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Author Topic: Castlegar/Nelson BC  (Read 990 times)

donv

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Castlegar/Nelson BC
« on: May 28, 2019, 01:21:59 pm »
We were looking around for a place to go this past Memorial Day weekend, and because we didn't really plan in advance, every place we looked was either booked or absurdly expensive. So, we had the bright idea to look north to Canada, where it wasn't a holiday weekend.

And, lo and behold, there was nice availability and reasonable rates. So we decided to go to Nelson, BC, a place I've always thought looked interesting.

To get to Nelson, we flew into Castlegar, which is about a 30 minute drive. Nelson has an airport right in the middle of town, but it doesn't have customs and, while workable under good conditions, was not a realistic option given the weather.

Castlegar is, well, interesting... if you can, google the approach. It is located down in a tight little valley, and it has an RNAV approach which twists and turns down the valley, eventually dumping you out over the airport at 2800 feet AGL. I went in there about 10 years ago on a beautiful VFR day, and it was fine. On Friday, it wasn't that great- about 4000 OVC, but not too bad. My view is that if you don't see the airport the fix before the MDA, you are probably going to land. If you see the airport at the MAP and at MDA, there is no way you can get down in time.

Anyway, configured early with gear and 1/2 flaps, and not a big issue. I do wish I had taken a picture of the G600 during the approach, the synthetic vision really showed itself well.

On base turn, the TAWS starts complaining about terrain, because you almost have to do a dog-leg to final to land to the north (and landing to the north is much easier than landing to the south).

The gap behind the Dash 8 in my picture is the valley the approach comes through!

I'll post a few more about the rest of the trip...


donv

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Re: Castlegar/Nelson BC
« Reply #1 on: May 28, 2019, 01:24:42 pm »
We stayed in Nelson, which is about 30 minutes drive. It is a beautiful town, set in a little valley with the Kootenay river running through the middle of town. It is perfectly gentrified, in my opinion-- nice buildings, great restaurants... but not overdone. Rents are obviously cheap enough that you can have funky little shops right on the main street.

donv

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Re: Castlegar/Nelson BC
« Reply #2 on: May 28, 2019, 01:28:31 pm »
We drove up to the north, where the Kootenay lake really opens up. There are a bunch of hot springs up there, and a neat (free!) ferry which runs across the lake. The mountains are simply spectacular.

South of Nelson about 20 minutes is a beautiful ski area. I hope to return in the winter and go skiing, maybe next winter.


donv

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Re: Castlegar/Nelson BC
« Reply #3 on: May 28, 2019, 01:32:30 pm »
Departing Castlegar was interesting as well. Fortunately, it was clear so no issues for us.

The official departure procedure, according to Jeppesen, is "Climb in visual conditions to cross the airport at or above 6000'. Then climb outbound track 260 from YK NDB to 8300' before proceeding on course."

The airport is at 1626' MSL, so I guess you need at least a 4500 ceiling to depart?

Like I said, an interesting airport... but worth it!

Adam Frisch

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Re: Castlegar/Nelson BC
« Reply #4 on: May 28, 2019, 02:11:16 pm »
Nice one, Don! Where did you clear customs? And coming back - did you have to clear at Seattle or do you have overfly permit so you can just go straight to OR?

The only time I went to Canada in my own plane was with the old 520. Was one of the laxest customs encounters I've had. Old guy circled the plane with a Geiger-Muller meter and that was pretty much it. I was on my way in less than 5 minutes. I understand they're not always that easy and I read a lot of complaints from returning pilots. Mainly seems to be down in the Florida region that customs are a little tough on GA, haven't heard that much bad stuff here on the west coast.
Slumming it in the turboprop world - so you don't have to.

donv

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Re: Castlegar/Nelson BC
« Reply #5 on: May 28, 2019, 02:16:01 pm »
Castlegar has customs, so we cleared there. Of course, in Canada it's just a phone call, so much easier than the US.

No overflight permit is needed from the north, only the south. I used to have one but dropped it.

So I clear customs in HIO, which is nice since the customs officer has been there for about 20 years and knows me well.

Adam Frisch

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Re: Castlegar/Nelson BC
« Reply #6 on: May 28, 2019, 02:19:19 pm »
Wow! I did not know that. Makes life so much easier when you can go direct home.

Yeah, Canada was very easy. I landed Vancouver International that time, so I actually got to speak to a customs official, but it was very quick. And then the tower was so helpful in getting me repositioned up the river VFR to a smaller airfield despite having to deal with all the heavy incoming big iron. Really nice service.
« Last Edit: May 28, 2019, 02:21:28 pm by Adam Frisch »
Slumming it in the turboprop world - so you don't have to.

Steve binnette

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Re: Castlegar/Nelson BC
« Reply #7 on: May 28, 2019, 08:27:40 pm »
Never heard of these places. Sounds great.  I never think of Canada for getaways, maybe I should start?

That approach looks like a handful single pilot.  But I love the mountains in the summer.

donv

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Re: Castlegar/Nelson BC
« Reply #8 on: May 29, 2019, 02:27:38 pm »
I think you would really like eastern BC then. It's really beautiful. I would like to explore more of it-- I want to go up to Revelstoke and that area as well. And not too many tourists-- at least when we were there. Later this summer, we're going to go to Sandpoint ID, which is in the same basic mountain range but on the US side. We'll probably drive up there, though.

As for Castlegar, apparently Canadian Pacific used to take 737-200s in there regularly, with lower minimums than today! Crazy. Air Canada Jazz goes in there with Dash 8s, which seems like an appropriate airplane for that airport.

The key is to stay ahead of the airplane, and get configured and slow early, then manage the airspeed properly on the circle. Not too fast, but absolutely not too slow.

Big Pistons Forever

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Re: Castlegar/Nelson BC
« Reply #9 on: May 29, 2019, 10:02:20 pm »
I used to fly a Piper Navajo into Castlegar. A lot of times I would find a hole over the Arrow Lakes and then get under the status deck and fly in VFR.

Steve binnette

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Re: Castlegar/Nelson BC
« Reply #10 on: May 30, 2019, 12:04:04 pm »
I used to fly a Piper Navajo into Castlegar. A lot of times I would find a hole over the Arrow Lakes and then get under the status deck and fly in VFR.

Something to be said for going into a airport on a regular basis.  Canít beat the levels of comfort that comes with that.

Steve binnette

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Re: Castlegar/Nelson BC
« Reply #11 on: May 30, 2019, 12:06:31 pm »
I think you would really like eastern BC then. It's really beautiful. I would like to explore more of it-- I want to go up to Revelstoke and that area as well. And not too many tourists-- at least when we were there. Later this summer, we're going to go to Sandpoint ID, which is in the same basic mountain range but on the US side. We'll probably drive up there, though.

As for Castlegar, apparently Canadian Pacific used to take 737-200s in there regularly, with lower minimums than today! Crazy. Air Canada Jazz goes in there with Dash 8s, which seems like an appropriate airplane for that airport.

The key is to stay ahead of the airplane, and get configured and slow early, then manage the airspeed properly on the circle. Not too fast, but absolutely not too slow.

Sounds like a good place to take my motorcycle!

Circling approaches can be killers.  I would really want to self brief the hell out of one of those.

donv

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Re: Castlegar/Nelson BC
« Reply #12 on: May 30, 2019, 05:19:33 pm »
I used to fly a Piper Navajo into Castlegar. A lot of times I would find a hole over the Arrow Lakes and then get under the status deck and fly in VFR.

I would guess that was about 80% awesome and 20% terrifying?

JimC

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Re: Castlegar/Nelson BC
« Reply #13 on: May 31, 2019, 01:23:34 pm »
The official departure procedure, according to Jeppesen, is "Climb in visual conditions to cross the airport at or above 6000'. Then climb outbound track 260 from YK NDB to 8300' before proceeding on course."
Interesting!

The NavCanada procedure is "Climb visual west of airport to 4700. Continue climb on track of 167 from YK NDB to 7000. Then climbing left turn to CG NDB on track of 336. Climb in hold to MEA north of CG NDB on inbound track of 177, left turns. Cross CG NDB before proceeding on course."
C206, C340

donv

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Re: Castlegar/Nelson BC
« Reply #14 on: May 31, 2019, 01:34:41 pm »
The current Jeppesen chart has what I posted. The Nav Canada chart I have access to says the same thing.

There is a NOTAM in effect which might be reflected on those charts:

CYCG AD CHART: DEP PROC NOT AUTH
             1904112023 TIL APRX 1907091700

I honestly wasn't that clear on what that NOTAM means-- does it mean you can't depart IFR at all? The Jazz Dash 8s were departing IFR, for whatever that's worth. But they may have a special departure procedure or something.