Aviation Is A Small, Small World

I’ve been told the world of aviation is kind of like the world of horse people – small, tight knit, everyone knows somebody who knows somebody. So far it’s been true, but I also live in a sparsely populated area, and there are days that I’m reminded even the world outside of aviation is small around here.

There’s a grass runway out by Oak Hammock Marsh, called Oak Hammock Airpark. It’s only about  two or three minutes from St. Andrews by Cessna, and we practice landings there when the circuit is busy at St. Andrews. There’s a house about a half a mile south west of the beginning of runway three six, that I was told to be careful not to fly over. The guy who owns it makes noise complaints about aeroplanes flying over his house. The ironic thing, is the guy’s got a helicopter, and you’d think that someone involved in aviation would have a bit more tolerance, or you know, just not build his house right under the natural path of a circuit on a nearby runway. Maybe it’s because he’s a helicopter pilot and helicopter pilots have this superiority complex. But no, apparently every year when things get busy with the air cadets, and someone forgets there’s that guy there, Harv’s air gets noise complaints.

Anyway, I was talking to my dad the other day, and we were talking about St. Andrews, and he says, oh, I was out near St. Andrews the other day. For a house party, he says, and they guy had a sign in his yard about flying, and he has a helicopter.

And I thought, what are the odds of there being two guys with helicopters in the area? I asked him if it was out near Oak Hammock. He didn’t know, so I pulled up google maps, described the driving directions to this guy’s house, and yep, it was the guy.

I don’t know his name or anything, but for the information of anyone who might be flying around Manitoba, and decide to land at Oak Hammock Airpark, don’t fly over this guy’s house.

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Flight School Update

Still working on the Citabria checkout – flying a little less this last month, now that I have my license. I’m taking a bit of a break, and I’m trying to pick up a few more shifts at work while I’m doing that now that I have a more definite time that commercial ground school is going to start. That’s going to be in September.

The Citabria has very small air vents though, and it’s been a very hot July. So rather than pass out from heat stroke, they took the door off for us. It was kind of cool. Like the open cockpit plane I got to fly in. Kind of like riding around in a jeep that the doors have been removed. The funnest part though, is watching the look on people’s faces when I tell them we were out flying the plane with no door.

My instructor was on vacation for a week though, and I did a couple flights with another one. He said I was getting some good progress, and when my instructor came back she said he’d figured I was pretty close to being able to take the Citabria solo. Of course then I had an off day – more flights than I was used to, and I was working late the night before. My landings were kind of pathetic, to the point that when the winds picked up two days later for my next lesson on Friday, she said maybe we should wait for a day with calmer winds. Normally I go with whatever she says, but I knew I could do better than what I’d shown her Wednesday, so we went out anyway. It was wavering between 15 gusting 21 and 18 gusting 26 knots, and compared to Wednesday, I rocked it.

That’s what they’re talking about though, when they say “pilot fatigue.” It can make a huge difference in performance. I like to think it’ll make less difference when I’m more of an old hat at it, but still, even then, there’s good reasons to be careful, and good reasons for the regulations there are about commercial pilots and how much rest they’re required to be given between flights.

Orson Scott Card And The Boycott On Enders Game

There’s been a lot of discussion lately about boycotting the new Ender’s Game movie. For those two of you out there who don’t know, Ender’s Game was written by Orson Scott Card, who also happens to be a raging homophobe who writes articles for anti-LGBT organizations’ publications as well as donating money to such hate groups.

I’m not going to see the movie. I’m not going to trash anyone for going to see the movie, but I’m not.

There’s a lot of people saying that we should separate the artist from the art. I don’t believe that’s justified at all. I think an artist is a businessman like anyone else who creates a product, and any artist who think’s they’re not is full of pretentious bullshit. It’s silly to think that the profession of art is just so special somehow, that artists are above judgment from their customers. It makes just as much sense to boycott an artist for bigotry as is does to boycott the convenience store down the street with a sign saying “no homosexuals allowed.”

And sure, there’s the fact that he’s probably already received whatever money he’s going to get for the movie, so what’s the point in boycotting, if it’s not going to affect him financially, or affect any money he sends to hate groups?

It’s not about the money though. The boycott is symbolic. It doesn’t matter how the studio tries to separate themselves from the author and the author’s views. It does matter that the producers are trying to separate themselves, and holding a fundraiser for LGBT rights charities – that’s great, but it doesn’t separate the movie from Card. No matter what they do, the movie is linked with a man who hates homosexuality and thinks it should be illegal, and we (those boycotting the movie) feel a need to say that’s not okay. The boycott is our way to say that in as loud a way possible.

Book Review: Thunder Road by Chadwick Ginther

I put down Mockingjay to read this one.

I don’t normally read urban fantasy at all, but it’s a first novel written by a local author and acquaintance. You know that fear, when you go to read a book by someone you know, that it might not be very good, and you sometimes just hope you’ll be able to find a few nice things to say so you don’t make them feel bad? Well I can’t say I’m surprised, but I certainly didn’t have to search for nice things to say about this one. It didn’t read like a first novel. I’ve read a number of debut novels by authors I really liked, and there’s often a precocious, unpolished quality to it. Not so here.

The novel follows Ted, who’s inadvertently got dragged into the plots of mythical figures from Norse tradition. I probably don’t know enough about Norse mythology to truly appreciate the amount of research the author’s done – the worldbuilding is rich with it. But at the same time, it’s modernized. The characters of myth have adapted to the modern world.

I think Chad knew that every urban fantasy with a male protagonist that came after the Dresden Files is going to be compared to the Dresden Files, so the main character, Ted, is definitely not a Dresden clone. He’s rougher around the edges, and not the gentleman that Dresden is. He’s a jock, and believably so. It’s not an archetype I’m very familiar with – it tends not to be one you see often in genre fiction. I figure it’s because it doesn’t tend to be one that readers often identify with – the people who would identify with it, don’t really read genre fiction. But I think it was made real enough to make up for it.

Loki was a great character. I think the author has done his job in making a character who’s entertaining comic relief, sympathetic at times, but you’re never really sure if he’s a “good guy” or not. Which is exactly what a trickster god should be, I think.

I think the ravens were underrated as well, though. They’re a voice that fills in gaps of information for the main character, and they might have been annoying as deliverers of exposition, but their sardonic tone made them entertaining enough to overlook that, and I enjoyed them.

Right, there was a romance, wasn’t there. Yeah, I’m not a romance person, so it was good that the romance wasn’t the entire point of the story, but it was also nice to see a character with a battered heart get some romance. Ted’s not such a young guy, and he’s got an ex that he still has feelings for, which is totally understandable. Tilda, the new girl, has her own hangups. She’s wound up in her  fate, and feels trapped by it. Fate is a major theme of the story, and I get the sense that the series is going to be exploring whether fate is written in stone or sand. Tilda certainly seems to think it’s written in stone, but Ted doesn’t. I’m hoping this doesn’t end up being too Damsel-in-distressy in later books. I’d like to see Ted supporting her while she breaks free of her fate, rather than rescuing her from it.

The only other female characters so far are her mother and grandmother, and her mother is a pale background character. The grandmother was an old battle-axe character type, though – she was cool, but it would have been nice to see more of the middle aged mother character come out – it’s one you don’t see much of in genre fiction. Maybe there will be more in book two, I’m looking forward to it.

Thoughts On Reaching A “Certain Age”

All my life I’ve been surrounded by women who are ashamed to have anyone know how old they are, and the old cliche that a woman’s age should be secret, that there’s something disgraceful about the passage of time for a woman. And when I said I wasn’t going to dye my hair when it started to turn grey, and that I was going to be proud of my age, they all said, oh, you’ll feel different when you get there.

Not sure what age that “when you get there” is supposed to be, but societal norms certainly tell me that thirty is one of those pivotal moments when I’m supposed to feel old. So it’s kind of timely that this amusing moment happened the other day:

We had pulled the Citabria up to the fuel pump, and one of the dispatchers came to fuel it up. He didn’t wait for us to get out, just pulled the 1500lb+ plane forward with both of us in it. I made a comment about him being a manly man. Sandra made a comment about us being a pair of cougars.

I was like, wait, what? I’m not old enough to be….wait a minute, how old is he?

Turns out he’s nineteen. A full ten years younger than me. And it doesn’t even matter that I wasn’t even actually flirting – I’m married, after all. I was surprised he even heard me over the wind and engines of the other planes.

It ended up being pretty funny – the dispatcher was killing himself laughing. Which is fine – I can handle humour being at my expense. With friends, I’ve set myself up to be the butt of jokes sometimes, just because my friends are clever and the jokes will be entertaining, so I was laughing as hard as he was.

But it was still a bit of a shock. I mean, I kind of had the feeling I was around that age that people talk about. That age that society dictates that I should be ashamed and hide my age. That age that they all told me I’d feel different about it than I did when I was “younger.”

And you know what? I do feel different about it. But not the way they said I would. They said I would feel embarrassed and ashamed to be as old as I am. Well that’s not how I feel. I feel annoyed at society’s silly expectations, and ready to flip them the bird.

I’m twenty-nine and eleven months, and I don’t need anyone to think I’m under twenty five to rock my life, so anyone who thinks otherwise can suck it.

So there.