Kinda slow on the forum so thought I would pop this out...I really can't remember if this was posted before or not...anyhow.........such was life "Back Then"
DK "Kip" Powick
Wardair was a great “family” to work with and each flight seemed to generate some off-beat humour as we plied our trade around the globe. Although I only worked for WD for three years before it was folded into Canadian Airlines International I cannot remember a flight that I did where we, as crew, didn’t all have a great time. Even with my short tenure with Wardair I was always amazed at how often I would meet people who felt that their time spent with Wardair turned out to be the best experience they had ever had. It was a different world, a different time and probably the good times of that era will never be repeated.
It was a few weeks of confusion, doubt, anxiety and finally joy when I became a fully qualified FO on Wardair’s A-310, based in YYZ. The leap from the Canadian Forces as a C-130 Instructor/Check Pilot to that of an airline pilot was a move that I had contemplated decades earlier but I had never really sought commercial employment until I was egged on by one of my peers as we sat and ate lunch one day in our Squadron at CFB Trenton. I made the call to Wardair, on a dare, and two weeks later I was on my way to France for the A-310 course and foolishly thought that upon my return to Canada I thought I would probably be entitled to a week or so off….after all I had been away six weeks !
That was not the case, my check-ride with TC was 48 hours after we returned to Canada and my first revenue flight was the following day. The technology in the A-310 was a far cry from the illustrious Hercules and every flight was a learning experience. I was very fortunate as Airbus had sent a couple of their instructor pilots over to Canada to ride along with crews to see how they were utilizing the advanced technology and as luck would have it one of the instructors did many domestic and overseas flights onboard the flights I was scheduled for. It was a most enjoyable learning experience.
I had about six months on the aircraft and was beginning to feel quite comfortable with the electronic wizardry when Ron and I climbed into the evening sky, out of Toronto, and headed east to Gatwick England. It was to be only a 17 hour layover but the ground time was always enjoyable at the hotel by the beach at Brighton. Our flight was uneventful, arrived on schedule, a bus ride to the hotel and as we checked in, Brian, one of the male FAs suggested we all go out to an Indian restaurant for supper. We had just completed a “red-eye” flight so agreed, that after getting some sleep, we would all meet in the lobby at 4:00pm local, go for a drink and then out for supper.
It was a good evening, and as usual we all overindulged in the spiciest dishes the restaurant could provide, knowing full well that we would probably be suffering the next morning but as we were not scheduled out until just short of noon we would have time to put out the internal fires with tepid English tea and cold toast.
The next morning as Ron and I sat having our sumptuous(?) breakfast, Brian approached us and advised us that we would be having an additional FA onboard, a “newbie”. Apparently the young lady had an urgent requirement to return to Canada immediately and Crew Sked had taken a member from our crew and swapped the young lady over to us.
“Not a problem”, said Ron, “Is she here now?”
“No,” Brian replied, “But she will be here for crew pick-up in about three hours. Her name is Denise”.
We finished breakfast, went for a walk around the community and then it was soon time to put on the pilot costume and head back to the airport. We did meet ‘Denise’ just prior to pick-up, welcomed her ‘on-board’ and my first impression was that she was very young and quite shy, especially around both Ron and I.
After and uneventful and quiet ride back to the airport Ron and I went and flight planned, followed by a walk to the aircraft to commence preflight checks and take a look at the plate of sandwiches normally left in the cockpit for the pilots. It was always good for crew morale to share the finger food with the back-end staff and have a brief and enjoyable crew briefing. Linda, the CSD, indicated that Denise would be working the galley and that this would be her first time being responsible to the pilots. Denise blushed as she looked at each of us and we exchanged pleasantries in an attempt to make her feel more comfortable with her new crew.
We loaded, pushed back and taxied for the runway. I had flown into Gatwick so it would be Ron’s leg back to our first stop, YOW, and he graciously offered me the last sector back to YYZ . It was a normal departure other than at about 2000 feet, in a tight 180 degree turn, the power on both engines rolled back and for some reason the speed of 156 kts was now indicated as target speed. Ron disconnected the autopilot and accelerated to normal climb speed, continued to follow the SID and once were going in the correct direction, re-engaged all the magic and all appeared normal. Why the speed bug went back to 156kts was anyone’s guess and we never did figure it out, possibly a small computer hiccup.
We had just finished assessing the small glitch when the cockpit door opened and Denise walked in and deposited two packages of chocolate chip cookies on the center console. I looked at Ron and he just smiled.
“She must have found out you like chocolate chip cookies”
“I don’t think I even mentioned it….to her.”, I replied “ Maybe another FA told her.”
I picked up one package, Ron picked up the other and we each put them near our flight bags beside our seats.
Odd, I thought, we weren’t even through 10,000 feet and she had come into the flight deck….the seat belt light was still on as well. I reasoned that as a “newbie” perhaps she was still not really up to speed with respect to appropriate times to enter the flight deck. We just passed 10,000 feet, Ron switched seat-belt light off. The cockpit door opened and once again Denise came in and without a word deposited four packages of chocolate chip cookies on the console. Before we could say anything, she had vanished through the door. Ron looked at me as if to question why I wanted more cookies.
“Listen”, I said, “I never said anything to Denise about liking chocolate chip cookies…I have no idea why she came up here twice and besides that I see you are taking half the cookies so they can’t just be for me”.
Ron laughed and we got back to business. We leveled out at our assigned altitude and as much as I had quite a bit of faith in the new era of electronic instrumentation in aircraft, I pulled out my handy “How-goes-it?” graph I had prepared and started checking fuel calculations. I no sooner had my head down when the cockpit door open, in stormed Denise with a silver platter of chocolate chip cookies, dumped them on the center console, looked at me and said,
“You don’t have to be so mean!!” and stifled a sob.
I was speechless, what the hell was going on? At this point I felt that this whole incident was set up by Ron but the look on his face was one of confusion as well. We discussed what had just happened and we decided I would go back and talk to the CSD and find out what had happened after we had all our enroute work set up for the flight across the “puddle”.
About 15 minutes later, just as I was getting prepared to leave the flight deck, Denise entered, tears streaming down her face, turned toward Ron sobbing and said,
“Oh Captain, I am so sorry….I am so sorry……I should have known better”.
Ron sat there dumbfounded, not knowing what was going on. We advised Denise to sit in a jump-seat and gather her composure and tell us what happened….and she did. Apparently one of the male FAs working the back of the aircraft set it all up for initiation of the “newbie”. He would ring the intercom buzzer from the back galley, to call the front galley, but would pretend he was the “flight deck”
Each time he rang Denise, he would say in his deepest voice, “This is the Flight deck…get some bloody chocolate chip cookies up here NOW!”
She had assumed it was me on the intercom, on orders from the Captain, and that was the reason she was a bit abrupt with me earlier. We told her that we would deal with the culprit and advised her to go back to work and pretend nothing happened. She dried her eyes, adjusted her makeup and was out the door. Ron rang the CSD and asked if Brian was free. Brian appeared a few moments later and asked Ron what he wanted. Ron turned to Brian, tried to conceal a grin and said,
“That’s it Brian. Once is enough and I don’t want to hear of another episode of you hazing our newbie.”
“Yes sir”, Brian replied and then turned and winked at me, “Is that all?”
“Back to work”, Ron said, trying to keep a straight face, and Brian left the flight deck.
It was a great skit, we found that Brian did go back and apologize to Denise for having her fall for the old gag and she actually took it in stride.
Later, I found that Denise was a crew member on many of my flights both in WD and CDN and each time we met, at the beginning of a pairing, she would come up to me, lean in a bit, and whisper….”you still into chocolate chip cookies?”
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