!!!!! 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.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

September's enRoute

The enRoute party saw at least 250 to 300 people attend. I'm glad I dressed up artsy-fartsy to fit in. I am also glad I brought "number one" because the scenery proved impressive and I'm not talking Toronto's skyline. But, below is a pic of it anyway. :))))

I met my editor-in-cheif but she was super-duper busy "PR"ing. But she did say my page is extremely popular and I thanked her for keeping me. 

Toronto's skyline seen from the roof top party

Click on the article once or twice and you'll get a readable size. For some reason enRoute did not post September's edition on their aviation blog so here is what I received. 

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Bumpity Bump Bump

One of the many turbulence charts available out there. Noticed the Great Lakes. Click here for a link to this chart. You can see conditions at different levels and time frames.  

I've been doing lots of transcon (Transcontinental) flights in the last two weeks but the start of this pairing three days ago had us in areas of turbulence around the Great Lakes. And it's taking it's sweet time to leave.

Here's a couple of aviation charts (below) depicting a "cranky upper trough." Mother Nature has been stirring things up. Note the jet stream depicted over Lake Superior (the largest of the Great lakes in case you are wondering) heading south with speeds of 120 knots. (A triangle represents 50 knots of wind whereas as a hatch mark is 10 knots). Then there is a southerly jet (coming from the south) over Lake Ontario (where Toronto is located). This guy is responsible for the warm weather when I was running aimlessly around in Mount Royal, Montreal. 

I'm now in Halifax and ran around Point Pleasant Park. What an extraordinary day! Usually Monday follows two days of solid rain here in the Maritimes (LOL, I grew up here) but today (Sunday) people will be talking about this for days! 

Wind shear is defined as winds quickly changing in direction and/or speed. Because of this very tight upper trough it kicked off lots of moderate turbulence.

I know, I know... this weather talk is boring. 


Well flying from Montreal to Vancouver we ran into moderate turbulence. When this happens Captain D makes an announcement for the flight attendants to sit down. Well the in-charge ran to her seat a little too quickly and blew out her pants.

While seated she asked us through the inter-phone whether we could data link ahead to request pants. The F/O and I looked at each other and thought this aint gonna happen on a Friday evening. Actually this isn't going to happen period. There are no uniforms available at operation centers. But we humoured her and operations did come back with some suggestions. Perhaps she can wear overalls? Or for her to proceed to the baggage area where they fix things? And plus the size of pants she needed were well...how can I say this diplomatically...rather...um....(Okay I'll stop there) 

It reminds me of the story I heard where a pilot blew out his uniform pants many years ago. He took them off and flew in his underwear while a caring flight attendant sewed his pants. 
That's not going to happen on today's flights. lol

Note to self. Pack an extra pair of uniform pants. I carry an extra tie, epaulettes, socks, shirts, wings, etc but no pants. I don't think they would like me flying in my jeans. Either that, I better ease of the cookies and ice cream to prevent a future blow out. LOL

Gone flying. 

Back in the bumps to Toronto. 

The hatched yellow area over the Great Lakes is forecasting moderate turbulence from 29, 000 feet to 43,000 feet.

Another chart depicting those two nasty opposing jets (yellow lines). 

Friday, September 23, 2011

Them's the Brakes (air brakes and ground spoilers)

Okay, just one leg on a four day pairing to go. We met the pilots that took this bird in. It's always nice to get a quick briefing on "ride" conditions and if there are any new snags. They mentioned the speed brake handle was kind of hard to move and engage. Hmmmmmm?

We entered the flight deck with maintenance already on top of the situation. I could tell it wasn't good, the flight was late arriving, we had a full load and I suggested we delay boarding.

Like anything electrical nowadays it breaks down into components. With a few screws removed the "speed brake box" came out with cookie crumbs falling inside. It wasn't me! My DNA is not on those cookie crumbs....I think....

With a little shake, maintenance could tell something worked loose in the box. Could it be a raisin? LOL
Calgary maintenance said, "this is going to be a two to three hour delay." The replacement would have to arrive on a flight from Vancouver. I suggested opening the box, but the philosophy is don't fix... but "remove and replace." (Maybe this goes for a lot of things?) :)))

Maintenance, and we pilots, assumed there was no way we could dispatch without speed brakes and ground spoilers. But "Jacques from Airbus" thought differently..."mais oui, Monsieur!

What would this entail? A special code for take off numbers. Plus Captain D would have to stand on the brakes in case of a high speed reject (we did not have auto-braking). And we had to use"balls to the wall" (full power) on take off. No problem. For landing we would have to add 30% more for landing distance. No sweat when landing in Toronto.

The speed brake is used to slow us down or descend quicker. The F/O needed it when trying to meet a constraint on the arrival into Toronto, but did a great job making the altitude and speed.

During landing these speedbrakes along with the spoilers turn into ground spoilers but they would not deploy hence the distance penalty. The F/O landed and cleared where we usually do.

While flying along and when offered cookies and ice cream....I abstained. I don't know if seeing all those crumbs buried within the innards of the flight deck or seeing the fitness magazines the F/O was reading  put me off my "flight level treat."

Most don't realize a flight deck is also a kitchen. It's where we eat snacks, have our meals and drink coffee, tea, water, etc. It's also a great place to catch a cold. If the other pilot shows up with the sniffles, dollars to donuts you will be going home with them as well.

It's a place where tears are shed, confessions made, (it's sometimes a  confession box moving at 500 knots), stories are told, silence so thick you can cut it, where singing is done, some whistling (although one captain almost came out of his skin when I started whistling. It's been documented more than once whistling was the last thing heard on the cockpit voice recorder), financial talk is listened to, jokes are told, and where "wind is passed." I could write a book on what transpires in an office the size of a closet. But I'm not coming out of the closet!!! LOL


Here in Montreal on a gorgeous sunny downtown layover. I went to the gym with the last half painfully running on a treadmill. After eight minutes the treadmill went kaput!

Well I decided...where one door closes another opens so I left my key with the concierge and ran up (yes ran...taking almost an hour) Mount Royal. (Everyone who visits Montreal should walk Mount Royal. The view of Montreal is spectacular. And for those single guys out there, the scenery is amazing and I'm not talking squirrels and trees. lol)

It reminded me of my silly days climbing hills and mountains. I climbed Mount Massda (Dead Sea, Israel), Victoria Peak (Hong Kong), Grouse Mountain, Vancouver, B.C, Signal Hill, Saint John's, Newfoundland (Getjets that's a must visit), hills in Seoul, Korea, etc. and now Mount Royal in Montreal, Quebec. Looks like I'm still being silly at age 50 and I'm still climbing mountains.

Gone flying... yet another "cookies and ice cream" run to Vancouver. Luckily I burned a few calories today.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

....On Tour....

Visit to Dispatch

Every year I promise the one-year diploma Brampton flight Center students a tour of Air Canada dispatch, but this year we were a bit tardy. In fact these guys are finishing up their training and a new class started.
They will soon be walking around with a multi-engine IFR rating with a one year aviation diploma around their belt. 

We convened in the Emergency Response room and Keith (Manager of standards and training) gave us a PowerPoint demo on some neat stuff.

Most of the class in the Emergency Response Room. I sure hope that room is not used much. 

We learned it cost 65 cents per kilometer for navigation costs in Canada versus 19 cents in the States.  Places like Spain and Norway charge over $3 per km. Not sure why the kilometer was used when aviation distance is a nautical mile.

This slide depicts prices around the world. Blue is less than one dollar/km, orange is less than 2$/km, yellow less than 3$ and red is OVER $3/km. The slide is quite faded.

We also learned about the cost of polar routes, flying through Russian airspace or just avoiding it entirely by flying the NOPAC (Northern Pacific) Route. A flight from Vancouver to Hong Kong costs $12,000 for the Polar Route, $10,800 for the Russian Route with a bargain Walmart price of $4200 by avoiding Russian airspace with the Northern Pacific route. The Russian route only saves six minutes, so why bother? Well there is a huge juggling act going on with fuel, navigation costs, time. crew rest, weather, winds, airway closures, aircraft MEL (snags), etc. The polar route from Toronto to Hong Kong saves 30 minutes or more maybe over an hour.

Some of the many dispatch desks located on off airport premises.

We did a relatively quick tour of the actual dispatch area, where systems operations control, weight and balance, maintenance control and a whole bunch of other departments are needed to get an airliner airborne. Actually, it takes 14 dispatch desks working 24-7 to get 650 to 700 flights/day airborne around the world.

Because of contractual issues the students didn’t get to sit with an individual dispatcher, but they got a good lay of the land.

I wish I had the opportunity to visit such a place when I started flying. 

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Perks at flight level 360

The flight from Toronto to Vancouver was like most flights.... uneventful. Minneapolis Center cleared us to climb from FL 340 to FL 360 allowing us to stay on top of a cloud deck plus it's when the flight plan suggested we climb. The National Post crossword was completed. Everything was tickety-boo. Then I got the call. Urgency seemed to dominate the in-charge's voice. What was wrong? Did we have an unruly passenger, a sick passenger, a fuel leak? What? My heart raced a little. Then came the question....

Do you want cookies and ice cream?

Gotcha!!!!! LOL

My F/O abstained. Even though he didn't admit it, I think he was on a diet.
But Captain D hates to refuse when it comes to food. I told the in-charge no thanks, but changed my mind. One of my toughest decisions. 
Oatmeal raison and chocolate chip cookies at FL 360
By I denied the ice cream this time and changed the "batting order"...I asked for both a chocolate chip and oatmeal raison cookie. Heck, variety is the spice of life. :)

I am told there are no calories in cookies at FL360 because the air is thinner. LOL
Luckily my workout in the gym in the morning equated to what these babies were packing.

Now before I am accused of dumbing down my job....how is this...?
If you've seen the Mastercard commercials then it goes something like this...

Price of getting bare minimum pilot qualifications...about $60,000 to $75,000.
Salary you will make on your first job...about $15,000 to $20,000.
The luxury of sitting left seat in a $60 million Airbus with a tray table flying for your flagship carrier taking 20 to 25 years of your adult life to get there.... PRICELESS!!!!!!

Heck I might as well keep things light. By the time I walk in the door late Tuesday night from this four day pairing the flight attendants might be walking out the door. :(

Thursday, September 15, 2011


The question....

Captain Doug, 
As someone who flies (as a passenger) regularly on jets and helicopters I was wondering how to interpret the code given to runways?  The boards at the entrance and exit of runways and taxiways contains what appears to be a n unintelligible sequence of umbers but I am sure it must make sense to pilots.   
 Please clarify this system and where on-line you can obtain the key to understanding the system?

The answer... (Cedarglen...I did not forget your fuel question but your's is more involved) 
Hi (.....) I've attached a picture of these "boards" situated in Calgary, Alberta.

Picture compliments of "Kelly" in Calgary, Alberta

Each taxiway is affixed a letter. We have taxi charts to consult where these taxiways are.  

In this picture, the letters in the left forefront states you are taxiway Hotel (H) with taxiway Juliet (J) perpendicular to Hotel. Taxiway Charlie (C) is coming up on the right and taxiway Golf (G) is approaching on the left. Every letter is associated with the phonetic alphabet. My name...DOUG....is Delta Oscar Uniform Gulf.

Captain D holding short of runway 06 left in Toronto during category three operations. 

If you click on this pic you'll notice the letters are covered in snow. Where do we go? Sorry for the COLD picture for this time of year. 

The numbers you see near or on runways are oriented with the magnetic compass. 

Here's an excerpt from enRoute magazine. Julie aka GETJETS asked this.

Q: How are runways numbered? 

Julie Theriot
New Orleans, Louisiana
Runways are numbered from 1 to 36, according to their heading on the magnetic compass rose, consisting of 360 degrees and displayed in 10-degree increments. Runway 25 in Ottawa, for example, has a heading of 251 degrees. Large airports with parallel runways add a left and right designation, like runways 26L and 26R in Vancouver, both oriented 261 degrees. Because magnetic north shifts, runway numbers change over time. The runway I soloed on 31 years ago, runway 24 in Halifax, is now runway 23.
Captain D holding short of 18 left in Orlando, Florida

Yesterday in Toronto we were given taxi instructions... "taxi Delta, left on Echo, right on Tango across 33 Right and hold short of Bravo." Now you can see there is a higher chance of getting lost on the ground than in the air. LOL

Can you see the small font letters on this London, Heathrow taxi chart? My point exactly!!! I had a Jeppeson representative visit the flight deck a couple of years ago. "Any comments or concerns," he asked. "Yes, the font is too small on the taxi charts." His answer, "ah, it's you old skippers that always complain about this." Excuse me, but we old skippers taxi the airplane.....hmmmmm????

All private pilot training books would explain all of this. I see you are from England, but here in Canada we use From the Ground Up.

Oops, I pulled a major faux pas, this gentleman is from Scotland. 

Captain Doug

P.S I don't have a website per se, but if I ask my readers I'm certain someone can recommend a few. :) 

Dave, Foggy or Carlton et al can you recommend a local book on basic flying? :))
Or even a website? Thanks.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Catching up on "Pic of the day"

I mentioned I was getting a little low in the pictures department from you guys so now I'm inundated. Funny how that works. Well I thought I would catch up with a post.

Thanks for sending them in....and if I forgotten anyone...email me. :)

...again click on the photos to make them bigger...

Sent in by my number one commenter...yup...Getjets. 
 Getjets (New Orleans) sent me the one below but the pic was too small. So Bas (Netherlands) modified it. It depicts airline travel in one year.
I think this picture of the world's airline routes looks like a "butterfly."
Maybe I shouldn't admit that? It may have ramifications just like a pilot saying clouds look like bunny rabbits. lol

And speaking of clouds...this cloud looks like it's on fire. Christer from Charlotte, North Carolina said air traffic was rerouted overhead due to these convective clouds that "just showed up."

This is the bus "James" (I posted a pic of James from Edmonton, Alberta) suggested I take to have a meeting with him. He was expecting Captain Doug this summer, but I stood him up. Sorry James.

CAT III Approach who lives in Saint John, New Brunswick but commutes to work in Fort McMurray took this in the Air Canada Maple Leaf lounge. Note the YYZ tower in the background. But more importantly note the website. Best website out there. LOL 

Picture sent in by Mike who worked on the ramp for Air Canada in Calgary, Alberta. This Dash 8 flown by North Cariboo (note spelling) was sitting in Fort Nelson in British Columbia waiting out a storm.

Henry who used to live in Canada now resides in Japan. I've yet to respond to his email but this SIM shot is beautiful.

This falcon resides at Toronto Pearson airport and taken by Al (tail spotter) from Toronto. 

Sent in by Clinton who lives in the Sarasota/Tampa Bay, Florida area. This small aircraft was not having a good day and was captured by Clinton. Funny, I was asked last week whether it was mandatory for pilots to swim. The answer is "no." 

A picture of the Concorde sitting in Jeff's shrine in the Toronto area. 

I took this during the walk around in Calgary on September 11th. YYC Dispatcher told me about his bird. It's a DC-8 with upgraded engines. The night before I met "Heather" at her workplace in the YYC airport.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Mostly normal flying on an abnormal day

Empty galleys, no passengers, no cargo and no flight attendants and NO coffee. A lonely 9/11.

September 11/2011 had me flying from Calgary, Alberta to Toronto and then to Victoria, British Columbia…almost nine hours of flying. But instead of flying with passengers and cargo we were asked to reposition a flight on the first leg YYC-YYZ. (I’m told about two airplanes “float” in the system and this one had to get back to work in Toronto) (The second leg from Toronto to Victoria had nearly a full flight and it proved to be a very uneventful flight....just the way I like 'em)

We were parked off gate with no galley. Heck we had a hard time finding a garbage bag for the flight deck. A “no go” item. We had no flight attendants to pamper us. Talking about throwing us out of kilter because we pilots love to be pampered. At least I do.

We were boarded two meals...but with a glitch. We weren’t “checked out” on the ovens. (Same excuse I have at home. Lol) The F/O who travelled the world as a geologist (he spent two years in Mongolia) and later flying survey planes knew how to improvise. Guess who was delegated to do the cooking? But no oven mitts had him improvise with our fire fighting gloves.

A 320 cabin with no "butts in the seats."

Captain getting his pic taken with the flight deck door open at FL390 on 9/11. At least I'm smiling.

On flights like these it’s best to stick to the script. Statistically incidents go “way up” especially when pilots are given an empty airplane and say…”let’s see what this baby can do!” Heck we didn’t arm the doors in fear of blowing a chute. So we walked the cabin, used the aft washroom (it’s a little bigger) and left the flight deck door open a few times. Three things we never do anymore.

And what day of all days did this happen? …Exactly a decade after the worst day in aviation. Irony. 

Saturday, September 10, 2011

A Decade Later

Well with over 12 days off I was getting that..."when are you going back to work?" look from number one. I went on "make up" and was offered one leg to LGA (New York), with a long layover and one leg back. For a 90 minute flight each way it added up to almost 9 hours of credit. (One has to paid DPG...Daily Pairing Guarantee of 4:25)
Sweet!... plus a "certain math" added up. I won't tell you what transpired but Time Square with the sun coming up eating breakfast at McDonald's was part of the equation. :)

The lights from Ground Zero hitting a deck of stratocumulus  cloud downwind of 04.(Picture taken from jumpseat observer) 
The Freedom Tower resurrecting from Ground Zero's ashes. Notice the "red, white and blue."

If you want to enter an aviation time warp...fly to LaGuardia. Looks like they have some leaky roofs. 

Looking down from my hotel room. There is nothing but media with another building beside it with even more media. 

A couple of firefighters posing for the camera. The media was everywhere. The 9/11 memorial was closed for this   weekend. 

Some of New York's magnificent architecture from days gone by. Another shot from my hotel. 

We stared at "Welcome to New York" for 15 minutes just to a get a taxi clearnce. We were number 30 for take off. 

Yes, another self propagating pic of Captain D at "Ground Zero" one decade later. 

...and the aviation world is still feeling the effects of this "infamous day."

....GONE FLYING......

Monday, September 5, 2011

Higher Seats of Learning

Yesterday involved driving three hours to Queen's University with a fully ladened SUV with my two daughter's university stuff. Actually the "ladies" flew to Kingston, Ontario (YGK) from Toronto Pearson on a Dash 8-300 taking 50 minutes gate to gate. Truth be told, three of them travelled cheaper than I did driving. One perk to my job. 

The "men"... my son and I.. drove. I got to listen to my 13 year old son's repertoire of music. I could not believe some of the lyrics with this hip hop, R & B music. I pretended I was in deep thought common to a baby boomer male going through a mid life crisis, but did I hear right?!?... "he is going to what her tonight, She wants what where? Disco stick?" Okay, okay we had some raunchy music in the 60s to 90s but the lyrics today...OMG! When we drove home, I called the shots as far as music and listened to the 70s stuff... Jeremiah was a Bullfrog, etc. ha ha 

People...for those out there with young kids..start saving!!! Not only is there tuition, residence for my middle daughter, some rent money for my eldest, but there are meal plans, ridiculously "highway robbery" priced books, and yes, I had to buy Diesel Daughter a brand new MAC book Pro Laptop plus a printer.  

My eldest displaying her dad's contribution to enRoute Magazine this month in the Dash 8.

I know I am sort of getting closer to Kingston with all these highway paint tests going on. 

Not only is Kingston home to Queen's university, Kingston Maximum Penitentiary, Royal Military College and hometown to our first Prime Minister, Sir John A MacDonald BUT it is a recent test site to Tim Hortons and their newly sized coffee cups. A bonus!

The day turned out well. There were parties on every corner of the streets in the university getto. This will last a week before they actually start classes. It kind of made me wish I was starting again. Oh well, I got to sign my book my daughter's classmate bought weeks ago. 

Regular school starts tomorrow!!! And I know of quite a few aspiring pilots that will be pining for the skies this week as well. 

To all the teachers, instructors and professors....all the best! Spread your knowledge and the love of the topic! 

Captain Doug...now home alone (sort of) with "number one." 

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Results are out....Captain D stays on the A320

Our new edition from Hawaii. Note the American registration. Pic sent in from YYC Dispatcher.
This year's second equipment bid closed and it looks like left seat on the A320 a little while longer.

Last bid had "bottom gun" at #829 on the B767 and it has slid to a whopping seniority #853.

Yes, there were vacancies, but it was just the senior guys shuffling around.

I am number 1171 (Getjets jests it adds up to a "ten." Oh well, she made me smile).

They say never wish your life away, but one can dream. Here's what number "ten" could hold. Heck I might as well play with the numbers.

I could hold:
Toronto B777 F/O at 61%. (For me...once a captain, always a captain. After all, I get to go to work always in a good mood.....that is priceless. Nope, no more F/Oing for me).

Toronto B777 cruise pilot at 1%. Yup, I'd be "top gun" running around to ensure there are enough pillows and blankets for my buddy pilots.

A330 F/O at 9%. (The A330 captain is light years away) Yes, it would be a downbid and I would be potentially frozen for four years.

B767 F/0 7% (Yup, frozen taking four years to thaw)

A320 F/O 1%. Yup, I would be the "big kahunah" but at 60 precent of my present pay.

Embraer Captain. 1%. Again, I would be "Captain Top Gun." No thanks, I don't speak "Brazilian. " LOL

But the good news is I went from 49% to 44%. I may be able to bid Christmas off. Still can't hold summer vacation though. But all of these numbers are called "on paper." It takes months to actually see it due to training back log.

But what's in a number? Everything! :)

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