Disclaimer: I was reluctant to report on this, because I’m absolutely awful with people’s names, and not much better with faces (sorry David). Plus there is the problem that as well as names, there are people’s blog names, and the fact that some of these people don’t want their names appearing in public in anyway associated with their blog names, and keeping track of what details of their real lives shouldn’t be associated with their blog names, and you can see why I was hoping somebody else would write this up. But nobody has, so here I am.
I read a lot of blogs, and many of them are by other pilots. A few months ago, one of those pilots had the great idea that we should all get together to shoot the shit and talk about flying. And thus was born the idea of Pilot Blogging World. We decided to have our first get-together in Toronto, because that was sort of the center of gravity of the people most interested in going to the first one. The hope was (and is) that its success would lead to further get-togethers in places more convenient to some of the other pilot-bloggers.
This past weekend was the first one, and from my perspective, it was a success. Not a huge resounding success, but enough of a success for the first attempt, and definitely something we can grow on in the future. Being pilots, of course our plans were vague and mostly we were prepared to “wing it” (sorry), but it worked out ok.
On Friday afternoon, I flew in to the prettiest airports I’ve ever been to, Toronto City Center (aka “the Island”). I last flew there in 1999, and it hasn’t changed much. The ferry is free now, but you have to board it through a complicated concourse and jetway like they think it’s a much bigger deal that it really is. On the ferry, I met another pilot blogger who had just flown in from Cleveland, “IFR Pilot”. Don’t ask me how I recognized him as a fellow pilot blogger, because I’m not sure.
We walked straight up Bathurst from the ferry dock to my hotel at Bathurst and King, and then along King to the Elephant and Castle. That’s where we met up with our host Blake. Over the course of the evening, people arrived and left, but at various times we had Blake, “Aviatrix” (no, not that one, the other one. No, not her, *her*.), “Sulako”, and others with names I didn’t catch. Lots of really great flying stories, most of which can’t be repeated here because the professional pilots can’t identify who they work for on blogs.
After drinking more beer in one sitting than I normally consume in a year, I staggered back to my hotel, to find that its “free wireless internet” is the worst connectivity in the world. I didn’t try pinging anywhere, but I’d guess on average I was seeing about 70% packet loss. You’d hit refresh on a page and all but one of the images would give a broken icon. Then you’d hit refresh again and it would give you one more image. Then you’d get a “Cannot load the page because you are not connected to the internet”. A few times over the course of the weekend I gave up and started using my Treo to check my email, in spite of the horrendous roaming charges for data in Canada.
The next day, the weather pretty much stank out loud, so we gave up on our two possible entertainments for the day – either a picnic on Center Island, or a flight out to Niagara Falls. So instead we met at the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) and walked around it. That was fun, although I’m not exactly sure what the point of this new carbuncle they’ve grafted on the side of the building is supposed to accomplish because it appears that they have much less exhibit space now than before. Although I kind of like the way the glass in the inclined walls refelcts the street scape. And I really miss the planetarium – when I was a kid in Toronto, that was my favourite part.
David Megginson flew in just to join us for the trip round the ROM and dinner afterwards. That’s where I embarrased myself by not recognizing him at first, even though he was the only one there I’d met before (in 2002 I think). But he was cool with it and we caught up on stuff.
After the ROM, we ran through the rain across the road to a hole-in-the-wall Vietnamese restaurant that was pretty decent and had good sized portions. And it had lots of vegetarian choices for David. Once again, lots of great flying discussion, most of which can’t be published here.
We drove David back to the airport after dinner, as he was eager to get some actual IMC and flew home, and a bunch of us repaired to Sulako’s home in Oakville for beer, snacks, and to check out his Wii and PS2. Just one note for the future: don’t say “oh, it’s too complicated to get to the Gardiner from here, let’s just go along the Lakeshore” just about the time a Junior World Cup game is letting out from Exhibition Stadium. It took us two hours to get to Oakville from the ferry terminal.
The next day we hadn’t made any plans, and the weather still wasn’t great, so I watched a bit of the Tour de France until I was forced to check out of my hotel, and then I walked down to the airport and flew home. I was just starting up when “IFR Pilot” showed up to start pre-flighting his plane too.
It was a nice flight home – in spite of the cruddiness of the weather when you looked straight up from Toronto, once again the weather was better by the lake, and a VFR flight at low altitude around the shore at 3,000 feet was fun and uneventful. I *was* glad that I hadn’t taken my new pain medication, though, because it was quite bumpy and the medication makes me more prone to airsickness.
Bottom line: I hope there is another one. I hope more people come. And I hope the weather cooperates better.