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Mike's Pilot Log: South to South Adventure

Ahead of us lay the northern areas of Quebec.

The day started out well, with little wind and clear skies. Hey, it was a day for flying. In the airport briefing office I checked the weather. The day was good but from 3,000 ft and higher there was a headwind of 30 knots. I checked the weather with St John's FSS and they confirmed the winds. Oh well, maybe it would be better later. We had a leisurely breakfast and then slowly started to pack. I decided to do a physical check on the wind and took off for a flight. I climbed to 4,700 ft and realised that the wind was actually much more westerly and not as strong. Ground speed was a respectable 90 km/h. I waited until a helicopter had passed underneath me and immediately returned to the airport and landed.

We packed quickly and were in the air by 10 am. Ahead of us lay the northern areas of Quebec – a desolated wilderness of short pine trees, hills and lakes – and don't forget the huge mother mosquitoes.

The first stop after 3 hours was at Shefferville. The wind was quite strong so we landed on the taxiway. It was a tiny town, but they at least had a fuel station.

The next leg of the flight was about 450 km and I was a little concerned about the wind picking up and slowing us down to the degree where we would be at risk of running out of fuel. While Olivier refuelled the trikes, I connected the auxiliary fuel tanks of about 70 litres. Olivier nicknamed them MARS (mid air refuelling system). What happens is when there is enough space in the bottom tank then we open the valve and by pressuring the top tank, the flow starts to the lower main tank.

I also changed the setting on the needle jets of my engine to try for better consumption.

We took off again at 3:30 pm – next stop Kujjuaq 450 km away. The flight was quite tough in the beginning because we kept flying into or around light rain. The clouds were low and threatening and the wind kept shifting from a westerly to a northerly and back again.

As we approached Kujjuaq, the wind picked up and our speed dropped to 65 km/h. The wind was now coming directly from the north and just on the other side of the town I could see heavy rain. We raced as fast as we could for the runway and after checking with the tower, landed into the wind on the taxiway.

We met George Berthe, an Inuit man and owner of an ultralight called a Bush Caddy. He immediately invited us to stay with him and promised to try and get us hangarage space. We moved our trikes into the hangar, but as soon as George had left, the maintenance manager of the hangar advised us that the fees for overnight hangarage was 250 $ Canadian each. We moved our Babies out of the hangar into the cold and the rain, grumbling about the crazy fees.

At George's house, Pam, the local instructor, made us a great meal of T-bone steak and fresh vegetables.

This was my first contact with the Inuit (previously called Eskimos). George is a happy, very likeable, well-educated dynamic man of 33, and is on the board of directors of three airlines - among other positions he holds. He speaks English with absolutely no accent and lives in a house in the best western culture, with all the gadgets and toys that indicate comfort and reasonable wealth. The big difference is what George eats. George, like his ancestors and family is a hunter, and lives off meat and fish that he kills and eats. In his deep freeze were two Lynx cats that he was saving for a special occasion. He hunts the Polar Bear, Beluga whales, Musk Ox, Caribou, all manner of fish, Seals, Walrus, to name what I can remember. There are two things that the Inuit never eat –  Polar bear livers and wolves. While we were eating our dinner, George was cutting up a Beluga whale and some Arctic Char (a bit like a Salmon) that he and a friend had caught the day before. We tried some of the uncooked Beluga whale skin (an Inuit delicacy) – it was so tough it was like trying to chew on bone….. and it had no significant taste.

I slept like a log on a mattress on the floor in the dining room. I was exhausted.

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