Aviation In Canada

Friday, July 01, 2005

Flight Following Anyone? Part 2

(Happy Canada Day! This is continued from yesterday, PA28 CGNBO had experienced an engine failure near Apple River, NS, and was attempting to find the grass strip I had mentioned to him, and was awaiting more information on the field which I had promised him.)

No sooner did I have the word details out of my mouth did my supervisor shove the Canada Flight Supplement under my nose open to the page. Quite alert to the word "emergency", he was. The pilot asked for a heading and pointed the airplane in the direction of the field, near the coast line. I considered a few things: We're getting close to dusk, and the area where this field is contains virtually nothing else. The community of Apple River is a small one, and there won't be many lights in the town, with none at the airfield itself. The pilot asked me to tell him when he was overhead the field to help him find it. Another thing that was quite amazing is that I was still able to talk to him on our main transmitter out of 3,500 feet. This was exceptional. I was beginning to lose him, so I ran for our backup transmitter with an antenna much closer to the area. This allowed me to continue the conversation. I read out the details: Runway 09/27, 2,500 feet of grass, field elevation 135 feet, power wires near the threshold of R27, and R27 slopes downward. He was lining up for R27.

The pilot soon reported the field in sight and was observed circling in the area as he slowly descended toward the grass strip. Eventually, we lost him on radar at an unusual 300 feet on the Mode C. From there, we could only hope. We had already called the local RCMP to go get him, but we didn't know how long it would take to get someone out there in this remote area.

Then, finally, an overflying Airbus, who was on the same frequency but had been transferred to his next one during the incident, called in to report that the pilot had broadcast a message. He had landed safely and was looking for assistance. We asked the airbus pilot to relay that we had called the RCMP and hopefully they would arrive soon.

(last part tomorrow...)