Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Don't Touch Your Eyes

I wake up and discover that the eyelashes of one eye are stuck together. Aaaah! Pinkeye! Or some kind of eye infection. Firetruck. If it's pinkeye, a.k.a. conjunctivitis it's incredibly contagious. People who are familiar with it are probably moving their hands away from the keyboard as they read this, with an instinctive fear that they can catch it by reading my blog entry. I get up and wash my hands then rinse out my eyes with clean water and salt water and dry them with a clean towel, then throw it on the floor. (That's hotel code for "I'm not going to use this towel again") There is not time to get to a clinic before work. I can go to work, because I don't believe it affects vision in any material way. It is only a little bit painful and itchy. I tell myself sternly, "DO NOT TOUCH YOUR FACE FOR ANY REASON!"

I eat breakfast and go to the airport. Before the flight I go over to the FBO to pay for the fuel we just took and for the hangar. I notice that they charge me half the originally quoted price, which is fair, seeing as we only managed to get the airplane halfway inside.

There are lots of helicopters working today. They are longlining building materials into a camp outside of town. Listening to 126.7 gets tedious because they are all working below me, going in and out of places that aren't on the map. It's a tedious day. The smoke is better, but the view is still not great. I find myself eating my flight bag snacks just for entertainment, not because I am hungry. I finish them all. I don't do that very often. I'm kind of surprised when my fingers reach the bottom of the pocket and there's nothing more there.

It's still what I've seen Canadian ATC call --on an official poster--"November season," which means there are a lot of pilots around who aren't fully familiar with Canadian air traffic services. We have a lot of airports that have no tower, but are manned by a Flight Service Specialist. The FSS gives you te information you need to make decisions, and then you make them and announce them to the FSS, without receiving clearances. The FSS tells one pilot that the active runways are 03, 21, and 26, which simply means that someone is taxiing out to take off 21, someone else has announced an intention to land 03 in eight minutes, and a guy is rolling out after landing 26. Any runway that is currently in use is tagged "active." The pilot doesn't seem to be familiar with this idea and seems a little stunned by three active runways. Other pilots land 21 because they are told 21 is active even though it would be far more convenient for everyone if they would land 03, which leads staight to the apron.

When I am returning for landing there are two American Cessna 182 both maneuvering for the circuit at once. It's not really a problem as the visibility is reasonable now and they aren't on opposite base legs or anything. One, with a female voice on the radio, is approaching from the VOR and the other, piloted by a male, is coming from the south. The male pilot is trying to get a better situational awareness and slips up on his radio language, asking simply, "Where is the other C182?" without addressing the FSS or giving his callsign. It's obvious who he is, but the FSS gives him a bit of a verbal slapdown, replying with a formal, "station calling, identify yourself." They sort it out and we all land

I'm still idling on the apron after the C182s have parked. The woman calls on the radio to report that her cellphone doesn't work, and to ask where there is a payphone. There is cellphone service here, but not for all networks. It turns out that she just wants to call the hotel shuttle, and the FSS specialist volunteers to do that for her. Then the guy gets back into his airplane and the beacon goes on. He calls up to ask if there are any hotels here. The specialist rattles off a catalogue of every hotel in town, along with their relative price point and and amenities. She checks with the hotel that has the shuttle to see if they have a room, but reports back that they are full and as far as they know, so are all the hotels in town. It's not a good season to be here without a reservation, because the hotels are full of long-term stays, like us.

Once the beacons are off on both Cessnas (indicating that they have shut off electrical power and thus are no longer listening to the radio) I compliment to the specialist on her skills as a travel agent. She admits that she's officially just supposed to say that there are several hotels in town, but that she feels sorry for people when they turn up unprepared, and tries to help out.

The woman is waiting by the FBO for the shuttle bus as I leave. She says she wasn't flying that leg, just doing the radio because she was tired. She's with someone, presumably her husband, on the way back to Alaska from visiting grandchildren, I think it was in Oregon. I didn't see the pilot from the other C182. Presumably he found somewhere to sleep. Maybe he had a tent.


Anonymous said...

at first I thought this post was going to be about skydrol! ouch!

Aviatrix said...

Skydrol in the eyes? I've never done that. Sounds horrific! It was bad enough getting it on my shirt.

Anonymous said...

The FSS situation will never get better because the U.S. has chosen to "contract out" services such as those in our country. The services they (the contractors) provide in the U.S. have weathered away without a peep from anyone. It is sad. Hope the eye heals quick, I'm sure it did.