Sunday, August 13, 2006

The flight back on Friday was uneventful. The weather was perfect, which was a nice change from the night before. I was flying the boss back, as well as the new Chief Operating Officer for the parent company that owns my flying company. The boss took the left seat on this leg and I did first officer duties. The only thing of note was a 40 minute delay getting out of Teterboro. Teterboro has only 2 runways, and it's right next to Newark, New York JFK, New York La Guardia, and a pile of other airports, so that means they all have to coordinate traffic before aircraft are allowed to take off. If there's a delay at any of the major airports, Teterboro usually ends up getting screwed. So we fired up, then taxiied out to the runway where we were 10th in line for departure (my record is 27th in line departing Teterboro last fall during some bad weather) We burned a few hundred pounds of Jet-A before it was our turn to occupy the runway for the few seconds we'd need it on take-off. The boss pushed the throttles forward and 5,000lbs of thrust howled and spat as we departed for home base.

----An aside - Teterboro airport has a Standard Instrument Departure, which is essentially the profile of how they want you to fly out of the airport so as to avoid noise-sensitive areas (homes) and other aircraft at other nearby airports. In our case, it was this: fly runway heading to 400' above ground, then turn 30 degrees to the right and climb to 1,500', then turn 85 degrees to the left and climb to 2,000' until we pass a radio beacon a couple of miles away, then climb to 3,000'. Keep in mind that in a jet, we climb like a bat out of hell, and if we level off we have to pull the throttles back a looong way so we don't blow through the low-level speed universal speed restriction on all aircraft of 250 knots. The departure might sound relatively simple, but trust me, we were busy. The airplane climbs to 400' in maybe 5 seconds, then the next thousand feet go by in maybe 15 seconds, then the final 500 feet in another 4 seconds, so we have less than 30 seconds to perform the whole manoeuvre of turning, adding power, climbing, levelling off, removing power, flying straight, turning, climbing, adding power, levelling off, removing power. As an added bonus, heavy airline traffic is arriving and departing La Guardia / JFK / Newark only a thousand feet above you at all times, so you REALLY want to be accurate on your altitudes and headings----

Anyway, after our initial departure, Air Traffic Control was kind enough to allow us to head home directly without any out-of-the-way turns. We flew over Niagra falls on approach to Pearson and I pointed them out to Bunny, who was very excited. It's actually pretty spectacular coming into Toronto on a nice day, with the sun leaving sparkles across the surface of Lake Ontario for the boats to play in, the always-cool downtown skyscrapers including the CN Tower, and flying over the major highway arteries that feed Toronto as well as the farmland that skirts the city. ATC was in a good mood and gave us the north runway which saves us a 2-mile taxi (we are based out of the north end of Pearson) The boss managed an awesome greaser on touchdown, gently massaging the plane onto the runway. Bunny actually clapped and smiled and I knew he was sold on the value of having a couple of jet aircraft with the company. We taxiied into the FBO and I called Canada Customs on the Blackberry.

The CN tower and the Air Canada Center from overhead. Click on the pics to make 'em bigger.

----Another tangent - with US Customs, there is a 100% chance that a real live customs officer will show up to meet the plane when you land at your customs-clearing airport in the States. In Canada, there is a 90% chance that will NOT happen; normally you shut the plane down at your Canadian customs-clearing destination (in this case our home base), you call the 1-888-CAN-PASS number and they ask you if you are absolutely certain you didn't smuggle anything across the border. If you answer "Nope" then they give you your clearance number for record-keeping, wish you a "g'day, eh" and that's that, you are good to exit the airplane and carry on with life. I have never answered "Yes" to their smuggling question so I'm not sure what might happen in that event - they might ask you to throw your smuggled goods in the trash and then clear you in, I'm not sure. They do actually show up around 10% of the time though, but they are super-polite and very quick and have us on our way within minutes.----

Customs gave me my arrival report number, and the boss and Bunny hopped out of the plane while the engines were still spooling down, and went on their way. I dumped the ice, coffee, old newspapers and trash out of the plane, then did up the journey log, cleaned up the back and then locked up our baby jet and headed for my ride home.

It was a good, honest, uneventful day. The bosses were happy, the air was smooth, the plane behaved, and I got to see the curvature of the earth from 35,000'. As I progress in my aviation career, I am quite happy to report that I have fewer and fewer "So there I was - the left wing missing and the right engine failed, flying through hail storms with my hair on fire" stories. Business aviation is the lowest risk niche in aviation, and I'm totally fine with that. My flying stories focus more on the places I go and the things I see rather than the skeery events that happened enroute - I have enough skeery stories from early in my career to last a lifetime. One of those is coming up tomorrow but for today, I am going to relax in the park and enjoy the clear skies and light breeze.

Safe flights!

1 comment:

Aviatrix said...

"They might ask you to throw your smuggled goods in the trash and then clear you in."

You know I've never wondered that. Now I'm going to be tempted every time to try it and see. But I forgive you.

I know of someone who cleared customs on a stop and go once. Asked ATC for permission to come to a complete stop on the runway, dialed the cellphone, copied the authorization number and put in the power to take off for destination.