Lyncrest To Kenora

Flying in summer can be a bit exhausting – at least in a plane as small as a Cessna 150. The thermals really bounce you around. Tuesday I had calm winds forecast at least, so I headed out to Kenora to meet up with Timothy Gwyn, who writes science fiction about female pilots, and runs the Ice Patrol website, that connects with local pilots flying over some of the local lakes to report when the ice melts off the lakes in the spring and is clear for fishermen and boaters.

The weather is the weather, and when I got to Kenora, the tower gave me the wind at 9G17, almost straight across the runway. I’ve bailed on landings before when the wind was more than I thought I could handle, but that was a lot of hours of crosswind practice ago, and my limits have definitely shifted. I had just finished a day of practicing in 12G24, 40 degrees off the runway, so I was feeling pretty confident, and handled the landing like a pro. I hate that there’s never anyone in the plane with me or watching from the ground when I rock an awesome landing in challenging conditions. There’s always someone watching when I make a shitty one. Life’s not fair.

Anyway, I found the Walsten Air hangar and parked the old lady around the corner while Timothy Gwyn admired her snazzy new paint job, which, for pink, is pretty professional looking. When people hear it got painted pink, everyone always thinks “oh god, it’s going to be aweful….” but then they see it, and they say, hey, that actually looks pretty sharp.

Timothy Gwyn had promised me a tour of the King Air he flies, and despite being pressed for time, he did not disappoint. It was more than a tour, it was a whole ground school lesson, going into how a PT-6 turbo-prop engine is built kind of backwards from most turbine engines, and how the design affects the aerodynamics and performance of the plane. The last time I got to tour a big plane, I got to sit in the left seat and all, but I certainly didn’t get the detailed explanation of the whole instrument panel, from left to right. When you look at the instrument panel of one of those big planes, it looks so unbelievably complicated that how I ever keep all that straight. And yet, I know enough already that within the twenty minutes or so Timothy had to skim over it, the mystery was stripped away, and suddenly it wasn’t near so complicated. Just little machines spitting out information.

It really is a nice aeroplane, the King air. I can see why pilots talk about it the way they do. And it was good to get out on  a longer cross country again, and navigating in areas where there are fewer roads and man-made landmarks to navigate by. Need that to get ready for my 300 nautical mile trip, requirement for my commercial licence.


Discarded Passions

I used to draw and paint when I was younger, and have a ton of art supplies that I haven’t touched in years. I spent a lot of money on them, and had them packed away in a tackle box to keep them organized.

I’ve been writing for the last 16 years, and that’s the art that stuck with me. From an early age, even my art was about telling a story, so it makes sense that I eventually found my true passion in writing. Since thn I’ve also become a pilot, which is only the most awesome thing in the world.

So I figured I’d put away my art supplies in a box, and used that lovely tackle box for office supplies.

You know how when you pull out something you once loved, and suddenly you want to get into it again? I was thinking, I’m gona go through this stuff and suddenly I’m gonna want to draw or paint something again.

And I went through my art supplies and thought, “Shit man, I’m never gonna use any of this shit ever again.”

There was a distinct lack of nostalgic feelings. Nothing. Like the art thing was just something to do, something to justify my existence, something I did to please the people around me and get that pat on the head I so desperately needed. The more I think about it, the more I think that’s what it is. I was decently good at it, having practiced, and anything I was decently good at, I’d do it more because it got me positive attention. I don’t think I really differentiated between enjoying an activity and enjoying the attention I got for doing it.

It’s kind of a weird revelation. The stereotype is the young girl passionate about art, chasing her dream of being a professional artist, drawing and painting for the love of art. I was good at drawing, so I embraced the role. That’s a thing about Aspies – they imitate. I can’t even help it. At least now that I’m older, and I know I’m an Aspie and have that tendency, I can consciously pick and choose who to imitate, and what roles to embrace. Like my flight instructor – I can adopt her attitudes towards aviation safety, and aspire to one day fly as well as her.

But painting, it seems maybe there wasn’t the passion there that I thought there was. There was a lot of encouragement – way more than the encouragement I got when I took up flying. But with flying, the passion is there. It’s different. Writing too – I couldn’t stop writing, even if there was no hope of anyone ever wanting to give me money for it.

Anyway, I’m gonna go finish dumping my art supplies into a bin and see if my roomie wants any of it before I see about donating it to a school or something.

C-FLUG 50 Hour Inspection

The old lady had her fifty hour check-up the other day and is in perfect health.

There were a couple of us there to help out, which is cool because there’s some parts that are two person jobs. Like the cylinder pressure test – one person needs to hold the prop in place at top-dead-center (the point where both valves in the cylinder are closed) and one person turns on the air hose and reads how much pressure is being lost. That test cam out very well – Leon, the AME (aircraft mechanical engineer) said that he had done a pressure test on this very plane and engine shortly after the cylinders were replaced, and the results were not nearly as good. Apparently that’s one of those things that improves if the plane is being flown regularly.

The one thing that’s still a little bit sketchy is the mixture, and Leon figures the valve could be twisted a bit, or worn. The issue is the engine doesn’t shut down, but sputters when the fuel mixture is cut off, meaning there’s enough fuel getting to the engine to keep it just barely turning over. When it sputters and doesn’t die like that, they call it “dieseling.” The trick to getting it to shut down in that situation is to push the throttle in a little, and run the engine a bit harder to burn the fuel faster so that it starves and shuts down.

Worst case scenario, you can turn off the mags, and then there will be no spark in the cylinders to ignite the fuel, then the engine shuts down instantly. The problem with that, though, is it leaves unburned fuel in the cylinders, and firstly, that can cause fouled mags, as well as making it more likely the engine will start, and run longer in the case of a ground wire failure.

I haven’t had too much trouble getting the engine to shut down myself, but Leon figures some of the girls may have had more trouble due to pushing the throttle in too fast. If you push the throttle in fast, you engage the accelerator pump. It’s for when you need power fast, and gives the engine an extra shot of fuel if you ram the throttle to the firewall really fast. In case you’re abandoning a landing and need power to climb right away after having had the engine running on low power for a while. If if you do that when you’re trying to shut the engine down and starve it of fuel though, then suddenly you’re dumping a bunch of extra fuel into the engine.

Anyway, enough rambling about engines. Hopefully I can get out and do some circuits with the old lady today. She’s also got a new paint job.

Tombstone Blues by Chadwick Ginther – Book Review

Catching up on book reviews here.

After beating back the might of Surtur, Ted Callan is getting used to his immortal powers. The man who once would stop at nothing to rid himself of his tattoos and their power might even be said to be enjoying his new-found abilities.

However, not everyone is happy the glory of Valhalla has risen from the ashes of Ragnarok. With every crash of Mjolnir, Thor, former god of thunder, rages in Niflheim, the land of the dead.

Now that Ted’s woken the dead, there’s going to be hell to pay.

Even better than book one. If you thought Ted’s sort-of romance with Tilda was going to go smoothly, you’re worse than wrong. I love that the relationship between the two of them seems so real. I mean, he’s a middle aged guy, hooking up with a teenager. And on the one hand, she has a lot of wisdom she’s gained from what happened in book one, but on the other hand, she’s still a teenager, and she ultimately acts like it. She’s not emotionally ready for the things she’s dealing with, and helping her cope is a task greater than all the power Ted’s been given.

The handling of the mythology too is one of the things that makes this series stand out. It picks up where ragnarok left off, rather than being a retelling. That gives the author a lot of freedom to introduce plot twists, and yet, Ginther seems to be trying to be as true to the source material as he can, playing on the emotions of the mythical characters in logical ways, like Loki’s anger and sadness over the Asgardians murdering his children. Many interpretations put characters like Thor up as a heroic nice guy, but Ginther makes him a villain, and when he reminds the reader of some of the awful things Thor did, according to the stories, he’s really not stretching at all, from the perspective of modern sensibilities.

Loki has significantly less presence in book two – in fact, you spend most of book two wondering every once in a while where the hell is Loki in all this? But the raven’s, Huginn and Muninn actually do a good job of filling in for comic relief, which is important in a story where the emotions run so dark. The scope of the book is a little more epic, since rather than trashing a little town in Manitoba, Ginther’ has the minions of Hel trashing Winnipeg itself.

I’m looking forward to book three in the series. We’ve made a request that the Winnipeg Human Rights Museum* be destroyed, and I do hope he gets to that at some point.

*Before you think I’m a horrible person for taking joy in the destruction of a human rights museum, this building went horrifically over budget, which all came out of taxpayers pockets. On top of that is the controversy that it’s not actually a *human* rights museum, it is a remember-what-happened-to-the-jews-in-wwii museum, and when people asked why the place wasn’t going to be exhibiting anything to do with human rights violations towards black people or first nations people, they just said that’s not what this museum is for.