Norm Foster shares another of his memories -
Captain R.H.J. (Reg) Smith was a legend within the pilot group of Air Canada and, eventually, within the worldwide pilot group after becoming President of the International Federation of Air Line Pilots. During his lengthy career in the RCAF and Air Canada, his exploits, which would have been difficult or impossible to most of us, were just routine to him.
Reg had always admired the antique front door Sue and I had installed on our home in Niagara-on-the-Lake.
It featured a stained glass panel that depicted an ancient ship in full sail, and he had extracted a promise from me that should we ever sell the house, he wanted the door. So it was, when that day eventually arrived, the house went on the market, front door not included. Following the sale of the house it was then up to Reg to figure out how best to get the door to his chalet type home in Ile Perrot, Quebec.
I didn’t have to wait long before I got the call. Could I arrange to get the door to my office located near Pearson Airport in Toronto? He would handle it from there. Although completely in the dark as to Reg’s transportation arrangements, I had the door waiting in the parking lot of CALPA Headquarters at the appointed hour.
Soon, Reg arrived in full Air Canada uniform and, with his First Officer’s help, they loaded it into a borrowed pickup truck and headed back to the airport. The rest of the story, I was to learn later!
The early 80's was a whole different world in aviation. Security inspections had not yet proved necessary.
There were no barrier fences completely surrounding the airports, and in Toronto, the pilots’ parking lot opened directly onto the ramp with full access to the passenger loading bridges of Terminal 2. Reg used all these facts to accomplish his goal. With one at each end, the two pilots marched the door across the ramp, up the stairs to the aircraft, and only then faced the question of where in the cabin to stow it. After being rebuffed by the In-Charge Flight Attendant from attempting to fit it in the forward galley, and finding no way to secure it in the First Class cabin, Reg settled on the Flight Deck! With one end pushed up against the throttle quadrant and the other protruding through the open fight deck door, he climbed into his seat and proceeded with the pre-flight cockpit check. Problem solved!
On arrival at the Dorval Airport, things were a little trickier as outside access was not an option. Little deterred and with remarkable calmness, Reg made his move. With a uniformed pilot at each end, the door was making its way through a flabbergasted terminal, when approaching from the opposite direction came the Chief Pilot!
Determining the cause of the approaching commotion, he suddenly recognized the uniformed perpetrator.
With a discretion learned through years of confrontation, and knowing that Reg always had a plausible explanation for an improbable situation, he continued straight ahead to the calm of his awaiting aircraft.
The door looked like it had been made for Reg’s house.