Saturday, February 13, 2021

"It's Cold Outside, Really Cold" (Repeat: 13-02-16)

The newsreader on 680 News (CFTR, Toronto) just wrote my headline for me. Yes, it is cold out there, indeed. The base temperature -- sans "wind chill" -- right now is minus 23 degrees Celsius. That is cold, all right.

When I was a young one, and would complain about how cold it was outside, my father would say: "You think that's cold... you haven't been to Alert."

The "Alert" he was referring to was the Alert Wireless Station (known as Canadian Forces Station Alert, after unification in 1968). Built in 1957 as part of the Distant Early Warning Line, the so-called "Dew line', the facility is located in Alert, Nunavut – way, way up at the top end of Ellesmere Island.

Back in the late 1950s, servicemen would have been transported to and from the base on a Canadair North Star. When aircraft park up there, shrouds are thrown over the engines and heaters supply warm air through ducts to the four idle blocks of metal -- otherwise, your ride home isn't going to happen.

I have not been to Alert but my feeling is Toronto, this day, is a reasonable approximation.

Post Script: Alert popped into the news back in November of 1991 after a CC-130E "Hercules" crashed while on approach to the base's landing strip. A year later film cameras started rolling on Ordeal in the Arctic, a made-for-television flick recounting the story. While the completed telefilm was entertaining enough, two things read as odd to me:

* Richard Chamberlain, as fine an actor as he is, was too old to be playing the pilot, John Couch. "Herc Drivers" are much younger.

* For the Herc interior, the film's sound effects guys chose to mix in the drone of piston engines. (My guess is they got their audio track from an old sound effects LP record.) During flight the "cabin" of a Hercules is loud; especially on takeoff. As Douglas Adams might have said: "It is loud. Really loud. You just won't believe how vastly, hugely, mindbogglingly loud it is. I mean, you may think it's noisy riding in a Volkswagen Beetle, but that's just peanuts to a Hercules."  In Ordeal the actors are chatting to one another as though they are sitting in a coffee shop.

Those Allison turboprops are magnificent: a future blog posting....

1 comment:

Simon St. Laurent said...

Toronto, five years later to the day, is cold, but not bitter cold: -7 degrees Celsius.

As a matter of fact, we've not really had a winter in this city this season: sprinklings of snow here and there, but nothing in the way of a full immersion.

And minus seven-like temps have been a rarity.