Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow…
There is a lot of talk about the weather. The snow. How well we cope with it, or rather how badly we cope with it here.
How that 2 inches of snow can bring the country to a standstill and all of a sudden the shelves in the supermarkets are stripped bare of milk and bread in the same way as one would imagine it would be for the ‘end of days’ when the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse are riding across the nation…
Or how that people attempt journeys by car and then abandon them by the side of the road and then, well, what DO they do…?
You see, like many others, I have seen how others do it. How countries that ARE used to the snow deal with it. A few years ago now I was deployed to Goose Bay, which is, and I am being kind, a one horse town in the back of beyond somewhere on the edge of Labrador and Newfoundland in Canada. I think it’s a one horse town anyway, the only problem being that I never actually SAW the horse. But I digress…
We’d been there in September for a couple of weeks; the Squadron being there to use the vast empty space over the forests of Northern Canada for low flying practise. And it’d been a successful deployment. Aircraft had been flow. Targets set and achieved by the aircrew. For us Groundcrew we’d fixed the jets as required. Serviced then and got them ready for flying and of course hit the bars and enjoyed the sights. Sorry. Sight.
You see, there isn’t a lot for the non-existent horse to do in Goose Bay. When I was there last there were two bars on base we were allowed into, and two bars down in the town we could visit. There was no cinema, a very small sports ‘room’, euphemistically called a gym, and, well not a lot to entertain. There was a great shop called “The Northern Lights’ which – upstairs was the classic trading store, selling anything you could imagine – but downstairs, in the basement, sold…guns. Lots of guns. ALL sorts of guns. Pistols, rifles, machine guns…up to and including a .5Cal heavy machine gun. The sort of thing everybody needs around the house. You could even, if you wanted a bit of entertainment, buy bullets and just go out the back and shoot seven shades of crap out of the forest. Well, it passes the time.
So anyway, we’d made it through the deployment, and done all we needed to, and had packed up to go home. And the jets were ready to leave. We were ready to leave. And then it snowed.
The first snow of the year. Late September. Overnight about 8” of snow deposited itself on the airfield.
This would seriously stop us from going home. Or so we thought.
Because to the permanent Canadian staff this was nothing. Their anti-snow and ace clearance plans swung into action and set about clearing an area of airfield, roughly the size of Kent. (I exaggerate of course. It was probably the size of…Rutland, but you get the point.) But it was a sight to see.
And it was a site that will live with me for a while, particularly when I see a lone snow-plough plodding down the lanes here. It was a phalanx of 6 massive snow-beasts moving at about 40mph across the pan the first funneling snow into the path of the second, and that into the path of the third, and so on until the sixth machine had literally tons of snow to be ploughed off to the side of the concrete apron.
Where, we were sitting in a bus. And the trucks came closer and closer…and all of a sudden a massive tsunami wave of snow hit the side of our bus, making it rock from side to side from the impact.
And in an hour, the pan and the runway were clear. The jets were flying and we were on our way home. It’s simple when you have the machinery and the kit to get rid of snow. And easy when you are well practised at it…