After a year of anticipation, instigated mostly by Facebook, I walked away from my high school reunion in Halifax with mixed feelings. For many, time has done them well but for others, middle age has not been kind. For several they sadly passed on.
I did reminisce with many and Captain Doug got teary eyed on a regular basis. It didn't help several drinks were imbibed. One fellow, suffering from stage four cancer and unable to talk, penciled a few notes to me. He remembered he and I were contenders for best male student in grade six and I beat him out. Funny what one remembers. I gave him a big hug because I knew it would be the last time I see him.
Teachers showed up as well. Even the teacher who DJ'd a dance I attended 31 years ago and who coined me "Disco Doug." Well 31 years later old Disco Doug took to the dance floor. Funny, both times I tended to be the only one dancing. I wish he ran the music because much of the night's repertoire didn't fit the 70s theme.
The night evaporated quickly with me and others closing the place but not before I met as many people I could. Another reason for the mixed feelings, many people who said were coming or who I wanted to see (especially many of the girls I had crushes on) did not show.
So what does this have to do about aviation?
Well, getting to Halifax required I use the jumpseat on an oversold Airbus 320. In fact, the agent offered $200 and an upgrade on the next flight. Few took her up on the offer.
Getting back to Toronto with my family proved more interesting. The 2:30 flight tends to be a B767 inbound from LHR (London,England) and it tends to run late. This day was no exception. After a 30 minute delay the flight is like most others. The Captain made a P.A on our ETA and mentioned "showers" at Toronto Pearson. I told the couple next to me, that's code for "thunderstorms." We are not suppose to use the words...thunderstorms (coded as showers or heavy showers), fog (say mist), chop (people don't know it means turbulence), ATC (passengers do not know it means Air Traffic Control). But much of it is common sense.
My meteorological senses tingled so I turn on the moving may display. (That's one place where Air Canada kicks butt, in the free entertainment system. Well actually you do have to buy a headset but only once). Sure enough we go into a hold. I guess it to be the Simcoe VOR with 20 nautical mile legs. Another announcement. This time he references a 'thunderstorm' and we may be heading to Ottawa. I tell the couple, this is when things go off the rails. Most other flights will be heading to their alternates so Ottawa will be inundated with extra aircraft. Sure enough we get to Ottawa only to find there is only one fueler on call. Heck it's a Sunday. We wait at the deice center, forget about getting a gate.
We finally fuel and carry on back to Toronto only confirming I'll never commute again.
Sounds like a mixed experience. Hopefully you enjoyed seeing old classmates. I just graduated high school a few weeks ago, so it is hard for me to imagine seeing the people i just left in 30 years. I formulated some predictions, and will see if they hold true.
You also just reminded me of how much I want to go back to Halifax, such a lovely city.
As for those code words, I started figuring them out. I always knew what chop meant though. :-P
Too bad about the commuting. I do have some questions regarding it though....would it be more appropriate to send you an e-mail with my questions? They regard commuting and jumpseating.
Look forward to the next post.
Hi Jason. Commuting is getting more accepted with airlines, but having said that a few accidents has caused the FAA/MOT to ask questions.
For me, it was not my "cup of tea" much to the dismay of my wife. I commuted twice in my career and decided life is too short to be waiting at airports, sitting in the back on an airplane, planning, checking flight loads and weather. Statistically, about 50 to 60 of airline pilots commute in the U.S. It's a lot lower here in Canada but does translate into large numbers.
Good idea on your part about sending me an email directly on this.
Thanks for your comments.
Oh cool! I was working that day and wondered why all those planes were parked in the de-icing bay in the middle of summer!
Yeah, YOW is usually pretty quiet on the Sundays, so I can imagine the YYZ diversions had the fueling crew running around like mad! Glad you made it home safely, and enjoyed your reunion!
Hi Flygirl. We did get in and out of YOW relatively quick despite the fueling issue. When an airport receives lots of diverted airplanes things can run amok very quickly.
I remember when we could not land in New Delhi and went to our alternate airport Bombay (Mumbai). It took us four hours just to go through customs. Luckily we decided to divert early putting us ahead of the other jumbos.
I hope the training is going well. Are you training out of YOW or Rockcliff? Or maybe you want to keep it under wraps.
Thanks for the comment.
This post reminds me of some lines
in your book:
"My career choice came easy and
early for me. In my grade nine
yearbook I declared that I wanted
to be an airline pilot and geared
my studies toward the sciences."
So high school was both the time and
place where you really began to
spool up for your aviation dream.
I'll bet you were not the only one
who came away with such feelings.
The reunion was bittersweet, but
you wouldn't have missed it for
High school is like the beginning
of an exciting track event: all
competitors settled into their
starting positions; looking in-
destructible; waiting for the
blast from the starting pistol...
Danny. It's true, high school is where I realized I must concentrate on sciences in order to pursue aviation. I also elected to keep up my French hoping it would be an asset.
I thought the Arts, including English, were compulsory courses that just got in the way.
Because of it, my average was pulled down enough to be denied major scholarships.
Even university English tended to be a dead weight.
Ironically, my name has been in print nearly 200 times with a best selling book hanging from my resume. Now with my blog firmly in place, it only confirms writing is a way to reach the soul.
To know a pilot through out high school was unheard of. No one had the answers as to how one goes about it, what it is like and the pros and cons. My high school days gave the impetus of becoming an aviation mentor.
Danny you make another great point ... "high school is the beginning of an exciting track event."
Recently I've used the track analogy a lot..."you only have one run around the track of life, make it a good one!"
P.S Thanks for bringing this to the forefront.
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