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Showing posts from February, 2008


A few years ago, the then commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, "Sir John Stephens" told me he'd make me an honorary detective sergeant in "The Met". "Will I get pension rights too" I asked. "Unfortunately not" was his reply.

I read today that 20% of all council tax bills are now going to pay public sector salaries and this will steadily increase to crisis point past 2010. It makes me think that rather than having had a mispent youth, which involved an education that uncannily paralleled scenes from National Lampoon's movie "Animal House", I should have joined the police, like the four other working pilots I know, who retired and now have the benefit of a police pension as well as their second careers.

Mind you, I shouldn't complain. Today I received a nice professional reference from the FBI, ironically, from the agent who shares the same name as the special agent hero of the series "24". He really does exist af…

Wing on the Wild Side

On the wild side out there this afternoon but divine providence helped one young lady propose to her boyfriend at Bluewater a little earlier, although I had told her that the chances of getting a banner overhead were slim.

It's not much fun when it gets that turbulent and the temptation is to simply say "No" than give it a try but miracles sometimes happen and I hope they'll both be happy together!

You'll see how close we have to work to the ground in this picture from this afternoon.

Captain Bob Returns

Two flights out of Rochester today, bringing the legendary 'Captain Bob' out of self imposed retirement to fly a banner for Trade Depot to announce the opening of their Croydon store.

Since 'Captain Bob' decided to start flying a Bell Jet Ranger helicopter, with its leather fitttings and generous mini bar, fixed wing aircraft have become a little passe but the old skills were very much in evidence, with a neat pick-up and an even neater drop, right between the posts.

The day started 'Murky' and didn't really improve greatly. Much of North Croydon had a fog bank sitting neatly over the top of it and so we had to be a little imaginative moving around the outskirts and the M25 to avoid it. Hopefully, the visibility will be a little better tomorrow.

Here's a quick video of the return to Rochester airport.

The Big Question

I found a spot this week on ITV's Meridian News Tonight special story on Leap Year proposals.

Friday may be a busy day then. The weather forecast is not promising but we do have one young lady, all the way from Germany, proposing to her boyfriend at Knole Park! Here's wishing her luck!

Light in the Tunnel

Under a week to the ecrime congress and now the different presentations are starting to arrive by email as requested. I have to run through them and estimate whether I think they will run to time, otherwise I need to revert to the speaker and suggest a little editing to size.

The congress itself normally runs at a blur. The agenda is so tightly packed over the two days that my biggest challenge is ensuring that it runs to time and be the end, rather like a talk-show host, I'm a little washed-out, normally falling asleep on the train between Victoria and Thanet.

Four day later and its off to Gatwick for what, with luck, will be my last CPL theory exam of nine. It could mean that I get my life back after a year of intense studying to a level I've never experienced before. I found, as I started the last course modules of aerodynamics, navigation and aircraft systems, that the urge to panic was almost overwhelming but somehow, I managed to get this far, so there's a light at the…

Privacy on the Tube

If you read back through the archive, you'll see that I've frequently expressed my own concerns over the national identity card project and I see today, that my good friend, Simon Davies at the LSE, has produced a very good and quite funny YouTube video on the subject.

The Home Office doesn't like Simon Davies' views, Privacy International or indeed, I suspect, the London School of Economics.

I'm delighted to see that Shadow Home Secretary David Davis, told Parliament that it was unacceptable that Government target Simon Davies because they don't like his opinions.

See the video and enjoy!

Swift Pick-Up

I've been having a bit of an introduction to how the police and the courts, reverse-out an IP address and resolve it to a person's identity. It's really quite fascinating.

As long as a visitor to a website(s) or a chatroom has left a trail of breadcrumbs in the shape of a date, time and IP address, dynamic or otherwise, this history can be matched up, as the first part of IP address identifies the Internet Service Provider (ISP) and the remainder, the account holder at that moment in time. Of course, it's a little more complex than this but close.

Once this information has been gleaned, then the next stage is an application for a court-order, normally uncontested by the ISP, given the recent changes in the laws governing electronic communications. The next step only takes a few minutes as the times and addresses are matched, a bit like CSI New York and with a bit of "mash-up" technology with Google Maps, you've got the location and even a satellite photo of…

Is it Safe?

“Is it safe?” The famous line from a scene in the film, “Marathon Man” and a question which reflects the dangerously’ joined-up’ nature of world in which we live today.

Next month sees the 6th international ecrime congress in London, an annual event which gives business, finance, government and law enforcement an opportunity to discuss the new threats and challenges presented by the growing influence of serious and organised crime in cyberspace.

And the internet, “Is it safe?” Certainly not and the statistics argue that while in some areas, the risk of crime is being reduced through the introduction of new technical measures and policies, elsewhere and under the extreme pressures of criminal interests, new leaks are appearing in the collective firewall, which may become a flood if not acted upon quickly.

This year, even David Davis, the Conservative, Shadow Home Secretary, will be joining the directors of the FBI, US Secret Service, NATO and the likes of PayPal, Lloyds TSB and Unilever i…

Due South

Very tricky weather today but sterling work from my colleague John W. ensured that Richard's marriage proposal to Hannah arrived in time at Southend pier for 3pm, where she was waiting for an unexpected surprise.

Not exactly the finest weather to be out on the pier, drizzle and low cloud but like the fabled "Pony Express" Airads managed to get there and the girl said "Yes".

Captain Cupid strikes again!

I've attached a short YouTube video. It's not great as I only had my little camera with me and the light was very poor. Hope you can see the major details though!

A Flying Dilemma

I’m faced with a dilemma today.

A young lady has booked me to propose to her boyfriend with an aircraft banner. It is, after all, a leap year and next week, ITV Meridian news will be running a story on the leap year principle and my aircraft banner business. Which is nice!

However, yesterday, I took a booking from a man who wishes to propose to his girlfiriend. Not unusual, after all, we are doing one over Southend pier this afternoon. This one was different though, as his address is the same address as the girl I mentioned earlier and for the same date?

Now what do I do? It's a tough dilemma!

Wooly Jumper

It suddenly occured to me that I might have recognised yesterday's CAA flight examiner from another occasion many many years ago.

In the photo, the inaugural jump of the London University Parachute Club, - it re-started again under the main student union some years later - .

Having a moustache was a desirable asset in those days but the pilot knew better.

The other chap is Rob from Digby Stuart college. I can't remember his surname. Hidden behind is a coachload full of mostly female student parachutists. It was a tough job but someone had to do it!

I do remember that winter's day as being bitterly cold in the aircraft.

Handbrake Turn

Well, that’s the multi-engine test flight completed; a little stressful, if you can imagine a driving test in the sky with the examiner in the right-hand seat.

“Treat me as a passenger, with a full safety briefing. Otherwise I will say nothing during the flight unless it’s to instruct you to carry out the different exercises.”

I’m taken back to the very distant past and another examiner telling me that that I will have to "demonstrate an emergency stop" in my car. Not quite the same in a large aircraft as they don’t tend to stop very quickly!

Changing over the failed engine during an asymmetric go-around almost caught me out, as I had been yawing one way and by switching engines I was yawing the opposite way and misjudged the circuit angle as it takes much longer to turn the aircraft to the left with the right engine failed than the converse.

Anyway, I survived, so what’s next, a Boeing 737 perhaps or a Citation, who knows but there’s a lot more to do and study before I get that…


It appears that I’m being “cyber-stalked” or at least I can’t write anything here without it being flagged or reproduced elsewhere?

Everyone else, it seems is allowed to have a weblog and I have been running several, quite happily since Blogger was in its infancy, six years ago. There’s this one and the eGovernment resource “ArabGov” I administered until eGovernment ceased to be a novelty in the Middle East.

And before anyone comments with another 'Triumph', I didn't write the report on the left but did get some flack back at home from the Cabinet Office, for meeting with the Iranians with the Foreign Office. Before the last Iraq war, there was a clear divide in the government on Middle Eastern policy and the results of the invasion clearly demonstrated that the FCO knew best and No10 allowed itself to be bullied by the Americans.

Anyway, "Zentelligence" just happens to be a mixture of rough notepad and diary, nothing too profound but interesting enough at one point…

Extreme Ironing

A remarkable thing, I've just sold the enormous Iron Maiden banner from the 2006 Reading festival to a 'Maiden' fan who asked me for it!

These things do start to take-up storage space when the client no longer wants them but I rather wonder if the enthusiast plans to wrap her house with it? Without doubt, it will certainly get noticed in the neighbourhood!

I was thinking of giving it to Bruce Dickinson but I'm not sure what he would do with it. I've suggested to my friends at Pilot Magazine that they invite him along for a day's work with us - he usually flies Boeings - which might make a good story and be a change from flying holidaymakers to Spain between gigs.

Close Air Support

With a multi-engine flight test coming-up this week, in addition to several tours of Croydon to announce the opening of the new 'Trade Depot', the video wryly sums up my broader view of blogs and blogging at present.

The A10 in the video is in fact my perfect aircraft. Rugged, reliable and I'm sure, one hell of alot of fun to fly with its fantastic power to weight ratio. Pity we can't find one for this year's Margate Airshow, where the planning is well underway.

Books Plays & Poems

A stunning day, I should be outside enjoying it but instead I'm trying to make sense out of the attic, which holds a good twenty years of papers, books, documents, you name it.

It's only when I look at the cubic metres of boxes, that I fully realise how much I've read, written and published over the last two decades.

In there somewhere, there's the Prentice Hall Book on Lotus 123, an original 1994 thesis on "Groupware' - 'Lotus Notes an Emerging Standard' that was published in an an 'abridged' form in what was then, the Institute of Information Scientist's journal of document management, (ISSN 0969-9325) and a good fifteen years of Lotus, Microsoft, aquaCorps, Diver, and Java magazines as well as Computer Weekly articles.

Looking back though, through this weblog and indeed through the paper magazines and material that preceded it, it looks to the observer as if the world really started after 1995, when material started to appear, en masse, on…

Asymmetric Effect

Time to think of resurrecting this weblog I suppose, having suspended another in the process. Since last I posted life has been more than a little frantic, as I try and work, involve myself in local politics as a ward councillor and complete a commercial pilot's rating; the latter hopefully with a final exam in March.

Today, I've been up in the cold and uniform grey gloom running asymmetric circuits in a Piper Seneca, in preparation for the practical exam next week. Even with just under 1200 hours of experience, it all gets a little busy up there, simulating engine failures and coming back in to land with one engine running. after a while, it will, like flying an ordinary Cessna 172, become second nature but with so much going on at once, it's still a struggle to remember the sequence and not to shut down the wrong engine once the instructor declares a simulated emergency just after takeoff.

Raise, the gear, lose the flaps, prop and pitch full forward on live engine, confirm…