Thursday, September 14, 2006

Today I'm off to Fox Harb'r, which is a really beautiful golf resort in Nova Scotia. It's owned by Ron Joyce, the billionaire who started Tim Horton's with, umm, Tim Horton. I won't be staying at the resort, I'm booked into a bed and breakfast a few miles down the road, but I'm still going to be big pimpin' - At the place I'm staying, the rooms are all in railway cars. I get my own railway car for 3 days! I'm sure much hilarity will result.

Yesterday was a repeat of the previous day; we flew 800 miles to Red Lake, waited for 8 hours, then flew 800 miles home. The only differences were that Red Lake was very smoky yesterday morning due to some nearby forest fires, and I almost dropped the ball on the approach - our sat weather said that the visibility and ceiling were fine. But when we got there, I could only see about a mile ahead due to the thick smoky layers, so I ended up having to actually pay close attention during the final phases of the flight. Smoke can be pretty sneaky; I could see through it to the ground when I was above it, but when we descended into it I had very limited visibility. It was frustrating - I could see parts of the town and I knew the runway was just ahead, but I couldn't actually locate it in the haze. It was getting close to approach minimums when the runway finally came into view, so I was able to squeak in. Aviatrix of Cockpit Conversation has a great series of posts about her experience with forest fire smoke while flying which you can read about here, and now that I have had a taste of it myself, I understand how it can be really disorienting.

3 miles final for runway 26, 1000' above the ground. We could see the town clearly until we descended into the smoke layer.

When we landed and opened the door, the air smelled like a barbequeue and half the passengers started sneezing.

The wait at Red Lake was unimaginably boring - we had a tour guide on the previous day, but yesterday the tour guide was busy, so we basically just walked around the ramp for 8 hours. We did have some folks to chat with - a couple of other jet pilots from Toronto. The particular charter we were doing for the past couple of days involved 18 people, and our plane only has 8 seats, so a larger plane, a Citation III from another company, was also used. The pilots were great guys, and I could almost forgive them for being 100 knots faster than us - it was a 2 1/2 hour trip for us, but just under 2 hours for them, and they passed us on 3 of the 4 legs.

The 4th leg was the final return leg last night. The weather in Toronto wasn't so hot, there were a pile of thunderstorms in a long line that were moving directly over Pearson airport, so air traffic was getting backed up. Because I am used to flying with the owner of the company (who is frequently early for flights), I have gotten into the habit of filing the flight plan for my next leg as soon as I land, and my flight plan was in the system for hours before we were scheduled to leave. The Citation III guys filed their flight plan just a few minutes before we were scheduled to depart. When our passengers arrived, we both went to get our Air Traffic Control clearance to return to Toronto, and the Citation III guys were told it would be a 90-minute wait for them due to "flow control", which is the air traffic control term for backed up traffic. My clearance had already been in the system for ages, so I had no such problems and we were able to take off immediately.

It was a funny, yet sad sight to taxi by the other plane, watching their passengers disembark and head back to the main terminal for an hour and a half. I did have some personal giggles though; two passengers we had brought over in the morning elected to return on the Citation III, 'cause "We want to fly the faster plane home". In this case, our baby jet was the faster plane, and we got back into Pearson an hour before the other guys made it in.

1 comment:

christine said...