Ottawa to St. John's Newfoundland

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Ottawa to St. John's Newfoundland

Post by gcampbe2 »

I recently made a trip out to St. John's, Newfoundland from my home base on Ottawa (actually I started the day before in Winnipeg). In St. John's I was (mis)fuelled with avgas in my DA40NG, but the FBO was really good about resolving the situation. I'd actually recommend that FBO (PAL Aviation), despite the misfuelling mishap. In my thread on the misfuelling, I was asked about my crossing over to "the rock", so wanted to provide some details in this thread for those interested.

Total trip time was 8.5 hours of flight time, with two fuel stops. The last of those fuel stops was in Sydney, Nova Scotia. Sydney is right on the north coast of Cape Breton, and lets you leave to start the crossing over the Atlantic with full tanks. The distance over the water is about 90 miles. The other option for crossing is to head up the north shore of the St. Lawrence all the way to the border of Quebec and Labrador. The crossing there is only 12 miles, so a good option for those nervous about the flight over the water. The downsides to that option are the significantly longer flight, and also the need to fuel in deep Quebec, were the folks are friendly, but often speak little or no English.

The Newfoundland coastline, which we flew along for almost the entire length of the island from west to east is spectacular. Very scenic flying. Pictures don't do it justice. No matter which way you come, expect many hours of flying over some pretty forbidding terrain with airports few and far between.
newfoundland coast.jpeg
The approach into St. John's can be a real challenge when it's blowing, as it most often is. I think this is the first approach plate on which I've seen this:
rnav z 28.jpeg
They aren't kidding! Winds were only 22G29 with a 30 degree crosswind angle, but the approach was extremely challenging. There are cliffs you cross over just before landing, and the wind seems to swirl in that area. You're best to keep the flaps to T/O and the speed up until the last 100 or 200 ft of the approach.
st johns approach.jpg
In terms of safety gear, I had my usual survival backpack I carry when flying remote areas (includes food, water filter, tent, thermal blankets, signalling tarps, bug spray, etc.), and life preservers. In addition I have a 4-6 person raft with canopy that only weights 15 pounds. ... t-4-person. We did not wear the life preservers during the crossing, as at 9K ft, my wife would have had lots of time to get us all setup prior to ditching. Both the raft and life preservers were in easy reaching distance, and my wife was well briefed on the plan if we had any issues over the water.

Getting out of St. John's was a bit of a challenge. We had to delay a day due to bad weather in Sydney area, and then the next day was dense fog in St. John's (VV 100 ft, 1/8 SM visibility). This is not unusual for St. John's, and can last for days. I sent the wife home commercial, since she had to work the next day, and I sat at the FBO and waiting for a break large enough that I could takeoff and come back and land if needed. After three hours conditions improved to VV 300 ft and 1 1/4 SM visibility, so off I went for a scenic and uneventful flight home.

In terms of things to do around St. John's, if the weather is good head up to Cape Spear (easternmost point of land in North America) and hike the coastal trail to North Head (about 2.5 hours out and back).
coastal trail.jpeg
Signal Hill is also a great destination. And, of course, the downtown is full of great pubs playing live local music, serving moose burgers (delicious!), and with great fish and chips. During the summer months you can head to a nearby fishing village to head out whale watching. Heck, sometimes you can see whales right off shore at Cape Spear; we were fortunate enough to see one, but it was quite a ways out.

All in all a fun destination that provides some unique flying adventures.
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Re: Ottawa to St. John's Newfoundland

Post by Ed McDonald »

You don’t go to Newfoundland for the weather but the unique culture. No mention of their unique version of the King’s English which is about as difficult to understand as the French in Quebec.
Salt-of-the-earth people.
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