Thursday, June 27, 2013

Not too shabby

Currently hanging out at the hydro shack for the day. Shack makes it sound shitty but in reality it's better than most of our holds.

There's a couch, telephone, and a TV! Even I don't watch TV at home because I don't have cable/satellite. It's pretty awesome to be honest. 

I think it was some weird commercial haha!

Can't say much about the airport/town though. It's livable for sure but not my idea of a great town. The airport and runway is right next to a bunch of houses and there's always stray dogs and seagulls everywhere. 

Short final, "3 green, runway is NOT clear". There were dogs crossing the runway. A flock of seagulls on arrival end of runway about to takeoff in all directions. Ah shit! Hope for the best and try not to hit them. Safety first after all. Two of the dogs cross very slowly on flare, the other dog remains on the other side. Touchdown, nothing was hit, thank Jeebuz!

Now we can relax and have a nap on the couch before we worry about real problems like thunderstorms that could build up along our route for our way home. 

Another day, living the dream...

Monday, June 24, 2013

Furthest north, so far

Last week, I got called for a last minute charter late Friday afternoon. It's cool, I didn't have any plans that night anyway because I was on call all weekend long. 

We were to pick up company personnel working up in Gillam, Manitoba. If you don't know where that is, a quick doodle on google will show you to one of the northern towns in Manitoba. If I remember correctly it's about 56°20' North. That's the furthest north I've been to, so I made sure to post something on Facebook so I can add it to my places map. 

We made sure to park it beside the fuel tanks because it was an average of 2.5hrs each way. 

Then the hurry up and wait game started. The company was working too late that they missed the scheduled service there with another airline, which would've been approximately $3000 cheaper. Yep, these charters aren't cheap. 

I noticed a few trucks just outside the terminal. Apparently that is where the road ends. And to go further North, you'd have to go by train, or airplanes, or ice roads in the winter. Pretty neat. 

A quick shuffle of bags and fill up and we were off back to Winnipeg. There was forecast bad weather back by the time we get there but it wasn't too bad. Got some night flying done too!

Friday, June 7, 2013


After working the ramp for about 11 months, marshalling, loading and unloading aircraft, including all cargo Hawker Siddeley 748s with a forklift, they finally let me try out crewing on the hawker. That is where you're in charge of loading the airplane up in the northern airports.

Technically that was supposed to be part of the training program in your first 6 months of employment, but I never got the chance to do it. It was January, right smack in the middle of the coldest winter I have ever experienced. The forecast all week called for -30C and lower weather. Just fantastic. I was supposed to overnight up north so I brought extra clothing, on top of the layers upon layers I was already wearing to keep warm.

Early 8am departure to a town 20 minutes north where were supposed to load up with food for the Northern Stores for the Attawapiskat. Uneventful start-up, being on the jumpseat, I got to witness the masters go back and forth with flows and checklists like a prayer they recited a million times.

Takeoff and the pressurization and environmental controls finally starts to warm up the cockpit. Soon enough we were unable to see our own breaths...time to thaw off. 
5 miles out and Gear Down Landing Checks were called. 2 green no red,...wait a minute.

Perfect, I remember thinking; my first flight as a crewman and we're gonna land with one gear not in down and locked position. Captain must have tried recycling the gear 50 times. Up and down, up and down, hoping that the next time would be different, but no cigar, still 2 greens.

First officer jumps out of his seat, I jump out of his way so he can look through the window in the back for the secondary indication that the gears are down and locked. He says that they are. He tells me what to look for just so that he's sure he's not just seeing things.
I see the same thing, circle filled with white means they are down and locked. It's a good thing we were still empty, otherwise going back and forth would've been tough. I go back and forth between recycles to confirm, still the same. The sounds of the gear locking into their places confirm that it's locked too.

20 minutes of troubleshooting we decide to go back home and ask the MTC and FSS to see if they see our landing gear down and locked. A low and over and a good briefing on what to do in case it wasn't locked later, we were finally lined up for runway 03. Approach was good, speed was good. Touchdown, no collapse! As soon as we touched down the gear indicator showed 3 green. Phew.

Captain has been flying that beast a long time, and he even said that was the first time in his career landing with 2 green lights. Good grief. Was I the unlucky charm, or perhaps the lucky charm since the story ended happily? I'll never know.

But that wasn't the only thing that went wrong with the airplane by the end of that long and cold*t happens though. You just deal with it.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

No Presets, No Problem!

With the sudden onset of me getting a flying job, finally. I think this blog is going to finally include actual aviation related posts. Although, I'm currently flying part-time and there's usually not much to talk about but that's okay.

I try to write when I'm "holding" somewhere waiting for customers to finish their meeting or work so I can bring them back to civilization, literally. I don't usually save posts for future publishing because 1. I don't currently have that much to talk about, and 2. It's more fun when it just happened and I'm talking about it. Although there is some time delay though because most of the places we go to have neither cell reception or internet connection.

Kinda forces me to be more creative in the things I do there though, instead of being completely glued to my iPhone or computer. I usually bring a book or two, read the newspaper and struggle at those crosswords, they're actually super hard for me. And during the really long holds, I take a nap or two, or at least attempt at one for the sake of having some rest instead of being up all day.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Gunisao Lake Lodge

Welcome To The Lake, Gunisao Lake to be exact. Being today the IFR shitty weather in southern manitoba as it is, it's two crew time for Fishing Lodge trips.
Destination: Budd's Gunisao Lake Lodge.

Here is the link to their website.

Started out with waking up dark and early at 0245 for a 0415 check in for duty. This is the hardest part, I could say that once I got off that bed and into the shower that it's all downhill, "smooth" sailing from there. (It was actually super windy so mechanical turbulence from surface to 3000ft). A quick but thorough walk around, a splash of oil into the right engine and we're off for a short hop over to Winnipeg International where we're picking up passengers. 5 minutes of cloud base dancing and a decent crosswind landing later, we were ready to load up.

I'd say 99% of the guests for the lodge come from The States for some famous walleye fishing. We had 4 aircraft for the trip and we had 3 pax and loads of food and supplies for the lodge on our flight. IFR, taxi, and takeoff clearances were given and acknowledged. Checklists were completed. Procedures followed. 30 minutes of solid IMC and then gorgeous VFR the rest of the way. Yadda yadda yadda...It's my first time being here and well being new to the airplane as well, so the captain made the landing. Crosswind from the left and it's definitely not for the faint of heart.

Take a look at the "runway" for yourself...

It would have been a quick turn and burn for us but the two pax we were to take down south hopped on the other airplanes instead and so we get to sit here at the lodge for a few hours before our second trip of the day. I can't say I'm complaining. It'd be perfect if it was a little warmer and less windier.

The other navajo took off in front of us and this is literally the view from where we parked.