Friday, June 7, 2013


After working the ramp for about 11 months, marshalling, loading and unloading aircraft, including all cargo Hawker Siddeley 748s with a forklift, they finally let me try out crewing on the hawker. That is where you're in charge of loading the airplane up in the northern airports.

Technically that was supposed to be part of the training program in your first 6 months of employment, but I never got the chance to do it. It was January, right smack in the middle of the coldest winter I have ever experienced. The forecast all week called for -30C and lower weather. Just fantastic. I was supposed to overnight up north so I brought extra clothing, on top of the layers upon layers I was already wearing to keep warm.

Early 8am departure to a town 20 minutes north where were supposed to load up with food for the Northern Stores for the Attawapiskat. Uneventful start-up, being on the jumpseat, I got to witness the masters go back and forth with flows and checklists like a prayer they recited a million times.

Takeoff and the pressurization and environmental controls finally starts to warm up the cockpit. Soon enough we were unable to see our own breaths...time to thaw off. 
5 miles out and Gear Down Landing Checks were called. 2 green no red,...wait a minute.

Perfect, I remember thinking; my first flight as a crewman and we're gonna land with one gear not in down and locked position. Captain must have tried recycling the gear 50 times. Up and down, up and down, hoping that the next time would be different, but no cigar, still 2 greens.

First officer jumps out of his seat, I jump out of his way so he can look through the window in the back for the secondary indication that the gears are down and locked. He says that they are. He tells me what to look for just so that he's sure he's not just seeing things.
I see the same thing, circle filled with white means they are down and locked. It's a good thing we were still empty, otherwise going back and forth would've been tough. I go back and forth between recycles to confirm, still the same. The sounds of the gear locking into their places confirm that it's locked too.

20 minutes of troubleshooting we decide to go back home and ask the MTC and FSS to see if they see our landing gear down and locked. A low and over and a good briefing on what to do in case it wasn't locked later, we were finally lined up for runway 03. Approach was good, speed was good. Touchdown, no collapse! As soon as we touched down the gear indicator showed 3 green. Phew.

Captain has been flying that beast a long time, and he even said that was the first time in his career landing with 2 green lights. Good grief. Was I the unlucky charm, or perhaps the lucky charm since the story ended happily? I'll never know.

But that wasn't the only thing that went wrong with the airplane by the end of that long and cold*t happens though. You just deal with it.

No comments: