All posts tagged 'Flying' - Page 9

I Toured the UPS Worldport and it Changed my Life

One of the major perks of attending the only flight university in Kentucky is that we have a great relationship with UPS. Seeing as their worldwide air hub is located about an hour and a half down the road, it only makes sense that a partnership was created and has been growing for several years now.

I consider myself a Kentucky girl and anyone from here knows what a huge deal UPS is for our state. Most of the pilots who are training at EKU that are originally from Kentucky started their piloting education because UPS inspired them. It is hard to miss a giant Airbus, MD-11, or Boeing 747 flying through the air on any given day in UPS livery.

They allow a group of students from EKU Aviation to come tour once a year. Getting into the Worldport was a big deal. We each had to provide personal information so that they knew exactly who was on the premises at what time. Our tour began at 10:00 PM on a Friday night and lasted until 3:00 AM because they wanted us to be there during their "rush hour," so we could see everything in action.

We met our point of contact and tour guide in the parking lot and he ushered us into the building that was clearly designed for touring groups. Large dramatic photos depicting their fleet and operations hung from the walls and a screen showed a live feed of where all of their planes were currently positioned. The first impression that this place gives off is awe-inspiring. We all checked in and filed into the next room where they had models of all of their aircraft types. Our guide gave us a quick overview of the planes and their capacities. Our group knew a little bit more about airplanes than a typical group would so he told us some mechanical facts too.

You could tell that the people who were in charge of public relations were the best of the best. They were courteous, friendly, professional, and seemed to really love their jobs. Their enthusiasm for sharing the UPS Worldport with us was amazing and they continually encouraged us to someday join their company as pilots or employees in another capacity. This was a huge deal for most everyone on the tour, who has an end-goal of flying for UPS.

They showed us a video presentation about their production capacity and it literally gave me chills. They have the capacity to process 416,000 packages per hour, and process an average of 1.6 million packages a day. They turn over approximately 130 aircraft daily, and they keep 2.5 million gallons of fuel on site. During their peak season they will use all of that fuel during one 4-hour period. These are just a few of the quick facts that they presented on the video.

After the video we split the group in half, and one half went to tour the Worldport while the other half went to fly the simulators. I ended up being in the group that did the simulators first, and it was one of the most amazing experiences I have had in aviation yet. They took us to the training building and we got to fly in the Airbus A300. All five of us fit comfortably in the simulator because it was as large as a room. There was the part for the pilot and co-pilot, a large chair with controls on it for the simulator operator, and two jump seats in the back for observers.

The simulator was full motion so everyone could feel every control input. I flew in the captain seat first and he guided me on how to takeoff, fly to some headings and eventually fly an ILS down to the runway. It was so amazing applying everything I have learned from my training thus far to try to understand the complex systems of the A300. Just as my experience from flying a RJ simulator a few years back taught me, using the trim was extremely helpful and necessary for flying this beast.

After we flew in the simulators the instructors offered to write the time in our logbooks. I am so happy to say that I now have actual simulator time logged flying the A300! We thanked our instructors and headed off to the maintenance hangar. They had the 747 and an A300 sitting in this maintenance hangar that appeared to go on forever. We did a walk around of the A300 and they pointed out a few interesting features. The one that fascinated me the most was the large red dot that was located under the tail. Our guide told us that during the preflight inspection, pilots look to see if any of the paint on this red dot was scraped off. If it was, the previous flight had a tail strike!

From here we went out to the actual ramp and road around in a tour bus to see different phases of the operation. With a steady stream of flights coming in as our background, we saw employees unloading the giant containers of packages and transporting them to the package sorting area. They stopped the tour bus where we had a perfect view of the active runway. UPS planes were landing every two minutes, touching down only a few yards away from where we were. It was so fast and high-energy that we could not help but stare in awe for as long as they would let us stay.

Our tour of this side of the Worlport ended with us walking around the package sorting area. This particular part of the premises has been on television specials such as Modern Marvels, Ultimate Factories, and many more to showcase how it is the number one most efficient factory of its type in the world. I could write an entire article just about this place. It boasts over 100 miles of conveyer belts and takes up an area equal to more than 90 football fields. There was so much going on that it made my head spin. They have truly perfected the monumental task of sorting and tracking thousands of packages every minute.

We got back in our bus and headed to the Global Operation Center (GOC) across the road. This building contains offices for crew scheduling, flight dispatch, maintenance control, contingency functions, and their meteorology department. The operations here control every UPS flight worldwide. It was amazing how every department was situated in the same room, so that if something were to happen in flight dispatch that needed assistance from crew scheduling, they only had to walk a few feet away and talk to the person in charge of that department. Perhaps most importantly, they have an entire meteorology department located about 10 feet away from the flight dispatchers.

They gave us a briefing on each of the functions of the departments and allowed us into the main room after an intense security screening. The lights were very dim so that employees would keep their voices down and have an easier time focusing. There was no photography allowed at this point of the tour and it was a very serious environment. The safe and successful operation of their entire fleet was dependent on the people in this room so it gave us all a bit of a tense feeling.

Although it was almost 3:00 AM at this point, I was wide-awake from all of the amazing things I had seen during our tour. UPS is truly one of the most advanced and efficient companies in the world. I was continually blown away by their innovation and professionalism in all aspects of their operations. I hope that some day I am able to work for UPS, or any company of such high caliber. It truly changed the way that I see possibilities for the future and what a passionate group of hard workers are capable of achieving.

Celebrating Girls in Aviation Day

This past week something happened that is vital to the advancement of women in professional and general aviation. Women in Aviation International started an initiative earlier this year that helped make September 26th, 2015 officially "Girls in Aviation Day." The idea is a spin-off of their Girls in Aviation day held during their annual WAI conferences. The event focuses on introducing girls between ages 8 and 16 years old to aviation and involving them in various learning opportunities.

The ultimate goal of Girls in Aviation day is to help the next generation of young women to consider aviation as a future career choice. In my personal experience, many young girls simply do not see aviation as a field that they have the option to get into. The common image of a pilot presented in the media is usually a male. Having a day like this that raises the awareness of the general public about women in aviation can have a huge impact on how many girls decide to go into aviation in the future.

A large majority of U.S. and international chapters of Women in Aviation International hosted events in their hometowns for the big day. Activities put on by different chapters ranged from an airport tour with static displays to a hands-on experience learning what is involved in creating a flight plan. Several chapters also hosted presentations by women in a variety of fields in aviation. WAI provided the participating chapters with gift bags and informational packets to hand out to the girls. Additionally, a total of 29 states and two cities released official proclamations naming September 26th as Girls in Aviation Day.

A few aviation museums got in on the fun as well. The Royal Aviation Museum of Western Canada hosted hundreds of girls, and guided them through "career stations" highlighting different paths such as ATC, maintenance, airport operational manager, flight attendant, and several others.

Another meaningful event that happened on Girls in Aviation Day is that Delta flight 8877 – call sign WING 1 (Women Inspiring our Next Generation) operated with an entirely female crew chartering more than 130 young girls to the Museum of Flight in Seattle, WA for a day of learning about aviation career opportunities. Originating in Minneapolis, WING 1 was the airline’s first-ever all-female charter flight. It is so encouraging to see huge companies really caring about their employees, and many girls who flew on WING 1 reported feeling inspired and amazed at how they saw women were capable of doing any job related to flying.

The all-female Delta flight WING 1 - "Women Inspiring our Next Generation."

The global initiative of promoting women in aviation has certainly been gaining traction in the last several years. As more jobs are opening up in general, the increased demand for qualified and passionate pilots could definitely use a healthy dose of girl power. With programs like this and organizations such as the Ninety-Nines and Women in Corporate Aviation actively recruiting more ladies, the outlook for future increase in female pilots looks very promising.

A few years back when I first began looking into aviation seriously as a career I had no idea how many great opportunities were out there. There is an entire generation of female pilots that want to encourage, support, and mentor as many young ladies as they can. I am incredibly excited to see what the future holds for women in aviation, and I hope that through pursuing professional aviation training I can someday be a mentor or role model to a girl who has aspirations to join such a challenging and exciting field of work.

Kids Flying Biplanes

Plane and pilots en route AirVenture 2015

At 19 and 22 years of age, my boyfriend Daniel and I are still considered "kids" by the majority of adults. For this exact reason, we got a lot of interesting reactions when we flew a 1931 Waco ASO open cabin biplane into EAA AirVenture Oshkosh last week. Most people cannot fathom flying such an antique aircraft themselves, and seeing us doing it seemed out of place.

This particular Waco has been in my boyfriend’s family since the 1960s. It was an old crop duster that had been sitting in a field in Louisiana and desperately needed a restoration. They obtained the aircraft and spent over 10 years restoring it to the stunning condition that it is in now. Although he grew up around this plane, Daniel got his license and spent a couple hundred hours flying a Stinson 10A before he was allowed to move to the Waco. His tailwheel skills still amaze me, and his transition into the Waco only took a handful of hours.

He debated for several days if he should fly the Stinson into AirVenture for a second year, or take the Waco. He finally did decide to take a leap and fly the Waco, and we are both so glad he did. Although it is pretty much the opposite of the type of plane you would want to go on a long VFR cross country with, the flights there and back were unforgettable and enjoyable. The flight up was 6.7 hours total flight time (plus a stop every hour to stretch our legs and snack), and the flight back was only 5.7 hours (plus hourly stops as well).

Wearing our "Straightwing Crew Hats"

The flight was a particularly enjoyable experience for me because Daniel would give me full flight control for entire legs of the trip while we were enroute. The seat in the front has a grand total of zero flight instruments besides the stick, rudder, and throttle control. It was a fun learning experience for me to fly entirely stick and rudder, and for him to give me constructive feedback based on what his instruments read. My first couple attempts I kept getting into what I called "The Dolphin," where I would over-correct for altitude changes and fly in a constant slight attitude of up and down, like a dolphin swimming near the surface of the water. Once I got the hang of how much input I needed to stabilize the aircraft, it was much smoother sailing.

Half the fun of AirVenture is relaxing in the shade of the aircraft wing and talking to fellow aircraft enthusiasts that walk past. We set out chairs and spoke with people for a couple hours every day. It was always interesting to see the reactions of people who had been admiring the aircraft from the other side, then came over to see us smiling and asking how they were. The most common reaction was "do YOU fly this?" and a general disbelief that such a young guy could be the pilot in command of such a plane. Most people congratulated him on his accomplishments and expressed their jealousy. There was one flight line personnel who saw Daniel climbing on the wing to reach his iPad and promptly came over to scold him for climbing on the aircraft and asked several times if he was REALLY the pilot. We did appreciate his concern for the well-being of the aircraft!

An interesting thing to consider is that the average age of WWI and WWII pilots was early 20's. Pilots younger than Daniel were flying more powerful aircraft in extremely dangerous circumstances. We kept that in mind during our journey and certainly feel reverence and respect for all veterans. Aviation has such a rich heritage and we feel honored for the opportunities we have had so far to experience flight as it would have been in the 1930s.

Beautiful view of Chicago and some sailboats off our right wing as we headed back south.

Daniel's father and my good friend Hayley flew in their Waco YKC, which is closed cabin. It was funny when we would land on the way back and they would be sweaty from all the heat the engine gives off combined with the hot day, and Daniel and I would be wearing two or three jackets to keep from being freezing. The higher the altitude, the colder the air, so we generally flew around 2000 feet.

It was an amazing year at EAA Oshkosh AirVenture and another great experience flying in. Hello to any of the brilliant people we met while up there, and I hope everyone enjoyed the week as much as we did!

Behind the Scenes at the Air Race Classic

Last Monday I had the opportunity to be a small part of history. 50 teams participating in an air race dating back to 1929 were landing at an airport right in my backyard and I had the opportunity to visit and help as they arrived. As the all-female Air Race Classic came to their third stop along the 2,200 NM route, Clark County Airport in Jeffersonville, Indiana, a small army had gathered to welcome them, provide them with food, fuel, and transportation to hotels. I was a volunteer "greeter," meeting the racers as they came into the airport and providing them with answers to any questions that had about operations. Most importantly, I directed them to the restrooms and food.

The Air Race Classic had not been in the area since 1981, so spirits were high as many people worked hard to make this the best stop of their trip. In addition to an abundance of food and desserts provided by UPS, racers were offered complimentary massages and transportation to their hotels. The stop had a Kentucky Derby theme, so several volunteers wore colorful derby hats. The men’s restroom had a sign saying "Fillies (Women); Men’s Restroom Outside," to accommodate the 123 women who would be flying in.

Special accommodations had to be made for the 123 women flying in.

Preparations for this day started almost an entire year ago. Once the route for the race was announced, Honaker Aviation teamed up with several local pilots and organizations to gather volunteers and create a game plan for the day the racers arrived. It was difficult to predict how weather would affect the day from months away, so Stop Chair Amy Bogardus prepared for every possible outcome. An online scheduling system through Sign Up Genius was set up with slots for Timers, Greeters, Transporters, Hospitality, and Stuff to Bring. Time slots were available for each task for Monday-Thursday. The organizers anticipated racers being able to spend the night and leave out Tuesday, but with the unpredictable weather it was best for there to be too many volunteers than too few.

My time slot was from 3:00 pm – 5:00 pm but I ended up staying until 6:00 pm. My younger sister has recently taken an interest in aviation, so I brought her along to meet all of the Ninety-Nines who were volunteering and to experience the race. I had been watching the racers make their way towards our stop since they took off in the morning through the live tracking at Trackleaders.com. Excitement was building as I arrived at the airport and watched the same live tracker from a large TV in the command room. All volunteers were given bright yellow arm bands to identify themselves, and we were ready for racers to begin flying in.

Stop organizers and spectators watched the live feed of aircraft flying in all morning, ready to serve as soon as they arrived.

The first few racers came in at a moderate pace, having left the last airport sooner than the others. After an hour or so of airplanes steadily coming in 10 minutes apart, the bulk of the racers came and it was amazing to see them doing a high speed pass and landing one after another. Because the race is judged on a handicap speed, the only time that the racers had to beat was their own.

The first few arrivals enjoy food provided by UPS.

My sister commented on how young many of the collegiate racers looked, as most of them are in their early 20s. I could see in her face that her dream of becoming a pilot seemed more and more realistic as she saw these shining examples of female pilots casually walking into the airport from their aircraft. It was different for her from hearing about my piloting adventures and actually being at an airport and experiencing the sights and sounds. The entire drive home she excitedly spoke about how she was beginning to find her purpose in life, and that becoming a pilot and flying medical missions was her dream.

I had an amazing experience volunteering at the Air Race Classic, and all racers said that the Clark County stop was well done and efficient. A huge thank you to every single volunteer, organizer, and sponsor for making the day incredible for everyone.

Pilot Cell Phone Use: Don't Be That Guy


Photo: Jorge Quinteros/Flickr/CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Let's talk about your iPhone. It's no secret that the selfie craze has made its way into the cockpit. And why not? As pilots, we get to witness so many beautiful things from a few thousand feet in the air - the sun reflecting off of a puffy cloud layer, a gorgeous sunset against a vast horizon, the city landscape on a foggy morning. We have a great view - some of us are lucky enough to call it our office and get to see it daily - and we should feel free to snap a photo and capture a memory from time to time. And what harm is done by answering that text while we're at it?

But are pilots overdoing it with the selfies and other cell phone distractions? Are we are putting the safety of our flight at stake when we stop to snap a photo or text a friend?

David Yanofsky, a writer for Quartz, seems to think so. In a recent article detailing the "Pilots of Instagram," Yanofsky calls out a number of pilots for violating the sterile cockpit rule and FAA policy on portable electronic devices (PEDs). Yanofsky, whose article made him wildly unpopular among aviation professionals in the social media world, brings attention to yet another way that pilots might become distracted in the cockpit, but he was widely criticized for bringing negative attention to something that really isn't a problem. An airline pilot who snaps a photo of the clouds from 30,000 feet probably isn't creating any sort of hazard at all. Common sense tells you that the short attention diversion in this scenario is really no different than if a pilot glances at his watch for a moments or looks down to read a chart, or is otherwise engaged in conversation with her copilot. But common sense - and a will to survive - should also tell us that taking selfies while flying an approach just shouldn't happen.

The trouble is that often times where common sense should prevail, it doesn't. And there are at least a few cases to prove it. Selfies, or using personal electronic devices for texting has been a contributing factor during a few recent plane crashes.

In Denver last year, a pilot made a series of errors in judgment and crashed after stalling his aircraft during an approach. He and his passenger both died. Soon after, the NSTB reported that the pilots had been taking selfies while in the pattern. At night. In low IMC. Using the flash. We all shake our heads in disbelief, but I'm guessing this person thought of himself as a smart guy. And maybe he was a smart guy. Common sense can clearly escape the best of us if it means we get an awesome photo to share in Facebook. (The pilot also happened to be flying at night and in IMC without meeting the currency requirements for either… but that's another story.)

In 2011, four people died when a medical helicopter operating a commercial flight crashed in a field in Missouri. The helicopter ran out of fuel, and the NTSB listed "the pilot's distracted attention due to personal texting during safety-critical ground and flight operations" as a contributing factor.

More recently, it was reported that a student pilot is suing his flight school, claiming that his instructor was on FaceTime during a simulated engine emergency last December, causing an accident that left the student in critical condition and killed the instructor. The NTSB accident report does not mention the pilot's use of his phone during the flight, but the student's lawyer says they're suing.

In 2014, the FAA issued a Final Rule that restricts Part 121 (airline) pilots from operating any electronic devices for personal during flight operations. The rules states that pilots are only allowed to use company-issued devices for tasks that are directly related to the operation of the flight, for safety-related purposes or for company communications. But this rule does not apply to Part 135 or Part 91 operations. General aviation pilots are allowed to use cell phone and iPads during flight, for which most of us are grateful. After all, where would we be without ForeFlight? And how convenient is it to use our phone to call for a clearance instead of relying on an RCO? And, of course, it's nice to be able to capture a beautiful sunset on camera every now and then.

But we should not be taking selfies on final approach at night and in IMC, or during any other critical phase of flight. And we should really try to limit our cell phone use during flight to aircraft operations and emergencies only to ensure we don't lose focus on the task at hand and find ourselves the recipient of an FAA violation or worse, a fatal accident.

Don't be that guy. Don't be the guy taking selfies on final approach. Don't be that guy using FaceTime in the middle of a training flight. Don't be that guy messing with the GoPro at 300 feet on upwind because you forgot to turn it on during the preflight. Don't be the guy that dies in a plane crash, leaving photos or video footage of your mistakes in your wake.

Maybe we should just put down the phone, look out the window and enjoy the view.

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