Monday, April 18, 2005

Local Radio

Despite being up until after midnight, the whole household has to report for work before seven. Pilots in Yellowknife have two jobs, the aviation job and the money job. One of my hosts works on the ramp almost every day of the month, often starting an hour and a half before the first scheduled departure. His roster is on the wall and it's worse than mine at home. Plus he works in a video store some evenings, where he makes several dollars an hour more. The other flies as a first officer, has an administrative job for the airline, and works at the video store.

I hitch a ride to the airport with them, putting me at Air Mongoose at 6:30 am. Neither Mandy nor Bill is there yet. Armed with a good description of Bill Mongoose, I wait in the lounge. I stand up and greet him as he arrives. "Mr. Mongoose? I'm Aviatrix. I understand you had a very busy day yesterday, so I came in early to reach you before things got busy today." He is oblivious to the irony, and receptive to my qualifications, but I still need to speak to Steve if I'm to have a chance here. Steve is at Flight Safety doing simulator training in Downsview, and won't be back until the weekend.

Over at Ferret Airways, I confirm with the gate personnel that Frank is still arriving on the next flight and then head over to the arrivals gate. There is an older gentleman standing by the door, his coat lapels ornamented with pins from every airline in the north, and a few from further afield. Many larger airports have a corps of retired folks volunteering as goodwill ambassadors, perhaps he is one, or perhaps security. I approach him, "Excuse me, you know Frank from Ferret Airways, right?" Of course he does. The old guy at the airport knows everyone. "He's getting off the flight that just landed. Could you point him out to me, please?" He seems to enjoy the conspiracy, and peers out the door around the corner, looking for him. He stage whispers to me that Frank is the next one coming into the building.

I greet him, welcome him back from Iqaluit, and introduce myself. Pretty soon he's holding my resume in his hand. I feel like a process server. Too bad I'm not one, or my job would be done now. But I have go on and sell myself. Sell myself? Like a hooker? I think hookers make more money. They are more likely to die on the job, though, and have even less respect in the community, even in Yellowknife. Frank says I have to talk to Bill. The chain continues.

After I run out of people to harass who aren't verifiably out of town, I head back to where my suitcase is today. The people I am visiting leave a VHF radio scanner playing, monitoring the Yellowknife tower, flight services and company frequencies, just playing in the background the way I would listen to local news radio. After a while I realize that this is the local news radio. This is what is going on in town. What else is there? Knowing what size and type of aircraft are being chartered to which diamond mines is a better stock tip than anything on the AM1340 business report. Hear live and first hand about the Hercules crew that declared an emergency and flew into Yellowknife because a crack as big as a finger and as long as my arm opened in the wing spar during flight. Learn who is transitioning to which airplane, who is arriving and departing, who forgot their sunglasses, or had to call back to company to be reminded where they are supposed to be flying to. Right now there's a twin otter doing a compass swing on the threshhold of runway 27. Apparently there is no suitable compass rose on the apron, so they are sitting on a runway, using its declared heading to calibrate their compass. A take-off clearance is issued to an airplane on another runway, with a "caution wake turbulence, departing B737" as I can hear the unmistakeable sound of the jet over the house. It really is what is going on in town.

2 comments:

Lord Hutton said...

Are you sure you want to be there? It sounds like another world.

odie said...

heh welcome to the knife its a wonderful place and true the scanner is the news source