End of February and a leap into March

28th February, up in the Chipmunk with Ted looking at Harrison Hot Springs.

The café at Chilliwack was full of local people, many of them aged from this mainly retirement community, and so there was no room left for us visiting aviators.
We added 60 litres of 100LL from the pump at Chilliwack which had been NOTAM'd out of service for maintenance... But maintenance had not turned up!
Lunch would be at Adrian's at Langley Airport instead and so we returned there.

Out of Chilliwack I noticed this racetrack.
I've been teaching holds recently so the illustration wasn't lost to me.

Weekend Aerobating at Squamish

The proper perspective of the mountains.

I had three pilots to coach in aerobatics, circuits, and spins this weekend.
Aerobatics with Ali on Saturday afternoon, then with Harald on Sunday morning, followed by Ernie in the afternoon.

The final flight was spinning with Ernie who had flown up in his RV6 for the pleasure. He also wanted to experience half reverse Cubans. But the snow came along to spoil our fun.
Then a snow storm in Howe Sound turned Ernie back in his RV6, preventing him from flying to Pitt Meadows. I gave him a lift in the car back to the Horseshoe Bay ferry terminal... By now the weather was perfectly flyable all the way down Howe Sound as we discovered while driving down the Sea to Sky highway. I offered to turn around and go back to pick up the RV6...
It was retrieved a couple of days later.

Off to do a flight test review with Sam in the Vagabond.

2nd and 3rd March were drizerable days.
The 4th dawned bright and beautiful, and so I flew four flights from 11:44 through to 21:00: Piper Vagabond, Super Decathlon, Cessna 172 M, and Cessna 177 Cardinal.

In the Vagabond we went up into the Pitt Lake Practice Area to do the exercises that will be required for a Recreational Pilot Permit Flight Test.

Bi-annual recurrency check with Christian in the Super Decathlon, Fun Bee.

When I fly with people I am sometimes told: "I don't know what you expect of me" or words like this.
As an instructor I go in to each flight without assumptions, and I judge what I see without preconception.
Even with Christian who is an ace of the base Extra 330 owner... Every now and then he will ask me to fly with him for a recurrency flight, and thankfully I find something to teach and to enable learning that justifies my fee!
No pilot is perfect, and we all have something to learn.
This time I sat in the front of the Super Decathlon to give Christian practice in back seat flying. He may do some check flying himself in the future so this is a valid use of the time.
We did steep turns, stalls and spins, and I threw in a Practice Forced Landing.
Of course the aeroplane became unstable for a short while; those Half Reverse Cubans I didn't get to do ('wanted to do more than one) up in Squamish due to the snow shower.

In the Cessna 172 Brian and I flew over the Pitt Meadows VOR to do a series of exercises I constructed to enable the pilot to practice intercepts, tracking, and a procedure turn.

Rory and I flew the ILS into Abbotsford, then VOR tracking, and finished with two circuits and landings in the dark.

On the 5th March I flew with Sam in the Vagabond again... Rudder operation was a problem and so I recalled another practice I have used in the past: Trim the aeroplane, take your hands off the controls and fly usiing the rudder only. Height adjustment is done with small changes in the power setting using the throttle. This develops the ability to use the rudder, and the ability to relax with your hands.

Up in the Chipmunk for some fun with Brian

The Chipmunk needs a bit of flying and so we took the opportunity to give it a fly up the the Golden Ears.


Looping west of Mount Blanchard

Brian took a few good shots with his phone while I did some gentle aerobatics which are a necessary method when needing to lose height.

Preparing for some more instrument flying

After bimbling around the mountain in the Chipmunk it was back to work in the Cessna 172 with another ILS into Abbotsford followed by a Commercial Pilot standard practice forced landing and visual diversion.

Evening light.

Preparing for night cross country, CZBB - CAM3 - CYCD - CYYJ - CZBB

There's a two hour dual night cross country requirement for the Night Rating and so far Rory and I had only logged 0.9 hours doing this.
I like the pilot to find Sechelt Aerodrome in the dark, and point out where it is before using the transmit button to activate the lights (ARCAL). Often I will also land here, backtrack, and depart again if we have time available.
Then it's up to 2,400 feet, call Vancouver Terminal and obtain a clearance to 4,500 feet to fly to Nanaimo for a touch and go followed by routing to Victoria for another touch and go, before returning to Boundary Bay.

Celebrating and encouraging Women in Aviation

I am a supporter of Glacier Air at Squamish, and I have had more than a few female students in my time. Women generally like me for my patience, and I do my bit to encourage all of my students without gender bias.
If you are enthusiastic about flying why would you do otherwise?
Colette at Glacier Air played host to many local women and girls who took the opportunity to go for a free flight with Glacier Air and with a couple of volunteer pilots with aeroplanes.
There were seminars in the classroom given by inspirational women pilots too.
I bought a new kettle, muffins, and biscuits, and made pots of tea.

A warm reception in a cool hangar.

Back to Boundary Bay for some more instrument flying.

Operating off Point Roberts while the weather to the east is too bad

Every bit of important flight information in one instrument.

Rory needed the required five hours of instrument flying before I left Vancouver and so I departed Glacier Air in the afternoon to drive the Sea to Sky Highway back to Vancuver and then further to Boundary Bay where we did a 1.1 hour flight with 0.8 under the hood.
The flight started with what seemed to be a flat battery, and so I had to swing the propeller to start the engine. After starting the charge rate did not suggest a flat battery, and voltage varied between 13.8 and 14.0 volts.
Once again we flew instruments using the rudder only. The aeroplane was trimmed and gentle turns were made to headings using the rudder, and climbs and descents were made using the throttle and trim.
A second electrical glitch manifested itself when the navigation lights were turned on; the radio flashed off, start screen, and then back to normal.

Enroute to the breakfast.

My intent was to attend the Delta Breakfast in the Chipmunk, but alas the Lower Mainland was flooded by fog, and so I drove to Delta Heritage Air Park instead.
This breakfast is the major social activity for sociable flyers in the Vancouver area, and takes place on the second Sunday of each month.

Over the Glen Valley in the Chipmunk with Mark

The fog clearing it was now time to cram in as much flying the rest of Sunday had to offer.
And so first was a short flight in the Chipmunk after which the tanks were refilled. Then, again with Mark, it was up in his Maule amphibian to go and do some splashing about on the water.

Three alightings here, and then two more on the Fraser River. Five splashes; good for another six months.

There was still 1.3 hours of instrument flying to do with Rory, but there was the unresolved electrical problem in the Cardinal, and so it was decided not to fly this aeroplane until the snag was investigated and solved.
Brian stepped in and offered Rory the use of his Cessna 172 to do the remainder of the instrument time.
We flew the ILS at Abbotsford again, and then straight out to the Sumas Practice Area before a touch and go at Chilliwack with instrument exercises enroute to Langley.
I wanted to check that the Master Switch was switched off in the Chipmunk. It was!

Then we shuttled back to Boundary Bay with a bit more instrument flying on the way to comfortably exceed the total of 10 hours of such training required for the Night Rating.

The SD card actually... How very passé of me!

One last flight before I catch a WestJet Boeing 737 to Calgary

Just three with Brian

Bright and clear; forecast rain the next day.

It's important that all aeroplanes are flown regularly and so we put eighty litres of fuel into the Airvan and gave it a quick airing before a quick run to Vancouver Airport to catch my flight.

WestJet to Gatwick

High over Surrey BC; Pitt Lake top middle and the Golden Ears right beside it.

Final for Gatwick in the WestJet Boeing 787 from Calgary.

The car was full of water and mould and so I had a lot to do to sponge it out, and clean the cockpit.

The car failed its MOT when the licence plate illuminating lights failed to work. Both of them had burned out, and so a quick trip was made to Halfords to buy two new lights for £3.95p, fit them, return to the testing station to show they work, and obtain the MOT certificate.

Failed due to the licence plate lights. Took 20 minutes to go to Halfords, fit them, and get a pass :)

Now I am in England to try to sort out my future.
Maybe I am being ageist as at the grand old age of 65 'future career' is no longer an option, so I must sort out where I exist out my dotage.
Vancouver is too expensive, frustrating, and too lonely. Thailand is lovely except when the farmers are out to choke everyone with smoke. England is the better place for older people.
But I still need to make a living; to work until I get sick and die.

Perhaps it's still in me to work in Canada flying instructing until the medical certification is no longer possible. I am fit, but for how long?
Let's continue to ride this life, and see where it takes us.

March goes viral

I am typing on the same computer you see in the picture; bought in Shijiazhuang

In 2006 I was working in China and it was a stressful time.
There was a disagreement between me and the head of training who first allowed instructors to descend on the downwind leg against the Standard Operating Procedures. The meant a power on approach, and a reduction in safety in my opinion.
The next disagreement involved the forty five degree join to the downwind at the uncontrolled airfield where I was based; Binzhou in Shandong Province. Like many around the World I consider this joining procedure to be very dangerous where the visibility is poor, China, and where the students fly the G1000 video game rather than looking outside (VFR).
Both of these are approved in the USA I was told, and so they should be approved in China!
As CFI at Binzhou I was responsible for safety, and I would be the one to go to a Chinese prison! Safety was the most important aspect of my job.

Sandstorms were common, but not from the Gobi Desert!

The end came for me over these arguments. I was sent back to Shijiazhuang, and replaced. Another instructor was sent down to work out how to impose the forty five degree join on Binzhou.
He was not successful in doing this as even the FAA instructors at Binzhou had come around to the procedure I had put in place for aircraft to enter the circuit from the practice areas. These had specific call up points so everyone on frequency knew where the incoming traffic was; this included the occasional Dragon Air flight inbound to Shanghai!

Like many who worked at the flight training academy in China I was more than a little overstressed working there. This combined with Shijiazhuang being the most polluted city in the World at that time meant that I suffered for my health.
In June I was booked to go to Japan for a break... At the same time I was very very ill, and really I shouldn't be going anywhere.
My illness was with similar symptoms to the present Wuhan Corona Virus!
There was a stop over in Beijing on my way to Japan and so I walked into a clinic where a Doctor took good care of me; his English was excellent. I was given pills, but still I should not have got on that plane to Tokyo.
However, Japan was a good place for me to recover, and a week later, though still a bit poorly I complied with my own SOP by logging a (dual) flight in a Grob 109B motor glider out of O-Tone airfield in Chiba Prefecture.

Upon my return from Japan I was sent by train to Baotou in Inner Mongolia to help them set up a new base there.
Baotou was in fact a good location in China to set up flight training, its climate was similar the Manitoba and Saskachewan with much better visibility than Shijiazhuang and Binzhou, plus empty territory; The Gobi Desert.

But still there were arguments over how flight training should be carried out.
Classically a student should be solo at 12 to 15 hours, this is important as from then on the student knows he/she can do it, and becomes better motivated to learn.
Typically students went solo at 35 hours at the academy, and by this time they were like spoiled fruit!

At Baotou we were still Part 61, an unapproved school, and so I decided to rebel and send a student solo at 17 hours without the rigmarole involved for the 35 hour solo students. He did very well, and the whole of his class had a huge rise in morale. Yes, they could do it !
That was the end of my time at the academy.
While there I repeatedly told them that as with the forty five degree join, their joining procedures would lead to a midair collision, and this unfortunately proved to be correct.
A Diamond DA40 collided with a DA42 in the circuit, and fortunately the occupants all survived after both aircraft crashed. "What did Michael say?" was quoted by someone at the meeting afterwards.


China in 2006 was a dirty place, the air quality was deadly, and basic hygiene for the people who lived there was very poor.
We were accommodated in relatively good hotels, while a walk in the streets showed abject poverty, and poor conditions.
Mao had brought in the Cultural Revolution during the 1960s and this destroyed the cultural identity of the Chinese, robbing them of many human considerations.
A group of instructors who were walking in the village near Shijiazhuang Airport witnessed the slaughter of a pig in the street! They told me the pig was screaming and still alive as its trotters were hacked off. Many instructors came, saw, and left in the night, catching a train and a flight home to their civilisations.
SARS, and Covid 19 originated from China, it's still a cruel and unhygienic country it seems, and now we in the global community suffer for the unsavoury practices in China.
I suffered there, and now I might suffer here if I am not careful.

On a September day in 2006 I stepped off a plane at Bangkok, and felt all the stress fall off my shoulders, I drove to Chiang Mai and was home again.
The next day I drove the hire car back to Bangkok with a night stop in Nakhon Sawan. I wondered why there was so much military about?, and tanks on Rangsit Road! Mai bpen rai! Sabai sabai.


While I was waiting for Paul this Staggerwing did a nice neat three point landing

Paul arrives in the Bulldog, a refugee from Bourne Park where the strip is to have a house built on it

Since I arrived back I have been through two tanks of petrol and I am a third into my third as I have driven about a lot, visiting Biggin Hill, Redhill, Blackbushe, and Popham.
There's no business for me being in England at the moment, but I am glad to be in a country where freedom still exists albeit with some recommendations, and restrictions.
I could still be earning a little in Vancouver, but there they are on the same timeline as here in England with flight training about to be restricted, and general flying under pressure to stop along with many things we do and hold dear in the 'free' World.
So today, Monday, I am writing this website update while wondering how we are going to survive the next few months.
If the virus was created in the laboratory in Wuhan that would be one thing, almost expected perhaps? If it was simply China exporting its bad hygiene and taste for eating unusual things, then that's something else. Either way, they could not have created a better weapon against the whole World. After SARS why weren't they more careful with their hygiene?
It's perhaps surprising that such pandemics have not originated from India or deepest Africa.
The World is busy fighting the pandemic now, but what about afterwards?
Like the panic buyers in supermarkets here, the Chinese are said to be buying up stock at reduced prices as the economies of many countries suffer. Is this an act of war?
I think that we are in for troubling political times after the pandemic is over, if and when China is held to account.


When faced with something final on the horizon I always try to get one last flight in before the dead-line.
Thanks to Airbourne Aviation at Popham I can fly a Katana from Popham, and so it was I took Mademoiselle Aourhegan for a flight in the aeroplane on Saturday and she took me for a ride on Sunday.
I flew a triangle to Draycott Farm, Compton VOR, and back to Popham with some steep turns and stalls on the way back.
In not one of my finest demonstrations of a slip the Katana demonstrated how one can lose control in the gusty turbulent air if you are not paying attention. Fortunately I am still quick in my correct response, but I feel ashamed of myself for getting into such a situation. Very un Michael! Sometimes we need a little slap to wake us up and take care.

I must admit to not being as well as I ought to have been on Saturday. Cold easterly winds seem to set me up with a slight, 'grey', sinus headache, not as bad as it was in my 20's but enough to bother me. The Corona Virus is a distraction to one's mind, making one question why you're out and about flying for fun when the government recommends you stay at home.
On a gusty windy cool day you need to be fully concentrated on the flying you are doing, and/or at least not do anything stupid where superior skills are required!

On Sunday we had a much more relaxed flight.
Took off and went to the west for some more steep turns and stalls, and to learn how to operate a Constant Speed Propeller.
Stall recovery with a Rotax 912 engine requires gentle initial application of the throttle to load the reduction gear before full power application. This prevents gear slap, a violent contact between the gear teeth that can be very damaging. We reviewed a lot of things.

We flew to Thruxton to do two circuits.
ATC told us that 'Prior Permission' was required... This is something I must get used to as in the past only private strips needed PPR, now it seems nearly all British aerodromes are asking for PPR!
After two landings we flew back to Popham for two landings there before putting the Katana to bed.

The Katana needs to be flown more often, it's the only aeroplane available for hire at Popham, so if you want to fly it sometime when the present crisis has passed; let me know.

Approaching the dead side for runway 08 at Popham

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