Snowbird Down

We’re all pretty shook up by the crash of a CT-114 Tutor aircraft of the Snowbirds, the Royal Canadian Air Force’s demonstration team, yesterday morning. The day before we had gathered with neighbors (at an appropriate social distance, of course) outside and watched with delight as they flew several passes over the city in formation. The news the next morning was heartbreaking.

From watching the multiple videos posted on Twitter, it seems likely that the accident aircraft experienced a loss of power shortly after takeoff. As trained, pilot pitches up to trade airspeed for altitude to gain time and space to eject. So far so good. Then the pilot begins a left turn. Now pilots are trained to fly straight ahead if an engine fails on takeoff, because trying to turn around at low speed without power risks a stall, spin, and crash. However, the Kamloops airport is to the west of the city, and the planes were taking off toward the east. So I think it’s likely the pilot was trying to turn away from the more populated areas so that he could eject without the plane crashing on people.

The CT-114 Tutor has a very low stall speed for a jet, but in a nose-high turn, the speed at which it will stall increases. The next thing we see is the left wing stall and the aircraft enter a spin. An aerodynamic stall means that the airflow over the wing is at too low a speed or too high an angle to sustain lift, and the wing drops abruptly. When an aircraft is turning, the wing on the inside of the turn can stall before the other, and thus send the aircraft into a spin. This is what we see in the video: the left wing drops, and the plane spins for one revolution. The pilot then recovers from the spin nicely, gains control of the aircraft, but now he has no more altitude left. The aircraft is too low and in too steep a dive to pull out. So the pilot and passenger eject. Modern ejection seats have the ability to steer the rockets that propel the seat toward the zenith, so there is as much altitude as possible for parachutes to open. From a quick Google I can’t find the exact model of seat that the CT-114 uses, but from the video it doesn’t look like the seats changed direction after ejection; they shoot out horizontally. That, coupled with the downward momentum of the aircraft, meant that there was hardly any time for the occupants’ parachutes to open. You can’t see the chutes in the video, but from pictures of emergency services treating the pilot, Captain Richard MacDougall, on the roof of the house he landed on, it seems his chute opened at least enough to save his life. From eyewitness accounts it seems that the passenger, Captain Jenn Casey, hit a tree and was fatally injured. If there had been enough altitude for the chutes to open fully, she could have steered to a safe landing spot.

The aircraft crashed in the front yard of a house and slid into it, catching it on fire, but the occupants were not injured.

I can imagine the view from the cockpit during that flight — I’ve been flying a plane, pitched up until it stalled, then kicked the rudder to send it into a spin. The world turns round and round, you push forward and step on the opposite rudder, and then you pull out of the dive. The difference is that I was doing it at 4,000 feet, and had plenty of time to recover.

Rest in peace, Captain Casey. You and your team were trying to bring a bit of delight into our lives in a difficult time.

New PGP Key

-----BEGIN PGP SIGNED MESSAGE-----
Hash: SHA512,SHA1

I am transitioning GPG keys from an old 1024-bit DSA key to a new
4096-bit RSA key.  The old key will continue to be valid for some time,
but I prefer all new correspondance to be encrypted in the new key, and
will be making all signatures going forward with the new key.

This transition document is signed with both keys to validate the
transition.

If you have signed my old key, I would appreciate signatures on my new
key as well, provided that your signing policy permits that without
reauthenticating me.

The old key, which I am transitioning away from, is:

  pub   dsa1024 2000-01-28 [SCA]
      7698 88C0 235A 8A75 08BB  A531 06FF 7498 22EE E656
  uid           [ultimate] Gordon Tisher 

The new key, to which I am transitioning, is:

  pub   rsa4096 2019-01-10 [SC] [expires: 2024-01-09]
      5D34 26DA 8064 4A97 31AB  73B3 ADF3 B003 07F6 ACFA
  uid           [ultimate] Gordon Tisher 


To fetch the full new key from a public key server using GnuPG, run:

  gpg --keyserver keys.gnupg.net --recv-key 5D3426DA80644A9731AB73B3ADF3B00307F6ACFA

If you have already validated my old key, you can then validate that the
new key is signed by my old key:

  gpg --check-sigs 5D3426DA80644A9731AB73B3ADF3B00307F6ACFA

If you then want to sign my new key, a simple and safe way to do that is
by using caff (shipped in Debian as part of the "signing-party" package)
as follows:

  caff 5D3426DA80644A9731AB73B3ADF3B00307F6ACFA

Please contact me via e-mail at  if you have any
questions about this document or this transition.

Gordon Tisher
gordon@balafon.net
2019-01-10
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1sLJWRLjcPaOqCW7D4c/44UASUAykwB66e0slsp/rdmtX0MhcmAmNIqZMSM+THc0
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NtVqFjiOKRFkHJNlSS8bUde6OGkciKCJ26uaMIWJg3iyLDypkROkwxJfD/o185+B
dIawTBCpGjQJPB+2jx/g7w0ixtLqBs4pB4vG6XXc1tcyzs7Elh5XkLpTuZVBQCU9
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ZPbxA9HWq27beG1LvbvjAKCGmH8zMNBJ8i7Va/gvFD+v6cQ7nQ==
=W+Np
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Januaro 2018

Nu, mi tute ne plenumis mian resolucion skribi ĉiutage dum Januaro. Tamen mi priskribos la aferojn de la monato.

Post novjara ferio mi revenis al mia nova laborejo, kaj daure programumis tie. La etoso en la oficejo ankoraŭ agrablas, kaj mi ĝuas paroli kaj labori kun miaj kolegoj.

Mi pasis unu tagon en malsanejo, bedaŭrinde, pro malofta atria fibrilacio. La kuracistoj devis ŝoki mian koron por reagordiĝi ĝin. Tia epizodo okazis naŭ- aŭ dek-foje dum la lastaj dudek jaroj, do estas iome rutina. Tamen estas zorgiga je mia edzino.

Sed nun ĉiu fartas bone.

Novjara Resolucio

Kiel novjara resolucio, mi volus skribi ĉiutage pri la okazaĵoj de la tago. Mi komencos hodiaŭ por ekzerci. Ĝis nun mi neniam kapablis verki taglibron. Tamen mi provos.

Hodiaŭ mi reportis du kaviojn al la bestoŝirmo, de kie ni “adoptis” ilin antaŭ kelkaj tagoj. Dum longa tempo mi volis adopti etan beston, por ke la infanoj lernu kunvivi kaj interagi kun bestojn. Mian filiĉon teruras etaj bestoj kiel katoj kaj hundoj, do mi volas ke li alkutimiĝu pri ilin. Sed mia edzino allergiĝas je katoj, kaj mia filino allergiĝas je hundoj. Do ni adoptis du kaviojn. Ni aĉetis kaĝon kaj meblojn kaj nutraĵojn. La precipa manĝaĵo de kavioj estas fojno. Do ni aĉetis grandan blokon da fojno.

Do kompreneble dum la du lastaj tagoj ni malkovris, ke mi mem allergiĝas je fojno.

La filino kaj la filiĉo ploris, sed ili komprenis, ke ni ne plu povus restigi la kaviojn. Mi reportis ilin, kaj donis la meblojn ktp al la bestoŝirmo.

Poste ni renkontis mian bopatrinon por manĝi suŝion, kaj post manĝi ni iris al butikaro por aĉeti hartondon por la filiĉo. En la butikaro estis eta karuselo, kiun la infanoj, post longa petado, rajtis rajdi.

Sekve hejmen por vespermanĝo, filmo, kaj lito.