Where’s an oven when you need one?

TV Dinners were a lifesaver.

TV Dinners were a lifesaver.

On Dryden-18 it was unusual for some of us to eat in the base camp kitchen on a regular basis. Breakfast, lunch and dinner were reserved for those who could make the kitchen during scheduled hours. For the rest of us, it was catch as catch can.

Never fear, though, for Swanson TV Dinners weren’t only for watching TV in the living room. We ate them as a substitute for the real meal deals offered up in the base camp kitchen at Pine Beach.

Where’s the oven, you ask?

The oven was right inside the clamshell doors on the Hughes 500, where temperatures were warm enough to heat the eye-catching, silver-plated connoisseur’s delight. After a suitable amount of time had passed and following much anticipation, the meal was removed from the oven, steaming hot and ready to be consumed. The foil was carefully peeled back and a veritable feast presented itself to the hungry, deserving pilot. Added bonus: once the tasty entrée was consumed, there were no dishes to do.

Who knew that the Hughes 500 could be such a kitchen magician?

Occasionally we would compare the benefits of our choice for the day. If someone’s meal looked better, it would result in a mad dash to the grocery store once we got back to town. Personally, I preferred to have my dinner thawed overnight before inserting it into the clamshell oven. It heated much faster and could be consumed earlier in the day. One could keep a stash in a cooler just off the helipad, thus allowing for a delicious selection to choose from throughout the day.

Tasty and ready to eat

If you think the colour in these images is off, you should have seen the colour of the food in those trays once the aluminum foil was peeled back.

For you youngsters out there, the aluminum tray was replaced in 1986 with plastic/polyethylene in order to transition to microwave cooking. And for you purists, dessert was dropped in 2001.

Swanson's finest

Difficult as it may be to believe today, this little beauty was much in demand by some of us on the flight line during Dryden-18 in 1974.

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