Skip to main content


Showing posts from April, 2008

Short Story

A short cybercrime story on Al Jazeera TV on Sunday, reminded me that the Infosec show in London had passed me by, almost unnoticed this year. I had been speaking at the IDC conference in Milan and missed my annual pilgrimage to the great security bazaar at London’s Olympia.

I can’t honestly remember how long Infosec has been running but an observer from another planet might be forgiven for asking why, after all this time, the security industry and government between them, have failed to deliver any sure-fire solutions for dealing with a global problem, beyond throwing ever larger amounts of money at it?

In time for Infosec 2003, I wrote a Microsoft-sponsored report entitled ‘A Matter of Trust’, which as I’m sure you will guess, focused on the company’s ‘Trustworthy Computing’ initiative. Five years further into the search for this elusive digital equivalent of the Holy Grail, I’m reminded of one of my comments:

“This problem brings us to where we are today, at the beginning of 2003, loo…

Bang Face

A frenetic day on Saturday, with the Churchill Estates banner to fly over North London and a second, over Camber Sands, in the afternoon. I won't pretend to understand what the message on the latter: "Bang Face Hard Crew" meant, I just fly them on demand and I certainly wondered what the people on the beach below made of it all.

We used Lydd Airport for the first time in ages to operate from and they were extremely helpful. Below, there's a small YouTube video of the view back into the airport when the job was done.

I'm tempted to fly a banner with "I'm Backing Boris" over London this week. If only to annoy Ken Livingstone!

Final Approach

Up above the Isle of Thanet this morning with friends, testing out my new video camera and having a quick practise session in TG's Piper Arrow. It's a bit quicker than my sedate, banner-towing, Cessnas with a constant speed propellor and a retractable undercarriage but alot of fun once one has the measure of it; it's a bit twitchy at first.

The video, shot by Alasdair Bruce, shows Thanet from above and the approach in Manston airport's runway 28.

St George's Day 2008

Staying with a football theme, The Sport Academy in Loughton, North London, called me at short notice, yesterday, asking us to fly a banner promoting their St George's Day football, 'Fun Day'.

Given that Monday's weather was dire, I didn't have any great hopes that we might be able to do it but today, by remarkable contrast, was like an early summer's day, with glorious sunshine over the south-east of England.

And so it was back to Daymns Hall, now renamed as Hornchurch airfield, to set-up and collect the banner for the 'Fun Day' which all went to plan and included a short YouTube video as well.

I really must buy a new camcorder with so many customer videos now going online.

The Hitchhiker

A trying day. The weather was pretty awful until late afternoon and this morning I had to fly one aircraft to Rochester, to collect a second to take to Deanland for a maintenance inspection.

It was hard enough to find Rochester in the first place and when I did, it was to find my my old friend 'Captain Bob' there as well, having arrived in the big 'Long Ranger' helicopter a little earlier. Nobody else it seems was crazy enough to be flying.

After a delay of an hour while I waited for a predicted improvement in the weather, which never came, the wind was now gusting close to 30kts and so I decided to make an initial try for Deanland. All well and good until I reached Maidstone when all of a sudden, I felt I had been rammed by a truck in mid-air and dropped several hundred feet. My head slammed into the aircraft roof and any loose item was flung across the aircraft. This was turbulence of a kind that I have never experienced before but fortunately it was gone as quickly as…

Margate - Struggling on the Fringes?

I see that I'm given a quote in today's Observer newspaper story on Margate, a fair account, I thought, written by Home Affairs Editor, Jamie Doward, who paid the town a visit last week.

Jamie has clearly used several local weblogs, as well as a meeting with our local council leader, Sandy Ezekiel, as the backdrop for his story, which shows Margate fighting for a future of urban regeneration and an arts renaissance, against an uncomfortable backdrop of arson, deprivation and crime.

I commented: "The seaside towns of southern England increasingly find themselves struggling on the fringes of the London-centric economy, ill-prepared to meet the harsher economic realities of a changing Britain" and I think this is true but with Margate at least, having a vision of what it wants to be once the Turner Contemporary gallery is built.

The future of Margate is however a subject which stimulates strong emotions and you may recall I suspended my popular ThanetLife weblog for just t…

Fabulous Fabio from Milan

I wondered at first if I was the only person who recognised the man in the seat across the aisle on my Alitalia flight from Milan yesterday?

On the most frantic day trip abroad I have ever experienced, I was outward bound – almost an hour late – from Heathrow at just after 10am to the home of the Italian fashion trade, Emporio Armani or that was what it said on one of the giant aircraft hangars.
I had a speech on ecrime and cyber-terrorism to deliver to an IDC conference at the city’s Marriot hotel, followed by a newspaper interview with a leading Italian daily but I hardly had time, between arriving at Milan airport and beginning my presentation, to drink a small cup of espresso.
Equally rapid was the departure back to the airport followed by the flight and a two hour late motorcycle ride home from Heathrow.

Milan was not what I expected. It could perhaps have been any other large European city, like Lyon, I thought. Lots of migrant beggars plying their trade at the traffic lights, graf…

Ask Churchill

Great coverage, I thought, on Sky News this morning for my AIRADS client, Churchill Estates, to support the business story on the expected Bank of England interest rate cut and the decline in the housing market.

We were up at Rochester yesterday, filming the piece with Sky News editor, Joel Hills and on a glorious spring morning Sky captured some excellent footage of the Churchill banner before we flew off to North London to display it.

I will be very interested to see if this level of coverage attracts more business.

Monarch of the Glen

An interesting partner in the Manston circuit today. It would be rather good for the airport if it were a permanent presence rather than a simple training flight. I did notice however that one can now fly to Italy and visit the ruins of Pompeii from my local airport. Rather pricey though. Only a fraction cheaper than a week in Cuba. Perhaps the strong Euro is to blame?

Dream Gone Dreamland

When I was told that the famous, 'listed' roller-coaster, Margate's 'Scenic Railway' on the Dreamland site had gone up in smoke yesterday, I was shocked!

Like many Thanet residents who have expressed their own opinions on local weblogs, I was not that surprised. Why? Because given the track record of 'unfortunate', fire-related events that have surrounded the site, it seemed almost inevitable. On reflection, perhaps I should have put a bet on it happening at the local bookies but I suspect that I wouldn't have been given good odds.

Anyway, while I was working overhead today, I took some photographs to pass to the local media. Here's one of the better views of the fire damage. Kent Police are of course treating the matter as 'Suspicious'.

Skies Call

These last hours of training in preparation for the final CAA flight test is proving to be very hard work indeed. I've been two hours above Kent today and I'm drained. To overcome this final hurdle one has to fly very accurately indeed to +/- 50 feet and dead-on heading,when one is climbing and descending and making steep turns. This is very challenging indeed. At present, it's all about getting the hang of the aircraft that I will be using for the exam, which is fast and demands a good level of anticipation during manoevers.

If the weather holds-up this week, Sky News is set to join Airads for a 'mission' over London and to film a piece on aerial advertising. It's going to take a little arrangement, having the Sky helicopter, the banner aircraft and of course a camera crew and the client, all working together out of Rochester. The latter is presently recovering from the weekend's snowfall and is closed and so we are rather hoping that it will be dry in time…

On Two Wheels

Today proved to be a disappointment, weather-wise, with the strengthening winds behind the cold front putting today's banner flight over North London out of the picture. I haven't heard back from 'Free Tibet' either, after having arranged a late landing before Sunset at Rochester on Sunday and so I suspect that any idea of 'Bouncing' the Olympic flame ceremony has gone out of the proverbial window.

Mind you, I don't think the weather will be good enough anyway.

So instead of flying, I joined several of my other motorcycle-riding councillors and their wives, for a ride to Dover. That's us looking rather windswept on the seafront at Palm Bay, outside Margate and Cliftonville. And if it looks cold, then it certainly was!

Terminal Decline

The Terminal 5 story caught up with me again today, in the shape of the BBC. Apparently one of their journalists had been trawling through earlier coverage and came across my 'Kalashnikov Theory'. As a result they want me to talk about it in relation to the ongoing Terminal 5 problems on the radio tomorrow morning. In fact, I can't remember which BBC or whether I actually asked, but from the time, it could be Radio 4, who knows!

Coincidentally, I have two business trips coming up in coming weeks. One to Milan, I'm taking Alitalia and the other to Talinn in Estonia, which is Easyjet out of Stansted. The only flight that appears to service the country. And that's at 6am. As a matter of choice, I think I'll pass on British Airways for a while or at least until they have repatriated twenty thousand lost bags!

I can't be that popular with the company anyway. After flying the banner for the pilots union to Heathrow and then, wearing my other hat, taking a swipe at …