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Pandemic with PizzazzText and photography by Bryan Webster of Aviation Egress SystemsAs we are all well-aware, 2020 has been one heck of a year. With the busiest season on record for egress training, March changed our entire world as pool facilities were hinting that they would close down, and then soon after slammed their doors shut as we exited in disbelief.After a few weeks of bewilderment, my wife Patti and I decided that there would be two ways of handling the situation: we could curl up in the fetal position and wait out the storm, or get out there and embrace the world with cautious optimism. As Aviation Egress Systems (AES) was put on hold, and obviously not returning any time soon, we ditched the computer and cell phones in trade for discovering as many remote lakes possible, utilizing our 1947 Luscombe 8E ‘Pretty Girl’ as our vehicle of choice.
Before long, our good friend Steve, with a similar model, joined in, directing us to hidden gems within a day’s flight of home base. Most of these lakes were teaming with a variety of fish to be caught in the solitude that only back woods offer, one including a large dock and canoe, so what could be better?
Now camping out on an airport has merit, but waking up on a floating object in pristine waters, while enjoying a dip before coffee, simply can not be beat. Fast forward to mid-summer, where a newly revived energy had awakened us; we opted for a more vigorous approach to the outdoors. After flying over mountain passes in minutes, and later perusing the local Parks and Recreation maps, it was decided backpacking into some of the West Coast’s wonderful secluded woods was in order. Della Falls looked interesting from the air, so on with the backpacks and away we go over a gruelling trail, which dates back to gold mining in the late 1890s.
These beautiful falls pour down a vertical drop from a crystal blue lake thousands of meters above and are the highest in Canada. From our campsite at the bottom, we next opted for a day hike over to another Alpine Lake, which although not the warmest for swimming, was well worth the effort. What amazed me was the fact that early day gold seekers had climbed straight up that same switchback with equipment weighing many tons.After the best part of a week in solitude, we headed home only to find our world was still on hold. So, what to do now? Well, how about another backpack adventure - this time to Cape Scott on the north end of Vancouver Island?
History of this particular five-day wander in the woods dates back to early immigration in the late 1800s and World War II, when a radar station was built to the farthest northern reaches possible. Today, this same concrete structure is utilized for marine safety in the form of a lighthouse, complete with two caretakers and numerous buildings. This trail was originally hand cut by Danish settlers who were offered land to help populate the then vacant area, which unfortunately did not last long for numerous reasons. Years later, the military required access to this region and a Willys Jeep road was built. The road is mostly still there in spots, although extremely muddy, making it difficult to pass over with more than 35 pounds (16 kg) strapped to your back. The beaches are, however, well worth the hardship, as they are very pleasing to the eye and rival anything you might find anywhere on the planet Earth. After camping out on incredible sanding shores, with the continual wave action washing in, we wondered why a person wouldn't just stay there forever. Reality check: firstly you’re in a park and about the time those freeze dried foil packs are gone, the rains will return with high winds, colder temperatures and, unless you’re a keen hunter, very limited food sources.
Now on the road to home, a day’s drive away, another float flying adventure was decided upon, as the cellphones confirm egress training was still at an all time low.
This time a local fly-in event closer to home with family and friends was on the docket, and luckily weather co-operated as in the past few months. For pilots who are fortunate enough to participate in bringing aviation to children, it is hard to describe what an effect flight has on a young person brand new to this world. Looking back to spring, this ongoing pandemic has turned each one of our worlds upside down and every one of us will have a different story to tell once it is over. Many of us have been adversely affected medically or economically, and who knows what the future will bring, as only time will tell. For aviators, the freedom to fly and explore our county has been such a gift; I only wish more people were able to join in during these difficult times.
Now fall is in the air and the phones are starting to ring once again, so away we go back into the world we have been emmerced in for over 20 years, with more passion and desire to teach then ever.
For us at AES, we are now once again egress training with specialized in-water masks and all health board protocols in place, doing what we are so good at: teaching pilot safety to aviators.
Stay safe out there and all the best, Bry The Dunker Guy