Author Archives: Secretary

President’s Column – May 2021

President’s May 2021 News Letter

As was mentioned in the February Newsletter, seminars designed to promote flight safety continue to be offered by Warren Le Grice.  Currently, the focus is on mountain flying, and our pilots are encouraged to sign in for these sessions.  The next one will be presented Saturday, May 8th at 10:00 am.  If you have not yet asked to join these Webex based seminars, contact Warren (wlegrice@gmail.com) so he can add you to the list of invitees.  This is in keeping with our theme “safety through continuous learning.”  These sessions are interactive and we know you will find them to be informative in preparing for flights taking place over the rugged BC terrain.

But now, many of us are experiencing COVID fatigue.  It had been our hope that there would be more positive news in moving forward but based on the government’s latest restrictions, nothing could be further from the truth.  We are now being told that travel outside our medical region is prohibited and so you are required to follow this restriction.  As more people are being vaccinated, we can only hope that things will improve in the near future.

At the April meeting of the board, a letter of resignation was accepted from Amar Sundher.  His contribution as Membership Director was recognized and our thanks to Amar and his committee for the introduction of a long list of new members.  New members are the lifeline of the club and we are grateful for the work they have done on our behalf.

It is encouraging to see that many of our pilots are taking advantage of some good spring weather and taking to the skies, even with the tight restrictions in place.  Our thanks for your continuing cooperation in this endeavor.

Until next month, happy flying and stay safe.

 

Ken Funk
President
Abbotsford Flying Club

President’s Column – April 2021

A Six Month Update

One issue upon which I ran as President was to unite the club. After six months, I am pleased to announce that this process is on the right track. The Board is united and a united Board is the first step towards achieving this goal. My thanks to the board for their eager and willing participation. Kevin LaCroix has been appointed to the YXX Hanger Board which will provide a liaison between the two organizations and will be a positive move.  In addition to his other duties, Kevin is assuming the position of club Secretary. The safety sub-committee, led by Warren LeGrice, continues to work on both a Safety Management System (SMS) and the updating of our Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs). Taylor Belich was instrumental in changing our aircraft maintenance provider under the mentorship of Duncan Poynton. This change seems to be working very well.  Chris Palmer has been a positive addition, taking over responsibility for the position of Vice President. The clubhouse security system has been replaced (no cost to the club) with one having multi-point access via the internet. Thank you to Bevin Tomm for his very generous donation.

It is now time for the membership to grasp the important issues facing our club. This occurs through members receiving and focusing on the correct facts underlying the issues facing the club. How does this occur? There are several opportunities for you to share in the issues facing our club: Monthly club meetings, monthly Board meetings (whereby members can observe Board discussion), Wednesday Dutch lunch, TGIF, Sunday breakfast “fly outs,” IMC presentations — all can be done from the comfort of your armchair at home.  Zoom meetings provide the membership a venue for the dissemination of shared information upon which current and future decisions will be made. If you are not participating in any of these events, you are missing the opportunity to become informed about Club events and issues. 

We have some very important long-term issues that need to be addressed by the next board. I encourage you to get involved to identify the facts and make the effort to reflect on what you want for our club so when asked, you can give an articulate, constructive, thoughtful opinion. This is how our club will unite — under a common purpose and common goals.

More nice weather is upon us with more opportunities to get out and fly the friendly skies.  Let’s do so safely.

Ken Funk
President
Abbotsford Flying Club

President’s Column – March 2021

While the Club House remains closed during the pandemic, we are beginning to anticipate
improvements in the fight against the spread of the virus and are looking towards opening,
when permitted by the regulators. To that end, clean up efforts have been taken by volunteers
to clean surfaces of the bar and surrounding areas as well as getting rid of stale beer from the
fridge that was left unrefrigerated. I would like to thank Chris Palmer, Pat Ulicki and Adrian
Renkers for taking the lead in the clean up efforts. Stay tuned for further developments.

Speaking of volunteers, we are blessed to have many working behind the scenes and to each
of you, we are truly indebted. On behalf of the Board and the membership, we say thank you!

Our efforts towards establishing a Safety Management System (SMS) continues. The Safety
Committee, chaired by John Palmer, and a sub-committee, comprised of Warren Le Grice,
Clark Closkey and Randy Kelley, are working on the details to be presented to the Safety
Committee for approval and ultimately to the Board for their consideration.

I have been encouraging our members to follow presentations on the internet regarding
accident reviews. If you are interested in getting a pilot’s perspective on the Kobe Bryant fatal
accident, check out Dan Gryder (musician extraordinaire) “Probable Cause” video. He visits
every accident scene he analyses and presents a credible opinion on them. Two other good
resources are Scott Perdue of “Flywire” and Juan Brown on the Blancolirio channel. All three
are availed on the YouTube platform. Check them out.

Until next time, get out and enjoy some flying and please, do it safely.

Ken Funk
President
Abbotsford Flying Club

The End of the DC3

DC3 in Canadian Armed Forces Livery

An older story but still an interesting read:

It was a rough and noisy plane by today’s standards, but at the time who would know the difference as that was the best they had. They sure stood up well. We members of the over-the-hill lot can still well remember when the gooney-bird was considered to be high tech…

Now the DC3 has been grounded by EU health and safety rules.

‘It groaned, it protested, it rattled, it ran hot, it ran cold, it ran rough, it staggered along on hot days and scared you half to death. Its wings flexed and twisted in a horrifying manner, it sank back to earth with a great sigh of relief. But it flew and it flew and it flew.’

This is the memorable description by Captain Len Morgan, a former pilot with Braniff Airways, of the unique challenge of flying a Douglas DC-3.

It’s carried more passengers than any plane in history, but – Now the DC-3 has been grounded by EU health and safety rules.

The DC-3 served in World War II, Korea, and Vietnam, and was a favourite among pilots!

For more than 70 years, the aircraft known through a variety of nicknames — the Doug, the Dizzy, Old Methuselah, the Gooney Bird, the Grand Old Lady — but which to most of us is simply the Dakota — has been the workhorse of the skies.

With its distinctive nose-up profile when on the ground and extraordinary capabilities in the air, it transformed passenger travel and served in just about every military conflict from World War II onwards.

Now the Douglas DC-3 — the most successful plane ever made, which first took to the skies just over 30 years after the Wright Brothers’ historic first flight — is to carry passengers in Britain for the last time.

Romeo Alpha and Papa Yankee, the last two passenger-carrying Dakotas in the UK, are being forced into retirement because of — yes, you’ve guessed it — health & safety rules.

Their owner, Coventry-based Air Atlantique, has reluctantly decided it would be too expensive to fit the required emergency- escape slides and weather-radar systems required by new European rules for their 65-year-old planes, which served with the RAF during the war.

Mike Collett, the company’s chairman, says: “We’re very saddened.” The end of the passenger-carrying British Dakotas is a sad chapter in the story of the most remarkable aircraft ever built, surpassing all others in the length of service, dependability, and achievement.

It has been a luxury airliner, transport plane, bomber, fighter, and flying hospital, and introduced millions of people to the concept of air travel.

It has flown more miles, broken more records, carried more passengers and cargo, accumulated more flying time, and performed more ‘impossible’ feats than any other plane in history, even in these days of super-jumbos that can circle the world non-stop.

Indeed, at one point, 90 percent of the world’s air traffic was operated by DC-3s. More than 10,500 DC-3s have been built since the prototype was rolled out to astonished onlookers at Douglas’s Santa Monica factory in 1935.

With its eagle beak, large square windows, and sleek metal fuselage, it was luxurious beyond belief, in contrast to the wood-and-canvas bone shakers of the day, where passengers had to huddle under blankets against the cold.

Even in the 1930s, the early Dakotas had many of the comforts we take for granted today, like on-board loos and a galley that could prepare hot food. Early menus included wild-rice pancakes with blueberry syrup, served on bone china with silver service.

For the first time, passengers were able to stand- up and walk- around while the plane was airborne.

But the design had one vital feature, ordered by pioneering aviator Charles Lindbergh, who was a director of TWA, which placed the first order for the plane. The DC-3 should always, Lindbergh directed, be able to fly on one- engine.

Pilots have always loved it, not just because of its rugged reliability but because, with no computers on board, it is the epitome of ‘flying by the seat- of- the- pants’. One aviator memorably described the Dakota as a ‘collection of parts flying in loose formation’, and most reckon they can land it pretty well on a postage stamp.

Captain Len Morgan says: ‘The Dakota could lift virtually any load strapped to its back and carry it anywhere and in any weather safely.’

It is the very human scale of the plane that has so endeared it to successive generations. With no pressurization in the cabin, it flies low and slow. And unlike modern jets, it’s still possible to see the world go by from the cabin of a Dakota. (The name, incidentally, is an acronym for Douglas Aircraft Company Transport Aircraft.)

As a former Pan Am stewardess puts it: “From the windows, you seldom look upon a flat, hazy, distant surface to the world. “Instead, you see the features of the earth — curves of mountains, colours of lakes, cars moving on roads, ocean waves crashing on shores, and cloud formations as a sea of popcorn and powder puffs.

But it is for heroic feats in military service that the legendary plane is most distinguished. It played a major role in the invasion of Sicily, the D-Day landings, the Berlin Airlift, and the Korean & Vietnam wars, performing astonishing feats along the way.

When General Eisenhower was asked what he believed were the foundation stones for America’s success in World War II, he named the bulldozer, the jeep, the half-ton truck, and the Dakota.

When the Burma Road was captured by the Japanese, and the only way to send supplies into China was over the mountains at 19,000 ft, the Chinese leader Chiang Kai-shek said: ‘Give me 50 DC-3s, and the Japs can have the Burma Road ..’

In 1945, a Dakota broke the world record for a flight with an engine out of action, traveling for 1,100 miles from Pearl Harbor to San Diego, with just one propeller working.

Another in RNZAF service lost a wing after colliding mid-air with a Lockheed bomber. Defying all the rules of aerodynamics, and with only a stub remaining, the plane landed, literally, on a wing and a prayer at Whenuapai Airbase.

Once, a Dakota pilot carrying paratroops across the Channel to France heard an enormous bang. He went aft to find that half the plane had been blown away, including part of the rudder. With engines still turning, he managed to skim the wave-tops before finally making it to safety.

Another wartime Dakota was rammed by a Japanese fighter that fell to earth, while the American crew returned home in their severely damaged — but still airborne —plane, and were given the distinction of ‘downing an enemy aircraft’.

Another DC-3 was peppered with 3,000 bullets in the wings and fuselage by Japanese fighters. It made it back to base, was repaired with canvas patches and glue, and then sent back into the air.

During the evacuation of Saigon in 1975, a Dakota crew managed to cram aboard 98 Vietnamese orphans, although the plane was supposed to carry no more than 30 passengers.

In addition to its rugged military service, it was the DC-3 that transformed commercial -passenger flying in the post-war years.

Easily converted to a passenger plane, it introduced the idea of affordable air travel to a world that had previously seen it as exclusively for the rich.

Flights across America could be completed in about 15 hours (with three stops for refueling), compared with the previous reliance on short hops in commuter aircraft during the day and train- travel overnight.

It made the world a smaller place, gave people the opportunity for the first time to see previously inaccessible destinations, and became a romantic symbol of travel.

The DC-3’s record has not always been perfect. After the war, military-surplus Dakotas were cheap, often poorly maintained, and pushed to the limit by their owners. Accidents were frequent. One of the most tragic happened in 1962, when Zulu Bravo, a Channel Airways flight from Jersey, slammed into a hillside on the Isle of Wight in thick fog. All three crew and nine of the 14 passengers died, but the accident changed the course of aviation history.

The local radar, incredibly, had been switched off because it was a Sunday. The national air safety rules were changed to ensure it never happened again.

‘The DC-3 was, and is, unique,’ wrote the novelist and aviation writer Ernest Gann, ‘since no other flying machine has cruised every sky known to mankind, been so admired, cherished, glamorized, known the touch of so many pilots and sparked so many tributes.

“It was without question the most successful aircraft ever built, and even in this jet-age, it seems likely that the surviving DC-3s may fly about their business forever..”

This may be no exaggeration. Next month, Romeo Alpha and Papa Yankee begin a farewell tour of Britain’s airports before carrying their final passengers at the International Air Tattoo at RAF Fairford on July 16.

But after their retirement, there will still be Dakotas flying in the farthest corners of the world, kept going with love, dedication, and sheer ingenuity. Nearly three-quarters of a century after they first entered service, it’s still possible to get a Dakota ride somewhere in the world.

I recently took a DC-3 into the heart of the Venezuelan jungle — to the “Lost World” made famous in the novel by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. It is one of the most remote regions on the planet — where the venerable old planes have long been used because they can be maneuvered like birds in the wild terrain.

It’s a scary experience being strapped into a torn canvas chair, raked back at an alarming angle (walking along the aisle of a stationary Dakota is like climbing a steep hill) as you wait for take-off.

The engines spew smoke and oil as they shudder into life with what DC-3 fans describe as ‘music’, but to me sounded like the hammering of a thousand pneumatic-drills. But soon you are skimming the legendary flat-topped mountains protruding from the jungle below, purring over wild rivers and the Angel Falls , the world’s highest rapids. Suddenly the ancient plane drops like a stone to a tiny landing strip just visible in the trees.

The pilot dodges bits of dismantled DC-3 engines scattered on the ground and avoids a stray dog as he touches down with scarcely a bump. How did he do it without air traffic control and the minimum of navigational aids? ”C’est facile — it’s easy,” he shrugged.

Today, many DC-3s live-on throughout the world as crop-sprayers, surveillance patrols, air freighters in forgotten African states, and even luxury executive transports. One, owned by a Houston lumber company, had mink-covered door- knobs, while another belonging to a Texas rancher had sofas and reclining chairs upholstered with the skins of unborn calves..

In Jaipur, India, a Dakota is licensed for flying wedding ceremonies.

Even when they have ended their aerial lives, old Dakotas have become mobile homes, hamburger stands and hen houses. One even serves as a football team changing room.

Clark Gable’s private DC-3, which once ferried chums such as John and Bobby Kennedy, Marilyn Monroe, Frank Sinatra and Ronald Reagan, is in a theme park in San Marino. But don’t assume it won’t run again. Some of the oldest hulks have been put back in the skies.

The ancient piston-engines are replaced by modern turboprops, and many a pilot of a modern jet has been astonished to find a Dakota alongside him on the climb away from the runway.

So what is the enduring secret of the DC-3? David Egerton, professor of the history of science and technology at Imperial College, London, says we should rid our minds of the idea that the most recent inventions are always the best.

‘The very fact that the DC-3 is still around and performing a useful role in the world is a powerful reminder that the latest and most expensive technology is not always the one that changes history,’ he says.

It’s long been an aviation axiom that ‘the only replacement for the DC-3 is another DC-3’. So it’s fortunate that at least one seems likely to be around for a very long time to come.

In 1946, a DC-3 on a flight from Vienna to Pisa crashed into the top of the Rosenlaui Glacier in the Swiss Alps. The aircraft was not damaged and all the passengers were rescued, but it quickly began to disappear as a blinding snowstorm raged.

Swiss engineers have calculated that it will take 600 years for it to slide- down inside the glacier and emerge at the bottom.

The most asinine ruling ever dreamed up by a nightmare bureaucracy!!!

I especially appreciate the part requiring “escape slides”. On it’s belly, you can step down from the aircraft floor to the ground.

ONE OF THE SAFEST PLANES EVER BUILD, FOR OUR USE,
WITHOUT ALL THE NEW GADGETS,
IS BEING GROUNDED.
IT SURE BROUGHT US WHERE EVER AND WHENEVER WE WANTED
AND TOOK US BACK SAFELY.

Thanks a million ‘Old Bird’, DC3, C47 or ‘DAKOTA’.
You’ll be missed a lot, for carrying us to safety, when we needed you to.

Bought the Farm: An Etymology

‘Bought the Farm’ — pilot killed.

Apparently, this originated from a time when governments would reimburse farmers for destroyed crops as a result of an aviation accident occurring on their land. They would routinely inflate the value of the crops, so the government would have effectively paid off the mortgage, or “bought the farm,” in recompense. Hopefully, none of our readers will have any experience with this!

Thanks, Adrian for submitting this interesting etymology.

President’s Column – February 2021

There were two board resignations in the month of January.  Mark Thibault resigned for personal reasons and Augie Rinz due to a job promotion requiring him to relocate to Ottawa.  I extend, on behalf of the board and the membership, a vote of thanks to them for their contribution to the club.  We are a club of volunteers and could not function without the work done by these two board members.  We wish them both all the best and point out that they will both continue on in the club as regular members.

Chris Palmer has been appointed by the board as Vice President and we welcome him to this position.  Chris will be a positive addition to the board of directors.  Secretarial duties will now be assumed by Kevin Lacroix who will act as both the secretary and treasurer. 

Nothing new to add to the COVID protocols which remain in effect for the foreseeable future.  Your continuing patience is appreciated as we work through the day-to-day challenges presented by it.

We will continue to promote flight safety in the coming months.  As it is clear that most aircraft accidents do not occur from stick and rudder issues, we believe that focusing on pilot decision making is where the emphasis should be placed.  The motto which best describes our goals is “safety through continuous learning”.  It was mentioned in my last newsletter that a series of seminars will be offered to our members and who are encouraged to participate in them.  Contact Warren Le Grice if you wish to be invited to attend the Webex based seminars (wlegrice@gmail.com).  An SMS (Safety Management System) program is being developed as well by the safety committee and this will help to further promote flight safety within our membership.

Good weather seems to be upon us and so we encourage our pilots to take advantage of the situation and do some flying.  Be safe and have fun.

Ken Funk
President
Abbotsford Flying Club