Tuesday, 8 May 2012

A Tale of Two Planes

From left to right: Derrick, Dez, Dad (Don), Craig

The past Sunday was a big day for us. No one needed an alarm—we got up more excited than kids on Christmas morning…. After all, we were going to be in our own version of Top Gun. Except that the planes were Cessna Grand Caravans, our uniforms were the new Lloyd Lake Lodge swag, and no one was quite as good looking as Tom Cruise in his younger days. Still, we quoted pretty much every line in the movie:
“Too close for missiles; switching to guns.”
“You can be my wingman anytime.”
“If you screw this up, Maverick, you’ll be flying a cargo plane full of rubber dog sh*t out of Hong Kong.”

And on it went. All the way up to Fort McMurray. All through loading 2 Cessna Grand Caravans as full as they could go—4,500 pounds plus 4 guys and 2 pilots. And all the way to the lodge. As we were approaching Lloyd Lake, this came over the radio:

Derrick’s plane: “Tower, this is Ghost Rider requesting a flyby.”
My plane: “Negative Ghost Rider, the pattern is full.”

And then, “Vroom!” Derrick buzzed the lodge.

Suffice it to say, we had as much fun as possible. Even though there was lots of packing and unpacking to accomplish our objective for the day, it never felt like work. Cruising over all four lakes was a fantastic time!

Lloyd Lake is opening up nicely, with ice piled up in a few places. Some of the ice took out our dock, which is really good since we’re replacing it anyway. Thanks Mother Nature!

As soon as we landed, I jogged into the lodge to maximize the time I could spend there. Walking into the lodge was serene. I had sand in my moccasins. It was beautiful outside, and when I came to the lodge it was all quiet and peaceful. You could hear your own thoughts echo. It felt like home—it’s a great sense of pride and belonging—and everything was right in the world at that moment.

Seeing 2 planes parked on the runway is definitely cool. Lloyd hasn't seen that in a long time. May there be many more occasions!

We unloaded our gear using the tractor, which is my dad’s baby at this point. I’m pleased to report that he’s getting better and better at handling it. When I get back there, I expect a runway smoother than butter! Right, dad?

For the way back, I arranged for my friend Craig to sit shotgun. He’s never flown a plane before, so I talked our pilot into letting him fly. Craig, well, let’s just say he was a pretty happy guy. He flew for at least half an hour. When the wheels touched the ground in Fort Mac, he looked back at me and said, “Glad I didn’t kill you, buddy,” with a smile on his face from ear to ear. Kudos to Captain Jason MacNeil. Flying with him is plain fun.

While I was sad to get on the plane home, leaving my dad and brother there to get the work started, soon I will be there too. We’ll be working from sunrise to sunset to get everything ready for our first guests. They arrive in 16 days.

Wow. Just wow.