Etienne H. Sepulchre (a.k.a. “Steve”)
I have had a lifelong interest in aviation. I first soloed in a glider at age 16, and held a commercial pilot’s license for 24 years. I have also worked extensively on civil aviation regulations as a legal drafter and editor.
In 1978, two years after getting my commercial license, I completed multi-engine IFR training at Dorval airport (Province of Quebec) on a lovely and well maintained Piper Apache. A sweetheart of an aeroplane!
Soon after, while working for Transport Canada, I took the King Air 90 ground school followed by about 30 hours of 3-axis King Air simulator training. Part of the King Air simulator flying was to participate in the “BilCom Study”, an extensive experimentation by Transport Canada to test the safety and feasibility of bilingual ATC communications under IFR in congested areas.
Going back in time, I started flying at the age of 16, thanks the ”Aéroclub Royal de Belgique“ and the Belgian Military who jointly ran a glider training camp in St. Hubert (Belgium). I am proud to have soloed in a glider in July 1969, the same month and year the first human being, Neil Armstrong, walked on the surface of the moon, a much greater accomplishment of course.
The rest of my fixed-wing flying training and experience was mostly in Canada. Flying has been an immense source of joy and learning opportunities, even on those hot, muggy and bumpy summer days when I would fly skydivers from dawn to dusk.
There was also other aerial work now and then, such as aerial photography, glider-towing, ferrying aeroplanes, etc.
A comment on aviation safety: after scoring quite well on my Private Pilot written examination at the Thunder Bay Flying Club in 1972, the CFI, a wise older person, called me in his office to congratulate me and also to offer theses priceless words of advice: “Remember, Steve, those few questions on the exam that you did not answer correctly could very well kill you and your passengers some day.” What a wake-up call! From then on, it was more than clear to me that I would never know enough about flying and so I kept my ears and eyes constantly tuned to any useful safety info over the years.
Learning more about Civil Aviation from a desk job: Working first as a translator and then as as a Regulatory Advisor with Transport Canada’s Civil Aviation inspectors and Airworthiness engineers was also one the greatest pleasures of being involved in Civil Aviation. I learned so much from them! These folks are walking encyclopedias on Civil Aviation matters, with an eye for details.
Wrapping it up: After some 1,100 hours or so of accident-free flying and a couple of close calls, I stopped flying completely when our only son was born nearly ten years ago. Ever since I’ve been earthbound, except as an airline passenger.
It wasn’t too long though after I stopped flying real aeroplanes that I became an R/C pilot. The world of remote controlled aircraft, “R/C Flight”, is a wonderful place to meet dedicated and skillful people, especially those who build advanced R/C aeroplanes and helicopters “from sticks”, as the expression goes. For lack of time, patience or skill, or all three, I stuck to RTF (ready-to-fly) or ARF (almost-ready-to-fly) aeroplanes and helicopters.
Sometime soon, I will write a posting on the mind switch involved in flying an aircraft from the pilot’s seat to flying a remote controlled one from a stationary position on the ground. Such a mental switch is not unlike transitioning from VFR to IFR flying.
Civil Aviation remains a major source of interest for me. Keeping up with commercial Civil Aviation matters from the sidelines isn’t easy but I do find the hangar-talk, reading and research personally rewarding.
It is my hope that readers of this blog will also find the same satisfaction in visiting CivAv.com as I have in posting here.