Maine, it turns out, has mosquitoes. They're not the northern Canada swarms where naked skin instantly has a density of at least one mosquito per square centimetre, and they're not very big, but they do manage to land, saw little holes in me, and steal my blood while I'm post-flighting. They're pretty slow, though. I kill lots.
Other than a water bottle behind the seat there's nothing out of order. All the exhaust stack springs are attached with no disruption to their sealing. The propeller is pristine. So pristine that--and this is embarrassing--I notice for the first time that there is plastic film on the nickel edges of the propeller. You know how when you buy a new digital watch or a new cellphone there is a plastic film over the face so it doesn't get scratched in transit? It's just like that. Some people remove the plastic film right away and others insist that the film and the inspection and certification stickers are parts of the product and refuse to remove them. Apparently the manufacturer is one of those. The film adheres closely to the propeller, and as the propeller is up above my head level, my inspection is largely tactile. The change in texture at the film coincides with the change of texture between nickel and composite, so I've managed not to notice it's there until now. Perhaps today there are more wrinkles in it than there were before.
I finish my inspection of the airplane, but the mosquitoes are still busy inspecting me, so I unload our gear and head inside. The FBO is a little flying school with couches and posters and old magazines that aren't about things for people with way too much money. I spot a Montreal chart in the case. It's the one we're missing for tomorrow's flight, and I ask to purchase it. Someone on the couch tells me they're closed, but someone on a different couch says he'll sell me one anyway. It then turns out that I don't have the US cash to buy it, so I have to wait for Lite Flyer. Meanwhile they tell me stories about someone with the exact same type of airplane who flipped it in a lake near here. He was scud running in low cloud and high winds then decided he'd better put down and attempted a downwind landing on the water. He was uninjured.
Lite Flyer will never do that. I don't think she will ever push the weather, and she is very aware of wind direction. On one approach I remember getting the ATIS and the tower clearance and joining a right downwind as directed. She saw what I was doing and said, "shouldn't we join a left downwind?" already aware of standard traffic rules, but not that control tower instructions override standards. I explained and then she said, "we'll be landing with a crosswind." This was back on the first day and I wasn't expecting someone who had never listened to an aviation radio before to hear the ATIS wind, hear the assigned runway and correctly do the math. Turns out that's not what she did. She'd used the much more basic technique of looking out the window and interpreting the effect of wind on water and vegetation. I think she may be better than me at it. I do use such cues to confirm ground reports of wind, but she's clearly had good instruction in the importance and practice of knowing the wind.
Everyone here is concerned about the fact that we are buying Maine auto gas, which contains by law ten per cent ethanol. The manufacturer told us that up to ten per cent was fine, but the folks here contradict that. It's an interesting challenge that Lite Flyer will have with her airplane: sorting out what people say. She should certainly listen to the advice of more experienced pilots, but how to sort knowledge from lore and superstition? With a certified airplane, the manufacturer has the last word and it may be so far as illegal to operate the airplane other than in accordance with the manufacturer's instructions. For this airplane it's a good start, but a manufacturer in Florida will not be the one to go to for advice in operating this engine during a Canadian winter. For now I just thank people for their advice and continue to do what we were advised by the manufacturer. I will tell Lite Flyer before I leave her to her airplane that there may be other safe fuels for this engine, but that she will have to do some research.
And of course people find it necessary to tell us there's a hurricane come. I smile and say yes, it's been chasing us all the way from Florida. I'm still amazed that this thing isn't giving up. It's supposed to hit Halifax on Sunday.
Lite Flyer returns and we fuel the airplane, with the assistance of a pilot who has been in our situation, and is paying it forward. He was ferrying an airplane up the coast but had the usual luck of such endeavours, rather than the phenomenal everything-going-right luck that Lite Flyer and I have had. It's funny to see that she doesn't even realize how lucky we are. This pilot says he was three days in one place for mechanical and two days in another for weather, and that people just helped him out. That's pretty typical of aviation, I'm proud and happy to say. I can't think of a time I've had a problem and been met with a "your tough luck" attitude.
He knows the local hotels and gets us a rate at a nearby one that is on his way home. It is acting as the venue for a geezers' motorcycle convention, so we get the only room available, the luxury double with fireplace. At double the price of a recent excellent hotel, the room does not impress.
I lay out the charts on the floor in order to examine tomorrow's route. This one especially we can't just "wing" as we have to file a flight plan and a customs arrival report for the proper time. Charts have names. We're on the New York chart now, our destination is on the Moncton chart, and I've just bought the one that fits in between, Montreal. But they don't match. New York lines up with the southern edge of Montreal just as I would expect, but there is at least 30 degrees of longitude missing between Montreal and Moncton. I line up the 44th parallel on both charts and then the Montreal chart ends at the 69W meridian, while the Moncton chart barely goes west of the 68W meridian. I'm missing most of the terrain between the 68W and 69W meridians, about the width those two charts are set apart. I look again at the diagram that shows which charts cover which areas. Montreal is supposed to fit right against Moncton. And then I realize what's wrong. The Montreal VNC fits right against Moncton. I have the Montreal sectional, the American chart. They've given it the same name, and apparently there wasn't any American centre on the whole chart worthy of having a chart named after it, so they named it after the large Canadian city. The next chart over, I notice now, is called Halifax in the American version. And it doesn't cover quite the same area as the Canadian Moncton chart. This is actually a flight safety issue worthy of attention by Nav Canada and the American equivalent. Anyone know whom I should write?
It's not an insurmountable obstacle. I just like to have the right charts. I finish my planning without them and go to bed. We do not use the fireplace.