Wednesday, 15 August 2012


Airplanes are like All Terrain Vehicles: point in any direction and go. Literally, the sky is the limit!
Of course, there are some rules, for example maintaining a cruising altitude determined by whether you are flying east or west. The more congested the airspace, the longer the rule book. You can't fly into the Lower Mainland or major cities unless your plane is equipped with a transponder. This allows you to be identified by a blip on a radar screen. You fly very prescriptive approaches and departures, and are yelled at by Air Traffic Controllers if you deviate.
Before we take off - anywhere - Bill files a flight plan with Nav Canada. His flight path to the Coast goes like this: "Nakusp departure, overhead Kelowna, GPS direct to overhead the Coquihalla Toll Booth, overhead Hope, overhead Chilliwack to Kilgard check point, direct Boundary Bay." He estimates an arrival time, must close the flight plan on landing, and has 30 minutes grace before Search and Rescue goes into action.
Although little information has been released about the recent crash out of Penticton, two facts have been: the Piper deviated from its filed flight plan; activation of the plane's ELT (Emergency Locator Transmitter) directed SAR to the accident site almost immediately.
ELT easily accessible

Most Canadian aircraft are required to carry a functioning ELT. We fly to Creston every second year to have ours checked and certified by a specialized technician.  Our ELT is mounted beside the left rear seat, and that passenger is instructed not to play with it, as we don't want a SAR Buffalo suddenly appearing on our wing tip! It can be activated by hand, and theoretically emits a signal when the plane crashes. In practice, it fails to activate more than half the time - appalling in this age of technology. Controversy abounds on how planes can be better tracked:
For redundancy, we carry a Personal Locator Beacon in the form of a SPOT device. It has a 911 button that broadcasts our GPS coordinates, providing it sees the satellite.
handy SPOT
In the case of the Piper - miles off its flight plan, in wooded terrain - the ELT worked, and people are alive as result.


  1. Cousin Mike in Toronto16 August 2012 at 13:56

    Hi Jill,
    Is it ever cloudy in New Denver! I only ever see spectacular scenery and cloudless skies, what a great place to live!
    Thanks for the pinpoint on your "pad" and Cabin, that's a great gig you two have. I'll have to share that one with Steve, we won't talk about his drive to the cottage.
    Your last couple of blogs are great, I especially enjoy your "aero-lessions", very accurate and easy to understand, and I'll vouch for you re: the barking controller's in busy centres during rush hour!
    A quick up-date from Toronto finds us in a word,...BUSY!, Scotty has been in and out of the US with hockey, and has been helping with the smaller dudes at a local training camp. We start hardcore with him in less than a week.
    Ali has been working all summer, just finished yesterday and now getting organized for back to school (Dalhousie University, Halifax), I will be taking her out on the 26th to see where she will be living (sharing a house with 4 other girls) and generally enjoying some father/daughter spoiling time!
    The "dish" and I are helping with offspring running around and enjoying puttering together, Scotty will be coming with me on my next trip (a short over and back, in Hong Kong for less than 30 hrs) and even though not a lot of time we get a father/son trip in together,....who's the lucky pup dog!!
    Keep the great blog going, love getting it, oh and please pass on to Captain Roberts, excellent pre-flight prep and safety demo!


  2. Thanks for the family news, Mike. We missed seeing Connie at the family reunion last Fall. What fun it must be for Scotty to fly with you to HK! Does he get the jump seat?
    Yes, it is cloudy in New Denver - for weeks at a time, to hear Bill tell it. I admit to being cautious about weather after our adventure over the Cassiar Highway two years ago. I like to see where I am going, thus our fondness for blue-sky days!

    1. Cousin Mike in Toronto18 August 2012 at 11:03

      Normally we make sure he has some form of a concessional ticket, but I block off the J1 position for the flights he's on so that I know I can get him down to, and on the airplane. Sometime the system will not release seats for staff/family if a Zero Fuel Weight limit is reached, this is not the structural limit for the airplane but a payload limit established by the system, which allows the flight crew and traffic/load control to calculate the exact max ZFW for the current conditions/rwy in use for the time of departure. Lots of times traffic will ask how much weight they can have, so we are constantly updating for them and us to lift as much as we can considering of course departure/enroute/destination wx and conditions.
      I know that was a long winded answer but I was in the mood!!

      Enjoy your next trip.


    2. Great detail, Mike! You know I always have more questions than answers.
      So, I assume you are flying passengers not cargo these days?