While I’ve told you about the many attractions you get to see at AGF13. What was the biggest attraction? Simple, The People.

I mentioned at the start of this set of posts that I have come to appreciate smaller locally planned events. Previous events like Northern Voice and WordCamp Victoria are good examples. The smaller size of an event with 100–200 people is probably a part of it but it isn’t the whole story.

Having a sense of common interest plus an exciting event helps alot too. You can feel connected to the event. This is my second year with this event and we are meeting up with people we’ve know for a sum total of a few hours – face to face time. Yet in the first 30 seconds that completely melts away.

This is where the ‘Geek’ part really kicks in. There is a passion and a desire to share that makes simply looking at airplanes so much more. Whehter it is trading stories about our favorite avation blog with my good firend @jetcitystar or getting musuem tips from @PlaneInsight or hearing about the world of helicopter training with @theninjapilot. And that was just over breakfast.

Then there’s Greg from New York, apparently they don’t have Dairy Queen back there. Trading airline stories with a couple of ex-Delta guys from Houston. We didn’t get to talk to the folks from Norway but I wished we had.

If you don’t believe me take a look at what @bigmalx says about the people.

Then there are the people that volunteer at the museums that we visited. These are also a group of people that brought enthusiasm and enjoyment to the weekend.

There was Owen the Docent from the Museum of Flight who had an impressive aviaton resume of this own. We talked Reno Air Races and other Air Shows. He had some great stories of his own from his post-PATCO career changes to working on getting planes for the Paul Allen Collections.

Then there was Bob working on restoring the DeHavilland Comet. Obvioyusly working hard on the meticulous work required of a restoration project. There is serious skill and determination in the work but there is also a desire to share

There was the nice lady from the Historic Flight Foundation that took us through the history of the DC–3 on the ramp. Right down to its restoration at Sealand Aviaiton in Campbell River.

So many connections courtesy of so many people. Your social media is okay, but it is the people in the end that make experiences truly great. Iwf it is a murder of crows, and a pride of Lions, then it should be called a Fest of Geeks.

With thanks to our hosts please visit:

In addition to the main events of AGF13 David managed to get some other benefits for this years attendees. Saturday included admission to most of the aviation attractions. The Museum of Flight has a restoration centre] at Paine field that works on the aircraft that will eventually end up in the muesum at Boeing Field. This facility was only open on Saturday but showed some of the meticulous work that creates the displays you see elsewhere. In a nice twist one of the projects is the restoration of a dehavallind Comet 4C The first commercial jetliner that beat the jets from Puget Sound to market by all–most 5 years. So seeing that British jet in the heart of Boeing country was a bit of a surprise. We had a great conversation with Bob who was working on the restoration.

The two other private collections on Paine Field added more to the ultimate AvGeek weekend. These also came with our AGF tickets which added more to the value for the money. But I tossed some money in the basket at all the sites anyway.

The Flying Heritage Collection has some of the most unique flying examples of classic WWII aircraft. I one room you can see 3 aircraft that don’t exist anywhere else and 4 more that have no other airworthy examples. Several have a Canadian connections, the best story is probably the Hurricane which was manufactured by Canada Car in Port William (Now Thunder Bay), was recovered from a field in Ontario,and is now painted in the colors of 135 Sqdn RCAF based at Patricia Bay (now Victoria International). The Docent at FHC was kind enough to point out the RCAF markings and the local connection. Very much in keeping with the rest of the weekend it is the conversations that are as valuable as anything.

The other stop is a smaller but also noteable collection called Historic Flight Foundation. having a smaller group of aircraft it also has some spectacular examples of WWII vintage. This collection lets you get up close and personal to the aircraft. No climbing on the planes but sticking a camera inside a Spitfire or Mustang cockpit isn’t a problem. Again one of the museum staff was kind enough to take us on the ramp and into their restored DC–3. Another little Canadian Connection here with a little restoration help on the DC–3 for Sealand Avation in Campbell River.

What makes FHC and HF truely noteable to the AvGeek is the flying state of all the aircraft. At FHC there are oil pans under the aircraft and at HF the B–25 had the cowlings off and was getting engine work done. Appreciating a fine museum example of a rare aircraft is one thing but seeing that these fine flying machines are still able to do what they were designed for, namely fly, gives it a little more reality. To me a couple drops of oil under a Big radial engine or some hydronic fluid from a flag actuator means that these planes are still planes and not a movie prop.

With thanks to our hosts please visit:

Our second day at AGF13 started by a group breakfast organized by our friend Issac @jetcitystar I expect this will find a regular spot in our AGF weekend plans in the future. We had about 11 out for brunch to Bob’s Burger & Brew a short distane from Paine Field. While different people had different times for tours it really helped kick off the day.

We took a look at two other aviation museums at Paine Field before the main event at Future of flight. That added to our trip to the Museum of Flight restoration center on Saturday. So one trip to Everett will get you four prime aviation attractions.

I’ll leave the other museums to a seperate post as they deserve a discussion on their own. For us the main event kicked off about noon with the gathering of our group at the Future of Flight. The folks at the Future of Flight are great supporters of AGF and it would not do to not mention Sandy and all the good folks who help David @airlinereporter get this event happening each year.

The buses took us over to a non-descript Boeing building north of the field. The inside is anything but. This is the Dreamliner Gallery where airlines come from all over the world to deside on whats going inside that $200 Million airplane they just bought, or in many cases the many Billions they just spent on multiple planes. So this isn’t your car dealers showroom. It is designed with both Boeing’s customers experience in mind and attempting build the brand for the 787 that the airlines will carry to the public. Its clear Boeing believes this is a different type of plane. The windows, the pressurization features, the lighting and the ‘architecure’ of the interior are all intended to break the aluminum tube metaphor of flying.

There was extensive discussion of the curved lines, the soft colors, and all those little cresent shapes. It is suprising how much airliners are customized for each airline, right down to the color of the buttons on the coffee makers. Each item having a different part number and adding to the complexity of making it all work together. There was alot of discussion about the need to come to a much smaller parts list to make the dreamliner a cheaper operating airplane.

After an extensive tour of the Dreamliner Gallery we headed back to the Future of Flight for the Everett Factory Tour. Like the 737 factory this is a no pictures allowed tour so all I can tell you is I was there and its REALLY big.

The plant originally built for the 747 production now holds the 747, 767, 777, and 787. The 777 and 787 lines are the most active with the 747 and 767 production on modest build rates. It will get a bit of a boost with the KC–46A which will take over the balance of the 767 space shortly.

Again the Dreamliner is the biggest star of the factory to be sure. The alumium airframes are still being put together but the carbon fibre frame of the 787 is very clearly a different thing. While I can’t show you the pictures of the factory, it would amaze you to see how clean and well ordered everything is. A little more of that Kasan inspired efficiency.

So in a tour full of big numbers probably the biggest to me was 45,000. The number of people that work at the Everett plant both on the line and in supporting positions. That is a decent size town in itself, coffee shops (Tully’s), dry cleaners, movie rentals.. wait someone still has movie rental stores? Go figure!

The final event for AGF was the Pizza and Beer back at the Future of Flight gallery. This included the prize draws with the top prizes being a couple of tickets from Southwest Airlines. Again the support from Boeing, Future of Flight, and other sponsors was awesome. We walked away with a pretty cool Boeing calendar and a $20 gift card that we used the next day at the Boeing Store.

So how good it AGF? Well one of the folks at our table was a Boeing employee who brought his wife out for AGF because it was the best way for her to see the factory. He also shared a cool bit of trivia, the customers of the 787 do actually get keys. Not to start the airplane but they do get between 4 and 12 depending on the interior fit and the lockable feature.

The things you learn at Aviation Geek Fest! Can’t wait to learn more next year.

With thanks to our hosts please visit:

Our second trip to the Aviation Geekfest AGF13 which expanded to a two day event this year. Organized by David Parker Brown @aviationreporter and the Future of Flight @futureofflight

Like recent local events I’ve attended such as WordCamp Victoria, this is a smaller scale event and the value of this over a big bang conference event is clear. The cost is modest, less than $100 for two people, and what you get for that cost is excellent. The other nice coincidence is that you attract a very social crowd. The real value of most conferences is the shared experience. That showed up clearly at AGF. I was meeting people for the second time and a year in between yet they are like old friends. Sure we might follow each other on twitter but there is a deeper connection. It really is a testament to the old phrase “these are my people” Don’t get me wrong the event itself is excellent but it just gets to another level because of these people.

The event started at Museum of Flight at Boeing Field. The event included entrance to the museum which was almost the paid for the ticket by itself. You take into account the long lineup for tickets at MoF on the long Modelers Show weekend the AGF13 deal was priceless.

The bus ride over to Renton was provided to tour the 737 lines. This is not a public tour facility so this was extra special for aviation geeks like us. The production rate at Renton is more than a plan a day with the goal of getting over 40 a month. The complications include the limited space at the Renton plant, the work on the P–8, the need to work in the 737 MAX production while pushing out the 737NGs, and apparently fuselage bodies arriving with bullet holes. The last problem, while sounding a bit like an urban myth, is a reality for the Boeing folks. The good news is that it isn’t so bad that it justifies armored rail cars to protect the airframes as they head across the wide open spaces of the Midwest.

I hadn’t seen Renton Municpal airport before. Considering they used to turn out B–29s, 707s, and 757s in addition to the complete history of 737s, it has a shockingly short 5300’ strip. The north end overrun area is kindly provided by south end of Lake Washington. Great for obstacle clearance no so good for high speed rejected takeoffs.

As with last year, it’s hard to go thought a Boeing presentation without the Toyota inspired Kansan principals of JIT supply lines and LEAN production. There is a lot of confidence that the 737 line can use these principals to both make higher production rates on the current models while moving towards the production of a new model. That might be considered pretty cocky in an airframer to manage such a transistor. But in the words of top gun… “That’s pretty arrogant, I like that in a pilot”.

If you want your own look at a 737 going togther see this Boeing Video

The trip to Renton ended and we headed back to the Museum of Flight for a look at the recently completed Space wing complete with the Space Shuttle trainer. The Museum of Flight also put on a private tour of the Personal Courage Wing which houses the WWI and WWII display. Owen our Peronsal Docent for the tour was a excellent guide and had enough aviation stories of his own to justify an hour long lecture. At all the meusems I learned the value of engaging in conversation with the Docents they add so much value to the experience. Even if you believe yourself to be a well read AvGeek they can teach you something.

That ended Day One but this was barely an opener for the big day ‘up north’ at Paine Field and the Future of Flight

With thanks to our hosts please visit:

On the recent Airplane Geeks episodes there have been some excellent stories of getting started in flying. I appreciated Rob Mark’s comments on his finding a flight instrutor that helped engage his passion for flying in the Bits and Pieces IX. The episode with Stephen Tupper included discussion on the CAP program that educates thousands of young people about aviation.

David’s note on Congratualations, Thanks and Encouragement from Episode 230 inspired my own desire to spread a little gratitude. Like David’s daughter getting a scholarship from the Soaring Society of America I started my career as a glider pilot courtesy of the Royal Canadian Air Cadets.

I couldn’t tell you when I started thinking about airplanes. As far back as I can think I had the desire to fly. In elementary school there would be a assignment to go out and draw something we saw and I’d look up and see a contrail and produce a detailed side on view of a DC–8 in the appropriate airline livery.

Canada along with other common wealth countries like Austrailia and the UK, have the legacy of the wartime cadet program. No longer with the same focus of preparing for military service, they remain one of the largest youth programs in the country. Every year hundreds of cadets get their wings and the dream of flying is realized. There’s even a facebook group called Cadets Made Me a Pilot

Well about 30 years ago they made me a pilot. While I never made a career out of it, it would take a major calamity in my life to ever give it up. I owe that and a large amount of gratetude to all those that helped me get that set of wings. When times would get hard, I would push myself to remember the fundementally cool things about being me and being a pilot is what I would always think of.

In the Right Stuff, they spoke of being ‘on top of the pyramid’ well if that still is a thing there is a ex-Air Cadet named Chris Hadfield orbiting the earth in command of the International Space Station. That is very, very cool. Cadets made him a pilot too, although you got to figure he probably would have got there anyway. For many of us Cadets or other avaiation scholarships were probably our only shot.

I’m grateful for the work that organizations like AOPA and COPA do to make flying accessable to people. And help break the sterotype that those of us that fly are some idle rich that can afford triffling pastimes. To many it is also a career but not always a glamorous a one as many make out.

As podcasts like the Airplane Geeks and Airspeed show, Whehter you have the piece of paper or not, Flying is a passion, an avocation, something to be embraced and enjoyed.


While discussing some recent training I did in my day job, I was asked whether teaching was my first love. I probably should have thought about it for a least a second but I didn’t.. I said “No, Flying is my first love”

It is not like I pine for a career flying the line, like Captain Dave , or the ups and downs of regional flying like the Aviatrix, or even cranking and banking in a CF–18 like some of the guys I see at airshows. Although, every once and a while I think that last one might be REALLY cool.

I like being a network geek and teaching was a good job too.

But flying is a passion, to the point I would not really want to make it a job. The thought that I can – with a few dollars – push an airplane around the sky when the immediate annoyance I am dealing with is over, is probably the best feeling in the world.

I can sit and code PERL on my computer but the buzz from the ATC chatter of Live ATC in the background gives me energy. I can walk to work or pull on the rowing machine at the gym but I have The Airplane Geeks or Plane Crazy Down Under on my earbuds. When my niece and nephew send me birthday pictures, they inevitably include an airplane.

I celebrated a birthday recently, which was nice, but next summer I will celebrate 30 years as the holder of an aviation license.

I’m strongly considering a trip back to the place where I got my first set of wings in 1982. To stand on the ramp. To look at a little bit of sky.

It would be great if your job could deliver all the passion you need. But hobbies, avocations, and those bits of true passion you have are frequently found in much smaller doses. Nothing particularly wrong with that, maybe they are truly better served with a bit of scarcity.

In the language of ITIL, the bible of IT Service delivery there is this concept of “Fit for Use” and “Fit for Purpose”. Fit for Use simply measures whether a product or service can function. Fit for Use takes it to the next step of measuring the capability of a product compared to its intended use.

For example Powerpoint is a functional piece of software (fit for use) and is an acceptable presentation tool (fit for purpose). But some people attempt to use it as an image editing tool because that is all they have – that is a purpose it really isn’t fit for.

For all my talk of the iPad, there was a stated purpose that I had hung a large part of my purchase on. Can the iPad be my Electronic Flight Bag. Saturday, I finally tested that premise with a short but practical field test. A short sightseeing flight with a passenger in one of the club airplanes.

Now the actual in airplane usage is only part of the flight bag concept. Much of staying current as a recreational pilot is staying aware of the rules, regulations and changes in airspace. In Canada, that means dealing with Transport Canada and Nav Canada information.

Transport Canada has done a good job of getting the basic information out in the form of theTransport Canada Aeronautical Information Manual. While the basic rules don’t change that often the Information Circulars and the Supplements need to be reviewed regularly. For example Information Circular 11/10 lists changes to the airspace around Vancouver and Victoria that will affect my future flights which will show up in the new map I need to buy after July 19th. All this information used to be part of a tedious paper process that would fill a small garbage can every 56 days. These PDFs combined with GoodReader on my iPad is a more than capable substitute although I may end up using iBooks which now also does PDFs. The advantage of Goodreader is it will pull these right down from the website.

NavCanada data is a little harder to come by. They have put up basic information such as the Airport Diagrams but you still need the official documents in hard copy. Carrying the hard copies are going to be the rule for the foreseeable future but it would be nice to have a quick reference version (free or paid). I’m really hoping the folks at Foreflight can get a agreement for Canadian charts and info in there excellent iPhone and IPad application. I was able to use the moving map display as part of the US charts overlap Victoria, which is an awesome cross check to the printed charts, but less useful once I get near Naniamo (CYCD).

Screenshot of Foreflight for the iPad

What Foreflight can provide in Canada is the Weather information I would have collected from the Flight Planning website. Long gone are the yellowing rolls of teletype paper that was the standard up to the 1990s. While I had this on the iPhone for the last year, the iPad takes it to a new level. The graphical forecasts such as the Graphical Area Forecast and the Surface Analysis. It does have NOTAMs but I still would rely on the NavCanada website for that. I printed out the local NOTAMs for last Saturday’s Flight. Foreflight does provide some airport data but not enough to replace the Canadian Flight Supplement (CFS).

I will admit that it was a little more of a reminder to read all this aviation information when those piles of ammendments were siting on my desk. However, The iPad combined with some reliable sources of PDFs and live information does give me a better chance of finding something when I do go looking for it. I’m counting on that making me a safer and more informed pilot, which in the end makes me more fit for my purpose – every time I get in the airplane.

PS – Canadian Owners and Pilot Association has an electronic version of their COPA Flight newspaper. Although it is a Flash version online, I was able to generate a PDF to sync to iBook on my iPad.