February of 1974 found me in Central Patricia. Ontario Hydro had hired Viking’s 500 to support their operation replacing poles on the line from Pickle Lake to Red Lake. Much of the right-of-way ran through swamps and bogs, thus the operation couldn’t have been completed in the summer. It was extremely cold, but the ground crew guys out on the line doing the hardest part of the job had no complaints. Theirs was a no-nonsense operation, the kind of which I liked to be a part.
I enjoyed shooting the shit with them in the mornings and evenings when we put the feed bag on. In fact, all of the Ontario Hydro line maintenance personnel that I worked with over the years were beyond reproach. They worked hard, got along well and, like me, enjoyed their job.
The crew on the 212 weren’t a friendly bunch. That’s the first time I had ever encountered an attitude such as that. I guess their noses were out of joint because one of their own helicopters wasn’t on the job with them. Either that, or they took some exception to Viking’s line patrol abilities. I suppose whittling down a line patrol from six to eight weeks to a measly two weeks didn’t sit well at the time. In fact, I know it didn’t, and we had plenty of Toronto head-office types on our asses. Fortunately, Hydro’s own field supervisors were behind us 100 per cent – probably another reason the flight crew’s noses were out of joint.
That was one job I was particularly happy to be done with.