Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Of course we met at the airport.

This was back in May, 2000.

Lisa was interested in getting her pilot's license and had taken a summer job at the Goderich airport as the meeter/greeter/fueller/ to earn some money toward that goal.

I had been flying a Beech Baron, hauling cargo under contract to UPS from Goderich to Hamilton every night. It was a pretty cool job, but I had actually given my notice and was about to move to Toronto to fly a turboprop for a corporate operator. I was scheduled to start work at my new job shortly, and was excited about it, even though I was a little apprehensive about the operator I was going to work for (they had a bit of a shady rep at the time, though they have since improved).

Lisa started work on the Monday, one week before I was going to move to Toronto and start my new job. I met her on Tuesday.

"Hello, my name is Sully. I fly airplanes, so I'm kind of a big deal."

Would my shock-and-awe campaign work?

"Hi, I'm Lisa. You're not a big deal at all, you're just a damn pilot. No, I don't have any money you can borrow."

Curses, she was a smart one.

She was smart, quick-witted, and had a great sense of humor. Lisa is an old soul; she has had her act together from a very, very early age, which is great because that makes her the mature one.

We hit it off instantly, and during that first conversation, the little man in my head who tells me what to do whispered a single word to me.


I whispered back to him "You do realize that this is going to be trouble, right?"

"Her. She's the one." said my psyche, again.

And it just clicked in my head, like flipping on a switch. She's the one.

I was single, having just come out of a rather casual relationship with a rich divorced woman, so I wasn't encumbered.

"Lisa, would you like to go for an airplane ride sometime?" My face felt hot and my voice sounded croaky as I tried to act all casual.

"Yes!" She seemed pretty happy at my offer.

We made a date for Friday, and I canceled my move to Toronto, calling my old boss and telling him I'd like to stay in Goderich a while longer. He said sure, so that part worked out just fine.

Now before I get any further, I want to point out that all the best love stories have some sort of conflict or difficulty inherent in the situation. Ours is a particularly fine story, and it comes with a particularly high level of difficulty.

I'm also saying this because I know that after reading this post to the end, some of you will delete my blog from your bookmarks and never return. You will not be alone in your disapproval, trust me.

I'll cut to the chase. That was in 2000. Currently it's 2008. I am now 36. Lisa is now 23.

More tomorrow, should you choose to continue...

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Alcohol or Drugs - Passengers

602.04(3) No operator of an aircraft shall provide or serve any intoxicating liquor to a person on board the aircraft, where there are reasonable grounds to believe that the person's faculties are impaired by alcohol or a drug to an extent that may present a hazard to the aircraft or to persons on board the aircraft.

That's the boring stuff. It says that we can't let passengers drink on board if they get loaded enough to be a hazard to themselves or other people on board. That's just common sense.

But what about this - what if a passenger gets loaded on our bar stock and then we arrive at our destination and the passenger has a car? I'm pretty sure I can be held liable, so what are some techniques I can use to defuse this situation?

The layout of our jet is such that our passengers can access food and drinks without any supervision, so we really have no idea who drank what.

Why am I asking this? Well, a couple of weeks ago we did a charter somewhere, taking some banking-type people for a meeting in the morning. A guy on board asked for some Crown Royal whiskey, so we picked up some during the day for the return leg. On the return leg, the flight was about 90 minutes. There were a half-dozen people on board, and after about an hour the volume of conversation and laughter in the back increased significantly.

When we landed, we were greeted by 2 female customs officers. I stood outside the plane while they went in to talk to the pax. I don't know what the passengers were saying to the ladies, but one of the customs officers said "Wow, good thing I grew up with 4 brothers", so I'm sure it was rowdy.

Customs departed, and the passengers stepped out, heading for the FBO. I knew that there was transportation arranged, so I didn't sweat their drunken state. We went back to the plane to clean up, and discovered that between the 6 of them, they had drank an entire 26oz (750ml) bottle of whiskey, 6 beers and about 15 small 'airline'-style liquor bottles. No big deal there either; we factor booze into the cost of our charters, and we have a flushing potty in the back (which they used enthusiastically).

Kitsch and I were discussing the devastation of the interior of our beloved jet, and I said "Yeah, well at least they had limosines to take them home. Right?" Kitsch looked at me in a way that suggested further investigation might be necessary, so I checked the tripsheet.

1 car had been arranged. I can only assume they all took it, but I'd rather not go through that situation again, nor have to make that assumption.

Am I liable if a drunk pax decides to drive home after we land? (likely)
Does this happen to other charter operators? (likely)
What do they do about it? I don't want to get sued and end up having my wages garnished to pay some huge judgement because I let a millionaire drink himself over 0.08 and then wrap his BMW around a lamppost on the way home.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Somewhere in that crowd is Barack Obama, on the ground for 3 1/2 hours before heading off somewhere else and giving a speech there, too. Encircling the airport were three bazillion security people; police dogs, people with earpieces, the whole nine yards. A guy came over and checked me out when he noticed I was taking a few pics, but I escaped a tasing and was allowed to continue about my business.

This next video is the most boring video in the world, you have been warned. I took it last night, when we landed back at Pearson and were taxiing to our home base. The weather was foggy and misty, with 1 3/4 statute miles visibility and a ceiling of 400 feet reported on the approach. It got rapidly worse, and as I was driving home 20 minutes later, the vis was maybe 1/8th of a mile and the clouds were in the trees. I like how the fog plays with the light and colors the sky around the airport. It was at 7:30pm last night, but you really can't tell what time it is in the video 'cause it's all ghostly and spooky and stuff.

Hell, it actually looks a whole lot like the simulators we train on down at FlightSafety every year. It's cool when your job resembles a video game :)

Infinite apologies for the crappy quality of the sound; a HD camcorder is at the top of my list of yearned-for possessions and if/when that ever happens I'll be sure to get one with good sound.

Oh yeah, about how Lisa and I met...I'm working on it now and I'll get to it right away - I just want to make sure I have my words correctly arranged before I open up this area of my life. When you read the story, you'll see what I mean.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Five hundred feet to go before landing on a nice day at Pearson.

Yeah, I have a cool job.

Thanks to Kitsch for the pic, and thanks to me for the awesome landing :D

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Ahh, winter on the Great Lakes.

Nothing a few thousand bucks worth of Type I and Type IV de-ice fluid won't clean off.

We headed east for an hour. The weather sucked, and Kitsch flew the ILS down to 100 above minimums before we caught the runway lights.

Check out the video I took this morning: It's pretty boring for the first minute while we are in solid cloud / fog, but I think it's pretty cool how the runway eventually comes into view. All praise to Kitsch for posting the video, I'm just linking to it.

When we departed for home this afternoon Kitsch took a video of the wing as I was taking off. I thought it was cool and he was kind enough to let me link to this one too.

Oh, we hired a new person on Monday. More on that soon.

But next up, how Lisa and I met...

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Check out this rather intense video of an Airbus A320 dragging a wingtip while attempting to land.

From :

"This Lufthansa Airbus A320 suffered a wing-tip strike before executing a go-around during an attempt to land at Hamburg International Airport during high winds on 1 March.

Germany is among the countries battered by hurricane "Emma" as the storm swept across Central Europe.

The country’s weather service, Deutscher Wetterdienst, warned of widespread strong winds, and meteorological equipment at several German airports recorded gusts exceeding 30-40kt.

Weather data from Hamburg Airport showed winds gusting up to 49kt. The A320, identified as D-AIQP, was apparently arriving on runway 23 after a domestic service from Munich.

Its left wing-tip contacted the runway and the aircraft drifted far to the left of the centreline before the crew aborted the landing. Local reports, citing maintenance sources, indicate that the jet escaped with only superficial damage."

Here's a pic from