Aviation In Canada

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Watchful Eyes

I was born and raised as an ATC in the tower at Halifax International Airport -- a fact that I am quite proud of. We endeavored always to provide pilots what they wanted before they knew they wanted it. We planned departure runways, eyeballing which one would be more likely to get someone away and on course quicker given what else we knew about what was going on. Of course, that sort of thinking doesn't always work. The plans were almost always made with limited information and on a best-guess basis, but we tried hard and often served well. But I digress. Now on to the subject...

I remember one sunny morning watching a Falcon bizjet departing runway 06, heading east overseas. At the same time as I was watching it and relaying the information to the tower controller to relay to the pilot, another aircraft in a taxiway waiting to cross while this Falcon departed radioed me. He reported seeing what he believed were trails of fuel streaming back from the wings. The aircraft turned around and headed for the runway to land. The pilots later called us and told us the ground handlers made some kind of error, and the fuel was venting as they flew. Fortunately, both the controllers in the tower and other alert pilots were there to look out for this sort of thing. It gives me a good feeling to know that, as a pilot, I can count on others to see things I may not be aware of.