Sunday, February 26, 2017

Well, I shouldn't bad mouth the place, but Kazakhstan has been a serious pain in the ass.  Thanks for nothing.  Perhaps it's all for the best, as I get closer to my dream job in an entirely different part of the world, waiting on paperwork to clear.  I'll let you know.  I really want this.

Otherwise, my novel is finished and survived it's first edit.  It's now in the hands of some trusted proofreaders and only getting better, as suggestions come in sporadic and etherial.  I can tell a story, but my grammar skills are lacking.  I hope to have it ready to submit to publishers soon.

More to come....fingers crossed.  Excited.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Happiest when I'm flying....

I'm definitely happiest when I'm flying. And busy.  The photo above was taken a good while back prior to a SAR training sortie in Tanzania.  I was happy.  The past week wasn't too bad either as I completed my AW139 recurrent and check ride in Newark with my good friend Mike, a fellow Canadian with similar background.  We had flown together in Tanzania and Kenya then assigned to differing bases, but stayed in contact.  Training in the simulator is always a blast, and it was great to be challenged.  I finished up the week with training forms and check ride chock full of 4's, so I'm relieved that my skills haven't deteriorated from the slow year.

We had one day off and elected to head into Manhattan and catch a play on Broadway.  We considered driving down but parking in the city is prohibitively expensive, so we chatted with hotel staff regarding bus or train options, but the cheery Sheraton Front Desk manager convinced us to give Uber a try.  We downloaded the app and within minutes had a Corolla and young New Jersey driver ready to take us downtown.  The driver tried to convince us that the world was flat, and based most of his argument (as well as his theory the moon landing was faked) on episodes of Family Guy.  After dinner and a play we tried to get into the wrong car (thinking it was our Uber ride) and scared the bejesus out of a poor commuter.   My return to the airport was a Cameroon driver putting himself through his Political Science Masters with limo driving, so the conversation was considerably more enlightening than with the New Jersey lad.  The week was amazing with lots of flying and numerous contacts being made with pilots from all over the globe, followed by good restaurants and great conversations each evening.   We tried a authentic looking Moroccan restaurant one night but I was thoroughly disappointed with the bland fare.  Having lived in various parts of Morocco on and off over the years, I am biased towards the real thing, with far more intense flavours.

I used the last of my elite traveller status to get home, expiring the end of February.  Having averaged some 85,000 miles a year for the last 7 or 8 years, I didn't even break 25,000 in 2016, so gone are the priority contact numbers, priority check-in, priority boarding, priority security, upgrades to business class, lounge access, extra baggage allowance, and a plethora of amenities that makes travel more pleasant.  Here's hoping things start to recover in 2017.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Christmas in Nova Scotia

Never in a million years did I envision this is where'd I'd be at this stage in my career, but so it is.  Still home and applying for every rotary job on the planet.  I have turned down a few pretty juicy resident posts, that required I move to some Middle Eastern hovel for insane salaries, but debt free and not overly strapped, I can wait a little for the industry to recover.  Still, it's frustrating.  I'm hoping 2017 is better than the previous year.

But if I had been working, I never would have started my novel.  Maybe it's shit but what the hell, it keeps me busy.  I finished the story quite awhile ago but then I started editing the monstrosity and realized that my grasp of the English language is crap.  Active verbs and transitions and glue words....WTF?  Still, it's a learning process and I'm running through the 80,000 words cutting the plethora of "ing"s and weak verbs and wondering why I never scored above a "D" in English.  Here's the first two paragraphs that'll scare off any publisher I dare submit to...

It is Edward’s first time in Africa.   He navigates the secure echoes and cool conditioned cement of the terminal, at times unsure of his resolve.  He follows the other passengers that had shared his flight, yet confers with the overhead signs steering them down narrow corridors and multiple turns, and after an age, and much uncertainty, he enters the clamour of the arrivals hall.   Edward fills out the arrival form with sweaty hands and a dull pencil, then joins the queue in front of a wall of formidable cubicles. His heart races, but at last, it is his turn and he is through.  He envisioned demands for bribes and cumbersome questions but there were none.  He finds the luggage trolly and is pleasantly surprised that his bags survived the journey of tight connections through unsavoury locales, yet another fortuitous headache anticipated for naught.  At long last, he stands at the doors to the outside.  Bravery shod, with false purpose and lofty air, he dons his armour for the unknown.  With feigned confidence, he steps briskly out into the open, exposed, and laid bare, and is promptly enveloped with the warm, moist air of an East Africa evening.

Met with soft yellow light and a sporadic pelt of taps on bare aluminum that resonates through and above the din of voices, Edward takes a slow breath.  It has begun to rain.  His eyes dart nervously amongst the busy throng, taking care not to catch any eye. His mind strains to absorb the sea of dark skin and bright colourful fabrics, foreign and exotic to his inexperienced point of view.   Are they fellow travellers or marauding hustlers who prey on the newly arrived and innocent?  Unable to grasp their intent, he dares not stare.  He yearns to blend, but knows enough to appreciate it is unrealistic.  Hence he feeds his trepidation in his quest for predators, disheartened with their absence.  He is sure they are here, hidden amongst the kaleidoscopic colours, but he realizes his judgement is underdeveloped, and for this, he will take great care.  His fear lingers just below the surface, more of being taken for a fool than any physical danger, but there’s that too.  But here he is, Edward smiles, the explorer.  A dream fulfilled, or at least, a distant hope achieved via providence.  No one else would agree to the assignment, and here he is, Edward in Africa, the man who relented.  Edward feels his chest tighten yet again; the tightness that has plagued him since he agreed to this remote posting, but he consciously pushes it down.  Plagued with anxiety, he endeavours to gain mastery over it, and feels more the man.

It gets more exciting, I swear.  Thank goodness I still have my camera, and my pilot's license.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Nothing new......

Not much new to report.  My novel is going well, some 60,000 words and nearing the end.  Then I have to edit the thing and then try to find a publisher.  I have no idea if its any good, but I'll keep going through the motions and see where it takes me.

A inept and nervous pilot challenges himself in Africa, and winds up losing.  A little excerpt.......

Once in his room, reeling in that low feeling when alcohol’s bliss departs, he stands, still drunk and unsteady, and disrobes.  He hears wailing carrying above the noise of the heavy rain, hammering the tin roof relentlessly and echoing loudly throughout, and he approaches his window and looks outside.  There is a young woman on the lane that runs beside the hotel, and she is on her knees in the mud.  Her sodden clothes cling tightly to her small frame, and she pulls at her wet and matted hair and wails and throws herself facedown into the mud.  Edward watches and she appears to be addressing one of the upper windows along his side of the hotel.  She cries and beats her chest and throws herself into the mud again in a fit of despair, and Edward knows a heart has been broken by someone here, but he knows not who.  He is sad for the woman but too drunk to really care, and he climbs into his bed and falls asleep.

Thursday, October 20, 2016


I just found out that this blog has caused me some grief professionally, and hence, I'm not really motivated to continue for the time being.

I started it over five years ago to share some of my travels and adventures, and to be honest, to practice my writing skills and to keep track of the things that have happened to me over the years.  It has served that purpose, and I've been having fun.  I have been careful, but in this environment it is not wise to put too much information out there about one's activities.  I regret that it's come to this, but I got what I wanted out of writing it.  To anyone following, I thank you for joining me.  I may be back.....

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Travel Requested

To say I've been bored is an understatement.  Kind of a really stupid thing to say, and someone should slap me, but I'm going to say it much mountain biking, hunting, fishing and playing guitar can I handle?  I complained to a friend and he said, "That does not bode well for your eventual retirement."

I love flying, what can I say?  And I miss it terribly.  I landed that Super Puma in Poland after two months of flying daily, and over thirty years of never not flying for any extended period, the first week of March.  It's now late October.  Damn.  Oh sure, there was a week of simulator flying in Italy this summer and another in Newark just last month (by the way, Certified Level D simulator time does count),  but I want to take to the skies.  I want to go flying!  Looks like I'm getting my wish.  Travel arrangements have been requested.  I should be back behind some controls and flying by this time next week.....

My favourite toy.  Built that cabinet myself with a pair of Vintage Ted Weber Alnico speakers.  Tone heaven!   And I'm over 25,000 words into my book as well......

Friday, September 23, 2016


Well, my kid has graduated!  Having achieved a highly respected Chef's accreditation from a world renowned (and expensive) school, she's already found herself employment in one of the highest rated restaurants in our Nation's capital.  The world is her oyster!  I wish I had the cash to take her travelling around the world to some of my favourite restaurants.  First stop would be The Tamarind in Mombasa followed by a safari in Tsavo, then perhaps Stavanger Norway for some trout at Skagen, or some tangine in Tangiers.  In the meantime, we shared a flight over Ottawa in a 1940 WACO to celebrate.

I'm still waiting for the paperwork to clear for my next posting where I'll be a AW139 Search and Rescue check pilot.   It's actually the third time in two years that I've completed all the paperwork for this specific VISA, but I always ended up being sent elsewhere.  I actually think I may get there this time.  Fingers crossed.  Having recently completed my AW139  recurrent in Sesto Calende Italy, I offered to help out with our company's Brazilian division, as they had a pilot requiring training but the first officer was unavailable, and I wasn't doing anything.  Next thing I know I'm on a plane for Newark and sitting co-joe in the AW139 simulator for a Brazilian pilot.  It was a blast!

While walking around Verona, Italy a year or so ago, I wondered into a pen shop that reminded me of the magic wand shop of the Harry Potter movies.  It was narrow and confined with an older gentlemen pulling numerous pens from high overhead shelves trying to meet my needs.  I was really sold on a Montegrappa Ducale but the price was a tad rich for my blood.  Hemingway himself wrote with a Montegrappa, and the Ducale is one of their original designs.  I ended up walking out the door with a fine Delta fountain pen that I still use when I tour overseas, but I regretted not getting the Ducale.  Anyway, I finally found another Montegrappa Ducale in a shop in New Jersey, and using a leather bound Manufactus Italian notebook, I finally started that novel I've always wanted to write, with my Hemingway pen no less.  Fictional but set amongst situations that I am well aware.  Africa.  Pilots.  Hardship and adventure and some drama too.  Just finished Chapter 2.  I've got the spare time.  Stand by....