Saturday, May 26, 2012


We're in the sky over a major Canadian city and my dispatcher has had to pull favours and whine to get us here. We sent subcontractors to do this job, because we're very busy, but they were denied entry to the airspace. Apparently we're the A Team, because ATC let us in. Company has given us a list of other work to do for when the controllers have had enough and kick us out of their airspace, but meanwhile the controller has cleared us in and given us a pretty free rein, as long as we remain west of his runway in use. Accordingly, I'm on my best behaviour, staying super alert to what the controller is doing and giving him the information he needs in the clearest most concise words I can find. He has been amazing, routing traffic under over and around me so that I can do my job, and even keeping track of where we were working when he has to divert us.

It's turbulent, continuous chop from both convective heating and mechanical turbulence. I think I'd be feeling sick if I weren't flying the airplane. As a pilot I want to help my co-worker feel better, but all the normal advice and techniques one would use to mitigate airsickness don't apply here. It's his job to have his head down concentrating on computer screens, and it's mine to make frequent quick turns and altitude changes. He does his job and I do mine and we continue that for five hours, finishing the high priority job and then thanking the controller profusely before we switch en route to land at a satellite airport outside their airspace.

I'm usually kind of slow getting out of the cockpit after a flight, but today I jump out and get water for my co-worker and start fuelling the airplane. I'm compensating for not being able to help during the flight.

I get in to taxi to parking, and he gets in too. "Coming for a ride?" Yeah, a long ride. Company has texted him instructions for further work we are assigned to do. He gets right back in the airplane and we taxi out. There's a Cessna in the circuit, and only one taxiway with a backtrack, so we wait for him to land and taxi clear. Someone else has called meanwhile with an intention to cross midfield and join the circuit, so we enter as soon as the Cessna is clear to make the backtrack and take off before the other airplane arrives. And then the arriving pilot almost instantly calls base. That was unexpectedly quick. I guess he changed his mind about crossing midfield. He changes it back when he realizes I'm on the runway, and I'm rolling while he's on final.

More on this flight later, I think.


david said...

It's wonderful that you're posting again!

sean said...

Welcome back. It's always the best part of a day to see the bold 1 next to cockpit conversations in google reader.

Tony Hunt said...

I was flying to Toronto on 05 May, approaching City Centre airport from the East. Near Oshawa, the controller alerted me to traffic below me along the shoreline. Traffic was described as "a Navaho doing survey work".

I looked left, and watched the Navaho slowly converge and pass 500' below me. Suddenly I thought of you, although we hadn't heard from you in awhile. Now I wonder.