Tag: Piper Super Cub

To England and France, Part Three

Refreshing dear connections from the past!

So on Friday the 13th of April daughter Maija ran Jean and me to the railway station at Haywards Heath to catch a train into London, specifically to Victoria Station.

Then we boarded the London Underground to get ourselves from Victoria Station to Bounds Green tube station on the Picadilly Line. It was a bit of a culture shock for both Jean and me; to say the least. But we managed it somehow and once at Bounds Green there was my sister Eleanor to greet us. Eleanor lives in Johannesburg in South Africa (long story) but needed to come to England and made arrangements that meant she could meet with us for this one afternoon and evening. For Eleanor had pre-booked a bed and breakfast in Coniston Road, London N10.

Eleanor is twelve years my younger sister and it was only later on in life that both of us realised what a precious age gap that was. For as Eleanor was growing up in her early years I was at the age of wanting to be the big brother to her and it became, and still is, a very close bond.

Eleanor holding her arms around Jean and me!

Immediately upon meeting we found a nearby cafe to grab some lunch and do a bit of catching up!

The afternoon and evening went by far too quickly and fairly smartly on the Saturday morning, the 14th, we said our ‘goodbyes’ and Jean and I struggled for the second time in twenty-four hours with the Underground! This time making our way from Bounds Green to Paddington Station, the main line station that serves Bristol and places in between, as in the Great Western Railway, as well as down to the South-West including Exeter and then on to Plymouth and into Cornwall.

Our train journey was from Paddington to Swindon Station to be met by Richard and Julie.

Richard is my longest, closest and dearest male friend.

He and I go back very many years, for we met not long after I had left IBM in 1978, where I had been an Office Products salesman, and then started my own company. Richard had, in turn, recently left Olivetti where he, too, had been an Office Products salesman.

We hit it off immediately and over the intervening years, as in the thick end of 40 years, there’s not a lot that we haven’t shared in terms of fun and frolics, and especially a great many flying exploits in my group-owned Piper Super Cub!

Piper Cub R151

When Jean and I got together in 2008 as you might imagine she quickly became close friends with Richard and Jules, as Richard calls Julie.

Plus Jean and Richard share a rather ironic, if that’s the right term, event. For both of them were diagnosed in December, 2015 with the early stages of Parkinson’s Disease!

As with seeing Eleanor, the time with Richard and Jules was far too short but, nonetheless, very

Murphy being cuddled by Jules

precious. Plus, dear Murphy gave Jean and me a much-needed dog fix!

Thus on the morning of the 15th, Richard and Jules ran us across to Bristol which is where my son, Alex, is living with Lisa, his partner.

The plan was to spend from Sunday, the 15th, through to Wednesday, the 18th, with Alex and Lisa. Alex had booked time off work for those days but Lisa unfortunately was working during the weekdays.

Yet another meeting of dear friends, as in Richard and Jules catching up with Alex.

Alex had arranged for Jean and me to go down to South Devon on Monday, 16th, to meet with John Joiner, my dear brother-in-law.

Let me explain some family background. My father had had two daughters with a previous wife to my mother. Their names were Rhona and Corinne and when they were alive they both lived in South Devon. In the years that followed my father’s death in December, 1956, both Rhona and Corinne, and their respective husbands, Reider and John, made me feel very special and very deeply loved by both of them. (Indeed, it was because of wanting to be close to Rhona and Corinne’s families that I settled in South Devon when I returned from Cyprus in 1991.)

Corinne died in June, 2013. John, who is now well into his 80s, lives in a small apartment in the village of South Brent just a few miles from Totnes in South Devon. I make a point of calling him from Oregon at least once a week but to be able to see John again after so many years was another big highlight of the vacation.

Inevitably, along came another lunch and in the photograph above you can see John on the right-hand side and sitting next to him, as in the left of the photo, is Greta, my cousin as in Rhona’s daughter, who spends a great deal of her spare time looking after John. Dear Greta!

After the pub lunch we returned to John’s apartment for tea and carried on sharing many special memories.

Indeed, one of those special memories was Benji the wonderful dog that Corinne and John had for many years. On one of John’s walls was this wonderful painting of Benji.

The other fact about John is his incredible use of the English language. Both in terms of his vocabulary and his diction. John’s legacy to me is, and will be for the rest of my days, the value of speaking well.

Another wonderful connection with past times.

The truth is that the odds are that I may never see John again. That made this day with John so incredibly special. Huge thanks to Alex and Greta. What a fabulous day!

The next day, Tuesday, the 17th, was Lisa’s birthday and yet another wonderful evening out.

Then came the 18th and the last few hours of being with Alex. At 12:50 that day we were due to fly from Bristol down to Nice in Southern France to spend six nights with Reggie, Jean’s brother.

Those beautiful days will be the topic of tomorrow’s post. See you then!

But before I turn away from today’s description of our days in England, let me address a question that John Zande raised yesterday. Namely: “Have to ask, do you miss the English village life? It’s so beautiful.

Here’s my answer:

John, yes there was no question that there were stirrings of great familiarity when down with John near Totnes. In my mind’s eye, I could still walk up Totnes High Street and name many of the stores that I used to visit on an almost weekly basis when living in Harberton.

But at the same time I was shocked and disappointed by the huge growth in new housing, someone said an additional 500 homes built in the area in the last 5 years, and all the traffic and crowded lanes that go with that expansion. Many of the lanes were so crowded with parked cars that they were effectively single-lane carriageways.

The relatively sparse housing in the part of Oregon where we now live, the way that the natural world seems untouched by us humans here on Hugo Road, felt very beautiful in comparison. We looked forward to being back in Merlin.

Upper Barn, Harberton, where I used to live before meeting my Jeannie!

Picture Parade One Hundred and Ninety-Eight

In celebration of Pharaoh’s 14th birthday yesterday.

(Long-term followers of this place will have seen many of these photos before.)

Just being a dog!

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Luckily the training paid off! Pharaoh was fabulous around sheep!

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Pharaoh riding the back of the Piper Super Cub

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Pharaoh enjoying Bummer Creek.

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On board the Dart Valley Steam Railway stopped at Buckfastleigh Station.

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Pharaoh, relaxing in a Devon garden.

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First meeting between Pharaoh and Cleo; April 7th, 2012.

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Pharaoh with little Poppy, a stray found on a Mexican building site

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Hi Pedy, I’m the bossman around here. Name’s Pharaoh and you’ll be OK.

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Taken on the afternoon of Pharaoh’s birthday, June 3rd 2017.

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The face of a King of dogs!

Man, dog and Piper Cub

A small dose of nostalgia.

In yesterday’s post, I referred to Dunkeswell Airfield in South Devon and the fact that I was part of a group that owned a Piper Super Cub that was based at that airfield.

So while the bulk of this post has been previously published in this place it was over three years ago and, perhaps, may be shown again.

The photograph below was taken in 2006 when Pharaoh was 3 years old.  The aircraft, by the way, is an L21B, the military variant of the Piper Super Cub.  The aircraft was originally delivered to the Dutch Air Force in 1954 and has dispensation from the UK CAA to retain the original registration and callsign of R151.

P1000357.s

More on the aircraft.

Originally when the post was published readers asked for more information on the aircraft.

So here it is.

Piper Super Cub, L-21B, R-151

A/C Construction No. 18-3841, Frame No. 18-3843

Original Engine, Lycoming 135 Type 0-290-D2, 54/2441

Romeo 151 was one of a batch of 298 L-21’s delivered in 1954. There were 584 L-21B’s produced by Piper for military use, the ‘L’ standing for Liaison. The L-21B’s were PA-18-135’s with civil Lycoming 0-290-D2 engines, glasswork as most L-21A’s and L-18’s and a gross weight of 1760 lbs.

This aircraft was delivered to Koninklijke Luchtmacht, Dutch Air Force, on the 1st July, 1954 and registered R-151. After various homes R-151 transferred to the Dutch civil register as PH-GER, 1st April 1976 with 4,458 hours and shortly thereafter was registered to Vlieclub Hoogeveen, Certificate Number 2380.

On the 27th March, 1981 the aircraft was delivered to the UK with a total time of 5,043 hours and in September, 1981 became G-BIYR. In April, 1983 YR was the first of type to be given a Public Transport CofA and was used for training at Tollaton. YR reverted to a Private CofA in January, 1984 when purchased by Mike and Barbara Fairclough at 5,120 hours.

In 1992 YR was re-engined with a Lycoming 150HP, 0320-A2B No. L49809-27A (zero hours). Finally on the 2nd June, 1995 the a/c was repainted in original Dutch insignia and given CAA (UK Civil Aviation Authority) permission to use the original call-sign, Romeo 151.

The aircraft is based in South Devon, England and owned by the five members of the Delta Foxtrot Flying Group.

A few photos of the aircraft.

Approaching home in South Devon, England
Approaching home airfield in South Devon, England
Flying in the French Alps, Mt Blanc in sight
Flying in the French Alps, Mt Blanc in sight
9,300 ft up in the French Alps
9,300 ft up in the French Alps

Really takes me back does this!

 

Don’t let your dog swim in these waters!

Sometimes, one just has to hold one’s head in shame ….

… at the madness that we humans are capable of.

I included this sub-heading in the draft of this post last Thursday intending to make it Friday’s post then changed my mind. Hence the reason behind me writing in Friday’s post:

I was looking at a recent George Monbiot essay and getting myself all wound up about it, thinking that it should be today’s post. Then I thought, “Come on, Paul, end the week on a gentle tone.”

In the light of events in Paris last Friday, I had no idea how pertinent my sub-heading was!

What wound me up, so to speak, was a recent essay from George Monbiot about the damage being done to a Devon river; the River Culm. This river was known to me in the days that I lived in South Devon and had my Piper Super Cub based at Dunkeswell Airfield that was not far from the Culm.

Dunkeswell Airfield
Dunkeswell Airfield

So with no further ado, here is George Monbiot’s essay republished with Mr. Monbiot’s kind permission.

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Strategic Incompetence

12th November 2015

The agencies supposed to protect the living world have been neutered, and polluters and wildlife destroyers now have a free hand.

By George Monbiot, published on the Guardian’s website 12th November 2015

It could scarcely have been a starker case. The river I came across in Devon six weeks ago, and described in the Guardian, was so polluted that I could smell it from 50 metres away. Farm slurry pouring into the water, from a pipe that I traced back to a dairy farm, had wiped out almost all the life in the stretch of River Culm I explored.

All that now grew on the riverbed were long, feathery growths of sewage fungus. An expert on freshwater pollution I consulted told me that the extent of these growths showed the poisoning of the river was “chronic and severe”.

Here, as a reminder of what I saw, are some of the pictures I took:

Sewage fungus covering the river bed.
Sewage fungus covering the river bed.

Slurry pouring from a pipe cut into the riverbank:

Slurry outfall just above the river.
Slurry outfall just above the river.

And mingling with the clear water of the river:

The slurry entering the river.

I reported the pollution to the Environment Agency’s hotline. It told me it was taking the matter seriously. So when I received its report on the outcome of its investigation, I nearly fell off my chair.

It had decided to take no action against the farmer, as “the long term ecological impacts on the environment were fortunately low”. How did it know? Because there was “no evidence of a fish kill”.

Why in the name of all that’s holy should there be evidence of a fish kill? This is a chronic pollution case, not an acute one. Fish kills are what you see when a sudden poisoning occurs, as pollutants are flushed into a healthy living system. Chronic pollution deprives fish of their habitats and prey, but no investigator in their right mind would expect to see them floating belly up in the river as a result. They are simply absent from places where you would otherwise have found them.

And if a riverbed covered in nothing but sewage fungus suggests a “low” ecological impact, I dread to think what a high one looks like.

The same inability to distinguish between an acute event and a chronic one was revealed by another of the agency’s statements: the pollution “had a short term impact”. The slurry had plainly been pouring out of the pipe for months, as the luxuriant growths of sewage fungus show. It would doubtless have continued, had I not reported it.

The Environment Agency also told me that it had inspected the farm, and found no problems with the infrastructure, as there was plenty of space for slurry storage under the floor of the barn where the cows were kept. But, the problem, as I had explained to them, had nothing to do with slurry storage in the barn. It was caused by leakage from the outdoor slurry lagoons, where I found cow manure pouring down the hill.

They could scarcely have made a bigger mess of their investigation if they had tried. The mistakes the agency made are so fundamental and so obvious that it makes me wonder whether they are mistakes at all. What does a farmer have to do to get prosecuted these days, detonate an atom bomb?

If this were an isolated case, you could put it down to ineptitude, albeit ineptitude raised to the status of an Olympic sport. But responses like this are now the norm at the Environment Agency. It has been so brutally disciplined by cuts and by ministers’ demands that it leave farms and other businesses alone that it is now almost incapable of enforcement.

Even when the fish kills it appears to see as the only real proof of pollution do occur, in the great majority of cases it doesn’t even bother to assess them, let alone investigate and prosecute. Freedom of information requests by the environmental group Fish Legal reveal that the agency sent its investigators to visit just 16% of reported fish kills.

There was massive regional variation. While in the Anglian Central region, covering parts of Norfolk, Cambridgeshire and surrounding counties, the agency inspected 61% of these events, in Devon they investigated only 3%. (I suspect that it was only because I’m a journalist for a national newspaper that they came out at all in the case I reported). In the fishery areas on either side of it – Cornwall and Wessex – the inspection rate was, er, 0%. If you want to pollute rivers in these regions, there’s nothing stopping you.

The Environment Agency no longer prosecutes even some of the most extreme pollution events. In 2013, a farmer in Somerset released what the agency called a “tsunami of slurry” into the Wellow Brook. One inspector said it was the worst pollution she had seen in 17 years. But the agency dithered for a year before striking a private agreement with the farmer, allowing him to avoid prosecution, a criminal record, a massive fine and court costs, by giving £5000 to a local charity.

New rules imposed by the government means that such under-the-counter deals, which now have a name of their own – enforcement undertakings – are likely to become more common. They are a parody of justice: arbitrary, opaque and wide open to influence-peddling, special pleading and corruption.

I see the agency’s farcical investigation of the pollution incident I reported as strategic incompetence, designed to avoid conflict with powerful landowners. Were it to follow any other strategy, it would run into trouble with the government.

These problems are likely to become even more severe, when the new cuts the environment department (Defra) has just agreed with the Treasury take effect. An analysis by the RSPB and the Wildlife Trusts reveals that, once the new reductions bite, the government’s spending on wildlife conservation, air quality and water pollution will have declined by nearly 80% in real terms since 2009/10.

It’s all up for grabs now: if you want to wreck the living world, the government is not going to stop you. Those who have power, agency, money or land can – metaphorically and literally – dump their crap on the rest of us.

Never mind that the government is now breaking European law left right and centre, spectacularly failing, for example, to ensure that all aquatic ecosystems are in good health by the end of this year, as it is supposed to do under the water framework directive. It no longer seems to care. It would rather use your tax money to pay fines to the European Commission than enforce the law against polluters.

I’ve heard the same description of Liz Truss, the secretary of state for environment, who oversees the work of the Environment Agency, from several people over the past few months. “Worse than Owen Paterson”. At first, I refused to take it seriously. It’s the kind of statement that is usually employed as hyperbole, such as “somewhere to the right of Genghis Khan”, or “more deluded than Tony Blair”. But in this case, they aren’t joking. Preposterous as the notion of any environment secretary being worse than Mr Paterson might seem, they mean it.

Nowhere, as far as I can discover, in Liz Truss’s speeches or writing before she was appointed, is there any sign of prior interest in the natural world or its protection. What we see instead is perhaps the most extreme manifestation of market fundamentalism on this side of the Atlantic. She founded the Conservative Free Enterprise Group, and was co-author of the book Britannia Unchained, that laid out a terrifying vision of a nation run by raw economic power, without effective social or environmental protection. Now she has a chance to put that vision into practice.

Those who have tried to engage with her describe her as indissolubly wedded to a set of theories about how the world should be, that are impervious to argument, facts or experience. She was among the first ministers to put her own department on the block in the latest spending review, volunteering massive cuts. She seems determined to dismantle the protections that secure our quality of life: the rules and agencies defending the places and wildlife we love.

Bureaucracy and regulation are concepts we have been taught to hate, through relentless propaganda in the media. But they are essential pillars of civilisation. They make the difference between a decent society and a barbarous one.

www.monbiot.com

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While this essay from Monbiot clearly concerns a river in the South-West of England and may therefore not relate to readers in other parts of the UK or the world, those closing sentences [my emphasis] do relate to all of us wherever we are on this planet.

Bureaucracy and regulation are concepts we have been taught to hate, through relentless propaganda in the media. But they are essential pillars of civilisation. They make the difference between a decent society and a barbarous one.

Tomorrow, I will return to Piper Cubs flying out of Dunkeswell!

Want a few more years?

Then get a dog!

Even before I met Jean back in 2007 and came out from England to be with her in 2008 (with Pharaoh), I had learnt that one of the many joys in having a dog was being able to share so much of one’s life with your loving canine companion.

Dart Valley Railway at Buckfastleigh Sation in Devon, England.
Pharaoh and me enjoying the Dart Valley Steam Railway at Buckfastleigh Sation in Devon, England.

Thus you will not be surprised in the slightest that walking with your dog is another joyous activity. Plus the benefit of living a few more years, as the following article from Mother Nature News illustrates.

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The secret to adding 7 years to your life

Hint: Get ready to lace up your sneakers.

By: Jenn Savedge, August 31, 2015

Researchers find that just 25 minutes of walking each day can trigger the anti-aging process. (Photo: Nejc Vesel/Shutterstock)
Researchers find that just 25 minutes of walking each day can trigger the anti-aging process. (Photo: Nejc Vesel/Shutterstock)

It’s easier than you might think to add another seven years to your life. Researchers have found that adding a simple 25-minute walk to your daily routine could give you several more years of healthy living.

Researchers found that participants in their 50s and 60s who took a brisk daily walk that lasted for at least 25 minutes had half the risk of dying from a heart attack than their couch-potato peers. The study, conducted at Saarland University in Germany, evaluated the health of 69 healthy non-smokers, aged between 30 and 60, who were not regular exercisers before the study began.

Participants were asked to complete various types of daily exercise — from simple aerobics to high-intensity interval training to strength training over a six-month period. Meanwhile, researchers took blood samples that allowed them to measure the increase of telomerase activity and the decrease of senescence markers, two indicators of cellular aging found in the blood. Using these measurements, researchers found that daily aerobic exercise triggers the anti-aging process.

Researchers presented their findings at the European Society of Cardiology conference with the suggestion that people add regular exercise to their daily routine to add years to their lives. They also noted that it’s never too late to start. A 70-year-old woman who has never exercised before can still gain tremendous mental and physical health benefits by adding a brisk daily walk to her routine.

Heart disease is the number one killer of men and women in the U.S. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 600,000 Americans will lose their lives to the disease this year, but exercise could slash that figure in half, bringing more years to millions of Americans.

Do you have your sneakers laced yet?

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So there you are! Just twenty-five minutes a day with your favourite person and your favourite dog or two and you will all live forever.

Carry on sharing!

Pharaoh in the back of a Piper Super Cub back in 2002. Proving that he loved taxying around the grass airfield but I drew the line at flying - for both our sakes!
Pharaoh in the back of a Piper Super Cub back in 2002. Proving that he loved taxying around the grass airfield but I drew the line at flying – for both our sakes!

P.S. When I showed Jean this post yesterday evening she remarked that I still had, and wore at times, the same green T-shirt and cap that I featured in the photograph above some 13 years ago. I guess I’m not a fashion plate!

My tribute to Pharaoh

Pharaoh has been my dearest companion every day for these last 12 years.

I’m choosing today to recognise what Pharaoh has meant to me since I took him in my arms, both literally and emotionally, in August, 2003.

Pharaoh, nine months old.
Pharaoh, nine months old.

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The story of a great dog!

Pharaoh, as of yesterday afternoon!
Pharaoh, as of 25th March, 2013.

The biggest, single reward of having Pharaoh as my friend goes back quite a few years.  Back to when I was living in Devon, South-West England, and to the time when Jon Lavin and I used to spend hours talking together.  Pharaoh was always contentedly asleep in the same room as Jon and me.

It was Jon who introduced me to Dr. David Hawkins and his Map of Consciousness. It was also Jon, who one day when looking down at the sleeping Pharaoh, pointed out that Dr. Hawkins offered evidence that dogs are creatures of integrity with a ‘score’ on that Map of between 205 and 210. (Background is here.)

So this blog, Learning from Dogs, and me writing a book of the same name flow from that awareness of what dogs mean to us humans and what Pharaoh specifically means to me.  No, more than that!  As a result of that mix of Jon, Dr. David Hawkins, experiencing unconditional love from an animal living with me day-in, day-out, came a journey into myself.  From that journey came the self-awareness that allowed me truly to like who I was, to be openly loved by this dog of mine, and be able to love openly in return.  As is said: “You cannot love another until you love yourself.

Trying to pick out a single example of the bond that Pharaoh and I have had is practically impossible.  I have to rely on photographs to remind me of the thousands of times that a simple look or touch between Pharaoh and me ‘speaks’ to me in ways that words fail. Here’s an extract from my celebration of Pharaoh’s tenth birthday in June, 2013. It perfectly illustrates the friendship bond between us.

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For many years I was a private pilot and in later days had the pleasure, the huge pleasure, of flying a Piper Super Cub, a group-owned aircraft based at Watchford Farm in South Devon.  The aircraft, a Piper PA-18-135 Super Cub, was originally supplied to the Dutch Air Force in 1954 and was permitted by the British CAA to carry her original military markings including her Dutch military registration, R-151, although there was a British registration, G-BIYR, ‘underneath’ the Dutch R-151.  (I wrote more fully about the history of the aircraft on Learning from Dogs back in August 2009.)

Piper Cub R151
Piper Cub R151

Anyway, every time I went to the airfield with Pharaoh he always tried to climb into the cockpit.  So one day, I decided to see if he would sit in the rear seat and be strapped in.  Pharaoh had absolutely no problem with that!

Come on Dad, let's get this thing off the ground!
Come on Dad, let’s get this thing off the ground!

My idea had been to fly a gentle circuit in the aircraft.  First, I did some taxying around the large grass airfield that is Watchford to see how Pharaoh reacted.  He was perfectly behaved.

But then I thought long and hard about taking Pharaoh for a flight.  In the Cub there is no autopilot so if Pharaoh struggled it would have been almost impossible to fly the aircraft and cope with Pharaoh.  So, in the end, I abandoned the idea of taking him for a flight.  The chances are that it would have been fine.  But if something had gone wrong, the outcome just didn’t bear thinking about.

So we ended up motoring for 30 minutes all around the airfield which, as the next picture shows, met with doggie approval.  The date was July 2006.

That was fun!
That was fun!

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Moving on again.  This time to another flying experience.  To the day when Pharaoh and I flew out of London bound for Los Angeles and a new life with Jeannie and all her dogs (16 at that time) down in San Carlos, Sonora, Mexico.  The date: September 15th, 2008.  Just ten months after I had met Jean in Mexico and realised that this was the woman that I was destined to love! (Now you will understand why earlier on I described the Jon Lavin, Dr. Hawkins, Pharaoh mix as the biggest, single reward of having Pharaoh as my friend!)

There followed wonderful happy days for me and Pharaoh.  It was gorgeous to see how Pharaoh became so much more a dog, if that makes sense, from having his own mini-pack around him.  Those happy days taking us all forwards to Payson, AZ, where Jean and I were married, and then on to Merlin, Oregon arriving here in October, 2012.

Fr. Dan Tantimonaco with the newly weds!
Fr. Dan Tantimonaco with the newly weds!

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Pharaoh 'married' to his dearest friends. December, 2013.
Pharaoh ‘married’ to his dearest friends in Oregon. December, 2013.

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Perfect closeness. Pharaoh and Cleo with Hazel in the middle.  Taken yesterday.
Smelling the flowers! Pharaoh and Cleo with Hazel in the middle.

I could go on!  Hopefully, you get a sense, a very strong sense, of the magical journey that both Pharaoh and I have experienced since I first clasped him in my arms back in September, 2003.

Both Pharaoh and I are in the Autumn of our lives; he has just turned 12, I am now 70, and we both creak a little. But so what! Pharaoh has been my greatest inspiration of the power of unconditional love; of the need to smell the flowers in this short life of ours.

One very great animal! (March 25th, 2014)
One very great animal! (March 25th, 2014)

Thank you, my dear, dear friend!

Can’t close today’s tribute without adding one last photograph of this great dog; a photograph of Pharaoh greeting Cleo, back in 2012.

First meeting between Pharaoh and Cleo; April 7th, 2012.
First meeting between Pharaoh and Cleo; April 7th, 2012.

Nor can I close without including a quotation from the author, Suzanne Clothier:

“There is a cycle of love and death that shapes the lives of those who choose to travel in the company of animals. It is a cycle unlike any other. To those who have never lived through its turnings or walked its rocky path, our willingness to give our hearts with full knowledge that they will be broken seems incomprehensible. Only we know how small a price we pay for what we receive. Our grief, no matter how powerful it may be, is an insufficient measure of the joy we have been given.

Writing in his essay, “The Once Again Prince,” animal lover and gifted writer Irving Townsend summed it up:

We who choose to surround ourselves with lives even more temporary than our own, live within a fragile circle easily and often breached. Unable to accept its awful gaps, we still would live no other way. We cherish memory as the only certain immortality, never fully understanding the necessary plan. It is a fragile circle. But it goes round and round without end.”

Nostalgia with wings!

Opening up the memory box.

Last Saturday, under the post title of The family flight, I wrote about the formation display given by five A350 XWB development aircraft.

That prompted a comment from Hariod Brawn:

He [my father] was an RAF pilot during the war and through to the early 1960’s. He test-piloted the Vulcan and Victor, though started on what he called ‘string bags’, by which he meant Tiger Moths. In between he flew the Spitfire, Lancaster, Meteor and specialised in flying in electrical storms, about which he wrote a manual for the RAF.

……

I took my father to see Vulcan XH558 fly what was then thought to be its final flight (it subsequently was overhauled and took to the skies again). It flew along the length of the runway at a 45 degree angle with its bomb bay doors open. On the inside of the doors in huge letters was the single word ‘farewell’. It was really quite an emotional experience both for my father and myself.

I thought it would be nice to include some video of XH558; that will be tomorrow’s post. For today, I wanted to reminisce from my own private flying days.

A K-7 two-seat glider.
A K-7 two-seat glider.

My first exposure to private flying was on the 7th June, 1981 when, at Rattlesden Gliding Club in Suffolk, I was taken up for two air-experience circuits in a two-seater glider known as a ‘K7’.  I was immediately hooked! Those experience flights leading to a 4-minute flight (flight number 46) on the 6th September, 1981 that has the remark in my pilot’s log book: Solo!  Now fast forward to October, 1984 and my log book shows me attending a gliding instructor’s course at Lasham, resulting in me being issued with a British Gliding Association (BGA) Assistant Instructor Rating on the 14th October. (105/84).

Over on the power side of things, in March, 1984, I started Private Pilot training at the Suffolk Aero Club at Ipswich Airport and gained my PPL on the 9th November, 1984.  Subsequently, gaining my Instrument Rating in July, 1999 when I was then operating from Exeter Airport and flying frequently for business purposes.  For that ‘serious’ flying I used a Socata TB20, a French retractable, single-engined aircraft, based at Exeter.  A very fine, long-distance aircraft.

TB20, G-BPAS, photographed at Compton Abbas airfield (EGHA).
TB20, G-BPAS, photographed at Compton Abbas airfield (EGHA).

But the aircraft that I had the most fun flying was a dear old Piper Super Cub.  Here’s the background to the aircraft.

Piper Super Cub, L-21B, R-151

A/C Construction No. 18-3841, Frame No. 18-3843

Original Engine, Lycoming 135 Type 0-290-D2, 54/2441

Romeo 151 was one of a batch of 298 L-21’s delivered in 1954. There were 584 L-21B’s produced by Piper for military use, the ‘L’ standing for Liaison. The L-21B’s were PA-18-135’s with civil Lycoming 0-290-D2 engines, glasswork as most L-21A’s and L-18’s and a gross weight of 1760 lbs.

This aircraft was delivered to Koninklijke Luchtmacht, Dutch Air Force, on the 1st July, 1954 and registered R-151. After various homes R-151 transferred to the Dutch civil register as PH-GER, 1st April 1976 with 4,458 hours and shortly thereafter was registered to Vlieclub Hoogeveen, Certificate Number 2380.

On the 27th March, 1981 the aircraft was delivered to the UK with a total time of 5,043 hours and in September, 1981 became G-BIYR; ‘YR’. In April, 1983 YR was the first of type to be given a Public Transport CofA (Certificate of Airworthiness) and was used for training at Tollaton. YR reverted to a Private CofA in January, 1984 when purchased by Mike and Barbara Fairclough. The aircraft had by then accumulated 5,120 hours.

In 1992, YR was re-engined with a Lycoming 150HP, 0320-A2B No. L49809-27A (zero hours). Finally on the 2nd June, 1995 the aircraft was repainted in her original Dutch insignia and given CAA (UK Civil Aviation Authority) permission to use the original call-sign: Romeo 151.

The aircraft was based at and flown from Watchford Farm airstrip in South Devon, England.

Now forgive the nostalgic photographic memories!

Approaching home in South Devon, England
Yours truly approaching Watchford Farm airstrip in South Devon, England
Flying in the French Alps, Mt Blanc in sight
Flying in the French Alps with Mont Blanc in sight
9,300 ft up in the French Alps
9,300 ft up in the French Alps!

Every time I went to the airfield with Pharaoh he always tried to climb into the cockpit.  So one day, I decided to see if he would sit in the rear seat and be strapped in.  As the next picture shows, there was absolutely no problem with that!

Come on Dad, let's get this thing off the ground!
Come on Dad, let’s get this thing off the ground!

My idea had been to fly a gentle circuit in the aircraft.  First, I did some taxying around Watchford’s large grass airfield to see how Pharaoh reacted.  He was perfectly behaved.

But then I thought long and hard about taking Pharaoh for a flight.  In the Piper Cub there is no autopilot so if Pharaoh struggled or became agitated it would have been almost impossible to fly the aircraft and cope with Pharaoh sitting in the seat behind me.  So, in the end, I abandoned the idea.  The chances are that it would have been fine.  But if something had gone wrong, the outcome just didn’t bear thinking about.

Thus we elected for taxying all around the airfield which, as the next picture shows, met with full doggie approval.  The date was July 2006.

That was fun!
That was fun!

So enough of my recollections for today – tomorrow the Vulcan XH558.

Nostalgic times.

Flying the Piper Super Cub

Last Saturday, I posted an item that included a great video about the Air-Cam sports aircraft.  I succumbed to a bout of nostalgia in that I dipped into both my old gliding and flying log-books.  As I wrote:

 My last (powered) flight was in a Piper Super Cub, registration R-151, a flight of 1 hr 40 mins from Kemble returning to Watchford Farm, where the Cub was based.

I ‘warned’ readers that today’s post would offer some more about that wonderful aircraft; Piper Super Cub R-151.

ooOOoo

Approaching home in South Devon, England
Approaching home airfield in South Devon, England

Piper Super Cub, L-21B, R-151

A/C Construction No. 18-3841, Frame No. 18-3843

Original Engine, Lycoming 135 Type 0-290-D2, 54/2441

R-151 was one of a batch of 298 L-21’s delivered in 1954. There were 584 L-21B’s produced by Piper for military use, the ‘L’ standing for Liaison. The L-21B’s were PA-18-135’s with civil Lycoming 0-290-D2 engines, glasswork as most L-21A’s and L-18’s and a gross weight of 1760 lbs.

This aircraft was delivered to Koninklijke Luchtmacht, Dutch Air Force, on the 1st July, 1954 and registered R-151. After various homes, R-151 transferred to the Dutch civil register as PH-GER, on the 1st April 1976 with 4,458 hours. Shortly thereafter the aircraft was registered to Vliegclub Hoogeveen, Certificate Number 2380.  Amazingly, the club is still in existence as their website shows.

On the 27th March, 1981 the aircraft was delivered to the UK with a total time of 5,043 hours and in September, 1981 became G-BIYR. In April, 1983 G-BIYR was the first of type to be given a Public Transport CofA (Certificate of Airworthiness) and was used for training at Tollerton; Nottingham. G-BIYR reverted to a Private CofA in January, 1984 when purchased by Mike and Barbara Fairclough from Devon at 5,120 hours.

In 1992, the aircraft was re-engined with a Lycoming 150HP, 0320-A2B No. L49809-27A (zero hours). Finally on the 2nd June, 1995 the aircraft was repainted in original Dutch insignia and given CAA (UK Civil Aviation Authority) permission to use the original call-sign, Romeo 151.

The aircraft is based in South Devon, England and owned by the five members of the Delta Foxtrot Flying Group.

More pictures.

Flying in the French Alps, Mt Blanc in sight
Flying in the French Alps, Mt Blanc in sight

oooo

9,300 ft up in the French Alps
9,300 ft up in the French Alps

oooo

This last photograph was taken shortly after Pharaoh decided to jump into the passenger’s seat.  The year was 2006 when Pharaoh was 3 years old.  As much as I was tempted, I resisted the urge of taxying him around the airfield!

P1000357.s
Rather like the view from here, Dad!

Now for something completely different!

Echoes of a past life.

A few days ago, dear friend Suzann, sent me an item about a wonderful new light aircraft.  (It was Su and Don who invited me to Mexico in December, 2007 that resulted in me and Jeannie meeting!)

Before I explain what Su sent me, allow me a few moments of nostalgia.

'K7' glider.
‘K7’ glider.

I have a gliding (sailplaning in US speak) log book that has the following entry at the top of page 1:

Flights 1 & 2. June 7th 1981. K7 dual seat glider. Rattlesden Gliding Club, Suffolk. Winch launch. Total flight time 12 minutes.

Those flights started a love affair with flying.

I have a powered-flight log book that has the following entry at the top of page 1.

March 3rd, 1984. Cessna 150. Reg: G-BGAF. Capt: Martin Lowe. Ipswich Airport – local flight 1325 – 1355. Exercises 4,5.

I continued glider flying, becoming an instructor along the way, until my last flight, flight number 1,424, on the 19th December, 1992; again from Rattlesden.

I continued power flying until the 4th August, 2008, a short time before I left the UK to be with Jean in Mexico.  My last flight was in a Piper Super Cub, registration R-151, a flight of 1 hr 40 mins from Kemble returning to Watchford Farm, where the Cub was based.

My son, Alex, shared my love of flying as a young man and is now a Senior Captain with a British airline.

G-EWFN, a Socata TB20.
G-EWFN, a Socata TB20.

Anyway, all of which is a rather long preamble to this.

What a fabulous aircraft!  The relevant website is, unsurprisingly, the Air-Cam site.

(Come back on Monday for some more recollections about flying the Piper Super Cub!)

Extreme weather events

Nature is really starting to speak to mankind!

I started writing this post back on the 25th September.  Why so far back?  Because that day something came into my in-box that deserved the widest circulation.  It’s an event being held just under a month from today, November 14th.  But it seemed worthwhile to give this amount of notice.  However, the reason why I wanted to start it back in September was because in the last 24 hours of that day, the 25th, the UK offered very good evidence of the significant increase in severe weather.

From the UK’s Met Office blog on the 25th September, 2012, (I have included the inches equivalent of the mm figures)

Rainfall figures: over a month’s worth of rain in two days

Rainfall totals for the past few days – from 1:00 am Sunday morning to 8:00 am this morning [Tuesday] – show some areas have already had more than twice their usual September rainfall. Ravensworth, in North Yorkshire, has seen the highest total, with 107.8 mm [4.24 in] falling, over 200 % of its average September rainfall.

The rainfall has been widespread, with many areas across the United Kingdom receiving large totals. Killylane, in Antrim Northern Ireland saw 98.2 mm [3.87 in], and high totals were also recorded in the south-west, with 72.4 mm [2.85 in] in Filton and 65.2 mm [2.57 in] at Dunkeswell Aerodrome.

Dunkeswell Aerodrome in Devon was where I used to fly our group-owned Piper Super Cub, still in military markings.

Piper Super Cub at Dunkeswell Aerodrome
A carriage made for two!

Anyway, back to the plot!

Also on that day (September 25th) the website Think Progress released this item,

Markey/Waxman Report: Carbon Pollution Creating A ‘Cocktail Of Heat And Extreme Weather’

By Climate Guest Blogger and Stephen Lacey on Sep 25, 2012 at 3:31 pm

by Katie Valentine and Stephen Lacey

Two House Democrats have released a report that aims to connect the dots on climate change and extreme weather events.

The staff report, issued by Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) and Edward Markey (D-Mass.), outlines the past year’s record-setting temperatures, storms, droughts, water levels and wildfires, and is being circulated in an attempt to rebuild congressional momentum to address climate change.

“The evidence is overwhelming — climate change is occurring and it is occurring now,” said Rep. Waxman, a Ranking Member of the Energy and Commerce Committee, in a statement.

The report outlines the stunning array of record-breaking extreme weather events throughout 2012 within five categories:

Extreme temperatures

  • July was the hottest month ever recorded in the continental U.S.  Some areas were 8 degrees warmer than average, with the average temperature in the lower 48 states at 77.6 degrees Fahrenheit, 3.3 degrees above the 20th century average.
  • Spring 2012 saw the warmest March, third-warmest April and second-warmest May in history, and was approximately 5.2 degrees Fahrenheit above average overall.
  • Through late June 2011, daily record highs were outnumbering daily record lows by 9-to-1.

Drought

  • As of September, 64 percent of the continental U.S. is experiencing drought, with August and September 2012 comparable to the worst months of the 1930s Dust Bowl.
  • By the beginning of August, more than half the counties in the U.S. had been designated disaster zones because of drought.
  • As of August, 51 percent of corn and 38 percent of soybeans grown in the U.S. were rated as poor or very poor by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Some states’ corn fared worse – Indiana had 70 percent of its corn rated as poor or very poor, and Missouri had 84 percent.

Wildfires

  • This fire season 8.6 million acres – roughly the size of Connecticut and New Jersey combined – have burned in the U.S., with fires still burning in parts of the West.
  • Wildfires in Colorado have killed six people, destroyed 600 homes and caused about $500 million in property damage.
  • There has been nearly a four-fold increase in large wildfires in the West in recent decades, with fires burning longer and more intensely and wildfire seasons lasting longer.

Storms

  • Tropical Storm Debby caused Florida to have its wettest June on record. The storm killed at least seven people and also damaged more than 7,500 homes and businesses.
  • In July, the “derecho” storm system killed at least 23 people and left more than 3.7 million people without power.
  • In August, Hurricane Isaac caused storm surges of up to 15 feet in some places and contributed to Louisiana and Mississippi experiencing their second-wettest August on record and to Florida experiencing its wettest summer on record.

Extreme water levels and water temperatures

  • In July, water in the Great Lakes reached temperatures of 60 and 65 degrees Fahrenheit – more than 10 degrees warmer than the same time last year.
  • In August, water temperatures of up to 97 degrees and low water levels caused tens of thousands of fish to die in Midwestern lakes and rivers.
  • Low water levels in the Mississippi watershed have caused some barge companies to reduce their loads by 25 percent and have caused harbor closures in Tennessee, Missouri, Arkansas and Mississippi.

According to the report, 2012 natural disasters (not including wildfires or drought) have caused $22 billion in insured losses and more than 220 deaths as of August. The full cost of 2012’s extreme weather events isn’t yet known, but it’s expected to rival 2011’s record-breaking $55 billion.

The document outlines what scientists following the link between extreme weather and climate change have been saying for years: more carbon pollution adds extra energy in the atmosphere, thus warming the planet and making extreme weather events more likely.

Read the full report here.

So what came into my in-box?  An announcement from The Climate Reality Project: 24 HOURS OF REALITY: The Dirty Weather Report.

NOVEMBER 14-15, 2012

A lot can change in a day. This November 14, we hope you can help us make big change happen.

Join The Climate Reality Project for 24 Hours of Reality: The Dirty Weather Report. This will be our second annual, online event showing how global climate change is connected to the extreme weather we experience in our daily lives. The entire 24-hour event will be broadcast live over the Internet.

We’ll move between our home studio in New York City and into each region of the world, bringing voices, news and multimedia content across all 24 time zones. We’ll feature videos from around the globe, man-on-the-street reports, music, and most importantly, stories from communities moving forward with solutions.

Most of all, we’ll generate new energy and urgency around the fact that we must — and we can — work together to address the climate crisis.

GET INVOLVED

Sign up today to be a part of the global community taking part in 24 Hours of RealityRSVP on Facebook. Share this event with your friends. Submit your own video about the impacts of climate change where you live. And keep checking this page: We’ll post further details as the event draws closer.

Millions of people around the world know that the weather, their climate is changing.  But if you can take some more powerful evidence of just how it’s all changing then go and read a recent report on the Grist website, entitled ‘Deadly connection: New report on extreme weather and climate change’

So one more video to close.