Spotter Sins and Fly-Ins

A few weeks ago a friend and I watched airplanes together during our lunch break. We chatted while we snapped photos. During a pause in the conversation we looked up and saw something unusual approaching the other runway. By the time we realized what it was (a KC-135 doing a practice approach) it was too late for us to get to the other side of the garage. We managed to grab a couple of quick pics, but what could have been a great opportunity passed us by.

We looked at each other with dismay as we realized that we both had scanners, but neither of us was listening! Ooops! We had committed a major spotting sin and we paid the price. Make the most of your spotting moments by making sure you’re ready. Here are some classic errors that can cost you the chance to catch that special airplane.

Not Having/Not Listening to a Scanner

Since we’re already talking about it, let’s start here. I didn’t use a scanner for a long time. I just didn’t realize what a valuable tool it can be, especially for catching military flights or private jets which might not show up on flight trackers. Once I started using one my spotting game got a lot better. LiveATC feeds aren’t always available and don’t always capture the most useful channels. For example, at my airport LiveATC covers the approach and tower frequencies, but it doesn’t have the ground frequency which means you can’t hear taxi instructions. A scanner lets you program whatever channels you want and the reception is a lot clearer. If you don’t have a scanner, get one! And if you do have a scanner, don’t make my mistake and leave it in your car!

Forgetting to Check Equipment

How many times have you been set up to capture a long-sought-after livery only to have your camera’s low-battery light come on at the worst possible moment? I’ve had this happen many times! I usually continue with the shot while silently urging the battery to last just a few more moments. Sometimes I get lucky. Sometimes I don’t. The same thing happens with scanner batteries. We can save ourselves a lot of grief by taking a moment to check these things before we head out. And always carry spare batteries and extra memory cards.

Not Connecting with Other Spotters

Belonging to a spotter network is important. It can help you with everything from finding good spotting locations to choosing the right camera settings. Many spotters also work in the aviation industry and they often have really great insider information about rare airplanes or unusual liveries that are scheduled to visit. Plus plane spotting is just more fun with others!

Not Being Respectful

When chasing that perfect pic it can be hard to resist the temptation to sneak onto private property, or stand along the fence outside of the designated spotting area. You tell yourself it’s just this once for that one special airplane. The problem is, it only takes one person breaking the rules one time to potentially shut down spotting for everyone. Don’t be that person! Stick to designated locations. If airport security asks you to relocate, apologize and move right away.

Fly-In Season!

Warm weather and covid vaccinations mean that fly-ins are possible once again. After more than a year of being stuck at home with only virtual events to attend, the aviation world is ready to get back out there. On a recent Sunday I headed to the other side of the state to attend a fly-in that was held by a local EAA chapter. I was excited to be surrounded by airplanes and ready for a great day of photography.

I’ll admit I was a teeny bit apprehensive about crowds (or lack thereof), but I needn’t have worried. There was a wonderful mix of different types of planes and altbough attendance was strong, it never felt too crowded. I grabbed my camera and set off to capture the day. The field is bordered on one side by a raised levy. Not only did it offer a great view of the airfield below, but planes flew right over top as they departed. The perfect spotting location! Seeing an opportunity for some amazing video, I positioned myself carefully, lined up the shot and clicked the record button on my camera. And then the low battery light came on. And I realized I left my spare batteries back in the car.


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!


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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Year Two In Review


The beginning of December marked two years of writing this blog as well as two years working for the airport. Wow! Seems like just yesterday I was wide-eyed and new, geeking out over all the activity on the ramp. Well… OK, I STILL geek out over the activity on the ramp. I just can’t help it! Here’s a look back at some of the things that happened (good and bad) in the past year.

img_5481Let’s get the bad stuff out of the way first. 2016 began with the passing of my father in early January. He had been ill for a couple of years so it wasn’t unexpected, but it definitely started the year on a down note. Then in June and again in December I had to deal with health issues. The first put me in the hospital for several days and kept me away from work for another week after that. The second didn’t keep me from working, but the three weeks it took me to recover were incredibly trying and discouraging. Yeah, in some ways this was a rough year. But thankfully there were many good things that happened too.

IMG_2335 (2)First and foremost, in April I got to fly an airplane! I still don’t quite know how that happened.  Me? Fly a plane?  I half expected the FAA to show up and put a stop to it. Thank goodness they didn’t because it was a truly amazing experience. For those of you wondering when I’ll have lesson #2, I don’t know. But I do know that I will definitely get back behind the controls at some point.

Another amazing thing that happened this year was getting to be a guest on THREE aviation podcasts:the Airplane Geeks, the Aviation Careers podcast and Plane Talking UK. Talk about completely unexpected! I never in a million years thought I would end up on a podcast, let alone three of them. It was a tremendous honor to be invited and so much fun!

IMG_4440In July I made the return trip to Oshkosh. Oh how I love that place! Being around so many airplanes is always awesome, but this year I got the chance to connect with several of my online aviation friends as well. I’m beginning to understand why people refer to Airventure as an aviation family reunion!  One of the wonderful people I had the pleasure to meet was Rob Mark, one of the hosts of the Airplane Geeks and publisher of the Jetwhine blog (among other things). Earlier this month he invited me to write a guest post about my efforts to get my daughter interested in aviation. Yet another tremendous honor! If you aren’t a regular reader of Jetwhine, I strongly recommend you check it out.  It’s always filled with great aviation content.

It was a big year for me at the airport too. If you told me when I started two years ago that I’d be learning deice pad operations I never would have believed you. (But I’d have secretly hoped you were right!) And getting to visit two ATC towers earlier this month was a dream come true. I also got to see Air Force One (twice), celebrate the re-opening of the north runway, visit the cargo airport (three times) and listen to John Glenn speak at a gathering in his honor.

img_6726I am so truly blessed to work at a place and in an industry I love so much, and to have connected with so many wonderful people. A huge thank you to everyone who helped make this such an amazing year.  A special shout-out to Aerosavvy, JR and Captain Al for their guest posts. They were fantastic!  And, of course a very big thank you to all of YOU for reading and commenting on this blog!

So what does 2017 have in store? Well if 2016 taught me anything it’s that you never know what might happen. However there are some awesome things in the works, including a return trip to Oshkosh in July and a visit to Wings Over Pittsburgh in May. And maybe, just maybe, airfield driving privileges! Stay tuned!


Blog Post About (Aviation) Podcasts

Author’s note: My apologies for the long delay between posts.  I took ill rather suddenly right after I published my last post.  I required emergency surgery which sidelined me for several weeks.  I am finally on the mend and ready to get back to being an aviation fan-girl running loose at the airport and (of course) blogging all about it.


By Zzubnik (Own work) Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

I’ll admit, for a long time I wasn’t a podcast listener. I knew what they were (sort-of) but didn’t figure that there were any out there that would be of interest to me. Boy was I so totally WRONG!!! Beginning last summer I began making a series of long drives back home to visit my ailing father. In search of something aviation-related to listen to while driving I decided to download a few aviation podcasts that had been recommended by friends. Those few led me to others and the next thing I knew, I’d become a regular podcast listener.

What makes podcasts so awesome? Not only do they provide a lot of excellent, detailed information on the world of aviation, but they also come with really wonderful communities of listeners who encourage and support each other. I discussed two of my favorite podcasts in my last post Airplane Geeks and Plane Talking UK. However, there are several other amazing podcasts out there that you really don’t want to miss!

IMG_3607 (1)Airline Pilot Guy

This podcast is hosted by Captain Jeff Nielsen, who flies for a major US carrier. Originally a one-man show, Jeff has since added several co-hosts including Miami Rick, who recently added the 747 to the long list of Boeing airplanes he knows how to fly, Dr Steph, a physician and general aviation pilot, and Captain Nick who flies A330s/A340s for a major UK carrier.  The podcast covers the latest aviation news as well as addressing items of interest and questions sent in by listeners.

Aside from being incredibly informative, the show is just plain fun. Jeff and his co-hosts broadcast live, usually via Youtube, but you can listen to the recorded podcast any time. That said, if you get a chance to watch it live, DO IT! Seriously, the comments and discussion in the chat room in combination with the live podcast are typically completely hilarious. It never fails to lift my spirits. In fact, I always watch the show live and then go back listen to the podcast. I almost always learn something that I missed the first time and I find that I laugh just as much.

One of my favorite episodes: Secret Number Two   Really you could pick just about any episode – they are all great.  However, this is a recent one in which they cover an accident involving a Cirrus SR20 and I thought the discussion was very insightful.

IMG_3608Plane Safety Podcast

This little gem of a podcast is hosted by Pip, a pilot for a European airline. As the name suggests, this podcast focuses on the safety aspects of aviation. Pip discusses many of the day to day issues faced by pilots and airlines, often drawing from current events.  He also has several episodes in which he reviews well-known aviation incidents from the past, points out some of the key contributing factors and highlights how they have influenced the policies and procedures of today. When he isn’t discussing safety, Pip often talks about his latest trip which gives the listener a behind-the-scenes look at what life as a pilot is really like.

One of my favorite episodes: Nats, Brexit and the Millenium Falcon No, I did not pick this because it is the most recent episode (although it is). I chose this because it includes an interview with an experienced First Officer that is the BEST INTERVIEW EVER.  Seriously, check it out.


Hosted by Chris Palmer, a private pilot and founder of Angle of Attack, this podcast features guests and topics that focus on general aviation and flight training. Chris is passionate about encouraging current and future pilots, and it really shines through in the way he talks about flying.

One of my favorite episodes: My Scariest Pilot Moment I think it takes a lot of guts to share a frightening or difficult moment that you’ve had as a pilot.  I really like that Chris was willing to put this out there so that others can learn from his experience.

IMG_3609Flying and Life

Hosted by Mike, who works for a major US carrier, this podcast gives us a detailed look into the world of an airline dispatcher. I have always wondered just what exactly a dispatcher does, so I really enjoy this podcast and I have learned a lot. For example, did you know that a dispatcher shares operational control with the captain of the flight?  Me either! It is pretty incredible all the things that dispatchers are responsible for.

One of my favorite episodes: Building Routes Part 1 Wow! A lot of thought goes into what route you’ll be flying the next time you head out on vacation!

IMG_3601Some Podcast Regulars You Should Follow:

There are several folks who don’t have podcasts of their own, but often contribute to the podcasts listed above. If you are interested in aviation and/or podcasting, I recommend giving these guys a follow on twitter:

Micah (Airplane Geeks, Plane Talking UK, Airline Pilot Guy): Micah uses his background in radio to submit amazing pieces of audio feedback that are amusing, poignant and never fail to get you thinking.

Captain Al (Plane Talking UK, Plane Safety Podcast, Airline Pilot Guy): Al’s background as a captain with a major UK airline allows him to add valuable experience and perspective on pretty much any aviation topic.

Nevil (Plane Talking UK, Airline Pilot Guy):Nevil is an aviation enthusiast who is also a self-proclaimed analogue recording geek.  Enough said.


Airport Tales: JR


By Peter Rood – Awaiting Departure, CC BY-SA 2.0,

It’s time for another installment of Airport Tales, where seasoned travelers share some of their favorite (and not so favorite) moments from airports around the world.  Next up is Jeffrey Roehr, better known as JR.  He has racked up at least a bazillion miles (that’s the official number) jetting to various corners of the globe.  Seriously, if a mere mortal were to attempt to match his distance record, he/she would have to start traveling today and continue on for… well, practically forever!  As you might imagine, JR knows a lot about a lot of different airports and he has some pretty interesting tales to tell.


Tell us a little about yourself, how you got the travel bug and give us an idea of where your travels have taken you (locations, miles, etc). 

George Bush Airport 1

By DearEdward from New York, NY, USA CC BY 2.0

My name is Jeff, but everyone calls me JR. During my life I have lived in 7 different states, and overseas in the UK, Singapore, and Taiwan. I am 56 years old and have been married 29 years to a wonderful lady. I love to laugh, and I try (I try!) to get along with everyone. However this specifically excludes you if you start kicking my seat halfway between Houston and Tokyo, or if I ever see you giving a flight attendant or a gate agent a hard time.

I started my international traveling in 1970 when our family moved to the UK, and the travel bug bit me hard as a teenager with weekend trips from the UK to all sorts of cool places in Europe. By now, I can count visits to over 40 countries with an estimated 6,000 hours in the air as a passenger. In terms of total travel I have documented over 2.5 million actual air miles, including 1.2 million just on United. Just for fun, I also have a WordPress website with some of my travel experiences/tales, tips, and tricks. http://www.paxview.wordpress.comMillion Mile3

Airport stuff:

Favorite airport to fly into/out of (in terms of approach/departure) and why:

I do not think there is any finer approach to see than SFO, and that left-turn and bank just in front of the Golden Gate bridge on a bright and sunny winter morning after finishing a TransPac flight. It is just the nicest way possible for America to say “Welcome Home” (although I still have hours of flying ahead). Yes, the DCA approach is also nice and scenic, but it is not SFO.

Prettiest airport and what criteria did you use to make that decision?

Probably like everyone else who has been there, I am going to say Singapore/Changi. And unless you have been there, it is so hard to describe. Yes, they really do have indoor butterfly gardens. Yes, indoor amusement park. Yes, waterfalls, trees, gardens. Yes, a 6 story high open atrium. Yes, smiling friendly staff, great shopping, and so clean… They even have a Dunkin Donuts in Changi (I mean talk about perfection)

Favorite airport to visit (in terms of facilities) and why:

Surprise!!! Not Changi. And I only say that because I have seldom (never ?) used any facilities at Changi other than the SQ Silver-Kris lounge. I do love Narita, the stores there are fun, but the best overall facilities might actually be in Hong Kong (the new airport). Special mention goes to the somewhat hidden casino in Frankfurt (FRA).

PWM chairsIn your opinion, what qualities make for a good airport?

Let me start with what is bad… Tight, cramped, dirty, noisy, smelly, dark & dingy, too crowded. (Yes La Guardia, I’m talking about you…) So when I find an airport that feels roomy, is bright and well lit, is not annoyingly noisy (no echoes) and is not too crowded… Love it. There are several that fit that description, but here in the USA they are all small airports. Among them are T.F. Green in Providence R.I. (PVD), Greensboro N.C. (GSO), and my former hometown airport of Portland Maine (PWM) where they even provide wooden rocking chairs by sunny gates.

Pappa'sAirport you’ve been to with the best coffee? food? Other amenities? Best coffee is tough. I am going to exclude Starbucks and Dunkin Donuts at any airports, since they are so universal. I do not remember the name of the restaurant, but it was in Zurich, and it was the best tasting cup of coffee I have ever had at an airport. So it’s Zurich airport for coffee. Food is a toss-up tie between Legal Seafoods in Boston (Logan BOS Term C), and here in my new hometown with Pappadeaux’s seafood in Houston (Bush IAH Term E).

Strangest airport-related incident: It was 1999, I was flying from Singapore to Jakarta (my first time going to Jakarta) to meet my sister and her family who had recently moved there. Coming out of immigration, I see her, but her back is facing me. So I start to rush forward with my arms outstretched to give her a big surprise hug. About 2 paces away from her I am intercepted and stopped cold by her bodyguard, complete with his pistol jabbed into my ribs. Welcome to Indonesia.


By 颐园新居 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (, via Wikimedia Commons

Best airport-related moment: Anytime I finish a flight and I see my wife waiting to pick me up. Second best is if I have luggage and I win the baggage claim lottery after an International flight because my bag is first off. Fun game – only played by very seasoned Frequent Fliers.

Worst airport-related moment: Three weeks after 9/11, I am doing a hand carry of some new silicon wafers from our test facility in Boston to an assembly house in Korea (BOS-FRA-ICN). I have all the paperwork I need, the name of the customs broker to meet up with in Incheon (ICN), and the wafers are carefully packaged inside a hermetic carrier. Problem is… all the instructions are in English and nobody at Korean customs appears able to read English. And they don’t understand my reaction when they try to open the container. End result was two rifles and a pistol being pointed at me while someone else was screaming at me in Korean. I ended up with a Korean soldier’s knee pressed into my back, keeping me face down and immobile on the floor.

JetlaggedEasiest airport to navigate and why? Domestically, I think SFO has done a great job since they remodeled back in the 90’s. Orlando’s MCO is also really easy to get around in, and the short train ride is actually a nice feature. At both airports there is a good amount of walking, but they have gone to lengths to add in some entertaining features (Yes, I mean the stores in Orlando) and good signage. The ever changing ‘museum’ exhibits in SFO on the walk between security and the gates are actually fun, I often bypass the moving walkway so I can wander through.

Most difficult airport to navigate and why? Ohhh boy… This is not easy. I have never liked trying to connect in JFK from International to Domestic, so much so that I have avoided JFK for the past 15 years. Completely 100% avoided it. It’s just a nightmare. When considering only domestic flights, it is Chicago ORD – which is probably my least favorite airport anywhere. If you ever run the mile needed to connect from a late arriving regional jet at terminals E/F to catch an on-time International flight out of terminal C, you will know why I hate ORD so much.

What’s your best advice for travelers on navigating airports? First: Calm down. Seriously. Calm Down! It seems like every trip I watch somebody just losing their mind in an airport. Stop. Take a breath. Look around. Even ask someone, there are plenty of airport workers and security/police around. Most of them actually like to help. It is not rocket science. Second advice is travel light. Don’t try to get thru security and navigate an airport with a tight connection on a busy day while carrying too much. That is asking for trouble and stress. Pack light, wear comfortable shoes (NOT slippers or sandals), and you will move fast and easy thru every airport.

ThisWayIs there anything airports can do to better assist travelers? It sounds silly, and obvious, but SIGNS. In some cases there are too many, too distracting, too much to read. In other airports there are too few, or they are too small, and you easily can head away from a gate in the wrong direction. If I could design an airport, as you walk out of every gate there would be a BIG RED ARROW pointing either left or right so you know which way to the exit and/or baggage claim.

If you could operate any piece of airport equipment/vehicle, which would it be? Any piece? Any?? The planes of course!! But there are these very strict & annoying laws, rules, and regulations that are in place to stop that. Confession; Frank Abagnale is my airport idol.


Wow!  Thank you SO MUCH for sharing your stories and expertise with us JR!  I have made a note to never, ever, ever carry wafers (silicon, Necco, or any other kind) into Korea! Yikes! If you want to read more of JR’s stories you’ll definitely want to check out his blog at You can also follow JR on twitter – @JR_justJR

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 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!


Snowplows and Jet Fuel and Zombies, Oh My!


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!


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 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 || || @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 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  || || @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|| || @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  || || @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: ____________________________________________________ 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: For words of wisdom from an aviation enthusiast and social media expert, check out Dan Pimental’s blog: Because you can’t get enough blogs from pilots, check out Renewed Pilot’s take on life in the cockpit at: