Saturday, December 02, 2006

Memories


This photo was taken during the beginning of my aviation career. I had just started work on the ramp as did my roommate and good friend the Lostav8r. He spent his income tax return on a camera and I spent mine on a bed (priorities:). Its a good thing he took so many pictures so one day I could go back and remember all the great times, and friends we had and still do.

I was just going through the picture collection and came across this one. I used to hate to load C-FCGL ( I was in cargo) which was a King Air 200. Weight wise it could take quite a bit but when it came down to fitting it in the pod and the tiny back shelf you had to tetrisize the crap out of it. Also loading the pod underneath in the winter time meant you would be on your knees working all the cakes, and frozen food in their to make it work. Sometimes quickly getting up meant you would take a flap to the back as there wasn't much clearance.
One of the persons I replaced on the ramp went on to fly this airplane so to me it represented possibility and the realization of a dream.

In the background is the tail end of C-GRXZ a Grand Caravan. It came shortly after I started working the ramp and to me was just one more plane to throw cargo, and fuel drums on :) One memory of this airplane was when one captain at the time (who shall remain nameless other then the fact he donated a picture CD to my cause :) threw the pogo in the back of the airplane instead of the pod at the back end. I was tasked with quickly reloading the airplane so in order to get things moving I had to hop inside to grab the pogo. Now a Caravan will drop on the tail with weight in the back but usually it has to be loaded near the back first. Anyways as I got the pogo in and was about to start loading drums I realized the Chief Pilot was walking across the ramp towards the plane. It was way out in the boonies so I figured he was coming to talk to the Captain.

As he approached he said hello and proceeded to make small talk with the Captain. As I was listening in my name was mentioned, the Chief Pilot asked the Captain if there was anyway he could get across the importance of not hopping in the back of the Caravan without the pogo in without having to yell at me. Basically he saved me from the lecture yet still got his point across. I was going to try to explain my actions but when someone is mad for what you have done just get them over it as soon as possible :)

Now those were two airplanes and two experiences that I always remember well.

The sad part of the story is that both of these airplanes are no longer flying and 3 fellow pilots are gone along with them.

I knew one of them, and his name was Michael Bracht.

I met Mike in ground school back in the spring of 2005. He was extremely charismatic and was one of those people who you were excited to get to know because of the energy they exuded.

Lostav8r, W, Mike and myself would tend to hang together at lunch time and the stories he had left you always wanting to hear more. Unfortunately Mike never got on with the same company but he sure was current with the 4 ground schools he attended !

I was not there when Mike got on with NT Air but Lostav8r was and he remarked how he has never seen someone ever be so happy to hear such good news. He had got hired to fly co-pilot with his friend Mike Black on the King Air 200. I was really happy for Mike as he was someone who had worked really hard and was very passionate about what he does. I find now that you meet a lot of people in aviation with pilot's licenses but not as many who are actually pilots.

On July 26th I went to the Flying Beaver for lunch. I was actually seated with my back to Mike and did not even know it till I could hear his distinct voice telling a story and making someone laugh behind me. I turned around, shook hands and joined our tables. There is nothing better then hearing someone go on about their new job which they truly love and would be happy doing no other. He told me that in 2 days he was doing an OCS (on company service or empty) leg to Smithers and he talked about the glaciers they were going to check out and go low level all the way up. It sounded like an awesome experience, and since I was stuck pretty much with 5 destinations every day I envied his opportunity.

Then on that Thursday July 28th I was walking across the number 2 bridge in Richmond to go home and I received a phone call on my cell phone. It was from Lostav8r's girlfriend saying she had something to tell me and she sounded serious and I instantly thought something had happened to him. I started to quicken my already fast pace and a million thoughts went through my mind.

When I got home she said nothing as I entered the door but played the news radio report of a small plane lost in the mountains with no emergency locator signal or no sign of them anywhere. Since I had talked to Mike and he said they were going to be having some fun I instantly thought maybe they were goofing around and then had an incident and would soon be found ok. But as time went on the possibility of good news was not realistic.

The day they found the airplane it hit me that he was dead. I was flying the day they had crashed and remembered it to be sky clear and a gorgeous day to be out flying. I shared the same love of flying as Mike as do many and I just couldn't stop thinking why ? I mean the weather was great, they were empty going sight seeing and they died. How many times have I done that without incident ?

The next day I was in the NT Air parking lot and I saw his car parked where he left it. It was so eerie and sad knowing I would never get to hear his great jokes and sense of humour or be able to build a great friendship with him ever.

The finality of it all was something I was not really used to. I had lots of family members who had passed but never someone close to my age before. Not very often do you meet people of Micheal Bracht's caliber and I am just glad to have known him even if it was for a short while.

Here is the last email Mike had sent to me:

Hey,

No problem, I am moble so if you guys are going for beers at the
Beaver..........230-6490.

You'll be glad to know that my next flight is Friday to California for two
days! How cool is that?

Cheers,
Mike


Every time I send an email to anyone with an M in Gmail his name comes up. Its a good reminder that life is short and to enjoy the time we have together because you never know when it will end.

FD




3 comments:

k said...

Oh how sad! I'm sorry to hear that. How long ago was it?

When I was in my early twenties a girl from high school just one year older than me died of heart failure (no drugs or anything improper involved, just random failure as far as they could tell). It had a similar impact in terms of the finality and the "makes you stop and think" aspect.

Flyin Dutchman said...

Hello !

It happened a year ago in July just north of Squamish BC.

The biggest thing I find is that you never know what is gonna happen and you never go to work thinking this could be the day.

Well that isn't completely true because sometimes flying the Caravan into some crappy strips in bad weather sure up the odds against you.

Thanks for the comment
FD

Matt said...

That was my worst day at work. Calling all over the place looking for them. Fearing the worst, but hoping that they landed at some small strip without a phone.

I didn't know Mike Bracht, but I knew Mike Black. He was a great guy. Great sense of humor.

It's sad that this kinda thing is a part of aviation.

Fly safe out there!