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Cross-country flight a bonding experience for central Newfoundland father and his son

Father and son flight crew, Jack and Danny Pinsent, spent a week ferrying a Cessna 177 from Alberta to Newfoundland recently. It was a bonding experience for the two that has created lasting memories.
Father and son flight crew, Jack and Danny Pinsent, spent a week ferrying a Cessna 177 from Alberta to Newfoundland recently. It was a bonding experience for the two that has created lasting memories. - Contributed

Sharing a cockpit has created lasting memories between father and son.

As navigator, Ladle Cove resident Jack Pinsent accompanied his son Danny on a cross-country flight – from Alberta to Newfoundland – after Danny purchased a Cessna 177 in March.

Danny developed a passion for flight in Gander, where his father worked as an air traffic controller.

“I spent my time hanging onto the chain link fence (up on the runway) watching the planes,” Danny said. “To become a pilot, that was my goal as a kid.”

Finishing flight school in 1989, finding employment in aviation was difficult and he ended up choosing another career path.

But Danny never gave up his wings. Four years ago, he purchased a Piper Colt, a small two-seater, and this year he went for something bigger, upgrading to a four-seater.

The father-and-son team landed in Alberta March 19 and embarked on a weeklong trip, because of weather delays, before arriving in St. John’s on March 26, where Danny now lives.

It’s the first time he’s ever done a cross-country flight, and to have his father at his side was a proud moment for both of them, as Jack always encouraged his flying.

“It was the first time we’d ever done anything like that in our lives,” he said, of the bonding experience.

It was a special trip for Jack, as well.

“Basically, he did all the flying. I helped out with the navigation, which wasn’t too difficult,” he said.

“I was a passenger more than anything else … but it was a great opportunity to spend time with my son.”

adam.randell@thecentralvoice.ca


Excerpts from Jack Pinsent’s recount of the Alberta to Newfoundland flight with his son, Danny:

Mar 19

We arrived in Calgary and drive to Vulcan, Alberta on Mar 19

Mar 20

The first day we run into a delay, the hangar door will not open.

The problem is solved but we lost an hour and a half of flying time.

We fly to Swift Current and Brandon as planned; the weather is perfect.

We stop at Winnipeg.

Mar 21

We find out in the morning a major weather system has invaded Ontario but we can get as far as CYQT (Thunder Bay). Also there has been an unusual cold snap and the airplane is completely frozen over.

We clean the airplane but have to wait until the sun melts the remaining frost away. Time is lost.

We fly to CYQT with hopes that the weather will improve by the time we get there and then see how far we can go.

Everything is still down east of CYQT. We overnight there.

Mar 22

We lose more time because of the cold weather and for the sun to clean the airplane of frost.

After analyzing the weather system we decide to fly to Sudbury but we need to stay behind the weather.

Danny decides to fly via Sault Ste. Marie for safety reasons in case the weather gets worse.

This requires us to fly along the shore line of Lake Superior to avoid weather to the north hoping for improvement farther along. The weather is perfect.

We arrive in the Sault and the weather has lifted in Sudbury.

We refuel and leave for Sudbury encountering moderate turbulence even though the sky is clear and sunny.

The flight to Sudbury has been very tiring because of the turbulence. We overnight.

Mar 23

We get ready for an early morning departure; the weather continues to be extremely cold.

When Danny attempts to start the plane, he blows a 20-amp fuse in the starting system.

The airport is 25km away from the city so there is no way to get a fuse without a $50 cab ride into the city.

We find one from the Shell oil refueler.

Our original plan was to overnight in the Ottawa area; we land at Carpe airport.

Mar 24

Our intention is to continue east but the weather forecast remains poor. We decide to remain another night and depart the following day.

The weather situation remained clear but we had a snow shower in the evening and it became very cold, -15C.

Mar 25

In the morning the airplane is completely covered in frost and snow. We cleaned the aircraft and tried to start the engine. It failed.

Our intention was to reach N.L. that day but any delay would be a problem.

A worker at the airport in Carpe found us a heater to warm the engine and it started.

We were now on our way to N.L. via Sherbrooke, Que., and Port Hawkesbury for refueling stops. The weather remains sky clear.

When we arrive in Port Hawkesbury we encounter the first clouds we have seen since leaving Alberta. The conditions have deteriorated preventing us continuing on to N.L.

Mar 26

We arrive at the airport but the airplane is covered with light frost; the temp is -10C; the airplane will not start. We wait for an hour to let the sun’s heat warm up things. It works; the airplane starts and we are on our way.

We have now lost an hour’s flying.

We head for Cape Breton before we venture across the Gulf.

We encounter a bit of cloud but not enough to make us turn back; we are at 9,500 ft. altitude.

We arrive N.L. in the vicinity of Port Aux Basques and proceed along the coast line en route to St. John’s. There is a higher cloud ceiling but the visibility is good.

In the Harbour Breton area we encounter snow flurries and the cloud has lowered, making us descend to a lower altitude and the visibility is starting to get poor.

Danny is checking the weather and is considering a diversion to Gander but the situation improves.

We land at 13:55 on Mar 26 in St. John’s.

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