When the Silver Creek Fire first started, one of the head B.C. Forestry guys in Victoria called me and asked, “Were you once an Air Traffic Controller?”
I said, “Yes, now retired.”
He said, “You flew the fire patrol?”
I said, “Yes, years ago.”
He said, “We need a controller for the Silver Creek fire.”
I had to be on Workers’ Compensation so they offered to pay me $30/hour.
My contact in Victoria sent a helicopter to pick me up at the Shuswap Lakes Estate Airport in Blind Bay and flew me to a field in Silver Creek. I transferred to another helicopter and landed at the Salmon Arm Airport.
I sat above all the action for half the day observing and making sure aircrafts didn’t run into each other. The next day I was on standby at the airport as the fire was slowing down and fewer aircraft and helicopters were in the air.
Weeks later a woman from Victoria phoned to ask where to send the cheque to?
I said, “There were so many people that lost their house and furniture, would you please donate what you owe me to them?”
She said, “Sure, no problem.”
Jim Hall, Retired Air Traffic Controller
Photo credit in order of appearance:
1. Doug Pearce, c. 2016
2. James Murray, Salmon Arm Observer, c. 1998