Sunday, August 30, 2009

Rocks in the Middle of Town

Despite the difficulty of construction there, Yellowknife is growing at a phenomenal rate. There are condos perched on rocks all around what used to be the outskirts of town. The area doesn't have a whole lot of soil, just big red rocks poking up everywhere. It's kind of amusing the way what would be a vacant lot anywhere else is just a big rock. Over the last 75 years builders have cherry-picked the easiest spots, so even along the main street you still get half a block or so that is just a chunk of rock with trees on it. Yeah, I don't know how the trees grow out of the rocks. There must be some dirt there too.

The rocks and trees stuff continues in the surrounding landscape. Yellowknife itself sits on Great Slave Lake, which is huge, and there are lesser lakes all around. Here's a picture of the landscape on the way to Rae-Edzo. You can see the road. That's all there is. I think the road ends at Rae, but there's another aerodrome, Snare River, not far beyond that. In the winter this is just white and you can't tell lakes from rocks.

As I mentioned there's a lot of traffic in and out of Yellowknife: helicopters, people landing in the back bay on floats, and airplanes of every size and speed coming from all directions. I noticed that pilots report by radial here, not just "20 miles west" but "20 miles back on the 260 radial." I don't know whether it's an accuracy thing or a habit picked up from the amount of IFR traffic. Lots of larger aircraft like Boeing 737s. It must be quite a challenging environment to work ATC in, but they didn't let the stress show and kept us safely separated from the IFRs without restricting us noticeably.

And here's the view out my hotel window. The hotel is up on a hill (i.e. sitting on a giant hunk of rock) and I'm on the fifth floor. The territorial legislature building is off to the right and downtown to the left.

10 comments:

dpierce said...

No matter how many times I hear the word "aerodrome", I'm reminded of the golden age flying -- all leather caps and goggles. I wish the US adopted the term more often.

Your view is gorgeous and reporting by radial is awesome.

Geekzilla said...

Is "aerodrome" basically synonymous with "airport?" I've heard/read them both used in one of your previous blogs. "Aerodrome" reminds me of "Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome." Now I have that blasted Tina Turner song in my head. Thanks! :-P

Aviatrix said...

All airports are aerodromes. Only certified aerodromes are airports. Certification requires meeting a few standards with respect to firefighting, obstacle clearance surfaces and the like. I don't always look or remember if an aerodrome is certified or not, so I use the general term, to be accurate. And yeah, I like the word.

Sarah said...

An "aerodrome" would be exactly where you would find an Aviatrix. It has a definite charm to it.

You still find the term in the US too. Most officially in FAA NOTAMS ( notices to airmen ) where notices applied to "airports" are abbreviated as AD. As in "AD CLSD WIE" or "AD BA NIL". I'll leave the telegraphy mysterious.

For me, I'm off to my airfield tomorrow. Yes, it's still green.

Aviatrix said...

ATC still says "report the field in sight," even if you're going into Pearson. I fairly often imagine the airports I fly into in their earliest inception, as a place that some farmer cleared for a landing strip, or a vacant lot outside of town where the city designated airplanes could operate.

Ed said...

An aerodrome is a place where aeroplanes (or do I mean aircraft?) take off and land. An airfield is a piece of land on which aeroplanes take off and land. An area of water designated for sea- or float-planes to take off and land is an example of an aerodrome which is not an airfield.

To me an airport is an airfield with customs facilities (i.e., a port of entry/exit from the country) though many use the term to signify the presence of a hard runway, public transport or scheduled flights or whatever.

Ed said...

I just wrote: "...an airport is an airfield..." when I meant "...an airport is an aerodrome...". The base on Southampton Water where the pre-war flying boats left for Egypt and South Africa, etc, would have been an airport but not an airfield.

Aviatrix said...

Actually, Ed, an aerodrome is:

Any area of land, water (including the frozen surface thereof) or other supporting surface used, designed, prepared, equipped or set apart for use either in whole or in part for the arrival, departure, movement or servicing of aircraft and includes any buildings, installations and equipment situated thereon or associated therewith.

The certification requirements for airports are also discussed at that link. Airfield isn't specifically defined in Canada, but it's used synonymously with "land aerodrome," whether certified, paved or not.

I think I could find an example of a non-certified aerodrome with customs facilities. It would be one where officers drove over from a nearby sea or land crossing station to process arriving aircraft, or a water aerodrome where seaplanes cleared customs at the boat dock.

Angus said...

Interesting how people zero in on one word (aerodrome) I didn't even notice. Instead, I have this song stuck in my head.

...rocks and trees and trees and rocks and rocks and trees and trees and rocks...

Ed said...

Yes, I think that's more or less what I said. ICAO Annex 14 has a similar definition: Aerodrome. A defined area on land or water (including any buildings, installations, and equipment) intended to be used either wholly or in part for the arrival, departure and surface movement of aircraft.

I did like the bit: There are defined exceptions, but, for the most part, all of Canada can be an aerodrome. Similar to, but somewhat less insulting than, a lady asking at an Indian railway station where the toilet was and being told "Madam, all of India is a toilet".