Haven't written anything for a while, but that doesn't mean I haven't had anything worth writing about - on the contrary:
we carried out our CASARA zone evaluation this month;
my friend Lisa had a vehicle accident, landing her in the hospital for a couple of weeks;
I have a job offer to consider;
I got my engine back from overhaul, cost way more than planned;
Smokey went for a dental cleaning, and that cost way more than planned;
I spent a couple of hours watching the lunar eclipse.
Every eighteen months, each CASARA zone gets evaluated by the military to ensure they meet national standards. On 2 Feb, a couple of 435 Sqn members came out to watch us carry out an exercise. It went reasonably well, but certain things happened that rather shook me out of my complacency. So is that a good thing? Yes, and no. Without going into details, I could have done my job better, but I wasn't the only one who could say that. I should have been better prepared - I didn't have a gps plot ready, for example, and I should have questioned the suggested route and search areas. However, I'm not used to questioning military commands, I suppose, so I try to make do. In this case, I would have been better off if I'd been a bit more independent minded about the task.
I know Lisa Klassen because she's a flying instructor at Harv's Air in St Andrews. I've talked to her a few times, without ever realising her sister is Cindy Klassen - the last name is pretty common here. Lisa was in a car accident where she lost control as she drove on a bridge. Unfortunately, the bridge had a ramp of packed snow against the guardrail, and her car went right over the rail, and fell upside down onto the Red River. She was rescued by a passing firefighter and a couple of other people, and spent a couple of weeks in hospital. She's pretty lucky, I would say.
I work at Air Canada, except it's not Air Canada anymore. The technical branch got split off as ACTS (ACTS Aero Technical Support and Services, officially), and is now mostly owned by a couple of American investment firms. Not a good situation, in my opinion. The employment situation isn't really stable - in May, ACTS closed most of the Vancouver operation, and a bunch of those guys came here. I got a permanent lay-off notice for June. One week before I was out the door, the lay-off was delayed for a year. Then in September, the lay-off was cancelled. A week or so after that, they started hiring. Do they know what they're doing? Do they have a plan beyond two weeks from now? Evidence suggests not. So I applied for a couple of positions at 402 Sqn. I've been accepted for the tech instructor position, so very soon I'll have to decide what I'm doing. I have no idea what I'm going to do.
So in December, I had a forced landing in my airplane. Did I mention this? I was flying circuits at Oakbank, had just done a touch and go, and was about a hundred feet off the ground, when the engine dropped to idle for three seconds. While I was thinking, "what the ...", the thing quit on me altogether. That left me with three options. Two of them involved landing straight ahead, the standard practice when faced with an engine failure on take-off. Both of those options were eliminated by the inconvenient placement of a road and two ditches right in my landing zone. So I dove for an open patch of ground to my left. I touched down fast, but in a deliberate skid, putting the left ski firmly into the snow. The trees were coming up fast - only a couple of hundred feet from the touchdown point - and I figured for sure I was going to go through them. But touching down left ski first, the airplane burned off a lot of energy in straightening out, and the snow was quite sticky that day. The airplane stopped in no time, with lots of room to spare. Anyway, leaving out lots of details, the airplane wasn't damaged, but I wound up pulling the engine off because it was due for its 150 hour check. So I've been waiting for three weeks now for the engine to come back from overhaul. Unfortunately for my bank account, the crank had some corrosion, and the pistons were scored a bit, so they all got replaced. The damage was likely caused by the limited use the airplane got by its previous owners. Anyway, $2,600 later, I have an essentially new engine. Now I just have to get it back on the airplane. I haven't flown since December, time to get going.
Smokey is my main cat. I found him under my front step when he was only a few weeks old, and he's now 16 1/2 years old. He had to get his teeth cleaned and sharpened, so he went to the vet last week. Not a good day for Smoker. He had two molars pulled, a couple of shots, but everything came through okay. His kidney levels are a bit high, but not too bad. He's also getting daily medication for hyperthyroid, that's been going on for a couple of years now. Anyway, I heard about him afterwards from the vet staff, apparently he didn't care for some of the things they were trying to do. The bill for the visit came to over $600.
This Wednesday was the lunar eclipse. I went out to near Lorette for a couple of hours, and took some photos, then went to the Forks, where the local astronomers were set up. They had a couple of telescopes going, one of which was aimed at Saturn. You could make out the rings (actually, there were two plainly visible blobs of yellowish light on either side of the planet).
1 week ago