!!!!! 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.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011


Dirty Captain "D"

You probably thought this is going to be another self-rightious, sanctimonious, "holier than thou" post about my projects. Here we go again....what does this have to do with flying????

To be honest, I thought I'd shed some light as to what an airline pilot does to save a few bucks...his own landscaping. Funny my neighbour last year told me, "Doug, we hire people for this." But he is a lawyer. :)

Yesterday I loaded seven cubic yards of heavy clay soil and water ladened sod into this dumpster. Today I wheelbarrowed seven cubic yards of screening and gravel to the backyard. And I ordered more to accommodate the stone deck I'm building the size of a helipad for "number one." In one month I will be turning 50 and the entire time I'm thinking, "I'm getting too old for this." I thought my toughest decision in this stage of life is what golf course do I join? LOL

Yesterday, when my son took this pic I started querying his friends on a little bit of math.
I asked, "if my wheelbarrow holds 3 cubic feet and this dumpster holds 7 cubic yards, how many trips did I make?"

Their response, how many feet are in a yard? Okay, we in Canada and most of the world are metric but the conversion has been slow. For example I was charged by the size of the dumpster (cubic yards) but the weight goes by tonnes (metric tonnes). I do realize the best way to learn something is to immerse in it, like learning a language, but what are kids learning in school? I know a couple of teachers...so they are going to blast me. :)

I told my son's friend, there is three feet in a yard. His retort...."I'm Canadian, I don't have to know that."

I chuckled for two reasons. One, the guy set Captain D straight. Second, I guess we Canadians can't be pilots since we don't know feet.

Pilots swing both ways (metric and Imperial). We talk Celsius (actually I convert it to Fahrenheit when flying in/out of the States), feet for altitude, feet and statute miles (5280 feet) for visibility (North America) and truth be told we pilots work in other units such as nautical mile (6080 feet) for distance, knots (nautical mile/hour) for speed and we use a unitless entity called MACH for cruising speed. Pilots are all over the map as far as units so why don't kids know how many feet are in a yard?

Funny, my next set of enRoute questions include, "what is a flight level." I better include what a foot is in my explanation. :)

F.Y.I the answer is 63 loads...but I snuck a little more in... :)


Skitten said...

Eh, some of us can but hope to be in such a situation when we hit 50 ;)

Captain Doug said...


You're right! I'm at a good spot in life and I have my health.

Welcome to my blog!

[email protected] said...

Doug .. Should you have asked him how long it will take him to move the remaining load for you?

Anonymous said...

Nice post Captain D.

Interesting thing is I am reading a book by Ronald McElroy called "Mental Math for Pilots".

I do have my curiosity, how long does it take you to get all the conversion formulas memorized, or does it come naturally due to constant need to do the math?!

Wannabe Mike

jack said...
This post has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Capt'n Doug,

Sitting in the Winnipeg Lounge and had a question after a flight from Flin Flon. When we were taking off, both the pilot and the FO had their hands on the "throttle". Is this common practice and what was it they were doing? Just helping out, or is it to guarnatee that things are done right? It was interesting to be behind the pilots and have no door to the flight deck and have no security at boarding.

Soon boarding a "bus" for YYZ...


getjets said...

Ok Captain "DIRT", I mean Doug....lol ...I just saw "Live" the A-388 land at LAX (YSSY/SYD-LAX)...that was exciting, the live cam just happen to pointing in the right direction....

"QFA11 you are cleared to land...24R....make the last turn left on BRAVO BRAVO....and hold short of 24L"

translation--that A-388 almost needed sunscreen, practically on the beach front....I could be exaggerating a bit....


Cedarglen said...

Nice Post, Doug. I'm 60 in a week, retired and dig in the mud (or whatever)almost every day. It makes me think 50 and feel 70!
Another (Math) Question for son's friend: "How many kids is too many kids?" .
My error on the old 767 experience. I have the mistaken through for a while. When it is your turn, the change will be easy - you're a pro and you apparently 'know your numbers,'

Cedarglen said...

Make that 'held the mistaken thought...' Heck! I can't read or type anymore. Too much mud and brush, I guess. -Craig.

Tim G in MN said...

63 trips is correct, but please make sure the kids understand that there are 27 cubic feet in a cubic yard, not just 3. I am 50 and have been struggling to help my daughetr with her 7th grade algebra... well actually, I've been struggling with her math since about 4 grade... My mantra: It's good to be a Liberal Arts major!

Tim G in MN said...

Cedarglen, see you are not the only one who can't type!

getjets said...

Quote..."Pilots swing both ways"....mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm

THANKGODTHEMIGHTY...there's such a thing as the 'end of the sentence'.....

Anon...oh you already know who I am.....

plus you steel dirt...what a week your having.....

you know I am joking....funning, kidding, having a good time at your expense... right????
I heard it's a sign of affection....
urban myth...

Andrew said...

The gliders and the C172's I've trained in were in mph on the airspeed indicator. :)
Incidently, does the Airbus computer handle all the conversions between units?

grantingram said...

I always feel like I'm writing with the wrong hand when using non metric units, but I guess you I've got a little spoiled being able to use one set consistently.

Glad to see the weather in Canada is sunny without a cloud in the sky :-)

Captain Doug said...

Hi Duane.

You must have been in an airplane with no autothrust. :) What you saw was one guy setting the take off thrust and the other fine tuning it.

In the Airbus world, it's two clicks to set take off thrust. Sweet. If the F/O is flying he sets the take off thrust and then removes his hand.
The captain then places his hand on the thrust levers in case of a reject.

Good observation on your part!

Enjoy the "bus" ride to YYZ!

Captain Doug said...

Thanks Jack about the Albertan math. My question to my son's friend didn't involve a conversion. I thought it was a straight up question for us Canadians.

Aviation is probably the biggest user/abuser of a hodge-podge of units.

Captain Doug said...

Chris. Very funny! Actually, I asked the question when the bin was near full.

But judging from his answers, he probably would have told me to "go pound sand." LOL

I thought we were going to talk about thunderstorms last weekend? I even got the green light from my boss, no not "number one," but my real boss. :)

I'm off to Cuba and back this Saturday and then to Mexico city on Sunday.

Captain Doug said...


One doesn't need many conversion formulas in the airline world. Sure you should know how to convert Celsius to Fahrenheit when briefing American
passengers or that 500 knots is approximately 1000 km/hr when telling tales to the passengers, but in the "big leagues" conversion is kept to a minimum.
The airplane does a lot of it as well. :)

Now get back to memorizing. LOL

Captain Doug said...

Getjets. Glad you are still enjoying watching "big bird" land. Bringing an A380 into LAX, now that is special! :)

Captain Doug said...


I hear ya! The last three days I felt like a 70 year old getting out of bed. But it's amazing what a coffee, sunshine and "number one" barking out orders can do. LOL

As far as the kids question, I'm leaving that one alone. :)

Captain Doug said...

Tim G in MN

LOL. I hear you about helping kids with math. My middle daughter fits the bill. In fact, she will be off to university this fall and she won't be majoring in math. Looks like another Liberal Arts major coming this way in Canada as well. :)
But that's not so bad!

Captain Doug said...


It's day three slinging mud, gravel and what not. I can hardly wait for work on Saturday.
I will be strolling to Cuba and back to Montreal for the night. I should be picking up on my Spanish this month...five Mexico City layovers, one Cancun and one Cuba.

Captain Dirt

Captain Doug said...


I knew you were going to have "fun" with that comment!

I'm certain it opened a few eyes a little wider.

I was going to talk about pilots and their sexual preferences, etc. but I'll stop right there.

I will say one thing, the demographics is changing in the flight deck.

And NO I'm not talking about me!!! LOL

Captain Doug said...

Grantingram. Spoiled is a good way of putting it. :)

Looks like you are busy with a blog as well. :)

Yes, the weather here in Ontario at least, is looking more like spring.

Bring it on!

Thanks for the visit!

Captain Doug said...


Airbus handles feet to meters. Gallons to litres to kilograms for fuel. Inches of mercury to millibars for pressure.

That's all we need. We are good to go! :)

Bas said...

Nice Captain! A pilot who does things himself, very good! (I bet most people think they're 'to good' to do it theirselves...)

And it's satisfactioning right!? After a hard day of work, it feels good. (Well, atleaset I do after painting grandma's & grandpa's whole interior lol)

Captain Doug said...

Bas. Many people in the neighbourhood wonder where I find the time....but that is one great benefit about being an airline pilot.

But you are right, there is satisfaction of doing things yourself. It's a motivator let alone you save money. :)

Plus it's difficult to get people to do it and get quotes. There is a phenomena I call the "Oakville effect" where contractors charge "Oakville dollars." (Oakville is the city I live) They judge the neighbourhood and then charge accordingly.
Just an observation. :)

Good to see you can do manual labour. I think I spoiled my three kids. Not one of them lifted a shovel. But "number one" came out and helped. I thought I was seeing things due to heat stroke. She lasted five minutes. But hey, it's the thought that counts!

I'm off to buy 600 square feet (note non metric units) of heavy stone and I will be buying it with my "Oakville dollars." LOL

Aviatrix said...

Geez Doug, I paid someone to build a wall on my property. He makes more an hour than I do, though.

And no, Canadian kids don't have to know how many feet in a yard. Canadian vendors HAVE to sell in metric. It's the law. I'm becoming very annoyed at my supermarket for putting the per kilogram prices in tiny tiny letters. The first generation of Canadians that grew up in metric are wearing bifocals now. Move out of the measurement system that is official in the US, Liberia and Myanmar. AND NOWHERE ELSE.