Friday, February 06, 2009

Au Revoir Montréal

Next morning we arrived at the airport at a civilized hour of the morning, our airplane bare and dry and the Montréal weather still cold and clear. Our broker has rebooked our customs appointment, we hope.

"I'll do weather and flight plan while you verify customs," we agreed.

The pilot information kiosk in the FBO is a piece of Nav Canada equipment, essentially a box containing a computer and the slowest modem known to man. It's supposed to connect automatically to Nav Canada's weather servers and provide all the weather products available to the modern pilot. I think it got as far as inquiring whether I would prefer English or French before it got hung up on its own innards. I beat on it for a while and then resorted to the telephone, first reporting the PIK here inoperative, in case someone might care to repair it, and then requesting the weather for our very short flight.

It's not so great. While it's lovely here, we're looking at low cloud and freezing fog for the destination. We might be able to squeeze in under the weather, but then we'd be trapped in the valley in Vermont, unable to proceed southeast through higher terrain. It's supposed to improve, but the briefer doesn't say that with optimism in his voice. We decide to wait for the new forecast and then see.

I load and preflight the airplane while it's still in the hangar. The floor is flooded, from all the melted ice and snow on the airplanes, but the airplane is dry, so it's ready to go. The new forecast, however isn't any better. We don't like to go to unfamiliar airports for customs, because we're a little out of the ordinary. Each station has its own culture and we can get unlucky and run into someone who doesn't accept our classification or doesn't like the way we do our paperwork, and end up stuck for a day, waiting for the broker to fax proof of something or other. But Vermont isn't going to work.

My coworker starts casting around for another place to clear customs, but there's a stationary front sitting over the northeast US, making things ugly everywhere. It looks like we can skirt it by cutting across Lake Ontario, then along the south shore of Lake Erie, to get into Cleveland. Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, here we come. When we call the airport in Vermont to say we're not coming, the border guys laugh at us. They know how bad the weather is and were expecting the call. We then call our customs broker to set Cleveland up with the paperwork we need, while we go for lunch.

Lunch is nearby at a cafeteria over the flying school. While we're eating I can here a group at a nearby table working on a weight and balance calculation. It seems to be a couple of male pilots helping a female student pilot with the form. Her voice carries clearly, but I don't hear the others' voices. I guess it depends on which way she is looking. She is an anglophone, not from this province, but I hear her say a couple of times that she'd really does intend to learn French. I'm not deliberately eavesdropping, so my awareness of the conversation fades in an out. Then I hear her pronouncing French words with a heavy English accent. She is in her early twenties and speaks fluent English with a fairly neutral North American accent but it doesn't seem like she has ever taken French in school. Perhaps she is American or Bahamian or something.

"Suis sont nous ... oh what? ... soi sont neuve ..." I look over, a bit puzzled. She's evidently reading something that has been written down for her. After a few starts and quiet corrections, she's saying a recognizable "soixante-neuf." Something from the weight and balance problem, perhaps? I can only hope.

She gets up to use the washroom, still repeating her new word and I turn a raised eyebrow look at the males at the table. They see me, and have the good grace to look sheepish. I think they realize that they'd better fess up or be busted by me, because shortly after she returns to the table I hear a shriek of outrage from her, and laughter all round.

I see her later on the stairs, and confess that I was wondering why they were so eagerly teaching her to say "sixty-nine." She rolls her eyes. The guys of course hadn't told her at first what they were coaching her to say, and had in the end only translated it by miming the sexual meaning, perhaps not realizing that the translation has exactly the same connotation in English. She had a good sense of humour about it.

We call back the customs broker and determine that our arrival is booked in Akron. Akron, Cleveland: it's all the same to us. I confirm that the other pilot is on the customs paperwork as PIC and I file to Akron.

Although she's PIC, she doesn't enjoy flying cross country, so I get the left seat and leave her with the radios. All good for me. There's a little bit of fog and cloud around as we fly south, but nothing to interfere with safe VFR flight.

The Canada-US border takes a funny zig-zag course through the lakes, so as we continue south we cross into the US and then briefly we're back in Ontario overhead its namesake lake. That's now four out of five of the Great Lakes I have flown across the middle of. One more to go. There's something really exciting about flying across big stretches of open water for me. If I ever get a job flying ETOPS across oceans, I'm sure the excitement will wear off, but flying across an ocean will be very exciting for a while.

During the flight, my coworker is trying to plan the next leg. "Anywhere in particular you want to stop?" she asks. Other than the fact that I've never been to Arkansas, there is nothing pulling me to anywhere in particular. You see, in the US there are hundreds, possibly thousand of runways that can accommodate our airplane. Almost all of them have fuel and a town with a chain hotel. And one Hampton Inn or Super-8 is pretty much interchangeable with any other one, so it really really doesn't matter where we stop, as long as it's on the way. That's why my plan to visit a friend in Indiana was in no way abuse of company resources.

"I'm partial to the 'funny names' method of choosing a nightstop," I opine. "All else being equal, stay at the place with the silliest name." She is familiar with that technique and goes through the map and the airport info book, looking at possible stops. We discuss the relative silliness of our options. I should have written down some of the names. It's going to depend a bit on weather, so we don't make a final decision.

We can see the bad weather to the southeast for the whole trip, but we remain in the clear right through our descent into Akron. We're right on time and we don't even have to taxi to a customs area: the customs official comes to us at the FBO. He's friendly and quick. I hand him both sets of passports at the rear door and he looks at them quickly, verifies that the number printed on the customs sticker on our door matches the one on the paperwork and he's done with us. Woo! Akron goes on the 'good place to clear customs' list.

I'll break the blog entry here as we order fuel and go inside for flight planning and washrooms. The day continues next post.


dpierce said...

I don't have time to write what I was going to write, so I'll just write the PS ...

PS: Your storytelling rocks.

chris said...

Of course you're partial to places with funny names; your first stop was Akron.

Lynn Grant said...

Akron's a good place to stop anyway, being the namesake of one of the great dirigibles (and flying aircraft carrier, to boot), the USS Akron:

Callsign Echo said...

Why is it I always learn the dirty words first? Example: the only German word I know is for a sexual act that is illegal in most states.

Of course, soixante-neuf is probably proscribed under that same law, but I doubt that's stopped anyone lately...

Aviatrix said...

Now I'm curious about the nature a sexual act that is only illegal in most states. I'm thinking either there's somewhere that bestiality isn't forbidden, or this lovely little quotation from Language Log about US politicians hiding erudition is incorrect.

Foreign language learning is now, like sodomy, legal in all states; but these are not freedoms that a politician should brag about taking advantage of.

Anonymous said...

@Echo: Well, now I'm really really neugierig to learn some new Anekdote about meine Sprache. Don't leave us hanging in the void like that, bitte.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, come on Echo. We won't hold it against you. Just give us the word, we can leave the terms-of-service violating English translation to google. :)

ETOPS. I can no longer read this without decoding it to Engines Turn Or Passengers Swim. What's it really stand for again?

Aviatrix said...

ETOPS. I can no longer read this without decoding it to Engines Turn Or Passengers Swim.

Me too! it's Extended-range Twin-engine Operational Performance Standards (for the non pilots, that refers to the scrutiny and demonstrated capability required to make long overwater passenger flights with only two engines).

Anonymous said...

Foreign language learning is now, like sodomy, legal in all states;

It ain't true. There are a whole bunch of states where sodomy is illegal.

In some, like Georgia "sodomy" is defined very broadly to include just about any sex act other than heterosexual, genital, intercourse.

I recall reading an article a while back (late 1980's IIRC) about a man who was sentenced to(and served) time in a penitentiary in Georgia for performing cunnilingus on his wife. Seriously. Georgia's Anti Sodomy laws were upheld as constitutional in a 1986 US Supreme Court decision.
The whole issue of homosexuality aside, there are jurisdictions in the US which believe it is their business to regulate what exactly you may do with your heterosexual, legal spouse, of the age of legal majority, in the privacy of your own home.

Aviatrix said...

The page you cite says "This page got created some years before the US Supreme Court struck down anti-sodomy laws throughout the United States." Has that striking down been reversed or is the Supreme Court decision not binding?

"The state has no business in the bedrooms of the nation." -- Pierre Trudeau in 1967. Canada removed sodomy laws (and revised pretty much everything else people wave family values flags about) eighteen months later in May 1969.

Anonymous said...

I guess that I should have read that page a little more carefully. I didn't realize that it was over a decade old. I hadn't paid much attention to the issue since the 1986 Supreme Court decision was current events.

Doing a little reading, there was a Supreme Court Decision in 2003 which several websites claim invalidated anti-sodomy laws as unconstitutional, but as nearly as I can tell, and I haven't read the Decision itself, the SCOTUS decision only finds unconstitutional Texas's anti-sodomy laws, specifically because they applied only to same sex couples. It would appear, then, that a state law which prohibited sodomy between any two persons, would still be constitutional despite the 2003 decision.

It appears that Idaho, Utah, Virginia, North and South Carolina, Michigan, Mississippi, Alabama, Louisiana and Puerto Rico still have anti-sodomy laws which are not specific to same sex couples, and would still be constitutionally valid, if I understand the supreme court decision correctly (and I may not)

I see that the Georgia *state* supreme court has found their anti-sodomy laws unconstitutional.

Callsign Echo said...

Okay, I will give hints:

1. You are correct that it is forbidden under anti-sodomy laws (which states still have them I do not know. I thought FL was one of them but I could be wrong. Anyone else think it's awesome that they were ruled unconst. in 1969? Anyone?)

2. It has an Enlish cognate.

3. It rhymes with blashficken.

Aviatrix said...

Anyone else think it's awesome that they were ruled unconstitutional in 1969?

I stared at that for a few minutes thinking, "but in the US they are still apparently on some of the books" and "yeah, it was awesome of Trudeau to dare to take all that prudishness and put it in one Omnibus bill, but isn't that what I just said?" And then I got it and laughed out loud. I don't know that 69 was ever illegal in Canada. I'll have to look it up.

Anonymous said...

Sir, you better leave the bl where it is and not add either an r or a c. Because, as we now have learned, it would be illegal. And we don't like illegal, do we?

Roundman said...

Tying together [i]‘aviation’[/i] with [i]‘sexual slang’[/i] in [i] ‘Deutsch’[/i], I suggest checking out the following links:
Ryanair’s Michael O'Leary German press conference in which he outlines his plans for a long haul airline and the [url=] sexual amenities it will offer[/url].
Comments on the translation of the [url=]
word he used[/url].

The cross dictionary where you can find the English-German of [url=] all of the heterosexual slang including soixante-neuf[/url]. However the ‘proper’ words for the two components of this act are the same and are rooted in [i]Vulgar Latin[/i].

Aviatrix said...

I'd fix that for you, but blogger won't let me edit comments, only delete them. As you no doubt noticed, BB code doesn't work on blogs. You need html.

Roundman said...

I'll have to check into what i obviously don't understand - But I do know a bit about the subject and the languages

Aviatrix said...

You want angle brackets (i.e. < and >) not square ones and href not url. See the explanation in the sidebar on "how to post links in a comment".