!!!!! 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.

Friday, October 14, 2011

The brake is set.... (My blog is on hold)

Captain Doug is setting the parking brake on his blog. This blog sure has grown and what a fantastic group it attracted! It hurts to write these words, but it's time to step back. And let it be known it was not my company, a coworker, nor is it about my health or anyone's else's....it's about priorities!!!!

Though it says the brake is off...it has been set...and with it...my blog ...

P.S. I'm not looking for compliments, "best wishes," condolences, or "about time!" (you see, I still have my humour), but I'm looking for time. Who knows I might type out a few pages for my weather book. :))))

P.S2 if you need to contact me my email is still on the blog....

Captain D

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

CYYJ Victoria B.C

On the climb out of Victoria this summer. You can see Mount Baker and the hills to the south. It's why Victoria is the best place to live (climatologically) in Canada because it could be raining in Vancouver but not Victoria. The meteorological term is "subsidence." And yes the pic was taken above 10,000 feet.

Yesterday was a long one. A 4:30 flight from Vancouver to Toronto, then a five hour flight to Victoria.
We noticed on the flight plan our fuel overhead Victoria was a few hundred kilos over the number in which I start writing paperwork. 

During the walk around I asked the fueler to slip a bit of "granny fuel" on board. I rarely do this. My meteorological senses were tingling. The TAF (aviation forecast) for Victoria forecasted a significant wind shift from the southeast to westerly about two hours prior to out arrival. Guess what? The shift didn't happen until we were on approach. We were taking about 50 knots up the behind and when you are descending on a three degree glideslope you can't slow down and get down. Solution? Drop the gear earlier and let those anchors with wheels slow you up. The winds did abate as we descended to short final but it ups the workload especially when you are looking at the fuel. 

The runway 09-27 in Victoria is as short as the ones in LaGuradia, about 7000 feet so it's a get on get off runway. Medium braking worked tickety-booh. :)))

Needless to say it was Miller time after that. :))))

Harbour Air based in Victoria Harbour

Today on my 35 hour layover, I decided to check out our "jump seat reciprocal" policy with Harbour Air. But they informed me I had to call their 1-800 number to arrange things. She did offer a half price ticket in the mean time. No thanks. 

I thought I would hop a flight to Vancouver (harbour) and then fly back. I should have approached them earlier in the morning. And I should have known their operations stopped at dusk and unfortunately the flights were filling up. I guess it wouldn't look good if the skipper got stuck in Vancouver for the night. My F/O told me a recent captain of his hitched a ride over to Vancouver, but due to high winds the operation shut down. He had to scramble back to the Vancouver Airport and bum a ride with Jazz. 

Next time! I've never been in a float plane and it's time to put it on my "to do" list. 

Nice to see my name.
While walking aimlessly looking for a Tim Hortons (I needed a fix) I had to take a picture of this street. It's one of the only things I can find fault with downtown Victoria...lack of Tim Hortons. But then again, maybe that's a good thing. :)))


On my last layover here, my wife and son tagged along. "Number one" queried why I took a picture of butterflies. Heck, they are aviators too! lol

But this picture is indicative of the diversity of the "commenters" on my blog. You guys are very civil, polite, diverse and all have a love of aviation. Some like the "nuts and bolts," some like the "dirt," some want to read about being an airline pilot and yet some want to knock me off my pedestal (yes, there are some lurking) and yet others are attracted  to the aura and romance of aviation. My point....there is enough virtual space for everyone...no matter what your aviation take. :)))

Captain D

Monday, October 10, 2011

Aviation odds and sods....

Erik from Frankfurts' sent me this today... what a shot!
This picture gives me the same feeling a person must get sea kayaking only to see a mammoth whale's body slightly submerged beneath the surface, or what a diver would feel in mirky water only to see a haul of a huge ship with two big "screws turning," or the golfer retrieving their golfball only to see the eye's of an alligator staring up at him. Keep your head up....because you never know what's around the corner. :)

This clearer than clear picture was sent in by Craig M from Ottawa.
Notice the white nose of the A320 on final. Even airplane's get nose jobs. LOL
The radome was replaced, but didn't have time to be painted. Lots of airplane watchers sit in their cars at the button of 25. One day I waved to one family by opening up the window. But usually by the time we get to the "button" we are getting take off clearance so the P.R stuff has to wait. The "Fall" colours are starting to appear. It would be a beautiful drive in the nearby rolling hills on the Quebec side.

Calling all DC-9 Drivers and AMEs who worked the "nine."

I received an email from Perry Van Veen from Southern, Ontario wondering if I flew the DC-9. He is recruiting people interested in restoring this aircraft. From the two pictures, they sure have a lot of work ahead of them. Then again, I am absolutely amazed when the  final product arrives.

Here's their website. Restoring a DC-9

From Perry...Our program is called AERO-BETHESDA and we operate as a non-profit.  Our purpose is to educate people with developmental disabilities on aviation and related events.  We allow them to participate in the restoration of this
cockpit and have guest speakers come to talk about what they
do................perhaps you could be one of them.  We are located in
St Catharines, Ont.

Throttles of the DC-9

The amputated DC-9 flight deck

Another great project....

I received this from retired Captain Hebb Russell a couple of months ago. He hoped I could write an article for enRoute, but unfortunately things did not pan out. In fact, Hebb offered a ride when one of their planes were passing through, but that too didn't work out. 

From Hebb...

With my love of general aviation and more specifically my love of old
"Tube and Fabric" aircraft, with the best having round engines, I find
retirement days just to short to accomplish everything in my ever
increasing "Bucket List". My latest involvement in aviation is with
Yellow Wings which is affiliated with Vintage Wings based at Gatineau,
PQ. This involvement started through Capt. Dave Hadfield and has me
joining their list of volunteers, flying in their Yellow Wings program.
If you are not familiar with this commemoration of the BCATP have a look
at their web site at ........ Yellow Wings

Gone Flying folks....let's hope this pending flight attendant strike works itself out. 
If not, you may see one captain hitchhiking from Victoria, B.C LOL

Friday, October 7, 2011


Anticipation with pending thunderstorms

They say we are our worst enemies. And that goes for a pilot waiting in anticipation for their perpetual flight tests, first company medical, ride conditions with pending thunderstorms, landing in inclement weather and "annual route checks." I found out Monday morning I'd be heading out on Wednesday for a three day route check. I knew 'of' the "check pilot" but never flew nor had been "checked" by him. He turned out to be a great guy and the anticipation soon waned.

The first day proved super long...flying to Vancouver and then dead head to Calgary. (The second leg was subbed to an Embraer) But while deadheading we were drafted to fly back to Toronto. I went with the game plan thinking I would have the needed the requirements to fulfill my route check.

Deemed safe and "running a great show" I thought I would be set free. Nope, the checker stayed another two days, but in theory the route checked was signed off. But you can't let down your hair. And as of late, that is harder and harder to do. :))))

Today saw us flying to Halifax. But as we completed the flight deck checks for Montreal crew sked wanted us to ferry a flight back to Halifax. Once in Montreal we flight planned for Halifax but at the last minute we ferried an empty airplane to Toronto.

Again the three day pairing went very well. Too bad the anticipation in being checked is always there.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

October's enRoute is up....

B777 Wing

I should be studying for my pending three day annual "route check" tomorrow. But what I am doing? Blogging.... :) 
And as discussed, keen eyed Bas from the Netherlands noticed I wrote "racked" instead of "raked" regarding the B777's wings. OOPS on my part. 

Why aren’t there winglets on the Boeing 777?
Leon Lau, Calgary, Alberta
The Boeing 777 has the largest wingspan in our fleet at 212 feet. But manoeuvring on the ground requires close attention because an aircraft’s winglets bend out a little, and engineers have noted other inherent issues with large winglets. So, Boeing decided to build a wing with a larger surface area and give it a unique twist near the end (this is called a “racked raked wing”), which performs the same function as winglets.
At what speed is your A320 aircraft travelling when its wheels touch the ground?
Angie Martin, Montréal, Québec
Airspeed varies according to parameters such as aircraft type, flap setting, weight (the heavier the faster), temperature, atmospheric pressure, icing conditions, etc. For many aircraft types, a pilot consults tables to determine the ideal approach speed, but on the airliner I fly – and as with most modern airliners – the airplane does the calculating. For my Airbus A320, typical speeds at touchdown are 120 to 140 knots (nautical miles per hour), about twice as fast as driving on a major highway.
How is the amount of fuel determined for a flight?
Craig Carlton, Deadwood, Oregon
Flight dispatch’s sophisticated flight-planning software calculates fuel burns to within 100 kilograms by considering such factors as weight, winds, altitudes, routing and weather. Even the cost of flying through a country’s airspace is considered. Fuel amount is then calculated to fly to a specific destination with a planned alternate airport. Sometimes this Plan B airport is dropped, but very stringent rules apply. Extra fuel needed for potential air traffic control delays, deicing, taxiing, avoidance of thunderstorms and turbulence, plus reserve fuel and extra contingency fuel, all enter the equation.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Couldn't avoid the Big Apple

My Son "sans" a team. Picture taken by my Blackberry should've bought an iphone. 

La Guardia on a "Good" day. 

Couldn’t avoid the Big Apple

The fact I dropped some flying (long layover in San Francisco) to attend the enRoute party had me short in hours. But, I didn’t have to fly because I had “time in the bank.” We can accrue up to twenty hours if we exceed the quota for the month. I have nine hours stored up.

Be it greed, the love of flying or just to get out of the house. I went on “make up.” I get a call asking if I want Newark, New Jersey across the way from the Big Apple. No thanks. Finally I’m awarded an easy jaunt to Ottawa and back. For two hours of flying I’ll get a minimum guarantee of 4:25. Sweet.

I had to drop my son off at the hockey rink as per “number one’s” request prior to work. She wanted him spooled up for the season and some organized shinny was available. The only glitch…no one showed. My son had an Olympic size hockey surface all to himself. A Canadian blasphemy!

I asked myself, “why am I going to work?” I could be out on the ice skating and bonding with my son. It was a Kodak moment seeing him growing up. I rush back to my car and grab the camera out of my flight bag. The battery was dead. Bloody camera. Perhaps an omen? I stayed a little longer than I should have causing me to be a few minutes tardy. Oops.  Heck, it was only an Ottawa turn.

As soon as I walked in, I’m told, “Call crew sked!” Here we go.

“Doug, we need you to fly to LaGuardia instead of Ottawa.” And what did greedy captain D ask, “Is this a draft?” Translation, it’s now time and a half. Sweet. Maybe I can pay for all the new hockey gear I bought my son? (Luckily I brought my LGA charts) Usually I leave all my Caribbean and American charts at home to save on weight. But I always keep LaGuardia) 

Crew sked told me I’m out in 20 minutes. I look at my watch (yes, the one with the amputated strap) and laugh. That isn’t happening with me having to go through American customs and security, find my F/O, find my gate and a plane. The adventure begun. I am told the F/O is there and he has everything done. You can see where this is going. J

I make it to the plane only to be greeted by the in-charge saying, “I got a flight attendant walking at 6:03. Not 6:00 p.m or 6:05 but three minutes after six she turns into a pumpkin.  As a recent new hire (six months) she sure knew her rules and I admired her gumption.

I entered the flight deck. No F/O and there is datalink paper spewing all over the flight deck as if a kid unraveled a roll of toilet paper(tissue). The in-charge wants answers. But I have no F/O and no flight plan. A pilot without a flight plan is like an actor without a script. And a captain without an F/O is…lonely. I jokingly told operations I am looking for “my man…I am lonely.” Now maintenance appears, we have a potable water problem. A further delay and the in-charge keeps reminding me of the F/A wanting to walk. It’s hot in the cabin. I asked three times to have the air removed. These brand new high performance jetway conditioners need to be tweaked. They pump out hot air in the summer and cold in the winter. 

I decided to do the walk around while I wait for the F/O. Half way through I realize I’m walking around a 321. The next thought is, the weather better be good because it’s not my favourite around thunderbumpers. Guess what much of the datalink was spewing out? Yup, weather warnings.

Finally my F/O arrives. He was told the flight was delayed two hours because of ground delays going into New York. He came off the Embraer so LGA was his second home. I offer the first leg and he graciously accepts. The doors close up and the F/A who wanted to bolt, stayed.

The weather warnings mentioned moderate to severe turbulence from FL 220 to FL 280. There had been numerous reports. Mother nature still hasn’t calmed down. This woman has been out of control lately. Women! :)

We check in with Cleveland center who gave us a heads up about the bumps. Then a shaken pilot comes on, they just got womped by severe turbulence. It sounded like he defecated in his pants. (another reason to bring extra uniform pants/trousers). LOL Not once in my entire aviation career did I report severe turbulence. But today it’s all around us. Mother Nature is psychotic.

Yes, we got bumps but much milder. Now we check in with Boston center. As I thought, New York is not taking any more planes. Many American airports are equivalent to a bees hive on a good day. With weather in the area, someone has taken a stick to a bee's nest.

Air Canada 7--, “ Are you ready for your holding instructions?” Here we go.

Our ‘expect further clearance’ is not for another 40 minutes. Plus they have us holding downwind of some nasty weather. We go around the race track once and I told them we will have to hold further east. They allow us. I impressed myself by programing a hold displaced 15 miles from the original fix. The ride is rough as we are cleared to lower levels. Then ATC decides to vector us, taking us very close to the weather, Then a vector right into the “convective mass.” I curtly told him, “I am ‘painting red’ on my radar, I don’t fly into red!” Silence. Actually someone made a snide remark. I ask myself, am I missing something here? Now our fuel is getting tight. The alternate is back to Toronto. I datalink dispatch to “tighten up our alternate” to buy some time. We can use Newark. Phew!

ATC did put us into some heavy showers and we quickly picked up an inch of airframe ice. I had enough! I told him MY plan. For you new pilots out there, learn to stand your ground. I fully understand ATC are trying to do their jobs and to be honest I don’t know how they do such a great job on a continual basis when dealing with the world’s busiest airspace.

I now and again flash back to my son skating alone in a huge rink telling myself...I don’t need this.
It's like a simulator session but this time it's a real airplane with real weather and real passengers.

Finally we are upwind of the weather, descend into above freeing temperatures, the ice is gone, New York City is in sight and we are cleared to land. My f/O greases the A321 on and we quickly come to a halt with “medium” autobrake. Now the wait for a gate and thoughts of the return flight.

We are flight planned at turboprop altitudes back to Toronto to avoid that moody [email protected], but she still had her way with us a little just to show who’s boss. 

I’m off to LAX tonight.

The life on an airline pilot. 
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