Who would win in a “fame” fight, The Real Housewives of New York or the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge? The Real Housewives of course, duh! It's all about glitz, glamour and altitude. It's a status symbol to be up high and live in the sky. It costs millions of dollars to do that in Manhattan!
Well, I'd like to reject their reality and substitute my own!
When you want something you just gotta look in the places where people aren't looking. That is why SoHo and The Upper East Side are so expensive. Everybody wants live there! It's an associated status symbol. Look at me, I'm 27, big boned, and wear green mirrored sunglasses I am nothing special. If anything I am 180 degrees from what a status symbol should be. There is one thing, though, that I enjoy just as much as the Real Housewives of New York, and that’s million-dollar views. Well, let’s round up and call it a billion dollar view.
If you are obsessed with city skylines and freedom just as much as I am, then this is for you. Flying down the Hudson River corridor is exactly for you. Let's say the whole flight is an ice cream sundae, the views would just be the whipped cream and the cherry. There are so many surprises in aviation and you have to set yourself on a course to find them. I had no idea on what to expect on this flight just like in every bite of an ice cream sundae.
The Real House Wives of NYC basically have their PhD in emotions and drama. The Hudson River Corridor flight was nothing shy of emotional. There was no crying while flying the Hudson River Corridor but it delivered a whirlwind of emotions. It was a wonderful euphoria of everything. I started singing every song about NYC I could think of. When we passed Central Park, I broke out in chorus "I RECALL CENTRAL PARK IN FALL, HOW YOU TORE YOUR DRESS, I CONFESS, THAT'S NOT ALL!!" It was a very “Ferris Beuller's Day Off” moment. Niner Times........
This little hole of airspace is amazing. There is so much history packed in this water/airway. The river takes you along the path of US Airways Flight 1549. You get a perspective of the final views of the two airliners that crashed into the World Trade Center buildings on 9/11/01. It really triggers a series of thoughts and memories that unlocks your mind. Ultimately that's what freedom allows you to do. How ironic, because you fly right next to the Freedom Tower. It’s incredibly fun. I can tell you the only thing that will be the same on your flight are the views, the rest is up to you.
Enjoy this airspace, flight, and make sure to have fun. Its really amazing to be in the most dense, busiest and historic airspace in the world and not have to talk to anybody at ATC. It’s your airspace, your taxes pay for it, so use it!! Make sure you do your homework first before doing the flight by taking this FREE online course by the FAA on how to fly the Hudson River Exclusion.
For this flight, I rented a Piper PA-28R-200 from Leading Edge Aviation at the Doylestown, PA Airport. I flew with my co-worker and great friend John Phillips. The whole flight took 1.5 hours. Doylestown (KDYL) is really close the Hudson River Exclusion Area and Manhattan. As a matter of fact, you can see NYC from KDYL on a good day. Give Leading Edge Aviation a call at (215) 340-0707 and ask them what it takes to fly the Hudson River Exclusion!
What is your favorite City Skyline!?
Do me a favor real quick, SMILE!!! Okay thanks! I try to live my life by trying to make somebody, anybody, smile just once a day. If I can get more than one to smile then extra credit!
I was driving up to Oshkosh, WI for the annual airshow and to be honest, there was a small part of me that wasn't wanting to go. Record breaking heat, massive crowds and a long walk to my car from event parking were just a few hurdles that I had to overcome. If the above is in your definition of a good time, I wont believe you. So much negativity to battle even though this event was like a massive magnet pulling me and my passion towards it.
I needed to be in Oshkosh by 5pm. In my haste of trying to make the trip to non stop I had eaten lunch in the car. Sure enough with 45 minutes left I had to pee. I stopped, and I was so glad that I did.
In the gas station staring right at me was a smiley face cookie. It was doing to me what I try to do to others, make people smile. I all of the sudden I had so many flash backs. PSA Airlines paint scheme, Duggy, Airplanes, People, First Solos, Passing A Check Ride, awesome friends, you name it. This cookie made me realize my goals of enduring a MASSIVE crowd, record breaking heat, and $3 bottles of water. It was simply to have fun. As much aviation stimulus all concentrated at this famous airport. It was all injected into me by this smiley face cookie, which was like Duggy "A smile in the sky."
This cookie was so important to my goal of the trip, I adopted the cookie. It rode in the front seat next to me until I could get back on the the highway. Then I ate it. Oh god, that is so sad. Ultimately I have to think the cookie did what it would have wanted me to do. I guess that makes me feel a little better.
As I parked my car and embarked on my long walk to the entrance gate of the event, Duggy flew over and smiled at me. It gave me a dose of my own medicine which is to have fun. I am glad I went to Oshkosh!
When did you smile last?
I assume you are an aviation enthusiast. Why else would you be on this site? So, that means I can assume you have heard about Oshkosh and the Experimental Aviation Association’s (EAA) annual convention known around the world as Airventure. But I can’t assume you’ve actually attended what is billed as “The World’s Greatest Aviation Celebration.”
If you’ve never attended Airventure … and that group included me until last year … this message is for you. “GO !” Act quickly. It runs July 23-29, this year.
I kept putting off any effort to get to Oshkosh for decades. I heard it was about people who build their own airplanes and it was about all the stuff you need to know to build your own airplane. But that kind of thinking is like saying Best Buy is just for people who want to buy a TV. Somehow, though, Oshkosh got on my bucket list because of my interest in flying. I wasn’t a pilot, but my dad had a private pilot certificate. When I was a kid (fifty years ago) his friends would take me up in their planes for an opportunity to take the stick. Oh, yes, I liked it. But I couldn’t afford lessons at the time. Then came the responsibilities of life, and I hid my desire to fly. Until last year. That’s when my wife said “GO !”
To put the experience in perspective, I also thought I liked the ocean. I grew up inland, far from the sea, watching movies about ships and surfing. But there is nothing that roused my senses like the day I found myself standing on a rocky shore with an active ocean throwing waves that thundered into the solid earth I was standing on. The earth shuddered with every pounding wave. It was exciting, and I felt the water massaging my legs up to my knees.
For me, the experience of going to Oshkosh for Airventure last year was just like the day I met the ocean’s power. Nobody can tell you enough to enable you to develop your own emotional reaction to Oshkosh. You’ve got to be there.
To encourage you to go, I must tell you that I learned how the week of Airventure is much more than a bunch of enthusiasts gathering to talk about home-built airplanes. Imagine over half-a-million people, and over 10,000 aircraft showing up for this event. If you want to know what that looks like from outer space, check out GoogleMaps. Their image for Oshkosh was taken during Airventure 2011. You can find it here: Just zoom in and start counting the planes and people.
When you go to Airventure, you will find model airplanes, ultralight planes, home-built planes, commercially built planes, special acrobatic planes, military warbirds, and new planes presenting some of the most recent developments in airplane design and construction. There are exhibit booths presenting information on everything flight related. Lectures and workshops abound and take dozens of pages to list in fine print in the directory. And there is a terrific airshow every afternoon.
Keep in mind how EAA has been a strong voice in developing and protecting general aviation in the United States and around the world. In fact, if it weren’t for EAA and AOPA (Airplane Owners and Pilots Association) there wouldn’t be a voice to represent the average pilot in government affairs. These organizations help promote advances and discoveries made by home-builders, and get them incorporated into many of the planes being built today, Like the Boeing Dreamliner 787.
And one more point worth making is that by attending Airventure, you get the chance to hear lectures by the movers-and-shakers in aviation history. You also get the chance to talk with them one-on-one. (I got that experience with Dick Rutan! And, remarkably, he started the conversation.) This is a friendly group of aviation enthusiasts.
If you live in the Midwest, it’s not too late to plan a one day trip to this event if you can leave early in the morning and drive home late that night. Most of the motels have been booked since last year. Still, many people commute for a one-day visit from the Chicago area and anywhere else within reach.
If you live too far away to live this experience this year, now is the time to begin planning your trip for next year. (I’ll be booking my evenings in a motel in Appleton, a larger town with more hotels just 20-minutes north of Oshkosh. You might start with that thought in mind.)
So, I say “Go !”
Still need more convincing? Take a couple of minutes to watch this: http://bcove.me/gkhcxiju I recommend setting your computer to full screen, full volume. Seat belt snug, and tray table locked!
Okay, now are you ready to Go ?
Guest blogger, Jim Stone, is 67 years old and started taking flight instruction shortly after his first visit to Oshkosh Airventure last year. He now has a little over 60 hours of exciting flight instruction and completed his first solo flight just recently out of Chicago Executive Airport.
What’s your “Boogie Man” dream? Maybe it’s the one where you’ve slept through a final exam, or gone to school only to realize you’re not wearing pants. You know you have a dream that haunts you. C’mon, fess-up. We all have a dream like that, where you wake up with rapid breathing and you’re just starting to sweat. But as scary as the dream is, you do wake up. And once you come to your senses, you know the Boogie Man got you again. But it was only a dream. And you know you’ll have it again. Maybe it’s the recurrence that is really so creepy about the dream. Dream? Hah, it’s a nightmare!
Aviation has its own version of the Boogie Man nightmare. The dream is like an imaginary game of “WHACK-A-MOLE,” where, instead of moles, you find Temporary Flight Restrictions (TFRs) to deal with.
WTF Al? How can a silly carnival game that you can cheat at and win a massive stuffed animal give you nightmares?
Well, the moles that pop up in an aviation sense can strip me of my passion, dreams, and livelihood! I could lose it all! There is no beating the system and cheating or a comfy stuffed animal. During this election year, and especially in the Chicago area where I live, this isn’t a dream. It’s real. When the POTUS comes to town for a fund-raiser, we’re gonna get a Presidential TFR pop up in our Notice To Airmen (NOTAM). And, when any of the election contenders want a piece of the political action in the Windy City, we’re gonna get a VIP TFR. Being a pilot in Chicago, I see these things are popping up left and right, as Chicago is a huge campaign and money hub for the presidential election. Chicago isn’t alone in this game, as pilots in must-win states can tell you. Can you win this game? Well, Punk, can you? (I’m sorry for the Dirty Harry line, but it fits perfectly here.)
If one of these bad boys pops up and you don’t pay attention to it bad things happen. You get arrested, violated, questioned and highlighted on CNN. It’s not fun. Oh, did I also forget to mention the fighter jets that will come and either shoot you down or escort you out of the area and bring you to a landing welcomed with handcuffs? Yeah....that too. Let's put it this way, you will not win a neon-colored massive stuffed animal to give to your girlfriend.
This is a real threat while flying. I am having nightmares about hitting these TFR's left and right. It has now developed into my nervous twitch while flying. The campaign trail is literally a chunk of sky that is carved out to be off limits. Unfortunately, it puts a massive damper on the way I, and other pilots, make our livings. Our wings are clipped and we cannot provide the essential air services that provide our wages, or help other people earn their wages. Well known aviation blogger, Todd McClamroch, has a great technical blog article on understanding and flying in the presidential TFR. Check it out here at MyFlightBlog.com. If you want to see what's out there right now, click on this link and see real time where the FAA TFR's are at!
It's a pretty tricky and sticky situation. I just pray that my dreams don't come true and I don't hit one of these bad boys. To be honest with you, I don't want one of those things that goes bump in the night coming in to get me a.k.a. the Boogie Man and Presidential TFR.
What is your Boogie Man?
I am at 30 with about five and a half years of pilot-in-command (PIC) experience in the C-152, C-172, DA-40 and PA-28. All of these are really great aircraft with their own unique characteristics that make each of them incredible machines – the tiny C-152, for instance, is the essence of flying – with one of the most basic cockpits and a tiny engine, you fly it by feel and most importantly sight (no PFD’s or MFD’s to fixate on). At the other end of the spectrum is the DA-40, a sharp looking four-seater with a canopy and a stick that flies incredibly nimble, quick and provides an abundance of information to the aviator through two large LCD displays. While I could go on flying the above four aircraft for the rest of my piloting days and remain completely satisfied, when unique opportunities pop up, you need to strike.
That is what happened when I was notified of a Living Social deal for a 40 minute ride in one of Gauntlet Warbirds’ T-6 Texans (SNJ to be technically correct) out of KARR. I snapped it up and then soon got to thinking about some of the other opportunities Gauntlet offers to pilots. After a few e-mails, I was lined up for a course in basics of aerobatics (and some other goodies I’ll describe below) in a Bellanca Decathlon.
After a very thorough ground school session coupled with a lot of studying, I rolled out to the airport after work a couple of Wednesdays ago and got geared up in a flight suit, parachute and helmet, ready to conquer gravity. Talk about feeling like a badass! The preflight procedures for a Decathlon are fairly straightforward, except for the fact that the aircraft is covered predominantly in fabric (versus the metals / composites that I’m used to)!!! It didn’t hit me until our walk around that the plane is not covered with a material that I can knock on and hear an echo – no, this one compresses when you push it. I thought it over for a second and looked over at Gauntlet’s Stearman and was comforted by the sight of an 80 year old fabric-covered aircraft still standing strong.
We fired up the engine – odd start procedure by the way trying to hold the stick back while engaging the starter and simultaneously enriching the mixture – three tasks, two hands, and you also have to keep those toes on the brakes! When we eventually taxied into position on the runway, I kept repeating the instructor pilot’s (Ted) guidance in my head – “throttle smoothly to full with simultaneous forward pressure on the stick, wait a few seconds and stick further forward, wait for the tail to come up and hold that attitude”. Another portion of my brain was screaming “holy sh$%, you are about to takeoff in a tailwheel aircraft, keep it the hell on the runway – no ground loops!” What seemed like a blink later, we were climbing out at fairly a steep angle (seriously, I was wondering where there horizon was when looking straight forward) maintaining our Vx of 65 mph and setting course to the practice area to the SW. Ted broke me in well to the aircraft on our outbound leg by having me do some turns to show the importance of coordinated flight (aileron plus rudder usage). It was quickly obvious that my historical usage of the rudder pedals could be summarized as conservative or even timid. After getting the basic turns down, we also did some uncoordinated flight – full left rudder plus right full right aileron. This is something I would have never dreamed of doing in another aircraft, but knowing the capabilities of the Decathlon helped me through initial uncertainty.
Once reaching the practice area and our planned altitude, we did some clearing turns and commenced with steep turns, stalls and prolonged stalls. Given that all pilots have accomplished steep turns and stalls during initial and recurring training, I’ll skip to the prolonged stalls. Basically, the objective is to keep the aircraft in a stall without causing the break (nose pitch down) or allowing the aircraft to roll to one side or another. Such seemingly impossible task is accomplished through a lot of rudder action! It almost feels like surfing – just anticipating what the aircraft wants to do and responding with determined and controlled inputs. It. Is. Awesome. Seriously, I felt like I mastered flying once my rudder inputs, brain and the aircraft began to act as one and we settled into a nice equilibrium of forward, descending flight in a stall.
That was about the end of our allotted time with the sun well into its own descent and accordingly we turned back to the east to return to base. With the airport already in sight and us a minor 5,000 feet above the traffic pattern altitude of 1,700 feet MSL, the throttle had to come way back to maintain a designated descent speed of 120 mph while keeping the Y vector of our descent substantial enough to avoid diving into the middle of the pattern. That experience alone was quite a rush.
For a rookie, I was happy that the winds were directly out of the east and we got to set up on a straight in for Rwy 9 (the big one) at KARR. What a different feel it is in an aircraft with no flaps – I felt like we far too high in comparison to the normal glideslope, but the Decathlon at a descent speed of 75 mph settled into a controlled approach and after a few hundred feet it was apparent that we were going right for the numbers. The objective on the first flight was to land and keep it on the ground going straight. Seems obvious, but with physics and the design of a tailwheel aircraft, managing the aircraft to the ground and to a stop is an active process the entire way. Compared to my previous experiences, the flare comes in a little later, but like all other landings, the key is to hold it a few feet above the ground while the airspeed bleeds off and the aircraft settles through ground effect and onto the pavement in a controlled manner. We actually touched down with the tailwheel first which was an objective for the first flight as it substantially decreases the chances of the aircraft inadvertently flying again (think declining angle of attack as the nose settles down after initial contact of the tailwheel – sweet physics!). More to come! dit.
In just a little over a hundred years since human's first documented flight, there has been major advancements in aviation. This evolution if you will, has made the way we travel a much different and enjoyable process than ancestors that traveled to the "new country" by boat. Did Orville and Wilbur ever envision a change like this? Did aviation experts, engineers, or enthusiasts ever think we may someday live like the Jetsons? Probably not but it seems we are getting closer all the time.
Just take a look at a few items now available for aviation. The Ipad, what an amazing little gadget this has been. It has changed the way all of us preflight, navigate, and entertain the kids during the long cross country. Also, just the other day I flew a Piper Archer III with the Avidyne Flight Deck System, equipped with PFD, MFD, Flight Director, full Autopilot, and two Garmin 430's. This small general aviation aircraft is better equipped than some commercial aircraft on long international flights. These items are just the tip of the iceberg, imagine what will be on display at the 2012 EAA AirVenture Oshkosh, in July. New avionics, pilot supplies, engines, and even aircraft which brings me to the major reason for this rant.
Imagine transporting an airplane just like you do a jet ski, or better yet driving to the airport in your airplane. These two new concepts that many of us have seen are transforming us into that Jetsons way of life. Both the Icon Aircraft and Terrafugia flying car design are categorized as Light Sport Aircraft essentially meaning these aircraft can be utilized in sport pilot training. Keeping within the speed regulations for sport aircraft means you won't get to far away lands very fast. However, these efficient, sexy flying machines should have a major impact on recreational flying for local pilots. In a sense it is a way for more individuals the opportunity to enjoy flying in their own backyard.
The Terrafugia flying car has foldaway wings when in road operation and can be unfolded and locked into place on the ramp. According to the Terrafugia website the automobile/airplane will get 35 mpg on the highway, and use 5 gph during flight operations at around 100 knots. Terrafugia has combined the the concept of traveling to an airport and the flight itself.
Check out Terrafugia here: http://www.terrafugia.com/index.html
The Icon Aircraft also has a foldaway wing design. It can be loaded onto a trailer and backed down a boat ramp for deployment into the water just like a boat. It will also have a optional retractable gear design in order to operate from any airport and after you take a look at it you will agree it has a very sleek sports car design.
Check out Icon Aircraft here: http://www.iconaircraft.com/index.html
These new aircraft innovations are both safe, efficient, and a exciting to see. The passion and concepts that aviation companies such as these create a great buzz for our industry. These creative aircraft are just two examples of the many exciting things coming to the market in the near future. The next airplane concept I hope to see during a Google search is one that folds up into my briefcase like George. Imagine what the future of Aviation will bring.
Happy Independence Day,
Travis B. Ammon
I often think, if I were to start an airline what would my airline's callsign be? I cannot come up with one! Its ridiculous. Part of the reason I feel it is so difficult is that it is a sentimental task which makes it a huge hurdle. When U.S. Airways flight 1529 calls ATC they go by the name “Cactus 1529.” Cactus is clear, distinct, and short, great for radio communications. The callsign “Cactus” also has style, as U.S. Airways is headquartered in Tempe, AZ.
If I am to start an airline, I need a callsign. It’s more than just branding. To me, its sentimental, and it’s a huge hurdle. It’s a problem to be solved very soon after lining up customers, buying planes, and hiring pilots.
It's like getting engaged. Putting a ring on it, if you will. Its such a huge question to answer! The chances of you getting it wrong are greater than you getting it right. It will be name changing. Just as getting married changes your name. For a lady, she might add a Mrs. to the front of her name and change her last. The man might find himself adding a Mr. to his name. Or if you are Travis Ammon Co-Founder of SimpleFlight.net, you don't have to change a thing. Your mail will soon automatically arrive with the address of Dr. & Mr. D. Ammon, D.P.T. Don't believe me? Just watch all the letters arrive. I am not married, but I used to run a business that mailed the junk mail, so I know. No Joke. www.champaignmailing.com (Ok, Al, shut up about junk mail...seriously).
So how does this relate back to an airline radio callsign and getting engaged? If you are the guy buying the ring it needs to enhance the lady and seal the deal. That ring will have a lot of sentimental significance within it. You gotta pick the right ring or you're going to be told to take a hike!! Same thing with an airline radio callsign. The engagement ring is the callsign for an airline!! There is such a massive amount of sentiment going into just a small amount of stone and gold as there is in a syllable or two for your callsign. How can you do it? I am probably over thinking this, but I think about it a lot. One thing that is helping this making it easier is by using Twitter. #Hashtags are like callsigns for your tweets. High impact whit jammed in one word in front of a #poundsign. An airline's callsign is its own tweet! Think about United or Southwest or Frontier Airlines.....they are Tweeting non stop! ;)
The litmus test to figure out if you did a good job when you pop the question, you want to hear a yes from her! The litmus test for your airline will be "Frontier 741, Cleared for take off...." Just perfect!
I NEED HELP! WHAT SHOULD MY AIRLINE'S CALLSIGN or #TWEET BE!?
What is your favorite call sign? Let's build a list. I have started one. Military, Helicopters, Charter, Companies, Airlines. You name it. GO!
ValueJet (Out of Business) - Critter
United - United
American - American
Republic - Brickyard
US Airways (Old) - UsAir
US Airways (New) - Cactus
America West (Old) - Cactus
Southwest - Southwest
Continental (Old) - Continental
SkyWest - SkyWest
Chautauqua - Chautauqua
Shuttle America - Mercury (ShuttleCraft - old)PSA's - "Blue Streak" always had a cool ring to it.
As well as Trans States' "Waterski." - Care of James - Blog Follower
British Airways - Speedbird - Care of Logan - Blog Follower
It just rolled off my tongue one lesson. "MR. STUDENT, TEAR DOWN THIS WALL!!" I couldn't believe what I just said. My student was seeking liberation, peace and prosperity in the air. This is exactly what he needed to do.
I have found great passion, love and enjoyment flight instructing. Honestly, I would do it for free, all day long, as a pay it forward for the people that have taught me. That is how passionate I am about making good pilots better pilots! It’s like a Buddhist Monk has helped me become enlightened through self-reflection during chair flying a.k.a. meditation. If there is absolutely one thing if I could teach, for the rest of my life, in an airplane it would absolutely be this. I cannot BEGIN to tell you how gratifying it is to see the stress relief on the student’s face knowing he (or she)can now go home and tell how he learned to keep his family safe in an airplane, and now realize his aviation dreams! It's so invigorating!
This is the one thing I would teach: “Flying an airplane with two finger tips.” I want to give students tools that can take them to a deeper level of airmanship which they can apply to any airplane they fly, Piper Cub to Boeing 747. This is one of the most basic tools that will translate for any airplane, it develops rock solid stick and rudder skills. What does it mean to fly with two finger tips, though?
It’s about tearing down a physical wall. Quit man-handling an airplane, It’s not an evil villain. It’s a gentle machine!! Let me ask you this, “Would you rather pick your nose with a fingertip, and be gentle, or pick your nose with a fingertip that is attached to a jack hammer?” I hope you say with a fingertip being gentle. The airplane is SCREAMING at you to do the same. You have to actively practice exercises for PITCH, POWER and TRIMMING for an AIRPSEED to fully understand flying with two fingertips. You are simply guiding an airplane with two fingertips. And, when the airplane talks to you through the seat of your pants, you just simply guide the plane to what it wants. It's that simple. If you have the airplane all messed up, not at the proper pitch, power and trim setting, you will fail at this. You can fly with two finger tips but you'll still man-handle the aircraft. It’s like having the jack hammer attached to your nose picking finger. Not Good!
The best example I can come up with to describe this is the Berlin Wall. Think how tense it must have been to live in Berlin with a wall, not able to go anywhere for fear of something bad happening. Then, President Reagan steps in and says:
"Mr. Gorbachev, Tear Down This Wall!!"
When you man-handle there is a physical wall that you put up while flying. It’s your bicep. It is a rock solid wall of strong muscle that is taking all the sensation out of the plane and putting all 10,000 pounds of airplane, 30 knots of wind and 5000 feet of altitude into your muscle only. That wall blocks most of the information the airplane is trying to tell you through your hand and forearm. It’s a wall of muscle that you created yourself by man-handling an airplane. I WANT YOU TO TEAR THAT WALL DOWN. You don't need a lot of muscle to fly an airplane. And you cannot fly by the seat of your pants if the airplane cannot send information to the seat of your pants, or your other arm or legs or toes! Imagine flying from NYC to LA with a massive tense muscle, you'd never make it. You'd be so tired and fatigued that you would give up, driving your confidence down and convincing yourself you'll never be able to fly long.
Tear down that wall of muscle and you will experience, peace, prosperity, liberation in your flying.
The wall in Berlin created tension between the east and west. When it was tore torn down, what happened? Things relaxed, weight was removed from off people's backs. The exact same thing will happen to you. I absolutely promise! Enjoy your aviation dreams! Have fun getting there too. I cannot begin to tell you how glad you will be that you did! So if you won't do it for me, do it for Ronald Reagan - Mr. Pilot, TEAR DOWN THIS WALL!
I bet this has never happened to you. You are traveling in or out of Chicago and your flight has been delayed. You get to your gate and its mad chaos. There isn't enough Airport Starbucks to escape away from the herds of mindless travelers. Your cell phone is now dying and you are looking for an outlet to charge. You start to notice the extreme measure's that people are going to get a power outlet. Completely abandoning their luggage to turn the battery indicator from red to green on their cell phones. ITS NUTS!! If I were a betting man, I'd bet $0.00 that this has never happened to you. You see that this is a busy place in the terminal. How do you think it is in the control tower!?
O'hare tower every other day now is the busiest airport behind ATL (Atlanta Airport). The tower is the epicenter, the brain, the band conductor and doctor behind all this madness. I have be come friends with the tower manager of O'Hare tower over the past few months. What an outstanding guy! He invited me and a few friends up for a tower four the other day. We rode an elevator up to the tower cab on the 17th floor of the tower.
My mind was running a million miles a minute thinking how nuts, how busy, and how cool this would be. Walking up the stairs into the cab listening and looking for the mad chaos I had built up in my mind. I was jaw dropped! There were 15 people or so in the tower cab and they were smiling and all relaxed. The tower was the most peaceful, calm and relaxed place I have ever been. There was a little mumble of voices like you'd hear at a lounge having happy hour. They were clearing airplanes to take off and land from all over the world like it was no big deal. The windows were the cleanest windows I have ever seen! When you think about it, you'd want them to have clean windows.
One of the tower controllers working the north side of the airport was pretty gnarly too. Some how he got wind that we work for his favorite Doughnut company. All of the sudden he turns looks at us and starts say this:
I LOVE IT! I cannot wait to go back. This time with doughnuts!
You can’t get there from here. Yes you can, if you fly your own airplane!!
My company manufactures environmental safety monitors for protecting people in the workplace. I had a customer in Decatur Alabama that was having problems with a monitoring application and needed to see me quickly. Using the airlines, the closest airport was Huntsville and an American Airlines round trip ticket price was $985, with only two scheduled flights per day. With a limited flight schedule, it now required an overnight hotel stay which added another $150. Add a rental car, $95 per day, plus a few meals and the loss of my time during the two-day commute, just to have a four hour meeting with my customer.
Finally due to the nature of my monitoring systems and the current TSA rules, I was no longer permitted to carry any of my equipment, tools and supplies on a commercial aircraft, even in checked baggage. So add another $200 for UPS shipping charges to and from my account. I asked myself; What’s Wrong with this Picture?
Fortunately I am a private pilot. I was also working on my instrument rating and had a need to complete my 300 miler as part of the training to obtain my IFR ticket. So I grabbed my instructor, Al Waterloo and asked if he would accompany me on this mission to kill the preverbal two birds with one stone. He accepted but added a third mission which was, to Have Fun !
So off we went at 0545 in the Archer, from KPWK, IFR through Ohare’s Class B airspace on our first stop to Bowling Green KY. On our way we flew near Paducah, Ky. where I commented to him that three more of my customers were located there. (I wondered if they needed to see me.) I remember thinking that it sure didn’t take long to get there. This could be a reason for my next trip.
After a quick fuel stop we departed KBWG and landed in Decatur at 1100. It took three minutes to get our free courtesy car from the FBO and after driving 6 miles I was at Toray Carbon Fibers where my customer was waiting. We had our meeting, solved his problem and were done by 2:30pm! If we had decided to fly directly back to PWK, we would have returned by 8:00pm, however we now had to complete Al’s mission, to have fun.
He wanted to buy me dinner at Rendezvous in Memphis. So off we went to KMEM in the late afternoon, flying around some thunderstorm buildups on our way to land at Class B, in our 2400 pound Archer. Not only was this fun but the learning experience was an incredible lesson in using good judgment on how to navigate around weather. It also demonstrated that we could land at an airport with the big guys in a GA airplane.
After dinner we departed KMEM, ahead of 5 airliners waiting in line, and after a fuel stop at KSPI, we were back at PWK. I completed this trip in less time than using the airlines, had fun, and never once had to remove my shoes and belt. I was back at my desk at 8:30 the next day.
The total cost of my business trip, and personal fun part cost about $300 more than if I flew AA, however I did the call in one day instead of two. This trip also demonstrated how valuable the use of a GA plane could be to a small business, especially when you can’t get there from here. Well now I can.
CHECK OUT ALL THE PHOTOS AND VIDEOS OF MY TRIP HERE!!
Al Carrino, President PureAire Monitoring Systems, Inc