Home Return to Kambalnoe Lake

Charly and Maureen with the Ultralight at Kambalnoe   When we flew to Kambalnoe Lake on May 28, 1997, we descended into a white world. The average snow cover was 7 feet and many of the bears were still in their dens. The lake was frozen and did not thaw until the first week in July. June was a beautiful sttnny month and then the weather we were accustomed to returned. Two voles had moved into our cabin over the winter but other than that, it was in good condition. We felt we had returned to our second home.

Resident Bears

We have become familiar with approximately 36 resident bears that frequent the area around Kambalnoe Lake where our cabin is located. In the spring, when we arrived, there were 9 freshly used dens that we could see from our porch. It was a thrill one day to watch first the nose and finally the whole bear emerge from the snow as it climbed out of it's den to take its first look at the country in six months. We are not sure of the bear count around our lake and the area between us and the coast. We have estimated around 400 based on what we can see and count. One day I, Charlie, flew back and forth to the coast 4 times to get fire wood and counted 171 bears that day. It could well be that this area hosts the densest population of grizzly bears in the world.

Storm Damages Plane

The worst storm that we had to date hit on the morning of June 30th and caught us by surprise as the bad storms are reported to taper off in April and pick up again in September. Charlie got up several times during the night to add ground screws and tie-downs as the storm increased. At six A.M. he added a 70 pound solar storage battery to the tie-downs on each wing. Maureen got up at 7 A.M. and let out a shout that the plane was upside down. We looked beyond the plane at a wall of water being picked up off the lake as the wind escalated to 130 kph, gusting to 160 kph. The preceding gust had torn out all the ground screws - the plane must have flown up about 10 feet and then crunched down on the tail, going over on its back with one of the big batteries coming right through the left wing. Charlie did an inventory of the damage filling 3 pages of tasks to get the plane flying again. He realized that he had managed to bring enough spare pop rivets, Dacron cloth, aluminium tubing and tools to pretty well do the repairs. Maureen dreamed up a way to heat shrink the Dacron with a small 6 inch frying pan filled with discs of metal to hold the heat when held over our small gas stove. After converting our cabin into a workshop for 3 weeks, we were in the air and the plane never flew better.

© Lenticular Productions Ltd. 1998