Leg 4

Springhouse -> Dawson Creek

Weather Tossed


A Blessing to our next Day TripThe evening before our departure from Springhouse brought another gush of rain. However, as if to comfort our worries, a beautiful rainbow stretched across the sky at the end of the trip. The next morning, all fueled up and packed we set off for the first larger leg north, destination Dawson Creek. A "soft field" take off was really called for after the last days rain. With the small wheels on our CT210 we had a fairly long ground roll but all that was required was to get into the air before the hedge. Overflying Watson Lake Airport (CYWL) we said good-bye to the controller who had briefed us on the weather the night before. Then we followed the upper section of the Fraser River past Quesnel, Prince George to Williston Lake. Getting closer to the Canadian part of the Rocky Mountains with peaks of about 7000 ft, we saw a layer of clouds stretching across our route. The Prince George controller gave us the latest information on the outlook for flying Pine Passage which stretched from Mackenzie to Dawson Creek (CYDQ). The pass was open but we might have to expect some wind, he said! 


Nature as an Artist Spread at different altitudes and spread out sideways, the first in our caravan of 9 planes entered the U-shaped cut in the mountains. The meandering stream with ponds and pastures under us was beautiful and we prepared ourselves for a picture taking trip in new territory. Then the first bumps hit - hard. There were many suggestions over our frequency where to find a calmer spot, but all were futile. Rather than being more calm, it was only more turbulent. As the U-shape of the valley turned into a V the ride got really rough. Up - Down - Rock the wings - the bucking Centurion flew like on an amusement park ride, we were tossed around uncontrollably. As we came to the first turn north there was a hole in the clouds. Blue sky is like a light to a moth. Is there the possibility to find a layer in between or should we go over the top before we were torn apart? One of the planes decided to go up and above and filed IFR to Dawson Creek. The rest of us however, decided to ride it out.


Lowering the gear to slow down into the safe speed range we played with the power to find the best altitude and maneuvered to what we think was the calmest spot in the valley. We have made it!! Keeping in touch with each other was an aviation exercise in itself as well as a mental workout. There was certainly not a moment to consider picking up the camera for pictures, of what?! It was already being tossed about the plane! About fifteen minutes later turning the U-shaped bend in the valley to the South, the wind felt it had toyed with us enough and let us resume a more orderly flight. The sparsely populated valley soon opened up into the flats with Dawson Creek in front. They call it the bread basket of BC. All of us had a lasting memory to take home, some asking themselves why they were on this trip. Later reviewing the experience we all felt more encouraged to keep on going and to enjoy the unique opportunity of this trip. Still remembering the weather briefer in Abbotsford, we now understand the warning we had received!


Mile Zero of the Alaska HighwayDawson Creek seemed to like us. For the evening we were invited to a BBQ at the airport. The head of the tourist board explained to us in vivid descriptions the many attractions of Dawson Creek. The Historical Alaska Hotel And as if nature was in accordance the next morning a solid IFR cover kept us on the ground. We had time to do the many things one always has on that secret to-do list. The town of course is known as Mile Zero of the Alaskan Highway and in 1942 was one of the staging points in the construction of this important road.  Museums, historical buildings and structures are a reminder of that time. At the art gallery a local artist had preserved some beautiful moments when Springtime brought the colorful display of flowers.

Bitter Medicine not to be able to Fly
 At one of the shopping centers we browsed through the stores to see how the people of today supplied themselves and with the cold weather outside could not resist to stock up on sweaters.  An early dinner at the historical Alaska Hotel set us up and ready for the next day's departure.


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This page was serviced last on  12. July 2008