Thursday, November 10, 2016

Getting a Job and Living in Ireland: The Trump Effect

The backlash from Trump’s recent win was anticipated. Yet I’m astounded at the tidal wave of queries I’ve received about working and living in Ireland from American’s who are more than a little perturbed by the election's outcome.

Due to simple demand, I’ve put together a list of rules and websites that should answer a couple of often-asked questions: As an American, can I get a job in Ireland and live there? If so, how do I go about that process?

Before moving to these answers I would encourage any would-be immigrant to pause for a moment, take a deep breath, and reflect on what such a move might entail. Having lived in this country for 34 years now, I will be the first to tell you that an immigrant’s life is hard work. Though the Irish speak English, don’t think for a minute that the culture will be the same as what you experience in Peoria Illinois, Walnut Creek California, or Boston Massachusetts. This is a fascinating country of contradictions: a wonderful people who can still be deeply misunderstood by outsiders simply because you’re not Irish and have not grown up here. Depending on where you live, you might feel the place insular and foreign. Loneliness due to separation from friends and family is common. Making a living here can be difficult even with a good job because taxes are high and the cost of living even higher.

But I make no bones about it: despite the difficulties I’m happy with my life here. Even happier when I think of what may happen to my fellow countrymen and women in Trump’s ‘Great America’. If you’d like to know more about living the life of an immigrant in Ireland you might want to read my book, A Survivor’s Guide to Living in Ireland which gives much deeper insight. 

With that out of the way, let’s move on to the rules for getting a job and residency in this fine country. As I’ve alluded, over the past two days I have seen a spike on this Blog of Americans wishing to move to – and work in – Ireland. For that reason I found it prudent to post this guide. However, first a warning: this is only a guide. Make sure you do your own research for accuracy because employment and residency legislation can change instantly. A good place to start for general information is: http://www.citizensinformation.ie/en/moving_country/moving_to_ireland/working_in_ireland/coming_to_work_in_ireland.html

The Rules
In general, visitors to Ireland are allowed to stay in this country for 90 days. During that time they are not allowed to work. To live and work here for a longer period, there are a number of rules and requirements:

·         For non-EU citizens: Ireland is a member of the European Union. Citizens of EU member states are legally entitled to work and live in Ireland. Non-EU nationals do not have this right and must instead jump through many hoops.

·         If you are a foreign, non-EU student and studying in Ireland on an approved course: you may take up casual work without an employment permit, but only a maximum of 20 hours per week.

·         Working holiday agreements: Ireland has reciprocal agreements with a number of other countries including the United States, allowing non-EU nationals to stay in Ireland for longer than 90 days and work here. To do so you must apply for a Working Holiday Authorization. For more information go to https://www.dfa.ie/travel/visas/working-holiday-visas/

·         If you have Irish ancestry: Ireland has a ‘grandfather’ law. That is, if you can prove that your parents or grandparents were Irish you have the right to Irish citizenship. With citizenship comes the right to live and work in Ireland and anywhere in the EU. For more information go to http://www.citizensinformation.ie/en/moving_country/irish_citizenship/

·         Employment permits: Ireland has 9 types of employment permits. Some allow non-EU nationals to work and live in Ireland: General Employment Permits are usually considered for occupations with an annual remuneration of €30,000 or more. Critical Skills Employment Permits are available in a number of categories. To apply, the prospective employee must have a job offer. Upon receiving a permit your family will usually be eligible to join you. Go to http://www.citizensinformation.ie/en/employment/migrant_workers/employment_permits/green_card_permits.html for more information.

·         Obtaining Irish citizenship through marriage: foreign nationals who are married to Irish citizens can apply for naturalization. For more information go to http://www.citizensinformation.ie/en/moving_country/irish_citizenship/becoming_an_irish_citizen_through_marriage.html

·         Obtaining residency through civil partnership: if you can prove you are in a long-term relationship with an Irish citizen, you are legally allowed to apply for long-term residency.

·         Retired and desiring to reside in Ireland: you may be granted permission to reside in Ireland for the longer-term if you can prove that you have: an annual income equal to €50,000 per annum and; savings equal to the cost of buying a home in Ireland and; comprehensive private Irish-based medical insurance. If you can prove that you will not become a burden to the state you can apply for longer-termed residency. For more information go to http://www.inis.gov.ie/en/INIS/Pages/non-eea-permission.

      Gaining long-term permission to live and work in Ireland if you are not an EU national is tough work but not impossible. If you haven’t been to Ireland make sure you visit first. Check out the place. See if you think you can fit in and survive in Ireland as I have. If your answer is yes, if you are determined and focused, you could well end up living the Irish dream just as I have. I wish you so much luck. 

A Survivor's Guide to Living in Ireland 2015 Kindle Edition Now Available!
If this blog interests you, then you might want to know more about living and working in Ireland. Are you thinking of traveling to Irelandmoving to Irelandworking in Ireland? Do you want to understand what makes the Irish tick, how you can get a job here, and how to survive in this wonderful country? If so, consider purchasing the 2015 Kindle edition of A Survivor's Guide to Living in Ireland. Over 11,000 have already done so! Now over 85,000 words long, this book could make the perfect gift for those interested in this wonderful country. Simply click on any of the above links to purchase the new 2015 Kindle edition. You can also download free apps to read the Kindle version on any PC or Mac. 

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Organic Gardening in Ireland: One Yank's New Life in the Soil

Organic gardening in Ireland has become more and more popular as people look to grow their own vegetables and fruit. Studies show that organically grown food has more minerals and nutrients than food grown with pesticides – and taste better. Growing organically can also cut the cost of food bills while helping to protect the health of those consuming them.

Since relocating to the beauty of West Cork Ireland, this erstwhile Yank has tried his hand at the organic life. Having never before grown a sausage, I’ve put three planters in my small back garden which overlooks the Atlantic, filled ‘em with soil, sewn in a goodly amount of local cattle dung, and prayed. 

The resulting crops of Irish spuds (usually Roosters), onions, strawberries, carrots, lettuces, and rhubarb – though of small quantities – give me immense satisfaction. And what a great result considering I really don’t know what I’m doing.

However, I’ve been in luck. On a recent trip to the United States I happened upon a fellow American who happens to be an expert in organic gardening. D. Keith Crotz, an American living in the great U.S. State of Illinois, has devoted much of his life to this area. With a Botony and History of Science degree from the University of Illinois (Champaign), then Graduate School at Southern Illinois University, Keith first worked as a botanist at one of the world’s greatest museums, Chicago’s Field Museum.

During the late 70’s and early 80s, his interest in growing green was piqued by attending a number of organic farming conferences. After that he started selling garden books, and developed a passion not only for organic growing but also for the preservation of America’s heritage seeds. During that recent stay in America we had the opportunity to chat a bit about the budding organic gardener in all of us – and he proffered a few tips, as well.

“Organic gardening allows the small gardener the opportunity to work with their soil using only those natural materials at hand,” Keith says. “Green manuring and composting are satisfying to the soil – and the soul.”

Keith points out that one of the most difficult disciplines a newbie organic gardener must learn is the art of crop rotation and fallow ground. “It’s important to let a planter and its soil rest,” he explains. “Cover crop the soil and plant Daikon Radish in the Autumn. It’s a natural soil buster that will break down the soil in the garden throughout Fall and Winter. In spring don’t plant anything else for that season but instead let it rest. Or as an alternative, you could plant an annual clover.” 

For those starting out he suggests keeping it simple. “Even a five foot by five foot area will do,” Keith explains. “Start with a tomato plant and a pepper plant. Because you’re in Ireland, do think of a lazy bed for some potatoes. Add a row of green beans, a few lettuces, and maybe some turnips and peas. It’s one of the reasons, I think, that I garden: I get to say ‘Lettuce, turnips and pea!”

Keith recommends using a good spading fork or a broadfork to break up and prepare the ground before planting. “I recommend digging a small plot with the five by five dimensions I’ve mentioned so root crops and new plants can get deep into the soil. The broadfork in particular can be expensive so borrow one if you can!”

Which is exactly what I intend to do. Now that the last of the rhubarbs have died away, and the late spuds lifted, I’ll take Keith’s advice and find a broadfork to borrow. As winter approaches, you’ll find me in my planters, preparing the garden for next year’s crop, making sure to keep one fallow to let the soil rest a bit. Thank you, Keith for this expert advice!

Books On Botanical
For a list of rare and out of print books on everything Botanical, go to Keith’s website, The American Botanist Booksellers, www.amerbot.com.

American Seeds
And while we here in Ireland are not legally permitted to buy bulbs or living plants from outside the EU, we can legally bring in seeds from most anywhere in the world. If you’d like to try your hand at some American seeds visit Keith and his online Seed Savers Exchange by going to http://www.seedsavers.org/special/online-exclusives

If this blog interests you, then you might want to know more about living and working in Ireland. Are you thinking of traveling to Irelandmoving to Irelandworking in Ireland? Do you want to understand what makes the Irish tick, how you can get a job here, and how to survive in this wonderful country? If so, consider purchasing the 2015 Kindle edition of A Survivor's Guide to Living in Ireland. Over 11,000 have already done so! Now over 85,000 words long, this book could make the perfect gift for those interested in this wonderful country. Simply click on any of the above links to purchase the new 2015 Kindle edition. You can also download free apps to read the Kindle version on any PC or Mac. 

Friday, October 7, 2016

Irish Economics 101: Ireland is NOT Socialist

Since moving here 34 years ago, this erstwhile Yank has often had to put up with the varied and often incorrect observations regarding this small island made by any number of American friends, tourists, acquaintances, complete strangers, and those who just like to stir the pot. Often the sometimes caustic remarks about this country are, after brutal examination, wildly off the mark. Usually I take no heed: after all they don’t live here and even recalcitrant naiveté is often forgivable.

That said, you wouldn't believe some of the daft, whimsical remarks made by some people. A few include:

"Ireland is part of the United Kingdom. Don't tell me otherwise. I'm sure of it!" (Me: No Jane. It's an independent Republic and has been for 100 years);

"Ireland is a poor, starving nation unable to help itself." (Me: No Jack. Ireland currently has the fastest growing economy in the European Union and is thriving.);

"Ireland's people want to make a nation once again. They want unity with Northern Ireland." (Me: Well some people do. But a recent poll conducted in the Republic of Ireland suggests that most Irish citizens reject this point of view, particularly if the government has to raise taxes to pay for it.)

This is only some of the silliness I’ve heard. (For a complete list of What Ireland is Not see my book, A Survivor's Guide to Living in Ireland 2015 edition.)  And usually I forgive and forget. Usually. But not this time. So let me explain.

Quite recently, just yesterday in fact, I posted a CNN article on Facebook regarding a Republican Party member who is choosing to support Clinton. A comment quickly came back from a ‘friend’. It read “I thought you said you were a lifelong Republican. Now, living in one of the most Socialist countries in the world, you haven’t posted any Republican media.”

While I managed to overlook (almost) the crappy syntax and grammar, when I saw the word 'Socialist' I almost fell off my chair. First and let me be clear: I post what I consider to be newsworthy articles from any bone fide, reasonably coherent news source which means I’ve also posted Fox articles. Not that it matters. 

But the real Kicker was the ‘Socialist’ comment. 

I must say I steamed. I boiled. I was angry at such a bald-faced piece of silly stupidity born of ignorance. And I was glad my ‘friend’ had not uttered the comment in my local pub. If they had, they would have started a gloriously contested argument. At the worst, the ‘friend’ would have been slung out the door, barred from the pub for the rest of their days, and possibly floated off the island in an empty Guinness barrel.

And why such a reaction? Ireland is not socialist, that’s why. But some crazies continue to believe this to be true. So let’s do a fact-check to set the record straight, shall we?

Economics 101: Defining Socialism

To dispel this myth let's first start with a very, very simple definition of Socialism as provided by Webster, to wit: Socialism is “Any of various economic and political theories advocating collective or governmental ownership and administration of the means of production and distribution of goods."  

Now let's take Irish economic policy apart, if just a little. First, Ireland is an open, free-market economy driven by capitalist economic thinking. This means the country does NOT have excessive regulations on business or its currency. I've owned a business here since 1987. And while regulation of any form makes my blood boil, Irish red tape is fairly simple. This is one of the many reasons why US companies including Google, IBM, Dell EMC, eBay, Microsoft, and so many others flock here and create opportunity: usually, government keeps its nose out of their businesses. Other than taxing business (and  they do), the Irish government does not attempt to control or coerce private companies.

But what about government ownership of production and distribution? The Irish government does own, or partially owns, a couple of business interests including a minority interest in Aer Lingus, the national airline, which it plans to sell soon. It also owns Irish Rail, our railway system, but that’s simply because private operators will not incur the high capital costs necessary to create a railway network. It makes no economic sense. Ireland’s direct investments are of strategic importance: that is, over the years Ireland has only owned those products or services it deems important to national security or to protect its citizenry.

And yes, before someone asks, the government also mostly owns the roadways in this country. However, that too is changing: recent major highway construction was carried out as a private/public partnership. In other words, road investments were made with both government and private company cash.

So, no. Ireland does NOT embrace collective or government ownership of production and / or distribution.  Therefore my ‘friend’s' assertion regarding Ireland’s Socialist economy is FALSE.

However, reading between the lines, I suspect the comment regarding Ireland's apparent Socialism was directed more toward its social programs rather than its economics. So let's tear that apart too.

A History of Poverty

To understand Ireland's socially-directed programs you have to understand at least a bit of its history. As most know, for hundreds of years Ireland and her people were ruled by Britain. During that period some fairly dreadful things occurred. Many Irish were transported to the far corners of the earth against their will. Many perished as a result of famine and disease. Basic civil rights were denied the Irish: they could not speak their own language nor practice their own faith. Most could not own land. The Irish were denied the basic freedoms of assembly, free press, and a living wage. Many died in abject poverty.

But Ireland declared its independence almost exactly 100 years ago as I write. It became an independent Free State in 1922, shaking off British rule. Its founding fathers (and mothers) did not forget the impoverished history of the Irish. Instead, they enshrined a number of policies into the Irish Constitution. These include equality before the law, the right to life, personal liberty and freedom of expression, freedom of religion, right to property ownership, and similar. The constitution does not, however, grant the right to own firearms (for obvious historical reasons). Yes, people here can own certain weapons. But those do not include hand guns or assault rifles. The application process for gun ownership is onerous. But it works: for instance, those who want to own a shotgun or a small calibre rifle for hunting purposes are usually allowed. The nut cases and criminals are spotted and rejected. And the result? Compared to the US Ireland has an incredibly low murder rate. Moreover, we have yet to experience a tragedy on par with Sandy Hook or any other mass shooting. But I digress....

To protect and nurture the Irish people, over the years Ireland has enacted a number of social policies. As an example: this country has a virtually free medical system. If a citizen becomes ill they won't go bankrupt due to illness. In fact: let’s say I get sick today and have to go into hospital. The maximum I’ll be charged is 750 euro. A year. Consultant and drug fees will be added to this, but it’s not much. Therefore, I don’t have to worry what will  happen to me or my family if I become ill in Ireland.

Ireland also has a fairly generous welfare payments system if times get hard. If you become unemployed here, you won't starve. Not usually, anyway. Unemployment assistance is enough to keep body and soul together. Moreover, we have good financial support for the physically and mentally disabled who are usually well looked after. In other words, many of Ireland’s policies reflect the nature of the Irish themselves: the Irish care deeply about people.

Things go wrong of course. As I write, this country is experiencing a horrific bounce in homelessness due in part to the Great Recession and its aftermath. Unemployment, though finally falling below 8 percent, is still unacceptably high to most. Some, including many children, still go hungry at night. And yes, we have our share of deadbeats who will never get a job and survive by ripping off the system. But no matter. The Irish also recognize there will always be a few bad spuds  in the potato bag. But that realization doesn't prevent them from helping  others. The Irish consider the act of giving a gift. For instance, their charitable giving is one of the highest in the world on a per capita basis, a wonderful achievement.

It can be construed that Ireland is a social welfare state due to this commitment to socially-caring policies. Perhaps. But if Ireland is a social welfare state then so too is Great Britain, France, Germany, and most of European Union member states because these countries have adopted similar caring policies.

Don’t get me wrong. There’s a lot wrong in this country, too. For instance, we all pay through the nose in taxes for the policies and programs that protect many. We harp about Ireland's 'nanny State' posture, and how the government can trip over itself in an undesired attempt to protect us from things we believe are nonsense. We constantly belittle the government for not using its budget (and our taxes) effectively and efficiently.

But I will say this: here, most don’t starve. Here, most have a fair chance of getting medical help when they need it even when they can't afford it; of going to a good school and university even if their parents aren’t rich; of not falling through the cracks into abject poverty. Here the people of Ireland have granted the government a mandate to carry out the caring will of its citizens.

The Irish are truly a giving society. While their economics are decidedly not Socialist, their care is socially-aware. It is one of the reasons I so much enjoy living in this country. The Irish truly give a damn about people.

I've been a fiscal conservative all my life. Every organization - including businesses and governments - must work within financial budgets or it can spell disaster. Just look what happened to this country in 2007 when we had to declare national bankruptcy. I continue to believe that while this country desires to lean over backwards to help people, it must do so in a fiscally responsible manner.

But: my views on 'social welfare' have changed drastically over the years. I have come to firmly believe that it is a gift to help those who can't help themselves. It is a gift to do what we can to protect the young and old.

If that is a definition of 'Socialist' which my Facebook ‘friend’ believes and which he alludes I have embraced, then he's right. I am a Socialist. And as a conservative member of America's Republican Party, I'll gladly wear and defend that label within the context of modern Ireland.

If this blog interests you, then you might want to know more about living and working in Ireland. Are you thinking of traveling to Irelandmoving to Irelandworking in Ireland? Do you want to understand what makes the Irish tick, how you can get a job here, and how to survive in this wonderful country? If so, consider purchasing the 2015 Kindle edition of A Survivor's Guide to Living in Ireland. Over 11,000 have already done so! Now over 85,000 words long, this book could make the perfect gift for those interested in this wonderful country. Simply click on any of the above links to purchase the new 2015 Kindle edition. You can also download free apps to read the Kindle version on any PC or Mac. 

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Like the Autumn Rain, Brexit Still Falls

It's raining in buckets. Here in beautiful West Cork, the rain gauge is tipping 5 inches - in the last 24 hours alone. It's supposed to clear up this afternoon, or so says the Met office. Mind you, I rarely believe what the Met Office says. Not when it comes to West Cork: the only way to know the weather is to put your head out the window in the morning.

The same can be said of news on Brexit. The only way to know what's going to happen is by, ah, waiting to see what will happen. But maybe you've not heard about this major global disruption. If not, let me remind you.

If you've been living in a cave in southwest Australia you might not have heard, but the United Kingdom has voted to leave the European Union. And that decision has caused ructions across the world.

So on this day of constant, continual wet gloom, I've good news and bad news for those of you interested in the possibilities of living and working in Ireland. The good news is: the uncertainty regarding the timing of England's exit from the EU has at last been clarified. Yesterday, UK Prime Minister Theresa May said the government would trigger Article 50, the EU clause required to start the exit process, by the end of May of next year. So finally the uncertainty is over.

The bad news: within minutes of the Prime Minister's announcement the Pound Sterling had plunged to a three year low against the European euro. It's not doing well against the US dollar, either. So while the uncertainty regarding the exit's timing has been resolved, the uncertainty regarding the ripple effect that exit will have on global economies is still uncertain. But indications are bad.

A few posts ago I reported the impact the UK's exit is having on Ireland. Unfortunately, that negative impact would appear to be getting worse. A range of Irish companies - everything from smaller craft beer manufacturers to food companies who rely on British exports for critical turnover - are lowering expectations or downsizing a bit or closing shop. Despite this bad news, Brexit has not managed to significantly curtail Irish economic growth. Not yet, anyway. Various pundits are calling for continued expansion of over 5 percent in 2017 for this economy.

But what is frightening is: the implementation of Brexit will take approximately 2 years. No one, not even the so-called experts, are exactly sure what will happen. A continual weakening of the Pound Sterling will surely put additional pressure on Irish exports. Should the UK's economy fall of a cliff and run into recession (as some economists warn), many Irish exporters will be hit hard. And this, of course, will result in job losses.

So to those thinking of moving to Ireland: if I were you I'd push the 'move' button sooner rather than later. Do your research. Plan your move. But don't wait until the Irish economy gets pummelled by the possible hurricane that could result from Brexit.

A Survivor's Guide to Living in Ireland 2015 / 2016 Kindle Edition Now Available!
If this blog interests you, then you might want to know more about living and working in Ireland. Are you thinking of traveling to Irelandmoving to Irelandworking in Ireland? Do you want to understand what makes the Irish tick, how you can get a job here, and how to survive in this wonderful country? If so, consider purchasing the 2015 Kindle edition of A Survivor's Guide to Living in Ireland. Over 11,000 have already done so! Now over 85,000 words long, this book could make the perfect gift for those interested in this wonderful country. Simply click on any of the above links to purchase the new 2015 Kindle edition. You can also download free apps to read the Kindle version on any PC or Mac. 

Monday, September 26, 2016

A Winning Way to Find a Literary Agent

I've been writing fiction, non-fiction, memoirs, blogs, websites, case studies - in fact pretty much anything that will take ink (or virtual ink) - for many years. And if you're also a writer you know how tough it is. But writing - fortunately or unfortunately - is only the start of the process particularly if you want to become traditionally published. Having finished a manuscript a writer still has many more mountains to climb.

One of the toughest of those peaks is landing a literary agent. In days gone by I was fortunate to have just such a person. But that fellow is long since retired. Consequently, and having finished a new novel, Dolphin Song (which was a huge undertaking for me - I won't even tell you how many years it took to complete), I have to start all over again.

In other words, my voyage toward finding a literary agent is once again just leaving port.

If you're in the same boat, then you're possibly doing what I am... a) asking anyone you know if they have an agent and, if so, begging for a reference  b) scouring the Internet for appropriate information and contacts and c) praying that your erstwhile journey will eventually prove fruitful before your emotional ship sinks at port.

However, I've found another avenue and thought I'd share it with you. A writer from Cincinnati, Mr Chuck Sambuchino, has organized a series of online contests - Dear Lucky Agent - which matches agents looking for authors and authors looking for agents. It's a wonderful idea which has proven successful for many.

So if, like me, you're looking for that elusive, plucky, loyal agent why not check out Chuck's website: http://www.writersdigest.com/editor-blogs/guide-to-literary-agents/24th-free-dear-lucky-agent-contest-literary-fiction.  Alternatively, visit the contest URL: http://tinyurl.com/hmelhd3  Or contact him via Facebook or Twitter (@chucksambuchino ). 

Sunday, September 25, 2016

"Oops, No Fuel" - A Pilot's Tale of a C-46

This particular entry has nothing to do with Ireland, actually. You see, my father - now 87 and a retired United Airlines Captain - this morning told me a story. It's a keeper and I wanted to share it with you all. Too, I'm fortunate to have a number of friends who are airline pilots and in many ways this is for them.

You see, these friends of mine fly those big jetliners made of aluminium metal tubes across the wide oceans to global points of interest. While they really are professionally-trained pilots (honest!) I suspect they spend much of their time on trips playing whist because the aircraft is usually on autopilot and controlled by computers much more powerful than those that steered the Apollo Moon Shots across the vacuum of space. In other words, and unless something goes quite wrong (which very rarely happens) they don't have a whole lot to do.

Sixty years ago that wasn't the case. Back in 1953, my father was a budding new co-pilot for the now defunct Resort Airlines. In those days he flew a C-46 (see pic), also a metal tube, that was driven through the air by two large Pratt & Whitney engines which spun a couple of large metal props. The objective of any flight was to reach the final destination by making certain those propellers kept spinning 'round n 'round.

Like any aircraft (except for those new-fangled solar powered babies which soar silently through the sky), the C-46 engines were powered by aviation gasoline. This particular aircraft had three fuel tanks: a mid-sized one at the front of the airplane, a smaller one at the rear, and the main tank in the center.

Dad tells me that keeping the engines supplied with fuel was a rather critical manual procedure (unless you wanted the engines to stop running): use the forward tank first until it went dry. Then, before the engines stopped spinning, switch to the rear tank until that one went dry. And when both were empty, switch to the final main tank to safely complete the rest of the flight.

Switching tanks was a manual task. Each engine had a separate fuel control wheel. So for instance, spin the wheel for the left (port) engine a bit and you'd switch to a new tank. Spin the wheel for the right (starboard) tank in the same manner for a similar result. And both pilots - the captain and the co-pilot - had this same set of fuel controls so each could easily access them. All the pilots had to do was remember which tank was filled with what, and who was responsible for switching which engine when the time came, and it worked just fine.

But then there was the trip Dad told me about, flying from Boise Idaho to Kansas City . This was a Cargo flight so no passengers or crew (other than our erstwhile pilots) were on board.The night flight took his C-46 over America's gigantic Rocky Mountains. A C-46 wasn't pressurized which meant they couldn't fly above 10,000 feet. So they had to be sorta careful 'cause the mountain peaks weren't too very far below.

Anyway, Dad the co-pilot and his Captain were having a merry little flight over the mountains. The props were spinning 'round and 'round as they should be. It was time for a fuel change (they were running the engines  on the front fuel tank which was approaching empty) so Dad switched both engines to the rear tank. No problem. When:

Both engines went deathly silent due to fuel starvation and the props, with nothing better to do, turned freely in the breeze which was absolutely not the plan. The C-46 was now a flying brick. Flustered, and unbeknownst to each other, both pilots reached for their respective fuel wheels at the same time. The problem? Neither realized the other was switching tanks. So Dad moved the fuel wheels for both engines up a notch. The Captain did the same thing. And the engines sputtered to life. They grinned at each other in great relief and joked about it. Which is when...

The engines died again. They had not yet recovered the altitude they'd lost the first time the engines stopped running, and neither could figure out what had happened. What they didn't realize was: when switching tanks the last time, and in all the confusion, they'd managed to switch both engines to the front tank - which, of course, was empty.

After much swearing, praying, and wondering just how close a rocky peak might be to the aircraft's underbelly, they finally discovered their mistake. They switched the engines to the full main tank. Both engines caught. The props started spinning around again, and they completed the rest of the flight to Kansas City without another word said between them, thanking their lucky stars all the way.

Until today Dad never told me this story. And I don't wonder. If he and his Captain hadn't realized their mistake, I might not be here. And as for my airline pilot buddies: thank God for those little computers is all I can say. At least you can keep on playing whist knowing you'll never have to remember to manually switch tanks.

Happy Landings!

A Survivor's Guide to Living in Ireland 2015 / 2016 Kindle Edition Now Available!
If this blog interests you, then you might want to know more about living and working in Ireland. Are you thinking of traveling to Irelandmoving to Irelandworking in Ireland? Do you want to understand what makes the Irish tick, how you can get a job here, and how to survive in this wonderful country? If so, consider purchasing the 2015 Kindle edition of A Survivor's Guide to Living in Ireland. Over 11,000 have already done so! Now over 85,000 words long, this book could make the perfect gift for those interested in this wonderful country. Simply click on any of the above links to purchase the new 2015 Kindle edition. You can also download free apps to read the Kindle version on any PC or Mac. 


"Oops, No Fuel" - A Pilot's Tale of a C-46

This particular entry has nothing to do with Ireland, actually. You see, my father - now 87 and a retired United Airlines Captain - this morning told me a story. It's a keeper and I wanted to share it with you all. Too, I'm fortunate to have a number of friends who are airline pilots and in many ways this is for them.

You see, these friends of mine fly those big jetliners made of aluminium metal tubes across the wide oceans to global points of interest. While they really are professionally-trained pilots (honest!) I suspect they spend much of their time on trips playing whist because the aircraft is usually on autopilot and controlled by computers much more powerful than those that steered the Apollo Moon Shots across the vacuum of space. In other words, and unless something goes quite wrong (which very rarely happens) they don't have a whole lot to do.

Sixty years ago that wasn't the case. Back in 1953, my father was a budding new co-pilot for the now defunct Resort Airlines. In those days he flew a C-46 (see pic), also a metal tube, that was driven through the air by two large Pratt & Whitney engines which spun a couple of large metal props. The objective of any flight was to reach the final destination by making certain those propellers kept spinning 'round n 'round.

Like any aircraft (except for those new-fangled solar powered babies which soar silently through the sky), the C-46 engines were powered by aviation gasoline. This particular aircraft had three fuel tanks: a mid-sized one at the front of the airplane, a smaller one at the rear, and the main tank in the center.

Dad tells me that keeping the engines supplied with fuel was a rather critical manual procedure (unless you wanted the engines to stop running): use the forward tank first until it went dry. Then, before the engines stopped spinning, switch to the rear tank until that one went dry. And when both were empty, switch to the final main tank to safely complete the rest of the flight.

Switching tanks was a manual task. Each engine had a separate fuel control wheel. So for instance, spin the wheel for the left (port) engine a bit and you'd switch to a new tank. Spin the wheel for the right (starboard) tank in the same manner for a similar result. And both pilots - the captain and the co-pilot - had this same set of fuel controls so each could easily access them. All the pilots had to do was remember which tank was filled with what, and who was responsible for switching which engine when the time came, and it worked just fine.

But then there was the trip Dad told me about, flying from Boise Idaho to Kansas City. The night flight took his C-46 over America's gigantic Rocky Mountains. A C-46 wasn't pressurized which meant they couldn't fly above 10,000 feet. So they had to be sorta careful 'cause the mountain peaks weren't too very far below.

Anyway, Dad the co-pilot and his Captain were having a merry little flight over the mountains. The props were spinning 'round and 'round as they should be. It was time for a fuel change (they were running the engines  on the front fuel tank which was approaching empty) so Dad switched both engines to the rear tank. No problem. When:

Both engines went deathly silent due to fuel starvation and the props, with nothing better to do, turned freely in the breeze which was absolutely not the plan. The C-46 was now a flying brick. Flustered, and unbeknownst to each other, both pilots reached for their respective fuel wheels at the same time. The problem? Neither realized the other was switching tanks. So Dad moved the fuel wheels for both engines up a notch. The Captain did the same thing. And the engines sputtered to life. They grinned at each other in great relief and joked about it. Which is when...

The engines died again. They had not yet recovered the altitude they'd lost the first time the engines stopped running, and neither could figure out what had happened. What they didn't realize was: when switching tanks the last time, and in all the confusion, they'd managed to switch both engines to the front tank - which, of course, was empty.

After much swearing, praying, and wondering just how close a rocky peak might be to the aircraft's underbelly, they finally discovered their mistake. They switched the engines to the full main tank. Both engines caught. The props started spinning around again, and they completed the rest of the flight to Kansas City without another word said between them, thanking their lucky stars all the way.

Until today Dad never told me this story. And I don't wonder. If he and his Captain hadn't realized their mistake, I might not be here. And as for my airline pilot buddies: thank God for those little computers is all I can say. At least you can keep on playing whist knowing you'll never have to remember to manually switch tanks.

Happy Landings!

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