Thursday, September 03, 2009

My Wings Over Canadian Water

I'm PIC on the way out of Yellowknife. The weather is a little low here, so we're flying across Great Slave Lake at a thousand feet or so. The weather should improve by Hay River on the other side, so we can stop skimming through the bottoms of these ragged clouds.

As a student pilot I got special permission to fly across a body of water that students at my school were not normally allowed to cross. I had finished my course and was having trouble getting an exam booking, so they decided to make an exception for me so I could go on an adventure. That was fun, and flying across water still hasn't got old for me. I wish I could fly an airliner across the Pacific.

Reaching the other side, the weather does improve. Hurray for Nav Canada. They do a pretty good job. I have now flown across the lakes named Superior, Huron, Michigan, Ontario, Erie, Great Slave (and Lesser Slave), Athabasca, and Winnipeg. These are mighty lakes and I guess part of Canadian identity is wrapped up in our rocks and trees and lakes. I've also flown across James Bay (the south part of Hudson Bay, so I'm totally counting that as flying across Hudson Bay), the Strait of Georgia, and the Bay of Fundy. I've been airborne over the Atlantic Ocean, Pacific Ocean, and the Gulf of Mexico. (I would have had the Arctic Ocean in that list too, recently, but plans always change). It's just flying around where I'm told to go, but it feels like an achievement.

I like to imagine that I can identify different kinds of terrain as I fly across the country. Of course anyone can see the quite abrupt change as the lumpy Ontario rocks and trees and lakes on the Canadian shield gives way to the flatter prairies, but I imagine that even up north I can see differences: a kind of stretchiness in the lakes that is different in Manitoba, longer rounded lakes with fewer islands in Saskatchewan, blobbier ones in Alberta, and of course the long windy ones in the British Columbia mountain valleys. As you go north into the territories the rock forms seem more scribbly. They are to southern rocks as cirrus clouds are to lower altitude formations. I'm sure it's all in my head and if I didn't know where I was, I wouldn't see my imagined differences, but that's what I think I see.

The rocks become less scribbly and I imagine that this must be Alberta now. I look at the GPS and our latitude is 59 degrees 48 minutes. I called it!


LandPilot said...

"... flying across water still hasn't got old for me."

My imagination gets way too active when flying over water! Especially when the number of engines installed and properly running is less than two.

Cirrocumulus said...

Of course you can tell different kinds of terrain apart by their texture - any bored passenger can do that. Over France last week a change in soil type was very obvious from the shape of the fields.