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YOWza! Think nothing interesting ever happens at secondary airports? Think again!

By Colin Saunders
August 21, 2001

In mid 1990, after a brief stint in the military, I landed a Commissionaire’s job at the Ottawa MacDonald-Cartier International Airport (YOW). For those of you who aren’t from Canada, a Commissionaire is more than a security guard, but less than a cop. I didn’t screen bags or check pockets for metal objects, but I did back-up the Royal Canadian Mounted Police constables who were assigned to the airport. My job was to deal with lesser complaints, enforce security regulations, fetch coffee and, when called upon, take the odd bullet. Below, in the first instalment of “YOWza”, are some of the more interesting experiences that I shared with my “Mountie” friends. These stories may cause you to look at smaller airports in a whole new light.

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Ottawa's McDonald-Cartier Airport as seen from the east parking lot.
Photo © Marielle Lanthier


Canadian winters are hard to take. Those of us with money (read: not me) try to escape the cold, snow and slush at least once each year, and the island of Cuba is the destination of choice for people seeking sun at cut-rate prices. Of course in travel, as in life, you get what you pay for.

If you want to get to Cuba on the cheap, Cubana is your best option. One cold winter day the Cuban flag carrier brought a smoke belching “pollution Ilyushin 62” to Ottawa to pick up a planeload of pale people: so pale, in fact, that we dimmed the lights to avoid a condition akin to snow blindness.


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A Cubana Il-62 visits snowy Canada
Photo © Felix Sieder



Russian jet engines are not known for their miserly fuel consumption, so Cubana aircraft often arrived in Ottawa with very empty tanks. They would have had fuel to spare if the United States allowed Cubana flights to enter US airspace. As it was, all the airline’s services to Canada had to fly up the East Coast of North America (staying just outside US territorial airspace) and turn left at Nova Scotia.


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Photo © Pierre Lacombe



My pal Al and I decided that we needed to have a look inside the Russian airliner. After all, we’d never pay to get in one, so this was an opportunity not to be missed. We walked down the length of the departure lounge, he in his Mountie uniform and I in my pristine white Commissionaire’s costume, to seek permission to board from the Air Canada gate agent handling the flight. When we got to the gate, the lady told us that she didn’t care if we went on board, but we’d have to speak to the other “agent” first.

Confused, we walked down the jetway and approached the open aircraft door. We quickly surmised that the large man we saw blocking the doorway was the other “agent.” He seemed to be confused by the two uniformed men walking his way, so he turned to me (on account of my pristine white uniform) and said,

“May I help you?” Yes, comrade, let us on the plane!
“Hello. We were just wondering if we could take a look inside. We’ve never seen a Russian plane before.” He looked even more confused.
“But, is there a problem?”
“No, we’re just curious.”
“I see. One moment please.”

And with that, he disappeared into the cabin.

About a minute later he reappeared, all smiles. “Yes, please, come in and look around.” So in we went, wondering if he had had time to destroy the microfilm or pin up some photos of Castro.

Inside we found another man, but he wasn’t smiling. In fact, he looked a little belligerent. “You must be police, like us” Al said, trying to break the tension. The first man said, “Oh no, we are flight attendants.” Yeah, right. How about a Coke, then?

We walked into the main cabin to have a look around when the first “Flight Attendant” noticed our surprised expressions. “Is something wrong?” he asked. Our simultaneous “no”s made us sound like liars.


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A “Classic” interior in considerably better shape than the one we visited.
Photo © Larry Jackson




The interior of the Cubana Il-62 looked like a family room that hadn’t been redecorated since Disco was King. Holes in the bulkheads and sidewalls were patched with cheap wood panelling, and every second seat had a cushion that had obviously spent time in the Havana zoo’s lion cage. In between each seat was a small fixed table made from the same panelling that dotted the walls. There may have been carpet on the floor, but it could have been mould, too. It was hard to tell.

Al and I decided that we didn’t need to spend any more time aboard the Cuban jet, so we thanked our friendly “Flight Attendant” and turned to leave. As we walked toward the door, we could see what our host had been up to for that minute we spent waiting on the jetway. It was easy to see directly into the cockpit, because it had no door. Crammed in there, away from the dangerous ideas that we capitalists represented, were the people who made up the flight and cabin crews. The man in the cheap suit pretended that they didn’t exist and quickly ushered us back onto Canadian soil, where he bade us a cheery farewell. As we walked away from the aircraft, we wondered aloud how the security men kept the crew from talking to the passengers during the long flight to Havana. “If want beef, you will nod your head once. If you want chicken, blink twice. Clap your hands for red wine…”

I’m not knocking Russian airliners or Cuban maintenance standards, but I felt a little concerned for the people who had to fly on that crate…I mean, “Classic.” However, my fears were completely justified when the aircraft pushed back from the gate later in the day.

Al and I stood in front of some big windows a few gates down from the Cubana plane, eagerly anticipating its smoky take off. An Air Canada tug pushed back the Il-62, and even from behind the winter-proof glass our ears told us when the engines were turned over.

As we were highly trained observers, both of us noted that the cabin door did not seem to be closed. This observation was confirmed moments later when the door was opened, and then closed, and then opened again and closed again. Still we could see that there was a gap between door and fuselage that was bound to increase wind noise in the cabin.


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“Your door is ajar.”
Photo © Richard Austen




The Il-62 sat on the taxiway for a few moments when an Air Canada air-stairs truck rushed to the rescue. It parked alongside the stricken airliner and two mechanics ran up the stairs to have a conference with the cabin crew, who now had no choice but to speak with their ideological foes.

The Air Canada men came out of the cabin and stood at the top of the stairs. The door closed again, but the gap was still there. Grasping the outside handle, one of the Air Canada techies pulled the door as some (genuine) flight attendants pushed from the inside. Still they had no success getting it closed. Just when it looked like we’d be entertaining the Cuban Secret Service for the evening, the other mechanic joined the action. He grabbed the handle too, and then both men braced themselves for the next pull by planting their feet on the aircraft’s fuselage. Imagine the sight: two men hanging horizontally off the side of an airliner. It looked like they had magnetic boots.

By now a lot of people were watching the action from our vantage point. No doubt the saga was attracting a lot of attention inside the plane, too. Luckily, our anonymous heroes managed to get the door closed. A ripple of applause went down the line of windows, accompanied by murmurs of concern. “I’m glad it’s not me on that plane” summed up the general mood.

With no further fanfare the aircraft taxied to the runway, powered up and took off in a cloud of smoke that would have shamed a B-52.


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Photo © Felix Sieder




Cubana was an interesting visitor, but defunct Bulgarian carrier Jes Air was just plain annoying.

Jes Air served Ottawa with a once-a-week service that routed Sophia-New York-Ottawa-New York-Sophia. The second stop in New York was for fuel, which was cheaper there.

Those of us who had to deal with the airline liked to call it “Stress Air”, because its people could do nothing right, but they were very good at doing things wrong. During the six months that the airline served Ottawa its flights never arrived or left on time. The delays were never due to aircraft serviceability problems (well, once, but I’ll get to that in due time). In fact, the airline flew a new Airbus A310.


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The "Stress Air" A310-300 causing trouble in Australia
Photo © Brian Wilkes




Most of the delays were due to the aircrew disappearing, or the cabin crew disappearing, or the station manager disappearing. Sometimes they disappeared together. Where they went we never knew, nor did we have time to look. We were busy dealing with angry Bulgarians who wanted to know why their flight was three hours late.

Jes Air’s station manager was not a stickler for rules. I took my job seriously, and I insisted that other people did too. A cardinal rule at the airport was that no one could enter the secure areas unless they had the required pass. That included the Mounties and us. If we forgot our passes at home we had to get a temporary one from the airport duty manager—no exceptions.

Jes Air’s station manager almost never had his pass, so every Sunday we would go through the same performance:

“Where’s your pass?”
“I forgot it. You know me. I can go in.”
“No you can’t, you know that.”
“Ah, this is stupid.”
“Maybe, but they don’t pay me to write the rules, just to enforce them.”

Of course there were many ways to get airside without going past a guard. A number of doors had keypad locks, and anyone with the code could open them and gain access to the aeroplanes. “You know who” had the codes.

One autumn evening I was strolling by the windows in the departure area, looking over the evening’s crop of airliners. As I approached the A310 I admired its wide-bodied fuselage. I appreciated its nicely shaped winglets. I saw the kid standing in the right engine nacelle.

I didn’t have to look in front of the A310 to know that the station manager was standing there. The group of people surrounding him surprised me, though. Clearly he was holding court, allowing his people to admire the lovely Airbus and appreciate the power that he wielded at the airport. He was in for a surprise.

I got on the radio and let the RCMP know what was happening. Two officers joined me and we headed outside to teach the foolish station manager a lesson. We charged up to him and we could tell that he didn’t know what was coming next. He seemed almost pleased to see us. Constable James took the lead, “Ladies and gentleman, if you’ll all come with us, you’re under arrest.” The Jes Air man looked distressed. “What do you mean?” the manager shouted. “I mean that none of these people are authorised to be here. This is a secure area, and we have to arrest all trespassers. Let’s go”, Cst. James replied. “But these people are my guests!” Constable James then walked over to the manager, took him aside and said something to him that clearly seized the man’s attention. He came back to his group looking like a kicked puppy and meekly said, “let’s go.” With that we escorted everyone back into the terminal, and Jes Air never gave us a problem of that sort again.


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A Royal Canadian Mounted Police Pilatus PC-12
Photo © John Davies



My funniest Jes Air memory involves some forgetful flight crew. With the aircraft boarded, the jetway finally came off, ninety minutes late, of course. The crew called the tower for permission to start engines when the air traffic controller, funny guy that he was, said, “Uh, aren’t you going to file a flight plan?” Moments later the jetway was back on, Jes Air paid another $1500 to tie up with the Ottawa Airport, and two embarrassed pilots ran off to the Air Canada operations centre.

Sometimes Jes Air provided us with a little too much stress. In the middle of January we had an unusually warm day that melted some snow and ice, which then froze when the sun went down. That, of course, made the runway a little slick. To make matters worse, freezing rain began to fall, covering everything in a thin layer of very slippery ice.

Flying stopped, for obvious reasons. The departure lounge began to fill up with Sophia-bound passengers, but we didn’t think they were going anywhere that night. Around 9 p.m. we heard otherwise. Although he knew about the weather in Ottawa, the Jes Air captain had elected to proceed to our airport anyway. The airport manager checked the runway and declared that it was safe, so the flight was granted clearance to land. Of course, the pilot was advised that the runway was slippery and therefore he should take precautions.

At the risk of libelling the man, the pilot was a complete moron. The A310 broke through low clouds about halfway down the length of the runway. Instead of going around for another try, the pilot elected to set the aircraft down and then try to stop the A310 with only 5000 feet of slippery runway remaining.

Later I was told that the air traffic control supervisor in the tower had his hand poised over the crash button during the airliner’s descent phase. The tower knew he was way off glideslope and told him to go around, but the pilot wanted to get on the ground so he wouldn’t be too late: not that punctuality had ever mattered before.

Four of us stood at the windows and watched the aircraft zip down the runway. No one said anything, but we all knew that he was going off the end. It wasn’t long before we saw a white plume coming from end of runway 25, down by the First Air hanger. Thankfully it wasn’t smoke, but a snowbank that was disintegrated by the impact of the A310’s landing gear.

No one was injured in this landing mishap. The aircraft was towed away and after inspection it was cleared for flight. Amazingly, it hadn’t sustained any damage.

It wasn’t long after that incident that Jes Air stopped flying all together. Based on the number of people they had been carrying, they probably could have made money if their managers and flight crews had had an ounce of professionalism between them. Alas, the Ottawa-Sophia run has gone begging since then.

The aforementioned First Air is a passenger and cargo airline that flies from Ottawa into the Canadian north. When I was working at YOW, First Air flew HS-748 turbo props (with those cool black and white, very British spinners and props) and 727 in passenger, cargo and combi configuration. When they weren’t hauling people and freight “up north”, First Air used their Boeing tri-jets to operate charters to Mexico and the Caribbean.

One beautiful spring day Cst. James and I received a radio call that made our stomachs turn. A First Air 727 was approaching to land, but the pilots could not get the nose gear down. They circled the airport trying again and again to get the stuck wheels down, but without success. Soon the airliner was making low passes by the tower, allowing the controllers to look at the nose gear doors through binoculars. Whatever the problem was, it wasn’t visible from the outside. After flying all the way from Iqaluit on Baffin Island, the aircraft was low on fuel and the crew was rapidly approaching the moment of truth.


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One of First Air's 727s with everything down, and locked!
Photo © John Davies



Before trying to land with the nose gear up, the pilot elected to try once more to get it into place. He gained some altitude and, as he flew over the runways, he began to shake the aircraft all over the sky. Luckily the aircraft was deadheading, and had no one on board besides the flight crew. Otherwise there would have been an awful mess inside that plane.

Miraculously, all that shaking managed to work the nose gear loose from whatever was holding it in place. It came down and the cockpit showed three green lights. After another low pass to make sure that everything looked normal, the 727 climbed again to enter the landing pattern.

A few minutes later the 727 reappeared on the approach path. We all held our breath, wondering if the nose gear was really locked. As the aircraft crossed the threshold, crash trucks raced down the runway behind it in the most sickening drag race any of us had ever seen.

The flight crew had their reservations too, so the pilot performed the most gentle, beautiful and flawless landing that I have ever seen. The two main gear struts touched down simultaneously and the nose was held high until the aerodynamic breaking effect slowed the aircraft. When he could keep the nose up no longer, the pilot brought it down so smoothly that more than one of the now numerous spectators said, “wow” out loud.


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Steady as she goes...
Photo © Pierre Lacombe



The gear held, and when the 727 taxied past the terminal a few minutes later, you couldn’t find an airport employee who hadn’t dropped what they were doing to turn to that First Air 727 and offer its pilots a rousing hand of applause. Relief and joy are powerful emotions when mixed together. I think everyone concerned needed a nap after that episode.

Coming soon: “YOWza Part II” featuring some very dumb criminals, creaky DC-8s, squadrons of jet fighters and even a few superstars.


Written by
Colin Saunders

Colin Saunders is a freelance writer and marketing consultant from Calgary, Canada. He is also the new Articles Editor at Airliners.net. Any mistakes in this article are entirely his fault.

32 User Comments:
Username: Tbar220 [User Info]
Posted 2001-08-22 02:34:55 and read 31279 times.

Great article Colin! I really enjoyed it, and am really lookin forward to the next one. Keep it up!

:) Tzvika :)

Username: Cap'n Dan [User Info]
Posted 2001-08-22 02:51:23 and read 31275 times.

Great article Colin, from a fellow Ottawan!

Username: Monocleman [User Info]
Posted 2001-08-22 03:13:00 and read 31269 times.

A very humorous read, thanks a lot Colin! I cant wait for the second one!

-Will

Username: Phxairfan [User Info]
Posted 2001-08-22 03:33:41 and read 31265 times.

Great article, I really like the fine print at the bottom of the page.

Username: Dgehfx [User Info]
Posted 2001-08-22 04:41:19 and read 31259 times.

Interesting description of the Cubana aircraft.
I flew a Cubana Il62 to Havana and a Tupolev 154 back to Montreal many years ago. I recall there was no emergency oxygen system on either aircraft. Presumably in a decompression the aircraft would dive very quickly. Frankly, it might be preferable to be unconscious during such a descent. According to the safety cards in the seat pockets there were oxygen bottles located throughout the aircraft for first aid.
As for the escape chutes attached to each door these were not quite what we see on most western aircraft. The safety card on one aircraft showed some passengers holding a canvas sheet draped from the exit and on the other aircraft a knotted rope down which the 150 passengers would evacuate.
I must say the aircraft felt very solidly build as it flew. On the wings was an elaborate painted design which appeared to assist maintenance in choosing the correct screws to use.
The in-flight service was fine. We were all offered sandwhiches after take-off from large trays as at a cocktail party. As no announcement was made detailing the restauration aboard most passengers, judging by how agressively they reached for the small sandwiches, believed that this was to be the only food for a five hour flight. Much to our embarassment and relief a cooked meal was later served.

Username: Yow [User Info]
Posted 2001-08-22 06:29:00 and read 31239 times.

Facinating article to read about my hometown airport.
Interesting to know that Jes Air's loads were actually good. It was just their incompetence that lead to their demise.

Andrew

Username: Fly-K [User Info]
Posted 2001-08-22 09:46:09 and read 31222 times.

Excellent and entertaining reading, one of the best articles I've ever seen, at least up to the standards of Airways and Airliners magazine. Looking forward to read more from you!

Konstantin

Username: 456 [User Info]
Posted 2001-08-22 10:37:51 and read 31217 times.

Wow... Great story. I am working at a secondary airport in Holland (eindhoven airport) and see some commonalities. The smallest mistakes, and the whole airport is knowing it...

A pity we didn't see any pictures of you in your white suit ;)

Looking forward to part II

Username: Jwenting [User Info]
Posted 2001-08-22 10:38:28 and read 31216 times.

Very interesting read.
I remember your account of the Cubana Il-62 from my own experiences aboard Aeroflot and Interflug. They were the same (with Interflug being better, German "Gruendlichkeit" works even in communist nations).
The canvas escape slides on the Il-62 were also featured on Interflug safety cards, Aeroflot did not have safety cards at all.

Username: RoyalDutch [User Info]
Posted 2001-08-22 11:00:40 and read 31213 times.

Excellent Article...A great read. Im looking forward to part 2!

Username: Globetrotter [User Info]
Posted 2001-08-22 22:03:41 and read 31156 times.

Fascinating! When might we see part two? I'm looking forward to it.


Globetrotter

Username: Colinsensei [User Info]
Posted 2001-08-23 01:41:50 and read 31128 times.

Hi everyone,

Thank you very much for your kind and inspirational remarks. I appreciate it.

Part II is already written, and can be purchased for only $9.99 US....just kidding. It IS ready, but it won't be published here for a few weeks. We have a lot of great stories to share with you in the meantime.

Thank you for supporting Airliners.net. Please spend some money at our sponsors so we can keep this up!

Colin Saunders.

Username: CEO@AFG [User Info]
Posted 2001-08-23 01:42:28 and read 31127 times.

Thanks for that wonderful story Colin,

it made me break out laughing several times, and the story about the First Air B727 landing was so well described I felt I was standing there with you watching it... Needless to say I'm eagerly awaiting your next article.

Username: Zsx81 [User Info]
Posted 2001-08-23 02:46:23 and read 31115 times.

Excellent stories, Very intresting read..
thanks alot

Username: Floody [User Info]
Posted 2001-08-23 11:47:04 and read 31069 times.

Brilliant. Looking forward to part 2!
A compilation of amusing and/or interesting encounters with airlines and their crews... it would make a great book.

Username: Ryan h [User Info]
Posted 2001-08-23 12:17:37 and read 31063 times.

This article is very interesting, but has taught me to avoid any airline that uses Russian made aircraft and miantenance techniques.

Username: Superfly [User Info]
Posted 2001-08-23 20:26:30 and read 31016 times.

Hello Colin Saunders!

I am the guy who took that photo of that Cubana interior shot! (Larry Jackson)

Is this story just a big joke or a poor attempt at humor? ?:-|
I have a very hard time believing this story.
I actually flew on the Cubana IL-62.
The Cubana that I flew on was excellent and far exceeded any US or European carrier I have ever flow in terms of service, comfort, safety and all of the above.
The IL-62 has individual oxygen mask and all the same safety features in western aircraft. The cockpit does have a door .
I love Cubana's interior. I like the earthtones used to decorate the interior. It really makes you feel like your at home. US airline interiors are so dull and harsh. United, Delta & CO interiors look to much like a businees office with those boring grey/bluish panels.
You need to read my "Cubana IL-62 Experience, Fantastic" thread in the Trip Reports forum

or my "Superfly Returns From Cuba" thread in the Non-Aviation forums.


I wish Cubana IL-62s flew here to SFO.
I will fly them again and again to Cuba. Once the embargo is lifted, I will still fly Cubana and I hope they stick with Russian aircraft!
The service is excellent and you get free beer and rum in flight. :)


Larry Jackson (Superfly) ready to board the Cubana IL-62

Username: Superfly [User Info]
Posted 2001-08-23 20:28:25 and read 31015 times.

Username: Mexicana757 [User Info]
Posted 2001-08-24 00:25:46 and read 30994 times.

Great story Colin, i can't wait to read part II. You have so much details in your story you can picture the events as they happened.
Great Job Colin,:)

Mexicana757

Username: Colinsensei [User Info]
Posted 2001-08-24 07:01:45 and read 30964 times.

Hi Larry Jackson (Superfly),

The only thing I changed in my story are the names of the police constables. The rest is completely true and not exaggerated in the least. I'm not very good at fiction.

Remember that I was on board the Cubana aircraft in 1990, before the fall of the Soviet Union and Cuba's change of economic heart. Since they now fly some A320s and seem to care about safety and passenger service, I'm sure that they have changed for the better. But on that cold winter day in 1990, things were exactly as I described them.

If your experience was different and you'd like to share it, feel free to submit an article. I'm a firm believer in balance and fairness.

Colin Saunders




Username: Boeing764 [User Info]
Posted 2001-08-24 07:10:27 and read 30962 times.

Nice!!!!!! I work at Edmonton International airport and we used to have Commisionaires there until a couple of years ago when Initial Security took over. The Commisionaires were good but Intial is awful. Half of their gaurds think they're police officers and have the belt and accessories to prove it, less the gun. They walk around barking out orders and getting us for any little infraction. Recently I worked the flight that brought Prince Edward and Sophie, The Countess of Wessex, to Edmonton to open The World Track and Field Championships, and those guys were in their glory! They strutted around like they were in the Secret Service!!!!!

Username: Superfly [User Info]
Posted 2001-08-24 20:37:16 and read 30911 times.

Colinsensei:
That's fine and I didn't want to seem like it was an attack.
I have posted two topics in the non-aviation and trip reports thread already. I would like to post an article on the details of the trip. However because this was illegal for me to go to Cuba, I don't feel comfortable giving the exact details of how I did it. I just may go ahead anyway since the whole world knows about my trip.



Username: Trintocan [User Info]
Posted 2001-08-25 02:05:55 and read 30889 times.

Great story Colin, I would like to read the other part when it comes out. It seems that YOW is indeed a lot of fun.

Trintocan.

Username: OttawaHouston [User Info]
Posted 2001-08-25 03:47:49 and read 30882 times.

"Félicitation" Colin!!! ( Congratulation ) on this very interesting story of yours! Keep up the good work!
I'm looking forward to your 2nd article!
Take care,
Sincerely,

Marc...from our national capital region.

Username: Jetset [User Info]
Posted 2001-08-25 22:57:24 and read 30830 times.

colin ..............
story ok but full of crap.the part of cubana having to fly up off the usa coastline to halifax is totally wrong.
how do i know this....well i used to dispatch some of these flights to yow/yyz/ymx from cuba.yes they did fly part way up the coast but the left turn was at new york to be exact they flew right over jfk then went basically direct to either yyz/yow/ymx.in other words over the usa mainland.the time enroute was generally about 4:30 hrs.the fuel range of the il62 is about 10 hrs.why would they land in yow on fumes when in your next part you say jesair went back to jfk for a fuel stop because of such expensive at yow.i can tell you that when cubana landed at yow they had plenty of fuel to divert to either yyz or ymx and then land there with at least 1:30 hour fuel remaining.in otherwords most cubana planes would land yow with approx 2:00 hrs fuel remaining onboard.the planes did have oxygen masks cause if it did not it would be limited to fly in canadian airspace and usa airspace to 25000 ft.i planned those flights sometimes to 37000 ft.problems with plane doors in the winter are very common.i was on 2 air canada flights once in the winter when mechanics had to do about the samething with a dc9.so it happens and it happens quite frequent in winter like i said.i would feel safer on a cubana il62 than some of the junk our canadian military fly.also the part about jesair going back to jfk for only fuel i find hard to believe.i would say the flight was operating with 2 stops in n.america like other carriers do such as royal air moroc yul/jfk,olympic aeroflot yul/yyz,tarom yul/ord,even british airways used to combine ymx with dtw.i suggest if you want to comment on airline operations you get some hard facts first.i have been in the airline ops buisness now for 11 years and the above that i state above is 100 percent correct.

regards
jetset

Username: Axe [User Info]
Posted 2001-08-26 01:42:29 and read 30819 times.

Nice Job, Colin!
Very funny and most interesting!
I hope you will turn it into a sequel....

Johan, please keep writing the comments as at the bottom of this article!

Grtz, Axe

Username: Colinsensei [User Info]
Posted 2001-08-26 04:48:52 and read 30811 times.

Dear Jetset,

I'll say it again: everything except the constable's names is true: No adulteration, no exaggeration and no bull.

JesAir did fly to New York for fuel. That information came from their station manager. They went out of business after six months and had poor management, so why does this fact surprise you? Are you looking for their operations to make sense?

In all my years of travelling the world, working at airports and writing about aviation, I have never seen another airliner have so much trouble with a cabin door. Has it happened elsewhere, and to other airlines? I’m sure it has, but I was writing about a Cubana flight on a given day in Ottawa, Canada. I was not writing about stuck doors the world over.

At the time I worked at YOW, an air traffic controller told me that Cubana could not fly over the USA and “turned left at Nova Scotia.” He also said that the detour cost them a lot of fuel. I’m sure they had the international minimums on board. The point was to illustrate the expense of the detour.

Your 11 years of experience doesn't make you an expert on my experiences and memories, no matter how many flights you've handled. You can disagree with me all you want, but don’t accuse me of writing lies unless you can prove me wrong.

To everyone else, thank you again for your kind comments. Part II will be along, despite the best efforts of the spoilers out there.

Colin Saunders

Username: Sushka [User Info]
Posted 2001-08-26 21:24:45 and read 30784 times.

Nice article! I enjoyed reading it! Do you still have that job? I can't wait for the next episode.
thanks

Username: Conair [User Info]
Posted 2001-08-27 00:23:15 and read 30776 times.

Great article looking forward to part 2, We used to get the Jes Air A310 in Manchester in the early 90's as a fuel stop on the way to New York, did'nt know they extended to Ottawa though.

All the best
Conair

Username: Jetset [User Info]
Posted 2001-08-28 11:18:12 and read 30739 times.

hi colin ........

ok i check your last comments.its seems to me that sometimes people with not a whole lot of aviation experience try to knock such an airline like cubana.the jesair that i discussed was just a guess on my part on why they went back to new york.but your friend the air traffic controller should get some lessons in geography.if the left turn was done at nova scotia that still required them to overfly maine.i can tell you that the planes from cuba came up the coast and all flights flew over jfk that were going to yyz yow or ymx and did land with plenty of fuel.like i said the il62 is a 10hr plane doing a 4.5hr flight.anyway enough of that.happy writings.

jetset

Username: Hurricane [User Info]
Posted 2002-07-08 22:46:13 and read 30203 times.

I really enjoyed this article...but when is part two coming? I have been looking foreward to it ever since I read part one! It's been nearly a year since this was first published, so am I hoping in vain for a part two?

Username: Jeffrey1970 [User Info]
Posted 2003-02-16 03:26:32 and read 30029 times.

I very much enjoyed reading your article. In 1989 I flew from Moscow to New York on one of those Ilyushin 62's on Aeroflot. That was a 11 hour flight, and it was not only boring because Aeroflot offered no inflight entertainment, but it was also very uncomfortable. God bless.

Jeff

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