West Passage

West Passage

It was the first time ever, I did land in such an icy place.

Taxiing the aircraft was like entering a new dimension.

I was tired but excited.

Once I did free the runway, I found myself in the middle of nowhere. Not even a taxi instruction was provided, and after my request, I was told that I could park the airplane almost anywhere, so I did.

I think that no many light airplanes fly there but sure, thousands did, because nobody care about.

I parked the airplane, stopped everything, open the canopy and watched around and away the airfield activity that was scarce.


Once I exited the airplane, I walked a few meters and asked an indifferent guy about where I could have my airplane hangared. Temperatures where some -25 C during the day, colder at night.

Have a look there, he told me…

¨There¨ was the huge hangar of an airline called ¨Calm Air¨. A small (19 aircrafts) company, using mainly ATR 72 turbo twins, founded in 1962.

Entering ¨there¨ was nice, because the hangar was clean and heated. Plenty of room for my little aircraft. It was also kitted out with some great hardware like aircraft maintenance stands (see here – https://www.platformsandladders.com/aircraft-maintenance-products/model-15f1900-b1-maintenance-stand) which should really be standard in all hangars everywhere. It just makes working on aircraft a lot easier.

Two young maintenance were working and soon, they were as kind as friendly:


Sure that there will be no problem you to have your airplane hangared here, but we have to ask first our boss.

The boss, then, told me that he has to ask his boss.

The boss of the boss was coming around 30 minutes later, so I waited inside.

That BB (Boss Boss) was not as friendly, nor involved. It was not a ¨No¨ but it was not optimist.

One of the first things I was told, was about them not being responsible of any damage into my aircraft (although I was confident they must all have had some form of aviation maintenance training). Second thing was about the huge amount I would have to pay.

Then, after telling him about myself not being an executive aircraft and not a millionaire, he finally told me to come later in the evening, to see what he could do….

I didn´t felt comfortable and I left the hangar to have a coffee at the airport.

I was walking in front of the next hangar and then asked somebody working inside: ¨sure!¨ go upstairs and ask there.

What a difference !

I was really welcome and soon, Annette Burnham, took care of me.

She introduced me into ¨PJ¨who is the one responsible of the aircrafts maintenance. She told me : ¨He is really a nice man!¨

Keewatin Air is also a small airline created in 1971 and operates from Rankin Airport. They operate mainly Super King Airs, Pilatus PC 12 and Learjet. One of main goals is Medivac (Medical Evacuations). A lot of work, day and night.

I felt very comfortable with them.

Finally it was difficult to have my RV8 inside, because of their aircrafts night schedule, but they told me that the next day, they will heat my aircraft and help with the refuelling.

100-130 LL Avgas was available only in drums, and the provider didn´t have a pump. PJ was going to provide his own pump !

Annette drove me into the Rankin Hotel. There, everything is expensive and there are no alternatives.

Weather was promising for the next day, so resting was not an option !

Early in the morning, I was taken into the airport and walked into Keewatin Air. Annette was leaving the city for Vancouver but came to say goodbye. PJ took charge of everything, and I have to say that it took many hours refueling and heating the engine.



Air Heating Rankin

Heating the engine

Then I understood that I was not self-sufficient: this kind of flight cannot relay on others, I should be able to heat the engine by myself for the Antartica flight !

Also the wings got some ice. Not the sticky one, but also I knew that it was necessary to have a wing and tail covered, would the aircraft overnight outside again.

Once everything was ready, I donned my water survival gear.

PJ, please, how much I have to pay?


No words to thanks PJ and Annette, and Keewatin, for their support and kindness.

That Annette goodbye was together with food for my flight !!!!

What can I say?

A huge thanks !!!!!

Flight was a short one: just 4,5 hours.

Screen Shot 2016-05-05 at 12.31.56

Scenery was incredible. I was flying over ground and hilly areas, with a light tailwind.

World, the world I know, was far away.

Infinity was all around. Flying infinity is also flying the oceans and the deserts. It was as wonderful as confusing. Isolation was all around and a true privilege.

app resolute mountains

Real Aeroclub de España en el artico

Many kisses went to my dear RV !

But GPS information, was changing. No longer a map is displayed ! Funny?

Approaching Resolute

GPSs were showing different information. Tracking provided by the Garmin 430 was similar to the one provided by the autopilot, but tracking from my Garmin 496 was different, although I was flying the same path…

What the hell is going on????

Yeeeees, now I do have an explanation…. since two nights (sometimes when sleeping some thoughts arrive..).

But I will not provide you that information too soon…. just for you to share the flight !

I flew between 3000 and 6000 ft. Temperatures were warmer there than at ground level

Do you know how many White Bears I saw?

Exactly..none !

I tried to use my cold weather device B to ¨jettison¨ my bladder contain.

It was based on an external adhesive urine colector, very similar to a prophylactic , with a draining tube.

The fact is that ¨us¨ the men, are very sensitive to the cold temperatures 🙂 …

So the device, designed for hospitals were temperatures are nice, was not fit for cold winter operations. The reason is similar to a child trying to don his father shoe !!!!

But fortunately system A kept working, but it was not easy either ….:) 🙂

An Air Force skis equipped was flying around Resolute. It was the only contact I had during all the flight. Some clouds layers were around, it was not a matter to relax and meet that C130 just in the nose. I didn´t want to hurt him, of course !

If Rankin is a small city of around 2600 people, Resolute is just 1/10 of that. Another big difference is that the city is not next to the airport, some 4 miles away.

Landing there was also interesting. Not a controlled airport, the sense of being ¨transparent¨ was still bigger.

Soon I recognized the Kenn Borek Hangar, because of the Twin Otter red aircraft parked in front of it, so there I taxied my airplane (or would I have to say, I skied it?).

Kenn Borek

What was going to happen?

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