Aviation Ambassador

IMG_7947The dictionary defines an ambassador as, “a person who acts as a representative or a promoter of a specified activity or organization.” For me it simply means that when you really love something, you can’t help but share that passion with others. Recently I had the opportunity to share my love of aviation in some different and unexpected ways.

Runway 5K

In September the airport hosted its annual 5K on the runway benefiting Honor Flight. Volunteer to get up early on a weekend and spend the morning standing around on a runway? Heck yeah! Count me in! I offered to work at the water station in part because they needed people with SIDA clearances, but mostly because watching the sunrise from the airfield is a special kind of awesome. And also because they parked two bizjets right next to the water station. I mean, who wouldn’t want to spend the morning with bizjets?

IMG_7944I wasn’t the only one enamoured with the airplanes. One of the race participants completely abandoned any pretense of running when she saw them. She pointed at the planes and said, “I’m not here for the race, I’m here for THIS!” The smile on her face made me realize that the airport 5K is so much more than just a race. It allows the community to connect with aviation and the airport in ways it wouldn’t otherwise be able to.

Perhaps my favorite moment came when several airliners got permission to use the taxiway closest to the race runway. The pilots opened their windows and waved at the runners as they taxied by. It was a HUGE hit with the participants. In the end we not only raised a ton of money for Honor Flight, but we strengthened ties with the community and maybe inspired a future pilot or two.

Industry Night

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Photo courtesy of OSU Center for Aviation Studies

In October I had the tremendous honor of being invited to attend Aviation Industry Night at OSU and take place in the panel discussion. I didn’t quite realize what I was getting myself into until I arrived at the event and discovered 200+ enthusiastic aviation students and alumni as well as a variety of industry professionals in attendance. When it dawned on me that I was actually going to be speaking in front of all those people I almost wished I had those bizjets from the 5K to hide behind!

IMG_7930There were three other people on the panel with me – an FO with a regional airline, a pilot with a private charter company, and a former airline pilot now flying business jets. We were asked to talk about our careers and we answered questions from the audience. I talked about my love of airports and how fortunate I am to work for one.

After the panel discussion was finished I spent time chatting with some of the other aviation professionals. I also talked with several of the students including one who is an accounting major! He wants to fly for the airlines but he figures an accounting degree might be useful if he ever needs a non-flying job.

North American Classic MG Magazine

IMG_9392Perhaps the most surprising outreach opportunity came as the result of a previous blog post. You may recall a few months ago I wrote about driving my 1954 MG to a nearby airport and taking a flight on a Ford Tri-Motor. Shortly after that post was published I was contacted by Larry Sanata, editor of North American Classic MG Magazine. He asked if he could write a piece about my passion for aviation and love of classic cars. Are you kidding me? Of course!

In the end he not only published an interview with me, but he also included my original blog post in its entirety. I think anyone who enjoys writing hopes that they might someday see their work in print. Seeing my post published in a magazine… Wow! I’m thrilled! The fact that it allows me to share my love of aviation with whole new group of people makes it even better still.

So… what about you? Are you an aviation ambassador too? There are plenty of opportunities out there so give it a try – you never know what might happen.

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Three Times the Love

IMG_2908Can you believe I’ve been working at the airport three years now? Three years! Three years of stalking airplanes. Three years of fighting the urge to ride around on the baggage carousel. And three years of being taunted by several sets of mobile stairs which have been parked outside the department window the ENTIRE time!

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In looking back on this past year there have been some pretty darn awesome moments. I got to see A-10s fly into my airport. Never in a million years did I ever think I’d see that! And a few weeks later I got to see Osprey fly in. Crazy, right? I went to Wings Over Pittsburgh and had an amazing time with some amazing friends. I got to hang out with more amazing friends at Oshkosh and I interviewed the Blue Angels. That’s right – someone was crazy enough to let me near the Blue Angels! I had a fantastic visit behind the scenes with American Airlines at CLT on Aviation Day. I helped out with a couple of podcasts. And I introduced a group of girls to the joys of flying. Yep, it has been quite a year!

IMG_2936But work has become a bit challenging in recent months. There have been some changes which have resulted in an increased workload, just as we head into the busiest time of year. Change isn’t a bad thing, but it can be stressful.  And as the amount of work increases, the stress does too.

The first casualty of all this was deice. I had been so excited to help out on the deice pad again this year. I really love being out there with the airplanes and seeing those amazing sunrises on the ramp! But the more stressed I became trying to do my regular job, the more I realized I couldn’t take on anything else, especially not something that can mean 12 hour days and additional stress. (Let’s face it – directing traffic on a busy morning on the deice pad is not always easy.) Having to say no to deice absolutely broke my heart.

IMG_2842Then my plane spotting began to suffer. I found myself unable to get away from my desk, even skipping lunch sometimes. After work I was tired and just wanted to get home. It came to a head one day when a plane spotter friend texted me that there were two C-130s on the airfield. Two C-130s! Sweet! I really wanted to go see them, but my task list was a mile long and felt like I just didn’t have the time.

FullSizeRender (85)At that moment it hit me. The whole reason I work for an airport is because there are airplanes outside the window. Am I really going to turn down the chance to go see a couple of C-130? Oh. Hell. NO! So I threw on a jacket and up top I went. I saw the Hercs and they were every bit as fantastic as I knew they would be. I thought about all the other amazing planes I have seen this year and I vowed right then and there not to let the work ruin the love. No matter how stressed or busy I am, I will ALWAYS make time for the airplanes. And you know what?  Spending my 30 minute lunch break away from my desk doing something I enjoy makes me so much happier and more productive when I get back. The truth is, being stressed at work at an airport is a THOUSAND times better than being stressed at any other job.

IMG_2781So what’s ahead for the next year? Well, I have an FBO visit coming up. And I’m hearing rumors that we might be visiting the ATC tower in the spring. Plus I’m already dreaming about a return trip to Oshkosh. Who knows what other adventures will come my way. If there is one thing I’ve learned in the last three years, it’s that sometimes the best moments happen totally unexpectedly, and sometimes the ordinary things are the most special.

Author’s Note: Guess what else is celebrating its three year anniversary?  This blog!  THANK YOU SO MUCH to all my readers.  You guys are the best!

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One Year Bloggiversary!

IMG_0365Can you believe it has been one whole year since I started this blog? Wow! I wasn’t sure whether I’d last one month, let alone 12 of them… in a row! But 30 posts and 1,564,456,489 words later (I just made that number up – I’m too lazy to go back and count) the blog is still going strong!

My First Year Of Blogging – Top Five

IMG_02791. The Airport!

Not coincidentally, this week also marks my one year anniversary working for the airport. I can hardly believe it!  One year of daily plane spotting! One year of resisting the temptation to ride the baggage carousel! One year of being taunted by the motorized stairs parked right outside my department! Seems like just yesterday I was getting lost in random staircases and trying to figure out how to get to Concourse A.  Although my job can sometimes be stressful, I LOVE every moment of being at the airport.  I get to see airplanes taking off and landing EVERY DAY. How freaking cool is that? I love being a part of the aviation industry, and I hope I get to continue for many years to come.

Emirates 12. Emirates 777

Let’s see… I got to stand out on the apron and watch the first official flight of an Emirates 777 into the cargo airport, complete with a water cannon salute AND a stairs truck. Heck yes this is one of my very favorite moments from the last year!

3. Tour of the Airfield

Driving around the airfield, riding in a broom truck and, best of all, zipping up the runway in a shuttle bus! Yep, this was an AWESOME experience! I hope I get the chance to do something similar at the cargo airport.

IMG_61824. Oshkosh 2015

Osh was awesome in so many ways… I got up close and personal with a stairs truck, sat in the cockpit of a FedEx A300F4 sat in the cockpit of a Sequoia Falco, saw more cool airplanes than I could begin to count and got to meet some really awesome people. Osh is, without a doubt, my happy place!

5. All of YOU!!!

I am so humbled and thankful for everyone who has taken the time to not only read my silly ramblings, but to share them with others! Thank you all so very much! I do want to take a moment to send a special thanks to a few people. I’m including their twitter handles because if you aren’t following them you are really missing out.IMG_8157

 

Eric Auxier (@Capnaux) and Dan Pimentel (@Av8rdan) who are not only excellent authors/bloggers, but who were brave enough to allow me to guest post!

Ken Hoke (@aerosavvy), Ron Rapp (@RonRapp1), Lew W (@atclew58), Jeff Kanarish (@atc_jeff), David (@davidvlynn) and Jeffrey Roehr (@JR_justJR) who have given me a tremendous amount of support, and whose blogs have been wonderful sources of information and inspiration.

IMG_0281Blog Trivia and Give-Away!

OK all you long-suffering readers – how much do you remember from the last year? Here’s a chance to put your knowledge to the test! Check out the questions below and email your answers to talesfromtheterminal@gmail.com or DM them to me on twitter, and I’ll enter your name into a drawing to get a pack of airport trading cards. (There are three cards in each pack – one for each airport.) I’ll pick two winners.  You don’t even have to get the answers right – I’ll still put you in the drawing. Heck, you don’t actually even have to answer at all – just tell me you want in the drawing and I’ll put you in.  You have until December 9, 2015.  Seriously, it doesn’t get any easier!

IMG_0033 (1)1. Who lives in the house next to the north runway?
a) CFO
b) Head of Airfield
c) CEO
d) Me!

2. What event led me out onto the apron for the very first time?
a) Fire Alarm
b) Stairs Truck sighting!
c) Airfield tour
d) Going to a different concourse

unnamed3. How many escalators are in the airport?
a) 17
b) 23
c) 32
d) 41

4. Which of the following is NOT one of my favorite plane spotting locations?
a) Employee Lot
b) Top of the parking garage
c) Concourse C
d) Concourse B

800px-Airport_mobile_stairs_and_vehicles_1Airport Vehicle Personality Quiz!

You all know how much I love airport ground support vehicles.  And by now you know which one is my favorite.  But what about you?  What ground support vehicle is your spirit animal? Take my airport vehicle personality quiz and find out! It is completely non-scientific and totally silly but then again, so are pretty much all the other personality quizzes out there.  I took the quiz myself and, of course, I got STAIRS TRUCK! (Duh – what else would I get?) Check it out and let me know what you get!

IMG_9754Airport Revenue Poll – The Answer Revealed

If you follow me on twitter then you might have seen my poll in which I asked followers whether they think my airport makes the most revenue from airline fees, concessions, hangar/tenant rent or parking.  You may be surprised to learn that the answer is NOT airline fees. The process of determining what to charge airlines for landing fees, etc. is complex and involves a lot of different factors.  The fees need to be acceptable to the airlines or guess what?  They’ll simply fly somewhere else!  As for the other poll choices, my airport does make some money from concessions as well as from rent paid by the various tenants and from hangar and tie-down rental.  However the largest percentage of revenue comes from… parking! Well done to everyone who got it right!

So, What’s Next?

What will year 2 at the airport hold? Only time will tell! However, I’m fairly certain it will include more silliness, more airport vehicles, more airplanes and, of course, MORE STAIRS TRUCKS! Stay tuned!

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Snowplows and Jet Fuel and Zombies, Oh My!

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I’m sorry, but we’ve had complaints about the jet fuel smell so I’m afraid Im going to have to ask you planes to leave.

It has been an interesting few months at the airport.  A very cool Boeing 757 came for a visit (along with some government official person or other) and four F-18s Super Hornets stopped by. Plus I finally figured out where the other FBO is located! Seems like there is always something new and different going on. Here’s a round-up of some of the latest happenings in my little corner of the terminal.

Disaster! No, Not Really

IMG_8231It’s disaster preparedness time! I was given the opportunity to sit in on a briefing for a disaster drill that is going to be held at the GA airport at the end of the month.  They’re keeping the exact scenario secret, but we were told that participating agencies include various police and fire departments, EMS, Med flight, multiple hospitals and health agencies, SWAT, the FAA, and the FBI.  Oh and a barbeque restaurant.  Hey wait a minute… health agencies?  SWAT? A barbeque restaurant? This can mean only one thing: Zombies! Oh. Hell. Yes.  I want in! But only if I can be a zombie.  I’ve heard that volunteer victims often get transported to hospitals which are running simultaneous drills of their own so it can be hours and hours before they get released.  As a volunteer zombie I figure I’ll get shot quickly, after which I can spend the rest of my time hanging out with the FBI participants, Agents Mulder and Scully.

Snow to the Plow

IMG_8142 (1)Our fall luncheon was held last month over at one of my very favorite places – the air field maintenance facility (where a lot of the way-cool ground equipment is kept). When one of the supervisors caught me admiring a snowplow he unlocked the driver’s side door and issued a challenge: if I could climb up there he’d let me sit in it. OK, first of all, you’d think all the air field people would have thoroughly been briefed by now. “Whatever else you do, do NOT allow her near the ground equipment!” Secondly, I’m sorry but did you say IF I can climb up there?  Are you kidding me?  Hell yes I can climb up there!  At first I was just excited – holy cannoli I’m behind the wheel of a ginormous freaking SNOWPLOW! But then I realized that quite a crowd had formed.  The next thing I knew the official event photographer was there and you guessed it – a pic of me in the plow now graces the pages of the quarterly newsletter. And for the record, getting into a plow is easy.  Getting out, however, is a whole other story!

Trading Cards!

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The Dreamliner doesn’t want to share.

Apparently airport trading cards are a thing. Who knew? My airport has joined the fun and during the luncheon we were each given a set (since we actually manage three airports the set has three cards – one for each).  There were lots left over so I took a few extra sets. I have it on good authority that ORD is also part of the trading card trend.  Anyone out there have an ORD trading card that they would be willing to swap? PLEASE let me know!  As for the rest of the sets, I’m thinking it might be fun to do some sort of giveaway. Stay tuned!

Living on the Edge

IMG_9134If you’ve read my Blog Post About Blog Posts, or if you follow the aviation scene on twitter, then you are already familiar with Captain Eric Auxier. He’s a blogger and author who flies airplanes for a major US airline in his spare time.  His most recent book in the Code Name: Dodger series just came out. I was super excited to get my copy so I decided to take it with me on my lunch break.  I wandered blissfully through the terminal and was riding the escalator when I suddenly realized that I was surrounded by security agents. And then I remembered that I was carrying a bright yellow book with the words JIHADI HIJACKING emblazoned on the front.  Um… oops! Fortunately they didn’t notice and they all got off the escalator on the next floor.  Phew!  Thank goodness I didn’t try to take it through security! If you’re looking for a fun read you definitely should get this book.  Just be careful if you take it to the airport!

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Nice landing! You can expect an invoice for landing fees in about a month. Enjoy your visit!

 

A Blog Post About Blog Posts

Thought I’d take some time this week to share a few of my favorite aviation-related blogs.  These are blogs that have informed me, encouraged me, inspired me and amused me.  If you haven’t been reading them, you’ve really been missing out! Bookmark them and add them to your regular reading list – I promise you won’t regret it! (For you twitter fans, I’ve included the author’s twitter handle – if you aren’t following them, do it now!)

AeroSavvy Everyday Aviation  || Aerosavvy.com || @AeroSavvy AerosavvyEver wondered about how the de-icing process works?  What about all those blinky lights on the plane? Maybe you’ve wondered about what a day in the life of a cargo pilot might look like.  Well wonder no more because Ken Hoke has got you covered!  His posts are both informative and really fun to read.  Just whatever you do, please do NOT refer to the runway or the apron as the tarmac!!! One of my favorite posts: Airline Flying: Cargo vs. Passengers ____________________________________________________ The House of Rapp || Rapp.org || @RonRapp1 Ron Rapp’s blog is full of thoughtful and insightful posts that will really get you thinking. Ron covers a variety of topics that highlight important trends in aviation.  Be sure to check out the comments as his posts often generate some interesting conversations.  And did I mention that Ron has been blogging for TWENTY years? Wow! One of my favorite posts: Back to the (Supersonic) Future ____________________________________________________ Adventures of Cap’n Aux || capnaux.com || @capnaux capnauxEric Auxier likes to say that he’s an airline pilot by day, a writer by night and a kid by choice.  However, he left out that he’s also a master of media, who has something for everyone on his website. Want to learn about the life of an airline pilot? He’s got you covered. Prefer videos? He’s got those too. Like books? He’s got four (and two more in the works)! Not really into aviation? No problem – many of his posts feature human interest stories that will tug at your heart whether you like airplanes or not. About the only thing Eric doesn’t have is a hit song… yet. One of my favorite posts: Medical Emergency! ____________________________________________________ Paxview  || paxview.wordpress.com || @JR_justJR Most of the blogs on this list are written from a pilot’s point of view, but with this blog a pax strikes back! Jeffrey Roehr shares stories and insights from his many travels – and with over two million miles flown to more than 40 countries, he has plenty of tales to tell! One of my favorite posts: The Stalker ____________________________________________________

WK Pix|| wkpix.com || @atclew58 58AviationWhat does an air traffic controller who spends many hours every week directing airplanes do during his time off? Why he takes pictures of airplanes, of course! If you are like me and can never get enough cool airplane pics, then Lew’s blog is a must-see.  In addition to amazing photos he also has blog posts in which he shares some insight into the world of controllers. ____________________________________________________ ATC Communication  || ATCcommunication.com || @atc_jeff Jeff Kanarish’s blog is an important resource for anyone who needs to communicate with Air Traffic Control.  Whether you’re a new pilot who is just starting out, or a seasoned veteran who wants to polish your skills, you will find plenty of valuable, pertinent information here.  If you aren’t a pilot but like to listen to live ATC communications, then this blog will help you understand the language of ATC and give you insight into what is going on in the cockpit as well in the tower and at tracon. I also highly recommend the accompanying podcast, Radar Contact.  I have listened to every episode at least twice and I have learned a TON.  Check it out – you won’t regret it! One of my favorite posts: Consequences of Declaring an Emergency with ATC ____________________________________________________ Guido Warnecke’s YouTube Channel || Guido Warnecke As far as I can tell, Guido Warnecke doesn’t have a blog, nor is he on twitter.  (If I’m wrong, someone please tell me!)  He does, however, have a great YouTube channel in which he posts flight videos from his job as corporate pilot. These videos are perfect for new pilots or non-pilot aviation enthusiasts. He includes maps, diagrams, charts and annotations that explain the various cockpit instruments, when and how the checklists are covered, etc.  I have learned SO MUCH from these videos! One of my favorite videos: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fVDxdBcMqjk ____________________________________________________ But Wait, There’s More! There are so many great aviation blogs out there – I could go on and on.  I plan to do another Blog Post about Blog Posts in the future, but in the meantime if you want still more great aviation-related reading, here you go: What if Wonder Woman was real and had a blog?  She is!  Her name is Karlene Petitt: karlenepetitt.blogspot.com For words of wisdom from an aviation enthusiast and social media expert, check out Dan Pimental’s blog: airplanista.com Because you can’t get enough blogs from pilots, check out Renewed Pilot’s take on life in the cockpit at: renewedpilot.com