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Flight Safety: Expect the Unexpected

Our profession is full of the unexpected, which is probably why most of us are attracted to it…..like moths to a flame.


July 18, 2007
By Geoff Goodyear

Topics

No doubt we are all neck deep into our respective seasons putting out
forest fires, terrorizing defenseless animals or the like. Our
profession is full of the unexpected, which is probably why most of us
are attracted to it…..like moths to a flame. But just when you think
you have a situation all figured out, some unanticipated variable pops
up and our well ordered world bolts from our grasp like a greased
pig.We all need that well developed ‘spider sense’ that makes the hair
on the back of our necks stand out when we feel all is not as it
appears.

Before
I saw the light and took to the low level airways, I spent many years
dabbling in the commercial diving world. Like flying, commercial diving
is a discipline best approached cautiously and in degrees, as opposed
to, pardon the expression, ‘jumping in feet first’. Also in common with
our vocation, commercial diving is made up primarily of unromantic
tasks involving lots of mud, dirt and occasional darkness.

It is
with this philosophy in mind that I and a more experienced diver were
sent on a relatively simple chore to the paper mill in Grand Falls-
Windsor. This mill has a water intake close to a river bank for fire
fighting purposes and it continually clogs with bark and debris. (Bark
and debris at a paper mill. Go figure!) To clean out this reservoir
required the use of our expert underwater skills to manually fill
bucket after bucket of debris until the intake was clear.

My
diving partner and I approached the intake which was about 10 feet in
diameter and the water level was about a foot below ground level
extending downward to the bottom for about 13 feet.We peered down at
water which could only be described as ink, and from there drew on our
years of our professional underwater experience to form a detailed
plan. We would suit up, jump in and shovel it out.

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Now as
mentioned before, the work obviously was not that romantic, but scuba
diving in those days was still quite a novelty and our activities
always drew quite a crowd of interested spectators. Given our
deportment and somewhat less than professional manner, the skill and
knowledge one assumed would be required to ply our trade was not
readily apparent. But as soon as we put on the gear, we had an
opportunity to impress bystanders, assuming of course they knew less
about diving than we did. If such was not the case, our efforts to
impress were doomed before they started and resulted in several
depressing days while our egos recovered from the experience.

At
any rate, thankfully our current group of spectators was more or less
ignorant to the ways of underwater operations and we had great
potential to impress all and sundry with our daring do. We suited up
with all the flare and panache available to us, used terms for gadgets
and gizmos that people were not likely to recognize and signaled to the
crowd that we were ready to begin our hi-tech inner space adventure by
checking our regulators and making short “swooshing” noises with the
compressed air in the tanks.

Being the senior man, the privilege
of going first fell to my colleague. Donned in full regalia comprised
of, but not limited to, dry suit, weight belt, mask and flippers, he
grabbed the front of his mask, pointed the toes of his flippers skyward
and leapt into the unknown.


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