Winnipeg International Airport
My ride dropped me off at YWG a little later than I usually arrive at the airport, so I went immediately to the checkin line. I had arrived at around 11:20, about 40 minutes before my flight was to depart, and was surprised at how long the checkin line was considering it was Thursday at noon (which is in between the mid-morning and mid-afternoon banks of flights). The line moved fairly quickly so after about 15 minutes I checked in, the agent informed me boarding was already started so I grabbed my carryon and hurried to the security checkpoint. I went through security, and headed to gate S (position 28) at the south end of the terminal. I could see the nose of the Fokker through the window, it was in the old Canadian Airlines colours, and I was actually pleased to be flying on it rather than on the newly painted one I had seen parked at the other end of the terminal.
Canadian Regional flight AC8457
Photo © Rob Rindt
Having never flown aboard an F28 before, I enjoyed it being a different aircraft type. When boarding from the jetway I had been able to read "Spirit of Kelowna." While walking to my seat I was already starting to regret not having taken the time to get a photo of the aircraft from the terminal. I put my bag into the overhead bin (a perfect fit, I might add), and settled into seat 11B. The interior was in Canadian Airlines blue, although the crew uniforms were now Air Canada green. The cabin appeared clean and in fairly good shape, and although the seats, overhead bins and aisles were all a slight bit smaller than on 737's or DC9's, they seemed reasonable enough for a regional aircraft. The windows were a pleasant oval-shape, but although they look quite large from the outside they were basically the same size as regular airliner windows. Looking out I could see an AC DC9 parked at gate 26, as well as an AC A320 as it taxied past, heading to gate 30. After all the passengers were aboard and the door was closed I was glad to see that 11A was indeed empty, the flight being a comfortable 2/3 to 3/4 full. Pushback was on-time, and after engine startup we taxied to runway 18. I watched a Nolinor CV540 coming in on the taxiways-the old Convairs are always nice to see. When driving in I had also noticed another rather nice looking CV580 parked at the cargo ramp, owned and operated by Kelowna Flightcraft but chartered to and painted for Wollaston Lake Lodge. Also, although not a Convair, but nonetheless an aesthetically pleasing classic was a Calm Air HS.748, freshly painted and sitting on the main apron.
From the time the engines started, I knew it was going to be a bit noisy. It was noisy while we taxied, and noisy on takeoff. The view was good on takeoff, but I only had a few minutes to enjoy it before we ascended into the clouds. I had hoped that it would be a little quieter when we reached our cruising altitude, but it didn't seem like it. The flight attendants served lunch at about 20 minutes into the flight: it was a box lunch consisting of a sandwich, some carrots, grapes, and a Coffee Crisp (a type of candy bar, for those not familiar with Canuck confections ). When the drink cart came around I chose orange juice. Lunch was quite good, after I'd finished I settled in to flip through the enRoute in-flight magazine. An hour later the flight attendants came around again and passed out some candies. About then I decided to switch over to seat 11A so I wouldn't have to lean over to look out the window. The wings looked clean and aerodynamic, as though the grey colour was fairly recently painted. We had started to descend towards Calgary, and as we broke through the scattered clouds I noticed the four lane highway running through the farmland below. After a few moments I recognized it as the Trans-Canada Highway just east of Strathmore. Throughout the flight it was difficult to hear any announcements over the PA system, due to the noise, and as I watched the flaps extending I had to wonder if the flaps were really that quiet, or if it was just the engine noise drowned out any flap noise. Being only a few rows from the back, the noise probably was louder than at the front, but I had a great view of the wing. We landed in Calgary on runway 28, taxied past the terminal giving a good view of construction cranes over the D concourse, several WestJet 737-200's, a Continental 737-300, Skywest/Delta CRJ, two Air Canada 737-200's and an AC A319. We pulled in to gate A11, right next to a Canadian Regional Dash8-300 in transitional colours. As the engine noise finally died down I made a mental note to myself to bring along earplugs if I ever take an F28 again. I waited a few minutes for the cabin to clear a bit before getting off the plane. I had gone slightly out of my way to fly the F28, and as an airplane enthusiast I'm glad I did, but the noise level aboard these old birds makes me glad I don't fly regularly on them.
Calgary International Airport
As soon as I got off the aircraft I remembered that I had wanted an interior shot of the aircraft, but it was too late by then, so I dug out my camera and got a pair of exterior shots of the F28 I had just arrived on before it departed.
Having taken an earlier flight than necessary for my connection (in order to fly on the F28), I had a few hours to spend at YYC. I wandered around concourse A for a while. A few changes had been made, the duty-free store was redone nicely, and Tim Hortons and the newsstand had relocated to a more convenient location, just past security (although to be honest I liked the old Tim Horton's location better, and didn't care for the bar that had gone into it's place). I walked back to the end of the concourse, where I could see several F28's parked at the hangar just south of the terminal: there was 2 or 3 outside, and another 2 inside. I walked back along the concourse, and watched a 737 depart gate 12 for Vancouver. I still had a few hours before my flight would depart, so I decided to stay in the secured area for a while and settled in near gate A16 to watch aircraft. I observed NW 320's, several F28's (CP and Horizon), AA MD80's, WJ 732's, SmartAir PC-12's, Central Mountain B1900D's, C3 332, AC 762, C3 757's, UA 735's, and a Skywest CRJ in special colours. I noticed C-FTAY return from YLW, and I had a short glimpse of WJ's new 737-700 at it taxied past. From 16:00 to 19:00 was a good time to see heavies, including 2 AC 343's, a TS 333, AC 767, CP 763, C3 757's and 332's. I was also glad to see C-FLSF, a CP 320 in Proud Wings.
At about 16:15 I left concourse A, and went into the main terminal. I've always been proud to have called YYC my home airport, it's a great terminal and the work that's been done in the last while looked really good. The main lobby area looked fantastic, although I was a bit disappointed by the over-commercialization (IMO) of one strip of space that just seemed too shopping-mallish to me. The viewing area, complete with binoculars and a cctv camera system (mounted on the tower so one could view everything on the apron) was excellent, although the viewing deck was a bit far back from the windows for photography, and lacking in seating. After watching aircraft from there for a while (including a C3 732 C-FRYL in white/red), I wandered through the skywalks to the airport office building, and went down through the baggage claim areas (I wonder what they're going to do with all the old car rental booths, now that that's centralized in the parkade?). All in all YYC really is a nice, and very clean terminal. I also noticed that widening of the existing concourse D now had some steelwork in place, although the concourse D extension didn't seem to have moved along at all in the time since I was there last (still the same foundations, it looked like).
After getting something to eat, I went to check in for my flight at about 18:15. Pre-clearing US Customs was easy, the customs area was quite empty and the inspector was very friendly. As I only had my carryon, I walked past the checked baggage belt and went through security, like in YWG the guards were very nice and courteous, and then I went up to my gate, C26. I tried to get the registry on the aircraft I would fly, but couldn't see it from the boarding lounge. I made two calls on my cellphone, walked back down concourse C a little way to watch a NW 320 arrive, and to get a photo of an AA MD80, and went back to C26 to sit down for the last few minutes before boarding.
Air Canada flight AC763
Photo © AirNikon
Upon reaching row 14, I was quite happy to see that not only not only was 14F a window seat, but it was also the coveted exit-row. I put my bag into the overhead bin (it fit loosely now, as the A320 bins were quite a bit bigger than on the F28's) and took my seat. I watched C-FTWJ, a WestJet 737-200 being pushed back from gate 25A (a relatively rare WJ chartered flight, headed to LAS), and shortly thereafter two Canada3000 A330-200's arrived, parking at gates 25A and 25. The flight attendants came around with newspapers, I got a copy of the Calgary Herald and alternated my attention between the newspaper and the window. We pushed back on time, taxied on G then F, and then departed on runway 28. This time the plane was only about 35-40% full, and I had all three seats to myself. I was looking forward to listening to the audio entertainment, reading the newspaper, and having a nice quiet flight, but the person in 14A knew me, so he came over and sat in 14E and wanted to talk. Generally I'm fine with that, but at the time I wasn't really in a mood for it but was too polite to ignore him, so I ended up in 2-1/2 hours of unwanted conversation about his latest get-rich scheme, on what could have otherwise been an extremely pleasant flight. For dinner I chose the chicken, which although it was rather standard fare aboard AC, it was fairly good. A glass of orange juice, a cup of coffee, and a glass of water later I was still listening to my neighbour talk, but as the sky darkened and we were starting to descend towards LAX conversation subsided and I had a few minutes to look out the window. I could see the lights of other aircraft lining up on approach, and I watched as we came in for landing. We took several minutes to taxi to T2, and my neighbour and I both watched as we passed various TWA aircraft, an ATA L1011, some QF 747's, ANZ 747's, US 757's, past an NW 757 and finally pulling into gate 22 right on schedule.
Los Angeles International Airport
Although I was now at LAX, I had wait for about two hours to meet up with two others who were coming via YVR (I'm a patient person. And if you've read this far, so are you ). When I had arrived T2 was a zoo, crammed with people, but after ANZ flights departed and the NW 757 left, it was settled down a bit. I tried to check the registry of the plane I had come on, but couldn't see it. The flight from YVR came in on time at about 23:30, but although the terminal was quiet the baggage claim was a bit congested with passengers coming in on a Hawaiian DC10. We caught a rental car shuttle bus at about 24:00 (or is it 00:00 ) which took an extremely long time to reach the depot, due to heavy traffic, construction in one lane, and what seemed to be rather poor traffic flow. And from there, we drove to Palmdale. I guess the weekend was aviation related as well, but I won't report on that... for the return flight, see first reply posting in this thread...