We had another fire last night and although it wasn't huge, it was going well enough to get the adrenalin pumping at 3am. After getting the fire out and ripping down drywall and going through all burned contents to make sure we wouldn't get a re-ignition (nothing looks worse than the flames starting up again after all the fire trucks have pulled out), most of the guys had worked pretty hard for the better part of an hour.
Part of our regular routine at fires now is to get checked out by the paramedics after prolonged periods on air in a burning building. Seeing the results of this, where everybody had higher heart rate and blood pressure than expected, put into perspective why the biggest killer of fire fighters is heart attacks. For the most part, our guys are really fit and take care of their health. However, it is pretty easy to see that going from dead asleep to working full out in less than 5 minutes is hard on the heart for anybody. Throw on many years of questionable diet, lack of sleep and being out of shape and you have a pretty good recipe for a heart attack.
I decided to test the strength of my heart today in a better but equally dangerous way today with a flight on a trike. I really didn't know much about them but thought that they sounded like fun, so I headed out to a small grass strip in Surrey after work this morning to meet my instructor. Mikhael, a friendly but not totally trust inspiring Russian who came to Canada 10 years ago, took me up for a 1/2 hour flight over White Rock and Boundary Bay. He started by telling me that trikes are basically hang gliders with engines attached to them and that they have a lot less control than conventional planes like ultra lights which uses ailerons to steer. They can fly up to 15,000 feet, cruise at about 70 km/hr and only use between 7 and 10 litres per hour.
Within 5 minutes of meeting we taxing down a bumpy grass field and going over the controls, the opposite of everything I have previously learned flying. Push left to go right, pull back to go down and don't worry too much about bumping all over the place.....the trike has a bit of a mind of it's own.
Our take off speed of 60 km/hr feels really slow in a car on a smooth road but feels really fast rolling along a bumpy field in a totally open cockpit with only a few inches of steel in front of you. We climbed surprisingly quickly to 4000 feet and had a spectacular view on this cloudless day. We flew over Whiterock at altitude and then practiced some diving steep turns over the mud flats of Boundary Bay. Probably the biggest thrill of the ride was doing this spiral drop from 4000 feet to about 10 feet in less than a minute and then skimming along the bay and some farmer's fields for a couple of kilometres. I'm pretty sure the birds were less thrilled than I was as we flew through the middle of their flock and they narrowly avoided our churning blades......not exactly a scene from "Fly Away Home". Anybody who wants to terrorize birds like this can get a brand new trike of their own for about $25,000.
I meant to record the flight on my iPhone but had my battery die as we were taking off. Instead I had to settle for this picture from my laptop of a similar trike to the one I flew today. For anybody interested in trying out a flight they can go to BC Air Trike at Open Skies Aviation in Surrey, just before Crescent Beach.