The BIGGER fan....

As a rule, men should never be left alone to purchase a tool. Never, every should they be left alone. Are we clear?
It was a long, hot, dry summer. Our house was heating up like a blast furnace during the day. At night, it was impossible to sleep for the first 3 to 4 hours. I set my mind to resolve this issue. I needed to cool my entire house. I could purchase an air conditioning unit but that was thousands of dollars and I would have to drill a hole through the foundation of the house. I am quite sure my wife would notice. What I needed was a huge fan. Preferable one of those fans from a decommissioned hovercraft.
Off to the mega warehouse to look for my fan. My wife accompanied me on the this trip to look at paint samples. The tactical error she made was parting ways with me at the front door. I headed to find the fan of my dreams and she went to paint.
Small fan, medium sized fans, large fans, nothing that really struck my fancy. I can’t believe they didn’t have bigger fans. Finally at the end of the aisle there was display of really big fans. What I mean is that there was only room for about 10 fans because the fans were huge. I knew the moment I saw them, I had to have one. The shopping cart I brought was too small. I hustled the half mile down the aisle and grabbed a flatbed cart and hustled back. I didn’t want to come back and find all the fans had been sold. Fortunately, there were still some left. I wrestled one onto the cart and proceeded to find my wife with my prize. I was a very happy man.
Reading the outside of the box, the manufacturer proudly informed me that this fan would move 2000 cubic feet of air in 15 minutes. Hmmm, was this a good thing or a bad thing? Must be a good thing as I wheeled the monstrosity over to find my wife.
‘What the hell is that thing?’ My wife was giving me that look. That look that questioned me to my very being. ‘Do we really need this?’ My wife is conservative in her approach and would prefer to only spend money on the necessities. Unfortunately, in a moment of weakness she married me.
‘Yes, we need it.’ I was getting defensive. I would choose the right tool for the job to be sure. ‘Aren’t you hot during the day? I know you can’t sleep during the night. This fan will cool all of us off.’
‘It looks like it would cool off the North American continent.’ My wife was raising a skeptical eyebrow.
Taking a running start at the flatbed cart, I got the cart moving down the aisle again. The fan was a little on the chunky side. However, nothing, would deter me from the purchase of the fan of my dreams.
Un-boxing the fan, when I got it home, I realized how big the thing was. The fact the fan had to be strapped to the roof the car and struts groaned under the weight didn’t deter me. I was now a little concerned. The fan had 5 huge aluminum blades centered around a giant electric motor. I had seen the same size blades on airplanes but they were painted black and these blades were dull silver. Around the blades the manufacturer had thoughtfully put a steel cage. This would stop the cat from getting chewed up by the blades but the cat probably would not be able to escape the tremendous sucking power of the fan. If the cat got too close to the fan I am sure she would not escape.
I plugged the fan in. The moment of truth as I switched the fan to the lowest setting. The blades slowly started turning over as the electrical motor kicked into gear. On the lowest setting, the fan sounded like a small aircraft getting ready to taxi down the runway into the wind. I knew this sound because one summer, I spent it working at a small airport.
It was a local airport and I got a job as a ticket agent. In any small town, jobs were scarce and you took what found you, not what you found. So, when the local airline called and offered me the job as ticket agent, I took it.
I learned how calculate weights for planes. I checked baggage. I listened to radio for when planes would be landing and stuff happened. What kind of stuff?
Our little airline had a Buffalo. What is a Buffalo? It is a smaller version of the Hercules transport used by the Canadian Air Force. Looks like someone left the airplane in the dryer too long and shrunk it.
Like all transport airport, this aircraft had a ramp in the back. It was a small ramp that could be used to load up ski-doos and pieces of equipment. The Buffalo was over 20 years old so sometimes the ramp needed some jiggling to ensure it was locked up tight otherwise the ramp would come down on it’s own, hopefully not in flight.
The Buffalo was on it’s way back from Holman Island to Inuvik in the high Arctic. The flight was 6 hours and it was the middle of winter. On the ground it was about –55 below zero and the farther up in the air you got the colder it was. The Buffalo was flying at about 16,000 feet (there are no mountain ranges to speak of in the North) so it was about –90 below zero when the door fell off the back of the Buffalo.
I heard about before the Buffalo door issue before the plane came back because I got a phone call. Apparently, the door fell off the Buffalo at 16,000 feet and just missed an Inuit skidooing back to Holman. Ok, so there a million square kilometers of ice and snow and the back door off our Buffalo falls off at 16,000 feet and just misses an old Inuit skidooing back home. I can’t tell what the odds are but they are pretty long in my books.
So the Inuit being an affable fellow, looked at the door, which could have ended his life and tied it to his sled. He towed the door back to Holman Island and then he called me.
‘I got your door.’
‘What?’ I had no idea what this guy was talking about.
‘Your door, I got your door.’
‘Ok, give me your number and I will call you back.’ I wrote the guys number down but I had no idea what to do next. I thought the guy was making a practical joke on me. I took the number down and forgot about it.
When the flight got in, the pilots came in to talk to me.
‘We lost the door.’
‘Excuse me?’
‘The door, we lost the door off the back of the Buffalo. We just took off from Holman and the door fell off. We had to move the one passenger up to the cockpit or he would have frozen.’
It suddenly clicked with me. The guy that called me. ‘I know where the door is.’
‘How can you possibly know where the door is?’
‘A guy called me. Your door nearly killed him. He towed the door back to Holman and called me.’
‘Great, call him back and let him know that we will pick up the door the next time we are in the island.’ Ok, I was thinking we might want to say we sorry our door nearly crushed you but that would be admitting responsibility and a small airline isn’t about that. Costs too much money.
I have seen an airplane crash but this next incidence is not about that. In the fleet of the small airline was 3 twin otters, 1 Beach King Air and 1 Beach Queen Air. The basic difference between the last 2 models was one could fly above 16,000 feet because the cabin could be pressurized. The other feature that was prominent on the both Beach models were belly pods. These belly pods were slung on the bottom of the planes and allowed more cargo to be stored on the bottom of the plane.
The Beach Queen Air was flying to Frobisher Bay at 25,000 feet. She only had one passenger and he was a welder. Like most welders I know he carries all his tools with him. These were the collection of tools this welder had collected over many years. The co-pilot had stored all of the welder tools in the belly pod of the Beech Queen Air.
Well, halfway through the flight, the locks on the belly pod flipped open releasing all the cargo into the air. The welder, his face pressed against the glass, watched all his tools released into the air. They floated gently down in to the Arctic below. The welder was not amused.
Back to the fan, even at the lowest setting, the wind was blowing every single follicle off my body. I switched to the fan to high.
Back in the early seventies, the Concord was banned from many airports. The Concord was one of the first supersonic passenger aircrafts flying at 1350 miles per hour and was a marvel of the 1970’s. In subsequent news releases, the plane was banned in many major cities because of the noise the engines produced. So I now know what happened to a lot of the spare parts for the unused aircraft.
When I clicked the fan to the high setting, the house lights dimmed. Actually, I am sure the lights dimmed in my section of the city as the local power grid fought to keep up with the drain from the fan. The aluminum blades spun faster and faster taking on a luminescent quality. The dulled silver from the blades took a sheen as the blades ran faster and faster. The noise was thunderous. The sound reverted off the walls in an eruption.
The sound was so loud, you could shout at the top of your lungs next to the fan and you still wouldn’t be heard. But man was the air moving through the house. Everything on the lower floor that wasn’t nailed down had moved against a wall. I was finally cool on a hot summer day.
I realized later, the fan had an unexpected side benefit. I couldn’t hear my wife talking to me. Her lips were moving but I couldn’t tell a word what was said. It’s a day every man dreams about. Here I sit in my house, cool and I can’t hear my wife. I should write a book.

The BIGGER fan....


Edmonton, Canada

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