Airports - Page 3 Aviation Articles

You Know You're A Minnesota Pilot When...

Being a huge fan of Minnesota (born and raised, ya sure, you betcha) I’m pretty sure that Minnesota pilots are a special breed.  As summer is just around the corner, I’ll be highlighting some Minnesota-type flying activities that you’re sure to find those Minnesota-inclined pilots heading too when the days get longer and warmer.

Your Saturdays Consist of Coffee, Donuts, & Safety

Let’s face it:  safety should be our #1 focus in aviation.  While we may not all practice what we preach, there’s a long-time tradition of mixing coffee, donuts, and safety all into a fun Saturday tradition in the Twin Cities area.

 

Several years ago, my old boss from Inflight Pilot Training, LLC, started weekly safety seminars at Flying Cloud Municipal Airport (KFCM) located in Eden Prairie, MN.  What started out as a handful of seasoned pilots based on the field with donuts and coffee, this event blossomed into nearly 100 pilots every week attending seminars featuring various safety topics such as weather, medical issues, maintenance, new technology, and much more.  Now, AirTrekNorth, a flight schovol started in Lakeville, MN, carries on the tradition in their KFCM location.

While you may have thousands of hours, or you’re just starting to fly, the FAA Safety Team (FAAST) has turned to a creative way to approach many safety topics affecting pilots today.  They also have the WINGS program which allows you to get credit for the training you complete online with organizations such as AOPA and the FAA through training, such as the Saturday seminars.

After the seminar, you will find pilots milling about for hours talking flying (if the weather is bad), or they inevitably go to their own hangars and get their aircraft ready for a spin in the beautiful Minnesota weather.

You Fly to the North Shore

While Minnesota doesn’t have the ocean to boast of when referring to great scenic flights, we do have the North Shore – a.k.a., the shores of Lake Superior which is one of the largest, freshwater lakes in the country. 

Flying to the North Shore in the summer can be a great way to beat the heat.  Some great destinations include Duluth International Airport. Sky Harbor Airport (near downtown Duluth), Two Harbors, and many more.  Many of these small, North Shore towns boast spectacular views of the lake including great restaurants to grab a bite to eat before heading back to the Twin Cities. 

 

If you’re considering making a weekend out of it with family or friends, head to Duluth International Airport and find a rental car or courtesy car from the local Fixed Base Operator (FBO).  There are several great hotels in downtown Duluth on the shore or further into the city.  There’s an aquarium, museum, and much more to do in town.

Flying north of the Twin Cities to the North Shore gives you a great flight to experience Minnesota and is a great way to get your Minnesota flying friends together for a day – besides, building cross-country time is always a bonus. 

You Go to the WOTN Air Expo Every Single Year

Another great aspect of Minnesota flying is the Wings of the North (WOTN) Air Expo held every year at KFCM.  What started as a non-profit organization in the late ‘90s, designed to preserve and present aviation history, it has blossomed into a Twin Cities aviation fixture.

Their museum is located at KFCM and WOTN hosts the Air Expo every July featuring many aviation organizations in the community with sponsors from Sun Country Airlines, Minnesota Flyer magazine, UTC Aerospace Systems and more.  WOTN also brings in many static displays from public and private collectors from all eras of aviation including World War I (WWI), WWII, and more. 

This great family event is a fun way to connect with those in the community and meet other pilots from the area as they all come flocking to this annual event.   It’s also a great way to support a local non-profit whose mission is to preserve aviation history. 

Overall, Minnesota is really a great place to be a pilot.  With all of the seminars, fly-ins, local airshows, cookouts, and destinations, it can be hard to find the time to actually get it all done!  As a pilot, we’re always looking for new places to go, so start your wish list now for Minnesota and start checking those boxes off.

Remember, you only have so much summer to get it done!  Happy flying!

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.

Saudia Albayraq - Launch New FBO to FBO Business Jet Service

Co-author & photographer Michael Kelly.


Will other operators team up with FBOs?
Is this a new FBO business model?

Saudia Private Aviation Jeddah FBO

A new exclusive scheduled domestic all business class service is to be launched in March by Saudi Arabian Airlines (Saudia) owned subsidiary Saudia Albayraq. Saudia Albayraq will fly between King Abdulaziz International Airport, Jeddah/OEJN and King Khaled International Airport, Riyadh/OERK and will use the privacy and convenience of the Saudia Private Aviation (SPA) Fixed Base Operator (FBO) VIP terminals at each airport. The SPA is an FBO (with 28 stations across the kingdom), aircraft management and private aircraft charter specialist and their FBO facilities offer world class private lounges and fast track security screening.

Saudia Albayraq will employ three Airbus 319-112 aircraft on the route in an all business class configuration of 48 seats aimed to rival even the comfort of private jet aircraft.

The new operator, using two of the aircraft will offer six daily scheduled flights between Riyadh and Jeddah each way, starting at 6am until 9 pm, providing a flight every 3 hours to each city. The third aircraft will be rotated into the schedule as the maintenance program requires. Every flight will have a corporate chef onboard to provide a unique dining experience.

The FBO involvement means the business or VIP passenger gets the full “corporate jet experience” while the onboard chef offers something very new for in-flight catering!

Fares are expected to be higher than business class on Saudia flights but come with the premium onboard service and the comfort, efficiency and privacy of the SPA VIP facilities and a dedicated Saudia Albayraq client support centre.

SPA Jeddah reception

Saudia Private Aviation was founded in Jeddah in 2009 by Saudia Arabian Airlines and became a separate entity in 2012. Future developments at SPA include a planned new MRO facility in the next five to seven years.

A real eye catcher at Saudia Private Aviations’ FBOs is their use of Porsche 911 Pininfarinas or other high performance cars for ramp transfers where required! At Jeddah, SPA has their own airside hotel at the FBO for engineering crews who may arrive with no visa to work on AOG aircraft. SPA handles all flights for the Saudi Arabian Royal Flight.

The company owns a fleet of ten aircraft, four Dassault 7X and six Hawker 400XP. SPA has an experienced OCC team of flight dispatchers located in Jeddah in support of client and their own operations.

Saudia Albayraqs’ format is an interesting evolution of existing services provided by British Airways (London City – New York with A319 aircraft), KLM (Amsterdam – Houston operated by PrivatAir, B738) & Lufthansa (Frankfurt – Dammam, also operated by PrivatAir, B738).

Scheduled FBO to FBO service

The real stand out differences offered by Saudia Albayraq being the use of an FBO facility at each airport and it is pushing its culinary limits, bringing in onboard chefs to create a high-flying in-flight dining experience. The in-flight chefs will create and plate meals to the standards of a fine-dining experience. With a chef on board, passengers will also enjoy greater flexibility in terms of their meal preference and service. All the in-flight chefs are fully qualified and have a minimum of five years of experience in noted restaurants and hotels from around the world.

And it is with PrivatAir Saudia the Saudia Albayraq have chosen to work closely with in launching the new service.

PrivatAir SA is a leading international business aviation group with headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland and operating bases in Frankfurt (PrivatAir GmbH) Germany), Geneva (Switzerland) and Brazzaville (Congo). From its beginnings as the corporate aviation division of global conglomerate The Latsis Group, PrivatAir has matured today into an independent, world-renowned, full service commercial operator, with a track record of growth and safety spanning 36 years.

PrivatAir is a comprehensive aviation group with three divisions delivering service excellence both in the air and on the ground: Scheduled Services, Business Aviation (Aircraft Management, Aircraft Charter, Aircraft Sales, PrivatJetFuel / Fuel Management, Ground Services) and PrivatTraining.

The company’s wide range of clients includes royalty, heads of state, public officials, celebrities from the arts, sports and entertainment industries, captains of industry and private aircraft owners.

PrivatAir aims to take the best practices of the commercial airline industry and to add the flexibility of business aviation, as well as its exceptional standards of service.

The company has experience in operating the full range of business jet types from the Cessna Citation, Bombardier Learjets, Gulfstream and Dassault Falcon jets, to bizliners like the Airbus A319 and Boeings BBJ, BBJ2 , 757 and 767.

Oshkosh: It's Not About the Airplanes


Okay, so maybe it's a little bit about the airplanes. (Did you see the Mosquito? The GoodYear Blimp?!) But for most people, Oshkosh is about so much more than airplanes. If you follow Oshkosh on social media then you've heard the buzz of engines during the airshow and you've seen your friends posting selfies in front of amazing airplanes. But what you can't see from the photos is something else that's deeper, more elusive, that only exists at Oshkosh. Maybe it's a feeling, or maybe it's just something in the air. It's probably different for everyone, but whatever it is, it's general aviation at its absolute best. Airplanes are just the backdrop. A friend (who I happened to meet at Oshkosh) said it best in this video when he said, "It feels like coming home."

So what is it that makes Oshkosh special? What is it that keeps thousands of aviation fanatics returning each year to a place that's not even easy to get to? It's about the people, the encouragement, the mentorship, the conversation and the camaraderie. It's about an industry that welcomes you into it without pause and allows you to consider it your home without even a hint of reservation. It's an immediate family where every single one of your sisters and brothers just "gets" you.

Over fifteen years ago, I entered the world of aviation by walking into a sleepy airport terminal in my hometown, completely on my own. I had been on a single plane ride before, and I knew I wanted to fly. There was just one problem: I didn't know how. I didn't have a mentor. I didn't have a family member to show me the ropes. I didn't know anyone in aviation. I didn't know where to go or what it would take to become a pilot.

I remember walking into that terminal, a nervous teenage girl, to ask about flight lessons. With a comforting smile and a gleam in his eye, the airport manager sent me across the field to the sleepy little flight school. The owner of the flight school, without asking me why a girl like me would possibly want to fly, without hesitating or commenting on my five-foot-nothing height, hired me on the spot as a secretary. I could answer the phones, he said, and he'd pay me six dollars per hour and let me sit in on the ground school for free. "It's a deal," I said.

What I didn't realize was that this deal would go far beyond six dollars per hour and free ground school. I didn't realize I was gaining an instant family. The flight instructors took me seriously, treated me with respect, and introduced me to the world of flying with enthusiasm and encouragement. Beyond that, each one of them shared their worlds with me outside of our flight lessons. They told me about air shows and scholarships and what airline life would be like. They taught me about the bigger, Part 135 aircraft they flew during their off time. On their days off, they came to the airport with their wives and kids. It felt like home.

Fast forward a few years, and I made another solo trek, this time to EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. I'd heard the stories, but wondered how it could be more than just another air show with expensive food. I'd seen enough air shows. I'd seen Tora! Tora! Tora! and P-51s and Sean Tucker and Kirby Chambliss. What would be different about AirVenture? I had to find out. I showed up at my room that year - a small bedroom in a lady's house that I booked on a referral from a journalist friend - and found a group of people who had been coming to Oshkosh for years together. But instead of sticking to their own group, they immediately took me in, inviting me to ride the bus with them and inviting me to their nightly dinners. And then I showed up to the media tent, once again by myself, and immediately found friendly faces there, too. I walked the grounds, and while running into old friends, I made even more new friends. One introduction led to another and before I knew it, I had new aviation family members all over the place. It felt like a family reunion - with a pretty spectacular air show on the side.

Last year, I made a few friends at Camp Scholler who have been camping together as a group for years. This year, I was invited to camp alongside them at what they lovingly refer to as "Camp Bacon." I showed up with my kids, but otherwise alone, without really knowing any of these folks beyond social media. As if on cue, they welcomed me - and my children - into their aviation family immediately. They offered good conversation, interesting aviation stories, hot coffee, and even wine. They invited me to the nightly campfire, and to join them during their yearly "Dawn Patrol" walk to the warbirds at five a.m. They shared their stories with me and I learned about their aviation work. By the end of the trip, there were hugs, with the sound of P-51 Merlin engines in the background. It felt like coming home.

This is my family.

This is Oshkosh.

Big News from the Flying Musicians

Flying Musicians Assn

The Flying Musicians Association is again the proud recipient of a 2015 Wolf Aviation Fund grant to assist in strengthening the bonds between aviation and music in the FMA's programs that enhance outreach and education.

"We have re-focused our efforts of sharing our passions (aviation & music) with others through our outreach to inspire, educate, encourage and now assist youth (& adults) in growing through aviation and music." Says FMA President/CEO John Zapp.

Since 1992 the Wolf Aviation Fund has awarded special grants for efforts supporting and promoting general aviation. For example, among the more than 350 previous recipients is Sandra Campbell, in flying helmet and goggles, performing for students "Follow Your Dreams," a stage recreation of the exciting story of Bessie Coleman, the first African-American woman to win her wings as an aviator. Another small seed grant to School Superintendent Gordon Schimmel eventually resulted in a million dollar project creating and distributing a wonderful "Inventing Flight" Wright Brothers curriculum with videos and teachers guides to school systems across the United States. Other grants supported community outreach, technological development, airfield preservation, effective networking, organizational development, and inspiring the next generation.

Additionally, the Flying Musicians Association has announced that once again members will be on the ramp at each AOPA Fly-In across the country. FMA encourages all pilot / musicians and friends to participate. "This is about outreach!" says John Zapp, CEO FMA. "We want all who have a love of music to join us as we liven up the ramp while inspiring, encouraging, educating and now assisting folks to grow through aviation and music. Just as a pilot certificate is a certificate to learn, being a musician requires constant learning, practicing and performing. The AOPA Fly-Ins are a wonderful way for members to reunite across the country."

AOPA Fly-Ins will have something for everyone. Spend a Saturday with AOPA participating in aviation activities, exploring exhibits and seminars, enjoying a couple of meals, music and building relationships.

Look for FMA members set up on the ramp at the following locations:

  • 6/6 Frederick, MD (KFDK),
  • 8/22 Minneapolis, MN (KANE)
  • 9/26 Colorado Springs, CO (KCOS)
  • 10/10 Tullahoma, TN (KTHA)

Visit the FMA website for more information and to contact the FMA coordinator to participate.

About the Flying Musicians Association, Inc:

The Flying Musicians Association (FMA) is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization of pilots who are musicians, spanning the globe, proficiency levels and genres. The goal is to share our passions in order to inspire, educate, encourage and assist others by creating enthusiasm and promoting personal growth in aviation and music. "Pilot Musicians sharing their passion while encouraging and educating youth (& adults) in the science and art of aeronautics and music."

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