Feature Vid - “David & Ethel” I was chatting with a few ladies in the Fairmont Hotel’s Absolute Spa, when one of them said, “You should interview my 86 year old grandma! She’s meeting her 91 year old boyfriend in the International Arrivals tomorrow at 3:00pm.” I couldn’t believe me ears, “A 91 year old boyfriend?” I’ve heard of 16 year old boyfriends, 30 year old boyfriends.. but 91? This had to be a good story! It was 1939 and WWII had officially started following the invasion of Poland. Both France and the British Commonwealth had declared war against the Nazi invaders. Britain’s Royal Air Force (RAF) needed a safe place to train their pilots and ground crew, so they chose the Canadian prairies. Between 1939 and 1945 thousands of RAF troops would train in remote locations across Saskatchewan. One of the largest bases was located in the small farming community of North Battleford, and that’s where the story unfolds. He was a young, 21 year old aviation engineer with the RAF. His job was to train pilots on the procedures of ‘blind flying’, an essential skill when navigating through thick clouds or rain. She was a 17 year old prairie girl, still living with her parents (who were actually from Britain). Her family missed the old country and was excited to welcome the hundreds of tea loving troops into their sleepy community. Although Ethel had her share of strapping young lads to choose from, it was David’s charm and English wit that captivated her heart. They spent close to three years together, skipping rocks in the summer and snuggling by the fireplace in the winter. It was a time of promise and a new future for both of them, that was until David’s post was relocated to England. Although it brought tears, the War’s end was uncertain and Ethel was forced to stay behind. They continued to write, but responsibilities toward their families and careers had taken a priority in both their lives. Eventually they followed separate paths. But fate works in mysterious ways.. It was 1999. Ethel and her husband were touring England when Ethel noticed a shockingly recognizable street address, it was David’s. Surprisingly enough, her husband convinced her to place the call. The three of them met and ended up spending the next few days together. Their reunion must have sparked an age old flame, because when they returned to Canada her husbands first remarks were, “I have some competition, looks like Ethel found a new boyfriend.” Ethel commented on how kind her husband was to her from then on. It was Ethel’s husband that kept in contact with David over the next few years. Together they shared old war stories and memories of the past. But fate took yet another turn when Ethel’s husband unexpectadly passed away. David sent his regards and waited for Ethel to greave, but he couldn’t wait any longer. After a few months he suggested a visit to Canada. David and Ethel have been ‘friends’ (as Ethel puts it) for a couple years now. David now enjoys six months of the year in Canada, serenading Ethel as she makes his favourite dinner, Roast Beef and Yorkshire Puddings. I would like to thank David and Ethel for allowing me to share their beautiful fairytale. I didn’t know what to expect when approaching this story, but like most great things in life.. they arrive unexpected.
“Day 72 - Air Canada Tour” There are thousands of mandatory checks and procedures that are conducted before every flight. Some of these procedures, like the loading of cargo, can be viewed from the departure gate - while majority of the others will forever remain a mystery.. until now! I had only one week remaining at YVR when I received the call I had been anxiously waiting for. Air Canada had paired me with pilots, Bill and Howard, who were preparing for Flight AC034, a Boeing 777 on route from YVR to YYZ (Toronto). Our mission, unveil the mysteries of the “Pre-Flight Process.” Did you know: YVR is Air Canada’s second largest hub in North America, with over 720 ‘ramp’ (or ground crew) employees and 680 active pilots. The employee bus arrived at the Air Canada Operations Building, just quick ride from YVR. It was in the lobby where I was greeted by the generous smile of Captain Bill Keith. I knew the day was going to be good when Bill began to crack jokes with the dozens of comrades in passing. He seemed to know everyone, but I guess that’s what happens when you work somewhere for 30 years. I was actually surprised when we met the second pilot, Captain Howard, and Bill had never met him before. Supposedly, due to flight schedules and the volume of flights, it’s a common occurrence. “That’s why the Pre-Flight Process is so regimented,” Bill said. You couldn’t help but noticed how everything Bill and Howard did had some sort of synchronization to it - from studying the Flight Plan in the Operations Building, to inputing the Flight Plan into the planes FMC (Flight Management Computer), every task required a specific finesse, and a specific way of communicating (most of their dialogue spoken in Alphas, Bravos and Echos). Although I was able to boil my adventure down to a short 5 minute clip, the entire Pre-flight process took just under two hours. I give credit to Captain’s Bill and Howard. It’s not easy to have a camera in your face, especially when you’re trying to do a job that requires so many steps. To give them a break, I made continuous trips to the Ramp (the area around the plane) to capture the action on the ground. Air Canada’s YVR hanger have 18 Boeing 777 that fly around the world daily. The 163 pilots that fly these planes are among Air Canada’s most senor staff. It was an honour to be welcomed by Bill, Howard and the rest of the Air Canada family. A tremendous amount of pre-flight work goes into ensuring the safety of passengers and their luggage. After watching the pilots synchronized performance and the ground crews seamless organization, I’ll never look at flying the same.
Day 85 - “I’m Still Alive” Hello Live@YVR Friends and Family. I miss you! It’s been five days since my release and I’ll be honest, it’s been very tough adjusting back into the regular world! When I started my 80-day journey, it was in the middle of summer where the landscape was lush and green. Now, as I walk down the street, I can’t help but notice trees covered with red and orange leaves. There are also four new businesses in my neighbourhood! Now I know how jail inmates feel when their released. In just a short period of time, I feel like it’s a whole new world! What do I miss the most? The energy of the airport and of course, the Live@YVR community. I’m very thankful though. YVR has asked me to jump back onboard and add some of the videos I never had a chance to post! So over the next few weeks, I’ll be posting new and unseen footage. Thanks again to the Live@YVR community for all your support! I’m very happy to be here with you again.
Quickie Vid - “How NOT to leave YVR” Donald is 76 years old and is still cruzing around YVR causing trouble, just as he did 60+ years ago. I asked Donald what his most memorable YVR moments were. It took him a few minutes to respond, probably because he had to filter a few out.. but he did provide one story!
Quickie Post - “Doggie Watch” I was rushing between video shoots, but just had to snap a few photos of this Starsky and Hutch duo. They were hanging out in the US Departure Terminal in YVR (Vancouver International Airport). Mr. Shaggy Boom-Bastic (real name “Binky”) was a little shy at first, until I brought the camera out. His dad is an avid photographer and has been snapping his picutre since he was a pup. It was a quick meet and greet and I had to run. Binky and his dad were off to Mexico, where they kick-back for a few months each winter.
Quickie Vid - “Absolutely Spa-Tastic” The Absolute Spa has numerous locations throughout YVR. They’re known for both their “I’m running to the gate" style packages and their "let’s spend the entire day at the spa" packages. They heard that I had been pulling a number of all-night jobs and felt sympathetic, so they invited my girlfriend and I to a pedicure and facial treatment. I didn’t really know what to expect, but it was about time I embraced my inner METRO-sexual anyway.
Quickie Vid - “Fairmont Cake-Off” I was bragging about my cake decorating skills when the Fairmont’s Executive Chef, Geoff Carkner, overhead my conversation. The next day I was invited to challenge the Fairmont’s Pastry Chef, Bernadette Tow, to a cake decorating competition! The Fairmont Vancouver Airport will be launching a gourmet line of cakes ‘to-go’. So next time you want to surprise that special someone at the Airport, forget about the roses, buy a cake! Don’t worry though, I won’t be the one decorating them! However, if my trademark cake-decorating skills are what you’re looking for, make a special request.. I’ll do it.
Quickie Post - “Halloween in Burkeville” I’ve visited Burkeville nearly a dozen times since I arrived at YVR. Surprisingly enough, the 700 person community (just steps away from the airport) has some of the best parks and playgrounds I’ve ever seen. The streets are named after aviation words (like Boeing), the houses look like their from “Leave It To Beaver” and the people actually smile and say hi. It’s a pretty nice community. Another thing I’ve noticed is that when you talk with the locals, one of the first things they say is, “Have you been here for Halloween?” After hearing this for the fifth of sixth time I thought to myself, I’ve got to experience this “Burkeville Halloween” and find out what all the hype is about. Remember Charlie Barstow, the six year old ‘beat-boxer’ from Sea Island Elementary? He’s the same young gentleman that has captured the hearts of the thousands of Live@YVR fans. Well, Candice and I threw on some costumes (I borrowed mine from the Fairmont) and we walked over to the Barstow residence for a little Halloween celebration. While Russ Barstow took Charlie out for some trick-or-treat action, Sue (Charlie’s mom) welcomed us with a huge pot of Butter Chicken, cupcakes and wine. The Barstow’s are obviously the entertaining type, as they had a constant flow of smiling neighbors coming and going through their doors all night. It was around 7:00pm and rumors begin to spread that the annual fireworks might be canceled due to wind. But sure enough, the wind calmed down and the streets were soon flooded as the entire neighborhood flocked to the park. Russ Barstow was kind enough to make sure that both Candice and I had ‘special' coffees for walk (we had to keep warm some how). It was a clear night, not a cloud in the sky. The park was lit with a soft yellow hue as the light from food vendor trailers scattered across heads in the crowd. A few warning blasts were deployed and soon the fireworks underway. Hanging out with Charlie’s family was totally awesome. Both Russ and Sue were very welcoming, and Charlie even shared a bit of his Halloween loot with me. Experiencing the old-fashion Burkeville Halloween tradition was something I’ll never forget. I think I can speak for Candice when I say, we’ll see you guys next year! *NEW* BURKEVILLE FIREWORKS (Oct 31st): Watch Video: http://vimeo.com/31474114 *NEW* YVR’s HALLOWEEN COSTUME CONTEST (Oct 31st): Watch Video: http://vimeo.com/31475860 *OLD* BURKEVILLE HAUNTED HOUSE (Oct 25th): Watch Video: http://vimeo.com/31011205