Tag Archives: Toulouse

Ailes Anciennes Toulouse, Visites Cockpit (April 2015)

Ailes Anciennes Toulouse is an association that preserves and restores old airplanes and helicopters. It is located in Blagnac, close to the museum Aeroscopia. In its collection has over 50 aircraft, some of which are being worked on, some are displayed in their field and others are ceded to Aeroscopia (e.g. the Super Guppy being one of them).

PosterVisiteCockpitApril11About three or four times a year, Ailes Anciennes organizes what they call Visites Cockpit events. In those days, most of the aircraft on display are opened for visitors to enter in them, sit in their cockpits, experience them, get explanations from enthusiast volunteers of the association, walk through their cabins and cargo hold compartments. Last April 11th was one of those days and we took the opportunity to visit it.

If last year we got the chance to see the only airworthy Noratlas flying in Francazal, this time we got to enter in one:

Loading plan of a Nord 2501 Noratlas.

Loading plan of a Nord 2501 Noratlas.

Side view of a Nord 2501 Noratlas.

Side view of a Nord 2501 Noratlas.

View of a Nord 2501 Noratlas

View of a Nord 2501 Noratlas

Cockpit of a Nord 2501 Noratlas.

Cockpit of a Nord 2501 Noratlas.

View of an Airbus A350 from the cargo hold of a Nord 2501 Noratlas.

View of an Airbus A350 from the cargo hold of a Nord 2501 Noratlas.

There were some aircraft which I believe I had never seen live before, such as:

Breguet 765 "Sahara".

Breguet 765 “Sahara”.

Andrea inside the trainer Fouga Magister.

Andrea inside the trainer Fouga Magister.

Max Holste MH 1521 "Broussard".

Max Holste MH 1521 “Broussard”.

Panel with limit velocities of a Breguet 941S.

Panel with limit velocities of a Breguet 941S.

Some of the other aircraft we enjoyed include the Sud Aviation Caravelle, the Douglas DC-3 (3), the North American T-6 Texan, the Mikoyan-Gourevitch MiG-21

Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21.

Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21.

Main dashboard of a MG-21.

Main dashboard of a MG-21.

Side panel of a MG-21.

Side panel of a MG-21.

Luca and Andrea inside a Cessna 310.

Luca and Andrea inside a Cessna 310.

Douglas DC-3.

Douglas DC-3.

Circuit breakers panel of a Sud Aviation Caravelle.

Circuit breakers panel of a Sud Aviation Caravelle.

Posing from the cockpit of a North American T-6G Texan.

Posing from the cockpit of a North American T-6G Texan.

Douglas DC-3 as seen from a North American T-6G Texan.

Douglas DC-3 as seen from a North American T-6G Texan.

Dashboard of a North American T-6G Texan.

Dashboard of a North American T-6G Texan.

Andrea playing around.

Andrea playing around.

I recommend the visit to Ailes Anciennes in its Cockpit days (10€ for adults). Take a look at their website to see when the next one is scheduled (normally in spring).

(1) See here a video of the Patrouille de France air show in Francazal 2014.

(2) See here a video of a Pratt & Whitney R-985 Wasp Junior radial engine in operation at the National Air & Space Museum of the Smithsonian institution in Washington DC, at Dulles.

(3) Read more about the origins of the Douglas DC-3 here.

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Société des moulins de Bazacle

The Vereenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie (VOC) or the (United) Dutch East India Company is widely regarded as the first company to have issued stock. It was at least the only company traded at the time in Amsterdam stock market at the Dam, what is regarded as the first ever stock market. I wrote about it in the review of the bookConfusión de Confusiones” by José de la Vega (Confusion of Confusions in English).

However, I had read some time ago about the Bazacle in Toulouse, and a disputing argument behind it. I went to visit it this weekend, in order to learn more from it.

The word bazacle in French means ford, or a shallow place in a river where one can easily cross it. The Bazacle in Toulouse is located at a place where the river Garonne makes a turn to the left, becoming quite wide and shallow. Apparently in ancient times, it bifurcated in several branches and people did use to cross the river there. Some time later a bridge crossed the river at that location.

View of The Bazacle, Toulouse.

View of The Bazacle, Toulouse.

At the end of the XII century, permission was granted to build a sort of dam and some mills. Those mills, according to the sign post outside of the Bazacle (see the picture above) were widely admired up to the French Revolution, being regarded as the largest of the type in Europe and appearing in the encyclopedia of Diderot and D’Alembert.

The argument in dispute comes next: the Société des moulins de Bazacle was financed by an association of noblemen who shared the profits of the company. Thus, this company is also regarded as the most ancient joint-stock company. The shares from the company could be traded at the market Toulouse, their value fluctuating and depending on the yields of the mills. Shouldn’t then be Toulouse regarded as the first stock market ever?

The Bazacle Milling Company ceased to exist in 1946, when it was acquired by EDF, French national electricity company. The Bazacle today has a museum on the use of water, energy, origin of electricity, etc., hosts temporary art exhibitions and has as a main attraction a fish ladder, permitting migratory movements of some species.

View of the Bazacle, its fish ladder and the river Garonne.

View of the Bazacle, its fish ladder and the river Garonne.

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Preparation vs. procrastination

I subscribed to the Humorous Speech competition of my Toastmasters club in Toulouse, Rosemasters, before the summer break. The contest was held last Saturday. I had competed in the previous round of contests of the club back in March, when I was lucky enough to win the speech contest. You may see the speech in this post.

I say “lucky” because, even if the message of the speech might have been valuable, and the delivery was OK, I did not prepare then as I should have. I procrastinated. I wrote the speech the week of the contest, read it some times along the week, but only practiced the morning of the contest. However, my procrastination was not punished…

For the speech contest of last Saturday I procrastinated a bit more. I thought about the topic during the week of the contest: self-deprecation about my integration in France, OK. But only got to write the speech the morning of the contest. I enjoyed the delivery of the speech, but I guess it was not as good as it should have been. What is worse, even if nobody but Luca and me noticed, I forgot a whole minute of speech with a couple of good lines… this is what happens when you don’t prepare. I came in last of the 3 contestants in terms of judges’ evaluation. Deservedly. Hopefully I will learn the lesson for the next time.

The winner, Dominique, on the other hand made a wonderful speech using an ukulele, which he had purchased for the speech about a month ago, learnt to play few notes to accompany the speech, thought of tens of uses for the ukulele within a speech, put up a great structure, used lots of body language, storytelling… I loved his speech. Congratulations to Dominique!

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Elections législatives in France

Second round of Elections législatives in France; as I did for the first round of the presidential elections two months ago, I went last Sunday morning to my bureau de vote to see how the process, the ballots, etc., were this time.

The striking difference with the elections to the congress in Spain is that in France each seat is circumscribed to a specific area, i.e., Haute-Garonne, the department where Toulouse is located has 10 circumscriptions, each one of them sends one and only one representative to the National Assembly in Paris. For each of those seats there is an election, with first and second round, for which absolute majority is required.

Let’s go back to Spain: e.g. the province of Madrid has 36 seats in the parliament, in the last November elections citizens from Madrid voted to the list of a party which proposed 36 names and, depending on the number of votes that each party obtained, those 36 seats were distributed according to the D’Hondt method (see a discussion on the method here – in Spanish). You will now see the effect.

In Madrid last November, the Popular Party obtained 50.84% of the vote (absolute majority), Socialist PSOE obtained 26.03% followed by UPyD (10.29%) and IU-LV (8.04%). The seats 36 were awarded as follows: 19 for PP, 10 PSOE, 4 UPyD and 3 IU-LV.

In the first round of the Elections législatives in Haute-Garonne:

  • In the 1st circumscription: the Socialist Party obtained 43.63% of the votes, followed by UMP (23.34%), Front National (9.96%) and Front de Gauche (9.01%)…
  • In the 2nd circumscription: the Socialist Party obtained 46.38% of the votes, followed by UMP (21.63%), Front National (12.46%) and Front de Gauche (7.86%)…
  • In the 3rd: UMP (35.14%), Europe Écologie Les Verts (22.24%), Divers gauche (21.36)…

If in the first round no candidate obtained an absolute majority in her circumscription (this only happened in the 8th circumscription, where the Socialist Party won the seat in the first round) a second round was needed. Only those parties with more than 20% of the vote in the first round competed in the second round; sometimes there were 2 candidates and in few cases 3.

In the week from the first to the second round, those parties not qualifying could elect to support one of the candidates in the second round and that was in the end reflected in the ballot papers, where you can see that the Socialist candidate of my circumscription was backed by 3 parties apart from PS and that one of the UMP by another 4 parties.

In the second round, the socialist party candidates who in the first round had obtained around 45% of the vote were collecting around 65% of the vote, beating one by one the other candidates except for the 3rd circumscription where the UMP won (and the 8th where there wasn’t a 2nd round).

This in the end gave the PS 9 out of 10 seats (90% of the seats) while in the case of Madrid, the PP obtained with about 50% of the vote 19 out of 36 seats (53% of the seats). This is the striking effect and main difference that the second round system provokes.

Result of the elections in Haute-Garonne.

I also found interesting the freedom at the time of arranging the information provided in the ballot paper, it seems that only size and white background are required.

The Socialist ballot doesn’t mention for which circumscription the candidate is competing (they may consider it redundant information, as the voter knows in which circumscription she lives) while they introduce the subtle message “Députée sortante” to let the voter know who won last time or who represented and worked for them during the last term. On the other hand, the UMP not being able to use the last-winner message opts for the inclusive “Candidat de la droite et du centre”. Note as well the difference in the colour, red vs black / grey, I guess that the latter was compromise among the different parties.

Ballot papers and envelope for the second round in the 4th circumscription of Haute-Garonne.

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Aerogeek dentist

Some time ago I wrote about the impact of Airbus in the employment in the Toulouse area. Some weeks ago I went to a dentist in Blagnac, a village close to Toulouse (where Airbus is in fact based). There I could see how Airbus is impacting Toulouse area in other ways. I then tweeted the following with the picture below attached:

Waiting room seats.

What I missed in that first visit was the geek details of the cloth covers of the seats. Take a closer look in the pictures below…

"Briteeth" Airways.

"Lufthanzahn".

Definitely, my dentist must be another aerogeek.

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Landing at a car racing circuit

Albi is small city close to Toulouse. It is mainly famous for its UNESCO World Heritage Site Cathedral Sainte Cécile and the museum of the painter Toulouse-Lautrec. I had been there twice, but I hadn’t yet written a post about the city. Today I’ll write about another special feature it has.

In Albi there is a car racing circuit. I have a colleague who likes cars, motor-bikes and has been already using that circuit in one of its open days.

Yesterday, I wrote a post about the stall exercises we performed in last Saturday’s flight lesson.

Let me connect the dots. On Saturday, while having lunch, our colleague told us that the circuit in Albi was having an open day that precise day. He encouraged us to propose to our instructor to fly to Albi. And here comes the catch: “Why?” Because the aerodrome of Albi, our colleague explained to us, is embedded in the car racing circuit!

We gave it a try, demanded our instructor to go to Albi and succeeded. See below the flight path recorded with my Garmin:

Flight route Toulouse Lasbordes (LFCL) - Albi (LFCI).

In the following screenshot of the Visual Approach Chart (carte VAC) you may see how when the circuit IS active the runway of the aerodrome is shortened as the circuit crosses the runway! (You may download the chart here, PDF, 360KB).

Visual Approach Chart (VAC) for Albi aerodrome when the car racing circuit is active.

You may see it better below, in the Google maps view, how the circuit intersects the runway:

Albi car racing circuit and aerdrome.

Finally, enjoy the video of the final approach of our flight. If you pay attention to it, you’ll notice the cars racing in the circuit while we are approaching and how we are in fact touching down only within the allowable space when the circuit is active:

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Course des Rois

Villemur-sur-Tarn is a small village by the river Tarn, about 40km North from Toulouse. Last Sunday I went there early in the morning to take part in the Course des Rois, a 10km race that was organized there.

Last time I ran a race in January it was in 2002, in Torrelodones, another “King’s Race”. I remember that a week before I had missed the 2001 San Silvestre due to a sprain in the ankle. By the time the race in Torrelodones came I could not rest anymore and I ran it with the bandage still on.

Villemur-sur-Tarn is close to the wine-region of Fronton, another village about 10km South from it. The first runners that were subscribed to the race received a bottle of red win. Yeah, I won something at a race! Even before starting!

After several pains in the Autumn, I went to the doctor and got an x-ray of the waist. It showed a difference in the length of the legs of ~7mm. Then I went to a podologue who made a couple of orthopedic soles for me. They partly correct that difference in length plus improve my stepping (I tend to supinate or under-pronate).

I started using the soles about two weeks ago. The podologue told me “start using them little by little, don’t go and run on them 15km at the first trial”. Well, I ran 7km. Then other 7km, etc… These days I am having pain in the left knee. I guess that it was not used to the level of effort it is required now. While it gets used to it, it hurts as hell every time I start running.

On Sunday, when I arrived to Villemur, I started warming up about 20 minutes before the start of the race. I almost couldn’t bend the knee. Then I was jogging very softly, and the pain was that that my body wanted me not to take part in the race. I felt like crying. Luckily I was alone in the race and didn’t have to talk to anyone in those moments. Only in my head I was thinking “it’s ok, some minutes of pain while warming up and then it’ll get better”.

It got better. During the 1st kilometre I could stand it so I continued with the same rhythm until km 2.5, when my body broke into sweating and I stopped feeling cold. From then on, feeling warm and more comfortable, I looked at the rest of the race with a more positive look.

I went along with some groups of runners until feeling comfortable with them and going ahead to catch another group. I repeated this process about 3-4 times, with a final increase in the pace at about km 7.5, when I tried to make it below 47′. In the end, I did 47’09”.

I’m very happy with the time. Had I launched the pace increase before I might have made it. This is nearly 1 minute faster than in Brax 6 months ago and some 20 seconds faster than the end of the half marathon of Toulouse last September. I’m training with more difficulty these days, but it seems that I haven’t lost punch for the races. This race also helps me to measure the level of fitness with the McMillan calculator I use, in order to estimate training paces.

You may want to see performance of the race measured by Garmin and the following pics:

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