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A Delivery AdventureMichael Wilton of FlightSimple Aircraft Sales - www.flightsimple.comI am very fortunate to have had many opportunities to fly different aircraft. Often this is because of the distance between the buyer and seller and is done as a service to assist in the movement of the plane to the buyer.Cessna 182 - Cory W. WattsOn occasion, a Buyer will request I fly with them. This can happen for a multitude of reasons but the most common is they do not have a ton of experience flying that type of airplane, or flying long distances, and are looking for some assistance and guidance. I must preface all of these flights by letting the Buyer know that I am not a flight instructor and that the time flying will not count towards insurance sign offs or the like. I cannot give instruction, but after a ton of long-distance flights, I am happy to give my insight and knowledge; hopefully they can ignore any bad habits I may have.
This was the case with Greg. He purchased a nice little Cessna 182 out of Alberta, but makes his home in Ontario. As he has just gotten back into flying recently, he was hoping for some assistance to move the plane from Alberta to Ontario. There were several delays on my side, but eventually the opportunity arose and we were ready to set off.
The 182 had just had an annual inspection and a pre-buy, both completed by maintenance facilities I know well. We were quite confident in the 182’s ability to get us there safely and we were both looking forward to the trip. It started uneventfully with Greg pre-flighting the airplane and we settled in for our first leg, a short hop to Brandon, MB.
We were about 30 minutes out of Brandon and had obtained an IFR clearance due to cloud over Regina and Brandon. This is common for me to do if the weather enroute is poor, but Brandon was showing we could drop through the layer and would be clear below on the approach. Suddenly, the engine started to run a bit rough and vibrate somewhat. It wasn’t a brutal difference, but was enough for us to take notice and review some emergency procedures. Since the plane has an engine monitor, we checked that and saw that the Number 6 cylinder had low CHT and low EGT temperatures. We commenced doing some inflight trouble shooting with fuel mixture, mags, etc., but could not get the engine to smoothen out.
Due to the weather, our best bet was to continue to Brandon as the plane was stable. We did pull out a number of charts and review alternate locations if the vibration worsened or we had an oil or fuel issue, so we were prepared if things went from uncomfortable to scary.
I asked Greg to call ahead to the Brandon Flight Centre. If you have seen my social media posts, you know that I go into Brandon regularly on my eastern flights as I am treated so well by their team and enjoy the city. Scott, the lead AME, was good enough to put his evening plans on hold and await our arrival.
The landing in Brandon was a non-event and with it’s big long and wide runway, I made a not so ugly landing and we headed for the hangar. Scott met us on arrival and did some in plane trouble shooting before pulling it into the hangar.
Once inside, he pulled a spark plug and found no perceptible compression on number 6. Both Scott and I were cringing a bit, knowing that a stuck valve would be the best case, with a dropped valve creating a situation where we were grounded for a while. The valve cover revealed a broken spring, but the exhaust valve keepers had held, allowing the valve to stay open but not fall into the cylinder. What a stroke of luck! Scott and I were all smiles, although Greg was suitably concerned about what this whole thing meant. A quick boroscope of the cylinder showed it was in good shape.
It was now after 6pm in Manitoba, so the engine repair shops in Winnipeg were closed. We devised a plan over supper to head to Winnipeg early the next morning and pick up the parts to fix the spring. This sounds easy, but the highway between Brandon and Winnipeg can be tough in March; luckily it was mostly bare and dry with only a bit of fog and we were able to make it to Winnipeg.
Scott suggested we go to Universal Aero Engine in St. Andrews, a small bedroom community north of Winnipeg. Once there, Rick the owner had the parts pulled and we were back on the road within minutes. It was a long drive back to Brandon but fuel by a couple coffees and breakfast sandwiches, we made it to Brandon and Scott and his team were getting us back in the air.
Due to weather along the north route through Thunder Bay and Wawa, we elected to take the south route through the US. We landed in Grand Forks, ND after a harrowing pattern into the airport, which had Greg working hard to maintain separation and slot in, we landed. We were able to clear Customs with little fanfare and he cheerfully cleared us and we headed for our overnight stop in Mosinee, WI.
The flight to Mosinee was uneventful and the plane ran beautifully. The gift of the use of the crew car from the staff at the FBO and a great meal at a Mexican restaurant topped off the day. The next morning we awoke to a beautiful VFR day, but the flying gods had more in store for us on the final day of flying.
We flew across Lake Michigan and were getting close to the Canadian Border. We had set up Customs at Billy Bishop Airport in Toronto, but the Toronto Controller informed us that it was socked right to the ground and we would not able to land. We elected to fly to Port Huron on the US side, and revise our plan.
During our lively discussion with the local pilots having coffee at the clubhouse, we decided to fly to London, ON, to clear Customs and await the lifting of the fog. The flight to London was beautiful and were able to see a flying example of a Grumman Albatross flying 1000 feet below us in the opposite direction. A sight to see for sure. London was a great stop and Greg made a beautiful landing. We parked at the FBO and sat down to formulate a plan for the last 45-minute leg to Toronto’s east side. With the help of webcams, forecasting, Foreflight and a buddy of mine who happened to be at a hotel in Toronto, we made the push for the last leg. We had full fuel on board, which meant that if we needed to, we could have turned back and beat a retreat for the safely of clear weather in London.
We flew the last leg dodging some clouds and some spotty ground fog and completed our arrival into Toronto. We were met by Greg’s wife and all enjoyed a great dinner at Greg’s favourite restaurant. They are both fantastic people and were amazing hosts. I bid them both goodbye and went on my way.
Overall, the flight was great. As pilots we always know we need to be flexible due to unforeseen weather, mechanical issues, etc. but it sure is nice to pop into an airport knowing that the great folks there will lend a hand and provide great advice. Without people just like Scott and Rick, General Aviation would be a much more difficult and far less enjoyable.
As the old saying goes, “time to spare go by air”, but sometimes the flight is an adventure. Although I know Greg had some concerned moments, as I did, along the way, I think we both would say it was a great flying adventure all around and one we will talk about around the coffee shop with other pilots, for many years to come.