Monday, October 21, 2013



Only David Miller and other Toronto council activists hate the Island Airport. It has always been popular with people without a "green" axe to grind. The latest shouting against an airport expansion, including baby jets, is, as usual, much ado about nothing.
I learned early about people's fascination with planes landing and taking off when I worked a summer at what we then called Malton. That was when I first saw people who went to our international airport just to watch the planes. And they still do. My grandsons are happy when their dad ferries his brothers to  Pearson because they love to go along.
I remember a co-pilot while we waited on the ground at Munich telling me about learning to fly at the Island with the Wong Brothers and how much he enjoyed the experience. I know many owners of small planes who love the Island.
I like watching planes too, but no one could blame me if I hated to fly. After all, that first summer at Malton, I was called back from the Cessna Crane being tested, because the office manager said he had hired me to work on the books, not flit around the skies over Sanderson Aircraft. The two pilots crashed and burned, and only a wedding ring helped separate the bodies.
Then I was in two forced landings in one day in the Yukon (the Otter wheels almost broke on the rotten ice of Lake Labarge), a plane that caught fire over Central America, a plane that fell several thousand feet in the Caribbean,  a plane in South Africa upon which a dumb Boer farmer almost landed his plane..., but I think you get the idea before I fill all the space.
 I tell people that if you want to survive, just fly with me because I've dodged a lot of aerial bullets.
When I was looking for a home in Etobicoke, I paid more not to be close to the airport. So I have little sympathy for the people who moved in after the nearby airport expanded and expanded. Did they really expect such a giant expensive airport was going to disappear or become mute?
So I listened to the Island airport debate with exasperation. And so did suburbanites who voted against Miller for Mayor. The Island issue is just another of the downtown issues where the lefties and gLiberals hate the suburbs. But the Island airport was there long before the condo people were, and I deliberately ignore the Island squatters because if they want to steal homes and live in our park without the slightest legal justification, they deserve anything we want to dump over their fatcat asses, including noise.
Except planes have grown quieter over the years.
And the latest C series being tested by Bombardier is so silent that, in a marvelous PR stunt at the launch, the plane took off early and that wasn't noticed by many spectators in the special bleachers.
I have never met people who have flown with Porter Airlines out of the Island (I know it's called Billy Bishop but the name of that famous ace was being used in Owen Sound first) who haven't found it a great experience and a greater convenience. And it will be better once they finish the tunnel under the Western Gap and improve the mainland access that is now so difficult, my son made the first part of his last  trip home via the TTC because that was simpler and faster.
The people who hate the Island airport, (some of whom also hate Canada's largest air show at the Ex) talked a great game about how "downtown" airports are outmoded and are being eliminated throughout the world. Just look at how one was bulldozed in Chicago by the mayor, the anti-plane people say.
Except that really isn't so. There are many airports closer to the city centre than Pearson. I have flown out of "downtown" airports, and just love that I don't have to spend $75  on a cab as I have had to do in strange cities when you are fighting jet lag.
Macleans in a recent aviation article quoted a study by the Rotman School's Martin Prosperity Institute that more than 20 major North American Airports are located less than 15 kilometres from downtowns.
 This includes Boston's Logan (5.6 k), Miami International (8 k), Vancouver, (9.2 k) and Dallas/Fort Worth International (10.3 k). Some on the list are giants like Miami and Dallas.
One giant that had to move was Kai Tak in Hong Kong. But then it used to be so close to walls of apartments that as we were taking off, I would look up at nearby balconies where people were cooking
Ironically, modern construction techniques and windows can wall out the noise and hustle of the big city. When you look out of the window down on the Gardiner or across the harbour at the Island, the planes and traffic are almost picturesque, unless you are one of those choking back bile at how dare those lower class jokers intrude even silently into your space. They resent the presence almost as much as the commotion!
I always used to say that David Miller, Adam Vaughan and their cabal really should ride around in horse-drawn carriages, except, of course, that evil motor car was invented to solve the problem of the horse buns. I'm sure in a few years, their battles against the Island airport will look just as quaint.

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