!!!!! 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 11 of 15 posts from November 2010. Show older posts
Showing newest 11 of 15 posts from November 2010. Show older posts

Monday, November 29, 2010

Dreamlifter Pics

Click here

Can someone tell me how I can post this video like Youtube? I.E how to get the video embed code.


Just added a couple on the bottom of the page.

To get your Monday morning going here's a video of the top ten fly-bys. Rest assured I won't be doing this in my Airbus. It's not good for job security. lol

Below are a couple of shots sent from "Erik" of an ugly airplane. But as the adage goes, "never tell a pilot their airplane is ugly." lol This ugly duckling is used to move parts for the B787 Dreamliner. It's deemed the world's longest cargo airplane.

Plus I came across this saying I recorded from a park bench along the Bow river in Calgary, Alberta. I was on a layover there readying for a flight to Frankfurt on the A330.


"Whatever your goals and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace with your soul."

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Why the Bumps and Chiefs

1. Mechanical

2. Convective

3. LLWS (Low Level Wind Shear)

4. Frontal

5. Orographic (Mountain Wave)

6. CAT (Clear Air Turbulence)

7. Wing tip vorticies

Well the forecast of LLWS pulled me out of my early morning "check in stupor." Ottawa's TAF (aviation forecast) said to expect a change in wind from light easterlies at the surface to a very strong southwesterly flow aloft. Visibility would also be low in fog and rain.

The flight from Toronto to Ottawa spans only 195 miles so the southwest flow of 100 knots tended to be a work out especially landing on 07.

The day before, when teaching weather to the new hires, I queried the class if they knew the six (not man made) different types of turbulence. Well, have you ever been in front of a group of people and have a "helmet fire?" You know where I'm going with this. :) Yes, Captain Doug couldn't remember "frontal" and "orographic" turbulence. Embarrassing.

Well on the legs from YYZ to YOW and back again we encountered convective turbulence in moderate showers, CAT with the jet stream aloft, LLWS on approach (we were ready for it so it tended to be a non event), frontal (wind shift) on the way back with a cold front passing through Southern Ontario and then a sometimes moderate bump from mechanical turbulence as strong northwesterly winds picked up behind the cold front.

Then it was down to Saint John's, Newfoundland where we transited a strong Northwesterly jet over Prince Edward Island at FL 370 giving light to moderate chop for 30 minutes. Captain Doug did his best explaining "why the bumps" with a P.A to the back.

Chiefs (chief pilots)

This pairing, I am flying with an ex chief pilot with Air Georgian. A pilot knocked at the flight deck door while readying for YOW's flight. (He was capitalizing on the jumpseat reciprical program). He was a chief pilot at First Air in YOW. He is from my home province, Nova Scotia. While standing in line at Tim Hortons in YOW ( I needed another coffee to counteract the early wake up) I met a friend who was an ex chief pilot at Air Nova. He is now chief pilot at NAV CANADA who calibrates the instrument approaches at Canadian airports plus a whole lot more.

We talked about one mutual friend who is chief pilot for a phone company in Nova Scotia. The NAV CANADA chief pilot just hired another ex Jazz chief pilot who recently worked for Emirates. (Apparently things aren't as rosy for some in the sandbox of Dubai). Incidentally, Air Canada has no chief pilots but flight managers. Is there words of wisdom here? Yes, the aviation industry is a very tight group and "be nice to the people going up the ladder because they may be the same people you see going down the ladder." :)

Off to sunny and warm Orlando tomorrow. :)

Monday, November 22, 2010

Checked out on KPHX

This is an Airbus ND (Nav display) If you look at the top left corner it states GS 602.
Translation... we were whisking across the ground (groundspeed) at 602 knots because of a tail wind of 141 knots. We just flew over Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Saturday started off with one leg to Phoenix. I haven't been there in years as a pilot.

Actually, truth be told my family and I flew out of there about six years ago, after touring Vegas and the Grand Canyon. The flight was kind of full direct to Toronto so we decided to fly to Calgary and then to Toronto. Bad mistake!

A charter company, Jetsgo, went belly up that day so paying passengers were taking up the empty seats big time. We watched 22 flights push back from the gate during the five days we spent trying to get home. The first night we slept at the airport hoping to get home on the "red eye." Airline passes...most of the time works, other times...well...

We bucked a headwind all the way to Phoenix thus arriving 30 minutes late. I did not recognize the airport one iota. Things have changed. Of course ATC arrival persistently asked, "Air Canada, do you have the airport in sight?" "Air Canada do you have the airport visual." But a wind was stirring up dust so visibility was down a bit.
Finally, we were given a simple heading for the ILS.

The layover was downtown and get this...both the F/O and I PLUS the "back end" went put for Mexican food. A rare event. No not mexican food but going out with the F/As. :)

The next day the strong jet pushed us home 35 minutes early. But we had a three hour wait in Toronto before we were to fly to New York city and back.

Both the flights there and back were uneventful. We did have one snag, the number two engine fire loop B was U/S requiring us to test the system every leg. In Toronto it didn't test. After maintenance came and reseted some C/Bs we were good to go. Guess what didn't check out in New York? This time after contacting maintenance control through the radio and resetting the circuit breakers we were off to Toronto.

Besides, I had a class to teach in the morning so staying in New York for the night was plan C.

The class today consisted of 10 lucky new hires. I came out strong wooing them with METAR and TAF stuff but I found things slipped a bit on my end. We got into some dry theory and I now know I will be amending my slide show for the next class in December. Four of them will be cruisers on the B767 and the other six, Embraer F/Os.

It's time I get ready for tomorrow's flights. The clock radio will be set for 4:15 a.m for a 5:45 a.m check in. Oh yeah! I will eventually end up in St. John's, Newfoundland tomorrow night.

Blog counter?

Looks like my blog counter " no workie." Never did like it because it was extremely slow to log into. Anyone out there know of a good "counter?"

Just finished teaching four hours of weather to Air Canada new hires.

Sure nice to see new faces. Another course starts in December.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Flyer Talk and more

Photo from "Erik" (Incidentally, there are no four bangers left at Air Canada)

Yesterday, I gave a talk to the Mississauga Probus club with standing room only. I'd like to think it was because of me, but their room was downsized at the last moment.Yet at least 100 plus packed the room.

The PowerPoint projector wasn't talking to my computer (same story two weeks ago) but this time it did not take an hour to ratify.

The elderly group laughed at all my jokes and I'm amazed how they hung on to every word about the mile high club. In fact, I held the mike so I could move around the room a little and I felt like a stand up comedian. In case anyone is thinking I belittled the profession, I talked some serious stuff too. :)

The immediate feedback was excellent and I sold 16 books. One lady described it as a "fun talk."

Then it was back home to work on my Air Canada weather presentation.

Then off to the police station to get fingerprinted so I can assist with my son's hockey team. Yes, you read right. Someone decided all coaches should be fingerprinted.
I asked them why my "federal" fingerprints were not good enough but all I got was a blank stare. Hmmmm?

Then it was off to downtown Toronto where I met up with some of Air Canada's frequent flyers. They almost swarmed me when I entered. What a great bunch and their airplane knowledge is astounding. One gentleman is approaching two million miles! He has flown from Toronto to LAX every week for the last 13 years.
He brought along a beautiful B777 model Air Canada sent.

I'm thinking they all travel because of their jobs. Not so. Many just love getting into an airplane. I thought we pilots were the only ones like that. :)

One gentleman (now retired) just flew to Tokyo, stayed overnight and flew back with the same crew that brought him over. In fact, he stayed at the same hotel.

Another member (Margarita girl?) flew to Tokyo, had some noodles, and then immediately flew back to Toronto. Talk about expensive noodles. I didn't meet her, but those were some of the stories I heard.

They said the youngest in the group is a 15 year old pianist from Calgary with "super elite" status. Unfortunately, he is not old enough to enjoy the executive "Maple Leaf Lounge." Bummer.

If I can remember right 30,000 miles or 50 segments gets you "elite" status where 100,000 miles/year gives you "super elite."

I sold more books there as well. And I've been invited back to their next rendezvous. I still can't get over their aviation IQs. In fact, many just returned from a personal tour of the B787 in Seattle. They said the Boeing people listened to everything they said.

Here's their forum:

Flyer Talk

Well after two weeks of being off and doing 'executor' work I am looking forward to going back to work tomorrow. I'll be heading to Phoenix for the first time as captain and the first time in 12 years.

The phone just rang with my daughter crying saying she just put diesel fuel in our unleaded gas car. The car won't go. Now I really need to go to work.

For some...days off...just aren't days off. lol

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Three Ps and more...

Mount Pleasant Mausoleum (Toronto)

Last Monday I received one of those calls…the ones which come at a funny time of day and it starts by a low deep voice, asking for you by name.

On the other end was a lawyer to a friend of the family. The friend was found dead in his house earlier that day and I am the executor to his Will. If anyone out there has been an executor you know full well what I’ve gone through in the past week.

Funeral arrangements, contacting family members, and the part I had a hard time with… sifting through 80 years of a man’s life.

For many elderly people living alone, they are frequently found passed away several days later. That’s what my brother a police officer for Metro Toronto averred. And this was the case here.

Another task of an executor is to ready the house to sell. So far I’ve filled three large containers of personal belongings. Every time I took a garbage can to the dumpster the clanging of the debris made me think, “there goes another part of his life.”

Three Ps

So Doug the Pilot, my bother the Police officer and my other brother, a Parts manager, are all part of the will.

You’re probably asking what does this have to do with flying.? (Well my last post tied hockey to flying so keep reading).

This event sure made me think just how Precious life is and not to go through life being Petty.

This week I’ve learned such terms as Probate, Power of Attorney, Pension and estate Payouts. The estate lawyer even joked by saying, “Doug it’s much easier flying your plane in your short sleeve shirts than dealing with this.” I concur.

Speaking of short sleeve shirts...

Pathetic. That’s how one pilot described my writing for enRoute. He took a disliking to how I answered this question.

Q: I’ve noticed that Pilots usually wear short-sleeve shirts. Is there a reason for this?

At Air Canada, it’s based on Preference, and for me, I find a short-sleeve shirt more comfortable. Plus, it’s a lot easier to iron! A small Percentage of Pilots Prefer long-sleeve shirts; some switch to long sleeves during the winter months. No matter what, all shirts come with shoulder straps to sport a three-stripe (first officer) or four-stripe (captain) gold-embroidered epaulette. Also, we have a small Pouch in the chest Pocket for a Pen.

He deemed I treated our Profession unProfessional because I inferred pilots can’t iron. Yes, I’m talking about the Piranhas on a Particular forum. I would call this guy a Pr...ck, but I will rise above.

Yesterday I buried the elderly gentleman. Only a handful of People showed. Funny, one arrives in this world with nothing and you leave with nothing. In between, Plan, Prioritize but most importantly Play. Make sure you give it a good run around the track of life.

Last year a Pilot biked across Canada in recognition of a fellow Pilot (he continues to Persevere) stricken with cancer. I bought the Painting on line to Promote the cause. On the Painting it is written:

Our Death is not an end if we can live in our children and the younger generation, For they are us, our bodies are only wilted leaves on the tree of life.

Unfortunately for this man, most of his life ended up in a dumpster.

Sadly, I received an email yesterday stating another fellow pilot died of cancer at the age of 46.


Procrastinating. This is what I’m doing because I have a PowerPoint Presentation for our new hire pilots on Monday.

Tomorrow I have a Probus Presentation.

Tomorrow night I meet with Priority Passengers, our "elite and super elite" Passengers.

Profound, Provocative and Party.

Sorry for such a deep topic. It's time to Press on. So tonight, I will be Partaking by hoisting one in the celebration of life!

Pilot Perks

Some lucky A320 crew had quite the visitor...Victoria Beckham. No, it wasn't me and yes I'm jealous. I know one thing... most of my F/Os would prefer to look at her than me. :)

Monday, November 15, 2010

Hockey and Flying

Yesterday I spent all day getting the above certificate. It felt like I was in ground school. I have to thank my wife for volunteering me for this nine hour course starting at 8:00 a.m Sunday morning. She actually volunteered me for a "trainer's" certificate last month which then meant her volunteering me for my son's hockey team as a trainer. The term "trainer" is a misnomer, it should be called safety officer.

A trainer must be present every game so that means I must now bid Fridays off and also Mondays for practice. This was my excuse for not volunteering before, but the boss wouldn't buy into it anymore.

But in order to be allowed to stand on the bench or enter the dressing room, I require a security check. I guess my Transport Canada pass allowing me to command an airliner and enter most airports around the world doesn't count. But what a minute, this security check came with a stipulation of fingerprints. I've been on the waiting list for four weeks. This is for my son's house league team consisting of 13 year olds. I went to the police station today to see if I could speed up the process. "Oh no sir, you have to go to the other police station which does fingerprints." Where have we gone wrong?
I guess the finger prints I did for the Feds is not good enough or maybe their computer doesn't talk to the other.

But wait, I have to do a "speak out course" which can be done online entailing three hours or take a four hour course. It's filled with common sense just like CRM.
I remember one chief pilot from another company telling me, "CRM only works for the people that don't need it." Hmmm?

Speaking of CRM, some pilots do not realize it should be used in most facets of life.
However, you'll see CRM break down with company hockey games (I no longer play with my co-workers) and on private pilot forums. There are cardinal rules but these are two places where rules are broken.

While sitting in hockey ground school I learned a few acronyms (aviation must take the cake as far as acronyms): STOP (Safety Toward Other Players). AAA (Attitude, Awareness and Action)

So now I am an over qualified trainer. I am told each team needs a coach, assistant coach, trainer and a manager. Remember folks, we are talking house league here.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Great circle stuff

Hi Captain Doug,
I hope you're well! Glad to see you're back to the blog- always enjoy the updates, especially about Air Canada ops and such........

Anyhow, I'm still on tour in Japan and thought I'd send you some photos I took during the flight from YYZ-NRT on .... (around the time you wrote about the low pressure I believe). I was seated in 25K and had an excellent view of the impressive wing flex of the 777-300. I've attached a few photos for you- if you like them, feel free to use them as you wish. I noticed we also took what seemed to me a very northern route (I do this route a couple times each year, and I haven't noticed one this far north yet). Maybe this was due to that massive storm in the midwest? Maybe you could write a bit about the polar routes sometime and what dictates the flightplan and how far north it goes etc...I've always been fascinated by these routes as they overlfly some pretty darn remote areas otherwise never seen! I'll be heading back to YYZ on AC 002 this .... I'll keep my eyes out for anything interesting.

Wishing you safe travels and happy blogging

A small cloud forms at the root of the wing because of the low pressure over the wing and when there is a bit of moisture present.

Even though this picture depicts a northern route it is not a "polar route."
A flat chart like a map depicts a straight line as a curve.

The route you took is not deemed a "polar route" but is a great circle route. Our routing varies daily and is dependent on winds (think prevailing westerlies over Canada), whether we are heading east or west, airspace closure (think military training), airspace cost (some countries charge more than others), space weather (cosmic radiation, etc), availability, enroute weather, etc. The flight plan will figure out the most economical and feasible route.

Great circle routes are difficult to explain. But the shortest distance between two points on a sphere (earth) is curved.

Here's one explanation I found on the internet:

What is "the Great Circle?"

The Great Circle is a concept that takes awhile to understand, but then you'll never forget it. Now, the sliced orange analogy is overused, but it's a good one. Take a pen, mark two dots on an orange (not on the "equator" or straight up and down from each other on a "meridian" - as these are already "great circles"), and then slice the orange between the two dots with the knife angled toward the very center of the orange. If you were then to remove the peel in one piece and flatten it, what appeared to be a straight line on the orange becomes a curved line on the peel. So, the closest distance between two spots on a sphere is actually plotted as a long curve when using a flat representation - like a chart. Put simply: a mercator chart takes the curve out of the world, and you have to put it back in real life.

It is a difficult concept to fathom. There are many sites available to tell you great circle distance. Here's an example...great circle distance between Toronto to Hong Kong is 7810 miles (shortest distance). Many would think a straight line drawn would be shorter by going over California. If I calculated that route Toronto-San Francisco-Hong Kong it would be 9186 miles.

We could use the "polar routes" which fly over the "top." For a Toronto to Hong Kong flight, it shaves off one hour. It might not be the best great circle route but the winds are lighter over the pole. Coming back we tend to fly a more southerly route to capitalize on tailwinds further south.

Lots to think about when flight planning.

NEW*** Here's a link follower YYC Dispatcher sent:


Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Some Q and As

Lots of questions coming in behind the scenes so I thought I would post a few:
Q.I’m a 45-year-old student pilot – about 15 hours in a 172 at CYCD so far. I had a heck of a time this past season booking time off work to get lessons in – we had to cancel for weather about half the time. The TAF and local graphic forecasts are very near-term, so I’ve been looking at the surface analysis charts trying to predict what the ceiling will be a few days ahead and have had no luck. Can you offer any pointers?
A. Here's two books specific to B.C weather. The first one was produced by Environment Canada.
This second one came out last year and I scanned through it. It would be a great book as well!
You live in a unique part of Canada. Generally speaking, you need to look for "highs and and ridges" on the weather map. However, you can get pretty good weather from the outflow of the Rockies. Meaning an east wind (usually weather coming in) can mean
pretty good weather for you because of the down slope effect.
You are not the only VFR student pilot frustrated with the weather. I learned in Halifax, where good VFR conditions exist about 65-70 precent of the time.
When I flew out of Gimli, Manitoba for my commercial, it was up to 91 percent VFR.
I did take my multi IFR in Victoria in the early fall and I was actually looking for cloud.
I've only been to Nanaimo once in a friend's tail dragger. What an experience!
Happy flying!
Q. Hi Doug
In keeping with your low pressure blog.....other than during a thunderstorm, what wind conditions would cause you to be unable to land or take off. For example today (Oct 27) is crystal clear with very high winds. Would this present problems?

Here's a video of an Airbus 320 landing in the Azores. It makes for an interesting approach when you are looking at the runway through the "side window."

A. We have landing and take off crosswind limitations. For the Airbus 320 I fly, that means for landing it's 33 knots gusting to 38 knots and for landing
it's 29 knots gusting to 38 knots. If the winds are stronger than these limitations we are either looking for another runway or we are not flying.

We also have tailwind, contaminated runway, wet runway, CAT III (autoland) wind limits, etc.

But for major airports, with many runway orientations, landing and taking off are not usually an issue. bear in mind the rides can be quite bumpy due to "mechanical turbulence." Plus taxiing can be an issue especially with flying debris. One day I saw a luggage container drift by.

Q. Dear Captain Doug,

I very much enjoy your column and recently found your blog and enjoy reading that too. I have a question for you: Once upon a time, UAL used to carry the cockpit radio traffic on the PAX entertainment system. Did AC ever do such thing and will they ever consider it putting it in?
A. I think many,many years ago we offered that option. I do realize many airlines today include this neat perk. As well, many airlines
have taken this one step further and now offer a "bird's eye view" with cameras mounted on the tail, belly and nose wheel.

I am not hearing any rumour of things changing for us. I too wouldn't mind listening to the radio talk while flying as a passenger.

Maybe you could send this query to Air Canada directly?

Who knows, you may change their thinking! :)

Q. I noticed at the start of the take off roll on most aircraft ( it's not as prominent in the CRJ ) that the turbines "seem" as though they spool up, hold at a certain RPM for a couple of seconds, then continue to spool to take off setting ( I'm guessing here ) . Is this because of a "check" that happens at a certain RPM before the turbines are spooled up the rest of the way, or am I just dreaming?
and one more.....this one I haven't sent in.....
De-Icing prevents/removes ice build up on the wings prior to take off.......if you sit for too long, you have to de-ice again......what then prevents icing at altitude when traveling through cloud or descending through weather, and if it's effective at altitude, then why is it not as effective on the ground? ( i.e. no de-icing required )
A. You have good ears regarding the engine spool up. Basically we bring the engines up to about 50 percent and then to take off thrust. Some pilots accentuate the pause a little more than others so it's a little more noticeable.

We indeed get icing in cloud but most of it forms on the leading edge of the wing. We have deicing capability along the leading edge where most of this
airframe ice accretes. Warm air is "bled" from the engines along the leading edges. We also have engine deicing where warm air is moved along the intake of the engine, engine igniters and heated windshields. This type of icing happens about 75 percent of the time. Sometimes ice forms further from the leading edge and this can be an issue. Usually a change in altitude can ratify things. There are many variables which cause airframe icing.

Again, the aircraft deicing is effective only for the leading edges. Whereas icing and snow accretion on the ground affects the entire airplane, hence, deicing required.

Q. I have a utility that calculates Vspeeds for the A320 and a lot of other planes (Topcat is the name). The designers of the problem has gotten the real Vspeed information from a real ACM for the A320. It calculates the weight and basically everything your ACARs inside the airplane can do that relates to it. Now, when I put all the information in and everything like that and hit calculate, it will give me the trim, weather information ( Crosswind, headwind component ) , Anti effects and everything like that. It also gives me the V1 speeds. I have seen a Captain print the Vspeed information out before but he never really explained how he picks which one. I seen and see on my program that there can be a lot of selection for that weight and runway, or there can be 3 - 4. A picture is included to really explain what I am asking

A. We do things a little differently. We input data into the datalink: Our weight, runway, flap setting, ambient temperature, pressure, engine anti-ice on, etc.
Out comes a chart like this below:
So if our take off weight is actually 71.7 tonnes we round up to 72 tonnes.

The speeds are 155-155-156 and we can "flex" to 33 degrees. That's at zero wind or at least below 10 knots sustained.

Hope this helps.

Captain Doug

A320-211 FIN 201
TORA 9697 FT
PRESS : 29.74 WING A/I : OFF


0 TOGA 75.9 161-161-163
TOGA 72.0 146-146-148
31 72.6 152-152-154
33 72.0 155-155-156
34 71.4 154-154-155

10 TOGA 76.8 164-164-165
TOGA 72.0 146-146-148
33 72.6 155-155-156
35 72.0 157-157-158
36 71.4 156-156-157


Monday, November 8, 2010

Poem- O Captain My Captain

From Dan in Halifax

There's a Walt Whitman poem that figures prominently in the 1986 film, Dead Poets Society:

O Captain My Captain

...a classic

Dan. I decided to start another post. As you know this poem is a metaphor of Abraham Lincoln's death and the end of the civil war. The captain being Lincoln and the ship - the United States.

I saw the movie, Dead Poet Society starring Robin Williams. I don't watch many movies but this one is my top five. The gist of the movie for me was don't watch the world go by from the standard point of view....switch the seating around, change the batting order and take up the challenge!

I would tell you another connotation (it's associated with a joke) to this title...O Captain My Captain...but it would steal the main intent...ahem..... :)

Dan. Your posts sure come my way with deep thought! You're a thinker!

O Captain my Captain Doug :)

O Captain my Captain! our fearful trip is done;
The ship has weathered every rack, the prize we sought is won;
The port is near, the bells I hear, the people all exulting,
While follow eyes the steady keel, the vessel grim and daring:

But O heart! heart! heart!
O the bleeding drops of red,
Where on the deck my Captain lies,
Fallen cold and dead.

O Captain! my Captain! rise up and hear the bells;
Rise up—for you the flag is flung—for you the bugle trills;
For you bouquets and ribboned wreaths—for you the shores a-crowding;
For you they call, the swaying mass, their eager faces turning;
Here Captain! dear father!
This arm beneath your head;
It is some dream that on the deck,
You’ve fallen cold and dead.

My Captain does not answer, his lips are pale and still;
My father does not feel my arm, he has no pulse nor will;
The ship is anchored safe and sound, its voyage closed and done;
From fearful trip, the victor ship, comes in with object won;
Exult, O shores, and ring, O bells!
But I, with mournful tread,
Walk the deck my Captain lies,
Fallen cold and dead.

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