Tuesday, November 17, 2009

When It Absolutely, Positively, Has to Be There in Four Months

To help solve the deicing problem, once we no longer have access to a hangar, I asked the boss to ship us some wing covers care of the hotel. (I've also asked him to check with the Dangerous Goods guy about special permission to carry deicing fluid). He e-mails me the tracking number for the shipment, and in it he notes that he's sent them care of the FBO instead of the hotel, because it will probably be easier to get the FBO to forward them when they are late. I'm just reading an e-mail with these details when the phone rings.

It's the front desk, and they say they have a package for me. I go down to collect it. It's not wing covers. It's a smaller package. I take it back up to the room to open it.

You might remember that back in June I was in this very town, in this very hotel, preparing to go to Alaska. And one of the preparations was ordering charts for the trip. There's no such thing as overnight delivery in the north, but I figured that ten days should be enough time to receive the package. It wasn't, and I never received the charts, but another pilot had ordered them because they thought they were going to be going in a different plane, so the expedition had charts and the ones I ordered just went into limbo. I left the hotel a forwarding address, should they arrive, but I didn't ever expect to see them.

And now they are here. I'm sure they weren't six months in transit. Maybe they got stuck at the border for a couple of weeks, and then took another week or so to make it here. My theory is that the package has been sitting on a table in the hotel office and every few weeks someone looks at it and checks to see if there's a guest by that name in the hotel. When they don't find a match they shrug and leave it for someone else to deal with. But today they found a match. The turnover in hotel staff is so rapid that no one who checks the package has ever checked it before, so no one realizes the thing has been here since July. The person who called me likely assumed that it had arrived today or yesterday. And now I have it. Anyone need a set of expired Alaska charts?

The tracking number for the wing covers tells me that they went overnight to Edmonton, and are still there. I'll give them a couple of weeks. In the north "overnight" means "in about two weeks."


Band Man said...

Another interesting post. I enjoy reading your blog every night when I get home from work, even though I don't normally post anything here.

I have a friend wrapping presents this holiday season for inner city kids in need. As an aviation buff, he's trying to track down old aviation charts to wrap them in. I'd be glad to send you a check to cover shipping costs if you're serious about wanting to unload them. Feel free to e-mail me back at baf0206 (at) gmail.com

Thanks and fly safe!

Anoynmous said...

At this time of year, and at far enough north, "overnight" could be quite a long time indeed.

Sarah said...

Oh, that's funny. And is it true that you just about have to mail-order charts from TC? Do they have a FBO distribution chain like the US FAA?

Wirelizard said...

Southern Canada has a reasonably good distribution setup of pilot shops/schools/FBOs/etc - I work at a flying club/school with a pilot shop, we stock all of western Canada and the Pacific-seaboard US charts, and can get anything else, Canadian or American, in a week or less for customers.

Up north? Hah.

Expired air charts make awesome wrapping paper, though. I wrap all my gifts in it, cheap pilot that I am.

Aviatrix said...

Band Man, I knew my suitcase was going to be overweight when I left that job site, so I through the Alaska stuff all in a plane that I am no longer with. Otherwise I would send them for sure.

Anoynmous: Bwhaha, that's so funny. I didn't even think of that but that is absolutely correct as to how long it might take!

Wirelizard: If your flying school has all the charts in stock, then I bet you a dollar your airport has an 800' circuit.

That's how poor the FBO distribution system is. There isn't a single distributor east of Montreal or north of Calgary. Nav Canada does not accept return of unslod product, so a school needs to be very confident of selling lots of charts before they will take on the responsibility.

American chart availability is fantastic. You can stop at some little FBO and they will have their local charts and probably the next ones over, too.

viennatech said...

I hate to post a commercial link but I have to say that www.vippilot.com does a fabulous job of getting these important publications into the pilot's hands. You can buy any chart for Canada and the US online with overnight delivery but it gets better. VIP will "plastify" the chart for you for a copuple of bucks now making it nearly impossible to tear. You can also mark up the chart with an eraseable marker! This is great for practice nav sessions or diversions. It gets better, you can call and speak with a real person (she's sweet) and they will help you with any questions.

It gets even better, they also offer the Canada Flight Supplement in either a one off or subscription basis. The sub costs less overall than buying direct from nav canada and you don't have to pay bs account setup fees.

So basically I gave up on all the mom and pop operations and I also give up on Nav Canada's horrible subscription model but I have current charts and CFS in my bag right now thanks to a little shop based in St. Hubert QC.

(I heard that the plastified charts are not good for night work, they offer too much glare, so for those of you using them at night you may wish to get the regular paper version)

Aviatrix said...

1. VIP is owned by the same family that was responsible for JetsGo. I won't buy from them unless I have to.

2. It doesn't matter who sells the chart, it isn't getting to the north overnight, unless you use Anoynmous' definition of "overnight."

Geekzilla said...

Maybe someday you'll be able to purchase and download charts from the internet as large .pdf's. Then the problem will be finding large enough paper to print them on.

nec Timide said...

1. VIP is owned by the same family...

I've had my own reasons for avoiding VIP. I'll add that to the list.

I'm fortunate enough to get my charts and pubs from a small local business that, since Nav Canada stopped taking returns when they expire, goes out on a financial limb every 56 days to make sure the local pilot community has what they need to be safe and legal. On top of that, net-net, in my flight bag, they're cheaper than VIP.

Aluwings said...

I also just learned something new re: JetsGo and VIP... thanks. I cheered when JetsGo finally Went - thankfully before killing anyone.

I did have a link with a Calgary operation that was also well stocked and offered quick service. Don't have it handy.

security word: empartic: when someone is speaking with much gusto but only half means it."