Rob and I were interns in surgery together 42 years ago. He and his wife, Ellyn, have been friends ever since. Though we lived in the same city for only one year, we’ve been close over distances in part because Rob and Ellyn are interesting, adventuresome and dear, sweet people. Rob became a very successful neurosurgeon in Santa Fe, New Mexico. This didn’t hurt our relationship because Santa Fe is a great place to visit. This wasn’t our first joint caper — or our last.
While my wife, Cathy, and Ellyn read in the back, Rob and I watched as Maine was left behind and we vaulted over the Bay of Fundy. This had particular resonance for me. I had remembered much about the tides in the Bay of Fundy, thanks to my father. Many years ago Dad had eyed his two young sons, 10 and 12 years old, and concluded they needed to be occupied during summer vacation. He assigned us “reports” to be based on the new encyclopedia he had been bamboozled into buying from a door-to-door salesman. My report was on the tides in the Bay of Fundy. This trip we were making was less than two weeks after my father died at home at age 92. I suppose there will be many more evocative events to come.
All this was on my mind as we were sent over to Moncton, New Brunswick, by Boston Center. The soft tones and formal “58Whiskey is identified at 230” with a hint of Canadian accent made clear we were leaving the United States. We were soon on the left downwind for Runway 5, which appeared as a gash of pavement in a forest of conifers.
The Gateway FBO is way down Taxiway Alpha, which turns into Taxiway Juliet, which segues into Taxiway Kilo, which pretty much completes the 180-degree turn back to heading of 050, out of sight from the tower. After shutdown, we were met by Sarah Stewart, who was sporting a winning smile and a helpful countenance. We lowered the airstair and waited while I called CANPASS.
“OK,” said the man, “you are free to deplane.” And so we did.
Nova Scotia is wonderful. The topography is beautiful, and the people are distinguished by their seemingly unfailing pleasantness. Suffice it to say we had a terrific time during our three days there. It was a good length of stay because day two was characterized by ceilings of 100 feet, reduced visibilities and fog. Our departure day featured rapidly clearing weather. While waiting for Rob to turn in the rental car, I thought about Halifax Airport 11 years ago.
The seventh busiest airport in Canada, it was host to 45 trans-Atlantic airliners on Sept. 11, 2001. The first airplane, a United 767, landed at 11:45 a.m. Atlantic Daylight Time. Runway 15/33 (now 14/32) was closed to make a parking lot for these huge airplanes. The first passengers deplaned at 3:30 p.m., the last at 4 a.m. Seven thousand plus passengers were welcomed into high schools, sports arenas and other sites. The first diverted airplane to depart left at 3:40 a.m. on Sept. 13. The last had to wait until 11:29 a.m. on Saturday, Sept. 15.
Our departure was simple. I called Bangor customs at a Google-provided phone number and Officer Spencer answered on the first ring. He had our eAPIS in hand and sounded welcoming. He instructed me to taxi up to gate No. 4 upon arrival. I was starting to feel like an international captain.
The gas price at Gateway was a thing of beauty, and the fresh coffee was just as tasty. We taxied to Runway 14, and I thought of what a lineup of 40-plus airliners must have looked like. Our taxiway position was well depicted on the Avidyne but not on the Garmin G600 — it was nice to have the redundancy. Number three for takeoff, we waited for an Air Canada jet to depart, noting carefully where he broke ground. Next a regional turboprop was off, and then we waited for a graceful silver Pilatus to land with its impressive array of landing lights on immodest display.
Cleared quickly to Flight Level 200 and on a heading slightly south of course, we could see Cape Spit, where we had been two days before. I couldn’t make out Halls Harbour, where we had enjoyed fresh lobster while the tide went out at an inch a minute. The up-to-52-foot tide there is a function of the funnel effect of the Bay of Fundy. Tides on the south coast of Nova Scotia are a more sedate three to four feet. Thanks, Dad.
In less than an hour we were on final for 33 at Bangor. Ground control instructed me to taxi along the blast fence and then behind the World Airways MD-11 that was making a slightly more impressive customs stop with an airplane full of returning American soldiers. We were greeted by customs Officer Brodsky and a representative of the FBO. Both were kind and pleasant, though Officer Brodsky did inquire as to why my passport photo featured me in a dorky bow tie. Unfortunately, some wildflower seeds Cathy had bought in Nova Scotia were not allowed, but that was it. After a chaperoned trip to the bathrooms, we were off to KLEB, less than 20 minutes after landing. Once in the system, I had to admit that eAPIS worked beautifully. It is always good to be back in the USA.