The phone rang yesterday at around one in the afternoon. It was just after Team Canada had just got beaten by Team Sweden at the world championships and since I was on call for Air Operations, it was a call I must answer.
"Murman, we've got a body found and we need you to fly!"
Normally I would be ecstatic about a: flying and b: overtime call in,,, but flying. But I was hoping that this "on call" day would yield no calls as this was the day my little girl would be going to her Sr. Prom.
After calling our pilot and making arrangements to meet up with him, my next call was to my daughter who was getting her hair done. "Hello, Sarah? I just got called in to work, what time are you planning to leave?" I could tell there was disappointment in her voice, "Four, Dad" she said.
Ok, I think I might be able to make this work at it was just One, now.
The original mission was to go to a scene in Aldergrove where a body had been found and a large area had been taped off. As we took to the air control directed us to another scene where Police were on the hunt for a fugitive in the Metrotown area. I had just seen the RCMP helo just take off, so the chase was on. A few minutes later we are over the Metrotown area with the "Air One" (the RCMP helicopter) locked into my frame. Control calls us again. "Chopper 9, we have a multi car crash, 152 in Surrey, Air Ambulance is on the way, break off and head to 152"
When we arrive, we see the carnage on the ground. Rescuers are just transporting a victim to the air ambulance. We orbit. I shoot. My pilot Brian says "hold on, we have a small plane coming right at us!" We are in the area between Vancouver tower and Langley Tower. Its a nice sunny day and the weekend warriors are out flying. Commercial pilots loath them. They don't listen to their radios and it appeared that this ultra light fellow has his attention on what was going on the ground below.
Brian climbed the machine and turned. I don't think Ultraman knew we were even in the sky. Looking at the tape, you don't even notice that we had to take a sudden change of course.
We spent several orbits gathering and feeding tape back of the scene and the lift off of the Air Ambulance.
Then on to our original call, remember the body in Aldergrove. God I'll never make it back to see Sarah come down the stairs in her dress.
"Tango Hotel Uniform, Langley Tower, There is a NOTAM,,,,,,,,"
Basically there is a restricted air space over the potential crime scene. So we request an altitude above the restricted ceiling and Abbottsford tower approves that request.
Just as we go into our second orbit of the scene below, my cell rings. It's our reporter on the ground. "Murman, you can stand down, we don't need you anymore."
OK, "Brian, we can head for home."
I look at my watch. God I thought, I'll never make it.
For all of our advanced news gathering equipment aboard Chopper 9, it makes the 206L heavy. The long and the short of it is, we sacrifice speed and fuel (range) to accommodate the extra weight all of the TV equipment. But as fate would have it, the good Lord provided a tail wind for the old girl and we made it back to base just after 3.
Now all I need it the traffic gods to be smiling on me so I can make that 45 minute commute back to my house. But it's the long weekend so traffic is like most weekdays.
Just as I come over the final hill toward my home, my cell rings. It's my wife. "How far away are you, she is ready".
"Tell her to hold on, I am two minutes away"
Well, I cannot tell you how much that moment, of seeing my little girl, all grown up now, come down our stairs in her prom dress, meant to me. I am so proud of her. It just seemed like the day before yesterday that I held her hand, walking her to the school bus stop, back in New Brunswick for her first day of school. Now she is graduating and getting ready to go to university, a confident young women.