Friday, 3 October 2014

Making sense of it all.

Physics is international but piloting sure aint.  Despite efforts to standardise and internationalise things there are country specific differences for all kinds of things.

Superficially I have exposure to aviation in 3* nations. Canada where I’m learning, The US because I’m close to the border and the inevitable exposure and finally the UK because my interest in planes and stuff was piqued while I lived there and I tend to gravitate towards expats and my home country on the internet.

Some of the differences are subtle, The US flys a traffic pattern not a circuit. Brits turn finals with an s. There’s a fair bit of radio chatter differences as well but fundamentally if you took any pilot from one locale and dumped them in another, they’d cope.

Airspace; however, is a different matter. All 3 lands have different categories of airspace with different restrictions and so on. So much so in fact that I’ve deliberately avoided learning anything to do with US airspace because I have a hard enough time keeping the Canadian stuff straight in my head.

Despite my best efforts though, I’ve inevitably been exposed to the incomprehensible (to me) system that seems to have evolved back in the UK. It honestly makes my brain hurt. I try and dig my way through references to radar services, basic and traffic. Restricted zones, airfields that require prior permission and god forbid you forget to ask, steep landing fees, airports that shut as soon as the daylight fades, transit areas and other concepts that I’m sure I’ve failed to understand.

My impression of the whole situation is twofold; firstly it’s the kind of bureaucratic mess that only the Brits could create and secondly it makes me a little sad. I have whole swathes of sky here that I can pretty much do what the hell I like in. Uncontrolled, I don’t need to speak to anyone, hell I don’t even need a radio!

I know the sheer scale of the country means that things are going to be different but I can’t help but feel that something fundamental about the freedom of flying is missing from the experience.
So for a fair few weeks I sat here smug about how easy we have it, how superior the Canadian system was and how unnecessarily complicated the Brits had made it.

And then I read a post on an internet forum.

Someone trying to explain how a mandatory frequency airfield works to someone who wasn’t familiar with the concept.

It wasn’t until I saw it written down that I realised how totally and utterly ludicrous a system it is. I’m not sure whether I should attempt to explain it myself or just direct you to the post…

Ah what the hell …. Look here , the post #5 with the Tue Sep 30, 2014 3:31 pm time stamp.

For those of you who really don’t get the joke, Timmins is over 500km away.

Yep you go to an airport and instead of doing the usual like you would at a Unicom airport, looking at each other and keeping out of each other’s way, you relay all your info through a person who is several hours flight away.

It made no sense to me at the time when I was learning about it for my Cross Country. It still makes no sense to me.

I guess it’s just what you are used to.

*Ooops, missed #4,  Flyinkiwi's doing his best to school me in the ways of the southern folk :)

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