Saturday, May 30, 2009

Prepreflight Planning

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VOR and an NDB, but I'll have to get the approaches when I get there as the only Alberta plates I have with me are way out of date.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.

14 comments:

J said...

Excited for job-ish postings again maybe please!

david said...

I think it makes sense to use the same measures for Canada and the U.S. in aviation, since pilots cross the border so often. The Americans did compromise by using metric for temperature, so I don't mind using feet, nautical miles, inches of mercury, and statute miles elsewhere.

Angus said...

You've got all of us excited now! I used to fly into CYMM regularly, but that was um...some 25 years ago so my restaurant info's likely a little stale. Always liked the long days this time of year, the winters...well...

Sir Lukenwolf said...

Quite a lot of places having the Fort prefix or Lake suffix. That doesn't exactly sound like you're heading for a metropolitan area - good luck out there.

Aviatrix said...

Indeed. And Muskeg is a sort of quicksand-like bog, so it counts as a body of water.

Anonymous said...

Money is there. Black flies. -40 in the winter. Seen a nice pickup truck in Edmonton last week... $72,000.00

Scott Johnson said...

What would a Canadian spell-checker pick up? Misspellings of "Eh?" Sorry ... I had to. :)

dpierce said...

Am I correct in assuming that Canadians spell some words like Americans and others like the UK? Thus making both British-English and American-English spell checkers imperfect?

Aviatrix said...

Organized labour. Labelled by colour. Inuit civilization.

Ward said...

Is one L in labelled an American thing? I just assumed Firefox was stupid for underlining it for me all the time.

Murray said...

Your airport info seems a bit old. Since September 2008, Fort Mac has had a control tower. They operate 1345Z to 0115Z Monday to Friday and 1345Z to 2200Z Saturday and Sunday. From 0115Z to 0615Z M-F or 2200Z to 0615Z S/S, Fort McMurray Radio provides RAAS in the MF zone with Peace River Radio covering 0615Z to 1345Z when the Tower re-opens. Edmonton Radio still provides service (FISE) on the RCO and it appears to be the preferred way of opening and closing flight plans. Also, the 5 NM control zone as well as the 15 NM transition area and 25 NM control area extension require an operating transponder with Mode C. All this you will find in the current CFS. Have fun. Note: all times are standard; they have that little symbol next to them in the CFS denoting that the local time of operation remains the same when the switchover to daylight savings time occurs.

david said...

While I don't use most American spellings like "color," I don't find them strange when I read them. The one exception is the word "cheque," which Americans spell "check" (the same as the verb).

I find it very jarring to walk past American banks with signs advertising "Checking Accounts" -- it sounds like some kind of creepy account where the bank phones you at home every day to make sure you're OK.

Aviatrix said...

The one that always gets a double take from me is "ID Required. No Checks." Almost every time I think, "If they aren't going to be checking, why do people need ID?" before I remember that's how Americans spell cheque.

Brent said...

If you would have checked your bag tag what would you have blogged about? As always, enjoy the blog and looking forward to the new adventure.