Road Trips

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DH Driver
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Road Trips

#1 Post by DH Driver » Tue Jan 03, 2012 8:35 am

I know it's not quite that season yet but for some reason I was thinking of new pilots taking the cross country trips. While I'm not making the road trips anymore Instead I'm seeing it from the other side and wading through the resumes.
I thought a few more experienced guys could share a few tips for the new guys.
Here are a few
McDonalds has free coffee refills, buy one cup and use it until the bottom falls out, or pick one up off the road if you're really hard up.
Get a magic jack for all those long distance calls
Always keep a few 6 packs of beer in your car you never know when they'll come in handy visiting an operation, you'll be remembered...
Over inflate your tires and tape all the body gaps and rust holes on your car for best fuel economy

So what else have you guys got?
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Re: Road Trips

#2 Post by cdnpilot77 » Tue Jan 03, 2012 9:17 am

A few things off the top of my head:

-Take everything you need to start working with you.
-Have appropriate clothing for the weather conditions on or available at an arms reach including gloves, toque, boots Jacket etc in case you slide off the road.
-Have a comfortable pillow and blanket
-Take a few litres of water a small butane/propane camping stove, a pot, a facecloth and a bar of soap...if you have to sleep in your car for a night, this will be your shower before you go and visit places.
-Have a cooler with cold meats bread etc to make sandwiches....much cheaper than even mcdonalds etc
-Be safe, if its -25 outside, do not sleep in your car unless you have appropriate cold weather gear and do not leave your car running while you sleep
-Use your downtime effectively ie: read "How to fly floats" or if you can muster up afm/poh's for the types of aircraft that will be encountered on a trip read those
-Ask A LOT of questions and LISTEN to the answers!!! You will get a lot of information from people if you listen...on several occasions, I would see guys come in, ask a question but before you get 2 words out they are asking another follow up. I suppose they are trying to seem eager but you end up answering the same question to the same person over and over...very annoying in a 5-10 minute conversation
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Re: Road Trips

#3 Post by phillyfan » Tue Jan 03, 2012 1:28 pm

Good God. If any of you are sleeping and bathing in your car and picking up old coffee cups to get by. I have a house on Lake Superior about 20 minutes east of Thunder Bay about 2 minutes off the Trans Canada. It's got 5 extra bedrooms which I am not using. You are more then welcome to spend the night on the way by if you need a warm place to sleep and get your bearings. Me and the wife always have beer in the fridge, meat for the BBQ and wood for the Sauna.
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Re: Road Trips

#4 Post by 'CauseTheCaravanCan » Tue Jan 03, 2012 1:43 pm

A +1 to what CdnPilot said, and about bringing the gear to start work immediately with you, it brings back memories.

-One thing I know, was that I was remembered for showing up during a busy freight day, and helping load freight in good clothes in heavy snow.
Wait around until the owner has time to talk to you, helping load freight and fueling.
-Don't just stand in the warm waiting room. Get to work (they'll start paying you :D )
-Bring plugs for your tires, and a compressor.
-Never used a Magic Jack, but a long-distance package for your cell or a CiCi phone card worked for me (you'll need a friendly voice, after you get a bunch of PFO's). Keeps your spirits up.
-In early-mid February, head up the winter roads to places where low-timers are welcome ie: Sandy Lake or St. Theresa Point.

phillyfan: Awww, I think you are onto something, a nice network of aviators looking out for the up-and-comers. :cry:
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Re: Road Trips

#5 Post by North Shore » Tue Jan 03, 2012 11:37 pm

Good luck! Here's an excerpt from a series of posts on the 'old' forum about road trips:

Quote:
All of the above are correct. Here's some more:

When you drive up, have a zillion copies of your resume. Don't put your picture on it. Have your (maybe not so)grand total out front so they can read it. Don't emphasize your university debating club as one of your hobbies. Bush Pilots don't debate. We always know we're right, even when we aren't.

Don't show up in a suit. Wear clean Mark's Work Warehouse type clothes with work or hiking boots, and work gloves. Not NEW ONES!
The driver you want to speak with will probably be on the Ramp or Dock hucking freight. Toss freight while you're talking. Nobody needs a special guest star while they are loading. Don't ask if you can come along. If he or she wants you to, they will ask. We are not shy up here. Come to think of it, once the driver takes off with his Norseman load of crap, talk at length to the Ramp Rats. Heck, buy 'em a coffee! They could easily be would-be pilots. And NOBODY knows the operation better than the rats. If you haven't a clue ask them how to load a snowmachine, boats, drums, sattelite dish and anything else wierd you see lying around the dock. Remember, if where you are standing is the end of the road, then anything and everything you need for a small town has to be flown in. Hopefully by you! Make notes on how this crap is loaded, take pictures. Sure as heck they don't cover this in the edmonton flying club ground-school!

If you can, borrow a map for the perspective area. Know how to read all the details of a map like the saturday comics. GPS will probably be turned off for your check-ride. Know where the usual destinations are. You studied up before each ride right? In the hope of getting a job? It's no diferent- each little talk is a check-ride. Keep a file of who you talked to, and about whtat and when is a good time to talk to them again. Then make sure you call back

Speaking of destinations...Is there a bar or coffee shop that area drivers favor? Be in at O 'dark thirty and pay attention. In Redl Lake fer instance the Lakeview Restaurant at o dark thirty is going to have a bunch of airplane people in it.

Buy a boy scout manual at a yard sale. Master all the knots in it. Learn how to splice.

Get a thermos and a sleeping bag. Learn how to sit and wait for te chief pilot to come sauntering out of the office door. Talk to a stalker for more advise on this.

At each stop, there will probably be a library in town. Get a hotmail yahoo or similar account. Check it at each stop. That job offer might just be there for a limited time only.

When asked about career expections, you might consider letting the interviewer know that eventually you want to drive something bigger. Just leave the impression that that 'something biger' is a twin otter or a hawker, not the Airbus 330 or something.

Find out the rudiments of smalll engine repair, and how to trouble-shoot a propane fridge. Joe McBryan in the 'Knife always asks people if they have a trade. He doesn't mean do you have an ATPL. He wants to know what other skills you possess that can help him keep his small airline alive. Maybe to you its a stepping stone. To him and guys like him the business is his RRSP.

Presumably, there are going to be customers of the airline.If it's in the bush, a fair bet is that they will be native. Learn how to say hi, bye and thanks in their language. Customer service is important. In Cree, its Tansi or boujou, and Meegwutch for thanks. WAY up north thanks can be Masi or Masi 'Cho.
Up at the top its Quayanakpak, Daigoo, Quayanaini, Quana, Quayanomin Nakomin, (going left to right from Siberia to Greenland.)
If you are going on your trip up to april or after labour day, bring a parka. not a shiny clean ski jacket. You might want to consider buying a reynolds flight suit, so if you do get hired you fit right in. Pile enough crap in the car that if you do get a job, you can start right now. Every employer wants two weeks notice before you bail, but they also want you that afternoon if they hire you.

Remember that life is a journey, not a destination, (especially if your destination when hired is Pikangikum, Stoney Rapids Shammatawa, Rae Edzo, or Lake Harbour) so if they offer you a ramp job, grab it, and work it as if the one thing in life you wanted to do was get to work a pallet jack. That way paradoxically, you won't spend as much time on the pallet jack.

Have fun. We did.

Thanks to JC...
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Re: Road Trips

#6 Post by flying on one engine » Thu Jan 05, 2012 6:54 pm

I also sit on the other side sifting through resumes. My advice, don’t pull into the yard, get out of the car, look over your shoulder and take a leak by your front bumper before you walk into the office with your hand extended. Be careful driving into the base, the guy you run off the road while you are “making tracks” just might be the guy who sifts through resumes. In the spring, driving into a yard about 10 feet before you are stuck in the slush from melting snow and asking the boss for a hand getting back on the road does not exhibit much judgment. Putting your DCs, a VFR sup and a “How to Fly Floats” on top of the pile of stuff in your back window next to the Pratt and Whitney sticker will not impress anyone hiring. It is not a good opening question to ask “is that all you operate?” while looking a part of the fleet which happens to be at the dock. Don’t ask about any other operators who might be hiring if you are going to pull out a VNC instead of a road map for help with heir locations. And most important if you don’t know who you are asking for, don’t use the wrong name. Over the years, I’ve seen all this and more. I have however been fortunate to hire dozens of good new pilots and now see many of them flying the heavy iron and missing their round engine days.
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Re: Road Trips

#7 Post by DH Driver » Fri Jan 06, 2012 12:46 pm

Some good points, one thing that annoys the crap out of me is 200hr wonders that walk in thinking they're the greatest pilot to walk the earth, you're not impressing anyone, I don't care if you once landed a 172 in a 15kt crosswind on a 5000'X15' paved runway, bush pilots don't brag about doing their job it's just what we have to do. The best thing is to keep flight school stories to yourself, all we care is if you have a CPL, I care more about your character and work ethic, flying is the easy part.
Also ditch the Ray-Bans and depending on the operation don't wear a tie, float pilots don't wear ties, or shorts.
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Re: Road Trips

#8 Post by DHCdriver » Sat Jan 07, 2012 10:30 pm

DH Driver wrote: ditch the Ray-Bans
Buy those $11.00 ones at your local gas station, your going to sit on them or drop them in the drink eventually :lol: Happy travels DHC
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Re: Road Trips

#9 Post by BWL » Sun Jan 08, 2012 9:38 am

Put 0W30 engine oil into your car and it will start at -40C after sleeping at the side of the road. Been there done that, great memories.
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Re: Road Trips

#10 Post by Bobby868 » Sun Jan 08, 2012 1:45 pm

Lots of talk on how to live on the cheap etc. I get that, however, I all too often see how cheap comes back to bite pilots in the butt. So here’s another perspective.

What does it cost to get a commercial pilot’s license these days? $40,000 - $60,000 I don’t have a clue. None the less it’s a lot of money. Dig a bit deeper and budget for the real costs of a road trip and that includes motel rooms, a real meal at least once a day, spare cash to go out for drinks and dinner if you get the chance to socialize etc.

My advice:

1)Spend some time finding cheap motels with breakfast included in the price. How are you ahead when you save $40-$50 on a motel room by sleeping in your car and then blow your chance at a job when the chief pilot starts asking you technical questions and your heads a bit foggy from the miserable sleep you had. Or the Chief pilot says hey come along for a ride and your yawning part way through the trip. Nothing beats a good night’s sleep and a hot shower. Don’t think you can just do this for the night before an “Interview.” Every time you hand in a resume or talk to a chief pilot you’re being interviewed.

2)Using old coffee cups? Really? At best you’re gonna pick up someone’s cold, flu etc. At worst Hep C. That shit is not only gross but again is false economy if you get sick for part of the trip and or puke in the office / plane.

3)If you genuinely want to fly floats why did you spend $1500 on a 7hr seaplane rating and $12,000 on a multi-IFR? When a new CPL comes in my office and tells me all he’s ever wanted to do is fly floats and that he has no interest in the airlines but all I see is a basic 7hr rating and ten thousand spent on a Multi-IFR I call BS.

4)If you sit down for lunch with a group of pilots you don’t have to pick up the whole tab but for god’s sake don’t sit there trying to split the bill down to the penny. If you owe $12 throw in an even $15 and make sure you tip the waitress, she might be a pilot too or dating one of the pilots sitting at the table.

My 2cents
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Re: Road Trips

#11 Post by Bobby868 » Sun Jan 08, 2012 1:55 pm

I wanted to make a separate post for another tip.

I see a lot of advice about buying drinks, or bringing beer and other alcoholic beverages for the chief pilot etc.

I think there’s huge potential for this to back fire. The assumption being made is that all pilots, especially chief pilots are raging alcoholics or at least heavy drinkers. I’ve seen this assumption cost some good pilots their opportunity.

Not all pilots are drinkers some are church going folks and others are recovering alcoholics and the vast majority are responsible social drinkers all of whom are not going to be keen on a pilot who thinks booze is the common currency of favor.
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Re: Road Trips

#12 Post by into the blue » Sun Jan 08, 2012 4:08 pm

^Reasonable point. I don't drink myself - gave up years ago. It's just not my thing, I guess. Drunk or tipsy socializing with a group of people who don't know you well can have consequences completely opposite to what is desired.
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Re: Road Trips

#13 Post by Lost Lake » Sun Jan 08, 2012 10:16 pm

Never had to do the road trip. I must admit that when I was hiring, attitude was everything. And looks as well. I found most showed an attitude of just looking for a job. There are only so many operators out there. Research each operator prior to arriving. If they only fly otters and beach 18's or turbines, you are wasting your time and theirs. It is nicer to hear how they have heard good things about your operation and have some knowledge as to the aircraft and type of flying they do.

Having some technical skills is good as well. I always carry a tool box where ever I go. One that fits under the pax seat on a beaver is especially handy.
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Re: Road Trips

#14 Post by just curious » Mon Jan 09, 2012 1:17 am

I may have posted my little blurb back when Internet was in its infancy. I might suggest that a Cigarette USB charger for your gadgets might mean avoiding the lost call for a job.

Email should be the default contact for messages on the road, for those charming locales where TBayTel, BlueIceWireless, and other smaller, protective companies don't share signals.
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Re: Road Trips

#15 Post by Dayofthedogs » Tue Jan 10, 2012 10:19 am

I'll be heading out on a job search soon and was wondering if any of you have a couple free minutes to PM with me and offer some advice that is a little more specific to me with regards to the suggestions you have already made. Any help would be greatly appreciated!

Bobby, maybe I shot myself in the foot with regards to landing a float/bush job by getting my Multi IFR and although staying current may be costly getting the initial out of the way just seemed to make sense considering I was able to fund the cost at the time. Honestly though I have always wanted to fly floats (and skis) and it seemed to me plenty of float operators also run light twins, I figured a multi IFR might help me stay employed through the winter.

Cheers,
Michael

Thanks to anyone who has the time to chat with me for a couple and share their knowledge and experience.
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Re: Road Trips

#16 Post by cdnpilot77 » Tue Jan 10, 2012 11:05 am

Where are you starting and which direction are you going?
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Re: Road Trips

#17 Post by Stian » Sun Jan 22, 2012 10:03 pm

I want use this opportunity, for sharing my experience of my road trip in spring 2011.
I was 450 TT at that time and 70 hours on float.

I was looking for mainly a season job as float pilot, but I use this time also for prospecting a right seat too. I decide to start my road trip 2 weeks before the pre-opening of the loadge. (1st of may)

I was sleeping in my mini-vane most of the time, using baby’s stuff for the toilet, and the week end at the motel for a good rest.

I had lot of resume already print, but I was caring my printer with me for the cover letter and any other modification. (Printer connected to an inverter in the car)

My car was equipped with a ceramic heater. And for all the cold night I always funded a place where to plug my heater and my laptop. (Don’t forget to take movies for some long evening)

My plan was to go on one part of the country, and focus my research on one area. To cover this area 3 at 4 day of drive was necessary. And when I saw all the compagnies, I started over, returning at the same place again and again.
The objective was to try to be at the right place at the right time and letting hem know I wasn’t very fare. Same if I was at one day of driving.
People start to know me and see I was motivated. I had two interviews, one for fly a PA-18 and one for first officer. At my second turn.

With me I had my tools box (who was very useful), work close, rain close, pilot stuff.

I had last year 3 job opportunities, all was because I didn’t show up and leave, but only because I keep showing again and again. My back ground outside aviation was also a big help.

Sorry for my poor English,
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Re: Road Trips

#18 Post by OuterLimitTraveller » Wed Feb 08, 2012 9:52 pm

All this talk about traveling on the cheap and no one has mentioned Couchsurfing! I know CS isn't only about getting free accomodation, but all of you are pilots, and Couchsurfing could be a great way for you to find free accommodation and meet nice people to keep you company at night. Just take the time to create yourself a profile, meet up some people, join dinners/events, and do some planning a week or two before heading out on the road, and I'm sure you can find people to host you at most cities you will head out to.
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Re: Road Trips

#19 Post by SilvrSurfr » Mon Feb 13, 2012 11:22 pm

Reading this thread brings back a lot of great memories. Ya there were some tough times, and a few times I would have done anything to be somewhere else. That said I wouldn't trade a second of it for more time on the big stuff I fly now. Those of you heading out looking for, and getting work this season are heading into one of the greatest adventures of your lives. It's "life with no nets" and you will never feel more alive. Having read the suggestions above there's not much I can add, especially to North Shore's comments. His notes were like reading my own story especially the Joe part. Cherish the good memories, and make lots of contacts. You never know which ones will be valuable in the short or long term. Work ethic and attitude are everything. You can get a line up around the block of people with their hand out for a pay check, but only a handful of those have work ethic and are self starters. My only addition is to take along a good camera and take lots of pictures, they will help with the memories that fade over time. And remember you are there to get time, but you are also there to learn. Open your eyes and ears more than you open your mouth. People die playing this game, and the more you can learn from those already playing the longer you may live to play. Good luck to everyone heading out, I must admit I am a bit jealous of the adventure ahead of you. I would relive mine in a heartbeat.

Drive and Fly Safe,

Surfr
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Re: Road Trips

#20 Post by floatpilot » Tue Feb 14, 2012 8:07 am

Great post silver. Excellent point on the camera. Something I never did and kick myself in the ass for. Don't be in a rush, slow down and enjoy. Before you know it, you will wish that you could go back to these days!
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Re: Road Trips

#21 Post by 180 » Thu Feb 16, 2012 1:04 pm

flying on one engine wrote:I also sit on the other side sifting through resumes. My advice, don’t pull into the yard, get out of the car, look over your shoulder and take a leak by your front bumper before you walk into the office with your hand extended. Be careful driving into the base, the guy you run off the road while you are “making tracks” just might be the guy who sifts through resumes. In the spring, driving into a yard about 10 feet before you are stuck in the slush from melting snow and asking the boss for a hand getting back on the road does not exhibit much judgment. Putting your DCs, a VFR sup and a “How to Fly Floats” on top of the pile of stuff in your back window next to the Pratt and Whitney sticker will not impress anyone hiring. It is not a good opening question to ask “is that all you operate?” while looking a part of the fleet which happens to be at the dock. Don’t ask about any other operators who might be hiring if you are going to pull out a VNC instead of a road map for help with heir locations. And most important if you don’t know who you are asking for, don’t use the wrong name. Over the years, I’ve seen all this and more. I have however been fortunate to hire dozens of good new pilots and now see many of them flying the heavy iron and missing their round engine days.
That whole post is hilarious, because it's true.
phillyfan wrote:Good God. If any of you are sleeping and bathing in your car and picking up old coffee cups to get by. I have a house on Lake Superior about 20 minutes east of Thunder Bay about 2 minutes off the Trans Canada. It's got 5 extra bedrooms which I am not using. You are more then welcome to spend the night on the way by if you need a warm place to sleep and get your bearings. Me and the wife always have beer in the fridge, meat for the BBQ and wood for the Sauna.
Philly, I know we've butted heads in the past, but that's a super kind and generous offer by you.

We don't get a lot of road trippers through our neck of the woods, but our office has comfy extra wide padded benches, perfect for a good night's sleep, and there's always beers in the fridge, and you wouldn't be the first to be offered a warm safe place to crash for the night.

Kirby and MJ set me up one night in their hangar in Kenora and I'll never forget it.

My only other piece of advice would be, don't be shy. Walk on down the dock with a smile and say hi, introduce yourself and throw a compliment out about the planes, base, view, whatever. Nothing creepier than someone slinking around the base, not making eye contact, looking like they might be casing the joint for a future robbery.

Pretty much every float pilot has done the road trip, lived in a van down by the river, etc. and will be happy to talk to you.

Good luck road trippers...
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Re: Road Trips

#22 Post by DanWEC » Thu Feb 16, 2012 2:19 pm

Beer? :drinkers:

Sounds like that's worth the drive in itself!

180, pm'd you. I will be travelling next week and if nothing else wouldn't mind checking out the base and saying hi.

Anyone I meet will also bear witness to how I have fit one months worth of supplies and clothes into a Ford Focus. :smt023
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Re: Road Trips

#23 Post by freezerburn31 » Thu Feb 16, 2012 2:37 pm

cdnpilot77 wrote:
-Be safe, if its -25 outside, do not sleep in your car unless you have appropriate cold weather gear and do not leave your car running while you sleep
I was foolish enough to do this before for two reasons. First to keep my ass from freezing and second to keep my engine from freezing.

Luckily nothing really bad happened but once I woke up with a 3 foot snow drift on the front of my car. If I had been parked the other way snow would have blocked my tailpipe. This was in april btw. Freak snowstorm held me in a small town in sask.

Another time it was -30ish and ice actually formed on my tailpipe by morning from the moisture coming out and idling for so long that it nearly was blocked off completely.

So the lesson to be learned is that if you absolutely HAVE to sleep in your car. Bundle up and wake up every hour or so to warm up the car and TURN IT BACK OFF!
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Re: Road Trips

#24 Post by Rowdy » Fri Feb 17, 2012 11:55 am

Man, I had a blast on my first road trip. Spent quite a few of the nights sleeping on buddies couches across the country and shaking a lot of hands, sharing a lot of laughs and generally enjoying the countryside as I drove north from Vancouver to Ft Nelson, zigzagging through Alberta, Sask, Manitoba and Ontario to stop in at every place that I could find. My tool kit saved my ass a few times.. who'd have thought a 2yr old Jeep would throw a fit in the middle of nowhere Alberta at 7am on a sunday!! I'm also trying to remember the name of the king air medevac skipper that spent some time going through my routing with me. "Stop and see so and so here, avoid this guy, he doesn't like rookies, this guys an old friend tell em I say hi.. Go out of your way to stop in at *** airways etc" Every little bit of advice from those in the know helps.

You might think some of the points people have mentioned are hokey, but let me tell ya, theres some gold tucked in there. I actually had one Ops. Mgr comment on how clean my Jeep seemed! Some people notice those little details! Do NOT show up somewhere in any form of unorganized mess. Any good human bean will know you're driving across the country, but thats no excuse for a pax. floor littered with empty cups and garbage, dirty clothes strewn all over the back seat and mud on the back window thicker than your dads best chilli! Not to mention carrying a stank from three days of not showering or brushing those pearly whites. I also like the point of properly budgeting for a road trip when you start the licences. Its all part and parcel! You didn't skimp on your MIFR or Inst. Rating.. why cut corners on what may cost you a job? I myself put aside as much as I could scrounge which was around 2500 for the week and a bit. All worked out well!

Enjoy it!!
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Re: Road Trips

#25 Post by 180 » Fri Feb 17, 2012 1:24 pm

DanWEC wrote:I will be travelling next week and if nothing else wouldn't mind checking out the base and saying hi.
I'd love to meet you but our base is still under 2 feet of ice and 6 feet of snow, the planes are tucked away in hangars a few hours away from here and most of the pilots are still closer to the equator than the 60th.

You might be traveling a little early DanWEC?

I did my first road trip in early March and to be honest with you, it turned out to be a bit of a waste of time. I would hold off until the beginning, if not mid-April before setting off if I were you. And have everything you need with you to stay a while.

The offer of beer and a couch still stands, but we don't open until the ice comes off, which is usually around May 1st.
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