Captain David Lamb shares his memory of Fin #201

I read about the retirement of C-FDQQ - Fin # 201. As soon as I saw it was heading into retirement a flight came to mind where 201 was the centre of attention.

It was a routine three-day cycle out of Winnipeg and I was flying with First Officer Jim Wood. We had flown together often and it was going to be a good cycle. Jim took the first leg as pilot flying and we boarded Fin #201 for the morning flight. The only minor concern was the Toronto weather, which had low cloud and marginal visibility. We were well organized as we approached Toronto. The weather was 300 feet overcast and visibility was 1 mile. Jim was right on the numbers and doing a good job when at 400 feet, still in cloud, I called out birds. Birds in the cloud? Yes, a flock of seagulls skirting up into the bottom of the cloud layer. Thump, thump, thump down the right side of 201 and into the right engine. There was nothing much more for us to do at that time. Jim continued for a normal landing but we only used idle reverse on the engines after touchdown. Immediately after we cleared the runway we shut down the right engine, advised maintenance and advised the tower.

As we rolled into old terminal two there was a maintenance truck waiting with the marshaller. We could see the mechanic shaking his head and staring at the right engine. When everyone deplaned Jim and I went down to the ramp and it was a sight to behold. The engine was packed with seagull feathers. The mechanic, still shaking his head, said, “looks like a million dollar engine change to me.”

We did the required paper work, picked up another 320 and eventually ended up in Montreal for the night. The next day we were in flight planning in Montreal checking our flight plan and there it was for our ‘Rapid Air,’ good old 201. Hmm, we thought, pretty fast engine change so we phoned Maintenance Central and asked about the engine. We could hear over the phone the maintenance guy clicking away on the computer and he started to read: “Right engine, bird strike, aircraft removed from service, power washed, borescoped, ground run, systems normal, returned to service.”

The engine survived, we presume, because it was at near idle thrust when the birds were hit and we were going about as slow as we could go. It was also shut down immediately after landing.

Well-done Toronto Maintenance. Good old 201 continued to soldier on.

David Lamb


Brian Lager sends this response -

With reference to the covers in the 'Submitted Photos section of NetLetter #1434, a philatelist who collects covers would have some interest. However, it has little monetary value, just the historical value to a specialist. The cover is not a first day cover but a commemorative cover.

The stamps are very common and the circular date stamp is interesting but not, again, of any value. I am sure there are collectors out there who would appreciate these.

Being a collector myself, I can see the historical value, but they are outside my genre.

Have you considered giving them to the Air Canada archives as part of the airline's history? Nice to see them displayed in the Netletter.

Brian Lager retired Halifax.

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