Sunday, January 27, 2008


The Discovery Channel in Canada has an interesting show that's running in January and February with episodes first airing on Tuesdays at 10 pm EST with repeats throughout the week. The show is entitled Jetstream and it is about Air Force pilots training on the CF-18.

Overall the show seems really well put together. There's some good special effects, great scenery and they show some pretty good detail about the type of training that's required for military pilots to make the transition from the Hawk jet trainer to the CF-18 Hornet. It's Intense!

I have a couple minor complaints in that they try and "Top Gun" things up to make the show a little more suspenseful, but overall, I highly recommend it for anyone interested in flying, especially in a career with the Armed Forces.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Gimli Glider Retired

On Thursday, Air Canada retired a Boeing 767-200 with the registration C-GAUN and the tail number 604. This wasn't any old 767, this was the famed Gimli Glider which ran out of fuel and managed to land safely in Gimli, Manitoba after gliding from 40,000 feet.

Here's a video of the 767 doing a flyby at Montreal's Trudeau airport before heading south to the Mojave desert.

This is an article from CBC News

Pilots, crew reboard 'Gimli Glider' for final flight
Last Updated: Thursday, January 24, 2008 | 2:09 PM CT
CBC News

The two pilots and several crew members who safely landed the legendary "Gimli Glider" are boarding the plane again Thursday as it makes what could be its final flight.

Pilot Robert Pearson and his first officer Maurice Quintal will board the Air Canada Boeing 767 in Montreal to oversee Thursday's flight, which will carry it to its new home at California's Mojave Airport.

An Air Canada Boeing 767, nicknamed the Gimli Glider, dwarfs race cars using the Gimli, Man. abandoned airstip as a race track in this July 24, 1983 file photo.
(The Canadian Press/Winnipeg Free Press/Wayne Glowacki)

"Four groups … have shown some interest in acquiring the airplane, either for flying test beds for engines or for museum purposes, so it may not stay there too long," Pearson said.

"Hopefully somebody will find a use for it."

Three of the six flight attendants who were on Flight 143 will also be on board Thursday.

In July 1983, Flight 143 was on its way to Edmonton from Montreal when it ran out of fuel 12 kilometres above the Ontario-Manitoba border.

The 120-tonne plane, worth $40 million, became a glider, dropping over 600 metres per minute with no hope of reaching Winnipeg.

Pearson and Quintal managed to glide the plane, which had 61 passengers and eight crew members on board, 200 kilometres and then land it at an abandoned military airstrip in Gimli, Man., located north of the Manitoba capital on the shores of Lake Winnipeg.

The day of the accident, the Winnipeg Sports Car Club was holding a "Family Day" at the old Gimli base, so it was filled with families and campers and the runway was being used as a race track. Spectators and racers had to scatter as the giant plane touched down, then put out a fire in the nose with hand-held fire extinguishers.

None of the passengers was hurt during the landing, although some sustained minor injuries while using the plane's rear emergency slide.

After the landing, Pearson and Quintal were praised for their quick thinking. Pearson was an experienced glider pilot, while Quintal had once been stationed at the Royal Canadian Air Force base at Gimli and was familiar with the landing strips.

Later investigation revealed the plane was only carrying half the amount of fuel it required for the journey because of a metric conversion error that was made on the ground.

Months after the crash, Air Canada disciplined the two pilots for allowing the near-tragedy to happen. Pearson was demoted for six months, while Quintal was suspended for two weeks. Three ground workers were also suspended.

A 1985 Transport Canada report blamed the incident on errors and insufficient training and safety procedures.

Air Canada is organizing and paying for Thursday's reunion, but it won't comment on it.

Pearson said he doesn't think any airline likes publicity about accidents, even if they narrowly avert tragedy.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

The Cost of a Medical

Commercial Pilots in Canada have to undergo a medical examination once a year (twice if they're over 40) as well as a number of other tests including an ECG and hearing tests at different intervals.

The Class 1 medical is required to fly commercially in Canada. However, it reverts back to a Class 3 medical if you don't renew it within the 12 months. A person holding a Class 3 medical can exercise the privileges of a Private Pilot, but cannot fly commercially. Because I've been in school I haven't kept up my Class 1 medical, however, I recently decided to renew it.

This is a post I posted on AvCanada recently:
Living in a new city without flight benefits, I went searching for a new Medical Examiner so I could renew my medical.

I lucked out and found one at the medical building that's just a couple blocks away. Sweet! I'll be able to walk there. I booked an appointment and after getting everything sorted out the receptionist reminded me that if I missed the appointment I'd get charged $50 the next time for a missed appointment (Seinfeld anyone?) I quickly asked at the end of the phone conversation how much the medical would cost. "$150" was the reply and then she politely, but quickly, hung up on me as she switched to answer another call on her busy swtich board.

$150! It had been a few years since I had my last medical. Wow, I thought. Prices must have gone up quite a bit. But something wasn't sitting right. The most I had ever paid was $120 or so and that was in Expensive Toronto and with a doctor whom I had been going to for all my medicals. I also searched AvCanada and found inferences of people paying far less.

Back to the CAME database on TC's website. I found another doctor relatively nearby and gave them a call.

"How much for an aviation medical?" I asked.
"$75" was the reply.

I was surprised at the difference.

Having a doctor that you trust and can help keep you flying is an asset. However, having one doctor charge twice as much for a medical than another is pretty crazy if you ask me. While cheaper isn't necessarily better, that's a pretty big difference in price.

So, how much did you pay for your last medical?

The post was accompanied with a poll on what other pilots had paid for their medical. The results as of this blog post were:

The price can vary quite drastically. While I don't suggest that someone should go to a doctor simply because they are the cheapest around, it pays to look around a little bit. Also be sure to ask other pilots about which doctors they've been to and what their experience has been.