Monthly Archives: June 2012

Flying training: Day 9

Towards the RA-Aus Pilot Certificate: @ruralflyingdoc

Day 9

Motor/Sail on in

Once again the sun clambered its way up and over the southern Flinders Ranges and the day had come for my last three ground exams. I checked out of the John Pirie Motor Inn thinking that they had possibly chosen the wrong form of transport for their sign (right). Perhaps a fully sick VN Commodore (WARNING: link contains strong language and bogan activity) would be more appropriate for this town. In fact the boat was the ‘John Pirie,’ which was the first vessel to navigate the creek running next to the town, now full of lead. But history aside, it was time to head to the airport. But first a quick detour to the local golden arches. I picked up a trio of coffees and hash browns for Earl, myself and Col. It seemed a little hypocritical negotiating the drive-thru at McDonalds after re-learning about the causes of heart disease as part of the Human Performance Factors (HPF) exam. The study material for this particular exam comprised a 132-page booklet that was more complicated than Boron’s Medical Physiology. Amongst the heavily worded text were some gem phrases (italics, bolding and brackets are all directly copied from the book):

  • “Heart disease can lead to loss of licence (or worse!)”
  • “Pregnant women (pilots) should check with their doctor when to cease flying”
  • “Gastro-intestinal problems are the most common cause of total pilot incapacitation
  • “Fatty and other gas forming foods (e.g., cabbage, ‘baked beans’) should be avoided when flying as they can cause indigestion”

I reckon gas-forming foods should be avoided in ANY small enclosed space shared with other people, as they can produce total incapacitating flatulence. In all seriousness though, there might well be scope for this part of the RA-Aus ground based theory to be updated or at least re-written in a simpler style. When time permits, I’m hoping to email the authors and see if they’d like a quick edit, so watch this space. Overly complex medical questions aside, I passed the Radio, Air Legislation and HPF exams. Again this was better than most of my medical exams at 100%, 82% and 92% respectively. While doing these MCQ’s in the office, Earl had left his VHF handheld radio on. I was nice to hear the radio calls from the first student of the day flying around the circuit.

Jabba not keen to be retrieved just yet

Just as I’d finished the HPF exam though, there was a different callsign on the radio. “Foxtrot Victor Echo, a PC-12” (VH-FVE) was inbound. Another RFDS plane. As Jabba was downwind on runway 17, the big turboprob ducked in for a short final approach for runway 26. Being out at Wudinna, there’d been plenty of opportunity to meet some of the RFDS pilots and nurses as we flew out sick patients. It was always nice to head out and say g’day. But when the door opened up two red jumpsuited figures popped out. It was a MedStar retrieval. But the SAAS ambulance or taxi hadn’t showed up to take them to the hospital yet! So I introduced myself and offered them a lift in my station wagon if their ride didn’t rock up in the next few minutes. Turns out that’s what happened and all of the medical supplies were bundled into the back of the Subaru Outback on the 10-minute trip to Port Pirie Hospital. They told me that the patient was a teenager who had been having convulsions and deranged LFTs, possibly post exam stress like me. By the time I got back Earl had finished with the next student and was getting through that mornings Sudoku. He was so confident, he was using a pen…no turning back there.

Insanity wolf prefers cryptic crosswords

Then it was my turn for some more emergency procedure training. Day 7 was the first taste of immediate forced landing practice in the event of engine failure. Today we would cover what to do if the engine was running rough, the weather closed in or someone on the plane became acutely ill (i.e. total incapacitation due to baked bean gas for example). That is, making a precautionary search and landing. Being able to chose and inspect an unprepared field before landing on it. After choosing the field and going through landing checks, an urgency call was made (similar to the distress call, but instead of mayday it’s: Pan-pan, pan-pan, pan-pan). ‘Panne’ is the French word for a mechanical failure or breakdown of any kind, fortunately it’s not derived from the Italian language:

“Bread-bread, bread-bread, bread-bread. Jabiru 7265 is suffering acute carbohydrate overload….”

 Following the distress call and choosing your field, a quick mnemonic was used to help assess the suitability of your landing area and direction. WOSSSSS:

  • Wind (try land into wind)
  • Obstacles (trees, powerlines, livestock)
  • Size and shape of field
  • Surface and slope
  • ‘Shoots’ (undershoots and overshoots, ie space before and after the landing)
  • Sun (position relative to final approach planned)
  • Si(c)ivilisation (proximity for assistance after landing)

It was nice to know that there is a good way to remember such an important checklist, but also that it wasn’t just the medical field that shoehorns in a word without the right letter at the end of mnemonic phrases. The six F’s of a distended abdomen anyone? Fat, Faeces, Flatus, Foetus, Fluid, F%#$-off tumour. Similar to glide approaches, the flying involved with precautionary search and landing was enormously satisfying. The idea was to fly a couple of 500 foot circuits (they are usually at 1000 feet) and to inspect a field (for me, between Port Broughton and Pirie) at lower and lower altitudes. First pass was conducted at 500 ft, then 200 and finally 50 ft. It was great zooming down that low and turning to line up with a field that you’d chosen much higher. When it came time to practice the landing, Earl would let me get ever so close to the paddock before saying “go around.” Straight away it was full throttle on and a quick climb away from the hard, scary ground. There were times when I thought he might have actually let me land!! When we arrived back over the airport, I went and filled up the fuel tanks at the bowser. Earl gave me the swipe card to use and after Jabba was topped up I popped the card in my pocket and brought him back to the main apron.

Been through the wash one too many times

Before the day’s flying was over, we had time to practise a few crosswind landings now that a nice breeze had blown up. The idea was to point the plane into the wind on final approach and ‘crab’ down to landing. This meant flying a bit sideways, which was fun. What wasn’t fun was then straightening the plane up and stopping it from drifting across the runway. For this, lots of rudder and aileron input was needed. The rudder used to straighten up and wing held down into the side of wind. I found it pretty difficult transitioning to the straight flying while at the same time holding the plane off and letting it land. It was kind of like patting your head, rubbing your tummy and filling out Sudoku with your foot. Mixed in with this was making the radio calls around the circuit, which was at 500 ft! It made for a very busy cockpit and my radio calls were a lot quicker as a result:

After the crosswind troubles, we called it a day and went back to the office to go over the movements of the plane at the transition point using a model (above). A few days later waiting for a plane at Port Lincoln, I found a very old and hokey, but informative video explaining crosswind landing techniques (below). It seems that most of my learning and thinking about these sort of skills happen after I have been flying, so that next time is all about consolidation and putting it into practice.

A potential cause for total pilot incapacitation?

Then came the long drive back to Wudinna. On the way, the Outback needed some petrol at Port Augusta and I thought that I would fill the stomach as well. To ease the gastronomic complaints, Shell had a Chiko offer too good to refuse. However, when I pulled out my EFTPOS card to pay, I noticed an extra card in my pocket. Of course I had forgotten to give back the Port Pirie fuel card from earlier in the day. I called Earl straight away and offered to drive the 2 hour round trip to drop it off. But he said to check it in the mail and that they could do without it for the next few days. Perhaps they could siphon some gas from the other planes in the hangar?! When I got back to Wudinna, I told Scott what had happened. With his newly renewed night VFR rating and a beautiful clear night, what else were we going to do? Post it back? Pish posh. So the next evening after a day of consulting, we jumped in the RV-6A and shot across to Port Pirie on an inky black night. Highlights along the way included lighting up Kimbas pilot activated lighting (PAL), flares being set off in the Cultana Army training area and me asking what would happen with an engine failure in the dark over scrubby terrain. The answer was similar to Earl’s theory for car warning lights. “When you are coming close to touchdown, turn the landing lights on. If you don’t like what you see….turn them back off.” Earl met us at Pirie (although he wanted to say “welcome to Portland” to confuse us) and stole the card back after we fuelled up using it. The cost would be added to my next lesson, which was fine by me given the great experience. Flying at night was very peaceful, simply watching the GPS count down the nautical miles back to Wudinna (where my next day of training was going to be while Earl was across for some other students).

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

What’s in a name?

“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet.”

– Juliet, from William Shakespeare’s ‘Romeo and Juliet’

I wonder if the Bard ever had the same problem? I wonder if anyone suffers my pain? I really should have seen it coming. As soon one starts a full-time job and start earning an income, mail tends to start flowing in more and more. I suppose with a profession like medicine, you would also expect to get a higher quantity too. What with the extra subscriptions, drug company letters, results, specialist replies, of course there would be abundantly more scope for your name to be misspelt. Now if you are from Poland, Wales or even Uzbekistan, I would grant you a few wrong names on letters.

Mispelleth thine nom

But I thought that ‘Considine’ would be safe. It is an old Irish surname from the County Clare region of western Ireland. Yes that is the same Irish surname that the actor Paddy goes by. The actor who gets shot at the train station in Bourne Ultimatum and plays my favourite character in Hot Fuzz (pretty much just for this one shot). A brief history of my family if you will allow. The clan came to Australia in the 1850s looking for gold. Evidently they didn’t find any or spent it all before we got the rewards. The line that I descend from, made its way to northern Victoria with my great-grandfather working on the railroads around Wycheprrof and Birchip. My grandfather lived in the outer eastern suburbs of Melbourne and played cricket for Victoria and football for the Hawks. Since then our family lived in the Croydon area. Having since moved to South Australia and studying in Adelaide, I’ve been asked if I am related to the Mount Gambier Considines. Im guessing that from Ballarat in the gold rush days, half went east and the other half west. Good choice forebears, I couldn’t imagine following the Crows. Collingwood? Much better.

Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaanyway. Gerard Considine. Not a hard one to stuff up you’d think. Yes, yes, its true I tend to go by ‘Gerry’ so that I avoid the Gerard Depardieu pronunciation. But I have found that Gerry can be mistaken for the USA spelling (Springer/Seinfeld) or WW2 era German derogatory term (side note, I like on the wiki page that they point out that ‘Rhine Monkey’ is an offensive way of referring to one from German extraction). Since starting general practice training however, I have had all sorts of spellings of my name across my desk. Some understandable, some bizarre, some even gender confused. Friends on Facebook can’t believe that any of them are true.

Listed for you now are each of these. And under each grand example of my name in all kinds of permutations, you will find some of the comments that have been posted on the old Facebook with each pic. And to think, it all started with Australian Prescriber in 2011…..


The next was the first of 2012 and has probably been the worst spelling of my name yet. Granted, it was from the Insure FOBT kits.

AND NOT ONCE, BUT TWICE….COME ON INSURE!! DO YOU WANT GERALD TO SEND YOU A LETTER????! (at least they are getting a little closer…)

“foreign work experience kid.”

“they spelt Dr correctly!”


The next was a faulty caption from IMVS, apparently this happens to other people as well.

“Hahaha!!! Oh that is GOLD!!”

“Pffft don’t try to cover ur sexy alter ego. We now know the truth Geraldine.”

“I told you the heels would cause confusion!”

“That Is my friends name! And she is also dr! Why are you getting her mail?” “Its not her mail Britt, they are my patients!”


Seems as though radiology firms are jumping on the bandwagon too


A random email one morning in 2012, didn’t have the heart to reply to say that my parents were in Year 2 in 1968….

“Youre aging well dude!”

“Wow! This name thing is hilarious!!”

“Awww little Norma thought she found a long lost friend :(”

“Ba ha ha.. If you’re actually Geraldine that answers a few questions.. Ha ha ha.. Gold.”

“Lol these are just so funny Gerry/Geraldine!”

“Aw you found a friend! 😉 embrace the Geraldine!”


Again this next one was understandable being a specialist reply letter from Whyalla:

“Your name seriously gets messed up a lot! That’s crazy!”

“You need to start an album called “mail for Gerry” and post all these in there. It will be an internet phenominon”

“Dr Geraldo Constantine, Doctor of subwoofers and burnouts…”

“If you are fully sick, visit Dr. G. Constantine. He will set you right mate.”

“I saw an obit in the Chiacgo paper for Mrs Geraldine Considine today. Now you’re dead , too”

“Getting closer?”

“Precisely HOW HARD is your name?? It’s not like it’s from a country where vowels have been outlawed due to communism!!”

“Thats hilarious,how long will this go on?”

“Gerry, I can’t get enough of this, keep it coming! I get excited every time you post a new one just to see what it says!”

“What’s the address of that PO box? I need to send a postcard to Jerry Cansidyne”


Then came the clincher. Even the practice that I had been working in for 4 months couldn’t get it right…..

“Really? Oh dear..”


“Jerry, Jerry, Jerry”

…..lucky that it was so easily fixed.


In mid 2012, I thought we’d finally broken through to the masses. My name was right. Tick. Address were correct. Tick. Now to the greeting, oh……wait…

“I have never really thought it would be so hard to get your name right!”

“it never gets old, I still laugh just as much every time haha”


Ahhh Adelaide Pathology Partners….please step in, join the club!


Even the place that I spent my first 2 years as a doctor (and department that hosted my first intern placement) gets my name wrong….for shame SCOOP program


And so it continues, this one in mid August 2012 from a Royal Adelaide Hospital ACAT letter:




Of course these are deliberate, still makes the post office in Wudinna wonder about how well my family knows me:

My sister, Kathryn

My own mother has been caught up in the excitement and submitted her own take on this sad state of affairs:

This last one will stay at the bottom of the page. Not because it is the worst spelling of Considine. Not because it is the most recent. And not even because its written in terrible, terrible (looks like a chicken has walked through it) scrawly handwriting. It is because this Express Post envelope was mailed by my very own Dad. Unfortunately no wikipedia page for him yet. Plus it looks as though he actually was going to misspell ‘Gerard’ even without trying. Cheers Tim!









Leave a comment

Filed under Humour

Flying training: Day 8

Towards the RA-Aus Pilot Certificate: @ruralflyingdoc

Day 7


A lovely Mid North morning greeted me as I walked out of one of the John Pirie Motor Inn suites to my car. With little cloud cover, it had been an absolutely freezing night. So much so that some of the dew had frozen across my windscreen. But this wasn’t the only issue with the ol’ Subaru Outback. As I turned the ignition, the warning lights flashed on and disappeared one by one. All but three! A quick trip to the glovebox produced the car manual. Perhaps the second time that I had consulted this reference, the first being when I couldn’t find the windscreen spray button (the same person learning to fly a plane, scary I know). It turned out that the warning lights were indicating issues with the exhaust system, traction control and cruise functions. The first two depicted by rather cryptic pictures, the latter represented by a helpful big green ‘CRUISE.’ No guessing there. Being at least 300 km from the closest Subaru dealer I decided to drive to the airport and worry about it later. Hopefully Jabba wouldn’t have such warning light issues. I met Earl outside the hangar and told him about my car trouble as we checked over the little Jabiru. He explained that such warning lights were easily fixed. You need to find and remove the little light responsible. But what about when the engine starts coughing and spluttering halfway between Iron Knob and Kimba? (i.e. middle of nowhere). That was also simply solved he reckoned: just turn up the radio louder (the same person teaching me to fly, scary I know).

All aboard the Donor-cycle

When we brought Jabba around to park on the apron next to the flying school ‘hut,’ I realised that it would not just be me doing practice circuits. The tarmac next to the airport also doubled on Saturdays as a motorbike training centre. The Rider Safe program aims to teach basic skills to novice bike riders, or as I have heard them called ‘temporary Australians.’ It was quite entertaining watching the newbies taking off too quickly or standing on the front bakes. Conversely, I’m sure they’d have a good chuckle and some of the bounces or float landings that I’d been guilty of. Before getting back out to such flying capers it was unfortunately time for another exam. This was the Basic Aeronautical Knowledge exam. It contained lovely questions like what distance from clouds do need to stay, which side should you overtake on, what (apart from time for the gym) does the barbell sign on an airfield mean? Again I demonstrated my flair for remembering aviation laws and not medical topics by getting 96%.

Also serve as ballast in the Jabiru

As a prize for my good work, I was able to jump in the plane and practice some glide approaches by myself. Even though I had only been shown these yesterday, Earl had got me to read over the theory in the flight training manual overnight. Now this was real flying! Not just pedestrian circuits around and around. Doing glide approaches meant climbing straight out and turning in a lazy circuit back above the field to pull the throttle right off. From there on you had to judge the glide and land without the benefit of adding or reducing power. It brought a real sense of flying the plane properly and I suspect that being in proper gliders gives you the same feeling. After an hour of this no-power joy it was time to return gently to solid ground and have some lunch. Subway seemed like a good idea, so I tried the trick of calling ahead and pick up. This time, unlike Day 3, I made sure that the right restaurant had been called. Once lunch was all squared away, Earl gave me a briefing for the afternoon flying session. I was going to head out solo to the west and practice some forced landings onto the salt lakes. He also said to throw in some medium level turns for good measure. For a third time, I had the greatest feeling of freedom taking off and flying off to the west of the airport. Even though I was limited to the training area which covered a good few nautical miles, there was a huge sense of independence. Again it was analogous to getting your drivers licence and heading out wherever you wanted. Then comes the point where you paint a big stripe on it and chuck a subwoofer with down lights in the back, or maybe that’s still just for cars pulling ‘Chap laps’ (the Melbourne version of chucking a ‘Mainey’). Soon enough it was time to pop Jabba back in the hangar and put away a few more ankle juices.

Everyone is soft when scraped off the bitumen

Thankfully I drove off just before the mining charter plane touched down and rush hour from the airport was on. One black Commodore still managed to catch up doing 140 km/h and overtaking me on double lines in an 80 zone. The number plate said it all. I was lucky to catch up with some great friends at Sporty’s Tavern for a counter meal and laugh at the locals. Unfortunately the change from dinner didn’t return any dividends on the pokies, but at least the kids where well behaved. We finished off the night with a coffee at Portside Tavern with a very different (and smaller) crowd from the night before. Being a country town, I even spotted the young fella who had gone for his first flight the day before with a face still like the Cheshire Cat. Another few hours of studying was crammed in, as the last three ground exams would be upon me in the morning.

Preferably strapped to their chairs

Leave a comment

Filed under Aviation, RA-Aus