All Aviation Articles By Tori Patterson

Top 5 Things that Happened at Oshkosh 2016

This year at Oshkosh was one of the biggest and most exciting yet. It seems that the world’s biggest airshow continues to get better every year. Unfortunately I was unable to go this year because of how close the date was to my upcoming wedding. However, this did not deter my groom and he flew his Stinson 10A up for the week and kept me updated on daily events.

Several major things happened at Oshkosh this year and I was able to live vicariously through my Facebook friends as they experienced them. So here is an outsider’s view of the most talked about events at Oshkosh 2016!

1. The Martin Mars Water Drop

If you have been following anything online from Oshkosh, I am certain you have seen the infamous video of the Martin Mars dropping thousands of gallons of water during an airshow. It dropped 7,200 gallons of Lake Winnebago water, to be exact. The Martin Mars is the world’s largest warbird ever built, originally designed to be a bomber for long-range missions. It was converted into the massive firefighting water bomber that it is today in the early 60s. There’s also good news if you are interested in owning the Oshkosh show-stopper – it is up for sale for a reported 3 million dollars.

2. Harrison Ford was Everywhere

I am a member of several discussion groups online for female pilots, both private and public. When I scrolled down my newsfeed and saw a woman in such a group post a photo of herself standing with Harrison Ford, it blew me away! I showed my mom and my friends and joked about how if I were there I would have met him. Little did I know that within the next couple days, dozens of people in my newsfeed would post their own photos with or of Harrison Ford. It seemed like he was everywhere, and there was plenty of photo evidence of this. It was a huge year for him, too, as he flew the 2 millionth EAA Young Eagle in his de Havilland Beaver.

3. The Canadian Snowbirds Routine

The Canadian Forces Snowbirds took to the skies over Oshkosh for the first time in over 30 years. By all reports, it was absolutely breathtaking. They flew several complicated maneuvers and were definitely a fan favorite. The team flew in Canadair CT-114 Tutors, keeping incredibly sharp formations. This was certainly a highlight for the week and I’m sure EAA is thankful to our friends up north for the amazing show!

4. Another Breathtaking Night Airshow

The EAA nighttime airshow is a fairly recent addition to the week. Guests are able to watch the unique combination of amazing aerobatics and dazzling lights. On Wednesday night this spectacular nighttime airshow entertained thousands as the airplanes and fireworks boomed through the darkness. This is always a treat, but EAA seems to always find a way to make it better each year.

5. EAA Drone Center Continued to Grow

An exhibit that has been steadily growing over the last few years is the Drone Center in Aviation Gateway Park. Catering to pilots who have a particular interest in drones, this large caged area was used for flight demonstrations of the latest models all week. It is fascinating how this would not have existed several years back, and how it is gaining so much traction nowadays.

What was your favorite Airventure highlight? We can only wait in anticipation for next year’s amazing week in Oshkosh!

10 Comments Pilots are Tired of Hearing

Anyone who has been flying for any amount of time has been exposed to his or her fair share of public opinion. Whether it comes from genuine curiosity, ignorance, or just an urge to make conversation, people typically ask the same things over and over. I discussed the topic a few of my pilot friends and compiled a list of quotes that we are just tired of hearing.

1. "But you don’t actually FLY do you?"

This is the most common question I am asked when it comes up that I am in flight training. It is hard to answer this without sounding a little condescending. Yes, when you are training to become a professional pilot you actually get inside of an airplane and fly it around in the air. I am not sure what they think it means to be in flight training. I find this is a great opportunity to broaden their worldview and explain how the pathway to becoming a commercial pilot starts in much smaller airplanes than a jumbo-jet, which you have to fly several days a week.

2. "Will you fly me to Florida?"

This is typically the follow up question from the causal non-pilot acquaintance. Will you fly them somewhere really far away? This question can get awkward when the asker is serious and persistent. In most cases I explain how it will cost hundreds, if not thousands more to rent a small airplane and make the trip than to just fly on a commercial airline. Don’t be "that guy" to your pilot friends.

3. "You must be so rich!"

This assumption always rubs me the wrong way. It is no lie that aviation is an extremely expensive career or hobby, but I have worked hard to earn every flight hour I have accumulated. The majority of my flight training has been financed through scholarships awarded to me by the Ninety-Nines and I am so proud to be part of an organization that helps passionate students that are not able to afford flight training. Somehow people seem to forget they are talking about a sometimes-sensitive subject because they assume you are rolling in money. I can assure you that the majority of student pilots are not.

4. "So it’s not like you’re actually in college."

I have gotten this response more than once when I tell someone I am in the flight program at my university. Yes, aviation students are in college. We have to take general education classes like everyone else. In a lot of ways our schedules are way more challenging than that of a regular college student, because a flight lab (which includes an average of 6 flight hours a week) only counts as 1 credit hour. Not to mention the time we spend preparing for flights and driving to and from the airport. Being in an aviation program is no walk in the park!

5. "I don’t trust [insert plane type] you won’t see me flying those."

This was a major pet peeve of my friend who occasionally flies a Cirrus aircraft for flight instruction. He said that other pilots are terrified of the plane because of the horror stories they had heard about the parachute that they are equipped with malfunctioning. He said that they don't parachute into the airport every time, and they are really quite safe aircraft.

6. "You aren’t a real pilot until you fly tailwheel."

This one gets thrown around a lot between nose gear and tailwheel pilots. Often coupled with, "a tricycle gear lands itself," or "true stick and rudder skills come from tailwheel." While I do appreciate the respect given to tailwheel pilots, I think it can sound unnecessarily degrading. All pilots are trained to be as good as they can be, and they should all be recognized for their unique skills, no matter the airplane they use.

7. "So do I really have to turn my cellphone off in an airplane?"

Nowadays I just give a simple "yes," to this common question. It is one thing for me to have my cellphone with me on a training flight in perfect weather, it is another thing entirely for 150+ people to have their phones simultaneously transmitting while the pilot tries to land in extremely limited visibility. When your whole life depends on your instruments being accurate, there is no room for messing around. Just turn your phone off, you won’t have signal anyway!

8. "Who is the better pilot?"

My fiancé Daniel and I get asked this all of the time. We have a good laugh about it and say that it is the other one. Some pilots are very competitive and a question like this can spark some tension. In general it’s probably best to not compare two pilots with similar skills and qualifications, unless you are evaluating them for employment.

9. "I didn’t know women could fly!"

Despite huge advancements in the last several decades, aviation is still a male-dominated and sexist world. I became aware of this the first time that I went to take my private pilot written exam and the test administrator scoffed and said, "You don’t LOOK like a pilot." People tend to picture either an old man or Tom Cruise when they imagine a pilot or aviator. I hope to see the normalization of the word aviatrix in the next few years. Women pilots are growing in numbers and there is no room for sexism in this industry.

10. "I could never do what you do. Flying is SO unsafe."

The people that say these things typically have it in their mind that pilots are some daredevil risk takers that thrive off of the adrenaline of putting their lives on the line every day. Flying is not nearly as dangerous as the media makes it out to be, and I have always felt much safer while flying than I ever did while driving my car. I can only jokingly respond, "there’s a lot less things to hit when you’re flying!" so many times.

I hope that you enjoyed this article of 10 things pilots are tired of hearing. Do you agree that these are overused? Are there any phrases that drive you crazy? Let me know in the comments below!

Ideas for the Ultimate Aviation Wedding

Love is certainly in the air! Photo by Kendra Lynne Photography.

It’s no secret that my life would be completely different if I had never gotten involved in aviation. I would not have been to so many places, met so many great people, and I may not have met my soon-to-be husband! A little over two years ago we met at the airport when he flew in and I was working as a recruiter for my flight school. I saw his handsome guy getting out of his Stinson 10A and asked him if he was planning to go flying any time soon. We took a short flight and immediately felt a connection. He asked me out on a real date for the next weekend, and our relationship grew through many adventures, flying and otherwise.

He asked me to marry him last October and it has been a rollercoaster planning for our August wedding. I never should have underestimated how many decisions and small details go into planning a wedding. When both the bride and groom are pilots that are very passionate about aviation, it’s only natural to have some elements of that world on your big day. I have been researching this a lot lately and I would like to share some of the best ideas I have come across.

Location – You can’t get much more aviation themed than having your wedding at an airport. Hangars make the perfect venues, with their large open space and proximity to beautiful airplanes. Another option is to have it outside at a grass airfield, with chairs and a tent set out for guests. I know of a few hangars around the area that specifically rent out their space for big events and weddings, but there are also plenty of privately owned hangars and airfields that it would be worth seeing if you could rent for an evening.

Invitations via Design4Eternity, LetterBoxInk, and Tulaloo.

Invitations – One of the first things your guests will see that reflect your wedding style is the invitation. There is a plethora of sites out there that sell wedding invitations, but Etsy is a particularly great resource for aviation themed invites. Their styles range from a simple airline silhouette to a full on replica of an airline ticket. Guests will love seeing these unique and beautiful invites in their mailboxes, and it will set the stage for your aviation wedding.

Decorations – Arguably one of the most important parts of any big event is the decoration. They help transform a normal place into something magical by creating an atmosphere for the guests. Brides and grooms who pay attention to the details will love adding a few nods to aviation in their decorating. Pinterest is full of great ideas to elegantly decorate, including champagne glasses with airplanes etched into them and "pilot/copilot" signage. You could ago get more DIY with your decorations, such as using a logbook for the guest book.

Via Southern Weddings and Rock N Roll Bride.

Accessories – If there is anything a pilot knows about it is accessorizing. Aviator sunglasses, "remove before flight" key chains, and watches with fancy flight computers can often be seen at your local airport. If you aren’t quite ready to make the whole wedding aviation themed, subtle accessories can help tie in your passion to the big day. What about a pair of high altitude chart cufflinks? There’s always the option of wearing a striking pair of airplane heels.

The Cake – One of the ways that I am sharing my aviation love on our big day is through the cake. The bride’s cake topper features a biplane silhouette and the groom’s cake will be an edible replica of the red biplane we often fly. I have seen cake toppers of the couple in an airplane, and cakes decorated with runways running down the sides. If you get a great cake designer, there’s no limit to the cakes you could amaze your guest with!

The Getaway – I think it almost goes without saying that a licensed pilot could do one of the coolest getaways ever. Imagine having all of your family and friends watching as you fly away into the sunset with the love of your life. This was a huge plus to me when I was considering having our wedding at an airfield. Leave your guests with an unforgettable ending to their night and show off your piloting skills at the same time!

I hope that some of these ideas have inspired you in any wedding or event planning you have. There are thousands of resources out there to help, and you should take pride in showing off your aviation-filled life!

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.

Avoiding Cognitive Biases in Aviation

The human brain is an immensely complicated and fascinating system. It has information processing capabilities far beyond that of any computer. It is impossible to understand every single process that the brain is constantly doing on a daily basis. However, there are parts of the brain process that are terribly flawed. In being so quick at information processing, some major mistakes are also constantly being made without notice.

Recently in my Crew Resource Management class we have been talking about cognition and cognitive biases. Cognitive biases are psychological tendencies that cause the human brain to draw incorrect conclusions. There is a really good video on Youtube that goes into more detail called "Cognition: How Your Mind can Amazing and Betray You." Basically, your brain is so good at processing information that sometimes it processes the wrong information and causes terrible misunderstandings that you may never realize you have had.

The reason we have been discussing this in my Crew Resource Management class is that this can have a huge effect on pilots. They often have to make split-second decisions completely based on the information immediately available to them. It could be extremely dangerous if they are subconsciously making poor choices because of a bias.

I have compiled a few examples of cognitive biases that would have a negative effect on flight operations. It is important for pilots to understand how these work so that if the time comes that they are in a situation where a cognitive bias is clouding their judgment, they will be able to see through it and make the best choice.

Attention Bias

Humans have a tendency to pay more attention to things that have an emotional aspect to them. If a pilot has a traumatic experience during training, they will likely be more concerned about that issue rather than other issues. A good example of this is a pilot who fixates on avoiding bad weather without paying attention to the rapidly diminishing fuel supply. They likely had a bad experience during training where the weather crept up on them, but they can end up with total fuel starvation without even noticing it.

Confirmation Bias

A person will ignore facts or information that does not conform to their perceived mental model, and will only acknowledge information that agrees with their perception of the situation. This can be particularly hazardous when dealing with emergency situations in an aircraft. Perhaps a light is on that should not be, or an alarm is sounding that you have never heard before. It is easy to ignore other warning signs when you have an idea in your mind of what the issue may be.

Gambler’s Fallacy

This is the tendency to think that future probabilities are altered by past events, when in reality they are unchanged. Some pilots are very superstitious, and this could go to two extremes. A pilot could believe that because they have had thousands of accident-free hours then they will never have any type of accident. On the other hand, a pilot could get in an accident and assume that they are bad luck, or they will never be able to fly safely again.

Never take a dangerous gamble when you are unsure, especially in the world of aviation!

Clustering Illusion

This is the tendency to see patterns where actually none exist. When a pilot is attempting an instrument approach late at night into an airport with extremely low visibility, they are making some of the most vital decisions possible. A pilot suffering from clustering illusion may believe that they see a pattern in the approach plate and follow that when really there is none.

As stated eelier, it is extremely important for pilots to be aware of any subconscious biases that may be affecting their decision-making skills. I believe that every pilot should research cognitive biases and figure out which ones they personally experience the most. Our latest homework assignment in class was to write a paper about which biases we are most prone to and what we can do to overcome them. This is a valuable activity and one that even the most seasoned pilot could benefit from trying.

Stay safe out there, and never let your judgment be clouded by a false perception!

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