Sky Pilot: raincoaster?

cessna 182

cessna 182

Yes. You’d be surprised, but I’m actually a more accomplished aerobatic pilot than the guy bringing you in to La Guardia. And The Sister is twice as accomplished.

I’m stealing these and copy/pasting them from a Gawker post about junior pilots, racing around the world to beat the Guinness book and dying in the process. Enough.



I was a child pilot and I don’t have any issue with teaching kids to fly, but when you add the competitive aspect, and the extreme range of conditions mentioned above, you have a recipe for disaster. These competition kids die. They DIE in disproportionate numbers. Because of a fucking deadline, because of ambitious parents, because they are pushed too far.

Rebel Rebel

Tell it to this guy.


“I was a child pilot.” Do tell!


I think I’ve told it a few times before, but what the hell.

My dad was a natural-born aviator who could make clunky, run of the mill planes do anything he wanted. Unfortunately for him, he did not come from the class who sent their sons to university, so he was a Sergeant, not an officer. As a non-officer, he wasn’t allowed to be a pilot, although he would occasionally give flying lessons to those who were, and wanted to try something different.

Most every weekend he’d take us up in a rented Cessna, my sister and me, and do aerobatic manoeuvres these planes were never meant for. They’re good planes, though, and he was an excellent pilot, so it was fine. Eventually he taught us. My sister could do an eight point barrel roll by the time she turned ten. I wasn’t that good, and only managed a four.

But we didn’t compete, we never felt pushed, and if we’d rather have stayed on teh ground that would have been okay with my father. It would have saved him saying (as he did every time we landed) “Don’t tell your mother.”

Absolutely wonderful! Thanks for sharing even though you’ve done it before. I had no idea you had such an adventurous childhood. Dang.


Thanks. Actually, till I became a teen and started comparing myself to my peers, I’d no idea what we’d been doing was cool at all. Since high school, the only place it’s been cool is here, in the Gawker comment section.

PS still jelly my sister was the better pilot. We both went on to completely unrelated careers, her to high-level academic administration, me to (spam alert) The Cryptosphere.

Pat’s Bay Wildlife Slideshow

Parental Eagle is not so much angry as disappointed in you

Parental Eagle is not so much angry as disappointed in you

Time to take a trip in the wayback machine, as well as the puddle jumper! These are some shots I took in June at Pat’s Bay on Vancouver Island, more formally known as Patricia Bay, which is doubtless how it was introduced to the Royals. It is, by the way, a $40 cab ride from downtown Victoria, although thanks to faithful charioteer WestcoastDave on Twitter, I didn’t have to pay.

Ah, social media, you spoil me.

I didn’t even have to pay for the plane ride home on Saltspring Air, thanks to the organizers of Social Media Camp! Since I grew up in planes, I was looking forward to this flight: a true puddle-jump from Pat Bay to one of the Gulf Islands, and then to Coal Harbour in Vancouver, from which I could and did walk home. Nothing like living right downtown! Not only that, but they promised me the handsome ex-Olympian who was also the most polite pilot in Canada. Our pilot was indeed handsome and polite, but as to Olympian histories, well, I thought it was too personal a question to ask. And possibly painful. I mean, what if the answer was, “No, actually my bobsled team was knocked out in the semi-finals and my whole life since then has been a slow, downward spiral, like some tragicomic Bruce Springsteen song.”

Incidentally, the plane we flew in was a 1956 DeHavilland Beaver, a plane of which Canuckistan can be justly proud. I’m thinking Hummingbird604‘s flight home must be the first and only time he spent that long in a beaver.

But there are some good reasons to get out of The Big Smoke occasionally. I think I caught most of them in these pictures.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Operation Global Media Domination: The Dogfight Situation

Image representing YouTube as depicted in Crun...
Image via CrunchBase

Long, long ago, on June 25, 2006 in fact, I uploaded my first video to YouTube. Then what happened? Then, I basically ignored it for four years.

That video has now had 824,393 views.

I’m impressed, to say the least: my other videos average less than 100 views, and that’s even if I put them in my blogs. And god knows, I can’t take credit for how well this has done Mind you, I got this one while it was very fresh (it’s not original, by any means, but it is public domain). I was cruising around Fark, as I have been wont to do whenever I wont for diversion and there it was. “P47 guncamera footage from WWII, recently declassified” and I clicked, saw that it was just what it claimed to be and amazing footage, saw additionally that only a few people had watched the video so far, downloaded that puppy without hesitation, and uploaded it to YouTube.

So, basically: it was fresh, it was fascinating, and it was named what it was about: WWII Dogfights in Colour. I put it in: Category: News & Politics. Tags: War, Planes, WWII, Dogfight.

Since then, I’ve had a Brazilian television show ask me if they could use it (I passed along the contact deets for the original uploading and if I still had them I’d add them to the Notes) and just got an offer from an LA music company of cash money to add their music as a soundtrack. Very cool, and actually quite smart of them. As long as the song they want to add isn’t all “Go Nazis” or whatever, I see no reason not to say yes.

You’re no doubt curious to see the video, so I shall not make you wait any longer. It’s silent, but it’s deadly.

And don’t neglect the comments; there’s an interesting and quite intelligent discussion of air strategy. I’m proud that my video has broken the trend for YouTube comments of unspeakable stupidity.

Gravity: I haz it

And it appears this dude does not:

Yes, it’s very, very mean of Patrick to pretend to pass out at the controls of a small airplane, leaving his obviously non-pilot friend to freak out in close proximity to a video camera.

Very, very mean. Also very, very funny.

Which reminds me of the time, and stop me if you’ve heard this one although you really can’t stop me because this is my blog, dammit, and we’ve already established that I do not take requests, so here I go, blogging it anyway and if you really want to be stopping something, that thing? Should be reading.

There, glad we could clear that up.

Now that we have cleared it up, here’s the damn story:

Wiarton beach; that is Colpoy's Bay. No really, way more terrifying from a plane

Georgian Bay, if you don’t know, is rather wide; in fact, I believe the technical designation for a body of water that size is “ginormous.” And off this ginormous body of water is a smaller, yet still substantial inlet called Colpoy’s Bay. This Colpoy’s Bay leads to the picturesque town of Wiarton, of which we have spoken elsewhere, and which plays no part in this story except that it is from whence we took off that day in the plane, and was the town to which we hoped to return alive (I was raised to have low expectations, which makes total sense if you’ve ever seen Wiarton).

One of the things we had to achieve, in order to achieve the latter, that is return alive, is cross Colpoy’s Bay, for lo, we had been up in Buttfuck Nowhere, which is pretty much anything near Wiarton that cannot even be described as “as big and important as Wiarton.” And, as we were crossing the bay (I should explain we were not crossing in a boat, nor even a raft, nor by swimming nor walking on the water, for it is far too pretentious for the likes of us to be showing off in that particular way and besides, we save it for Sundays; no, we were crossing in a Cessna 172, a fine, sturdy little aircraft that seats two: in this case, me and my father. My father and I.


And then the engine stopped.

Let me repeat: there we were, halfway across a significantly-sized body of water in a tiny single-engine plane when the single engine decided to take the day off.

What happened then: my father became quite a different person entirely; why, you could hardly call him chatty at all! and he began flipping many switches, toggling many toggles, and dialing many dials. The plane, of course, began to free-fall towards the surface of the water, which is never a comfortable position for a thing like an airplane to be in, much less an airline passengers such as, in this case, myself.

Now, my father had trained both my sister and me (I? Us. We.) to fly planes before we were 10, but he had neglected to teach us how to restart the engine in mid-air while plunging towards a watery grave. So after a moment of thinking “can I be useful here? Nope. Maybe I can hold in my farts and help float us a bit?” I sat back and let him handle it, while I watched with very big eyes and kept my hands folded quietly in my lap.

After about ninety seconds or it could have been five lifetimes, the engine restarted and we toodled the rest of the way across the bay quite normally and proceeded on our route. About ten minutes after that, I tapped my father on the shoulder and asked, “Dad, was that supposed to happen?”

Dear Patrick’s Friend:
THIS is how you handle a problem if you’re a small Canadian girl.

Contrast and compare.