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TAKE OFF……..

TO THE GREAT WHITE NORTH

sunny -30 °C

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Sometimes I really question what I have done to deserve such an awesome life. I have been blessed with so many amazing opportunities and this has certainly been one of those. I can’t say that Northern Canada was even on my bucket list (I hate the cold) but when I got invited to spend 3 days on the company jet, testing out our new technology, with stops in Iqaluit and Whitehorse, I couldn’t say no. Honestly, I think I was more excited for this trip than I have been for any in a very long time.

Recently, 10 satellites were launched (with many more to follow), that contain the technology to allow controllers to see aircraft everywhere. Until now, this could only be done using radar so this is huge and will completely change how we do business, especially in remote and oceanic airspaces. The purpose of our trip was to test this new technology.

The other neat thing about this trip was that we were bringing along 2000lbs of hockey equipment for kids in the northern communities. This gear was donated and sorted by Nav Canada employees and coordinated with the local hockey organizations who will later distribute it to various communities.

Our trip began in Ottawa, where we picked up the company jet (who doesn’t want to say that?) and met our crew. We had TJ and Carl in the front and Eric, the flight engineer monitoring flight activities in the back. His large display allowed us to see when we were under the coverage of the satellites. We also, fortunately, had our own mechanic, Craig. Steve was the technical expert who has been working on this project for years and we couldn’t have been happier for anyone than him when we found out everything was working brilliantly. The rest of us played no part in the actual test but were all quite interested in the results and the experience because it will greatly impact our future work.

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Our trip was not without events. Before departing Ottawa, we had a technical issue which caused us a slight delay and put us just behind schedule. A reboot took care of this and we were on our way, curled up in the 6 comfy seats on board, with a pile of yummy snacks in the bins. Kirsten’s fear of hunger was quickly alleviated. The flight was about 3.5 hours and was perfect until we reached Iqaluit when Eric came back to tell us that we were going to have an “abnormal landing” but that everything would fine. We would be landing without flaps so we might come in a little fast. The crew was so great that none us had any concerns for our safety despite the fact that I was pretty sure those “flaps” thingies were rather important. The landing was fast, and a little noisy, but otherwise perfect. Apparently, we still had half the runway left when we stopped. Our only fear was that we might not be able to continue.

Although, they crew were confident that the aircraft was fixed, they were not confident in taking it further north. We thought everything was a bust until we learned that they were sending the other company jet to Iqaluit so we could continue on. Yahoo!

Our stay in Iqaluit was short, arriving around 8pm and departing at 1:30pm. We made the most of our time. After a quick dinner of Arctic Char in the restaurant and a stop by the bar, we all went to bed to rest for a morning of exploration.

The bar...

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A headless rabbit?

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The crew was very busy, unloading the hockey gear, transferring all the testing equipment and snacks from one airplane to the other and getting ready for the next leg. While Rob did a site visit at the airport, the rest of us bundled up and headed out in the -29 weather for a stroll about town. A couple of us got to go up in the tower for some great views, including the two Nav Canada jets, a rare site, on the ground and the transfer of hockey gear.

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Here are a few shots from that stroll. It isn’t easy to take your time to get the shot when taking of your mitts hurts. I would have loved to had a different lens on when the dog sled went by, or even better, been closer but at least we saw it. It couldn’t have been a better day with lots of sunshine and no wind. Even though my eyelashes froze, I was not cold.

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We departed on time, for our 5-hour flight to Yellowknife for fuel. During the trip, we all took turns in the cockpit for the landings and departures. This was a real treat that rarely happens post 9-11. It is always valuable to see things from another perspective. The landing in Yellowknife was mine and it was awesome although it was at times a little eerie. I was a little disoriented seeing only vast whiteness contrasted against bright blue sky. This landing was perfectly smooth despite another flap issue when they didn’t completely extend. Yup, new airplane, similar issue. The mechanic felt the temperatures were playing havoc with the flaps. After some testing, we continued on to Whitehorse, a short 90-minute flight.

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Unfortunately, the flaps once again caused some concern on landing. That’s when the crew decided that it required more investigation and that the aircraft would be grounded, leaving us with the option of a few more days in Whitehorse or on a commercial flight home. We chose the latter. Although we didn’t get to see Whitehorse, or the northern lights, we received a warm welcome from the Nav Canada staff and enjoyed a lovely dinner together.

One might think that this might have turned out to be a stressful trip, nothing could be further from the truth. The flight ops teams were professional and honest with us and because of that we were all very relaxed. They took the issues seriously and investigated thoroughly and when the problem needed further attention, they grounded the aircraft. We couldn’t help but chuckle at how bizarre it all was but someone did comment that it wasn’t a trip for anyone with “flapxiety”. The crew said it was a new experience for them as well. We even laughed when on our last commercial flight into Ottawa, the pilot told us not to mind the noise outside because it was just a large truck helping to manually start the engine. An “abnormal departure” perhaps? Could it be us?

But alas, after a long day, we are all home safe and sound. We are excited about the results of our test and richer for having experienced something so special and unique. I think I can speak for the entire team when I say, the company jet is the definitely the way to travel. Now to convince someone that I should be flying around with these guys all the time. Hmmmmm

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Posted by curlygirl 18:29 Archived in Canada Tagged north whitehorse yellowknife iqaluit

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Comments

That was so enjoyable to read this morning!! Beautiful pics ( except that beautiful white bunny with no head). Awesome adventure!!

by Nancy Parsons

Very interesting. I think Dad would have enjoyed this trip.
I do have to figure out how to frost my eyelashes it's a great look.

by Sharon Bailey

Wow Shelly, awesome adventure for sure!!!! I'm always thrilled to get an email from Curly Girl.......love your stories.

by Brenda Diamond

Loved to have you aboard. Managed to fix the jet and get it to Kelowna on Friday. Home tomorrow. We (the crew) had a blast. TJ

by tj

The more we are the more fun we have. We were happy to have you and your "friends" as passengers. I should have gone back with you on Wednesday. I left Thursday,It was supposed to be on a CRJ705 but due to mechanical issues the flight was cancel.

by Eric

Awesome adventure Shelley. Short lived but perhaps enough time in those temperatures? The sky is so blue!

by Agnes

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