Thursday, 19 February 2015

All about the numbers.

I attended a Transport Canada safety Seminar last night. My first one. These events are run monthly, usually at the TC Canada offices (where I sat my written exam, I did get momentary flashbacks of exam anxiety!)

They fulfill many purposes: general interest, safety information, TC updates and finally attending one in the previous two years negates the need for you to do a two yearly check ride for currency.

So some numbers:

The first number you need to know is 95
This is the version of windows that the computer in the seminar room runs.
Unsurprisingly, for a no-longer-supported-twenty-year-old-operating-system, it crashed about 5 minutes in.

Not impressed.

The next number you need to know is 8.
This is the number of females I spotted in the audience of maybe 40 people.

While that is a little disappointing, the next one is even more alarming.

The next number is 50.
This is what I calculated roughly the average age of the attendees to be. I’m not trying to be ageist or anything but this seems to mirror the demographics of anything I attend that is flying related. It actually worries me that my generation and younger don’t seem to be involved in general aviation. I guess cost is one thing but I can’t help wonder if it just isn’t seen as something cool or worthwhile. I read of airports closing, flying schools folding and it makes me sad.

The next number is 6
This is the number of lines taken up in my log book by the huuuuuuuuuuge sticker that TC issues to prove that you attended the seminar. Seriously? Log books are of a standard size, could you not design a sticker that fitted in a reasonable space?

The final number is zero.
Unfortunately, this is the number of useful bits of information that I felt I came away with after this Seminar on “Aviation medicine”
Now I have to give some context here, I’m very aware that I’m a lot closer to my initial training than most people attending so it’s fair that most of the regulatory stuff should be very familiar to me but people who are twenty years into their PPL might benefit from a  refresher.
Still the speaker wasn’t massively engaging and while, given the demographic that I’ve outlined above, it’s understandable but irritating when he kept referring to “your wife” and constantly gave the validity of a class 3 medical as two years (it is 5 if you are under 40).

The one next month is on float plane flying, which has the potential to be a bit more interesting I hope.


  1. It really is sad to hear how much interest in General Aviation seems to be fading. If you've never seen the movie One Six Right by Brian Terwilliger, I highly recommend it. It details the history and challenges faced by GA airports in metropolitan areas, with the main focus of the film being Van Nuys Airport. Here's a short clip:

    There's a sequence in the film about the closing of Meigs Field in Chicago that will rip your gut out and make your blood boil at the same time.

    Sadly, just as you outline, even in this film, a lot of those commenting are of older generations.

    Here in the 'States, Class 3 medical is good for 2 years until you're 40, then it's every year. However, if you have a medical condition that warrants more scrutiny (such as my vision deficit), it's every year regardless of age. I don't think we have the option here of attending a seminar in lieu of our checkride. Very cool that you have that choice.

  2. There are a couple of people at my club who devote a large amount of their time to the Young Eagles movement. Its an initiative to get children and young adults engaged in aviation. It started in the USA but has been adopted here by FlyingNZ (aka the Royal New Zealand Aero Club). The local chapter has about 15 enthusiastic kids and I think about half are girls.

    But yes, when I recall attending safety seminars over here the gender balance is about 90% men and the average age is in the 50's and that's with a number of our full time students (all of which are aged less than 30 and most are less than 20) in the crowd.