!!!!! GONE FLYING !!!!!

If you need to contact me... email: [email protected]


"Pic of the day" sent in by Craig M from Ottawa. He watched flight tracker for days until he got the shot of all shots. It's beautiful.
Showing newest 12 of 15 posts from October 2010. Show older posts
Showing newest 12 of 15 posts from October 2010. Show older posts

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Why I blog (ged)

Well my blog and reputation hit some turbulence this week. A couple of work colleagues on a private AC pilot forum took a disliking to some pictures, articles and my sense of humour. A simple email or phone call would have sufficed because I always believe, “a word to the wise is sufficient.”

(I admit, I may have deviated slightly but I quickly adjusted and got back on course)

It started with a seed planted on the forum asking others what they felt about my blog. (I wondered why there was a spike in visitors on my blog that day) :) The seed laid dormant for days, but the link to my blog sat in open view. Along came a colleague and the post festered into some harsh comments about me, my blog and my enRoute column. Some would label it slander. Both of my colleagues have come forth and apologized and for that I say, “thank you!”

It serves me right for going public. I know for sure I could not be in management or a politician because you must have skin of an alligator. :)

But why did (do) I blog???

I fervently believe my profession is second to none. It goes without saying I am extremely proud of it and the company I work for. I consistently try to portray its professionalism.


Taught weather to aspiring pilots for over 20 years

It’s why I jumped at the opportunity to teach weather to Air Canada’s new hires

It's why I taught weather to the new hires years ago

It’s why I approached enRoute 13 years ago to portray a pilot’s point of view. And I thank them for letting me continue....

It’s why I wrote for Wings, Aviator, Weatherwise magazines, various Air Canada’s publications including ACPA’s (pilot union) journal as well as the Toronto Star, National Post and the Globe and Mail.

It’s why I wrote my book, From the Flight Deck and why it’s deemed a best seller in Canada!

It’s why I said “Yes” to Caissie Productions to produce potential aviation documentaries to enlighten the public on aviation

It’s why I did two complimentary “pilots” and flew to Montreal to pitch the concept to Air Canada

It’s why I say “Yes” to Air Canada’s PR department for special requests

It’s why I flew to Ottawa to give a presentation to a grade six class. (The teacher mentioned the kids and parents are still talking about it)

It’s why I talked to several large groups of retirees (Just received a letter stating how well received my recent talk was)

It’s why I said “YES” to give talks to safety seminars in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick

It’s why I give next to free aviation talks to anyone that wants to listen

It’s why I did radio phone-ins, T.V interviews, and newspaper interviews (True it was to promote my book but most of the content pertained to aviation in general and not my book)

It’s why I allow children in the flight deck prior to the flight

It’s why I tried to answer everyone directly on my blog

It’s why I appeared on the Weather Network

It’s why I volunteered (yes volunteered there is no pay) to be their aviation weather consultant

It’s why I just sent an email to Air Canada volunteering to be a mentor for the new pilots joining us in November

It’s why I answered tons of emails from hopefuls wanting to pursue this profession

It’s why I volunteer for technical advice

It’s why I wanted to convey how great my profession is….


But if some still debate my intent, here's one email I received just confirming the above. I would like to thank this gentleman for coming forward and allowing me to post his feedback about my blog.


Hello Captain Doug,

Just a quick note to say I am sad to see your blog come into a holding pattern. Even though I haven't joined, your blog has been one of the first things I read daily when I log onto the internet. As I work in Alberta, and my wife and two daughters are in New Brunswick, I have to fly often( YMM to YYZ, then home to YSJ and back ). I have, over time, developed an extreme fear of flying due to a few turbulence events that have left me a little unsettled to say the least! I have found that reading your blog, the experiences you share, and the detail that you put into your aviation explanations, has allowed me to fly a little easier each time. Given that I'm somewhat of a pilot myself ( I'm not, but I do work in a control center in oil operations ) you get very used to being at the "controls" and seeing what is transpiring on your instrumentation in front of your eyes. It's hard for me to be in the back seat when the seat belt sign lights up! I want someone to explain to me what in the world is going on, and how long it's going to take to fix it! I find myself sitting over the wing waiting and watching for the pilot flying to set the flaps for take off, look for leaks in the hydraulics, checking the rivets to make sure everything is ok, and listening for any different sounds in the turbines ( i.e. vibrations ) just in case someone in the pointy end misses it! I know, I know...........Your blog has allowed me to be in the pointy end and have a better understanding of what you do, and the professionalism at which the pilots operate. Thank you so much for that.

And at the end of each and every flight, if one isn't there to greet passengers deplaning, I always sidestep the flight attendant, poke my head in the flight deck, and say thank-you very much for the flight......and an extra compliment if I'm sitting over the gear and I can't even feel the wheels touch down on the runway when we land!

So even though I fly in the A-319, Embraer 190, or the CRJ most often and most likely haven't had the pleasure of having you as my Captain, I wanted to say to you, thank-you very much for the flight. Your words have allowed people like myself to develop an aviation passion, and truly experience aviation from the flight deck!

and here's more of his feedback....

......I understand how it would get you down, but know that there are many people who appreciate what you do!... and are loyal Air Canada customers such as myself I might add.....I spend over $25,000/yr flying with your company because I think they're the best, and your blog only affirms it!



Wednesday, October 27, 2010


Pressure! There is one heck of a deep low pressure system affecting Ontario. The lowest it got down to was 959 millibars. (It may have been deeper but that's what I noticed it at). It's forecast to track Northeastward and fill (weaken).

But that's not until it blows strong southwesterly winds this afternoon. Toronto is now under a wind warning.

As an ex-meteorologist a weather chart like this certainly peaks the interest.

As a writer pressure can come within and externally. I've been been at this blog for two years. However, it's time I concentrate on other things. As many know, there has been a weather book inside me for 20 years.

I won't say this blog is grounded, nor will I say it's going into a hold, but I am slowing up in anticipation.

However, as in weather, wherever there is low pressure causing lots of weather there is a "high" not too far away to bring pleasant conditions.

If you would like to email me with your questions in aviation/weather by all means fire away!

[email protected]


Captain Doug Morris

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

AECL (Atomic Energy of Canada Limited) retirees talk

Our guest speaker will be Oakville resident Captain Doug Morris, who flies Airbus 320’s for Air Canada.

His presentation is titled: “From The Flight Deck – Plane Talk and Sky Science. Everything You Want to Know About Commercial Airline Travel."

Captain Morris has amassed over 17,000 hours. He is also a ground school instructor, a meteorologist, a freelance journalist and an author. He writes a monthly aviation column for enRoute, Air Canada’s in- flight magazine, and for newspapers and other aviation and weather publications. With a unique insider’s perspective, his book, From The Flight Deck – Plane Talk and Sky Science, covers a broad range of flight-related topics, including the physics of flight, how airplanes work, what hap- pens on the ground and in the air, and how pilots are trained. Blending facts, trivia, and humor, Captain Morris provides up-to-date, accurate and entertaining information about the science of aviation. Join us for some lighthearted and informative stories in the life of a commercial airline pilot and professional writer.


Today's talk was at the Ontario Racket Club. I walked into the club with my full uniform on toting all my paraphernalia in my flight bag and asked the three attractive ladies working the desk...is this the airport? Okay, what else does a guy say when dressed in a pilot uniform at a racket sport club?

Luckily, I got there super early. More PowerPoint issues were rearing their ugly head. My laptop (Mac) didn't want to talk to the projector. After I suggested another laptop that too didn't want to communicate. After 90 minutes of troubleshooting by the staff, Captain's Doug's presentation got airborne. Luckily a pre-meeting social transpired before my talk.

The talk went very well. They laughed at all my "canned jokes," They even liked my two "mile high" anecdotes. Well at least no one walked out of the room in disgust.

(One very handsome woman told me after the talk, and who also bought my book, she really enjoyed my sense of humour. In fact, much of the crowd today were very complimentary.

Unfortunately, I requested more of my books two weeks ago from my publisher but they didn't show. I only had eight copies to sell. At the end of the talk, they were throwing money at me and I missed out on sales. Guess what showed up ten minutes after I got home? Murphy's law ruled the day.

But I didn't let those little glitches ruin my day. The group was a fantastic young at heart bunch who had very sharp minds. In fact, I'm told many of these people worked on the Avro Arrow!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

A visit to Mrs. D's Ottawa's grade six class

This card, although it doesn't look it, stands about 18 inches tall.

Sometimes the most appreciative things in life are free.

Thank you to the grade six St. Monica class and Mrs. "D"

Yesterday, I took the 10 a.m flight over to Ottawa to give a talk to twenty extremely inquisitive kids. Yes, it was on my day off and yes I received official approval. (It's in our SOPs thou shall get approval) I visited the MLO's (Manger of line Operations) office and received a few gifts to give the kids (Air Canada pens, some sort of handle for a gym bag called super gripper, postcard photos of my flight deck, and "sticky" Wings). I also "borrowed" some plotting charts we use for North Atlantic, North Pacific and Polar routes. Plus I had some trinkets left over from years gone by.

I don't know if Mrs. D had them pumped or kids that age are usually that inquisitive, but my hour presentation flew by. They had their hands up the entire time. I've gotta patent some of that enthusiasm! They must have asked 100 questions. Lucky for me I knew most of the answers. lol Why do we land in the wind, how much do I make, what's the best thing about my job, how do you fuel an airplane...?

I also got checked out on a "smart board." This classroom "chalkboard" displays PowerPoint presentations with touch screen features. You can call up the internet, write on the board and superimpose a "keyboard" to type.

The only glitch...I booked myself on the 3:00 p.m flight so I had to leave rather promptly. The teacher, who orchestrated the entire talk and who also showed just as much enthusiasm, sure did a great job inspiring the class. Who knows...one or two of the twenty students may end up being a pilot but quite a few also wanted to be flight attendants. :) I get that everywhere I go when I talk to youngsters.

On the flight over the "yellow" hydraulic pump was cavitating big time. The "ERRR, ERRR, ERRR" (I know...too technical) sound would not stop during taxi. Usually, the high pitch sound from the yellow electric pump stops when the cargo door closes. Plus the cavitating sound quickly goes away thereafter. It didn't. One passenger, a frequent flyer, sitting behind me wanted someone to acknowledge this disconcerting sound. The in-charge came back and gave her rendition of what was going on. I threw in the word "cavitation" but he just looked at me as if I had six heads.

I finally figured out why the sound persisted after an engine was started during the taxi out. We must have the electric yellow pump on to back up the hydraulics during single engine taxi. The light came on for me. Then again, captain Doug is not a proponent of single engine taxis out to the runway. I asked when leaving the airplane whether the captain was a "check pilot" for obvious reasons. :)

I also showed the "concerned" passenger my enRoute column and asked him if he could send in a question as to what that noise was. Another passenger piped up and said, "what a great idea!"

Anyway...the visit to Ottawa went very well. Rumour has it, I have celebrity status equivalent to a "rock star" with a particular grade six class in Ottawa. It must have been all the gifts I brought them!

Today I did a presentation to the Burlington Probus group. I talked to a group in their sixties, seventies and later and they were all men. Again, talk about an enthusiastic and appreciative crowd. I gave a PowerPoint presentation, sold some books and answered some questions. Of course I got the "do you know such and such at Air Canada?" I was shocked, I actually knew quite a few of the pilots they asked about.
It goes to show, I too am getting older. Hopefully, I don't lose my enthusiasm. I know this group didn't!

Blogger Giulia said...

Thanks, Ian. :) I try my best to make things fun for my students.

Years ago, I took a group of kindergarten children (5 year olds) to the airport. We got a tour around the ticket counters, we saw the baggage sorting area, we went through "security"( whatever that was at the time), and then we boarded a plane that was empty. Boy, did the children have fun playing in the plane! Air Canada then gave us goodie bags for the ride back to school. I will never forget that field trip.

Sigh...ain't EVER gonna happen now...that's for sure. :)

Ottawa's Aviation and Space museum is a great place! That may be our next stop. :) Stay tuned. And I will see if I can get Captain Doug's book in the gift shop. :)

Oh and Tim...I have PLENTY of pens and postcards. :)

And Doug--that's great that you are trying to get into your son's school! I remember you couldn't do it last year. Your son will be so proud of his father.

Mrs. D

P.S. Edwin...(ahem--using a teacher voice)...nothing's stupid about learning German. Good for you! :) Hope you did well.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

The Pilot Want Ads

Air Canada's first...the LockHeed 10A Electra
Actually Air Canada started as TCA (Trans Canada Airlines) in 1937

TCA's SuperConnie 1959

Boeing 777 You may have a chance of starting on this bird as a cruise pilot but realistically you will be cruising on the B767 or right seat in the Embraer.

Here's the want ad:


They say the minimum time is an incredibly low 1000 hours. Last time the site said 2500 hours. The real world will see new hires with a minimum of 2500 to 3500 with many having over 5000 hours. I had 8000!

You will see my mugshot as a first officer on the A340. I wrote "A Day in the life."
I must get them to change the picture for two reasons. First, I never liked that picture.
The AC photographer took it when I arrived back from Paris. "My lights were on, but no one was home." :) Second, it was me as an F/O but they credit me as a captain on the A320. The big question is who do I contact?



Whether a Captain, a First Officer or Relief Pilot, an Air Canada pilot's number one priority is to conduct each flight safely with due consideration to passenger comfort and on-time performance.

While the typical work month consists of approximately 80 hours of flying, pilots spend many additional hours on such ground duties as preparing flight plans, readying the aircraft for departure, and completing post-flight reports. A day's work may vary from a long-range international flight to a sequence of shorter domestic flights. Reserve duty, in which the pilot is "on call", may also be assigned.

Air Canada pilots operate out of one of the four crew bases: Montreal, Toronto, Winnipeg or Vancouver. Base preferences are awarded in seniority so pilots must be willing to relocate as assigned. Pilots typically begin their career as a First Officer on domestic aircraft or as a Relief Pilot on long-range, international flights.


To fly for Air Canada, pilots must meet certain basic requirements:

  • 1000 hours of fixed wing flying time
  • Completion of schooling to the university entrance level
  • Ability to pass the Air Canada and Transport Canada medical and visual acuity requirements for a Category 1 medical certificate
  • Canadian Commercial Pilot licence, current Instrument Rating and Multi-Engine endorsement
  • Canadian citizenship or landed immigrant status

Pilot applications far exceed job vacancies, so preference is given to candidates with qualifications beyond the basic requirements. Examples of desirable additional qualifications include, but are not limited to:

  • Canadian Airline Transport Pilot licence
  • University degree or college diploma
  • Aviation College diploma
  • Military or commercial flight experience
  • Jet and/or glass cockpit experience
  • Additional language(s)



Primary Location




Job Posting


Unposting Date


Friday, October 15, 2010

Why "J" for business class?

These are our new "lie flat" J class seats. One small complaint, some don't like the "individuality." I know one thing, it's cut down on the "mile high" memberships.
However, I'm told if there is a will there is a way. ...ahem...

All of our overseas aircraft (except three leased B767s) have been "XMd" (modified)

The next three photos are compliments of "Erik" who works for AC in FRA. As an employee we sometimes get to capitalize on these seats but stipulations come with the luxury.

Hungry? One of the perks of my job is "left overs!" Although we domestic pilots don't see the elaborate display compared to the international flights. Having said that, we do get to capitalize on cookies and ice cream. Just last night on a Calgary turn I had to make a tough decision. At first I declined everything. (I have a medical this month and with it will come blood work. I know they will mention about my triglycerides) But eventually I caved and requested an oatmeal raison cookie. It's tough being a captain and making decisions like that! :)

I would like to thank everyone for submitting questions for my enRoute aviation column. The column has become very popular and if I had a dollar every time someone told me it's the first thing they turn to, I'd be a happy guy!

I started with enRoute in May 1998 and to this day I am amazed it's lasted this long. I'm always waiting for that... "Dear Doug" email.

I haven't missed a beat with only two of my articles shelved for reasons I won't mention. (It was the time when I wrote a full page on a topic) Here's one question (since we went to the question/answer format) which eventually was shelved, but I think it's a great question. I'm certain the person who sent this, has many more great questions. :)

So the question went like this...

What is the origin of "J" for business class?

Business class evolved in the late seventies. But “B” already existed in the computer reservation system so “C” was next in line. British Airways launched its “club class” but went a step further to “super club” which needed another letter so “J” came to being for business class. At the time, Air Canada used a similar reservation system and adopted the “J” to denote “business/executive class.” Although no first class exists at Air Canada, we pilots jest our vantage points are first class.

I only have ninety words which includes the question and the answer.
So here's more info in case you are wondering why.

Incidentally, I ran into a fellow in the gym and he mentioned he flew to Athens, Greece on our B767. He said he sat in a "W" class seat. I did some investigation and sure enough we have three 767s with premium seating (W) dedicated on this route and a few others.

A= First class discounted
B= Economy full fare
C= Full fare business (club)
D= Business class discounted
E= Premium economy code
F= Full fare first class
G= Special discount
H= Standard fare
I= Business class discounted
"J" = Full fare business class
P = First Class (some airlines use this code for Business class. Jet Airways India, for instance) R = First Class Suites (currently only Airbus 380, and formerly Supersonic Concorde), (a lowercase "n" after any class code indicates Night Service)
Business class codes C, J, D, I, Z On many airlines, C or J indicate full fare business class, whereas discounted and thus restricted and typically non-upgradeable fares are represented by D, I or Z.
The codes in short: C, J = Full-fare Business Class, D, I, Z = Business Class
Economy class codes Full fare: Y, B Standard fare: M, H Special or discount fares: G, K, L, N, O, Q, S, T, U, V, W, X On most airlines, unrestricted economy ticket is booked as a Y fare. Full fare tickets with restrictions on travel dates, refunds, or advance reservations are commonly classed as B, H, or M, although some airlines may use H, V, or others. Heavily discounted fares, commonly O, T or X, will not permit cabin upgrades, refunds, or reservation changes, may restrict frequent flyer program eligibility, and/or impose other restrictions. Other fare codes such as X are restricted for use by consolidators, group charters, or travel industry professionals. However on some airlines W or X is used for frequent flier program award redemptions. Airlines that offer premium economy cabins have also specified certain codes for fares in the upgraded economy cabin, which are usually S (which in this case often stands for 'Supercomfort'), W, or E. Premium economy codes: E, H, K, O, U, W, T

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Different Guises

I received this email today. It prompted me to post some of the different liveries seen at Air Canada.

Capt. Doug,

Still enjoying your blog...my favorite posts seem to be those stories of situations during the flights you take. Were you flying the other day out of YYC when the landing gear bays would not close? Here is the A319 I took yesterday on AC654 from YHZ to YYT. What is the story with the paint job on this one? Sorry about the quality but that's the best my Blackberry could do.

Looking forward to your answer...!

This is FIN 264 (Airbus 319) painted in TCA's (Air Canada's predecesor) colours to commemorate 60 years of service 1937-1997. The dates are seen on the tail.
Thanks for going out of your way to comment on my post. Many others say the same thing, they prefer my real life experiences.

So that's what the media was blowing out of proportion with the Airbus landing in YYC - gear doors? Must have been a slow day.

I'm off to do a Calgary turn tomorrow.

Thanks for flying Air Canada!

Captain Doug

Fin 264 in TCA's old livery

Our newest B777 sporting an Olympic theme

"Kid's Horizon" Airbus 319

B767 with an eagle to acknowledge Native Ancestry

Our JETZ division. We fly all the professional sport's teams here in Canada and a few American teams. PLus we do charters for bands..U2, the Rolling Stones, "the Boss," etc.

If you had the chance to get a close up of this Airbus 320 (Fin 212) you would see thousands of employee names making up the maple leaf. Yes, yours truly is there somewhere...do you see it? :)

Monday, October 11, 2010

Maintain Visual Separation

Here's a question I received today:

Hello Captain Doug,

I saw this video on youtube where a "heavy" approaches LAX, and noticed that ATC tells the pilots to "maintain visual separation". I knew about this procedure, but could you maybe explain a little how that procedure works and which standards do you follow in the cockpit? Also, I believe it might require lots of concentration and it to be a demanding procedure. What can you tell me about it?

Maintain Visual Separation

"Maintain visual separation" puts the onus on the pilot and relieves the controller of some of his duties. You are correct in saying it ups the "load factor."
I don't like acknowledging (but I do) I have the traffic visual because it can be a work out. A case in point, notice how hard the captain is looking for the traffic? It was over a minute..And I particularly don't like doing this procedure at night with a sea of lights below...especially in cities like LAX. Landing in New York and San Francisco...same story.

But the controllers will keep asking and pointing out the traffic. Just a few days ago landing in Las Vegas (day time) we were told to follow a B737. Because of it, we now had the task of maintaining separation and flying the approach. There tends to be too much talking. Because of it, we were slightly high. In fact, the guy directly behind us asked for "S" turns because they were caught high. Everything worked out, but there's no doubt it ups the load factor.

But it's a fact of life flying into the world's busiest airports. It's the only way ATC can move airplanes effectively.

In fact, I'm kind of reluctant to accept visual approaches. Yesterday we were cleared a left visual on 09 left in Fort Lauderdale, The tendency is to keep things tight. The F/O did a great job flying the approach, but it made Captain Doug work a little harder. :)

Again, it's a fact of life flying into busy airports.

Speaking of great weather and visuals...flying into Toronto last night was gorgeous.
But because of the great weather someone on the ground was playing a sick game. One aircraft reported a green laser being shone on them while landing on the south runways. ATC stated there were a few cases last night.

Speaking of ATC, I'm hoping some of my ATC readers will contribute to this post as far as "maintaining visual separation." Thanks in advance.

Sunday, October 10, 2010



Just finished a very productive two day pairing with 18 hours of flight time. It must have been the hectic day before because the coffee for the 0720 a.m check-in wasn't kicking in. I thought for sure I was destined for LAX (Los Angeles) so I initially thought to leave one heavily ladened Jeppeson manual home to lesson the weight of my flight bag. But an inner voice told me to put up with the extra weight. One day, we'll have EFBs (electronic flight bags)...one day.

I get to work well ahead of my F/O so I called up the flight plan (usually an F/O's task). I go over it noting the routing to LAX seemed a little further north than usual. The F/O shows up and I thought he too must be a little tired becuase he mentioned Las Vegas. I snicker to myself, the F/O is getting LAX mixed up with LAS. :)

Finally, he corrects Captain Doug by saying we are going to Vegas not L.A!
I said, "Well then...that does it, you're taking us to Vegas!"

Again luckily I brought all my charts. You're probably asking what would happen if I didn't have my charts? Well I could have downloaded a set from the internet or we have a set of charts for all the airports in our onboard library.

We racked up 9hrs and 30 mins flying from Toronto to Vegas and then to Montreal. To my pleasant surprise the "beer math" added up for us in YUL for a couple of debriefing beverages.


Today we headed south to Fort Lauderdale, back to Montreal and cleared customs. Gates were scare so we had to park at a domestic gate and get transported to Canadian customs via a PTV (Passenger Transport Vehicle).

Now back in Toronto with the next three days off. Enough time to recoup from the thousands of calories soon to be consumed from Thanksgiving dinner. The later part of this week will consist of a one day Calgary turn, one day off, a one day Nassau turn and then 12 days off. Sweet.

New hires

I have a few aviation talks later this month plus I must prepare for the Air Canada weather class. New hires will be arriving mid November. Our equipment bid closed and yours truly only moved up by one percent on the A320. My seniority #is 1276 whereas the most junior B767 captain position stopped at 931. I have a ways to go yet.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Then and Now

Lockheed 10A Electra

This shot is compliments of "Brian Losito" (Air Canada's photographer)
One can still go for a flight (FIN CF-TCC) when it does promo flights
for "Dreams Take Flight."

Our B777 (Erik)

Tail Spotter "Erik" from Frankfurt paid Ottawa a visit recently for a concert. (One of the perks of working for the airlines...passes). He also checked out the Canadian Aviation Museum during his short visit. This museum at Rockcliffe hosts Air Canada's (then TCA) Lockheed Electra) and our now retired DC-9 (another building).

If you are in Ottawa, the museum is worth the visit. One day about two years ago I walked there from downtown hoping I could get my book in the gift shop book store. The two hour walk proved futile. I had to see the manager they told me. After several phone calls (the manager always seemed to be on vacation) they told me to wait until after the renovation. Funny how a museum founded on Canadian aviation wouldn't jump at a book on Canadian aviation. :) I even volunteered to give talks there. For those aspiring authors, it can sometimes be very trying.

So next time you are in the bookstore, ask why they don't have "From the Flight Deck: PLane Talk and Sky Science on the shelves. Maybe you can point out Air Canada has two aircraft there? :) :) :)

Well, one of Erik's photos prompted me to create this post. For April, 2007 enRoute's edition, I wrote a "fact and trivia" article comparing our first and last acquisition...so I resurrected it.

Then and Now

Our first: Lockheed 10A Electra

Our newest: Boeing 777 (200LR and 300ER series)

Years in service: 1937-1939

Arrival dates started late March, 2007

Maximum take off weight: 10,300 lbs

Maximum take off weight: Up to 775,000 lbs (351, 534 KGs)

Seating: 10 passengers

Seating: Up to 365

Cruise speed: 190 knots

Cruise speed: 84 percent the speed of sound

Range (full passengers) 703 nautical Miles (1303 km)

Range: Up to 11, 664 nautical miles (world’s record)

Engines: 450 H.P. Pratt & Whitney

Engines: B777-300ER G.E 90-115D engine: 115,300 pounds (most powerful for a commercial airliner)

Number of airplanes: Five

Number of airplanes: 8 in 2007, 8 in 2008 and 2 in 2009

Number of wheels on each main landing gear: one, Total: three

Number of wheels on each main landing gear: six, Total: 14 (largest tires on commercial airliner)

Landing gear: 12Volt motor clutch system with hand crank chain emergency extension.

Landing gear: gear electrically controlled and hydraulically activated with free fall emergency extension.

Aircraft steered on ground by tail wheel activated by foot pedals

Aircraft steered on ground by nosewheel activated by hand tiller and foot pedals

Wingspan, length, height: 55 ft, 38 ft 7 in, 10 ft 1 in

Wingspan, length, height: 212 ft 7 in, 242 ft 4 in (777-330ER), height 60 ft 11in

Service ceiling: 19,400 ft (maximum height)

Service ceiling: 43,000 ft

Maximum fuel: 194USG (734 litres)

Maximum fuel: 47,890 USG (181,280 litres)

Flying time Montreal to Toronto: 2 hrs 30 mins at 7000 feet

Flying time Montreal to Toronto: 1hr 10 mins at 35,000 feet

Price: $55,238 to $63,618 CDN

Price: (B777-300 ER) U.S 237 to 265million (Boeing website)

Number of pilots: two

Number of pilots: two except four for long haul flights

Number of stewardesses: one

Number of flight attendants: up to 14

Qualifications: women age 21 to 25, single, registered nurse, no taller than 5’ 2”

Qualification: either sex, minimum age 18, pass medical, valid Canadian passport, priority on bilingualism

Number of toilets: none

Number of toilets: 11

More "different" Safety Videos

Looks like more and more airlines are deviating from the monotonous and tedious, but yet legal requirement, of safety announcements. As I said in my book, if someone does not know how to fasten their seat belt, there's probably other issues. :)

Reader "Doug" sent me these three links. I hope you enjoy them.

I know a long weekend is brewing. I'm working it! Tomorrow, I'm off to LAX and then back to Montreal for a "no beer" short layover.

Then it's down to FLL (Fort Lauderdale) and back.

Monday will be the day, I take on the exorbitant amount of extra calories with turkey dinner.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Sable Island (The Graveyard of the Atlantic)

Well it's been thirty years since Captain Doug visited Sable Island, the Graveyard of the Atlantic. I just turned 19 and was taking flying lessons for my private pilot license. I finished first year university and had been painting for the summer when this job popped up. I hope you enjoy this post as I fly back in time.

(P.S I was going to include a picture of a nineteen year old hitchhiking on Sable Island in his underwear, but I don't want to scare away the readership) lol

There are about 200 to 350 of these wild horses roaming this sand shifting island. The romantic theory of how these horses arrived has always been from shipwrecks. But a new theory claims they were sent here in the 1700s. Many books have been written on these unique Sable Island horses.

This is the "A frame" house allotted for scientific study. Much of the grant money came from Dalhousie University in Halifax. But many a drink were imbibed during our research. :)

Yours truly with "Zoe" the boss and Derek. Zoe would work on Sable Island for many years to come. Derek is a talented Graphic Design artist.

During our stay, a technician from a local oil rig had to set up transponders on the island for the rig to accurately position itself. Of course I sampled this machine on the 24 mile crescent shape stretch of sand. During our visit in August, it quickly felt we had our own tropical island.

The "Britten Norman Islander" landing on a huge flat sand bed near Wallace lake.

Another animal which inhabits this haunted island is the grey seal. The technical name being a "pinniped." (Nadia, of course you know the name for seal in French is phoque but when we "Anglos" say the word it sounds like a bad word..fhawk) :)

The "Islander" leaving it's tracks demonstrating it's STOL (Short Take off and Landing) capability.

My co-workers during a magnificent sunset. Fritz (red hair- Swiss origin) painted with me (that's how I got this job) plus he tree planted. The next year scored me a tree planting job. Good ole networking. Fritz ended up being a director, etc. making documentaries mostly in Asia. It's where he presently resides.

A wannabe pilot eating up everything aviation at the Halifax International Airport.
The trek to the island is about 180 miles southeast of CYHZ.

The end of the island, a "spit." One can see seals at the edge. This had an eerie feel to it during dusk and night where the land met the unforgiving stormy Atlantic waters.

The Graveyard of the Atlantic

Nestled on the continental shelf is a constantly shifting sand island about 42 km long with it's widest point of 1.5 km. Since 1583 there has been 350 recorded shipwrecks. Plus there are downed aircraft. It's home to 200 to 350 wild horses. (Their population changes according to the severity of the winter). Birds from many parts of the world fly here and hundreds upon hundreds of seals call it home. Located near the mixing of two huge currents (Gulf of Mexico and Labrador) it makes for a dumping ground of floating debris. Yes, we found notes in bottles. Rumour has it, a chair from the Titanic washed ashore.

About 15 people live on the island year round and most are weather types. They launch radiosondes (weather balloons) twice a day. (Midnight and 1200 Zulu). Plus they observe weather. The Identifier is WSA or YSA. It used to be a position report waypoint for overflying airliners, but not any more. One has to have a scientific reason to visit the island. It's deemed a sanctuary.

My job for a month was to build an enclosure for a horse study. The best time to visit this island is August where advection fog is at its least. I rummaged through some old letters and I found one written to my girlfriend (now wife).

Here's some of my banter:

Things weren't going as smoothly as I anticipated. Zoe, the boss got on my nerves. I guess it was my chauvinistic pride. I didn't like her telling me what to do. She was the only one who drove the tractor and she is too picky with the construction of the fence. I didn't think I could last the trip.

Well the weather cleared and it's been sunny ever since. Finally we finished the fence and things are looking better. I even got to drive the tractor! Zoe started to soften up and now I'm getting along with her really well.

Sable island is beautiful! There is nothing but sandy beaches, grass, and horses roaming the island. It's hard to believe it's haunted. Sable Island is an amazing place in the daytime, but at night it takes on a different picture. I've had only a few good sleeps....

Zoe, in hindsight, was a curly blond blue eye beauty. She had a deep voice with a spunky disposition, but at the time she was ancient. She was in her early thirties! Too bad I can't turn back the clocks. :)

Being the young rookie the others certainly had fun pushing my buttons. They told me lots of ghost stories. Here's one:

Mrs Copeland....
A lady by the name of Mrs. Copeland had the misfortune to be shipwrecked there and in her half-drowned state was set upon by the n’er-do-wells that had set up shop on the island to take advantage of the shipwrecks. They tried to take her jewelry, but one large ring in particular would not come off her swollen fingers. The thieves cut her finger off to retrieve the ring and left poor Mrs. Copeland on the beach to die. Since then, Mrs. Copeland has made appearances to those who stay on the island, each time appearing as a bedraggled woman who has just pulled herself out of the surf and is cradling her mangled hand.

My "A frame" roommates taunted me now and again by saying she particularly looked for young men. They would go into a skin crawling chant..."where's my finger, where's my finger?" At the time it wasn't funny for a naive 19 year old, but this cynical old captain can now laugh at it. I think.

Transatlantic cable:

Years later when I was building time flying Navajos out of Halifax, one of our contracts was marine surveillance. There are submerged transatlantic cables which traverse the ocean floor from Nova Scotia to Europe. Fishermen drag their nets along the bottom and run the risk of snagging a cable. Our job would fly along the coordinates of the cable and find illegal fishing boats. They weren't suppose to be there. We would dive bomb the boat, take pictures to send to court and try to make radio contact with these guys on marine radio. Some of them only had junior high school education or less and you should have heard their language. Oh well, it was a great way to get three hours of Navajo time.

After the surveillance we would fly over to Sable Island and buzz it. You should see the seals wobble for the water. But what a minute, this island is deemed a sanctuary and one could not fly 1000 feet or lower over the island. Well then, I guess it never happened.

I hope I can sleep tonight...and not think about Mrs Copeland.... :)

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