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Alan Walker's Old Time CBC TV April 25, 2021

Hello everyone.  First up this month is our regular contributor Ray Waines who has this fun story about covering ski races in the old days at Whistler

COVERING A WHISTLER SLALOM RACE IN THE 1960's
by Ray Waines

 Travelling up to Whistler one winter was an adventure for us because we had never covered skiing before with our old Marconi television mobiles.  After arriving at Whistler, the first challenge was to get the heavy Mobile and Cruiser close enough to the Slalom ski run, so that our camera cables could reach the hill and up to the cameras further up along the race course. With the helpful towing by a couple of snowcats through the snow, they got them close to the base of the Slalom course. 

Now we could relax and check in to our rooms, what rooms?  You could not find a Hotel in Whistler, remember this was the 1960s, Whistler was just a small village!  We were so lucky that Bob Hepworth found a rooming house for accommodation, with a kitchen staff who would prepare meals for our crew.  There were not many rooms, so we had to share and some were in rooms with a few bunk beds, four to a room!  So it was the luck of the draw! 

After a nice breakfast we got into our van, but it wouldn’t start?  We soon learned to not park in snow deep enough to freeze the gas line! Eventually we all made it to the base to start loading cables and cameras onto Thiokol snowcats provided by Whistler.  They made it easy for us and soon we were joining camera cables all the way down to the Mobile for the Marconi Mark II cameras and one run of Mark 4 cable was run down to the Mark 4 VTR Cruiser.

                                 

           Marconi Mark II camera                                                                Marconi Mark 4 camera 

We would use two Mark II cameras along the Slalom course and the third Mark II at the base, which was my camera at the finish line.  Bruce MacDonald would work the highest Mark II and when we tried to turn it on, the power supply was not enough to provide 6 volts to the filaments in all the many vacuum tubes!  The long cable run was just too long, so Ray Renning wanted to try a solution, by running Joy power cables all the way to the camera, which was a lot more work laying those cables through the snow up to the camera.  But success!  As they cranked up a rheostat until enough voltage turned on Bruce’s camera.                                                                                       

                        

                    Mark II Vacuum Tubes                                                       Thiokol towing camera gear up

 

It was getting a little late, we had most of the cameras and cables in place, except for one Mark 4camera and the Thiokol snowcat could not help us because it would have to climb the hill on the race course, a no no. The heavy camera was loaded onto a sled and just about the whole crew was either pushing or pulling on the rope to get the heavy sled up the hill. The steep climb was difficult but we did get up as far as we had to, the only problem was that the camera’s location was on the other side of the course!  It was too dangerous for us to try pulling the sled with the heavy camera across this very steep part of the course.   

Along came a young skier who stopped and saw our problem.  She asked us to put the rope around her waist and very slowly, all by herself, she side slipped the sled and camera to the other side!  We were awestruck with her powerful legs and the control she had!  Bob Hepworth thanked Nancy Green and so did all the crew.  Nancy went on to win her Gold medal at the 1968 Olympics at Grenoble!

                                         

             Nancy Green                                                                       Nancy Green Slalom Racing 

So with all our cameras working and covered in case it snowed overnight, a very tired crew headed over to our rooming house.  The kitchen cooks had made a great meal for us and after we finished, it was nice to relax and take time to talk with Ted Reynolds and Don Brown, who had flown out from Toronto to observe this mobile shoot. 

Later, while climbing the stairs to the room I shared with Bob Paton, someone had hung a sign that read “Welcome to Bob’s Sin Den”?  We soon found out why, some of the crew had finished eating early and headed upstairs with plans to surprise us!!  When Bob and I opened the door to our room, there to our amazement was a queen size bed with a wine bottle and an opened bible!! When Bob and I had gone down for dinner, there were only two single beds with our luggage and work clothes.  It did not take long to find a room that was for our Studio Director and his fiancée! 

Needless to say, their room was a total mess with our two single beds under all the luggage etc. So before this unlucky couple saw their room, we quickly took out all their luggage and moved it to the room now that has the double bed.  So all that we had to do was clean up our new room and put the single beds where they should be.  Letting the couple know why they had their room changed was too difficult, so we just wished them a good night. I guess that some of our crew were just a little upset about having to share four to a room, never mind the bunk beds!! 

The next day it was race day with Ted Reynolds by my finish camera along with Nancy Green who was not Skiing in this race. A low cloud had worked it way down by our cameras, but it was not a problem for the Skiers who raced down to the finish and it was great to have Nancy’s commentary describing every Racer’s run, along with Ted Reynolds doing his usual high-class and friendly hosting of this Slalom race, which was videotaped on the VTR Cruiser.  

Just had to mention that Don Brown who always had a great attitude, had to sleep in a bunk bed!  But never once complained about it.  Don went back to CBC Toronto with a receipt for $6 a night, for his room!  This must have shocked the CBC Unit manager back east.

                             

         Ted Reynolds and Nancy Green                                                             Don Brown 

When you visit Whistler these days, you have to look carefully to find that old Slalom run, because many trees have grown through the course.  But the memories are still there of this very small village of cabins, so remote and quiet.  Thinking back, I guess it was a pretty big event for a Television crew to come up here and cover the Skiing in those days.  I am glad that we took on the challenge. 

 Bob Hepworth (Audio), Stu Moscrip (Audio), Doug Franks (Tech Asst), Bob Paton

(Lighting), behind Bob is Bill Kyashko (Video), Bruce MacDonald (Camera),

Daryl Johnston (Maintenance), Ray Renning (Maintenance), Ray Waines (Camera),

Andy Martens (Technical Producer), Jake Wiebe (Staging), Crouched in front is

Marv Coulthard (Audio).  Photo taken by Bill Hadgkiss (Camera).

Ray Waines

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

 
THE CONCORDE
by Alan

 

Even though Canadian Pacific Air Lines ordered three supersonic passenger planes, it never owned one because Boeing and the other American airplane builders gave up on the supersonic passenger jet project in 1971 when the U.S. Senate refused to provide any more funding.  Complaints were made about cost overruns, potential sonic booms and the destruction of the ozone layer. 

Britain and France kept up their supersonic project, and in 1976 the first Concorde had its inaugural flight. I had always wanted to fly on a Concorde (French) or on a Concord (English).  My only problem in so doing was that it cost too much, and the airports used by the Concorde such as London, Paris, Barbados and Buenos Aires were too far away to get to. 

But I did fly at twice the speed of sound as a fare-paying passenger on an Air France Concorde in 1988.  It was a beautiful plane, both inside and out.  Air France was trying to drum up business for their expensive airplanes.  A round trip from London to New York in those days cost $13,000 in today's money. The Concordes were mostly prohibited from flights over land because of their sonic boom.  It flew at an average speed of Mach 2.02, and as high as 60,000 feet. 

Air France offered a one-time promotional round trip to Honolulu from Vancouver.  I jumped at the opportunity.  I don't recall how much the fare was - it was expensive but livable. We got off to a bad start.  The Concorde couldn’t fit at any of the gates at the Vancouver airport because of its one-off design, so they had to find moveable stairs to get us on board.  That took an hour.  We had the same problem when we arrived in Honolulu.   In the end, the elapsed time for the trip was 5 hours instead of 3 – the same as a regular airliner.  Waiting in Vancouver was boring.  Waiting to get off in Honolulu was both boring and hugely uncomfortable as the engines were turned off, so there was no air conditioning.

 Another complaint was the small size of the interior.  If you're familiar with a regional jet where a person of average height can't fully stand up when at the window seat, on the Concorde you couldn't stand up fully even in the aisle seat. When the reduced size food trolley came by, there was no way you could get around it. 

On the positive side, being an Air France flight, the snacks and the drinks were terrific.  As to the flight itself, when we took off it had the usual feeling on being pushed back in your seat.  Then after about 20 minutes, the pilot said "We're now going to go supersonic". And the plane tilted up, we were once again pushed back in our seats. Before we went supersonic, the pilot announced that we would hear gurgling noises below our seats as the aircraft's fuel was funneled to the rear of the plane, apparently necessary if you went supersonic. It made us all a little nervous.  It was pre-9-11, and the cockpit door was open for most of the flight showing us the two pilots and the one flight engineer at work.

The pilot announced when we passed Mach 1.  We didn't hear any sonic boom, but apparently you never do when in the plane.  There was a basic LED readout at the back of the plane, and we watched it climb to Mach 2.  I read an interview of a Concord pilot.  He was asked did he notice any particular sensation when flying at supersonic speed.  He said "No" but added "When flying across the Atlantic, we could look down, from 50,000 feet, at the non-supersonic regular flights.  Because of our speed, it looked like the other flights were going backwards!" 

We had two nights in Hawaii.  The return trip was better in terms of getting on and off the plane.

 

Likely you know that the Concorde could lower its nose when landing so it could see where the hell it was going.  Sad to see its end.  It had only one fatal crash, and that was caused by another plane.  The only real complaint about the Concorde was that if you passed wind, the sound didn't reach you until several hours after you landed.

 A great experience. 

P.S.  The artist's drawing at the beginning of this article of a CP Air supersonic plane comes from a book by David Laurence Jones called "Railway Nation - Tales of Canadian Pacific – the World's Greatest Travel System", Heritage House Publishing Company Ltd.  Copyright 2020.  That book is a great read, and CBC is mentioned in it a number of times.  

 

P.P.S. My Editor just strolled by and said "This stuff on the Concorde is not too bad, but what's it got to do with old time CBC?"  "Well, I said "when I was waiting at the Vancouver airport for them to figure out how to get us on board the Concorde, the TV hanging from the ceiling was showing a CBC program".  "You didn't mention that in your article", he said, and I replied "No, I didn't think it was relevant".  He left, looking slightly puzzled.

The success of this column's future lies entirely in your hands.  Comments would be welcome, and your contributions would be greatly appreciated.  If you have an item to add to a future column, please email me at alangwalker@gmail.com .  If you require any assistance in editing, I would be happy to help.  If you think my articles need editing, please email me, and I would be happy to have your help.

Alan