Alternating Alternators

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Written by Karen Bollinger
Saturday, May 21, 2011

Karen BollingerMay 19 and 20 proved to be good weather days, and observation conditions were excellent. During these 2 days of flying, we were able to complete stratum 34. We ended up staying in Yorkton Friday night – based on: i) the last segment ended there, and ii) it seemed to be the best airport to stage for flying the next day. We were not only close to our next transect line to fly, but also hopefully would be north of the line of weather (rain, low visibilities and ceilings) that was forecasted to be moving up from the south. Staying in Yorkton also gave us the added advantage and additional opportunity to get together with the ground crew for supper. It was great to meet and/or re-acquaint with “the crew.”

Saturday, 21 May, proved to be another challenging day. We were able to complete the 2 transect lines that we had planned to fly (minus 3 segments) before the weather moved in from the south and mandated an earlier-than-planned landing at Dauphin. During the short flight back to Dauphin, the alternator again went offline (see log dated 18 May); this time it proved to be the alternator and not the belt. Consider: this happened on a Saturday, AND during the 3-day Canadian holiday weekend (Victoria Day is Monday 23 May). We were worried that we might be out of commission for 3 days. But a quick call to Dave at Maple Leaf Aviation in Brandon confirmed his willingness to install the ‘old’ alternator on N758F that afternoon. You’re not going to get that kind of service at most places!

We just had to ferry the aircraft from Dauphin to Brandon. We were fortunate that a brief break in the weather allowed us to sneak into Brandon before the rain moved back in and reduced the visibility. As promised, Maple Leaf had N758F back up and ready to go by the end of the day. The 52-year history that the BPOP survey has had with Maple Leaf Aviation again proved invaluable.

Photo by Rob Spangler, USFWS

Photo by Rob Spangler, USFWS