CASARA Corner – April 2019

Ah! Spring at last and wander lust is rampant (well, at least as soon as I have filed my tax return). So this month, I’d like to beg your indulgence to reminisce a bit and look to adventures and ideas associated with flying. The ranks of philosophers, storytellers and dreamers of the last hundred years are chock full of famous aviators, from Antoine de Saint-Exupéry and “The Little Prince” to Ernest Gann and “Fate is the Hunter” and others (highly recommended reading for rainy days!) Here then are a couple of my experiences with the intention of encouraging each of you to look at how much you receive from your flying and to seed your imagination to plan new and fun adventures.


Some years ago my youngest daughter, as part of a high school science project, engaged with several CASARA aircrews on flying days in order to study the effects of altitude and job pressure on blood pressure. It involved blood pressure measurements (by a registered nurse) at rest before the flight to establish a base line, then just prior to flight, in flight and at debrief after the flight. It was a small sample so it is not possible to draw any real conclusions; however, the results were most intriguing. In general terms there was a slight increase in BP just before flight but then a larger decrease to resting state levels and below once flying. After the flight crew members returned to base lines levels. Many people I know suggest they feel better after flying, perhaps it’s possible that the joy of flying actually has a physical benefit as well.


So, now some serious hangar flying (and, since cattle can’t fly there is no concern about avoiding their “exhaust”). So many memorable flights….do make sure you keep notes in the comment section of your log book, perhaps even keep a cross referenced diary. Here are three of my stories from three different categories of experience; spectacular views, amazing airports and family and friends.


Spectacular views are common in an airplane. Whether it’s just the visual confirmation of your power to defeat gravity to watching a developing thunderstorm developing through various colours from purple to green (observed from a safe distance of 20NM). My most memorable to date is a flight up the Nahanni River valley. We had two CASARA airplanes with four pilots on a vacation flight to Alaska (at least that was the plan). We got as far as Fort St. John with a weather forecast for perfect flying conditions in the mountains for the next portion of the trip. Excellent, light winds and sunshine…BUT..the rest of the report read visibility ½ mile or less in Smoke (forest fires). What to do? Let’s go up the east side of the mountains; Fort Simpson, Norman Wells, Inuvik, Tuktoyaktuk. Fuel stop in Fort Nelson and wondering if there was Avgas in Fort Simpson, we ask the fellow at the FBO. He says there is not Avgas at the main airport but to go into his office, find the card on his desk for Nahanni Air and call them on the desk phone to see if they would sell us some fuel at their little strip in “downtown” Fort Simpson. The flying community up north is small, incredibly friendly and always trying to help. In Fort Simpson, being so close to the Nahanni, we decided on a day side trip up the valley. Most of the peaks are around 4000 so flying at 3500 feet was easy flying and truly spectacular. If only I had an Imax camera (my regular camera just didn’t do justice to the mountain view.


The most fun airport I’ve flown into is CYOD (Group Captain R.W.McNair, Canadian Forces airbase) I have written about this before but the highlites were being in the circuit with 3 F-18s and being told to land long to avoid the arrester cables on the first 1000 feet of the runway.


Family and friends can be anything from a simple introductory city tour to an all out flying holiday (Oshkosh anyone?). My favourite memory here is my oldest daughter. When she was 5 we went for a short fun flight out of the old “Muni” airport. After about 15 minutes she declared that she was bored and wanted to know if we could “fly upside down or somethin’” We did a couple of steep turns and roller coasters and headed home. A very anxious mom was waiting at the EFC cafeteria for our return. “How was your flight?” Mom asked excitedly. She had been on large aircraft before but this was her first time in a small airplane. Her answer…”it was okay but nobody served me yunch”


Here’s to all your spectacular views, fun airports and experiences with family and friends to come! Flying makes you better in every way.