I had the chance to visit the island of Saint-Pierre lately. For the use of one of my picture in their 2007 agenda, Mr Loïc Detcheverry, one of Air St-Pierre general managers, offered me a return trip to Saint-Pierre, which I accepted of course.
I haven’t been to Langlade or Miquelon, part of the St-Pierre-et-Miquelon archipelago, as I stayed in Saint-Pierre for only two days. Over there I walked around the small island, which is a great place for photography. The rocky shores, the colorful houses and the beautiful scenery make it a nice place to visit. Over there I also met with a friend of mine, Mathieu Pouliot, whom is also an aviation photographer on the website.
September 23rd 2006
Montreal CYUL – Saint-Pierre Pointe-Blanche LFPV, PJ1124
Once at the airport, I parked my car at Dorval’s Econoparc and took the shuttle bus to the arrival level of the terminal building. I went to the Air Saint-Pierre check-in desk, which was opening at 2 o’clock. As I arrived early and that the desk wasn’t opened yet, I decided to have a walk around the terminal, and took a few pics.
Some stores near the Wesjtet counters
MB Co La Boulangerie de Montreal
CYUL “food court”
Airlines check-in desks information panel
Later on I came back to the check-in desk, then went to get some Euro currency and went straight to security. It was a good move to get there earlier as the queue (mainly Air Transat flight to Holguin pax, which was operated by an A332) started to get a lot longer just after I got into it. They checked my camera bag at security, as usual, and I was set to go.
I had plenty of time to kill before boarding, which was to be at around 4 pm. So again I had a walk around, took a few pics of the international jetty and watched the apron activity. The usual visitors were there: AFR 772, LX
332 and WS
737, as well as some ACA
View of the Intl jetty
Seating area in the Intl jetty
Café in the Intl jetty
FIDS screen, with my flight on top
As 4 pm was approaching quickly, I grabbed a few things to eat and went to gate 53, the PTV gate. It has been a long time since I boarded a plane via a passengers transfer vehicle. It recalled me about the good old days at Montreal Mirabel when we used them regularly to board the aircrafts.
Air Saint-Pierre ATR F-OHGL and the PTV
Inside the PTV
The boarding process was smooth and we boarded the little ATR by the rear door, the cargo being put in the forward part of the aircraft. The aircraft was clean and the seat pitch surprisingly good (33 inches). Our flight would be 2 hours and 35 minutes long, at an altitude of only 19 000 feet. The pilots started the engines right on time, at 4h40 pm. We had only a quick taxi run as we departed on the crosswind runway, runway 28. The acceleration was good and quite smooth, and we climbed into Montreal dark and rainy skies. One thing is that it was pretty loud in the cabin, as my seat was behind the engines. I recently flew on an ATR72 and sat in front of the cabin, and there was a huge difference.
Wing view, in-flight
The flight was bumpy from time to time as we flew for most of the flight into some low clouds. We had a complete meal service, which surprised me in a good way. First the flight attendant served beverages. I had a gin tonic. The meals were served and it was really fine. We had chicken and veggies with a salad, bread, butter, cheese, some chocolate cake , a Coffee Crisp and tea or coffee, along with some wine. The flight went by quickly as I chatted a lot with my seatmate, whom is an Air Saint-Pierre pilot, flying the Cessna F406 between Saint-Pierre and Miquelon most of the time. He was accumulating flight hours and thought about flying some biz jets in the future. I wish him the best!
Soon enough we started our descent into Saint-Pierre and some lights were visible in the distance. We had a smooth landing on LFPV runway 08, and we backtracked a bit to reach the apron. It was 9h25 pm at that time, with a 2 hours difference with Montreal. Given we were the only flight and that the airport is rather small, we got our bags quickly and I went to customs. I felt it was funny to be in a France territory, and being so close to Canada (Newfoundland and Nova Scotia).
Baggage claim area at Pointe-Blanche airport
I went outside, smelt the ocean breeze and ended up waiting for a cab that never arrived, but two kind ladies accepted to give me a ride. The city of Saint-Pierre is so small that we were all going to the same location. I met the B&B owner, Pierrick, whom was a really nice and helpful guy, and went to bed. Of course I couldn’t sleep because it was only 8pm Montreal time, so I decided to walk around. There was absolutely nothing going on so I went back to my room and watched a bit of the Habs-Maple Leafs pre-season hockey game on TV
, before going to bed….felt asleep at 4 am local time….hmmmmm.
I spent the next two days walking around and taking pictures. It’s a really nice island, with some fine scenery. The locals over there are great, helpful and won’t hesitate to talk with you even if you’re a stranger. As it is a small island community, everyone is warm and says hello to you, which is great. I also met with Mathieu. We planned to fly on the Cessna F406 to Miquelon (approx. 30 Euros return) on Monday morning, but it was so foggy when we woke up at 6h30 that we forgot about the idea.
Tuesday came quickly and it was already time to go back home. I woke up early that morning, at 6h30 to watch the sun rise over the island. It was a nice sight, but as there was nothing else to do I went back to bed at 7h30. I woke up again at 9h30, had breakfast (those croissants and croissants au chocolat, fresh from the bakery each mornings were awesome!), played a bit with the owner’s dog (a giant boxer), had a quick shower, packed my things and called a taxi. Meanwhile I noticed a piece of paper on the table, to my attention, my dad had written me an e-mail late the previous evening, telling me that my brother and his girlfriend just had their first baby! Wouhou, a little girl named Marianne! What a news and a good way to start the day! The cab ride was short and cost 3,80 euros. I thought it would be more expensive than that.
September 26th 2006
Saint-Pierre Pointe-Blanche LFPV - Montreal CYUL, PJ1123
I checked in at around 11h30 in the morning and had a walk around the airport, to take a few more pictures of Saint-Pierre beautiful scenery. I came back to the terminal, sat in the upstairs waiting area and met with Mathieu. He told me he had arranged an apron visit that morning with Mr Detcheverry. I was happy because that would give me the opportunity to meet Mr Detcheverry in person, so I could thank him for the opportunity he gave me.
SPM terminal (airside view)
Inside the small, but modern terminal
I finally met him some 45 minutes before my departure. He offered me to go on a ramp tour as well, which I accepted. I took a few pictures of Air Saint-Pierre ATR and Cessna F406, as well as a few pictures inside the F406. Meanwhile Mr Detcheverry gave me some precious and interesting information about Air Saint-Pierre history and fleet. After a few minutes walking around the small apron we went back into the terminal, where I said good bye to him and Mathieu. Both went back to the apron so Mat could take picture of the aircrafts and my departure.
Reims Cessna F406 F-OSPJ
Cabin of F-OSPJ
Flightdeck of F-OSPJ
F-OHGL tail and terminal
I went throught security and the boarding process began immediately. I walked to the rear stairs of the aircraft, took a few final pictures of the airport and went onboard. I settled in my seat, only to see Mathieu laying down on the apron asphalt trying to get different perspectives of the ATR. Luckily for me the flight that time was only about 70% full, so I had two seats to myself.
As soon as the boarding process was completed, we start taxiing to the end of runway 26, being today’s departure runway. After a quick take-off roll we lifted up and flew past the terminal area, being closer to the other end or the runway. We made a smooth turn and went straight west. Our flight plan today would bring us over Sydney (NS), Moncton (NB), Ulton in the USofA and Saint-Georges-de-Beauce, to finally arrive in the Montreal area. Our altitude today would be 16 000 feet only, and the flight would be longer, 3 hours and 30 minutes.
As we lifted, Saint-Pierre installations are visible
No meals on that flight, only an “éclair au chocolat” and a drink. I was a bit disappointed given the meal we got on the flight to Saint-Pierre, but nevertheless, the pastry was really good. I had, again, a tomato juice. For some reasons I always end up taking that juice while I’m flying. Anyway…
Delicious “éclair au chocolat”
Later on that flight the flight attendant came to my seat and asked if I wanted to say hello to the pilots. Of course I accepted the invitation and went into the cockpit for a while, while we were flying over Ulton. Marcel, the captain, was a Saint-Pierre native and has been flying for the airline for many years. First officer Bertrand was a new comer into Air Saint-Pierre, as he moved from Reunion Island about 6 months ago to fly here, and earn flight hours as a copilot. Both pilots were really cool and answered my questions, we chatted about aviation photography and stuff like that.
The rest of the flight was rather uneventful, we made the usual approach from the east, flying over Montréal-Est, where for the first time it became bumpy. You could feel the little ATR being pushed from side to side, and I could see some scary looks on other passengers’ faces. Well, I thought it was fun! We landed on runway 24L, and taxied to our remote stand, where a PTV would pick us and bring us to Gate 53 at the international jetty. Some interesting traffic was moving around when I was on the PTV, such as a Z4 763, an ACA
762 and a TS
Flying over Montréal-Est
Final runway 24L, with the Place-Vertu shopping mall visible
I went to customs and joined the queue, again just in time, as many passengers were arriving from an Air Canada flight and an Air Transat flight, both from Paris CDG
. Althought I had nothing to declare, the custom officer sent me to the “something to declare room” so I had to wait an additional 15 minutes before the officer check my bags. I then exited the terminal, took the shuttle back to the Econoparc parking lot…. and got stuck in traffic for almost two hours.
The baggage claim area at CYUL
I’d like to end my report by saying thank you to all the persons who made this trip possible. If you guys have any questions or comments, do not hesitate and I'll be glad to reply.