Skip to main content

A Long Sitting

Time for a brief posting as outside, the world turns steadily whiter with the arrival of cold high pressure weather from the heart of Siberia.

In a week's time I could be finally free of written exams after two years. Over at Gatwick I have the last two remaining CAA theory exams to sit for my instrument rating, to add to all those that I previously sat for my commercial pilot's license. Ironically, I've probably sat almost the same exams before, Meteorology and Airframes, Electronics and Instrumentation but the CAA in its wisdom, rather than test on 'differences' between the ratings, (e.g polar streographic navigation) insists on throwing the entire kitchen sink at the poor candidate all over again.

Once the theory is out of the way, then it's fifty hours in the simulator and the real-thing before I can take the multi-engine flight test on instruments; likely to be the second most stressful experience of my life after having passed the original commercial flight test last July.

The other week, I was asked to fly the twin-engined Cougar back to Rochester from Andrewfield and when you are on your own, it's amazing how rusty one becomes moving between the more complex aircraft types after a period of not flying one. In fact, the biggest hurdle was the 'all singing and dancing' Garmin GNS430 comms and navigation integrated GPS unit but thankfully, I've now found a PC simulator for the damned thing and I'm alot happier with it.

The bitter cold weather that day also caught me 'on the hop'. I ran through the engine start sequence on the checklist, primed the left engine and pressed the start button; nothing happened. OK, so perhaps I'm an idiot, so I try exactly the same on the right engine; nothing happens.

I sit there for a good ten minutes wondering what on earth I might have done wrong before I give up and call-in some help. The answer, the cold weather has flattened the aircraft's battery and the only solution is to call an engineer in from maintenace to jump the battery, much the same as an car. So when the left engine starts, I can start the right engine and then finally taxi out to the runway and head for home.

My biggest project this year, the 2009 ecrime congress is coming along nicely for next month. I had a long chat last week with a Radio 4 presenter about a programme that the BBC will be doing on the subject and explained that whatever we try and do to mitigate the impact of online crime, we are always behind the curve in an arms race with very well funded and highly organised criminal interests across the globe.

So that's my Blog entry for the day done. Back to the revision I suppose. What I'm going to do when I finally stop having to study, I don't know. I'm sure it will be a shock.

Popular posts from this blog

A Christmas Tale

It’s pitch blackness in places along the sea wall this evening and I'm momentarily startled by a small dog with orange flashing yuletide antlers along the way. I’m the only person crazy enough to be running and I know the route well enough to negotiate it in the dark, part of my Christmas exercise regime and a good way of relieving stress.

Why stress you might ask. After all, it is Christmas Day.

True but I’ve just spent over two hours assembling the giant Playmobil ‘Pony Farm’ set when most other fathers should be asleep in front of the television.



I was warned that the Playmobil ‘Pirate Ship’ had driven some fathers to drink or suicide and now I understand why. If your eyesight isn’t perfect or if you’ve had a few drinks with your Christmas lunch then it’s a challenge best left until Boxing day but not an option if you happen to have a nine year old daughter who wants it ready to take horses by tea time.

Perhaps I should stick to technology but then, the instruc…

A Matter of Drones - Simon Moores for The Guardian

I have a drone on my airfield” – a statement that welcomes passengers to the latest dimension in air-travel disruption. Words of despair from the chief operating officer of Gatwick airport in the busiest travel week of the year. Elsewhere, many thousands of stranded and inconvenienced passengers turned in frustration to social media in an expression of crowd-sourced outrage.

How could this happen? Why is it still happening over 12 hours after Gatwick’s runways were closed to aircraft, why is an intruder drone – or even two of them – suspended in the bright blue sky above the airport, apparently visible to security staff and police who remain quite unable to locate its source of radio control?

Meanwhile, the UK Civil Aviation Authority, overtaken by both the technology and events, is reduced to sending out desperate tweets warning that an airport incursion is a criminal offence and that drone users should follow their new code of conduct. Yet this is not an unforeseen event. It was i…

An Ockham of Gatwick

The 13th century theologian and philosopher, William of Ockham, who once lived in his small Surrey village, not so very far from what is today, the wide concrete expanse of Gatwick airport is a frequently referenced source of intellectual reason. His contribution to modern culture was Ockham’s Razor, which cautions us when problem solving, that “The explanation requiring the fewest assumptions is most likely to be correct;” sound advice which constantly proves to be true.

A week further-on since Britain’s second busiest airport was bought to a complete standstill by two or perhaps two hundred different drone sightings, it is perhaps time to revisit William of Ockham’s maxim, rather than be led astray by an increasingly bizarre narrative, one which has led Surrey police up several blind alleys with little or nothing in the way of measurable results.

 Exploring the possibilities with a little help in reasoning from our medieval friar, we appear to have a choice of two different account…