Monday, October 5, 2009

YYZ North Fire Hall Tour

YYZ North Fire HallFor the most recent adventure, I was able to participate in a fantastic tour of the North Fire Hall at YYZ. This would have been a great tour regardless of the guide, but Firefighter Andy was incredible!

The tour began with a jaunt around the control room. An introduction to Andy was followed by an orientation and an explanation of the function and purpose of the various pieces of equipment in the half-moon shaped control room.Striker 4500 and 3000 Following this, it was out the door onto the tarmac where the Oshkosh Striker 4500 waited for us (a.k.a. "Red 3"). The machine was massive, and looked as though it belonged either in a war, or perhaps in Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome. This monster is 8 wheel drive, holds 4,500 gallons of water, has a couple of joystick-controlled water turrets and a thermal imaging camera.Striker 4500 Cab Although this vehicle is controlled and operated by only a single person, the "cockpit" seats 5 people wide but is reminiscent of a fighter jet (except for the steering wheel). Andy was kind enough to fire up the engine for us, and it did not disappoint! It sounds pretty much the way you would imagine it would sound by looking at it, but it FEELS even better. His demonstration of the engine brakes was the best massage I've ever had. I'm also still seeing spots from the lighting demonstration.

Though I did not want to leave the Striker 4500, there were other exciting things waiting for us inside the hall. Another Striker 3000, a smaller pumper truck, and an emergency response vehicle that seemed to have grown a little old and tired in the eyes of the firefighters.Small Pumper and Chip TruckStriker 3000 It was actually suggested that it would make an excellent french-fry truck. In addition to all of these exciting pieces of equipment, I also saw the biggest washer/dryer combo on the face of the earth! Throughout this tour, we were continually reminded where we were by taxiing and landing aircraft, as well as the screeches of the falcons living next door at the Airport Wildlife Control Center.

Miami Heat Taxiing  Falcons, Falcons and More Falcons  CanJet Getting a Tow

As exciting and fun as the tour was, there were sobering reminders of what these people have to deal with on a regular basis. Whether it be a person who has fallen and injured themselves, or an Air France A340 with 300 people on board that has careened off the end of a runway, make no mistake... these people are heroes. Thank you for the fantastic tour, Andy... and thank you YYZ Fire and Emergency Services!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Why I Love Wednesdays

Some people love Fridays, but I would take a Wednesday anytime. Am I crazy? No (at least I don't think so). I'm a plane spotter! If you're looking for some action and enjoy planes, come to YYZ on a Wednesday afternoon and make sure you bring your camera. I frequent the airport and the majority of times I'm there on a Wednesday because of the fantastic line-up of arrivals. Yesterday did not dissapoint, as usual.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Pearson Airport Spotting Locations

I seem to see/hear a lot of requests for spotting locations around Pearson, but I haven't really found any good tools to help people out when they're looking. It would seem that there are a lot of folks who enjoy watching planes but don't visit the airport often enough to know where to go (or how to behave). This prompted me to put together a simple Google map to show where a few locations are. I think I've covered at least one location for every commonly used approach, but there are certainly more to come. I've also included some of the more prominent features within the airport (terminals and such).

Here's what I have come up with for my "Spotter's Helper" map. If anyone has suggestions, feel free to post them in the comments and I'll try to add what I can.

View YYZ Plane Spotting in a larger map

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Halo Airways A380

Ok, I'll first admit that this airline does not actually exist (obviously) and even if they did exist they probably wouldn't be using an A380. But hey, a dude can dream, right? This is just a little Photoshop jobby that I put together for a wallpaper on my laptop. Hope you like it!

Can you imagine what the inside of this aircraft would look like?!?!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Visitors from Montréal

I had an enjoyable visit at Toronto Pearson with a couple of spotters from Montréal recently. They were visiting YYZ to catch the Emirates A380 and my spotting location seemed to catch their eye. They introduced themselves to me and we chatted for a few minutes about the usual plane-geek stuff. Then the shutter buttons began to fly!

As the song of Air Traffic Controllers chattered through my car speakers, the visitors listened intently for any communication with their "raison d'être" for that day. Flight after flight floated by and regardless of size, airline, aircraft or otherwise, we clicked away to capture every single one. Sure enough, right on schedule, the announcement crackles through the speakers on one of the Arrivals channels... "Emirates 2-4-1 Super, reduce speed to 1-9-0 knots and join the localizer for runway 2-3". It's what they had been waiting for! The aircraft would be flying directly in front of us for the landing approach. The visitors lowered their cameras just long enough to slap a resounding high-five and continued shooting the other aircraft as they passed. They would be masters of the lighting and composition by the time EK241 arrived.

At 15:30 on the dot, Emirates flight 241 lumbered over Airport Road and gracefully touched down on runway 23. The shutter clicks rattled off from their cameras like rounds from the barrel of a machine gun and you could see the excitement in their stance. The aircraft looked as if the pilot was purposly landing as slowly as possible to give the visitors the best view they could get. Then, as quickly as it began, the A380 was slowly taxiing from the runway making its way to Terminal 1. My new friends had accomplished their goal and I could tell by their frantic review of the photos they had just taken that their drive from Montréal was well worth it. If there is one thing plane spotting does NOT do, it is disappoint.

Thanks for the company guys, and come back whenever you want... I'll be exactly where you left me!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Toronto Welcomes the Airbus A380

After years of reading articles, watching documentaries about its construction, scouring the web for new photos or tidbits of information, and day-dreaming, the Airbus A380 is finally making regular visits to Toronto's Pearson International Airport. Thank you Emirates!

As silly and ridiculous as it may sound, I delayed a vacation with my INCREDIBLY understanding wife by 2 days to participate in an air-side event to welcome the giant bird for it's maiden landing in Toronto. I have included a few pictures but my camera decided that it would be a good time to malfunction so good shots are limited (yes, you can imagine my frustration).

The good folks at Airport Watch managed to organize and pull off the event that allowed about 60 members of the Airport Watch group to observe the arrival of Emirates EK241, along with about 10 press folks.

Here are a few shots from arrival day (June 1st, 2009). I wish I had more, but my camera had other plans.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

A Few Random Shots

Just a few shots from around the airport.

A bit of a breezy landing for this Air France 747...