Sunday, July 10, 2011

Fort Nelson

Fort Nelson was massively undersold to me by pilot report as an industrial airport, noisy and run down, with friendly people. As its geology, it's the first town out of the mountains, on the flatter prairie. It's a heart for the oilfields, with a humming industrial hub supporting them, instead of the touristy feel of Whitehorse or the silence and sparrows and sunsets of Watson Lake. To me, it feels like Merrill Field. It feels like home, alive with people doing things with aviation and going places.

The people are awesome. The FBO, Sky North Aviation Fuels, was officially closed for the day when I got in, but the gent working there offered a ride into town. The grill, he apologized, was out of propane for grilling up hot dogs or burgers, but I was welcome to the microwave, the incredibly comfy couch, the shower, the small kitchen, the wireless... It is a place designed to keep people happy even when waiting out weather for days. The people are what turn it from a nice place into an awesome one.

The next morning, Fort Saint John had ceilings of 600 feet. The low that was forecast to move... hadn't. A couple in a nice lightly modified Cessna still mostly kitted for high, fast, and long distance took off, as did a couple in a helicopter. The two very nice gents who'd camped out at Watson Lake filed IFR, but came back with a bad mag. We pooled our toolkits and set to work finding and fixing the problem (and fixing a primer line while we were at it). As they were an experienced A&P and IA, I mostly held tools, fetched things, and learned about mags (one of the things that hasn't broken on my plane yet. ) After fixing the obvious problem, reassembling and timing everything, and finding the secondary problem, we turned to the mechanic Sky North found. He wasn't officially working today, but was doing paperwork in the shop. A new mag was procured, timing box borrowed, and the airplane repaired.

I saw them off, as ceilings has risen, bit visibility had dropped to 5 miles with light rain and mist. I don't mind relatively low ceilings, but I very much mind low visibility. You don't hit what you see coming. So I hung out, chatted with folks, and am preparing for a second night with my sleeping bag on the couch of incredible comfiness.

Tomorrow, if the low goes where I want it to, I'll be in Ft. St. John, or maybe all the way to Grande Prairie. If not, there are a lot worse places to spend a quiet Sunday! Maybe I'll even find all the autocorrect spelling and grammar errors in these last posts...


  1. At the risk of repeating myself, thank you for sharing this adventure with us. It sounds wonderful; of course, we're not the ones dealing with the mosquitoes et al.

  2. Oh COOL! What a neat adventure!

  3. Smart move Wing :-) Enjoy the couch for another day.

  4. Glad the trip is going well!