Please bear with the training pilots

I feel I have to add comment to the letters of Mr. Manuel Erickson and Ms. Bernice Ramsdin.

I feel I have to add comment to the letters of Mr. Manuel Erickson and Ms. Bernice Ramsdin. She is quite right, in spite of what Mr. Erickson says, about small aircraft over Chemainus. They are there and they are noisy.

What the lady needs to know is that almost all the cutting out and revving up of these machines is part of a practice manoeuvre called “stall and recovery”. Flying in the forested mountains of B.C. is a dangerous business and all pilots have to learn all they can about keeping their machine in the air. The stall and recovery manoeuvre is an essential skill that all pilots must know to the level that it is instinctive. The exercise involves slowing the aircraft to the point that it stops flying and starts to fall. That is the “stall”.

The recovery from the stall is achieved by restoring airspeed; that is to say starting the engine again and gaining enough speed so that the plane flies again; thus the irritating roar of the engine.

When this is done there is always the risk that the engine does not re-start and the plane continues in the stall until it hits the earth. No pilot wants that. It happened to me many years ago and, back at base, taking the heads of wheat out of the engine cowling is a sombre experience.

The probability of this happening is very real so the trainees and their instructors like to have open ground below themselves when doing it. This is the source of the conflict. Fifteen acres of tree-free ground in this forested island invites all aircraft to do this manoeuvre over it. Sadly, open ground is usually found near town sites and therein lies the conflict.

Now, I would beg you Ms. Ramsdin to bear with these trainees for they will become the bush pilots of the future. It is to the likes of them that I owe my life. In 1959 I was the passenger in a helicopter that crashed and caught fire, with me trapped inside, 60 miles from the Arctic Ocean. It was bush pilots like the ones who anger you now, that flew me, in a variety of different aircraft, 2,432 miles to hospital in Edmonton.

Please Ms. Ramsdin, bear with the irritation, for a lot of people owe their lives to these brave men that fly, by the hour, over treacherous ground to help people like myself.

There is one thing you might try and that is to write to the secretary of the Victoria Flying Club with a request that they do their training over Porter’s meadow or over the fields west of Russell’s where there are a lot of open areas and very few people.

To complete the plea I have to add that a false landing into the sea is to invite almost certain death.


Fergus Anderson