Because we are nerds and because we like airplanes, today Mike and I went on an airside tour of Pearson Airport in Toronto! I’d put us on the waiting list for a tour earlier this summer, so I was pretty excited that we finally got a spot. (The tours are apparently very popular, but if you want to get on the waiting list, you can sign up here.) AIRPLANES!
The tour starts at the GTAA building at 3111 Convair Drive, not at the actual airport terminal.
We handed in our signed waivers (YOLO), had our ID checked, and got these nifty AIRSIDE stickers to wear.
READY TO GO.
While we waited for everyone to arrive, we made a brief stop inside the actual GTAA building. Cool art on the wall of the lobby!
More fun airline memorabilia on the walls.
Old Trans-Canada/Air Canada boarding pass. (Trans-Canada was renamed Air Canada in 1965.)
Ugh, old airline stuff is the BEST.
The very awesome Russ Cruickshank, who led the tour and who also really likes airplanes. This is a map of YYZ in 1964.
Our chariot awaits! Before we got on the bus, there was a brief security check with a metal detector wand.
Getting on the bus and outfitting ourselves in neon orange vests.
We got a map of the airport — the pink lines are runways and the blue ones are taxiways.
Russ explaining the tour or maybe talking about his love of Embraers.
First stop: one of the two fire stations at the airport. ICAO standards dictate that the fire vehicles have to be able to get to anywhere on the runway in three minutes, so there is one fire station at each end of the airport.
Apparently this fire truck costs 1.3 MILLION DOLLARS.
Fun demonstration of the water.
Mike likes fire trucks.
One of their older fire trucks.
I love this one!
Oh, the things you need to run an airport fire station. Most of the calls that they answer aren’t actual fires, but more of paramedic-type situations. So if you have a heart attack while yelling at the gate agent because your flight was delayed, you will probably be helped by these guys. (But if you’re yelling at the gate agent, you probably deserved the heart attack.)
All the gear.
Next stop: the airport snow plows!
Related: did you know that Pearson has the largest deicing facility in the WORLD? Fortunately for the world, but unfortunately for us who live in Toronto, YYZ is one of the best when it comes to all things snow and ice removal related.
Watching an Ethiopian Airlines 777 taxi on by.
Hello, Air Canada.
We got out of the bus to watch the Ethiopian plane take off.
Okay, this was pretty cool. An Air India 777 was parked at YYZ because it had made an emergency landing after an engine failure on the way to Delhi. (Read more here.) Air India does not normally fly to YYZ. Two and a half hours out of Chicago, the pilots decided to turn back but couldn’t make it all the way back so they landed at Pearson.
Checking out the private jet area. If you’re fancy (actually fancy, and not Maple Leaf Lounge fancy), this is where you will arrive at YYZ. They’ll handle your customs junk ON THE PLANE so you don’t have to mingle with the riffraff in the terminal.
ALL WHITE EVERYTHING. Planes that have been reclaimed are painted white in the meantime.
Inside the Westjet hangar.
Looking down the taxiway.
Random Air Transat plane. (Pfft, Air Transat.)
A pretty Korean Air 777.
A KLM MD-11. One of only four of these planes left in commercial passenger service!
I felt very jealous of all these passengers on their way to Seoul. (Although we passed the Air Canada 787 on the tarmac that was heading to HND in Tokyo later and I was even more jealous. AIR CANADA ARE YOU LISTENING? I REALLY WANT TO FLY AC 006.)
Sometimes when I watch Japanese tv shows about food, I get this intense hunger for foods I can’t possibly have because there’s no way I can get anything comparable here. I get that same feeling when I’m at the airport but not flying anywhere.
After checking out some more planes, we headed to the baggage area of the airport to learn about how it works and why your bags get lost. (PRO TIP: Don’t check bags. Ever.) We weren’t allowed to take photos though, so you’ll just have to go on the tour and see that part for yourself! The tour was really great and I definitely recommend it if you can get a spot. The tour is FREE (!) and lasts for about two hours. I wished it was longer — I could spend the entire day looking at airplanes.