Friday, June 6, 2014

Flying In a Washing Machine On Spin Cycle

While on flying training in the summer of 1991 in Gander, Newfoundland and Labrador, we got opportunities to tour planes that were stopping through on the way to or from Europe. Most of these tours were awesome.

We got to go on board C-130 Hercules, a C5 Galaxy, and some Russian Transport that I forget the name of now. The difference between the US and Russian planes was like an Enterprise Starship and a Klingon. The US planes had comfy seats and were as you would expect. The Russian transport had webbed crew seats that looked like hell to sit in for long flights. But enough of that, onto the washing machine.

Image: Wikipedia

While on course, I was lucky enough to not be flying one day when the Gander Water Bomber detachment let us know that they had a practice flight coming up that afternoon. If we had someone available they could come out and get a ride during the practice flight.

My instructor grabbed me and we headed over. Shortly after arriving I got to take a flight in a Canadair CL-215, water bomber. It was a ride to remember.

The easiest way to describe flying in one of these is that it is like flying in a washing machine on spin cycle. It is loud! Very loud. The plane rattles like it is going to fall apart when it takes on water. It also shakes your bones like you can't imagine.

The thrill of skimming the trees as you drop down to the water, start shaking as you take on water, and then slowly, slowly climb back up was a total rush. Then we flew around started skimming the water, heading straight for the treeline across the lake. I was looking out the windshield at oncoming trees. This was going to get fun.

The trees were coming faster and faster. The hill behind them looming. The pilots yelled to hang on tight.

WHOOSH!!! The water dropped out and we were pushed down and back as we accelerated towards the heavens. The treeline and hill far behind as the power to carry the payload of water now pushed us northward.

It was a flight I'll never forget.

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