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Bordercrossings – the Journey North: A follow-up

July 12, 2010

I feel I should add a few comments to my earlier blog – Bordercrossings – to reflect changes that have taken place in the past few years.  Among them was installing and registering a new 406 ELT, soon to become mandatory for a/c operating in Canadian airspace.

Brutal headwinds and a delayed departure from N57 persuaded me to give up plans to take a coffee break at Sentimental Journey in Lock Haven and by the time I got to Wellsville, NY (KELZ) I realized I couldn’t make it to Orillia, ON (CNJ4) before they closed shop for the day.  I was suffering from shaken-baby syndrome and decided to spend the night in Wellsville and get an early start the next morning.

However, my main concern was my eAPIS Flight Plan.  I called Customs and Border Protection in Buffalo and explained my situation – no computer and no place to refile the next morning.

“I’ve made a note of it”, the agent said, “you’re good to go tomorrow.”  Geez, it was all so reasonable I was caught completely off guard. “Thanks very much”, I kept saying until he finally hung up.

I awoke to pea-soup fog the next morning, but when the airport mechanic picked me up at my hotel he said, “don’t worry, the airport is high up and it will be clear.”  He was right, but I over flew valley fog half way to Buffalo before the ground showed itself again.  However the winds aloft had died down and it was CAVU.

I opened a new Flight Plan with BUF, which they accepted in the old format, although I had also filled out the more laborious ICAO form used by NAVCANADA and kept it handy.

The hand-off from Buffalo radar to Toronto went smoothly and City Center (CYTZ) was busy, thanks mainly to Porter Air’s Intercity Service and their fleet of Q-STOL turbo-props.

Once on the ground I called NAVCANADA and cancelled my ADCUS FP.  And I called CANPASS to tell them I had arrived exactly on my ETA.  They gave me an entry number  and I thought I was cleared to leave. But just as I was about to hang up the guy said, “stay with your aircraft – two agents are on their way.”  The line boy wasn’t surprised.  “It’s that damn G8/G20 Conference next week.  This place has been crawling with security”

Eventually two women dressed in black and packing guns headed for my airplane.  They asked a great many questions before allowing me to leave.  It was an indication of things to come.  The Toronto Police Dept. spend 1.2 billion dollars on new uniforms, water cannons and other toys and the following week they arrested over 900 people – some of whom were demonstrators. Far as I know there were no terrorists.

So forget my earlier comments about neat blue uniforms and no guns.  One side of the border looks pretty much like the other these days.  They all use the same tailor.

And, oh yes, I got to Orillia/Lake St. John Airport  in time to have the wheel gear removed and my floats installed before heading for our summer place on Lake Huron.  It’s nice to be back on the water and away from most of the bureaucracy for a few months at least.

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