West by Northeast

Written by Steve Earsom
Sunday, June 14, 2015

Photo of Stephen D. Earsom.This year's Ungava Peninsula survey began with me heading west to St. Paul to pick up N723, now shorn of floats for the summer. A couple of short test flights served to identify and resolve remaining minor maintenance issues, then I was headed northeast. A full day of flying put me in Quebec City, then another to get to Kuujjuak.

I'm joined again by 17-year Ungava veteran biologist Jean Rodrigue of the Canadian Wildlife Service, who I picked up in Quebec City. Besides serving as observer and maintaining the database for this survey, Jean knows every rock on the windswept peninsula and does a great job of keeping us clear of logistical roadblocks.

Fortunately, logistics have become easier for us this year with the removal of the floats. This allows us to top off the fuel tanks for the first time, which translates to more than two extra hours of fuel and therefore more options. We also have greater ability to land in the ubiquitous crosswinds found here. As an added bonus, we pick up an extra 20-30 knots of airspeed while transiting between lines, which means reduced overall cost for the survey. So what's the tradeoff? Well, those floats do look pretty cool.

The 2015 Ungava survey crew: Steve Earsom (USFWS, left) and Jean Rodrigue (Canadian Wildlife Service, right). Photo Credit: Steve Earsom, USFWS

The 2015 Ungava survey crew: Steve Earsom (USFWS, left) and Jean Rodrigue (Canadian Wildlife Service, right). Photo Credit: Steve Earsom, USFWS