UnNews:Weasel first to get woodpecker pilot licence
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|Weasel first to get woodpecker pilot licence|
4 March 2015
After commencing his training last September, Captain Weasel has finally completed his flight skills tests and ground school to become a fully fledged woodpecker pilot. Weasel is also hoping to achieve his night and instrument rating to cover operations after dark.
The written exams covered a range of topics including principles of feathered flight, egg law, and navigation to avoid a fowl-up. Weasel will be undergoing further training and skills testing as he works towards his instrument rating, which will include flying in poor weather and at night in order to pilot the more challenging owl. This will provide 24h all-weather cover for the wood.
Captain Weasel began his career as a driver, delivering nuts and twigs to squirrels and mice, but felt there must be more to life. “After a few years of delivery driving, it occurred to me that squirrels are just rats with good PR. Weasels are no worse or better. How could our species raise a more positive profile?
“We all like to tune into Animal Rescue on a Sunday to see if we recognise anyone. One week they showed firemen rescuing a cat out of a tree which got me thinking. Initially feathers were ruffled with the thought of a rodent becoming a pilot, especially as everyone knows what bloody awful flyers bats are; but I was determined not to be pigeon holed. I suggested that if I qualify under the bird’s pilot training curriculum, what would be the beak? Eventually the animals warmed to the idea.”
The third key member of any airborne rescue team is the winchman, a job that several spiders are receiving training for. Captain Weasel will bring the woodpecker to a hover and the spider would winch down on his web, wrap the victim up then winch back on to the bird.
Captain Weasel said the biggest challenge of all would be flying the owl, as it is a formidable predator which can rotate its head 180 degrees, making it more hazardous for the pilot. “There is a rule that you never approach an aircraft from the front, with the owl, it is all round. You can’t be a chicken, you need to drop on it directly from above and go, no time to be shown how to tie a lifejacket!”
Weasel added he would like to fly ducks eventually. “The amphibian licence will open a whole new set of opportunities for travel and tourism as well as recreational flying. A present I am talking to some pike, which seem very keen on the idea of river tours for small frogs, leeches and chicks too.”
- Janny Awford "Prince William closer to job as an air ambulance helicopter pilot after passing 14 'rigorous' exams - and plans to work 'as close to full time as possible'". Mail Online, February 26 2015
- Martin Le-May "Can you top this photo of a weasel riding a woodpecker?". BBC Earth, March 03, 2015