!!!!! 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 18 of 19 posts from December 2010. Show older posts
Showing newest 18 of 19 posts from December 2010. Show older posts

Thursday, December 30, 2010


I knew it was going to be a "little thing" day when I popped a button off my overcoat. (and I thought I took it easy this Christmas) :) Then the only car ahead of me in the Tim Horton coffee emporium drive thru at 5:00 a.m ordered up a list that must have taken 5 minutes. Why don't people go inside if they plan on buying half the store?

During the walk around, (yes Captain Doug offered the first leg to Calgary), I saw a little frost on the wings. It's off to the CDF we go. And it's foggy! A light southerly wind advected relatively warm moisture over a cold surface reducing visibility big time in some spots while driving to work. I dare not think how many accidents it caused during early morning rush hour. Plus the process of sublimation...when a solid turns directly to a gas...i.e when snow transforms directly to vapour added to near zero visibility.

This is our view while taxing to runway 06L. (This picture was taken with the park on). The RVR (Runway Visual Range) was dropping as we neared the runway. (It got to 900 feet). Translation..I had to do the take off. (RVRs below 1200 are done by the captain). We also had to get a take off alternate. A take off alternate must be available when visibility goes below the required visibility for the approach in use. Generally when it goes below 1/2 mile. For the A320, it must be within 340 nautical mile radius. This "plan B" airport is a requirement in case we "blow a fan" and we can't come back to land.

You know it's a foggy day when ATC cleared us to hold short of the CAT III hold line.
Aircraft are kept further away during CAT II and CAT III operations because the aircraft may interfere with the ILS signals.

This is Calgary during the taxi out. Yes, another deicing was required with light snow falling at minus 19 C. I kept asking myself, why am I doing these flights? I should be steering to warmer climates like LAX, Cancun, Florida or the Barbados. Note the plume of smoke over the city of Calgary in the background. It's due to an inversion (warmer air aloft). Meteorology is everywhere!

That's it for flying this year! Actually my flight hours for December need topping up so I could fly New Year's eve day, but heck it's only money. :)

Enjoy everybody!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Doug1, Doug2 and Kuwait City?

There goes my eldest....


In January's enRoute I gave an overview on how flight numbers are chosen. (Actually, this question came from the mom of the four year who asked about static wicks in this month's issue...an inquisitive family). :)

This morning I think I had one of the easiest flight numbers..."AC 123" to Edmonton.
Sometimes a pilot can "read back" a detailed clearance and then stumble with the flight number. For example..."Cross WASIE at 7000 feet, maintain 210 knots, after WASIE heading 210 to intercept the localizer for runway 24 right, Air Canada ???....
Air Canada?? I believe ATC tries to keep the maximum of "facts" to about four. After that, most will forget or get the clearance confused. Some pilots will write the flight number in large numbers placed in a conspicuous place. On the Airbus, the flight number is depicted on the "flight plan" page but murphy's law will have it another page is portrayed when you are looking for the number. :)

And to make things even simpler today, my F/O was "Doug." How could I forget his name? But the in-charge flight attendant had to differentiate us by calling us Doug "one"and Doug "two" :)

Kuwait City

As many know, working for an airline comes with travel benefits. That also includes traveling on other airlines. This morning I dropped off my 19 year old daughter so she could take a United flight to KIAD (Washington) and then connect to a twelve hour flight to Kuwait city to visit a fellow engineering student. Passes are based on "stand by" status but she made the flight!!! Actually, she was also fortunate to be "upgraded."

Her Dad can relax, but in a few days she will make her way back which in the past tended to be a bit of a challenge for us. This time last year the family and I were stranded in Barbados for a day (a good place to be stranded) because of a local ATC strike.

Tomorrow I'm off to Calgary and back.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

My Fill of Phillie (Philadelphia)

This is a 1200z (7:00 a.m Toronto time) surface analysis. It's depicting the "low" parked over the Maritimes with a center of 964 millibars. One can also see it's track in six hour intervals. It didn't intensify during that time but she (yeah I'm going to call it a "she") packed a wallop.

The city host to the cracked liberty bell (Philadelphia) didn't escape the east coast storm which tormented most the northeastern States and the Maritimes.

The phone rang yesterday offering me a Philadelphia turn. Crew sked would drop my early morning check-in the next day with pay and pay me draft premium of nearly 6.5 hours for about three hours of flying. I said yes in a nanosecond. In hindsight, I should have taken a few more seconds to think about it. Their question to me was, "how soon can I get to the airport?" My question to them, "who am I flying with?" (Something I always asked when I flew as an F/O). They told me my F/O will be arriving from San Francisco...my first hint things will be interesting.

I arrive at the airport on time and right away I'm on the Jeppeson site trying to download approach charts. This route is a dedicated Embraer route so I knew I would have one set of charts on board in the "alternate airport" section but I wanted to make sure I had all the charts. Years ago I launched to Munich assuming I had charts...oops...I'm digressing. "Painful" would be one way to describe downloading each chart into a PDF file and then printing it individually. There were 39 charts but I aborted the mission after 15 minutes with most of the charts. Now I'm looking over my shoulder for my F/O.

I decide to make my way to the airplane requiring American customs and security. I get to the gate where everyone is camped out. All the previous flights were cancelled and I could tell people were not happy.

The in-charge meets me in an agitated state. The A319 is our newly inherited Mexicana's airplane which has no J class just "sardine class." :) (It's my humour everybody). She doesn't have the correct cabin safety form. In the back of my mind I knew I recently read a memo buried in the bowels of the company website about this. I need my F/O...where's my F/O?

They started to board the airplane with me trying to make my way to the flight deck. (Equivalent to a salmon trying to swim upstream). I'm polite and I knew I would get the usually quips, "we need you" or "we are not going far without pilots." (I thought I flew there before, but it was Pittsburg about 12 years ago).

I get to the plane and I'm asked whether I'd be okay with a deadheading captain in the jumpseat. Now I'm thinking "home security." STOC (Station Operation control) says it's okay. It was nice of him offering his seat in the back for a passenger. Besides there was no J class. :)

Everyone is boarded and I'm still missing charts. Plus..."where's my F/O?"

Then there is a "duped" (double booking) seat, followed by an empty seat requiring a one by one passenger count and then a broken seat. Plus maintenance arrives saying they fixed the lavatory. "We had a broken lav?" I asked. Apparently someone filled it with....well...were not sure.

No sign of my F/O. I do the walk around. Brand new paint emblazoned the aircraft.

I make an announcement (one of many that leg) telling everyone we will be shipping an F/O in from San Francisco. Passengers are looking at the deadheading Embraer F/O and are querying why he can't fly the airplane.

Finally my F/O's flight arrives at another gate but he must pass through customs, get charts himself (or so he thought), go through customs and security.

He arrives and we get to work. I knew his "duty time" clock was ticking. Throughout the mission I determined he is a numbers guy...at precisely 13 hours he is walking.

Since I've never been there before (he was there once on a JETZ charter) I asked him to take us there. (I thought I flew there before, but it was Pittsburg about 12 years ago).

Off we go and make our way to the sixth populous city in the States. The whole time there is child in row one wailing. Not only did I feel sorry for the parents but the entire cabin.

We near the airport only to find they are down to a one runway operation. Translation...vectors...lots of them. I get a datalink from dispatch saying, "I... c... u...r ...in a hold." I datalink back saying, "not a hold...just vectors from hell." (More of my humour). Heck if things are off the rails you might as well make light of it.

An airplane missed the turn to the taxiway so two airplanes had to go around. Okay things are getting serious. Another airplane said they had enough (and NOT enough fuel) so they ducked off to their alternate. Plus everyone was reporting moderate mechanical turbulence below 5000 feet. I'm glad it's the F/O's leg. (More humour)

Finally the wailing child stops, there's peace in the clear skies, we are finally vectored to final. But not before they switched our runway about five times. Another runway opened up and they wanted us to land on it. What about runway conditions? We are approaching the FAF (final approach fix) and ATC and tower are giving brake index values but there's a hell of a crosswind blowing. I don't have time to pull out the charts. Besides I'm busy changing the runways in the "box." A B757 lands on 27 Right saying braking action is good. That's all I wanted to hear. The F/O wrestles the flight to a greaser (smoothie) of a landing. We clear the runway only to be greeted with poor taxiway conditions. I felt like a snow plow driver (not really but there's that humour again). :)

We get to the gate. The F/O is reminding me we might be staying the night.
He and crew sked determined he has until 8:58 to push back. Captain Doug releases the park brake at 8:48 p.m. Back to Toronto we go with pleased passengers.

A bunch of other things transpired (moderate icing in descent into YYZ, snags, etc) but hopefully many will appreciate we pilots don't always sit up at altitude and count our money. :) :) :)

I'm off to Edmonton and back tomorrow.

Monday, December 27, 2010

On the road again....

This photo was sent in from "Daniel" in Halifax. Prior to leaving for San Diego I had to drop off some in-laws heading back to Halifax. I saw the forecast and told them, "the sooner the better" as far as getting back. This shot depicts yet another severe storm affecting the Maritimes caused by a persistent upper trough over eastern North America.

The latest analysis from the Weather Network. Could we have an "omega block" over North America? The light blue line depicts the jet stream taking on huge curvature. The lobe over the eastern seaboard is an "upper trough" and "upper low" kicking off some nasty east coast storms.
The greek letter "Omega." See any resemblance on the weather chart?
I had to fly through this upper ridge enroute to San Diego. It gave us rare tailwinds and changing wind directions translating into areas of annoying light chop with the odd moderate bump thrown in for good measure. :) Because of the rare push we arrived in San Diego 30 minutes early.

On the road again...

A manager was handing out "coffee vouchers" as an appreciation to those working the holidays. I thought it was a nice touch. I gave the card to my financially strapped F/O.

I met one commuter from Halifax and he has been on the road for five days. He errored on his bidding for January so he will be working off and on until January 5th meaning he won't have the chance to get back home.
I jokingly said, he will be doing lots of laundry on the road and asked him how his wife is taking this. He said he is still married...with a smile.

I bumped into a senior captain and queried what he was doing with three large packed bags and working on the holidays. Unfortunately his story wasn't so cheerful. Something about his wife and a mid life crisis. Ooops.

Early arrival

My first flight back in two weeks and everything ran smooth. We knew we would not have the usual push back home and sure enough the flight plan had us blocked 12 minutes over sked. So we readied for an early push back. I had a sense things were going too smoothly. Sure enough our navigation systems didn't want to 'align." After several phone calls back to headquarters (flight dispatch/maintenance) we push back 18 minute late. It translated into 10:20 of flight time. An honest days' work.

End of day one

My F/O and I walk back to the parking lot and our cars were next to each other. What are the chances in a five story parking lot? I asked him the age of his car. (It looked weathered). "It's a 92 and I should have heat by the time I get home." He drove away not wearing a pilot's hat, but a tuque to stay warm. I place my bags in my brand new BMW SUV and think...."we are both in different phases of life."

Saturday, December 25, 2010

My Christmas list

A Christmas gift from my wife. The picture was taken three years ago, but it took this long to get a frame for it.

Where I've been since being hired in 1996

1996. Arrived from Osaka, Japan via Vancouver on the 21st. Was allowed to go home to Halifax via Toronto. :) I commuted from Halifax.

1997. Arrived in Halifax on the 24th via Toronto, Vancouver, London, New Delhi. I was a senior A340 cruise pilot. :) Commuted from Halifax.

1998. Arrived from Winnipeg on the night of the 24th. Now F/O on the A320. :) Now in Toronto.

1999. Arrived from Montreal on the 23rd. Fairly senior on the A320. :)

2000. Posted as A340 F/O. Left for training in Zurich, Switzerland just after Christmas. :)

2001. Did Vancouver turn on the 23rd. Off for Christmas. :)

2002. Seniority takes a hit. Spent Christmas in Paris. Captain bought me a ($25) beer Christmas eve. :(

2003. Christmas dinner in London. (Fish and chips). :(

2004. Christmas dinner in Frankfurt. :(

2005. Christmas dinner in Hong Kong. (gorgeous meal put on chef from Winnipeg) :(

2006. Christmas in Tokyo. Went to the infamous "trailer" Christmas eve. :(

2007. Now in training mode as A320 captain. Was home but my "head" was elsewhere. :( and :)

2008. Did Santa Clara, Cuba turn Christmas day. :(

2009. Did Miami turn Christmas day. :(

2010. Sitting home due to extra allotted vacation. Going to brother's for Christmas dinner. :)

So the score is seven wins, 6 losses and one tie.

My wife said I was home for Christmas more than I thought, she's right.

Friday, December 24, 2010

To my youngest fan and up....Merry Christmas!!!

Sent in by Adam the Winnipeger

Photo and email sent in by his Dad - Christer
(Actually we met recently and I exchanged a couple of books for his classical music CDs - a dedicated and talented musician).

Hi Doug,

Just wanted to let you know my son .... has recently discovered your book lying on my desk, and it's become one of his favorites (the pictures anyway- he can't really read much else yet!). He also loves seeing the photos and hearing about the stories on your blog- he's very enthusiastic about anything aviation-related- sometimes to the point of driving my wife nuts, pining for a girl:). He now often talks of "Captain Doug" to most anyone he meets, including the cashiers at Target or the grocery store. He even asked an old woman sitting at the chiropractor's office the other day if she knew Captain Doug, and proceeded to tell her of how he flies cool Air Canada planes lol! At three years old he's probably your youngest fan or blog follower:). He's also been asking to fly "Captain Doug's 320" in Microsoft Flight Simulator. You can count on another viewer as soon as your TV segments get produced and aired....

This morning I came down to find him reading your book (with his imaginary text) to one of his model places- this time an AC 777-300 I picked up on board. He now refers to it as "Captain Doug's plane"- maybe it is an omen that you will soon be upgraded to a 777 and skip the 767 altogether:):). I snapped a few quick shots and thought I'd shoot them your way- he was happy when I told him we'd send them to you.

Another young inquisitive boy, age 4, made it to this month's edition of enRoute magazine. He asked, "what are those small 'sticks' on the wings?" (Static wicks). I made sure enRoute sent his mom two copies of the magazine. You are never too young (or old) to be inquisitive and dream.

On that note, I hope Santa is good to everyone out there!!!

Captain Doug

Doing Deicing Dec 24th...

Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse...BUT the Denmark made Vestergaard Elephant Beta was busy this morning at the world's largest deice center.

These two pics were sent in by CAT III Approach enroute to the Maritimes with JAZZ's CRJ.

This bright green fluid is type IV at a cost of $2/litre. Just to show up at the CDF wracks up a price tag of $350....

I wonder how Santa deals with icing? :)

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Up for a Spin in the Sim

My son posing in front of the B777 sim

Well after seeing my son and my visiting nephew glued to an X-box and the computer during the Christmas holidays, I figured it was time to take them to the "sim" for a real video game. Policy has changed requiring lots of paperwork, but we still have opportunity to take the "sim for a spin."

It's not easy running a simulator. We did get a brief explanation from one technician. But three of the flight computers were acting up requiring another call from the simulator. A quick response from the "techies" fixed it. It's not similar to getting into the real airplane. You must tell the simulator what you want to do.

The drawbridge goes up, the motion is on and it's time to go flying. We took off 24 left in Toronto, flew a rectangular circuit for an ILS back on 24L. My son, nephew and daughter had a crack at it. Their landings weren't bad. Actually a couple of them may have opened the overhead bins, but they landed on the first third and NEAR the center of the runway and on the "mains."

Of course the two gamers (son and nephew) wanted to pump things up a little i.e thunderstorms, icing and moderate turbulence. We ran into sim glitches so I couldn't get the Expressway visual to runway 31 into La Guardia to work.

Somehow we had LLWS (low level wind shear), plus an aircraft on final during departure programmed into the sim.

The "sim" building was very quiet. I guess in anticipation of the Christmas holidays.

P.S I just received this unsolicited link. Seems like quite a guy! Another young aviator.


Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Tail Spotters Rejoice! Hundreds of Erik's photos

Click here

Frankfurt tail spotter "Erik" (also an AC employee) has set up hundreds of photos for everyone to see. Many have asked for these great pics.

I hope this site works!

Captain Doug

Nadia, he has many, but maybe you can share yours as well... :)


Here's Nadia's beautiful rendition:
Click here

Cliquez ici

Amendment #2

Nadia and Erik move over to make room for YYC Dispatcher. :)

Click here

Monday, December 20, 2010

More Frankfurt photos- Erik is on a roll!

Erik's Christmas card

More shots from Frankfurt.
This airplane says, "sure we can."

Here's three cold A380s huddled together. With a price tag of
U.S300 million each, there's almost one billion dollars sitting on the ramp.

I bet this Mideastern airline isn't haven't fun.

Our B777 getting out of Dodge.

It's time to head south after looking at these pictures. I know one family about to launch tomorrow. However, they won't be flying for the company I fly for. That's okay because there's lots of business to go around. Actually my sister in law flies for them. Funny thing is, she also flew for Canada 3000 and Sky Service! Enjoy!!!!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Frigid Frankfurt - an omega block?

This Weather Network diagram depicts the upper flow over the North Atlantic as a possible Omega block. It resembles the capital Greek letter "omega". There's no doubt about it, an upper low is wreaking havoc over Western Europe. It's kicking off snow storms and pulling cold temperatures over the area. Maybe tomorrow, I'll write about the omega block? Seems like lots are talking about it. No wonder in Canada nine out of ten conversations begin with the topic of weather. For an ex-meteorologist I should have lots of "weather pick up lines." lol

Our B767 if Frankfurt (Erik's photos)
Be sure to click on the photo to see the clarity Erik captures!

Lufthansa's B747 contending with the "white stuff"

Cathay Pacific under a blanket of snow. Can you say deicing?

Saturday, December 18, 2010

The Walk Around

Photo by Kelly Paterson

Captain Doug (Photo by Brian Losito)

Oh – and I suppose part of this is the “walk around”. Is that still useful or is everything automated? Ever find anything amazing on a walk-around? Does it just keep everyone on their toes?

I suppose that might be a second question. Anyway, whatever you write about will be interesting.

Thanks again.

The following paragraph is what I wrote for enRoute:

Q: What do pilots look for in their visual inspection?

A visual or “walk-around” inspection must be done before every flight. Nearly 120 items are checked, from tires and navigation lights to access doors and engine intakes. Since many service vehicles approach aircraft, we also scan for dents and bumps, and during winter, we scrutinize the exterior for snow and ice. You’ll see pilots wearing a bright fluorescent vest during this safety check. This check is usually completed by mechanics on the wide-body fleet.

The walk around.....

All pilots must do walk arounds at some point in their career. I've done thousands. As mentioned before, it's the F/O's duty on the narrow body fleet but WE nice captains offer our share. But if it's raining "cats and dogs," blowing a gale or well below freezing I may make an excuse I forgot my overcoat at home. :) :) :)

Some may have heard the pre flight procedure colloquially described...."kick the tires and light the fires." :)

All aircraft manufacturers stipulate what to look for found in the aircraft operating manual and I've yet to find one that states it should be done counterclockwise instead of the same ole clockwise rotation. Sometimes I think about the movie Dead Poets Society which enforces one to think outside of the box. (I think we mentioned this a while ago on this blog). But for the lawyers, I do it by the book.

The above question sent in by a follower asked if I discovered anything "amazing." Yes, I have found hydraulic and fuel leaks and one flat tire BUT that was with a different airline.The worst I've found (and it was recent) was a nose wheel taxi light not in its socket. (Well I did see how a "tug" visited our nose wheel door and coasted into a commissary truck while we were readying for a Toronto to London flight years ago....but that's as far as I will go with that one).

One must remember there are many vehicles which approach an airplane on the ramp. It's a reason why we now must wear a florescent vest.

Some of them are:

Tug or tractor

Baggage bin loader

Conveyor belt loader for bulk cargo and bags

Baggage carts

Tractor to tow the "train" of baggage carts

Fuel truck

Lavatory truck

Potable water truck


Van to carry the aircraft groomers

De-ice vehicles

Brinks truck (money truck for valuables NO not because it's payday for the pilots) lol

and there's the elevating commissary trucks.

Sometimes vehicles get a little too close and cause a bump. These bumps are inspected by maintenance and are placarded with BINGO stickers (bump inspected and now a go).

Of course, during the winter time we must also look for snow and ice adhering to the aircraft.

AND speaking of commissary trucks.....a few days ago (it was in the newspaper today) an Airbus 380 here in Toronto had a specially designed commissary truck malfunction and it settled on the leading edge of the wing. Rumor has it, Toronto will be the mammoth airplane's home until February awaiting parts. OUCH!!!!!!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Getting ready. Pre-flighting

My question: what are you doing in the cockpit prior to takeoff? Pilots seem to be there 30-40 min (right?) before the flight. What all are you doing? (And please don’t just say “getting ready” haha). Is the airplane cold and dark when you get in? Are you really loading up the FMC or is that done automatically, etc., etc.

Thanks again, really enjoy your writing.

Yes, we show up to the flight deck about 30 to 40 minutes prior to push back. (Check-in is 1:15 prior to launch). Nine out of ten times it's the first time I will meet the F/O. With nearly 400 A320 captains and 400 F/Os based in Toronto it may be the last time you see or fly with this person. (No, no, not because they will bid around me (lol) but that's what usually transpires with a large company. But some senior Captains and senior F/Os fly a lot together because of the preferred flights. But for me - the middle of the road- I tend to see new faces).

I usually ask the F/O which leg they prefer while walking to the gate. Most F/Os gladly take the first leg and they also like me offering to do the walk around.(It's a first officer duty) I always thought both were good gestures to start the pairing when I was F/O. (For the wide body fleet, the walk around is done by maintenance).

We settle in our seats stowing our flight bags to the side. The Airbus flight deck is roomy. The ADIRS switches (inertial reference system) are turned on prior to me sitting and I grab the logbook and check for "open" snags, when the last inspections have been done (a minimum of a two day inspection must be completed) plus whether this will be a "first flight" of the day.

The "first flight of the day" requires a few more checks.

The F/O initializes the Datalink, we both agree to the Lat/long for ADIRS "alignment" and we get a digital ATIS ( I asked the last new hire class whether they have seen Datalink - not one. I told them they are going to love it - no more listening to the ATIS and the clearances will be sent to the flight deck).

The PF (person flying) begins the ramp check with the other watching. For Airbus, "black is beautiful" is the rule of thumb for switch locations. Black means the lights are out, the switches are on.

Somewhere along the way, the in-charge must be briefed (Transport canada regulation mandates this be performed by the captain), plus a garbage bag is recruited or we ain't going. :) Usually drinks are offered and our quota of bottled water is offered. Crew snacks may also be part of the "dining" experience depending on what time of day it is.

The ramp check is completed with an instrument cross check initiated by the captain.

Then the PDC (Pre departure Clearance), arriving about 30 minutes prior to sked departure, is read to the F/O by the captain.

The F/O reads back the PDC number to "clearance delivery." This is not usually done in the States. The American ATC, however, makes us guess what the take off runway is. In Canada, its spelt (spelled) out.

Then the PF briefs the departure, and sets the heading and initial altitude in the FCU loctaed along the glare shield.

Finally, the flight plan data is inputted into the flight management computers. Each "page" is inputted in the exact same order.

The PF then gives a "take off" briefing. We must also review certain emergency procedures prior to each pairing called, "I wills and you wills." Sort of like wedding vows. Initiated by the captain, we brief a rejected take off, engine failure or fire after V1 and emergency descents.

"In the event of an abnormality prior to V1 I will call "continue" or "reject." If the decision is to reject, I will.....blah, blah, blah."

By this time, things are starting to happen. The "lead" is checking in from down below getting a "communication check." Plus they usually want to pull the external power so the APU (Auxiliary Power Unit) should be up and running. If not, things get dark really fast. :)

We note the cargo doors closing up and the in-charge is at the door asking whether they can close the cabin door. The passenger count is given and we will compare our "final" figures" with theirs. For the Airbus the tolerance is 3:6. The count must be within 3 passengers for each cabin zone and the total must be within 6.

Once the flight deck door is closed ( we are locked in our cubby hole), the jetway has moved away from the plane and our final load figures is received from the datalink, and reviewed, we get a push back clearance. BUT not before a "before start" checklist is complete.

The F/O reads it and the captain responds.


APU Bleed...."ON"

Ext-pwr/Fuel/NWS..."light out, checked, disconnected"



Y-Pump/X-bleed..."OFF" and "auto"

Beacon & signs.. "On, on, auto"

Thrust levers..."Idle"

The F/O then says"Before Start Checklist Complete" (Every checklist must be acknowledged as complete).

Pushback is requested...we are on our way!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Pilot Perseverance: His first job!

Here's one story of a student pilot's first job fresh out of flight school. When I look at the pictures it makes me appreciate my cushy job wearing a white "short sleeve" shirt at flight level 390. :)

I've flown over CYMO enroute to more exotic destinations, plus I used to analyze upper air data from the weather balloon they launch twice a day from there.

But as the saying goes, "we all got to start somewhere." And yes, I've been there. :)

I've been teaching a one year aviation college diploma at the Brampton Flight Center the last few years. It will cost you about $55,000 to $60,000, but with it, you'll come out with a multi-engine IFR ticket with an "aviation diploma." This year enrollment is up. For those that absolutely know flying is what they want to do, then a "quickie" diploma course is the way to go. (I think) Part of my routine includes taking them to Toronto's deice center and giving a tour of Air Canada's flight planning facility. Plus I teach them high level 'met.'

Here's David's story (slightly modified)

I first heard about this job through an instructor at Brampton. He said that Wabusk Air was looking for rampies to start immediately. I sent in my cover letter and resume that day and was surprised to get a response the next day. That weekend my dad and I drove to Cochrane and took the train to Moosonee. We were shown the operation and got a little tour of the town and I had my interview. A week later I was offered the job thanks to (CFI of Brampton) who knew the cheif pilot very well. I started on September 6, 2010 as a ramp attendant and part time pilot. At first I wasn't expecting to fly for at least 6 months when my probation was up, but started occasionally flying the King Air 90 about a month after I started. Since then I've logged about 30 hours on it and there's talk about starting training on the Navajo. I won't become a full time pilot until I've reached 500 hours and theres another rampie to replace me. You don't make much starting out ($15,000/yr) but you will get raises as you move up the ladder. Its a lot of hard work and its not for everyone but you will gain lots of experience very quickly if you tough it out.

This is David trying out the deice simulator during our tour last year.

His first airline.
Some of the beautiful hangars he gets to see.

Some of the neat airports he will fly to.

A couple of King Airs. For most pining for the sky getting on a "twin" like this would make them drool. True story.

Typical day at work contending with icing conditions.

An iced up windshield...been there.

View Larger Map

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Air Canada training facility

I found this recently made video to recruit business. It shows our sparkling new training facility in Toronto. Even though it makes my skin crawl a little to see all those simulators, it's where I now teach weather to the new hires. Speaking of which, I must modify my PowerPoint presentation - make it more interesting. I teach another class on the 13th.

The other simulator building has been leveled and now a vacant lot. When I drive by to enroute for a medical, I do a double take. The stories that could be told if that lot could talk.

Oh well, new is nice and its onward and upward!

P.S I need three questions for March's enRoute magazine. I also posted this request on Facebook. Got lots of good questions, but many I already answered. So put your thinking caps on. If you can, make the question short because I only have 90 words to answer - and that includes the question. Tight constraints - I know. :)

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Book Review - JET AGE

Captain Doug's book review. JET AGE: The Comet, the 707, and the Race to Shrink the World

Jet Age

It took war to create the jet engine. It took rivalry to develop the B707 against the British made de Havilland Comet.

Sam Howe Verhovek's well researched book, Jet Age, depicts the pinnacle events of the “jet age”…starting from its infancy…to when a passenger is whisked at 500 mph in total comfort. He does this by not simply regurgitating dates, events and developments, but by conveying a personal side to things.

His take on this magnificent era resists chronological order as he renders aviation events with a unique slant. The book moves back and forth in time and to and fro geographic settings. All of which entices the reader. For me, his book rekindled an interest in aviation history.

We, the flying public (pilots included), sometimes need reminding of just how majestic a modern airliner is. And Verhovek's book reminds us how competition, innovation, failure, conflict but perseverance paid off to shrink our world....


The book starts off with the rivalry with the British and the Americans as to who will rule the airways. How else to get the competitive juices flowing? The British came out strong with the Comet…”It appeared almost impossibly sleek, its four “Ghost” engines tucked into the wings.”

He then whisks the reader across the Atlantic to the extreme American northwest city of Seattle, Washington to read about Boeing’s infancy. The B707 emerged at the helm of test pilot Tex Johnston and Verhovek keeps you entertained of Tex and his antics. Especially flying the B707 completely inverted during the official launch the B707 program.

One also can’t overlook two great innovators who both lay claim to the invention of the jet engine – Frank Whittle of England and Hans von Oahin of Germany during WWII. Talk about rivalry!

Neat facts

The author brings to light lots of neat hidden facts. For instance, the Wright brothers’ first full account of their aerial feat came by a reporter in a beekeepers journal called Gleanings in Bee Culture.

You’ll also learn about Geoffrey de Havilland, an aviation titan and brains behind the Comet, and his obsessions in aviation. Today the name de Havilland is still synonymous to aviation.


Because the author resides in Seattle, Washington, the book dwells heavily on Boeing. Why not? They rule(d)!

For me as an airline pilot nearing ten thousand hours on an Airbus it didn’t hurt one bit. :) Boeing makes great aircraft and my next endorsement will be a Boeing product. Though the word “Airbus” didn’t make it in his book, I still loved the read. And you will too!

The airliner

The airliner…what an invention! Sure the Internet, and telecommunications broke down political walls, but the airliner shattered borders, shrunk our world and opened new horizons.

In the time it takes the world to spin half a rotation, one can be on the other side of the planet, enshrouded by a foreign language, culture, philosophy and way of life.

Sam Howe Verhovek nails this shrinking phenomenon by describing the aviation feat…”for the first time, in however rudimentary and precarious and brief a fashion, man could direct the course of his flight. It had taken the human race thousands of years to get to this step; in less than half a century, people would be able to step aboard a jet airliner and move at the unthinkable speed of 500 miles per hour.”

Book Purchase

So go to your local bookstore or go on line and order up this great read on the emergence of the jet age. Anyone who has flown on an airplane, either as a passenger or flight crew, will be entertained of Verhovek’s detective like tales.

Here’s the book’s website and where you can buy it:


Thursday, December 2, 2010

Why fly-bys in an airliner is not good for job security....

Three posts ago, I included some low fly-bys in fighter jets. Now here's one in an airliner. It must have been noisy in the flight deck. No...not the shrills of excitement...but with the airplane yelling something like..."Too low Gear!" "Too Low Flaps!" "Too low Gear" "Too low Flaps!" ......

Apparently the skipper of this Cathay Pacific 777 got the "pink slip."

For me, I'll stick to the script...thank you. :)

December's enRoute

Here's December's line up! (I'm not sure why they didn't post November's) One of our reader's young son got his name up in lights for asking about static wicks. You can too by sending in your questions. Here's a link to my enRoute blog.

Knowing the static wick question made the cut, I took a few pictures of them myself. But they unfortunately didn't make the cut. See below.

Q: What are those small “sticks” on the wings?
David Tobin

Those sticks are “static wicks,” which disperse static electricity. Very dry air and flying near thunderstorms can create a buildup of electricity. You’ll see the wicks on the trailing edges of the wings, wingtips and tail, and they can be numerous: There are 13, for example, on just one wing of the Airbus that I fly! These metal sticks provide a conductive path from the aircraft back to the atmosphere. For fuelling, a grounding wire is connected to the airplane to rid it of static buildup.

Q: Why is landing gear retracted immediately after takeoff, but deployed well in advance of landing?
Amit Pushkarna

The landing gear is tucked up into the belly immediately after liftoff because of its immense drag. For landing, we configure the aircraft to slow down by lowering the flaps and landing gear in sequential order, starting 10 to 15 miles from the runway, depending on aircraft type. There’s a lot going on in the landing phase, so procedure dictates that the gear must be fully extended three to eight miles back.

Q: What happens to an aircraft when it overnights at an airport?
Julian Wang
Lee’s Summit, Missouri

Many aircraft remain at the gate and are readied for the morning, while others are moved “off gate” to sit out the night. During winter, external heaters are maintained to keep everything toasty, mainly to protect the water system from freezing. Some aircraft have scheduled checks, and, frequently, we are met by a maintenance crew as the last passenger exits. Checks are done either at the gate or, for more extensive checks, in the hangar.

Static wicks (lots of them)

"Static wicks - a la stratocumulus background"
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