I do not consider myself to be a superstitious person, but I do take notice of Friday the 13th whenever it occurs. There is really no way to avoid it since it is bound to be mentioned in the media or by someone we interact with through the day.
One of our primary reasons for creating and distributing this newsletter is because everyone who has ever worked in the aviation industry has had at least one very memorable day (and probably more).
My most memorable day just happened to fall on Friday, July 13th, 2001.
I was assigned to the Vancouver “Stores” pickup truck that day delivering parts to aircraft maintenance and picking up incoming parts from other stations when I received a call on my two-way radio.
It was my Lead Hand instructing me to drive directly to a gate, park the vehicle and go up the stairs where a gate agent was waiting for me with a boarding pass for the flight to Calgary which was being held for my arrival. They would send someone out to retrieve my vehicle.
The situation was that an aircraft scheduled to overnight in YVR Line Maintenance required a part that was only available in Calgary and happened to be classified as Dangerous Goods. I don’t recall the specific item, but I think it was used in the fuel system and contained trace amounts of aircraft fuel. If the part was not available on our station, there was a risk that the aircraft would be grounded.
Dangerous Goods can be carried in the cargo hold provided that they are packed properly, and the required legal declaration is prepared to accompany the shipment.
Stock keepers receive recurrent training to ship Dangerous Goods and must be certified every two years (if I remember correctly). The stock keeper in YYC was qualified to ship the piece, however, his certification was expired so he could not sign the declaration. All I needed to do was inspect the shipment and sign the declaration.
Remember, that in the summer of 2001, Air Canada and C.A.I.L. were in the process of merging but still operating separately. So up the stairs I went where the gate agent opened the gate door and handed me my boarding pass; a seat in the very last row of a C.A.I.L B-737. I walked the full length of the aircraft in my dusty Air Canada uniform coveralls feeling the eyes of every passenger on me. I could easily read their thoughts; “we’re waiting for him”!
I settled into my seat and, as I was catching my breath, remembered that it was Friday the 13th. The oddity of the situation seemed now to make sense.
The flight was completely uneventful, and I landed in Calgary, met by my colleague and accompanied him to the shipping department where I inspected the package and signed the Dangerous Goods declaration. I returned to Vancouver on the same flight as the shipment; this time in Business Class.
No bad luck involved, I got a fun story to tell; and four hours overtime.