29.5h SES – Alternator Failure and Hangartalk

We hopped from wave to wave and I struggled to keep the planing attitude of the airplane. “Higher, lower, make small changes, higher, too high, there we go.”, Tom was permanently talking to me until we got airborne. The wind was strong and the takeoff somewhat bumpy.

I had my clearance from the tower to follow the river northbound at 500 feet (150m). As we flew along a mountain I told Tom I won’t get any closer to the terrain because of the downdraft on the leeward side. He told me to get closer to see if I was right. The air remained smooth! I was not aware of the winddirection. Yes… I keep learning. As we came to Pitt Lake I had to prepare for landings. I did my check and found the alternator light was on. Red lights in cockpits aren’t good. I told Tom the alternator failed and I tried to recycle it. It wouldn’t solve the problem. We shut off all electronics in the cockpit and turned back towards Pitt Meadows airport. We landed in the bumpy waves and a 10 knot crosswind. Finally I saw some weather in Vancouver after eight days of pure summer sunshine. It was way more difficult to get the aircraft on the ramp. The airplane wanted to turn into the wind and the low tide made the river flow pretty fast. We pulled the airplane to Neil’s hangar. He’s mechanic. Tom and I went back to our hangar. We got a call after a few hours. The problem was a faulty voltage sensor.

Tom and I spent the afternoon watching movies and talking about the business. I asked him about getting the first job. He told me it is all about a persons attitude. He employed many pilots and he didn’t care about their thousands of hours if their attitude was wrong. All his students who wanted a job found one. Some of them found floatplane jobs with as low as 250 hours total time! It’s important to show your company that you can work. This means you probably work the first months on the dock. You load and unload airplanes and pump the floats. It’s the same in an office job. There, instead of pumping floats, you keep the coffee machine running. If you do it right your boss likes you. Tom meant I have to look at it as an apprenticeship. During that time I should go to the maintenance shop as often as I could and give the mechanics a hand. But step by step, that’s in some years. Maybe I’ll work as a skydive pilot, maybe on a dock, maybe something I didn’t think about yet. Anyways, I’m looking forward to it!

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