June 1st was the day the Emirates A380 arrived into Toronto. So the day before which was bright and sunny turned to grey and gloomy on the day itself. It also set the mood for the news that was awaiting me when I got to work. My co-worker knowing how much I love planes told me that an Air France jet had simply disappeared over the Atlantic! What!! No distress signals, no Maydays, just disappeared?? Within seconds I discovered it was an A330-200 and had originated from Rio De Janeiro to Paris. My excitement of hopefully seeing the A380 later than night just vanished. Such mixed emotions in my head that getting any work done was starting to be a challenge, with June 1st also being the start of all the month end processing, with figures which needed calculating to meet Management deadlines. I was an absolute mess, and by the evening I had a severe headache.
I went to the hotel the Emirates crew stay at to visit my friend who worked for the airline. He had worked on the last Boeing 777-300ER flight into Toronto on Friday that week, and now he was dead heading back to Dubai on the inaugural flight. While there I mentioned to him I was going to be heading to the airport to try and see if I could watch the very first take off of an Airbus A380 from Toronto. He said he'd ask if I could get a ride on the crew bus. I was quite excited if that should happen. So here was I in the lobby of the hotel, with a sea of red caps, white scarves (are they called that), biege coats and skirts, some guys in brown suits others in beige pants and navy blue jackets, along with captains and First Officers. The A380 crew were sporting their new colours while the Boeing 777-300ER crew sported the old. They all looked very smart and I let my mind race imaging myself in the uniform!! I like the new Emirates colours more than the old, only with the ladies, they look very chique!! The little design on the right side of the hat, and the pin stripes that run down the length of the coat and skirt, along with the pleats in the skirt give it some Oomph! The guys I am not too sure, they looked like bars of chocolates that had escaped from their wrappers! Just too much brown in there but I guess it will take some getting used to.
Well the Airbus A380 crew took off first and then I boarded the bus with the rest of the non-operating 773ER crew. I pinched myself to believe it was happening. I had seen them board the bus before while rushing to get the trains from the nearby train station after work, and now here was I in the bus with them. We got to Pearson fairly quickly and despite the grey skies, seeing the towering tail of the Airbus A380 sent a bit of excitement inside me. I then stepped aside and allowed my friend and the crew to go about with their duties. They were not rushed as they were dead heading but despite this I was quickly hugging my friend goodbye, having spent just ten minutes or more with him and wishing him a safe trip on the beast home.
I decided to wait within the terminal from where you could see the Emirates Airbus A380-800 tail, and it was quite a wait. I could have gone to my regular spotting place but the chance of rain hung in the air. At exactly 2140 the appointed hour of departure the mammoth beast pushed back and faced South, while what seemed like spotlights at a red carpet ceremony flashed on various areas of the double decker structure. And then I saw it move slowly forward and disappear. I was thankful I waited where I was as I would now see it take off from Rwy 24R. Then I was kicking myself as I saw it now moving in the opposite direction heading to Rwy 23 where I normally spot planes!! I sprinted through the now deserted terminal and hoped there was a transit bus downstairs to take to this location. I got down there and the time for the next bus to this location was 20 minutes away. The sadness that had built up that day with the Air France news started to set in again. I was not going to see it take off after all. Fortunately the bus I was to take home turned up and since it was close to 10:00pm I got on and headed home.
We criss-crossed the airport area and before long were on the main roads leading out of the terminal. I knew which direction the jet was going to take off from and I pinned my face to the reflective windows of the moderately lit bus, while peering the dark skies outside to see if I could still see her depart....And then in the distance I saw her just a glimpse of the lights flashing as it took to the air, and then disappeared behind the low cloud cover. The taxing time from where I saw it turn to the point of departure was a long one, so I had actually managed to get out of the airport area to see it climb in the sky. It was all not a lost effort for me after all!
Until that point the wreckage of the Air France Airbus A330-200 had not yet been recovered, so no sooner I got home my mind changed from the wonders of the evening to the sombre feeling of the details of the flight. Indeed it felt like a time to laugh and a time to cry! May the families of those that have lost their near and dear ones find strength to know they will meet again some day!
I've always joked that turbulence puts me to sleep, I mean it actually does with all that rocking to and fro. However to think that turbulence coupled with other factors brought down this jet (details and factual information is yet to be finalised) will definitely keep me sitting up a bit more alert next time, and then not have to have the FA gently touch my shoulder to wake me up and asking me to put up my reclined seat, and set down my tray table for the meal service which was rudely disrupted when the turbulence began!