Saturday, November 27, 2010

Rivers, Mountains, and Cuuuute Baby Animals

I'm woken up by a text message on my telephone. Of course we don't fly for days and I do it all right, and then the one day I forget to turn off my phone before going to sleep we do fly, so I'm woken up by the message that I should have gotten after I woke up and turned on my phone. No great harm done: it's 8 a.m. already. Yeah, I slept past eight on a working day. It's my job, so I can work late if need be.

Around three p.m. it's my turn to actually do my job. It's so exciting. I get to fly an airplane. Water, headset, snacks, emergency supplies, checklists and jump in the customer's truck to go out to the airport. The other flight has already landed but the engines are still turning as they finish shutting down the computers. The fuellers here are good. They understand our operation and have good communication, so they are right there as soon as the engines stop turning, fill us up and then my coworker pays for both loads of fuel together as I start the engines anew. Everything is warm and we haven't forgotten how to do our jobs so we taxi out. I follow the little wiggle in the taxi way that is designed to take me around the end of the tails of the airliners parked at the terminal, even though there aren't any parked there. I always follow the taxi centrelines.

Silent self brief before take-off, notify the FSS that I'm taking the runway, position, power, airspeed, rotate, liftoff, climb rate, airspeed, brakes, gear up, lights out, climb speed, after takeoff checks, and into the weird ballet that starts one of our missions. Today's mission takes us out over a winding river, up its sloping bank to some jagged hills and then over an almost vertical escarpment into another valley. The escarpment curves towards the valley and its lip slopes down from north to south. It's a challenge to put the airplane just where it needs to be on each pass, while maintaining the assigned speed.

It's a great flight, with clear weather for a change, but I forgot to take any pictures until after landing. After I called for fuel and we drove away I tried to get a shot of the full moon. I forgot to turn off the flash on the first attempt, however, and that one zap of the flash killed the battery. I had a spare in my bag, but I didn't want to ask the driver to wait while I switched batteries and tried again to capture the drama of the evening in a tiny five year old digital camera. I'll have to just tell you about it.

What appeared to be a completely full moon has already risen to at least thirty degrees above the horizon while across the sky the sun was just touching the northwest horizon, sunset still a half hour away. That's not the way they described the relationship between the full moonrise and sunset in science class, but then in kindergarten they taught us that the sun rises and sets daily. I love the north.

I love in general when nature doesn't seem to conform to its stereotypes. Like these marvellous shots of baby cheetahs playing with a baby impala. If the game eventually got rough and they killed it, the photographer either didn't capture that, or chose to leave those shots out of the series. I imagine either mother turning up and giving her offspring hell for hanging with the wrong crowd.

1 comment:

Aaron said...

"I love in general when nature doesn't seem to conform to its stereotypes." Me too. I remember 2 memorable instances to do with abnormal sunrise/set times.

I was with a co-worker in Iceland in early August. We were on day one of ten waiting for the pax to be ready to go home and had gone out exploring. We were feeling hungry and I looked at my watch... 11pm and still plenty of light. We felt like it was 6 or 7. Strange driving back into Rekjavik, streets deserted, in the twilight of what still seemed to be early evening. All the restaurants were closed...

Another time on a flight in the end of June from London to Goose Bay, the sun had just set as we started engines. We took off and, as we climbed out to the northwest, the sun appeared to rise again, but in the west, as with our increased altitude we could see it again. It re-set within 20 minutes. However as we proceeded further northwest of Ireland the sun rose again as we entered the latitudes of the midnight sun. It stayed just above the horizon until at about 3AM we started our decent into Goose Bay. This time it set and stayed set. One of those flights I'll remember for sure.