Flying over Reykjavik in a PA28

Flying over Reykjavik in a PA28

This is a continuation of my multi-part series on learning to fly. You can read the whole Fly With Francis series here.

The flying weather continues to be dismal in Seattle – I’ve lost track at how many training flights have been canceled due to low ceilings, low visibility, potential icing, etc. – I stopped counting after 14. Even by Seattle standards, we’ve had an exceptional stretch of bad weather this winter.

However, during a recent trip to Iceland with Icelandair (watch for upcoming stories about their maintenance operations, fleet and route plans, plus an economy-class flight review), a series of fortuitous introductions led to my being able to do something I’d only dreamt of – fly in Iceland.

That experience more than made up for all the weather-based frustration with my stalled Seattle flight training.

The Piper PA-28-151 Cherokee Warrior we flew that day

The Piper PA-28-151 Cherokee Warrior we flew that day

After a series of technical and weather delays, Boeing's 777X finally took off for it's inaugural flight at 10:09 a.m. on Saturday, Jan. 25, 2020

After a series of technical and weather delays, Boeing’s 777X finally took off for its inaugural flight at 10:09 a.m. on Saturday, Jan. 25, 2020

Things in the world of Boeing haven’t been going so great lately and the company needed a win. A few weeks ago, on a cloudy Saturday, there was finally something for the airplane manufacturer to cheer about: The Boeing 777-9 took off from Paine Field in Everett, Wash., on its inaugural test flight. Once airborne, one of the two pilots reported, “All flight controls are good. Very solid.” A crowd of two hundred or so stood in awe as the big bird took off, then erupted in applause, high-fives, and hugs. For many, the excitement might have been as much about the new aircraft as it was for the company itself.

Boeing's 777X taxies out on Friday, Jan. 24, for what would be five hours on the taxiway before the attempt was scrubbed due to poor weather

Boeing’s 777X taxies out on Friday, Jan. 24, for what would be five hours on the taxiway before the attempt was scrubbed due to poor weather

“This major milestone for the #777X airplane program begins the next critical phase of testing as we work towards certification and then delivery to customers in 2021,” Boeing tweeted after takeoff. And thus began what is hopefully a more positive direction for the Chicago-based company.

Up close with the A220

C-GROV, the first A220-300 operated by Air Canada – Photo: John Jamieson

On January 15th, North America’s fifth-largest airline became the newest operator of the Airbus A220. At Air Canada’s headquarters in Montreal, Fin 101 (C-GROV) was unveiled to employees, honored guests, and members of the media. Over the course of the event, we were able to go onboard the aircraft and take in the A220’s unique features. We also managed to interview Mark Galardo, Air Canada’s VP Network Planning.

With the focus of the event firmly on the aircraft (as opposed to a new destination), we’ve focused our analysis on the physical benefits. That said, we’ll have a thorough examination of the aircraft’s operational benefits, and our interview, in a future post. For now, follow along as we cover Fin 101 from nose to tail and explore every inch of Canada’s newest clean-sheet aircraft.

The sun sets over Abbotsford International Airport – Photo: Matthew Chasmar

It’s been Canada’s National Airshow. It’s hosted such legendary aircraft as the An-124 and SR-71 Blackbird. For years, it’s been the Canadian West Coast’s airshow. It’s the Abbotsford International Airshow, now in its 47th year, and it’s as impressive as ever. I’d been to Abbotsford many times before, and this year I tried something a bit different – I went to the Twilight Show. For those who don’t know, this is a Friday night show held before the full two-day airshow. This idea wasn’t my first instinct; after all, less airshow = less fun, right? But the Twilight show still managed to impress and is an excellent alternative to a full day at the airshow.