I was gone briefly. Did you miss me?
I left for Kansas on Saturday and returned last night. It was a largely uneventful trip. Uneventful is good when you are flying into tornado territory. Alaskan Air had a slight hiccup leaving Seattle but to their credit they handled it better than I have ever seen an airline handle that type of situation.
As we were taxiing away from the gate everyone on the plane heard a loud squealing noise. It probably happened half a dozen times in the time it took us to travel from the gate to the end of the active runway. But instead of turning right onto the runway we turned left back toward the terminal. This can’t be good.
In fairness to Alaskan’s decision, I’m a big fan of fixing airplanes on the ground. Pretty well any idiot can get an airplane into the air and they will always eventually come back down again. The only reason pilots make the big bucks is because they can generally land the planes in re-useable condition. That process is aided by having all the systems in top notch working order. The errant noise on Saturday sounded to me like a hydraulic squeal. Considering that pretty well all the important things onboard need hydraulics to control them, losing the hydraulic system in flight could have been hazardous to my health.
So I wasn’t happy about the flight being delayed but I was a lot happier about a delay than I would have been about a failure to land successfully in Kansas City. As it turned out Alaskan Air management leaped into the fray and resolved the problem expeditiously including providing frequent, honest updates along the way. We were ultimately back in the air on a completely different airplane less than one and a half hours after our scheduled departure time. Then we caught some favourable tailwinds and arrived in Kansas City slightly over an hour late. That kind of on-time performance would be enviable for Air Canada on any given day and they certainly wouldn’t need a major hydraulic failure to put them that far behind schedule.
Before I left Kansas City I bought a Wilson Cellphone booster. We have one of those in the bus and it works a charm. Two years ago on the advice of someone whose opinion I used to trust I bought something called a Maximum Signal booster for the boat. It was touted as being vastly superior to the Wilson system. Initially it appeared to work slightly but I never thought much of it and it certainly never even came close to the Wilson performance. Lately I have concluded that it is perhaps slightly better than nothing at all but not much better. The vendor – Gord May – has more or less told me to go pound sand. Today I installed the Wilson booster and tonight I listed the Maximum Signal product here. If you’re interested give me a call and I’ll try to talk you out of it.
In addition to installing the Wilson booster I set the crab traps. We’ve got friends on their way from Florida to Port Angeles to meet us. We plan to cross Juan de Fuca sometime in the next week but I want to make sure we are stocked up on seafood before we leave Canada. I’ll get some crabmeat and some crabcakes in the freezer and then we’ll catch a mess of prawns before we head south.