Can’t drive in to see the oil sands operations? Let’s rent a plane to fly over them! (Part 2)
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  • Can’t drive in to see the oil sands operations? Let’s rent a plane to fly over them! (Part 2)

    This is the second and last part of our plane tour of Fort McMurray and the oil sands operations. Throughout most of the flight I had the window down and I was sticking my head, arms and camera out of the plane to take pictures (you get clearer pictures and much better colours and contrast when there’s no shitty glass in front of your super sophisticated lens). I don’t know if you’ve ever tried sticking out of an airplane window (and I haven’t: skydiving doesn’t really count), trying to keep your lens still and take pictures, but it is no easy task. The lens hood (which is made from very rigid plastic) was vibrating so violently from the pressure of the wind that I could see it bend in all directions. At the end of the flight, my arms were very sore but I think I got good pictures!

    We arrived at the airport very late (due to unavoidable circumstances), and in a way I think it was a blessing because I got to take many pictures of the sun setting on the horizon. In all cases it made for surreal colours in most of my pictures.

    There’s where they keep some of their tires, at 40000$ apiece.

    I have been told that these square piles of sulfur are the largest in the world. Sulfur is a byproduct of the mining operations here, but market prices are such that the cost of refining it (or whatever you do with sulfur once you get it out) and shipping it is not profitable enough, so they just dump it all here.

    The pilot is also excited to be doing some parabolic trajectories! That was the thrill of a lifetime… rollercoasters have nothing on this! (More importantly, notice that in this picture he also appears to be throwing flames out of his eyes.)

    I believe my friend Mathieu Ouellette worked on this very bridge, which is supposed to be the strongest on earth as of this time!

    More zero-gravity parabolic flights!

    Don’t worry guys I’m an experienced driver! I’m sure I’ll pick it up in no time.

    These images conclude my much-appreciated detour in Fort McMurray: the next posts should feature pictures from the drive back to Edmonton for an oil change and on to Calgary, where I did not stay very long at all. In fact, I barely stayed long enough to go to the washroom at a Starbucks: I felt inspired just then (oh, the things your mind comes up with when your bladder is satisfied!) so I searched for all sorts of stuff to do on my iPhone and found some company who did horseback riding tours at and around Lake Louise. That was an opportunity that I could not miss! I called them and made arrangements immediately. But that’s a story for another post, so stay tuned!