RAF Georgia Ambassador and Bonanza pilot Eric Davis and his father Gary evaded poor flying weather and made the four-hour drive and boat ride into Creighton Island in October to make a variety of improvements to the unique fly-in island setting. They have proven to be a multi-skilled “dynamic duo” when it comes to upkeep and upgrades.
They installed a second new tankless water heater, so both showers have dedicated hot water. Thanks to the water pressure boost pump Eric installed last year, “we finally have good water pressure so both showers can be used at the same time,” he said. With no electricity on the island, he noted that the Honda generator must be running in order for the boost pump to operate, and the shower lights to burn. They also repaired the PVC water supply lines that feed the middle cabin, restoring water service to that location.
Gary spent time on the tractor mowing the runway, then using the box blade implement, he leveled some high spots, and they smoothed out dips caused by animals digging. Gary also mowed the area between the pavilion and the shoreline, where volunteers had cleared underbrush and installed an RAF fire ring during a previous work party.
Eric completed battery maintenance on the 100-ft high fire-watch tower where he’d previously installed the island’s line-of-sight wireless radios. He explains that Island owner Frank Williams had purchased the tower from the Forest Service, then barged the parts to the Island and rebuilt it with help from friends, years before Creighton Island was known to the RAF.
“The views from the tower are amazing and it’s a great place to enjoy the sunrise or sunset,” Eric says. “It was the perfect place for me to install the radios, providing an unobstructed view to the mainland where we connect to the Internet. From this tower, I redistribute the signal wirelessly to several structures on the island as well as the windsock tower, where the runway cameras and weather station are installed.” The solar-powered system provides WiFi internet service to island visitors as well as keeping the runway camera and weather station feeds online. “I am pleased that it’s been in near-continuous operation since 2019, powered only by the sun,” he added.
The batteries ensure the system stays online overnight and during extended periods of cloud coverage. Users may have noted some recent intermittence. If the battery voltage drops below a safe level, the runway system shuts down until the solar panels can recharge the batteries the following day. The batteries on the windsock tower need to be replaced due to age, combined with shorter seasonal daylight. Eric plans to replace them in December.
The RAF thanks Eric and Gary for their skills and dedication to improving Creighton Island for all to enjoy. The pair have devoted hundreds of hours, substantial materials and travel expense.
“Fortunately there’s not much needed in the way of maintenance except to clean the solar panels and replace the batteries every couple of years,” Eric says. “As an RAF supporter and ambassador, I’ve done this in the spirit of the RAF’s mission and as far as most are concerned, these improvements were made by the RAF,” he adds.
Submitted on December 14, 2022