Monday, December 28, 2009

Lisbon Airport, December 23, 2009, 06:45 am. It looks like it was organized by employees of TAP, Portugal's national air carrier.

I know it's after Xmas, but I'm still full of turkey. Give the vid a minute or two to get endearing.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas one and all! I hope you and your loved ones have a great time celebrating Santa's birthday, and that you get lots of vitally important material possessions under the tree.

It's time to get ready for Christmas turkey, so I'll cut this short. Have a great day!

Friday, December 18, 2009

My beloved bride Lisa says I'm an attention whore. That stings, but it's not entirely inaccurate. For example, yesterday I looked around online and found some pics of myself in flight, which I'll graciously share with you, dear reader. As it turns out, our planes are pretty photogenic and I seem to have a knack for showing up in most of the shots, much like an unwanted wedding guest.

This was taken by a fellow named Steve Homewood, who found us at Oshkosh, back when we had our old paint job. I like this pic because you can see the thrust reverser has just been deployed, which means the 2 pieces of engine cowl have folded out the back of the engine, redirecting the thrust forward to help slow us down. Thrust reversers are cool.

Also note the nose wheel oleo (shock absorber) is pretty compressed - that's cause I'm pushing forward on the controls with a fair amount of force. In the Citation 550, when you deploy the thrust reversers ("pop the buckets"), it will tend to pitch the nose upward. When you are already touched down the last thing you want is to accidentally become airborne again (especially with thrust reversers deployed) so it's part of our SOP to push full forward on the controls once the buckets are out, to keep the nose on the ground where it belongs.

I attended a sim session once as part of my Approved Check Pilot training, and I watched some pilots who had never flown a Citation 550 try to land one without the benefit of the "push forward on the controls once the buckets are out or she'll take off again" training, and it was pretty hilarious. I was just glad they were learning this in the sim rather than in real life - it would have been an expensive lesson.

One last note: The graphic on the tail is a power pole, not an oil well. Our parent company is in the power business, amongst other ventures.

On to the next pic:

That's Kitsch and I in Hilton Head, South Carolina, about to blast off for home. Very popular vacation spot for those who can afford it. I remember this week - it was also the week of the Masters Golf tourney in Augusta, and we did a half-dozen runs to/from Augusta along with this Hilton Head trip.

Next pic:

This was taken by a fellow named Nino Buda, catching us landing back at Pearson, in our shiny new paint job. Shiny!

I love the angle of this one, it makes her look like an albatross or some other huge-winged bird. Good looking airplane, no? You can tell we are landing rather than taking off by the position of the wing flaps - we use 15 degrees for takeoff and 30 for landing, and those barn doors are at 30 in the pic.

On to the next glamour shot:

If you look closely you can see me in the right seat in this pic. Shiny forehead!

This is one of the Bravo's that Kitsch and I fly on occasion. Nino Buda, the same photog as the last pic, clearly has a good camping spot on approach into Pearson.

This is my shiny forehead again, this time as we are coming back from a few days in Greensboro South Carolina.

Last but not least, this was one of my first flights in a Citation 550, flying a Bravo for a friendly competitor a few years ago. This was on takeoff at Pearson - you can see the flaps at 15 degrees, and you can see the nose gear has already retracted while the main gear is still coming up.

I like that people take pics of the jets - they are beautiful machines and it does look pretty cool when we are down low, either arriving or departing. The thing I'm mostly thinking about now is the next time I pooch a landing I'm gonna be worried that some photog out there has captured it and is immediately uploading it to the web for posterity. No pressure, right?

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Give it 60 seconds to get great. Note to Santa: I would very much like one of these, please.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

On November 1st, Toronto Pearson abolished late-night or early morning arrivals and departure for general aviation (meaning non-airline) aircraft. That means we can no longer operate between the hours of 12:30am and 6:30am, under penalty of a fine equivalent to 16x the max landing fee (which is already exorbitant).

We do about 50 company flights a year, and about a third of those are scheduled for departure before 6am - the object of a business trip is usually to fly somewhere far away but arrive in time for a morning meeting. Anyway, Pearson has totally screwed us and I'm sure I will rant more about this at a future date, but for now I will just include this so you are aware it's an additional consideration in my flight planning.

For example, we flew to Quebec City last week to take some people to an evening function there. On the return trip home, we were scheduled to drop off a few of the passengers at a smaller airport before heading back to Pearson for the night.

We figured that in still-air conditions, we would have to be airborne at 10:30pm at the latest in order to land at the smaller airport and drop off some pax and then fly to Pearson and land before the 12:30am cutoff. We told the passengers this, and explained that if we weren't airborne by 10:30 no matter what, we wouldn't be ending up in Pearson that night.

I mentioned still-air conditions. Turns out, the air wasn't still at all. The jetstream was in town, and at 33,000' we had 100 knots on the tail on the way to Quebec City. That meant we got there in just over an hour, but it also meant that it would take us just over 90 minutes to fly the same thing in reverse, which would put us pretty tight on time for getting back into Pearson.

Our passengers showed up at 10:15, and we were airborne at 10:29. At our flight-planned altitude we were estimating an 89-minute flight to the small airport before a roughly 20-minute flight home, giving us 10 minutes to land, taxi in, drop off our passengers then fire up and take off. My previous world-record quick-turn time is 12 minutes, so this was going to be a real challenge, if not impossible.

Have no fear, this is when I get a chance to shine and to show I earn my few bucks an hour salary. I took a page from Star Trek II: Wrath of Khan and decided to think in 3 dimensions, which took a lot of brain power so I made sure I was sitting down first.

A couple of relevant performance figures:

At 33,000', we burn ~1,100 lbs/hour of fuel and cruise at 355 knots true.
At 18,000', we burn ~1,700 lbs/hour of fuel and cruise at 340 knots true.

I decided to eat the additional fuel burn and fly to the small airport at 18,000', where the winds were only 10 knots. We avoided the wicked headwinds upstairs and got there in 70 minutes, saving us 20 minutes of flight time and giving us a decent buffer for landing in Toronto. And on top of that, we even saved money.

We burned more gas per hour, but for less hours. The end result was we burned maybe 200 lbs more fuel than if we had climbed to a higher altitude and flown home at 33,000', but we saved 0.3 flight hours.

For the blog, we'll estimate it costs us roughly twenty-two dollars per minute to operate our jet. A pound of gas costs us about 50 cents. So, I burned about a hundred bucks more worth of fuel by flying low, but as a result I was able to save about four hundred bucks in operating costs. As a flight department manager that's a relevant consideration, so it was nice to be able to save a few bucks in addition to making it home before the curfew.

We arrived to clear skies and calm winds, and touched down 15 minutes before cutoff.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Sliding along the ILS on approach to Teterboro on a recent wet day. My camera's batteries die about 30 seconds from touchdown but I still like the video for showing all the rain across the windshield and for giving you an idea as to the noise level of light rain. When the rain is heavy it can be deafening.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Sometimes the mountains wave.

My Mickey Mouse impression. Please don't sue, Disney.

Don't worry, nothing bad happened - I flew a demo flight for a prospective buyer on someone else's Citation 550. They ended up buying it right after the flight, so I can only assume it was my awesome landing that sealed the deal. Actually, my landing was more like dropping a shopping cart off a sidewalk curb, but maybe the prospective buyer was so impressed that the aircraft held together despite my spine-crunching arrival that he decided to purchase her for her demonstrated resilience in the face of hardship. All airplanes are female, btw.

I have been flying a whole lot lately, and have taken a bunch of video and pics. I'll spend the rest of the day uploading some so I can finally post them.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Noone gets hurt, amazingly. This is why it's important to actually obey IFR rules, like sector altitudes. These people were unprepared to encounter cloud, yet they continued to valley-crawl while in IMC. I'm amazed this footage wasn't recovered at a crash scene.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Ahh, the southern US.

We have been on tour for a few days now, but the internet at our hotels has been slow and sketchy, so I haven't been able to upload any vids. In theory we return to Toronto tonight, so I'm hopeful I'll have some fresh stuff for tomorrow.

In the interim, feast on some pics of our treasures and travels.

I got some awesome KISS M&Ms at a Wal-mart in Charleston SC. Each M&M has a little portrait of one of the band members. Kiss army ftw!

We crossed beneath a busy airplane highway on our way south. I count 7 contrails, but I might be missing one or two. This was along the Baltimore - Washington corridor, which is stupidly busy all the time.

As we arrived in Philly, I saw a rampie giving haircuts to other rampies. They'd stuff newspaper into their collars and the barber would give'er with the shaver. He did 2 guys in 5 minutes. Now that I think about it, free haircuts at the FBO might be something to advertise.

It's hard to read in the pic, but the ident of this Gulfstream is IDEAS. I assume they are very creative pilots.

Hmm, the pax just showed up so I'll cut this short.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

That's Lisa, myself and a coworker driving back to our main office after lunch. On Google Streetview! We saw the streetview car - just a regular car with some portable antennas and a camera in a bubble on the roof - and were laughing about how cool it would be if it was actually recording. Turns out, it was. Now that we've been assimilated by the Borg I'm not sure if it's a good thing. On the plus side we are immortal and that's cool, but even though we were in a public place I still feel a little freaked out. Clearly I'm over it as I'm publishing the pic on the blog and I know I should just shut the hell up about privacy, but still. I'm also quite relieved I wasn't committing some road-rage offence when our snap was snapped.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Last but not least, this is us riding the localizer backcourse into Ottawa a few days ago. Basically we line ourselves up with the runway about 10 miles back, then descend when the charts tell us there are no mountains / buildings / cel towers in the way.

I have flown maybe a thousand IFR approaches but I still get a thrill when we bust through the cloud base and the runway is in front of us like it should be.

I would write more but I'm tired after a long flying day (I'm in Providence at the moment) and a week of packing and unpacking. I'll youtube some vids of our new house soon; in an effort to make sure we unpack in a timely fashion, Lisa invited 25 relatives over for Thanksgiving this coming Sunday. No pressure ;)

Watching ice form on the wings and dealing with it. Also on our Ottawa trip last week. Icing isn't really an issue for most jets - we can either climb or descend through it a lot more quickly than most piston-powered aircraft, so we generally don't spend much time at altitudes conductive to icing.

The cool part is about 3 minutes in.

Hit the HQ button for hi-def goodness.

Surprisingly, the whine during engine start isn't a pilot, it's an inverter we use to power laptops etc while in flight. It yelps during engine start, but a reset makes it all better.

Monday, September 28, 2009

This was taken during a STOL contest at the May Day Flyin in Valdez, Alaska. STOL is pilot-geek for Short Takeoff Or Landing, so the aim is to get airborne in the shortest distance after applying power, or stopping in the shortest distance after touching down.

The aircraft featured are generally used to get in and out of small unimproved places in the bush, like sand bars or teeny clearings.

Take a close look at the little yellow plane at 1:30 into the video for a gentle little prop strike right at the start of his takeoff roll. I'm amused / horrified that the pilot chose to continue the takeoff despite kissing the runway, but maybe I'm getting cowardly in my old age.

The video ends in pretty much the way I expected it to.

Ps: We just got back from the lawyer's office where we signed the final paperwork on our new (to us) house. We take possession in only 2 more sleeps!

Friday, September 25, 2009

This is the jet I flew westward the other day while Kitsch was taking our jet eastward. Just to be clear, I'm NOT cheating on my regular plane; I may hang out with other airplanes from time to time for business purposes, but our jet will always have my heart.

Apologies for the seizure-inducing flashing on the EFIS instruments - the refresh rate of the video cam is some harmonic of the refresh rate on the EFIS screens, thus the flashes. In real life the images are totally smooth.

Oh, and in non-aviation-related stuff, we move into our new (to us) house in 5 days! I'm nearly barfing with excitement! Predictably a flight just came up for that day, but Kitsch has generously agreed to cover it while Lisa and I (and her parents, bless them) move all our heavy, sharp furniture from our old place to our new one. I got the certified cheque for our closing costs done up this morning and I think I worried the bank teller a little bit when I stared at it and giggled for a solid minute. I explained why and she visibly brightened - I think she was worried from the way I was acting that I was about to blow it all on crack. No way, my drug of choice at the moment is called 'house' and it sure is a hell of a rush.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

I got a shout-out on the radio from a controller yesterday! Unfortunately I wasn't in the airplane at the time, but Kitsch passed it on to me via phone last night, so thanks for that :)

I was actually headed west in a different aircraft yesterday, and that's the subject of today's post.

Suppose another operator (who we are pals with) needs a crew member on a jet that Kitsch and I are qualified to fly, but only for for a few days per month. Also suppose "In these harsh economic times blah blah" our flight department could use an extra few thousand bucks a month for vodka and bingo cards and whatnot.

A flashbulb went off in my head: For a monthly fee, Kitsch and I can make ourselves available to fly that particular jet for a set number of days per month. It lets Kitsch and I fly a different airplane from time to time, the other operator gets crew coverage for the few days a month they need it, and the company I work for gets to offset part of our operating cost with the monthly fee we charge the other operator for our pilot services.

See, it's a stroke of genius! Really, it's win-win and it only bites us if both jets need to fly on the same day. That never happens. Well, practically never. Well, what I mean by 'practically never' is 'It happened yesterday'.

Fortunately we had a few days heads-up on the scheduling conflict, so we made a few phone calls and arranged for an outside pilot to come in and save the day for us. The outside pilot is already checked out on our jet, so Kitsch took the outside pilot eastward in our jet, while I went westward in the other jet with the other operator.

Anyway, long story short, that's why I missed my Air Traffic Controller shout-out yesterday - I wasn't in the jet I normally fly. Kitsch assured me that I would have felt like a rock star had I been on board, so that's cool.

I still had an interesting trip yesterday though - the FBO we used at our destination is owned by Wal-Mart, and every employee there is actually a Wal-Mart employee. I asked the line guys to do the Wal-Mart song, but they were strangely shy. I'll have more on that when I upload the vids to Youtube later today :)

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Lisa allowed me to record this, it's her take on being hitched to a pilot.

Friday, September 18, 2009

We got up crazy early last week and headed west, taking some people to do some things, likely involving money. That part is normal, but after we landed I saw an airplane type I had never seen before, so I got the video camera out. I bet Aviatrix would have more info on some of the unique features I observed on the aircraft. Strange little bird! I mean the plane, not Aviatrix ;)

Go full-screen and click on the red HD button in the video player for hi-def yumminess.

The aircraft certainly has a 'unique' look (I'm being kind) but looks aren't everything and as it turns out this airplane has some pretty good performance figures, considering what it was designed to do.

A quick online search shows the aircraft is a PAC 750XL. It was initially designed for skydiving - the website says it can take off in less than a thousand feet, climb to 13,000', chuck the jumpers out and land, all in 16 minutes. Actually, the performance figures on the plane are pretty impressive - it only weights 3,100 lbs and can carry a load of 4,400 lbs, more than twice the empty weight. Not many aircraft have that capability. For comparison, even though we have a high-gross-weight takeoff kit installed on our jet, our baby jet's empty weight is 8840 lbs, leaving us a useful load of about 6,000 lbs. On a regular Citation II the useful load is more like 4,800 lbs with about a 8700 lb empty weight.

Anyhoo, Google also tells me that UTS Geophysics is owned by a Canadian company called Aeroquest International Ltd. I wonder why it came over from New Zealand and where it's going? That must have been a series of pretty interesting flights.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

I started flying when I was 16, and have held a flying license for 22 years now. If I was to retire at 60, that means I have another 22 years to go. I mean, I would like to retire tomorrow, but I think 60 is a little more realistic. Actually, the Canadian courts recently found that an Air Canada Captain's civil rights had been violated when he was forced to retire at 60, and it looks like the age will be bumped up to at least 65. While I respect a person's decision to continue to work as long as they can/want to, there are some pretty serious consequences to that decision.

If I retire at 60, I will likely live to be 77 or so, at least according to the latest data. However, if I retire at 65 I will likely live to be only 68 or so, which would put a serious crimp on my plan to sit on the beaches in Jamaica for twenty years, drinking pina coladas and tending to my hemp farms.

Dr. Ephrem Cheng did an actuarial study of life span vs. age at retirement, based on pension cheques sent to employees of Boeing Aerospace. Yeah I understand that only a small chunk of the employees were actually pilots, but that also tells me the stats likely hold true for everyone, not just flying guys. I swiped one of the tables from the study to show you:

See what I mean? For people who retired at the age of 50, their average life span is 86; whereas for people retired at the age of 65, their average life span is only 66.8! If you do the math according to the actuarial tables, you lose about 2 years of life expectancy for every year you work after age 55.

The Boeing experience is that employees retiring at age of 65 receive pension checks for only 18 months, on average, prior to death. Similarly, the Lockheed experience is that employees retiring at age of 65 receive pension checks for only 17 months, on average, prior to death. Dr. David T. Chai indicated that the Bell Labs experience is similar to those of Boeing and Lockheed based on the casual observation from the Newsletters of Bell Lab retirees. A retiree from Ford Motor told Dr. Paul Tien-Lin Ho that the experience from Ford Motor is also similar to those in Boeing and Lockheed.

I understand that there are many varied and complex reasons for this: People who retire early tend to be more wealthy with more access to high-end healthcare, while people who retire later tend to do so either because they need the money (which could be stressful) or they just need to work all the time (which is also hard on the body).

In my case, I'm hoping that careful investment coupled with Lisa eventually taking over the world (she has a particularly keen business sense) will give us the financial ability to depart the working world while we (mostly me, as I'm 13 years old than her) are still young enough to enjoy retirement.

Alright, I'm off to go check my RRSP balance and plan for July 2031 :)

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Someone asked me yesterday what the worst part of my job is. Honestly I'd have to go with "wearing a tie". Maybe it was my free-spirit upbringing, but when I wear a tie it feels like I'm being insincere or perhaps even fraudulent. It's not a huge deal in that we mostly don't dress up - for company flights we wear golf shirts and dress pants, but for charters we do the full meal deal with the pilot shirt and epaulets and Captain's bars and whatnot. I guess the theory is that our passengers will assume we are competent and professional if we wear a fabric stripe down the front of our shirts and have a few stripes on our shoulders. Funny how appearances mean so much.

Click the red "HD" button for large-screen video goodness.

It got me thinking though. I'm gonna ask Lisa what the best and worst part of my job is from her perspective and I'll post a little interview with her shortly; I'm interested to hear her take on what it's like to be married to a pilot-type-guy.

For those of you who are dealing with the heartbreak, stigma and shame of having a pilot in your family, what differences do you notice in your family life compared to your non-aviating friends?

Friday, September 04, 2009

To the jackass(es) who were shining laser pointers into the cockpit of arriving traffic into Pearson one night last week, you should probably see a doctor to confirm whether or not you are mentally retarded. My money is on "yup".

It should be obvious that it's illegal in Canada to shine lights at aircraft in an attempt to make them crash and everybody on board die, but the max penalty is a surprisingly lenient 5 years in prison and/or $100,000 in fines.

That hasn't prevented morons from doing it though, and unfortunately the incidents are on the rise: In 2006 there were 3 reported incidents, in 2007 there were 25 and in 2008 there were nearly 60 incidents reported.

Sadly only one person so far has been convicted of this offence - some doorknob in Calgary in 2008, who sat on his apartment balcony and lased a Westjet 737 cockpit on takeoff and then lased the police helicopter sent to investigate. He later said he was sorry, was fined a thousand bucks and had his pointer confiscated.

Seriously, that scares the hell out of me - not only the worst-case scenario of losing control of the aircraft during landing and crashing, but also the thought of more extended suffering - having permanent retinal damage and losing my pilot medical and going blind and being helpless.

I see precious little difference between pointing a laser at an aircraft cockpit and pointing a stinger missile at an aircraft cockpit, and I hope that the seriousness of the situation is fully impressed upon whomever gets caught for this pointless and dangerous 'hobby'.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Multimedia Frenzy time! Here's a bunch of random pics and videos from a trip we did to Texas and Arizona recently. I'm still getting the hang of my new camera, but the initial results are a lot better than my old one. I'm mostly happy that the speaker on the new camera doesn't freak out every time there's ambient noise.

My baby in Fort Huachuca (Waa-chew-ka) AZ. Half the airport is a military base and the other half is civilian. They launch unmanned predator drones here to patrol the border, and the base is primarily military intelligence. We saw some pretty crazy aircraft coming and going - King Airs with tip-tanks and bristling with literally dozens of antennas. I didn't take pics because I don't wanna wind up in Gitmo.

Watching an airliner pass a thousand feet above us while in cruise. We approached each other at about a thousand miles an hour, so it's a fast clip :)

The flight school in Nogales AZ offers maps, headsets and energy drinks. That's actually pretty smart marketing, I wonder why more pilot stores don't have cases of Red Bull in stock.

Departing Goodyear, AZ. Without irrigation this place would look like the surface of the moon. It was +43c when we took off - normally our plane takes about 2000-3000 feet of runway to take off, but hot temperatures really suck the performance out of the plane, and it took us 5,110 feet before we got airborne.

Gratuitous cloud shot! Note the thunderstorms in the distance. They will become more relevant shortly.

Our onboard XM weather system is the cat's ass. In the pic, the pink triangle is us, heading east. You can see Albuquerque and Las Vegas NM to our south. See all those pink/purple dots by KTAD? (Trinidad, Colorado) The dots are lightning strikes emanating from a storm cell. This one was impressive, but we saw some truly amazing storms a little further down the line.

This is what the storm cell looks like out our window. The top rises at least twenty thousand feet above us. Not many aircraft can climb that high, so we plan to avoid it laterally by a fair distance. Thunderstorms like this have more than enough energy to remove the wings from our aircraft, which I respect on a fundamental level. On the left hand side of the storm cell, see the cloud shelf coming from the main mass and extending to the left? The overhang might look clear but that's where storm cells spit hail out, so we never fly under the overhangs. An acquaintance of mine got suckered into flying under a similar overhang a few weeks ago and the resulting hail damage to the wing skins of his aircraft cost just under 250k to fix. He didn't tell me how much it cost to clean the pilot seats after that flight.

Eventually the lunar landscape gave way to the prairies of Kansas.

We made our way past that storm and then found ourselves paralleling a truly spectacular one. This was in Kansas, just between Oklahoma City and Wichita. This one was still building while we flew past it - you'll see the video I took shortly that shows it was up to 65,000 feet, but it eventually built to 70,000 feet up. Storms like this can have more energy than a small nuke.

Here's a video showing the uber-badass thunderstorm.

Another video showing some clouds, some traffic above us, and an added bonus at the end!

After a while we passed the evil thunderstorms and were left to happily cruise between some cloud layers.

After a while it got dark and the sky turned silver and blue.

Passing by Chicago on our way home. It is duly noted that my new camera sucks at night shots :)

We made it back to Toronto after 5 hours of flying, tired but happy to be home.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

This is an angst post, so feel free to skip it if you aren't into that - I'll have fresh aviation stuff up soon.

Lisa and I have stopped trying not to have kids. That's exciting, and terrifying at the same time. Normally it's a good thing when her friend comes to visit and I suspect it will take a little while to make the mindset adjustment. I have been thinking about kids lately for a variety of reasons (incidentally what do you guys think about the name "Balthor" for a boy? He could carry a sword!) and it has made me reflect more about the nature of consciousness and the inevitable loneliness we all feel as we occupy ourselves during our brief time on the planet.

I read once that there are 5 unavoidable truths in life, 5 things that we will experience again and again during our tenure on planet earth.

1. Everything changes and ends
2. Things do not always go according to plan
3. Life is not always fair
4. Pain is a part of life
5. People are not loving and loyal all the time

I hope I can show my kids how to deal with the challenges they will inevitably face, and I hope I can show them that the single most important thing is life is love - who you love and who loves you.

The thing that I have to figure out is how to do that when I think that we are essentially alone in our minds - our consciousness is a solitary one.

I can share a fairly limited version of my thoughts and feelings with you, gentle reader, and I can share a much fuller version with close friends and family, but I'll never be able to show someone what I'm actually thinking, nor really know what they are.

It's like there's darkness and we are groping around, looking at shadows and hoping they are friendly. Sometimes we find people in the darkness and sometimes we huddle together to share a spark, but the darkness is always there and it inevitably overwhelms. Someone said that every relationship that doesn't end in divorce ends in death, which is depressing as hell, but also true. I can be close to people, I can even be inside someone, but I'm still essentially alone in my head. Will having kids change that? I don't think so, but maybe I'm hoping I can be in their minds for a little bit, before they strike out on their own and move into their own lives.

I know that's likely a good thing that we can't read each others thoughts - I'd hate for people to know what goes through my mind when I'm driving on highway 401 and some doorknob cuts me off, but it's can also be a lonely thing when you are trying to communicate and the darkness interferes.

Pets are generally honest as are small kids - you can usually tell what's on a dog's mind and if you ask a three-year-old what they are thinking you'll likely get a pretty direct reply, but beyond those, everything we hear from anyone is filtered though countless layers and sometimes it can be hard to tell what's real, what's valuable and what is just static. What if my kids don't believe me when I tell them I love them? What if they tell me they don't love me?

I'm looking forward to having kids, but sweet Jebus it's a hell of a responsibility. I want them to be healthy, happy and fulfilled, and I want them to know they can talk to me about anything, even if it makes them (or me) look bad. My parents did an absolutely fantastic job in this regard and I hope to continue that legacy.

I want to share a campfire with my kids, and I can only hope they trust me enough to sit with me for a while and share the warmth. I'm not sure why I'm saying this, but my gut tells me that it's important that I do.
I got a new video camera and this is my first official video on it. The compression youtube uses makes it look less nice than I'd prefer, but it's still okay. It records in hi-def so you can click on the red HQ button on the youtube video to see it in 720p glory. As an added bonus the microphone works great!

I took some flying videos this morning but the sun flare overwhelmed the camera (we were headed east) so I toasted them.

This is a video of the hotel we are in today 'cause I like taking videos of my hotel rooms.

The camera is a Kodak ZI-6 which I got from for $170. Pretty nifty!

I was on vacation for most of July so that's why I didn't post for a month. Lisa and I did a tour of the interior of British Columbia in a camper van. We took about a thousand pics so I'll be sorting through those and posting the pretty ones shortly.

We have been flying a lot lately - I have flown 5 of the past 7 days. We have signed an agreement with another operator that uses the Citation 550, guaranteeing them an available pilot in exchange for a few thousand bucks a month. It saves them from having to replace the Captain they lost (he retired) and it helps us lower our overhead so it's win-win.

Oh, and our plane is painted and beautiful. I'll take some pics this afternoon and post them later.

As far as our house goes, we take possession on Sept 30th and it can't come fast enough - it's like we bought the coolest toy in the world (the house) but can't play with it for 6 more weeks.

I gotta check the weather now - there's a 40% probability that Toronto will be wiped off the face of the earth by thunderstorms this afternoon and that may affect our plans to return there this afternoon :)

Sunday, August 16, 2009

My job is pretty cool sometimes. This is Snoop Dogg, one of Lisa's favorite performers of all time. We flew him to/from a concert. He was really laid back and polite, much more so than some of the businessmen and politicians I have flown. He called me Captain and we did the fist-bump thing where you make a fist and bump it against the other guy's fist. I think I'm in his posse now.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Our first home! 4 bedrooms, 5 bathrooms, infinite cool.

It's an older house, redone. We paid just under 350k CDN for it, or at least the bank did on our behalf. I'm referencing the money because a) we are relatively poor and that's really cheap for the Toronto area and b) the place is so cool you might think we paid several billion dollars for it. We would have, but fortunately we got a deal :)

It's about 6 miles west of our current place, in the city of Burlington Ontario. We take possession Sept 30th. A really nice couple sold it to us after completely updating and renovating the place and putting countless hours of work and love into it. After their daughter heads to school this fall they are going to buy a place out in the country, so their loss is our considerable gain. You see, she's an artist and he's carpenter who fixes botched home renovations. Seriously, is there any better person to buy a home from? We did the home inspection last week and the inspector was nearly in tears "This is why I got into home inspection." and "If you don't buy this place, I will. There's nothing else like it. At all." and my favorite "Holy shi - sorry, I'll edit that out of the DVD I give you. I'm trying to be professional here, but there's just so much to look at".

We saw at least a couple of dozen homes before we found this one, and it's the only one that made me wanna barf with house-lust. Lisa was skeptical (the pics really don't do it justice) but once she saw the place in real life she fell in love with it as much as I did.

We immediately offered to pay their asking price, on the condition that they leave a whole bunch of cool stuff behind, like the stained glass, the dining room table (the husband made it himself and it's gorgeous), all the appliances and a bunch of the art and furniture. Basically we said "you may take the clothes in your closets but leave everything else". They are into the idea of de-cluttering their existence, so it worked out great!

I could hardly sleep this past week while waiting for our mortgage arrangements to solidify and for the home inspector to do his job, and being just generally buzzed on adrenaline at the idea of being in debt until 2 years after I retire :)

Oh, would you like some pics? Home, meet blog. Blog, meet home.

View of the front room. Note the textured walls. The front windows all open out completely - you could drive a car through if you wanted to.

Dining Room leading to front room. We have a 2-room kitchen, you can see one room on the left with a built-in stove. We have 2 ovens, good for entertaining :) Dining room table was handmade from old barn-board by the owner. All the woodwork in the entire place is shiny and flawless.

Different angle on the dining room. Note the stained glass - the house is full of it.

Some kitchen action. Note the gas fireplace in the kitchen, good for cold mornings :)

Off to the right you can see the main floor bathroom. We have one in the basement, one on the main floor and three more upstairs. The kitchen sink isn't stainless steel, it's this crazy brown smooth ceramic stuff.

Lets head upstairs for a few minutes and check out the master bedroom. Note the fireplace and the computer nook.

Note the awesome curved wall with major closet space behind. Off-camera to the right is the entrance to the ensuite bathroom, which is itself pretty insane.

More computer nookage and fireplaceage.

One of the basement rooms, which they use for tv. There's a bar on the right. The antlers kind of creeped me out but further inspection reveals they are paper mache and wire.

Off-camera to the right is the laundry room, art room and games room. They currently have the games room set up with fooseball, air hockey, a big vinyl collection and a regular table-top hockey game. Oh, and a whole pile of storage, along with a bathroom and some other stuff I forget now.

Let's head outside for a second to witness some real insanity. Our back yard is like a park, with 4 heated and insulated buildings with water and electrical service. All the smooth rocks in the pictures have faces carved into them.

This looks promising... the white framed-thing is more stained glass. It's seriously everywhere we look.

The inside of the gazebo, with water, electricity, bbq, tunes and a bar fridge.

From halfway down the back yard, facing toward the house. More buildings off-camera to the right.

My fingers are cramping from typing, so I'm off for a bit. More pics of the bedrooms, bathrooms and whatnot to come. They are all pretty wild - stuff like glass bricks in the shower and a complete bathroom in one of the bedrooms.

And don't even get me started about the staircase... :)

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

We can watch her online. I think the pics are quite beautiful.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Fresh paint for our beloved Citation!

Our paint is nearly a decade old. It's peeling and fading a bit and we are starting to see some minor corrosion on some of the metal rivets and screws under the peeling spots, so it's time to take action. Expensive, time-consuming action!

We are getting our jet painted next week - in theory she'll be done just in time for Oshkosh. This is the final design - the colors might be tweaked a little but not much. We have green because our parent company has a whole lot of green in their logo, and we have blue because it sets off my eyes nicely.

We are using Skyharbour Aircraft Refinishing in Goderich - not only am I fond of them because I used to live there, but they are about 10% cheaper than the nearest competitor. That adds up when a typical paint job costs about 40k.

Cosmetics aside, the paint has a practical benefit also - I'm certain the swooshes on the engine cowl and tail will add at least 20 knots to her cruising speed.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Anarchy plane!

I saw it sitting on the ramp this morning and was quite taken by the logo - you don't normally see the symbol for anarchy on a corporate jet.

It's here because a punk / pop band called The Offspring is in town for a concert. The lead singer / guitarist flies it, kinda like Bruce Dickinson from Iron Maiden flying their tour Boeing 757, only on a somewhat smaller scale. The Offspring must have small, lean roadies and small, lean amplifiers :)

Still working lots (latest thing is a maintenance audit) and looking for a house - Lisa has told me it's time we bought one so I guess we'll do that soon too. I should get off my butt and post the "hitching a ride" thing I wanted to, but I still have to clean it up a little. Hopefully tomorrow.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Life isn't all about aviation. I have other interests that are far more dangerous...

Those are my special homemade hot apple bacon turnovers. It's just basically hot fresh apple pie filling with a strip of bacon stretched over turnover pastry with hot icing drizzled on. Add a large double-double coffee and some fruit salad and you're good to go.

Now these are the full-meat version: Pastry-wrapped bbq-bacon-wrapped bbq'd ribs.

I boil pork back ribs for just over an hour in some nice broth, then bbq at 550c for 15 minutes, turning once. After they are done, I use big scissors to chop the ribs into single-rib sections, discarding the occasional middle rib to make sure the meat portions are generous. I add a slice of smoked gouda cheese along the rib, (that idea was courtesy of Andy, who I link to on the left side of the page) then wrap it in a strip of bacon that I have also bbq'd. Sidenote: I put the bacon on the bbq top rack so the bacon fat falls onto the ribs while they are cooking. I then slather it with this President's Choice brand habanero bbq sauce that comes in a big brown glass bottle. That stuff is sex. Anyway, time to throw some croissant dough around it, then bake about 8 minutes or until the croissant is brown.

Another shot of my pretties:

Aight, on to the poutine lasagna.

Taken during the assembly:

I did 2 different versions of this, with the following layers, from top to bottom.

#1. Thrice Blessed Poutine Lasagna of St. Germain De La Heartattack

Spicy Fries
Cheddar Cheese curd, Parmesan Cheese
Ground beef cooked in beef gravy
Lasagna Noodles (deep fried in bacon fat)
beef gravy (yes, an entire layer)
Spicy French Fries
Maple Back Bacon
Cheddar Cheese curd
Lasagna Noodles (deep fried in sausage fat)
Barbequed Chicken Breasts, sliced
Spicy French Fries
Sausage and Cheddar cheese, chopped into smallish cubes
Spicy Farmer Sausage, diced
Lasagna Noodles (deep fried in chicken fat)

Arrange it in layers, bake at 450 for 15 minutes, then broil until cheese on top is golden brown. It weighed about 9 lbs.

Watching it cook. It took forever, what with me opening the oven door all the time :)

The finished product. Lisa and I put our initials on it in french fries, but they seemed to have fused into the general cheesy-gravy-meaty-fryey goodness.

What a delightful choice of wine!

I don't have pics of the other one but it was a variation on the original with the addition of prosciutto ham layers along with hungarian sausage meat. Lisa and I had a dinner party a few weeks ago and invited about 20 folks over for a feast - I made 4 lbs of meat per person, so it was pretty great. I made burgers that were half ground beef, half ground bacon and half cheese along with some pretty insane 'normal' bbq'd ribs. And don't even get me started about the desserts Lisa made, sweet Jebus.

We don't do this often, in case you were worried my heart was going to explode. Now you know my guilty secret!