Saturday, 7 March 2009

TO GIVE A CAPTAIN A HAND

THIS IS AN ACTUAL PICTURE OF THE ACTOR (MY PASSENGER) IN HIS COSTUME - LOOKING CONSIDERABLY BETTER HERE!
THIS IS THE GREAT MAN'S CALLING CARD!




CAPTAIN COOK


March 29th 1778 – Captain John Cook on his third great voyage of discovery, with the two ships Discovery and the Resolution explored the coasts of what later became British Columbia and Alaska. The ships made landfall in Nootka Sound on Vancouver Island. Cook and his crew in fact believed they were on the west coast of the North American mainland. A member of his crew, midshipman on that voyage was a determined twenty one year old by the name of George Vancouver. He looked plaintively threw the small porthole at the beautiful scenery. He vowed one day to return and explore this great land.

June 13/ 1792 - aboard Captain George Vancouver’s ship The Discovery in the straits of Georgia, off the coast of what is now Tsawwassen. It was a brilliant sunny day with just a little sea fog over the Eastern Shore.
“Captain, there seems to be a lot of mud in the water around these parts, must be a very large river running into the ocean nearby.” Said Wilson, second mate on Captain Vancouver’s ship.
“ Naw it doesnt look like much from here, anyway we have a lot of mapping to finish today without wasting time looking for little rivers in this wild savage place,” said the Captain, “ Keep to the Northerly heading.” However he indeed did sail into Burrard inlet and thus was the first European to arrive at Vancouver BC - named after himself of course! Regardless of this great discovery Capatain Cook over the years has remained the true hero of the West Coast of Canada!

July 1st 1978 Vancouver Air Traffic Control Centre (ACC).

“Area Control Center, Bennett speaking” I said.
“ Hey Bennett speaking, Roy speaking over here in the Tower” Roy said in his normal smart-ass tone.
“ You won’t believe who I have standing beside me almost in tears, and definitely suffering from a sever hangover”
“You’re right,” I said in my most condescending tone.” I won’t.”
“ Well its Captain Cook, and he has a big problem”
“And just what might that be” I said.
“ It seems he was to open some festival in Oliver at noon today. He was supposed to be on CP flight 6 to Penticton, which left about 5 minutes ago. Could you get the departure controller to ask the Captain if he will return to pick up his most distinguished passenger?” Roy said.

I guess I should explain how Captain Cook got into this mess.

The city of Vancouver had some form of international contest to hire an actor to play the part of Captain Cook to help celebrate his epic voyage up the west coast of North America. The winner turned out to be a young man from London England, Mr. Kelvin Andreu. Kelvin was handsome and dashing, loved the ladies and from the little he told me, was amply loved in return. His duties were to travel around British Columbia in his spiffy new Captain Cook suit opening festivals, new Seniors Centers, ride in parades and other similar type of nonsense. For this he was well paid, in fact he was very well paid.

“I would say the chances are about slim and none, but I’ll ask Dave to give CP6 your request.”

From the supervisor position in the Vancouver ACC one could, by pushing a button, listen to the aircraft and the Controller and could speak straight into the headset of any of the controllers on duty. I waited until a break in the chatter and pushed the ‘Departure’ button.
“Dave, Larry here, when you get a sec ask CP 6 if he will return and pick up Captain Vancouver.”
“Roger will do.”
“Empress 6 Departure, request.” I heard Dave say.
“Departure, Empress 6 go.”
“Roger, the Supervisor would like to know if you would return to Vancouver and pick up Captain John Cook, it appears he missed the flight.”
There was a short delay, not even other aircraft butted in, it seemed they were also interested in the reply.
“Ah that’s a negative Departure, the Captain says he wouldn’t even return to pick up Captain Crunch.”
“Roger check that OK.” Dave said.
“Did you hear that Larry?”
“Check it OK, thanks Dave.” I replied.
“You still there, Peter?”
“Im here.”
“It’s a negative on the return.”

“Boy this is going to kill this guy Larry, he is in tears, says he will lose his job, and be blackballed from the acting fraternity for life if he misses this date”
“ OK Roy tell you what – get him a lift over to the ACC, I’ll drive out to Delta Airpark and fly him there in my plane”
“ Right you are – he will be ringing the bell in ten minutes – Thanks Larry.”

I got one of the spare controllers to watch the supervisors phone and proceeded down to the main entrance just in time to meet the airport security van. George The driver came around and opened the passenger side door. “ I think this is for you Larry”. He said as a bleary-eyed 18th century mariner stumbled out onto the road.

“Are you Larry?” This apparition grunted with a distinct English accent.
I nodded
“Well I really do appreciate this but I don’t really think you can get me to my parade in time. Actually you see the parade is in Oliver BC. I was to land in Penticton and be met by some local officials and drive to Oliver in a limo. It all looks quite hopeless, we’re at least 25 minuets behind the airliner. ”
Looking at this poor wretch with slumped shoulders, glistening eyes and what could only be called a genuine hangdog expression made me want to help. Did I mention sour whisky breath?
“ Never mind all that, Follow me to my car we have no time to waste I have a plan.” I said. I did have a glimmer of a plan just beginning.
I would drive to Delta Air Park, we would untie my 225hp Beechcraft Bonanza single engine aircraft, jump in and be in Oliver within an hour. In fact if the greeting party were to drive to Penticton, stand around a bit before realizing the Captain wasn’t coming, drive back and report we just might get to Oliver before them.
So, we drove to Delta Air Park (rather rapidly) and skidded to a halt next to the aircraft.
I untied the tie down ropes , checked the oil, and did a quick walkaround.

“ OK Captain, jump in and close the door tight, cinch up your seat belt, oh and by the way do you have a real name?”
“Yes it is Kelvin Andreu I’m a professional actor from London, in fact I was the understudy to Sean Connery for the part of James bond.”
“Well that’s pretty impressive, this must be quite a come down.”
“No not really, I’ve been out of work for some time – and the BC government is paying me very well.”

We were started, did a quick runup, and in the air within five minutes.

“Ok Kelvin, when we get to ninety five thousand feet we will be cruising at about 190mph, your flight should be landing at Penticton in about 5 minutes. We are going direct to Oliver, they have a small strip only usable by light aircraft like ours, I figure we will be there before your welcoming committee has returned without you.”
“Oh man, I can’t believe my ears, if you can get me there I won’t lose my job I’ll be eternally grateful.” “In fact I will give you my plane ticket, and you can cash it in”.
We leveled off in about 12 minutes, and with a bit of a tailwind were truing out at about two hundred and ten miles per hour. The weather was clear with a few minor bumps as we got over the rocks, but nothing serious. Kelvin appeared to be a nervous passenger, maybe it was from the hangover I didn’t know, but I had a virtually foolproof cure for this problem. I would let the passenger fly. Usually this took their mind off their doubts and gave them some control (they thought) over the situation.

“Would you like to fly for awhile Kelvin?”
“No, that’s Ok you carry on.” He said, with a quavering voice and shaking hands.
“I’m sure you are cut out to be a great pilot.” I said as I passed the control column over to him. I should explain. The Beechcraft Bonanza aircraft had only one control wheel, it was on a swing over column in the middle of the cockpit. Only one person could actually fly at one time, ie no copilot position in the normal sense of the word. Kelvin did not say a word at first; he just clenched his white knuckles around the wheel and starred straight at the mountains ahead. After a few moments he dared a sideways glance over at me. His mouth dropped about a foot, his eyes seemed to get much larger when he realized I had no means to control the aircraft, and he was actually doing all the flying.
“Are you sure we should be doing this?”
“There’s no problem, if anything comes up I just depress that button and you swing the control wheel back to me, simple.”
There was just the drone of the engine for several minutes, and I noticed Kelvin was settling down and seemed to be enjoying the struggle to keep the aircraft straight and level.

Suddenly a strange thing happened – SILENCE – DROPPING - silence is very quiet when seconds before it had been quite noisy. Dropping from the sky can be a little disconcerting when seconds before one was flying fairly level, not to far above mountain peaks as far as the eye could see. The combination of these two occurrences simultaneously, upon a hung over, nervous, terrified, inexperienced passenger that believed he was in total control of the aircraft was I guess not unexpected.
He froze.
Unfortunately his hands also clenched the control column with a death grip. It appeared he lost all hearing. He looked straight ahead, with rather large eyes, but said nothing.
“No worry Kelvin, I just have to change tanks.” I said as I was tying to press the button on the control column with my left hand while trying to pull the column back with my right hand. Kelvin’s arms had gone rigid – that is straight forward – that obviously means he is pushing the control column forward – ie down – not such a great idea.
“Kelvin let go of the F---g controls” I screamed as I quickly changed my left hand over to transfer to another fuel tank. I was still trying to release Kelvin’s death grip when the engine roared back to life. NOISE, now that was good, SPEED BUILD-UP, that was very, very bad. KELVIN in control?. That was impossible. Mountains rising toward us at an alarming rate, plenty of valleys about, but they were not intent on attacking us it seemed.

There was only one thing to do I decided (now remember this all happened in probably ten seconds at most) so I punched Kelvin as hard as I could on his left ear. He immediately slumped forward like he was dead. This was not too good, he was about two hundred pounds pushing forward again. I did however have the button pushed in and managed to throw him back into his seat and brought the controls over to my side of the aircraft. I quickly regained control and climbed up the a reasonable ten thousand feet, we had only lost about two thousand feet.
Kelvin stirred and moaned a little, “Geez this hangover is killing me, my head is throbbing like I have be hit by a truck”.

“Don’t worry about that, we’ll be in Oliver in about fifteen minutes, you had better try and get yourself spiffed up a bit, we will probably land right at the starting point of your big parade”.
With this advice he started to try and get some of the creases out of his clothes, fluff up his hat, and lastly he spit what appeared to me to be most unappetizing gook on his hands, and sort of washed his face and slicked down his beard and hair. I almost threw up.

‘See over that ridge, that is the runway at Oliver, looks like a rather large crowd is out to see their hero”.
“Oh no, it does look like a large group, but I don’t see a runway, where are you going to land?”
“Well it looks like they are doing their organizing on part of it, but if we give them a little buzz they should make room for us”.
Well we did the little buzz routine, unfortunately I reckon they figured we were just some misfit that should know better than to try and land on a small runway covered in people. So I buzzed again (they had no radio) but much lower, than did a turn and landed at the far end – no problem at all. I slowly taxied toward the small grandstand at the far end of the runway with the windows and doors open. The raised fists and mouthed obscenities turned to cheers as they spotted the suddenly spry, grinning and hat waving Captain Cook.

Kelvin got out just as the party from Penticton was arriving to report Captain Cook had not arrived. I didn’t turnoff the engine, slowly turned around and took off the opposite direction.
As far as I heard Kelvin kept his job for the rest of the summer.

PS Kelvin never did give me his plane ticket.





HE DID THOUGH GIVE ME HIS BUSINESS CARD!



larry
bennett
Feb. 28 2009

3 comments:

  1. You always did have a problem changing tanks in time.

    Ken

    ReplyDelete
  2. Good story day, swearing cleaned up nicely for the ladies.
    Sandra

    ReplyDelete
  3. hahahah! Larry, that was epic! You're a part of BC history now!

    ReplyDelete