Starting Home

We got to the airport early enough to start our trip before the sun got too high, and did a final inspection of the plane.  It took a bit longer than planned getting all the extras into the jeep, say our farewells, and preflight the planes, but at last we were fired up and ready to depart Indus.

Gary and I had already worked out a plan (route and frequencies), so we took off with me in the lead and headed for those big rocks to the west.  Gary followed me about a mile in trail in the Tecnam, and we switched over to the air-to-air frequency as we step-climbed under the Calgary TCA heading for the Trans Canada Highway.  The plane handled great, but seemed to be flying about 10kts slower than planned/hoped for.  Poor Gary had to throttle back to keep from overtaking me 🙂

The flight through Banff was great, ceilings and visibility was as expected (we climbed to 8500′ near Canmore.  As we got further into the rockies, clouds started popping up and there were isolated rain showers (fun in an open-cockpit plane).  Holding a prescribed altitude went by the wayside as I was concentrating more on remaining VFR, and avoiding the rocks.  I had to try my first fuel transfer (pumping from the wing tanks to the header tank).  It went fine, I pumped 2-1/2 gallons from each wing to the main tank, leaving the same for a reserve if needed.  I was starting to worry a bit about fuel as we neared Revelstoke, so I elected to land there instead of finishing the leg to Salmon Arm and push the fuel in a plane I’m still unfamiliar with.

Landing in Revelstoke went pretty well, though I still must be fast as I’m continuing to balloon in the flare.  Revelstoke is a great runway, so again, I just got it down, and taxiied to the pumps.  There is a self-serve fueling station there which was nice as there wasn’t anyone around that we could see.

It turns out that landing was a good choice, as after the fueling, I noticed a sizeable oil puddle under my engine 🙁  Out came the leathermans, and the cowling came off.  Oil was everywhere, making it hard to find the actual cause.  We thought we found it (no gasket on the oil filler cap), so we canabalized the CFS in the fuel shed to make one.  Trouble now was that I was about a quart low on oil, so we started poking our heads in hangers to see if there was anyone around.  We found a guy doing some drywall in the main building, he made some calls, and we scored a quart for $5 (I’d have paid anything) from the firecat crew guy that was sleeping in their ready-room.

All buttoned back up, we decided to push on to our destination of Salmon Arm as there were some great guys there with tools, hangers etc to help figure out the oil leak once and for all.  As I was doing my run-up, the left brake wouldn’t hold, and I remembered the seller mentioning something about it being soft when we did the sale.  Gary and I discussed it a bit, and as Salmon Arm has a nice long runway, we decided to head there, and I would not use even a hint of brakes on the roll-out.

After a bit more hunt and peck through the clouds and rain, we got to Salmon Arm.  I was tired, joined the wrong side for the downwind leg, but the landing went ok (still balloning though).

The guys in Salmon Arm were unbelieveable, there was a thunderstorm coming in, but they told us to bring the plane up to the hanger, we got the cowling off, and I got the job of wiping down the firewall and engine.  Having no “smoking gun”, we fired it up and carefully the guys stood behind the spinning prop and watched for the leak.  It took a couple of tries, but we finally found that the return oil hose was the culprit.  After removing it, the guys headed off to town to get it repaired.  Being a new airplane owner, I had visions of empty bank accounts, but they got back with a new hose with the existing ends on it, and I was only out $7 🙂

Yet another engine run to ensure things were working properly, then we focused on the brake lines.  We all agreed that the easiest thing would be to loosen the brake line joint and re-tighten (there was a visible leak at the joint).  After doing that, we bled the brakes, topped up the fluid and it seems to be holding!

Tired and exhausted, we tied the planes down and headed to a hotel for the night.

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