Monday, August 17, 2009

Red Deer Airport

The airport at Red Deer has two good paved runways, some good taxiways and at least one "wait, are you sure there wasn't an X on this?" taxiway. That's Delta. I was glad that I had specifically checked NOTAMs for the airport before coming here, so that I could be reasonably confident that I wasn't about to fall into a pit. This must be why the controller offered me the backtrack yesterday.

There is a proper airport terminal here, with washrooms and gates (okay, gate: I think there's only one) and PA announcements and CATSA security screening. In front of the terminal is a large paved apron with a big yellow square painted on it. The square is about the size of a B737 and it's the secure area of the airport. When there is a scheduled carrier parked there, no one without a badge or a security escort may cross the line. When there's no scheduled carrier, anyone may walk or taxi anywhere on the apron. When I first arrived at the airport there was a B737 parked in the square, but the FSS folk cheerfully assured me that it was just a charter, not scheduled, so the line was not in force. Because it's so much more practical to commit terrorist acts on a scheduled flight than with a private charter that operates on your schedule, I guess.

From the airside, the terminal has the name of the airport and the field elevation written on it and there is the word enter over one door. The other door goes to the FSS in the tower cab on top of the terminal. The FSS personnel don't go in and out that door, though, they use a wooden walkway with handrails that goes along the roof to the groundside, and then down a set of metal stairs. It must be a chilly gauntlet to run in the winter, but the summer weather is quite nice, not getting below ten or so overnight. The metal stairs end in a fenced cage with a coded entry door, next to the airport staff parking. From there a secure fence with a combination lock runs along the edge of the airfield. (Pilots: your first guess at the code is correct, and there's a sticker on both sides of the gate that gives the name of the four digit number clearly enough that it could be googled). Not to worry about the security of the airfield however, because the security fence ends a couple of hangars down the ramp and anyone can just walk or drive onto the field. Just like Miami.

As I'm leaving the airport at eleven p.m. a man comes down the stairs to his car. I ask if he's leaving for the night or just a shift change. I thought I remembered that it was 24 hour here, but I could be wrong. Eleven is a common time for services to stop. It's just a shift change, though. He explains that overnight when Edmonton City Centre tower closes, Red Deer Radio steps in and looks after that frequency. I told him that I had assumed it went to a pool of people in a room in Edmonton somewhere. He says it used to, but this is new. It's not a bad idea. It gives Red Deer Radio enough work to justify them being open twenty-four hours.


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jinksto said...

I always love the "inside" knowledge tricks for getting airside at "smaller" airports.

I know a manager who had four fingers of his right hand removed in a accident.

The combinitation lock is set to:

5 Left
4 right
6 Left
1 right

So, 5 fingers on his left hand
4 fingers missing from the right
meaning he has 6 fingers left
with 1 on his right hand.

He told me the combination once many years ago while holding up the appropriate fingers and thumbs and I've never forgotten it though I only had to use it once.

Sarah said...

Wow jinkso, I can see why that would stick in your memory. Good story.

Most combo locks I see are just keypads ( 4 digit ) frequently an obvious sequence.

Amusingly, at one airport I visit you have to key your way in OR out on the east gate, but can drive right in on the west gates. You will find yourself on an airport road that crosses the southern taxiway A ( yield to aircraft please ).

That doesn't compare to the airport at Gibralter LXGB. There the main road actually crosses the runway.

Sarah said...

By the way, has tons of photos taken at Red Deer. I've never seen such a collection of A-26's outside a WW2 movie! Still in active use as water bombers, it would seem.

Aviatrix, ever considered fire suppression? Now that would be an exciting job. ( Yes, I saw "Always" which was a very very sappy movie with a couple good flying scenes. And a couple poorly done unbelievable ones. But they flew A26s if I recall correctly. )

Ed said...

Um, Sarah, I don't think Aviatrix has terribly happy memories of flying around smoke.