Kerry Of Araiba?

I have a confession to make.  Sometimes when I’m supposed to be working I take a well deserved break and wander around the internet for hours at a time a few minutes doing, you know, research.  This morning I got an email from my good friend Andrew Bruce up  at Far North Aviation in Wick Scotland who I’d asked for advise in planning my upcoming trip to Bangkok.  One of the legs I was asking about was the stop in Jordan.  The last time I was through there I landed and spent the night in Amman.  It was an OK place to stop for the night but my route to Crete the next day would take me over Israel and even though I’d been trying for 3 days I was unable to get an overflight permit.  So not wanting to meet an F-16 with the star of David on its wings I was forced to fly around Israel then back up to Egypt.  Quite the pain in the ass and expensive.

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I was looking at trying once again to get overflight permission for Israel or even land there, because I have a friend in Tel Aviv but Andrew suggested that I stop in Aquaba instead because the fuel is cheap, sort of.  So after hard 5 minutes of slaving away on Google Earth looking at the new route I decided I deserved a break and started surfing the internet.  One of the first things I came across was a story about Lawrence of Arabia’s secret camp being found.  “That’s cool” I thought, and as I scrolled down the page I came across a map that showed where the camp was located.  Notice any similarities?

It looks like I’m going to be flying right over the camp when I leave Aqaba going to Kuwait.  I think I see a desert buzz job in my future.

Stalls Kill

We lost another jump plane full of skydivers this weekend.  A Cessna 206 in Australia crashed the other day killing the pilot and two tandem instructors and their students.   Same old tragic story.  Loss of power on takeoff.  Pilot attempts the impossible turn.  Stall.  Spin.  Crash.  Everyone dead.  This scenario happens time and time again and it drives me absolutely batshit crazy!   I train jump pilots every year and the one thing I focus most on is how to crash.  some pilots like to call it a forced landing but lets call a spade a spade.  If you lose power, land off the airport and bend the aircraft it’s a crash.  If you and all your passengers walk away it’s a good crash.  If everyone dies, not so much.  Every pilot knows if the airspeed gets too slow the plane stops flying, that’s not good.  The problem is that too many pilots just can’t accept the fact that sometimes they are in a no-win situation and no matter what they do they are going to crash.  I can see it like I was there in the cockpit with them.  BANG! out of nowhere the engine quits.  You were in the climb out with the nose high and your airspeed immediately starts dropping like like a turd from a tall moose as your heart rate goes the other way.  You frantically look around the cockpit trying to spot something obviously wrong, something you could fix, something that could get you out of this situation.  But there’s nothing wrong, nothing to fix.  Look up, find a place to land.  But what’s in front of you isn’t a runway, it’s trees, buildings, a school, a golf course, (no, it’s never a golf course) Doesn’t matter it’s not a runway and you’ve never not landed on a runway.  TURN AROUND! THE RUNWAY’S BEHIND YOU!  You bank hard and head back to the runway.  HOW DID I GET SO LOW?   AND HOW DID MY AIRSPEED GET SO LOW?  You look at the runway out the side window….too far away……here comes the ground……PULL UP!  Here come the trees, PULL UP! every time I’ve pulled back on the yoke the plane has climbed.  Over the hundreds or thousands of hours I’ve spent flying every time I’ve pulled back on the yoke the plane has climbed.  Its become as natural a reaction as breathing.  Don’t come up short of the runway, PULL UP!  But it doesn’t work that way.  The thousands of times you’ve pulled  back on the yoke a running engine and excess airspeed has pulled you higher into the sky.  But not this time.  This time you’re a poor excuse for a glider.  And there’s no airspeed left.  And airspeed is life.  The stall horn shrieks, the pre-stall buffet gets worse, but you can’t bring yourself to lower the nose, if you do that you’ll never make the runway, you’ll crash, and that’s something you just can’t accept…won’t accept.  So you do the only thing you can think of to keep from crashing, you pull back more.  The end is quick.

Choices, Choices

The task for the day is to figure out the route for my ferry trip from Florida to Bangkok.  It’s a hard job because every stop outside of the US entails hundreds of dollars in landing fees so I have to figure out how to make each leg as close to the Navajo’s 1000 range as possible.  It’s also hard because sometimes their are two different airports that are about the same distance and I just get to choose based on where I want to land.  My question of the day is from Augsburg Germany I can either go to Istanbul, Turkey before heading to Jordan or I can go to Corfu, Greece.  Now I’ve never been to Turkey and have always wanted to see what Istanbul is like but I have been to Corfu and it’s one of the most beautiful places on earth and a favorite stop of mine that I haven’t seen in years.  Hmmm, what to do, what to do.  I know let’s take a vote, where do you all think I should go?

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Snow To Surf, Part 2

When I got back home to Wisconsin I had 3 whole days to rest before taking off again.  This time my family forced me to take them to the Caribbean island of the Turks and Caicos.  The sacrifices I make for my family are incredible.  There’s not lot to say about our trip.  As usual we rented a tiny clown car which gave the opportunity for me to practice driving on the left side of the road and my wife and kids the opportunity to yell at me tell me I’m doing it wrong.  Our place on the beach had a fantastic view of the most beautiful turquoise water I’ve ever seen.   Being it’s close proximity to Florida the Turks is the perfect distance for a fuel stop when ferrying a plane to South America and I’ve always thought it offered some of the best views in the world.


Final approach into Providencials International Airport. 


The rest of the trip was pretty what you’d expect, drinking rum, playing football on the beach, and scuba diving with Number One Son and Super Girl.


All in all a pretty good trip.  Now back to the salt mines.

From Snow To Surf, Part One

OK, OK, things are just happening too fast for me to keep up in a timely manner.  Apparently I’m taking too much vacation for my own good and I’m falling behind in my obligations, like the blog.  But after a hard days scuba diving in the Turks I guess I have a few minutes to jot down a few random thoughts and post a few pictures.  Mostly post pictures because they don’t require me to think very much, it is St. Patrick’s day after all.

  First off the Back country skiing trip to British Columbia.  Every year a few good friends and I pack up and head off to the mountains to do a little skiing.  A few years ago we got hooked on deep power and the only way to get it without a helicopter is to climb.  So we all bought skis and bindings that allow us to unlock our heels, put climbing skins on and climb mountains in search of our particular addiction.  It’s not easy on a bunch of old guys like us but when waist deep power is the the reward you’d be surprised what you’ll do.

climbing   The conditions started off good with low avalanche conditions and good temperatures.  Unfortunately as we got closer to the top of the mountain where the hut we would be staying in for the next week the great climbing snow we’d been enjoying turned into hard wind packed ice that our climbing skins couldn’t get a purchase on.  What followed was a grueling test of endurance where we were forced to take our skis off and climb up the ice covered slopes on our hands and knees.  The fact that we all had 35-40 pound packs full of clothes, sleeping bags, food and the essentials… know, wine.  Scrambling up that final pitch was tough and the senior member of our group almost didn’t make it.  But we’re a team and we all pitched in and got him to the top.



Once we made it to the top we settled into the hut that would be our home for the next 6 days.  It was a great place with all/most the comforts of home.  That is if you have to walk 50 yards through thigh deep snow to go to the bathroom and melt snow for drinking water.  But it was worth it.  It had started snogging when we started climbing the mountain and did ‘t stop until after we left.


But what goes up must come down, and when you’re talking about massive amounts of snow in the mountains that means avalanches.  Every day we were up in the hut the avalanche danger rose and rose to the point that when we finally had to leave the rating was moving from high to extreme.  The ski out was pretty damn scary.  It seemed like every slope that we’d been playing in just the day before was on a hair trigger getting ready to dump a ton of white death on us at any minute.  The most dangerous part was an area below a major slide path called “The Mousetrap” When it was time to traverse the Mousetrap I went first to make a track through the waist deep snow.  The guys selected me to go first because I was the strongest and fastest.  At least that’s what they said, I think it was because I’d just gotten my new hip and they didn’t think my life was worth as much.  But in the end clean living and a pure heart prevailed, not mine of course but someone’s I’m sure.  Either way the crew didn’t get killed again.

band of brothers

Trip Warning! Trip Warning! Launch The Alert Five Ferry Pilot!

 “Do you want to fly a Navajo Chieftain to Bangkok?”

That’s the text I got from Cory at CB Aviation the day before I left for the Turks and Caicos on spring break with my family.  “When?” I asked.  “Leave next Friday”   Hmmm……Let’s see, I just got back from 7 days of back country skiing, I get back from the Caribbean on Thursday, the snow on my runway is melting fast and I need to start getting the dropzone ready for the new season….so sure, I can fly a plane halfway around the world on a moments notice.  I mean, why not?  I’ve got nothing better to do.  So here I am sitting on the beach in paradise, trying to plan a major ferry flight instead of kicking back and drinking all day.  OK I’m still drinking all day but you know what I mean.  Here’s the route I’m thinking of taking.

I know I still owe you all a post and pictures from the skiing trip and was going to do it this morning but a bloody Mary got in the way.  Maybe later.

More Oops

Against all odds I managed to survive 7 days of back country skiing in British Columbia, or I should say my new hip survived, it’s made of cobalt unlike my leg muscles.  Too tired from the 24 hour drive back to Wisconsin to give you the full after action report right now so here’s a shot of why you should always look both ways before crossing the runway.

Image source: Polk Co. Sheriff's Office via Tampa Bay Times

Maybe the pilot should’ve sharpened his leading edge more.