Sunday, July 17, 2011

Pitt Meadows

I'm at an airplane washing station at Pitt Meadows airport near Vancouver. It's nicely designed with a hose on a reel, a water hook-up, a drain, and some really clever metal stanchions around things you shouldn't run into, like the hose area. These stanchions are everywhere: in front of electrical meters, fire hydrants, anything that would normally have poles or pylons to protect it from vehicles and snowploughs, but they are propeller blades. I don't think they are actually propeller blades, unless someone decommissioned a lot of identical, large-propellered airplanes here, but they look just right, complete with manufacturer's stickers. I can't remember if they were Hartzell or McCauley. They just looked right.

The airplane ends up not totally clean, but better. I rewrap the hose on the reel, winding each coil next to its neighbour from to one end to the other in each layer, and then I get lazy near the end and let it wrap more loosely. As I'm putting away the soap, I see a man come up and unroll and reroll my last messy bit. Sorry, man. I can appreciate his need to have every coil perfectly set on the reel. It really does look nice that way and I regret not having done it that way for you myself.

This is not a really big airport, no scheduled flights and just a little terminal with scenic flights, but for some reason it has a giant avionics shop. They sell Lightspeed headsets, the kind I was trying to get when I got the Bose, and they have the new Zulu 2. I try it, but you can wear one and then the other all you want on the ground without really being able to say which is better. You have to go for a flight, preferably a long flight, before you know whether a headset is doing the job well. The logistics of taking one for a test flight are awkward, though, seeing as the next time I take off, I'll probably not land until I'm back in Alberta. I'm pleased with the Bose, so I'll keep it and not start a crazy game of buying extra headsets.

While I'm here, I get a tour of Maxcraft Avionics. It's quite impressive. Good avionics service is hard to get. I've ferried a lot of airplanes with every kind of broken avionics sometimes to more then one airport to try to get them working. I've also done a lot of flights with gaping holes in the panel where avionics had been removed for repair, sent off somewhere. Big doesn't necessarily mean good, but they have the diagnostic equipment, the certification from every manufacturer I can think of and must have a good reputation. The paint jobs on the aircraft in their hangar suggest that they are trusted by the RCMP and Helijet for major refits, and by a private owner with an intercom problem. Aviation electronics can be really hard to get fixed properly; I'm not sure if it's a black art or a science. If these guys are as good as the facility is impressive, then a lot of people will be coming to Pitt Meadows.

One more South Sudan link. The people, men and women, have been at war for twenty-one years and pretty much the only experienced, established institution they have is the Sudanese People's Liberation Army. Considering that the median age in Sudan is 18 years and life expectancy 58, over half of South Sudanese have been at war for their entire life, and most soldiers have probably never held another job. The process of demobilizing the army is further confounded by the fact that there are almost no civilian jobs, even if people had the concept of returning to them. I found this article on the reintegration process. It has lots of pictures so you can see what South Sudanese people look and dress like, too.


zb said...

You'd be a perfect designer for electrical transformers (as long as you don't specify sloppyness towards the outer part of the winding, heh): "I rewrap the hose on the reel, winding each coil next to its neighbour from to one end to the other in each layer..."

... and because you were talking about test equipment for avionics, I can't resist linking my friend's website that has a section of his testbed for an attitude indicator. It is made based on incomplete and uncertified documentation (which does no harm cause it's a hobby project, disclaimer, disclaimer, ...) but it looks cool and it works. The right part of this document is his design, and if you zoom in on the pictures on the top, you can see the grey box containing his circuitry. Sometimes, the worst thing is getting the right power supplies for avionics, which tends to lead to homebrew boxes like these, converting your home's mains power to 3-phase AC at 400 Hz, or whatever is required.

ScurvyDog said...

Excellent link on South Sudan. I unfortunately haven't included any pics on my blog due to my lack of bandwidth. Many of the local people I work with have only known war, unemployment is extremely high. People of South Sudan seem to be trying to find their place in a civilian enterprising world.

Cedarglen said...

As always, another informative post. Your writing a great and I appreciate that. Whatever the message, good writing makes is sooo much easier to find. Thank you for the effort. While I tend toward leaving a comment, when I do not reply you should assume nothing beyond that I had nothing to say. (It happens.) I'm not sure that I fully understand your delayed posting schedule, but I don't really need the fine details. I know that you are flying and in what has turned out to be interesting, challenging circumstances. I also see something new and interesting almost every day and I've been around long enough to appreciate the general context of your writings and your flyings. I sure works for me! Thank you for keeping it active, warm and almost personal. With limited time for web readings, your space is always neat the top of my list. Consistantly good material and you don't waste my time: It works for me and a big Thank You! -Craig.