This morning I took Liane for a scenic flight along the Lake Ontario to Toronto and back. That was after I explained to her the geographic impossibility to going to visit the Grand Canyon. Yes, she thought we were going to be able to nip over to the real Grand Canyon, not the one in Pennsylvania. Shades of talking to my English relatives about the reason I don’t just “pop over” to my mother’s place for dinner is that it’s just about as far to her as it is to England.
Anyway, we left Oshawa, looking at some of the familiar landmarks of Whitby, and down to the lake shore. We flew down below the Toronto Class C airspace, and talked to the Toronto City Center tower controller, who was wonderfully accomodating and didn’t give me the sort of rigamorol and vectoring around I associate with any flight talking to Toronto Terminal. We flew in between the airport and the city at 2,000 feet, which gave Liane a good view looking down on the CN Tower. Over Ontario Place, I did a steep turn so we could look down the wing at the Cinesphere and the water slides, and then flew out over the harbour back towards Oshawa. It was too nice a day, and so instead of returning directly to Oshawa, we went past them along the Lakeshore and headed North. I was going to overfly Lake Scugog, but I couldn’t remember what the designation of the special use airspace over the south end of the lake (CYA(T) or something like that) meant, and I didn’t want to violate some regulation. I figured that since it was over the swampy southern part of the lake, it might be to protect nesting water fowl, and this might be a bad time of year for that. I don’t want to disturb them, and I don’t particularly want them to disturb me, either.
On the return, as we were taxing in I heard somebody getting a full route IFR clearance to Rochester. Hmmm, Alpha-21, Victor 252, AIRCO, Victor 31. I’d been thinking about filing that route myself, but didn’t last time because Alpha-21 is a NDB to NDB airway and I didn’t want to fly it in IMC. But it has the terrific advantage of being near to the Toronto airspace – as a matter of fact, it’s pretty much the route I flew on Friday from St. Catherines to Oshawa.
When it came time to leave, the first thing I did was call US Customs. Once again, they required two hours notice, and it was only a 45 minute flight, so I had lots of time to prepare everything else, and just hang around reading in the airport. I filed the same route I’d heard that other guy being given as a full route clearance. But when the time came to depart, Oshawa ground insisted on giving me the full route clearance. I’m guessing that they don’t know what I filed, because I tried to be a smart-ass and so my read back was “Oshawa One, then as filed Alpha 21, Victor 252, AIRCO, V31”. But they didn’t like me throwing that gratuitous “as filed” in there, and made me read it back again without it.
I took off, and contacted Toronto Terminal, and as soon as I did they asked me “What route would you like?” I replied that I’d like the route I filed and was cleared for, Alpha 21, Victor 252, AIRCO, Victor 31. He said “no, do you want along the lakeshore, direct to Rochester, or direct to AIRCO?” Sheesh, is my routing strip being printed in invisible ink or something? “Ok, I’ll take direct to AIRCO.” “Fly heading 200, let me know when you want to turn direct to Rochester.”
Ok, maybe I’m not being a good risk manager here, but for some stupid reason I don’t mind being out of gliding distance of shore if I’m near Toronto, but I don’t want to be out of gliding distance if I’m further than 20 or so miles from Toronto City Center. That’s because I’ve seen the rescue helicopter there at City Center, so I figure that if I were to go down there, the rescue helicopter could probably be en-route before I even hit the water. If I’m wrong about that, maybe you shouldn’t tell me.
So basically my strategy is to go as direct across (and as fast as the plane will go) once I’m outside of gliding distance, and then when I’m within gliding distance of the shore I’ll slow down and turn direct to Rochester. Since this afternoon was quite hazy, I just waited until I could see the shore and asked for and got a direct turn to Rochester.
As I got closer, the controller started vectoring me to runway 4 (the big long runway that the jets use) and said that runway 10 (the not quite as long runway that the turboprops use) was available if I wanted it. I’m an accommodating guy, so I said I’d accept runway 7 if that would help. Runway 7 is the smallest runway, and is actually a remnant of the original triangle of runways back when the airport handled DC-3s, and only piston engined planes are allowed to land there. Sure enough, nobody else wanted Runway 7, so I was cleared to land while I was still about 5 miles out. I don’t know why, but I love that when that happens. Probably because it makes me think that I’m doing the right thing to help everything flow better.
I got to Customs at exactly 17:26. Since I’d called for a 17:30 arrival, I felt like I’d timed that pretty much perfectly. The customs guy wasn’t there, so I pulled out my pre-filled-out CF-178 customs form, and started to get out all the stuff the customs officer had asked for last time – my green card, my pilots license, my medical certificate, and the aircraft’s registration. The officer arrived a few minutes later, and said “Oh hi again. Just give me the form, I saw all the other stuff last time.” Yes, it was the same customs officer as two weeks ago.