Aviation In Canada

Monday, May 02, 2005


Here we are, in the first part of May. That month where the VFR pilots tend to come out of the woodwork for the summer and fall seasons. The month where the weather tends to become a little more predictable and warmer. The month where aircraft owners tend to begin venturing out for their vacations. Each of these, from an ATC vantage point, increases the workload dramatically, but for the better, overall.

We tend to get busier, but at the same time we tend to see more interesting stuff. The stuff experience is built from. Pilots doing different things, quite possibly brought our way from their home area. Things they were taught that work wherever they're from that just find it a little harder to integrate up here. But mostly, those pilots who feel it unnecessary to bring charts from the local area with them. You know, that extra $15 dollars is just too much to spend. Or the IFR pilot vacationing who won't buy a copy of approach plates, either, hoping for good weather or hoping ATC won't mind giving him the necessities of the approach. Or even hoping for a radar vector to final, wherever he goes. It's neat to hear the surprise in a pilot's voice when you tell him you won't be able to vector him to final since you can't see below 8,000 feet over his destination airport. (I say, "neat", hoping you'll appreciate the frustration we feel and the time it takes from ohter control duties.)

I recognize that the radar covergage isn't indicated on a chart, but many other useful items are. Restricted airspace, busier corridors. Terrain and obstructions. Large bodies of water. The more aircraft that are equipped with GPS (or even handheld units), the more pilots decide they don't need charts. What about a failure of the GPS unit? What do you do then? What if you're in an area wihtout radar coverage and nobody can see you? Would you even know who to call without the charts you should have brought?

"Be prepared" never meant anything to me as a boy scout. I try my hardest to think of everything now. I also consider the fact that I'm ignorant enough not to think of everything, and try to compensate for that, too, as much as I can by bringing what I can that can be modified. Hardly a Macgyver in reality. But we do what we can.