All posts tagged 'Travel'

Top 5 Favorite Airports

Ever get that exciting feeling when you walk into an airport?  I know I do!  The excitement of jetting off to some other part of the country is often enough to keep me awake, despite that 5am flight.   Today I’ll cover my top 5 favorite airports and hopefully it’ll get you daydreaming about your next big trip.

#5:  Nantucket Memorial Airport (ACK)

Nantucket Memorial Airport is situated on the beautiful Nantucket Island, about 30 miles from Boston.   Normally, I probably wouldn’t have ever been to the East coast except for vacation, but that all changed last summer.  The airport gets extremely busy in the summer due to airline and General Aviation traffic, so they hire many seasonal workers. 

UND put up the ad on their website and I applied to work full-time in the Fixed Based Operator (FBO).  It was a great job, and I lived in a beach house the airport owned while working there over the summer.  The beach was very picturesque and I got to bike to work every day.  I wouldn’t trade that experience for anything, and that’s why Nantucket Memorial Airport is #5!

#4: San Antonio Int’l Airport (SAT)

San Antonio holds a special place in my heart.  Located in southwest Texas, this little gem of an airport is like my second home.  If it weren’t for a special someone, I might have never been able to experience Texas.  It’s located conveniently close to downtown San Antonio and home to some notable corporate aviation departments like Valero, Pace Foods, and H.E.B. 

Photo courtesty of San Antonio International Airport

You know you’re not in the Midwest any longer when you walk down that jet bridge and feel the heat and humidity.


#3: Sydney Kingsford Smith Int’l Airport (SYD)

www.dailytelegraph.com.au

Sydney Airport is the one of the few international airports I’ve had the opportunity to visit and my favorite Australian airport.  Situated in downtown Sydney, this airport hosts some spectacular views of one of Australia’s most urban cities.  Oftentimes, if you’re traveling to Australia from the U.S., your first stop will be at Sydney where you will clear Customs and head over to the domestic terminal.

When I originally traveled to Australia about 4 years ago, I was on my way to Brisbane, a city on the Gold Coast (east side of Australia).  We had to clear Customs, pick up our bags, exit the international terminal and take a shuttle to the domestic terminal a few miles away.  It turns out that there were more than 1 jumbo jet that got into Customs at the same time and we ended up missing our domestic connection.  However, Qantas Airlines has some pretty amazing employees and they rebooked us on the next available flight. 

The terminals are very white and sleek looking.  The airport feels newer than most U.S. airports and the hustle and bustle is amazing.  Many Australians travel by air as it’s not exactly easy to drive between large cities.   In addition, most Australians live within 50 kilometers (about 30 miles) of the coast, so it’s often faster and cheaper to fly.  Security is a little different in Australia and when I asked if I should take off my shoes and belt, they laughed at me!  I’m guessing they don’t have the same security issues we have here in the U.S.

#2: Flying Cloud Municipal Airport (FCM)

#2 is the airport of many firsts for me.  My first flying lesson, my first solo, and where I earned my Private Pilot’s License.  I also got my first aviation-related job there working for a small flying school.  That flying school turned out to be a great place because I met a lot of my flying family there.  We still all hang out when we can – one of the couples in our group even got married in a hanger there! 

Flying Cloud is home to a lot of General Aviation and the pilots there are a pretty tight group.  It’s also home to the Wings of The North Organization that has an aviation museumand hosts AirExpo every summer on the airport’s property.  Viking Composite Squadron of the Civil Air Patrol has a hanger there and many flight schools call Flying Cloud their home.  

#1: Minneapolis-St Paul Int’l Airport (MSP)

www.lakenwoods.com

Minneapolis-St Paul is #1 because it’s the first international airport I ever traveled from.  I flew from there to Alaska with my dad, to Florida to visit my brother, to San Diego to connect to Australia, and many other destinations.   This airport is exciting and nostalgic all at once – it could mean a new adventure, or returning to home sweet home.  There is something special about being connected to the world through just one location – it never ceases to fascinate me… And that’s why Minneapolis will always be #1.  So, what's your #1 airport?

How Safe is Flying?

There is an age-old question asked to pilots and professionals in the Aviation industry by concerned passengers and family members time and time again. The question, "Is aviation REALLY safe?" is asked more frequently than ever now that the media spends weeks analyzing every single detail of any plane crash. The simple answer is yes; flying is statistically a very safe thing to do. However, I believe that a fear of flying stems from a fundamental misunderstanding of how the airline industry works. I’m sure everyone has heard the statistics, but I want to point out some facts about the industry that lead to logical reasons why aviation is the safest form of travel.

You can describe flying in a way that sends chills down anyone’s spine. It is where you hurdle yourself through the air in an aluminum box, at altitudes higher than the tallest mountains on earth, at speeds in excess of 500 MPH. For a large majority of people, this is all that they can focus on when they think about flying. There is a lot more to it than that, because the airline industry is an extremely complex and innovative system that is entirely designed around safety.

The statistics are everywhere. Evidently your chances of being killed on a single airline flight are a measly 1 in 19.8 million. The Bureau of Aircraft Accident Archives has recorded a steady decline in crashes over the last several years. Worried about the aircraft mysteriously disappearing? The average over the past 40 years has been one disappearance per year. Add this to the fact that roughly 100,000 aircraft take off per day, and you have an extremely low probability.

Despite all the statistical evidence, some people still experience fear and anxiety over the thought of flying. Everybody loves lists, so I want to list some of the most factual and logical reasons that airline flying is extremely safe.

1. Aviation is the most regulated and scrutinized means of travel. There is an old saying, "The FAA: We are not happy until you aren’t." The regulations and rules that airline operators and pilots must follow seem to never end. They pertain to types of equipment onboard, crew training, fuel reserves, weight and balance of the aircraft, and hundreds of other things. If it pertains to the safe operation of the aircraft, the FAA has a regulation about it.

2. Security is tight. After 9/11, the airline industry upped their security measures as much as possible. Passengers go through extensive searching and monitoring, doors to aircraft cockpits are locked. Try to look at the random frisking and excruciatingly long TSA lines as a positive thing – they are just a side effect of excessive security measures to keep you safe.

3. Pilots go through rigorous training. As an aspiring airline pilot, I have seen firsthand just how much training pilots have to go through. When you first earn your Commercial license, you are far from piloting in the airlines. Pilots have to immediately begin building hundreds more hours, gaining experience, and even when they reach the airlines they act as copilot for several years. Having two individuals with years of extensive training at the controls should ease your worries a little.

4. Pilots also go through rigorous examinations. In order to maintain a First Class Medical certificate, a pilot must be in top physical and emotional shape. There is an ever-increasing list of medications and physical ailments that will keep them out of the cockpit. This is a sore subject for many, but a reasonable point as to why airlines are safe.

5. Aircraft are expensive. The typical commercial airliner can cost a company upwards of $100 million. If you paid $100 million for a company asset, would you be uptight about the way it was handled and operated? A crash can completely bankrupt a smaller airline, so it is also in the best interest of the number crunchers that flights do not go down.

6. Aviation is constantly evolving. Since that fateful first flight by the Wright brothers, aviation has been growing and advancing at a breakneck pace. Every year new innovations are made that help make operations smoother and safer. Ask any pilot about NexGen and you will see firsthand just how quickly new equipment and systems are being implemented.

I hope that these points will help you reconsider any remaining fear or anxiety you feel towards flying. What safety fact do you find most comforting? Let me know in the comments below!

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