A Pilot's Story
Chapter Three - Page 3
The landing lights of the PBY while on the water are useless, as they point up in the sky. Finally, somehow we got up the ramp and into the hangar. My star kept shining.
The Canadian Pacific Airline’s PBYs had served Prince Rupert for 12 1/2 years with only one major accident. Because they were building a new airport on Digby Island, the decision was made to close the operation down. The airplane needed work and the winter weather was fast approaching. So, on November 12, 1959, we ferried CRR over to Terrace, BC to await its fate.
Terrace is in a valley surrounded by mountains. Imagine, we got to fly it over 4000 feet ASL! In December of 1959, Canadian Pacific asked me to move CF-CRR from Terrace over to Edmonton, Alberta for storage. It would be nice and dry over there for the winter.
F/O Denman and I flew up from Vancouver and prepared to fly out the next day. Terrace was inland from Prince Rupert, in a valley surrounded by mountains. The airport was very difficult to approach and had high approach minimums, as the pull-up procedure required a circular departure. There was a radio beacon at nearby Kitimat, and a radio range beacon at Terrace. The distance between the two beacons was 22 miles, with the Terrace beacon 6 miles from the airport. Overnight the weather had deteriorated to snow with a low ceiling.
I had never flown the airplane over 4000 feet (YPR -YZP) so I was not familiar with its performance at altitude nor in icing conditions. As the weather was above takeoff minimums, there was no excuse for not leaving. Off we went, climbing out from the airport to the Terrace radio range. With that thick wing and a low climb speed we weren’t going either over the ground nor up through the air at a very great rate.
Finally we reached the Terrace radio beacon and started for the beacon at Kitimat. By this time we were in cloud and snow with ice starting to form on the wings. We were flying into new territory for me–being above 4000 feet. I noticed that the cylinder head temperature was increasing on the right engine, so I placed the right fuel lever in emergency rich (which was used for maneuvering on the water to cool the engines). The extra fuel in emergency rich would cool the cylinder temperature.
By this time ice had started to form on the wings. We had rubber de-icing boots, but I was reluctant to turn them on too soon for fear they wouldn’t break the ice off properly. We started the alcohol to the propellers to de-ice them. Again, the difficulties were that there was no rate of flow meter, so you didn’t know how much you were using and you didn’t want to run out by using too high a rate. At full open there was only a very limited time.