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Captain's Daughter

I grew up the daughter of a Boeing 737 Captain, and a few years back, I did some interviews with him for a potential book about aviation as seen through the eyes of a career aviator. I just finished re-reading the transcripts of those interviews, and his stories are hilarious. He talks about his desire to fly at the age of 5, when he would run behind my grandfather's tractor, flapping his arms, becoming a seagull, and about his first aviation job as a crop duster, flying with his wheels touching the top of the grain stalks so the air from his plane would disperse the chemicals fully. Dad tells me about crashing while working as a flight instructor, with the plane flipping upside down, but since he was at a low speed by then, it wasn't really a crash, just an unconventional landing... and he talks about his first flight as an airline captain where he was landing in a thunderstorm in Cuba, but got put into a holding pattern because a train was crossing the runway.

Dad flew for a company called Nordair, which became CP, which became Canadian, but before that happened he had accepted a job as a MOT officer -- which kept him home for my teen years. This job would change the course of my life, because the government decentralized the Vancouver offices, and dad was sent to the new office at the Okanagan airport. We moved from Ladner (a Lower Mainland city in proximity to Vancouver), to the town of Oyama, which at that time boasted an elementary school, a gas station which doubled as a post office, and a fire station. I left behind the high school boyfriend, volleyball team, basketball team, and choir. I was not amused.

After dad retired from the MOT, he periodically took jobs with ICAO, working with the United Nations to bring developing countries up to international aviation standards. I was a young mother at that time, at home worrying about my travelling parents in countries with intense poverty, high crime, and frightening earthquakes and riots which happened way too near their hotels. Once mom and dad decided to stay home in Canada, dad would occasionally contract out as an aviation consultant -- helping out local airlines back home in Kelowna. Later these contacts would employee two of his grandsons.

Re-reading dad's stories and laughing out loud to every single tale reminds me, this book needs to be written. There are some complications to pursuing the project -- legalities to consider, lawsuits to avoid, tons of research to be completed -- but stories like this one show why "This is Your Captain Speaking" is the next book I intend to write:

"She was a new stewardess and she was kind of regarded as a bit of an outsider having worked for the competition. And she came up front and kind of laid it on thick, saying, these Nordair pilots are so sauve and refined, and the Quebec Air pilots were all a bunch of slobs and incompetents. Anyhow, she left and I looked over at my first officer and said, I don’t know if I like her talking about my colleagues that way or not. So, when she came back with the coffee both pilots were sitting there with no shirts and just wearing a tie. She dropped the coffee into the holder and turned around and didn’t say a word. And we put our shirts back on."

Beside being a pilot, dad also paints. His medium is oils -- this one of his works hung in his Kelowna MOT office.

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