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Sneakers

Plans for the 2009 ecrime congress seem to be coming along nicely. We now have an outstanding selection of speakers from companies that include Rolls Royce, Daimler Chrysler and France Telecom and now we need to start refining the agenda in time for Christmas.

It's that damp and miserable time of year which invariably keeps pilots on the ground. I narrowly avoided being stranded at Rochester on Sunday afternoon, when the cloud and persistent drizzle descended on the airfield but just managed to escape underneath it before sunset. Looking at the price of aviation fuel, I notice that my bill was £2,400 in the last financial year for Avgas and £500 higher for the car, which runs on diesel; so a noticeable bump in the cost of doing business which is impossible to pass on in the present economic climate.

Some things are of course cheaper. I bought a new pair of good running shoes last week, reduced from £75 to £24 which I thought was a bargain. I've found I can run again after six years of Achilles tendon problems. I can't run far but I'm now up to a fast mile and half each day against the stopwatch without visible ill-effects. With the last thirty years of my life almost defined by my running, I had missed it terribly. I'll never be able to run another marathon or think of racing across the Sahara but I'm delighted with a short 'spin' along the seafront. followed by forty minutes of intensive weight-training and a tin of sardines. Once I've hit my target weight, the beard I've been growing will be removed, to the delight, I'm sure of my wife and daughter.

Back to Gatwick next month for two more exams for the Instrument Rating (IR). Presently, I'm rather annoyed at the JAA/CAA examination system because it has no sensible progression from commercial pilot (CPL) to airline transport pilot, (ATPL).

The ATPL to all intents and purposes is the CPL + IR, and the right to fly passengers on much larger jet aircraft, with what appears to be the same theory exams and content in common but if one has the CPL/IR and then want to migrate to the left hand seat in a big jet, then you need to sit and pay for all the exams and a new course of training, all over again. This is patently 'daft' and could take 18 months and many thousands of pounds but it's all rather like the famous 'Euro Banana'; it's a bureacratic problem that the signatory states can't be bothered to work out.

It's all rather vexing but I suppose aviation is little different from any other highly regulated industry in the proud new Europe in which we live.

Finally, I found a copy of my great uncle's book, 'Unwilling Passenger', mentioned in the last entry, on the internet. It cost over £90 but at least it's back, as a signed copy, where it belongs.

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