I'm going to a new place; what do I need to know before I get there in order to look like I know what I'm doing? I can plan a flight to a random place named by the client in the time it takes for the fuel order to arrive, or divert in midair and still be okay, but when I'm going to be based out of a place for a while, I can give myself a head start by finding out a few things in advance.
CYMM has a single runway 07/25, with right hand circuits on 07, making all circuits to the south, away from the aprons. The runway is paved, 150' wide, 7000' long and at 1211' elevation. (Yes, Canadians still use the old imperial measurements for such things. It was, I assume, deemed to dangerous to make an overnight switch to a new system of measurement. Or maybe we're afraid that thirty party suppliers of approach plates and electronic navigation products, would (like Microsoft with its British, American but no Canadian spellchecker), deem Canada too small a market to cater to, and thus we'd be deprived of useful products in our measuring system of choice.) It is served by at least three FBOs, with almost every variety of aviation fuel for sale. It's a small airport choked with oilfield traffic. The Google satellite view indicates that almost every building on the field is under construction.
The aerodrome has METARs and its own 24 hour TAF, with other useful weather coming from YZH, YNR, YOD, YPY and maybe YVT. The weather systems move mainly east and southeast here. Northern Alberta is reporting mainly clear this morning. Seven degrees as I type this, but was three two hours ago, probably sub-zero overnight.
The aerodrome has an RCO to the Edmonton FSS, plus there's an FSS on the field (with, according to one report, hot female staffers). There's a VOR and an NDB, but I'll have to get the approaches when I get there as the only Alberta plates I have with me are way out of date.
There are a fair number of small airports in the vicinity. Fort Mac is the only nearby place with services, but there will be at least telephones and emergency shelter on the ground at:
- Gordon Lake Airport (23 nm E)
- Muskeg Tower Airport 30 nm NNE
- Mildred Lake Airport 26 nm N
- Fort MacKay 34 nm N
- Horizon 46 nm N
- Namur Lake 67 W
There are others. The nearest bigger airport is probably CFB Cold Lake, 138 nm south, and Edmonton International is 216 nm south-southwest, so I'm practically in the big city.
As for the town itself, no one picked up the good news/bad news part of my line about going to Fort McMurray for work. It's not known across the country as a centre of civilization, shall we say. It's known as the place that a young man can go straight out of school and make a lot of money. In the daytime the town appears to have been hit by some bizarre plague that has wiped out every able-bodied male over the age of seventeen. They are all in the oilfields, because no one would work in a service industry in this town if they could work where the money is. And young men with lots of money spend it on trucks, boats, women, alcohol and in many cases stronger drugs.
A coworker reported that the young women of Fort Mac had only two questions for him: "Where do you work?" and "How big's your truck?" He drove an F150 so that was the last question they asked him, but apparently the welder (a welding truck is pretty big) was quite a hit.
So I'm prepared for busy airspace and a cultural experience. Who knows, there might even be barbeque.