!!!!! 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.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Mentoring 101

Like any endeavour, you have to start somewhere. "A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step." Yah, I know you heard that a million times. But you have to know what you want or at least have a vague idea. My backyard is my "vague idea." "Number one" had the game plan.

Everything was ad libbed including the trellis. You have to build it before you lay the stone. Think of this as your private pilot license.

But you have to invest in sweat equity and keep focused. Yes, perseverance wins but it sure can be tough going. This is your commercial license and you are going heavily in debt. No one is there to help nor give you guidance. Hesitation sets in.

Another step. Literally! They weighed over 300 pounds (140 kg). This is your multi engine IFR rating. Things are moving along but you are asking,"is this worth it?" Why didn't I hire someone? Why did I chose this career?

Then there are curve balls. Career changes. Set backs. All those stones (about 500 square feet) some weighing 50 pounds were pulled up because "number one" thought things weren't quite right. Yes, your career is not going to be easy. Nor will it happen fast. Sure a few lucky ones seem to do it right the first time, but not the majority. That includes me!

But you keep plugging along and it pays off. You have arrived. You achieved your goal.
Talk about a great feeling......

Here's a recent email I received. A person who started with a backyard like mine but didn't like the outcome. Should he be thankful for what he has or does he rebuild?

Dear Capt. Morris,

I've been a long time reader of your enroute articles. Not sure when they started, but I swear coming across them almost ten years ago if my memory serves me right. I read them while commuting to Toronto from Saskatoon for a job i had out of university. Ironically, it was always reading those articles that I new I was probably in the wrong field. Recently, I bought your book while I was on vacation in Palm Springs. I was searching a book store down there and saw your name and had no idea you had a book, and remembering your articles, I had to buy it. It's very good.

So, trying to make this short, I've always had a passion for aviation. Right from probably three or four years old - because my dad would take me to the airport every weekend and we'd hang out there for hours doing all sorts of stuff. Those were good days. Somehow, I figured getting an education would be a good first step, and I got a degree which led to a job... which led to many years going by. In the meantime i got my private license but don't have too many hours. It's so expensive to fly recreationally. 

I'm 33, and have a great corporate job but my heart still belongs in aviation.
To be honest, i don't really care too much about the money, I just think I'd be so much happier even being on a small turbo-prop someday, versus being in my position today. I figure making it to an airline might be a struggle as most new hires are in their mid thirties. I'd be 43 if I got my act together today. 

My question is, do you have some ideas as to building initial experience for a person in my shoes/age. I'm pretty lucky. I have no debt and money saved up. I was thinking of buying a 172, flying on the weekends/evenings to build some decent PIC time, while knocking on doors of the the small operators here at YYC like Sunwest and North Cariboo. I'd keep my office job for now to pay for this. I figure even in a year i can get some decent time under my belt. I'm not sure if flying privately equates to instructing time or working the ramp etc. Or, maybe going to an aviation college is the best route but i have two degrees now, work experience and want to solely build time. Anyhow, i don't want to waste your time. I've written too much but wanted your opinion as you're someone I highly respect, not only for your experience, but enthusiasm and passion - which is what really makes me open my eyes and realize I should be following my passion too. Like the saying goes, never a better time than the present.

Thank you for your time and keep up all the good work.

My response:

Sir (name kept anon), you have been bitten by the "bug" and the only way to cure it is to live your dream!!!!

You already have education so your best bet is to grab an instructor, go in debt and fly,fly, fly! :)))

I too gave up another career - a cushy federal job as a meteorologist.

But before I made the jump I was a flight instructor part time. I built up about 800 hours so I could be employable for a navajo job. The rest is history and don't give up because of your age. We have hired lots of pilots in their forties!!!!
I suggest the same for you - become a part time instructor until you are fully ready to make the plunge!

So go and get it! Make some phone calls and don't look back. It would be an atrocity to look back in life knowing you did not chase your dream/passion.

*********         ************     **************    ************
And here's a happy ending. From a local chief pilot.
He has just been hired on with Air Canada. I get to teach him weather this July!

Captain Doug,

Love the blog and reading about life on the line...

Thanks for the lucky vibes. It’s official- July 25 PIT (Pilot indoctrination training) course.

********                 *************        **************         ***************
I hope you are enjoying my blog. It's been a long flight and I think Captain Doug will be coming in for a landing. My next post will be in a couple of days....

NEW from reader RUBY!

Saturday, June 25, 2011


UNABLE....the word I curtly told ATC in reference to turning right toward a demonic turbulent infested thunderstorm. For some reason, it reminded me of Captain Sully’s retort prior to plunging in the Hudson River. I guess I didn’t want to plunge into THAT thunderstorm.

Miss Moody in the last few days took on many guises trying to win her way with me. Doesn’t she know I’m married? LOL But for her...it doesn’t matter. And for some reason the movie Fatal Attraction comes to mind.  :)))

She tried to woo me 100 miles north of Mexico City, but I kept my distance giving her a wide berth. Heck she even threw in St. Elmos fire to up the mood. I wasn’t biting.

I thought she would leave me alone as we headed north to Montreal. But she changed her Mexican accent to a soft French “bonjour Captain D.” How did she know I love that accent? :)))) But the F/O and I scuttled around her again. That woman is relentless!

One more leg, Montreal to Toronto to end our four-day pairing and I knew there would be another confrontation with the "iron lady."

We get airborne only to see one heck of a nasty dark ominous killer cloud wreaking havoc over the city of Ottawa. There are two traffic corridors in this busy Toronto-Ottwa-Montreal triangle. Ms Moody sat her fat butt over our nation’s capital reluctant to head northeast. We wanted to head upwind i.e. to the Southwest. Any pilot wants to head up wind of thunderstorms and one Montreal controller let us do it.

But the next controller had nothing to do with it. “Turn right now. You are heading into the other southern corridor (and American Airspace)” were his paraphrased words.

“Unable!” I retorted. Many think we are to serve ATC, but they are there to safely get us from A to B expeditiously. The last few days all of the ATC centres were receptive to headings and altitude changes to stay away from Ms. Moody...until our last leg. This controller was not budging. Sometimes these guys need reminding their offices aren’t moving at 500 mph, they can’t be hit by lightning or be shaken and rattled in  severe turbulence only to scare the “you know what” out of the customers and ME!



We continue on our southwest heading.


Finally, he comes back... "maintain you heading and contact Boston Center. You will have to deviate 250 miles into American airspace."

Before I left I tried to soften the friction. For those that know me, I am NOT contentious but when it comes to weather you better pack a lunch because I am an all day job.
Many pilots think the weather man is always wrong. Don't trust them. My answer to that...."would you like to have a chat?"

Our track from Montreal to Toronto

I could hear Montreal, Toronto, Boston and Cleveland ATC watching our "blip" swim upstream like a spawning salmon and saying, “WTF?”

I switched over to Boston ATC anticipating a lecture...but a reassuring “welcome” greeted me. Large deviations are stressful...for the pilot, for the controller, for the passengers as they have tight connections and for FUEL. A sense of calm must prevail. 

We stay clear of the thunderstorm that closed the Ottawa airport and caused detours into Montreal.

Both the F/O and I looked back to where our track would have taken us. We both sat in total comfort knowing full well we made the right decision touching down only 15 minutes late.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, “better to arrive late in this world than early in the next.”

Thursday, June 23, 2011

She was MOODY last night!!!

And you thought I was going to talk about "number one!" LOL

Nope, I'm talking about Mother Nature and her nasty convective attributes last night. She gave Captain D a run for his money during the wee hours of the night. She tried to seduce me into her lightning infested build ups...but "Metman Morris" had no part of it!!!

She even tried to throw me a curve ball enticing me with open arms by supplying a falsified hole to see if I would take the bait. She flirted, but I flirted in hesitation. She began to wrap herself around me. Shit! I gotta get out of here and that we did. 

How's that for the opening lines to post number 400!!!! No more..."I pulled back, we began to fly" posts! LOL Okay, okay, I had way too much coffee during breakfast. :)

Last night we dodged her  nicely while inbound from Winnipeg, Manitoba to home base. She sprawled Cbs (thunderstorms) peaking at 45,000 feet across Southern Ontario. But I did notice she was rearming with more weather ammunition upwind of Toronto. I said to my F/O while being vectored onto runway 05, "there is going to be a 'red alert' when we launch for Montreal." And sure enough!

It came down in buckets as we sat and watched the strobe lights flash confirming thunderstorms were within 3 miles of the airport...we were under a "RED ALERT." Captain D explained the term to our awaiting passengers. After all, it sounds like the Russians are finally invading or Martians have landed. :)))

Finally, she moves off to the Northeast but she looked back "skirt flirting me" knowing full well Captain D will be setting course toward her.

We launch off 23, yes the winds reversed as Miss Moody moved off. Instead of taking a turn to the usual south, our dispatch suggested we try to outrun her to the north. 

Boy, did she put on a light show! We were in dense cloud so I turned off our strobes to get a fix on her seductive light show. The moon rose in the East giving enough light to see her bulging augmenting tops.

We were flight planned at FL 270 to Montreal and I knew we would be requesting higher. Just a bit of cloud to climb above and we were free of her wickedness. But no, she built underneath me heaving her fullness to my A321 rocking me in moderate turbulence. Request FL 330 I curtly averred to my F/O. The conversation was to the point...no idle chit chat tonight at 1:00 a.m. We had a "bitch" to contend with!

But she wasn't giving up. Her tops built. Request 350! She now threw lightning underneath while she enticed. Finally, at flight level 370 she relented! We kept the seat belt sign on for the remainder of the flight in case she cussed at us as a bad loser would.

But the weather charts below depict she is still lurking. I will have to contend with her again today enroute to Mexico City. I'm not going near that moody woman! And flight dispatch better make it so. :)))

Note the large comma shaped cloud indicative of an intense system. The  curvature of the "comma" is located over the Great Lakes where a surface low pressure system sits. An elongated trough and front lies southwestward all the way to Mexico.

Latest surface analysis with some radar returns. Note the stuff in the Gulf of Mexico. Guess where Captain D is heading?
Getjets can you move some of that stuff out of the way over your neck of the woods? lol

Monday, June 20, 2011

Ten more on the seniority list

Well Captain D took off that dorky hat that made me look like a "golf tee" and put on his weather hat. 

Actually meteorologists don't wear hats, but you know what I mean.

For over four hours I pounded the new hire class with meteorology.

I showed them weather reports are not in the same format around the world. What does 9999 mean for Heathrow's METAR? (Answer: unlimited visibility)

I showed them the device that measures RVRs is no longer a transmissometer but a forward scattered RVR sensor.

I asked them where are all aviation forecasts are written in Canada? No one knew, no one ever knows and to be honest no one cares. :))) It doesn't matter really. But in case you are wondering it's Edmonton, Alberta and Montreal, Quebec. Kansas city looks after most of the American cities.

We talked about the tropopause. Only two of the ten candidates ever penetrated the "trop."
One flew the B737 for Sunwing and the other...a business jet.

Then we chatted about jet streams. Minimum speed for it to be labelled a jet stream is 60 knots.

Turbulence. What is the difference between chop and turbulence? There are six different types of turbulence and one is man made - wake turbulence. What is the separation for a medium (A320) behind a medium (another A320)? There is none. One in the class knew this. I didn't until a few days ago.

Then it was significant weather charts, icing, volcanic ash, space weather, and weather websites.

A great bunch and I think they learned something.

Off on a four day mission tomorrow. I avoided four day pairings. How did that get there?

Oh well, Winnipeg here I come!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

The "Runway Run" down

I'll say it for you, "Yes, Captain Doug has a big head!"

Meteorologically speaking it was perfect. Actually, a light northwest wind advected jet fumes to the runway. Ordinarily, pilots like the smell of jet exhaust but when you are panting like a overworked thirsty dog with it's tongue hanging out, it added to the challenge. It's my excuse...anyway...

Logistically speaking (on my end) it worked out well. Giving my talk in front a crowd of over 2000 went without a hitch and selecting the winners for two tickets anywhere Air Canada flies and an hour's simulator session..flawless. I was thrown to the wolves as far as the P.R guy for Air Canada. As you know we went throw a tumultuous week with labour unrest so management was not to be seen. But the show must go on!

My talk was short. I knew people were more interested in running.

Here's some of what I said....

Good morning everyone...this is YOUR CAPTAIN SPEAKING!!! (yes, I still get laughs from that opening line)

To all of my fellow runners and walkers! It’s not every day a person gets to run or walk down a runway. So I’ve laced up my running shoes to join you out there today.

For me, a pilot with 18,000 hours, it will be the first time I step foot on a runway. Think about it, if I’m walking on a runway, I’m not having a good day....

We had an Airbus 319 parked at the start/finish line.
It's painted with the Kids Horizons decals. 
This was my first race...ever. I ran 5 km in 22:59. Not bad for a guy who did not train in the last two weeks because he was following orders in the backyard from "number one" plus I dislike running. I placed 66th out of 1086 runners.

The winning team. Yes, we won the "centipede" group and our times  beat the "other" team grouping as well.
We donned blue Kid's Horizons shirts for some P.R shots.

The fella on the extreme left came 13th overall. Our slowest runner, recently promoted to left seat of the B777 had to walk for a bit. But he said a very rotund lady (I'm not using his own words here) passed him. That was enough for him to start running again and beat her to the finish line. Men! Pilots! 

This Georgian aviation management student in Barrie (an hour away) drove to meet me and to get my book signed. First time I signed a book in the intake of a jet engine. :)))

There were lots of other departments present for the families. This is "Birdman" who drives around the airport with a trained falcon to scare off birds. One day, his falcon took a disliking to my Airbus during taxi. The bird soon realized I was not a threat. True story.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Back (and) to the Future

This first video was sent from an aviation enthusiast who works for an aviation software company. I never flew floats but the Beaver sure did romanticized the endeavour. It's something on my "to do" list.

Chris from the Weather Network sent me this second link on what Airbus is thinking for the future. Some neat stuff!

And speaking of the future, I'll be giving a talk to 35 young students tomorrow morning.
It's the same grade I decided being a pilot would be a cool thing to do. Maybe I'll convince one or two the same thing? Having said that, more will ask questions in becoming a flight attendant. Go figure.... :)))

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Contending with Thunderstorms

After having my interview with "Chris" from the Weather Network in the morning, I flew to Mexico City that afternoon. Sure enough we had to dodge some "cbs" in Northern Louisiana.


(The title is "Flying in Thunderstorms." As you know we don't fly "in" thunderstorms but "near" them) :)))

Note: Please overlook the competition's winglet. Apparently, that's all the footage they could find. :))))

Here you see two "blurry" Airbus screens. I have to get a new digital. Rumour has it Captain D may see one for father's day. :)

The right screen depicts the area of thunderstorms. We were at 38,000 feet and the picture below depicts us flying between two topping much higher than us. We had a tailwind as depicted in the top left corner of the ND (NAV display). The green dashed line was our flight plan and the solid line was out present track. (...and yes the topic of Air France 447 comes up on a regular basis when we fly near thunderbumpers).

The F/O did an excellent job weaving around them. Yes, he took us to Mexico city. I have yet to land there although I've been there four times in the last month. That's part of the package when you fly with me...first leg, I buy coffee and do the first walk around. Many F/Os are taken aback because of it. I would buy the first beer, but these MMMX trips have dismal "beer math." Pity....

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Email/pics/feedback from you...

From Leon in Calgary....

Hi Captain Doug

A question popped up in my head the other day and I was wondering if you could address it in either your blog or in enRoute.

If winglets (as found on newer jets such as ERJs and next gen B737) produce less drag aerodynamically and more fuel efficient, then why are they not found on the newest big jets such as A380 and B777?


Leon. Excellent question. If you look at the B777's wing you'll see it has a unique twist near the wing tip. I believe it's called a raked wing.
Boeing determined by increasing wing area and by fine tuning the design it was not necessary to add winglets. Winglets can be an issue in tight spots on the ground as well. They just don't go up but bend outward on many aircraft. 

I was going to say Boeing didn't want to admit winglets worked because it was Airbus that lead the way.  Having said that the B747-400 and the new
B737s have winglets. Boy, I know I'm going to get flak from the Boeing camp on this. LOL

Heck, since I'm on a roll what about that control column? The new B787 still utilizes that "thing" between a pilot's legs. Sure you need it 
for take off and landing, but what about the 10 to 14 hours in between? Which leads me to the one of many Boeing/Airbus jokes. "An Airbus pilot
has nothing between his legs."

Leon, hopefully this question will stir the pot and will generate the real answer about B777's winglets.

From Rob in San Francisco

Doug, for gods sake quit being sorry for nothing.Your blog is by far the best out there. I look forward to reading it at all times. My best buddy is an F/A for Delta, 32nd year this year and I turned him onto your blog also. Now he is also flying the A319+A320. Hope you blog for years to come!!. Hope tp see you and your bus at SFO. Yeah I know you guys and gals dont like it but it is great for spotters.Great views of the 28s and even better spotters point at the hold short line of 01 right. KEEP IT UP!!

From Getjets in New Orleans

Nice shot of our A320 on approach into Las Angeles

From Christer in Charlotte, North Carolina

Shot taken during an airport visit with his sons. Lufthansa flies there with an 

From Konrad in Poland

 A military pilot aspiring to be an airline pilot. (Received this morning)

From Brian in Ontario.
"Speaking of weather, my very humble meteorological claim to fame is an encounter with Kelvin-Helmholtz instability over Georgia a couple of years ago."

He is chief pilot of a small charter company and had an interview with Air Canada.
He is still waiting for the results. I have my fingers crossed.

I hope I didn't miss anybody. Thanks everyone.

Chris St. Clair (Oakville, Ontario....my hometown)

Before I go I'd like to thank Chris St. Clair at the Weather Network for having me in this morning for a few questions on weather. You should see my "mug shot" now and again for the next few days...in the meantime...anyone want to come to Mexico City this afternoon? ....gone flying.... Captain D

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Parachuting in....

No this post is not about the standard retort a pilot gives when asked whether they sky dive and the answer being..... "why jump out of a perfectly good airplane?" lol

This is about pilots "parachuting in" above you in the pecking order.

Last week I alluded to an equipment bid with some positive movement, promotions and potential hiring. As I mentioned, I have a "standing bid" to position me on the bottom wrung on the Toronto base B767 captain's ladder.

Well I didn't get any closer to the "B767 Captain ladder." The bottom B767 captain is now 829 so seniority number 1171 (moi) is still 342 numbers away. Why didn't it move with open slots? Because senior B777, A330 and B767 first officers (with about 20 to 25 years or so seniority) plus senior A320 captains "parachuted in" ahead of me. But even when I do make it on the list, I will always run the risk of pilots parachuting in for years to come. Translation: being on reserve (on call), no summer vacation, no weekends or holidays off...no life. Hence, it goes back to the adage..."stay senior on junior equipment."

One good thing out of all of this...I went from 55% to 49% on the A320 list meaning Captain D may have Christmas off. It's a good thing because we booked two weeks in Mexico during that time.

There is more to being an airline pilot than just flying an airplane...being a part time lawyer to figure all this stuff out is one of them.... :)

Enjoying my layover in Montreal soon to launch for Mexico City....

Thursday, June 2, 2011

June's enRoute is up

Q: How does a pilot navigate on the ground?
Cameron Hammel
Oakville, Ontario
Taxi instructions require pilots to follow taxiways identified by a single or double letter displayed on those signs you see during taxi. Most instructions require a verbatim “read-back” from the pilot, especially if we are to “hold short” of a runway. Using the phonetic alphabet to identify the letters, a ground controller in Toronto, for example, may tell us to “taxi alpha, turn right onto hotel and hold short of runway 23.” We carry airport diagrams as well – some of the paperwork found in our flight bags – except for when we fly Boeing 777s, which have EFBs (electronic flight bags).
Q: How many flight attendants are required per flight?
Heather Baltzer
The general rule is one flight attendant per 40 passengers, but there are exceptions. Jazz, for example, requires only one flight attendant aboard the 50-seat Bombardier CRJ 100/200 series, while our regional operator, Air Georgian, has no flight attendants on its 19-seat aircraft (the pilots handle things). There may also be a minimum; the 174-seat Airbus A321, which I am also qualified to fly, must depart with at least five flight attendants, regardless of the number of passengers on board, while Air Canada’s Flight 015 to Hong Kong (a Boeing 777) must depart with 14 flight attendants.
Q: Can a pilot be qualified to fly more than one type of aircraft?
Alex Tsang
Sydney, Australia
Yes, it is possible for a pilot to be qualified on more than one aircraft, but at Air Canada a pilot flies only one type of aircraft, based on seniority. Extensive training courses (known as “checkouts”) are required to fly other types. Sometimes the course is shortened because of similarities between aircraft types, such as when I transitioned from the “big” Airbus to the “little” Airbus. But for me, the course proved to be especially challenging because I also upgraded from first officer to captain. My next airplane, the Boeing 767, will require two months of solid training. Flight attendants are qualified to fly on all types.

Doug Morris is an Air Canada pilot and captain on the Airbus A320. Got an aviation question? Send it to 

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... :)
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