Liberal Leader Stéphane Dion's campaign plane had to make an unscheduled landing in Montreal after taking off from Sherbrooke this evening.
"We are having a slight problem and we have to land in Montreal," was all the pilot had to say.
The pilot, Marc Beaudoin, is reported to have cut his teeth on bush planes.
Right off the bat it had seemed like we were flying very low and several minutes into the flight the cabin lights went off. Not long after that the pilot came on the PA system. As it turned out the Air Inuit plane that was to go London, Ont., landed without incident.
CTV's Craig Oliver joked with his media colleagues that he has lost so much money on Citibank that he didn't care what happened. The last time he saw his portfolio disappear he was on then-Canadian Alliance leader Stockwell Day's campain plane in 2000, when it had to make an emergency landing in Fredericton. That's when the floor fell out from under Nortel.
The problem was with one of the two generators on the plane. "It was starting losing a little bit of power so the pilot decided to be safe," said Liberal campaign spokesperson Mark Dunn.
The Boeing 737-200, which is almost 30 years old, has been controversial since the outset because of it being a gas guzzler. Hardly the kind of plane one would expect the Green Shift author to be riding around in.
A CanWest reporter read out a note from her boss suggesting Dion's plane must have run out of carbon credits, a reference to the huge carbon footprint the plane is leaving.
Once we landed Dion never left his seat despite everyone else wandering around talking about the unscheduled landing. "Let's get Mr. Dion back here to reassure us," joked one reporter as we waited on the tarmac for someone to make the decision whether to stay the night.
Anyway, it looks like we will be staying in Montreal overnight.
Of course everyone on board started talking about their most frightening story involving flying.
And the best recollection came from Liberal MP Bob Rae, who regaled everyone with his story of flying in 1974 on a plane from Belfast to London that made an emergency landing in Manchester because it had a bomb on it.
"You got to listen to the whole story," he said as he was being pestered by reporters to cut to the chase.
It turned out Rae had to deplane by the emergency chute and sometime later found out that it was an IRA bomb and that the target was a Catholic man headed to be knighted by the Queen.
"We were told it was only a coat of paint that stopped the electrical charge that would have set the bomb off," Rae said.
When Dion finally made his his way down the aisle, he joked that his campaign was all about prudence, "fiscal prudence, aircraft prudence."
Instead of spending the night in Montreal the Liberals chartered Toronto-based Porter Air to pick us up at 11:30 p.m. to continue our trip to London.
In the meantime Dion came to the back of the plane and chatted with reporters on the record for about 15 minutes, including telling the media that he fears for the future of Canada if Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper forms another government.
When it finally came time to disembark after three hours of sitting on the tarmac in Montreal, the Liberal handlers refused to let the media off first so the photographer and camera operators would not capture Dion as he got off the crippled campaign plane.