You Take Mine and I'll Take Yours

Written by Mike Rabe
Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Mike RabeIn aviation, you always have a plan B (and C, and D). After consulting with Jim Wortham (Aviation Branch Chief for FWS population surveys) Kevin and Jim come up with plan B. We will return to Bismarck and pick up Terry Liddick’s plane. Terry finished his survey in the Dakotas last week, so his plane is ready and proven. Even though this is not really a safety issue, it could become a problem should we continue north of Fort McMurray with our current airplane. Our next stop, Stony Rapids, has no mechanic to fix a broken alternator belt. Being stuck in Stony rapids waiting for a mechanic to fly in and fix the plane would not help speed along the survey effort. So this is the right decision.

Surprisingly, we fly all the way from Fort McMurray to Bismarck with the alternator gauge in the charge mode (like it should be), despite both Kevin and I examining it carefully for the entire 7-hour trip. We book ourselves into a motel for a well-deserved night’s sleep. Terry should arrive tomorrow with his plane, sometime in early afternoon.

The next morning, Terry shows up ahead of schedule and we run some errands before heading to the airport. Terry gives Kevin the low-down on his plane and coaches us both on his particular computer set up. The computers are the same in every survey plane, but the way they work differs a little because the planes are not all identical. I flew survey with Terry in this same airplane in 2010, so it is not entirely unfamiliar. This is a Cessna 206, the same plane as our previous ride; the only significant difference is that Terry’s plane is on wheels, not floats. This is no issue for Kevin because he has gobs of flight time in these airplanes on floats, skis and wheels. And it’s no issue for me except that I won’t have to climb up on floats each day or pump them out, either. But I will miss the water landings and takeoffs. There will be no more of those on this trip.

Kevin (right) and Mike (left) in Bismarck with new plane.

Kevin (right) and Mike (left) in Bismarck with new plane. Photo by Mike Rabe, Arizona Game and Fish Department