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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!

Top 5 Jobs in Aviation (That are not Professional Pilot)

Since I was a young girl and I took my first airplane flight, I knew that I wanted to spend the rest of my life associated with this wonderful world of flying machines. My immediate action after this flight was to decide I would be a professional pilot. After all, in my young mind that was the only job that would let me be around airplanes and airports all day. Since then, I have pushed on with single-mindedness towards earning my flight ratings. First private, then instrument, now I am building hours towards taking my commercial pilot checkride.

However, he more that I dig deep into the world of professional flight, the more I see that it is certainly not just the pilots that play an important role. In reality, they play just as important of a role of any of the hundreds of other personnel that run airports and flight operations daily. These jobs are not given the “rock star” persona that the general public tends to give pilots, and I believe that is a terrible misunderstanding.

In my Crew Resource Management class at my flight university we have been discussing a lot about what exactly the definition of “crew” is. Is it just pilot flying and pilot monitoring? Is it also ATC? If ATC is included, wouldn’t maintenance and dispatch also make the cut? A commercial flight operation could not possibly happen without the combined efforts of all of these resources.

I want to give a brief overview of what I consider to be five of the most important “crew” resources for every commercial flight. I would also like to encourage every young aviator out there to take a step back and appreciate all of the supporting people that work to make these operations happen. They are all “rock stars” in their own right and work very hard to keep the skies safe and efficient.

Air Traffic Controller

Picture this scenario: It is a sunny and beautiful day at a medium-sized airport that supports both commercial and general aviation traffic. Everyone suddenly gets the urge to stretch their wings and spend a few hours in the air. At the same time, routine commercial flights are coming and going at breakneck speed to accommodate travelers. As a controller, it is your job to perfectly orchestrate the dozens of aircraft that are in your airspace at any given moment. You also have to take into consideration the type, speed, altitude, and intention of each plane. Air traffic controllers have an extremely difficult job, that when done well is not noticed.

Dispatcher

A dispatcher is in charge of organizing a large portion of the logistical information for a flight. In the U.S. and Canada they also share legal responsibility for any aircraft they are assigned with the pilot in command. Dispatchers are trained to ATP standards, and must have extensive knowledge of meteorology and aviation regulations in general. A dispatcher typically handles between 10 and 20 aircraft at the same time, and must monitor each of them to ensure safe flight operations.

Aircraft Maintenance Worker

If aircraft were not maintained to the high standard that they are today, there would be twice as many accidents happening during daily flight operations. Aircraft maintenance technicians are highly skilled in mechanics, computer systems, and a whole host of other practical expertise. They spend weeks memorizing the complex systems of each aircraft that they work on. They are not afraid to get dirty, and keep thousands of aircraft flying every day.

Management

With all of these moving parts, there has to be some sort of management in place to assure that everything is running smoothly. That is where the managers, administrators, HR workers or “higher-ups” come into play. They know the business side of aviation, and often incorporate their personal aviation knowledge into their managerial methods. These are the people that help to keep the business going when things get tough.

Flight Attendant

No list of important aviation jobs would be complete without mention of flight attendants. These hard working crewmembers deal directly with the general public for hours every day. They travel the world just as much as the pilots do, and have to be wise and patient when handling any issues caused by passengers onboard. They must be friendly but assertive, constantly holding a professional demeanor. The life of a flight attendance is not glamorous, but it sure can be fun.

This list does not scratch the surface of all the types of jobs available in the aviation industry. I am sure that if you thought of almost any job, there is an equivalent job in the aviation industry. Keep an open mind when looking towards your future career endeavors, and always do what you love! We have a great list of job search resources available on the GlobalAir.com Aviation Directory.

Nine Great Aviation Events you Don't Want to Miss

There are hundreds of exciting annual aviation events for seasoned pilots and aviation enthusiasts alike to visit this year. These events will bring a lot of new networking opportunities, as well as chances to just have fun. With the pilot shortage quickly approaching, there is no better time than now to get your foot in the door with the company you’ve always dreamed of being with. Networking with them at an upcoming aviation event could be your chance to shine.

Even if you are not looking to get into a job in the industry, visiting air shows and conventions can be the highlight of your year. Many companies unveil new products and aircraft at these events, so I encourage everyone to attend as many as possible and enjoy the unique culture and friendliness in the world of aviation.

I have personally visited or know of someone who has gone to each of these events, so I can vouch for their outstanding quality. I included one for almost every month, as to give a good overview of when these major events are happening. I hope that you are able to attend at least one of these events this year, and that you have a great time!

Soaring Society of America Convention
February 18-20
Greenville, South Carolina
This three-day conference is the perfect getaway for those of us who prefer to take the to skies without an engine. The Soaring Society of America was formed in 1932 and currently has upwards of 12,000 members. According to their website, SAA members and soaring fans from all over the United States and Canada gather to learn the latest soaring technology developments, attend lectures, and meet with friends.


photo by Andrew Zaback—Attendees of the 2014 WAI Conference hear Eileen Collins speak at the Luncheon on Friday before being dismissed to enjoy seminars and interact with exhibitors.

Women in Aviation International Conference
March 10-12
Nashville, Tennessee
I was lucky enough to attend the 2014 Women in Aviation International conference at Walt Disney World in Florida. I was truly blown away by how much thought and preparation was put into every aspect of the weekend. This year should be no different, as the lineup of workshops and speakers listed online look incredibly interesting. They also have a variety of companies that come and conduct face-to-face interviews with job seekers that attend the conference. Participating companies include Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, United Airlines, Delta Airlines, NetJets, FedEx, and several more.

Sun ‘n Fun International Fly-in Expo
April 5th-10th
Lakeland, Florida
There is no better way to kick off your year of fly-ins and air shows by paying a visit to the beautiful Lakeland, Florida for Sun ‘n Fun Something that is unique about Sun ‘n Fun is how the majority of its profits sponsor the Aerospace Center for Excellence that helps shape the future of aviation by providing educational programs for youth interested in aviation. Who knew having so much fun could have such a great impact!

AOPA Fly-In
May 20-21
Beaufort, North Carolina
There are several AOPA Fly-Ins around America during the year, and this event in May is the perfect weekend trip for pilots with all levels of experience. All attendees are invited to the Barnstorming Party on Friday and encouraged to enjoy the fly-in sights and sounds on Saturday. AOPA offers several educational seminars during the weekend, including the Rusty Pilot seminar to help get you back on track if you have taken a few years off flying.

Ladies Love Taildraggers Fly-in
June 3-5
Sulphur Springs, Texas
Tragically, last year’s LLT Fly-in was canceled four days before the event due to a tornado hitting the airport. This year the ladies are as excited as ever to host taildragger enthusiasts from all over as they rebound from last year. Attendees are welcome to camp by their aircraft, or spend the night at the Sulphur Springs Best Western. During the weekend they have a poker run to benefit their scholarship fund, amongst other fun activities.

 

Photo showing around 10% of the attractions at Oshkosh.

EAA AirVenture Oshkosh
July 25-31
Oshkosh, Wisconsin
I have been lucky enough to attend AirVenture the last three years, actually flying in with my fiancé the last two. I am uncertain if I will be able to make it this year as our wedding is the very next weekend, but AirVenture has been the best week of my summer every year I’ve gone. The sheer size of the event alone is worth visiting just to see. There is never a dull moment at Oshkosh, and I encourage every pilot who has never gotten the chance to experience it to do their best to stop by this year!

Lee Bottom Fly-in
September 16-18
Madison, Indiana
This privately owned grass strip in Indiana holds a special place in my heart, as during one of my first ever flight lessons my instructor took me to their beautiful field on the Ohio river and we did our first exhilarating grass landing. I have flown up and attended their annual fly-in twice before, and the relaxed atmosphere with incredibly friendly hosts makes this a must-do for any pilot.

Finale of the Red Bull Air Race
October 15-16
Las Vegas, Nevada
Few things mix the world of extreme sports and aviation better than the Red Bull Air Races. Even watching the event on television gets my heart pumping, and I will hopefully be attending their previous stop in Indianapolis. This is a big year for the air race because they have their first ever female competitor, Melanie Astles.

NBAA’s Business Aviation Convention
November 1-2
Orlando, Florida
This event is truly the holy grail of business aviation. All different aspects of the business aviation world are represented at this conference, and most are there to get deals made. If you want to network with other business professionals then this is the one event that you cannot miss. It also gives you a pretty good idea of what the next biggest trends in aviation will be.

I hope that this gives you at least an idea of the variety of events that are offered this year! To view more events, or to list your own, please visit our GlobalAir.com Aviation Events Calendar!