Sunday, April 26, 2009

Canadians have gone plane crazy!

Gather 'round kids I've got some awesome news!

I'm good to fly for another year! woohoo! Thanks to all the flying gods for making this possible: Chuck Yeager, Alan Sheppard, John Glenn, Ernest Gann, HAM (first ape in space) and all the others I can't think of right now...again Thank you!

Anyways that was just a sidenote...the real story is "Have Canadians gone mad?"

So up to this day in 2009 there have been many incidents, accidents, funny, weird, strange and sometimes unbelievably insane stories related with Aviation and well Canada.

Now that I've been flying for just under a year now, it seems that I notice more things in News about Aviation...or 2009 is just a crazy year and it's not just me that notices these crazy things happening lately.
Just to name ones that I know of:

US Airways 1549
Continental "Colgan" 3407
Turkish Airlines 1951
Montana PC-12 Crash
FedEx MD-11 Crash
Stolen C172 from Confederation College
Man jumping out of King Air 200 at FL230
King Air pilot dies
Our very own Bonanza having engine failure...

That's all the ones I can remember from memory, it's only almost May and it seems quite a lot already.
And some of these accidents have some sort of Canadian content to it, maybe the news people are trying to tell us something; we Canadians have gone haywire.

Maybe the media is trying to portray that Canadians are in some kind of northern drug that you can only get in Canada and it's available for everyone...even geese.

Cactus 1549 puts blame on CANADA GEESE
Colgan 3407 was a Bombardier Dash Q-400 (Canadian eh?)
Canadian man stealing an airplane possibly trying to get shot down by F-16s
Canadian man opening the door of a King Air 200 at FL230 (23 000ft) and jumping out.

Maybe we are a bunch of whackos, but I still don't think we're the biggest maniacs out there. But that's that, I don't really know how else to put it. Maybe we'll see some more Canadian Content in the future of Aviation...hopefully not so much in accidents and crazy mischief of suicidal people.

But as for me, I can safely say that I'm still sane to fly according to my recently renewed CAT I Medical at least.

Friday, April 24, 2009

CAT I Medical

So my Catergory 1 medical expires by the end of April and so today I have scheduled an appointment with the Aviation Medical Examiner that our school recommends.
It is only my third time of getting my medical, second time getting it renewed, but the excitement along with the fear is always there. It's like going to a doctor and he's about to tell you if your days are numbered, in this case if your flying days are numbered.

The reason why our school makes us go get a CAT I medical all the time, even though Private Pilots can fly with only CAT 3, is ...I think...because we are considered a Commercial Operator. I believe it's part of the deal that Transport Canada had made with the school to make it an Integrated ATPL program. With that said, there are approximately 30 people in each class year for this program, but for my year and the year below (for now) we total 140. So a brief arithmetic estimation, if everyone in my program went to this AME every year, he would be earning $20k a year just from the students in our program. I could imagine that a lot more people go to him for a Medical and other issues.

Anyway, the students and some staff at school have kinda made a small joke about all of this and how this AME would give a medical as long as you have $100.

"He takes his stethoscope to listen to your lungs only to hear $100, $100..."
"Checks your blood pressure, and of course it's going to be $100 mmHg"
or the classic "Shouldn't take long, I have my $100 ready..."

Anyways, I'm sure he does a great job and it's all fun joking around about it..
However, the joking around stops when that day comes where $100 still can't give you a valid Medical...I hope that's infinitely far away from now for me.

In other news, one of our Bonanzas are coming back on line. Should be fun to see people fight for it.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Avionics class

Today was another reminder why I don't like school that much. Talk about punishment or imprisonment, I (along with 40 others) had to endure 4.5 long, repetitive, monotonous hours of presentations about various navigational aids/systems.

I was one of the four more basic navigation systems that presented last week. They were:
ADF - automatic direction finding
VOR - VHF omnidirectional range
ILS - Instrument Landing System
EGPWS - Enhanced Ground Proximity Warning System
MLS - Microwave Landing System

and today:
TCAS - Traffic alert and collision avoidance system
RNAV - Area Navigation
ADS-B - Automatic Dependent Surveillance Broadcast
LORAN-C - LOng RAnge Navigation

it was actually quite a list of topics that we had covered in that class. Unfortunately, the sad undying fact still remains that we have to get examined on these system for Final Exam which is coming in about two weeks time.

I can't wait!

As for the weather, it looks promising at least for the next 7 days starting tomorrow.

With the news about SCV,
It was actually replaced with an engine that was suppose to go on another Bonanza in Maintenance so that they could fly it back here. Both the failed engines are currently being investigated by TSB and I believe, Continental - the maker of the engine.

Monday, April 6, 2009

The only one scheduled

Winter weather yet again!
Today was all about low ceilings, pretty low visibility, ice pellets, snow pellets mixed with snow?, a little bit of rain, and gusty's quite a nasty mix even on the ground.

Just went through the usual routine of checking our schools scheduling system, weather, email..etc right after class. It was a very long day, but as a pilot I know I would have to get used to unusual day/night, work/rest patterns. I usually do this routine to check if I am scheduled for tomorrow, and if so, if the weather will actually be good enough. Or the opposite of checking if the weather is good enough to fly tomorrow to maybe go to the airport and get a flight in. Either way, it's some sort of uneventful, almost automatic series of actions that I take everyday.

Tomorrow I saw that I was on the schedule. Today's weather was bad, no doubt...tomorrow seems better but still not good enough (or so it forecasts). But the easiest way that I knew that I probably won't be flying the scheduled flight tomorrow is the fact that I am the only person on the schedule in the morning. There's a long ground briefing associated with the flight so it's probably the only reason why I am not taken off the schedule, otherwise I would have been in cheerful joy, filled with happiness that I would have been able to take a rest tonight (or do less than usual). But nope, I have to do a whole lot of planning, and I just can't wait to do that.

On that note, it's time for the second routine...upon which I double, sometimes triple check the weather in all possible charts, forecasts, and websites that offer them...looking for a possible way that I may end up actually flying, and so actually be prepared for it.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

People like us (pilots)

Today I was buzzing through the world of interweb, and to my surprise I find my way to the glamorous and of course infamous world of youtube. I usually have subscriptions of different channels that I tend to watch but this time I was looking for something different and something more grandiloquently grotesque.

I then come across a what I would think as a tv series much like How it's made or Extreme Machines., and it's something that it also lies in the genre of satirical comedy. It would seem to me after watching that it is a similar to "Burn After Reading" movie which is categorized as a black comedy film. It is not a film of black people being comedians no, it is actually quite a difficult form of comedy as some people may not appreciate the intended sarcasm and irony involved in such pieces.

Anyways it is a three-part segment, but definitely worth watching...

HOPE YOU ENJOYED IT as much as I did at least!

Friday, April 3, 2009

Crummy weather to fall down the stairs

For my class year, we don't have school on fridays, however there are some, lots, TONS of homework to do. So the weekend won't really be a weekend for anyone especially in the final stretch of the semester. As for today it was forecast to be raining, low ceilings, and strong winds the whole day. Usually the schedule would be cleared off the night before if the weather forecast is this bad, but today for some reason it wasn't. So people were actually "forced" to go wake up early in the morning just to cancel their flights. It is quite sad actually, and I know how it feels because it has happened to me plenty of times.

So with the rainy weather for the whole day, I figured to just stay home and try and get some work done. I was supposed to go on the simulator at the airport to practice but the laziness bug kicked in plus I didn't even want to travel (via Public Transportation) in this wet and windy weather (whoa alliteration). So instead it's me, my laptop, the internet, and lots and lots of typing for today.

I woke up feeling a little bit sick, with a bit of cold so I'm beside the tissue box once again. As I was on my way down the stairs for lunch, I figured I'd bring my laptop down to try and do some multi-tasking. So with me, tissue box, laptop, and wireless mouse. As I was about to take my second step down the stairs I was also trying to click on something with the wireless mouse...and I slip and fall on my back hard down the stairs. I think part of me inside was still trying to prevent damage to my laptop, talk about selflessness eh.
So as I reach the bottom of the stairs, I slowly put my laptop down and lie down in pain and agony of what just happened to me. I think for like a few seconds I couldn't even breathe, and for the next 5 minutes I couldn't move. My brother, who was in the basement heard my screaming and the loud noise of my epic fall (fail too), he comes up and tells me not to move and starts asking me where it hurts (he's gonna be a firefighter). After a while, I'm on my feet, but my neck and back up until now, still aches.

Lesson learned: don't click on anything while travelling down the stairs with laptop.
Back to Aerodynamic project about wingtip attachments/arrangements.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

4 weeks, interviews and forced landing

So starting from today there are approximately four (4) weeks left of school before my second year in this program is over. There are still quite a number of assignments to do and it's going to be quite a nasty April for me and the other 50 some people in my class.
However, there are quite a few things to look forward to however. One is the Pratt & Whitney field trip that our class is having which are based in Missisauga, ON. They were actually quite hesitant about giving us this tour for our class but if you know my professor, you'll know that he is one of those people that it's just so hard to say no to. Did I mention that he is really really smart? Yep he is, I don't know exactly what he has his Doctorate Degree on but I'm sure it's quite a tough one.

So in our four-year degree program, it is required for us to take one of the 3 summers as a co-op work term for 14 consecutive weeks. A lot of people from previous years have gone to airlines and just worked ramp, some people have gone to the depths of Northwestern Canada and worked in small charter/cargo companies. I had two interviews so far out of the many applications I have sent...both jobs declined. One was for a charter company based in Yellowknife, NT. The other is my very own dispatcher position for the summer, which I was very surprised when I found out I didn't get it, because I thought it actually went well. However, none of that is about to phase me, I know that I just have to keep trying and in this industry, it's not uncommon to get turned down by a lot of companies.
If any readers (if there are any, I doubt it...) work for any company willing to "hook" me up with a job, or even an interview, it would be awesome. I have until the end of the semester to get a job or else...I don't even want to think about it...(maybe it won't be that bad)

What was bad and good though, depending on what way you look at it, is the recent engine failure in one of our Be-36 (or F33A) Bonanzas. It actually happened to two of my classmates while they were on a cross country flight, they were near Billy Bishop Airport near Owen Sound, and fortunately the weather was good enough that they were able to go to 9500' for their cruise. However high they were, or close to the airport they were, an engine failure is one of the serious emergencies without a doubt, and so I give them kudos for the great job they did. Here is the local news article about it. I have talked to them, congratulated them and asked them questions, however since it was the second engine failure in our Bonanza in 7 months (this was the first) I'm not really in any position or allowed to say anything to anyone because it's still under investigation. All I've said can be found by anyone who searches for it so it's nothing special, just letting it be known.

And with that, I shall get back to those assignments calling for my attention.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009


By Definition: a hobby is an activity or interest pursued for pleasure or relaxation and not as a main occupation.

Everyone has them, whether we know it or not, all of us are bound to have interests and therefore have quite a few, some more than others but nevertheless, interesting hobbies. However I am not really interested in knowing what everyone's hobbies are because it would just be a whole array of activities which I may or may not find interesting. One person's hated activity can be another person's hobby.

I'm more interested in the hobbies that pilots have, and that is of course other than flying. A lot of people fly for the pleasure of flying and that is a hobby but many others fly for a living but that doesn't mean it isn't a pleasure, in actuality pilots should be flying for a living or choose to fly for a living for the main purpose of pleasure and interest...however I know that may change as time passes by.

So other than flying, pilots do have a variety of other pleasurable activities. I (and quite a few of my classmates) for instance enjoy photography. It's our way to express our creative side since we're all bound to the same old, SOPs or Checklists, so I guess it is our way of expressing ourselves in a more artistic way. We learn not only to have a good eye in approaches, flying, or seeing things ahead of an airplane, we also learn to see light, shapes, lines, context, depth of field, all the many things a good photographer uses his/her eye for. Since a camera can't see things exactly the way a complex human eye does, we have to learn to adapt and see how the camera would see it and so on. Just like when people squint one eye and make a small rectangular box with their fingers to see things in a rectangular shape because that's what the camera sees! With that I think its an opportune moment to advertise my flickr account here.

Anyways, that's one of the many popular (I think) hobbies a lot of pilots do on their free time, for fun, for relaxation, for whatever it may be. Others (and some of them I do enjoy as well) also write to express their feelings, some take acting or dancing lessons, sing, watch sci-fi movies, read,...the list just goes on.

There are a number of websites that list the most popular hobbies that people do in the world, one website lists some agreeably top 50 ones here.. However I have yet to find a list of the most popular hobbies that pilots do, and I would guess that a lot of these hobbies would have some kind of similarity to each other, since most pilots already do have one thing they share with each other...enjoy watching or being in...airplanes.

When I find one, or compile one if no one has yet to take the initiative to do so, I shall post it here and see what kind of things would be on the list and possibly be one of my many hobbies as well.