiting at the entrance of the door. Thanks to the door having a window next to it, this stupid situation was resolved without too much irritation on either side. A friendly smile, some routine questions and one stamp in my passport later, I was welcomed to Canada. The fact that my plane was at the other end of the airport wasn’t a problem. I  must have a trustable face.

The next step was finding Craig. The people at the airport building didn’t know him personally, but they did know his father. I got another phone number for my collection, and called his father. He heard something about me, and would come and pick me up. Normally they don’t work on a Saturday, but that was no problem. He drove over, put my plane in his hangar and promised to take a look at it first thing on Monday. He then continued to look for a hotel for me, and with the words “you need something to drive” gave me the key of his truck. A real cool big American truck. Ow yeah! A little bit stunned with this kind of hospitality, I accepted his offer and drove to the motel. I explored the city, bought some supplies (food, jerry cans) and enjoyed the Canadian roads.

When the sun finally set, I went to sleep. My first night in Canada. The first of many to follow, much more than anticipated…

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