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Flying

The Wide Wild Blue

Have you ever felt like some moments are just…. perfect? This feeling of exhaliration and pure  serenity?
This is how I felt, racing across the wide, wild blue.

Although I could not ask for a safer seat, my standard issue jet-fighter, steel-reinforced seat is not what you could call comfortable by most standards. But the sore feeling spreading across my butt could not even start to tarnish the sheer pleasure of streaking across this vibrant blue sky at half the speed of sound (well..  mach .48 to be more precise).

The day was just.. how should I say… perfect.

After checking in at 7 am with our Medical Dispatch (or Communications Center as they like to call it), I start playing images in my head of myself enjoying a hot, steaming cup of coffee. The perfect start to a perfect looking day. Sadly, our dispatch had other plans for us. As soon as I set out to put my plan into action, all the telephones in the hangar start  chirping in unison. No coffee for me!

Weather checks are but a formality today. We know that wherever they ask us to go, we shall go, for the sun is bright and the sky is blue, with not a single cloud to cast shadows on our wings.

15 minutes later, I’m sitting in my favorite office chair, putting on my newly acquired Ray Ban sunglasses (how to look like a PRO – Tip #1). Going through the ritual checklists, we eventually wake up the sleeping beast and start moving across the tarmac.

– Taxi light – ON
– Controls – Free and Correct
– Clearance – Recieved
– LookCool factor – Game on!

It’s only a matter of minutes before our wheels leave the pavement of the runway. Rapidly accelerating, we are climbing up  to our final altitude of 21,000 for this quick leg up north. Half an hour of flying and we are already touching down at our first destination – Moosonee.

Even on a day like today, it’s hard to forget how much efforts are put into the world of medical evacations. Our propellers are barely spooling down that our medics jump off the airplane, headed towards another set of props. One of our company’s helicopter is waiting for us, it’s own twin turbines firing up. It’s going to take our medics to Moose-Factory, an island not far away, where they will pick up our patient.

As my captain and I are waiting for them to return, we quickly take care of the fuel and other duties that we have to attend. This being done, all that there is left to do is wait.. and enjoy the gorgeous day!

Half an hour later the regular thump-thump-thump of the Sikorsky helicopter carrying our precious cargo can be heard getting closer and closer, finally landing and shutting down right next to our very own air ambulance. We quickly transfer the patient with the help of the medics, and it’s our turn again to go flying. Weeeeee!

At FL270 (27,000 feet) the view is spectacular. It almost feels like I can see the whole world from up here. While we cruise smoothly to Toronto, our medics are keeping busy in the back, taking care of the woman we have on the stretcher.

”Pulse 101, Toronto Center here. You’re cleared down to… ” Nooo! I don’t want to go down. You.. you… Ahhh alright. As we complete the descent checks, I push a few buttons on the autopilot and the airplane obediently points it’s nose downwards.

As I watch the speed change, I quickly realize that I forgot to bring the power back. A few more knots and we would have busted our maximum operating speed. That was a close one! Had we gone over the limit, the computer would have coldly recorded our mistake and reported it to the maintenance crew once on the ground. That, in turn, would have grounded the airplane until a complete check was done to ensure no structural damage was incured. Nasty… Good thing we’re that good. Hahahaha, good one… good one!

Making our way through Toronto’s busy airspace, our MEDEVAC status allows us priority over the rest of the traffic. I’m not used to this kind of special treatment. But every minute can count on a medical evacuation and the controllers fully understand the matter. Today we are not in such a big hurry but it is still nice to have everybody be so nice to us!

Dropping off our patient on the airport situated close to Toronto’s downtown (City Center Airport), I finally have time to grab a cup of freshly brewed coffee. Aaaaaahhhhhh. The feeling of satisfaction is unrivaled. Time to go home!

This one is purely for fun. With no patient in the back, and the two medics laying back and trying to catch a quick nap, my captain and I are enjoying the ride home to its fullest. The crackling voice of the controller suddenly breaks this moment.

”Pulse 101, check you have traffic at 12 O’clock, 2000 feet lower, same direction, 5 miles”. I look down on one of my central screens and quickly spot the intruder. We seem to be catching up with a Jazz flight that left Toronto a few minutes before us. Interesting. As the flight progresses, shouts of ‘GOGOGO!’ and ‘you can DO it!’ are heard in our little office, watching the blue diamond representing the Dash-8 we were following slowly starting to draw back, and finally behind us. We are beating Jazz to Timmins! Mouhahahahaha. I could not end my day in a better way.

As we setup in the descent we decide to see by how much we can beat Jazz into Timmins. Riding the barberpole (flying at max allowable speed, denoted by a barberpole on the instruments) we come in litteraly blazing onto the approach. With an expert touch, the captain slows down the airplane just in time to get flaps and gears out.

Moments later, the sound of rubber touching the pavement and going from zero rotation speed to 220km/h announces another successful touchdown.

The day is over, but far from being forgotten.

As we get the airplane back into the hangar and all ready for it’s next flight, I can’t erase the smile off my face as I start humming… Blue skies… smiling at me… nothing but blue skies.. do I see…

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About jdmarcellin

Professional pilot for a major Canadian operator. Interested in helping make a better world for all my fellow pilots out there. Passionate of aviation and all things that fly. Caution: I speak my mind loud and clear! All views are my own.

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