Lydia Wiff - Page 3 Aviation Articles

Trade Show? I Think You Mean Fun Show!

Growing up, I always remember my dad attending trade shows for the different companies he worked for.  Now, he was an engineer, so I always assumed they were pretty boring (sorry, Dad!).  It didn’t matter if he came home with all the trade show cool swag like pens, pencils, reusable bags, hats, or stress balls (to a kid, those things are like gold).  Several years later, I have learned that trade shows, aviation ones of course, are tons of fun and the opportunities to network and learn are endless!  This post will cover a few that I have had the chance to personally attend as well.

Air Venture

What summer would be complete without a trip to Oshkosh, WI for the Experimental Aviation Association (EAA) Air Venture?  I know, people don’t really think of it as a trade show, but have you really looked around when you’ve been there?

Icon is giving demos of their recreational aircraft (you can fish from it!), Cirrus is writing up orders for their new jet, and general aviation is absolutely thriving during this aviation extravaganza.  Hundreds of companies tote their wares all week in the hope they will meet new customers, see their current customers, and really just get their name out there.  9am-5pm are the show hours, but networking goes on for hours after the show is closed.

Companies like Cirrus, Piper, Pilatus, Kodiak, and many other woo their customers and new clients with cookouts, dinners, and more.  New products get shown over dinner and deals get sealed by the time the dessert menu gets passed around.  Additionally, this “trade show” features class acts from aerobatics pilots, showcases military aircraft from every era of aviation, in addition to the biggest pyrotechnic show you’ll ever see at an airport (actually, it’s probably the only one at an airport). 

I love going to Oshkosh when I have the chance and even if you aren’t working with a company, it’s a great place to network.  Just sitting at lunch one day this summer, I met a pilot who flies for SkyWest – now, tell me that Air Venture isn’t the most fun you’ll ever have at a “trade show”. 

National Business Aviation Association (NBAA)

The second trade show I’ve had the opportunity to attend is that of the NBAA Business Aviation Convention and Exhibition (BACE) in Las Vegas in November 2015.  This particular trade show caters to any type of business with a corporate flight department in the United Sates and all over the world. 

I had the opportunity to attend last fall with a group from the University of North Dakota (UND).  Since we were students attending, we got a huge break in the conference fee and by that I mean it was so affordable even for a poor, college student!  All we had to do was take care of meals, flights, and lodging.  I found some fellow students from Purdue University who were members of Women in Corporate Aviation which proved to be a great networking opportunity in and of itself. 

Additionally, there were many universities that had their own booths at BACE including any company you could possibly think of.  I actually sat on one of the shuttle buses with a gentleman from Italy who worked for Pilatus – I told you it was a worldwide affair!  I also had the chance to meet those from other companies at the different booths in addition to after-hours functions.  A fun memory was going to the Las Vegas Executive Airport and looking at all of the static aircraft displays.  Gulfstream had many different aircraft on display, which is one of my favorite business jet manufacturers.

Lastly, NBAA BACE was a great way to faces to names.  I actually got to meet the owners of Globalair.com and those that had given me the blogging scholarship that year.  If I wasn’t so busy with classes, I’d be back this year promoting the scholarship!

Why Trade Shows?

You’re probably sitting there wondering why you should go to trade shows in general.  Besides the FUN aspect of trade shows, it’s important to continue to network even though you might currently be a student, or even if you are well into your career.

Last year, I had a professor that really pushed students to attend NBAA and to network in general.  In fact, many of my professors, including my adviser, always push students to get their names out there.  It doesn’t matter if it’s introducing yourself to a guest lecturer, meeting alumni, or attending trade shows.  I guess what I’m getting at here is that you never know what’s around the corner and growing your professional network only builds your contact list in addition to the possible jobs that could arise from it. 

Plus, going to these events is a great way to catch up with alumi!  I love running into people I know at these events – it makes the event that much more memorable and we get to talk about aviation (I mean, who doesn’t?).


Remember, NBAA BACE is just around the corner!

November 1-3, 2016 – Orlando, FL

Visit the Globalair.com booth – Booth 4936!

So You Want To Insure Your Plane...

Imagine yourself here: you’ve finally saved enough to buy that beauty of a Cessna 172. You have got your pre-buy done, the loan paperwork finished and the delivery to your home airport all arranged.  You suddenly remember that you need insurance, but realize you have no clue if aircraft insurance works the same as car insurance.  Today’s post is designed to give readers an idea of how aviation insurance works – you’ll see that aviation insurance is similar to your car, but also very different. Before I give you the low-down on aircraft insurance works, it’s important to get a little history.

A Brief History 

After World War I, we begin to see the emergence of the civil aviation industry which goes hand in hand with the aviation insurance industry.  Post-war brought a surplus of war aircraft which were then either dumped into the market for pennies on the dollar.  An aircraft which had previously cost the government, such as $17,000 for a Curtiss Jenny, was being sold in the open market for as little as $50 – I don’t know about you but I’d buy an airplane right now if a Cessna was that cheap!

Former military pilots all over the country were buying these cheap planes up using them for a variety of civil aviation activities such as barnstorming (trick flying), crop dusting, mail delivery, passenger transport, and more.  As one can imagine, these new civil aviation activities added a whole new risk for insurance companies and often resulted in crashes for a variety of reasons.  Companies were ill-equipped to handle this new risk and many saw a significant loss as a result.

However, one company rose to the occasion, despite an almost certain loss, and Travelers Insurance Company became the first to announce a comprehensive program specifically for air risks in 1919.  Travelers wrote lines of insurance primarily for maintenance, operation, and the use of an aircraft for private and commercial operations.  Several lines were included in the program including: life insurance, accident insurance for owners and pilots, trip accident ticket insurance, Workers’ Compensation insurance, and public liability and property damage insurance.  While Travelers was the first to offer these lines of insurance, it’s important to note that they did not include lines for damage to the actual aircraft (this is referred to as hull coverage). 

Over the next few years, which Travelers anticipated to be a period of profit, the company ceased to exist in 1931 after being in business for 12 years.  Several other companies sprung up during those first years after Travelers made their foray into aviation insurance.  As the aviation insurance industry stabilized, companies that exist still today started to appear such as United Sates Aircraft Insurance Group (USAIG), the Associated Aviation underwriters (AAU), and the Aero Insurance Underwriters (AIU).  With several new companies in the U.S. market and an abundance of accidents during the early years, companies began to look for ways to spread the risk so that losses were not so significant. 

Group Approach, the Law of Large Numbers, & Reinsurance

As many new companies were entering the aviation insurance industry, it was discovered there was a more economical way to do business in addition to spreading the risk.  Individual companies were taking huge losses when a claim was filed because of the damage to aircraft and property as well as the deaths of those involved.

The “Group Approach” was created with the intent not only to spread the risk between many companies but also to spread the profit between those same companies.  The founders of the group approach did considerable research in Europe (a country with a more developed aviation insurance industry) and found that indemnification (making a party whole after a loss) could be handled safely only by employing the group approach.  This new method of the group approach also brought about the synonymous concept of the “Law of Large Numbers” – the risk and profit are spread over a large number of companies which allows for a much more stable aviation insurance industry.

Another approach used to stabilize the insurance industry was the approach of “reinsurance”.  In the early days of insurance, a devastating fire threatened to bankrupt several of the local insurers and it was quickly discovered that insurance companies themselves needed to be insured against such catastrophic losses.  What began as a way to protect insurance companies became the essential element of aviation market supporting major airlines, airports, and even space risks.  Aviation insurance can be similar to auto insurance (premiums, liability, etc.), however there are some key differences that are important to know about. 

Direct Writers, Brokers, Underwriters & Policy Term Length

Recently I bought a new car.  To add it to my insurance, all I did was call up my insurance agent at State Farm® and give the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN), make, model, year, and the accident history.  I opted for full coverage since it was a much newer car than I had owned previously and in a matter of minutes I had a binder (temporary insurance policy) ready for me at the office to pick up so that I could use my new car.

State Farm® is a great example of what is known as a Direct Writer.  A direct writer gives a you an aircraft policy option through their company, just like an auto insurance agent.  There is actually only one company that currently issues policies this way –  the Avemco Insurance Company.   This company is actually very popular with private owners of aircraft in general aviation, airports and Fixed-Base Operators (FBOs).  It can be argued that Avemco gives the best deal as they directly write their own polices, which brings me to the concept of insurance brokers.

Insurance brokers (as well as agents) are the middle men between insurance companies and people looking for insurance.  Brokers work for a commission (percentage) of the premium and work with certain companies to find the best policy for their client much like aircraft brokers look for the best buyer for their clients’ aircraft.  When they gather a list of different policies, they take them back to their client for comparison and selection.  Agents are a representative of an insurer and have delegated authority to act on behalf of their company.  Insurance agents, however, are often certified as both an agent and a broker.

An important item for novice plane owners to know is that the policy term is much different than that of auto insurance.  For instance, if you have auto insurance, you are probably set up for auto-renewal.  You pay your bill every month, every 6 months, etc., and your coverage continues along.  However, when it comes to aircraft insurance, a policy must be reviewed every year – this means that Avemco, your agent, or broker will be giving you a call to re-write your policy contract.  While this may be slightly annoying to you, it is actually in your best interest as it allows the company to revisit you and the aircraft and see what has changed in the last year.  The assumption is that risk has changed at some point whether that relate to you as the pilot or the aircraft itself.

Closing Thoughts

Prior to a few months ago, I actually could not have told you the differences between auto and aviation insurance.  Since then I have been taking a class about aviation insurance and learning that it is a lot more complex that I originally thought.  I’m not sure when I’ll be able to insure an aircraft at this point, but just learning about it will only help me to become a more informed consumer.  Hopefully that is the case for my readers as well!

Works Cited

Brandon Wild, Assistant Professor, University of North Dakota, Aviation Insurance, Lecture, Fall 2016.

Wells, A., & Chadbourne, B. (2007). Introduction to aviation insurance and risk management. Malabar, Fla: Krieger.

Images courtesy of Google Images.

Hindsight is 20/20

The title for this week’s blog post I’m sure applies to many areas of our lives.  However, today I’ll just be focusing on three ways I wish I had done my flight training differently.  Perhaps, as you read this article, you too might think of bits of wisdom from the past to carry forward to future flight training.

I Wish I Had Started Earlier

Now, I realize that many of us probably cannot change the timing, the availability of funds, etc., but I do wish I had started younger.  When I started flight training in 2011, I was out of high school and already feeling behind the curve.  I’m sure many of us know about the rule that allows kids to get their pilots license after barely being legal to drive a car (which in retrospect, that’s actually pretty scary!).  I felt like I was late to the game and had to prove I could catch up – looking back, I was probably in the best position because I didn’t have college to worry about.

I only wish I had started earlier because once I was out of high school for a year, I started working part-time, and then eventually enrolled in a local community college.  I commuted every day a fair, had long days, and worked on campus during the week and then at a local airport on the weekends.  I found myself struggling to keep flying even once a week and, therefore, spent a lot of time re-learning maneuvers while balancing work, life, and school on top of flying.  Then there was the weather changing as the seasons changed – living in the Midwest meant that it wasn’t always great weather during the winter either.

Of course, looking back, that was good preparation for where I am currently.  I work more than one job, I’m involved with an industry student group, I have many classes, I write, I manage a scholarship program, and more.  Maybe learning to juggle wasn’t such a bad thing after all…

I Wish I Had Started Ground School After I Started College

The University of North Dakota (UND) has almost all flight courses set up to include a flight lab during the same semester you are taking Ground School for a particular rating.  For instance, if you are working on your Instrument Flight Rules (IFR) rating, you are taking ground school for IFR at the same time.  Doing the ground school first, and then the flying is one way to do it, but sometimes it helps to be able to connect concepts from the textbook to flight lessons.

In college, I find that I benefit from the face-to-face lectures along with the interaction of students.  I also learned to develop different ways of studying depending on the different professors I had and knowing what my learning styles are.  When I went through the Private Pilot License (PPL) Ground School at my local airport, I had several different “professors” that all had different teaching styles all trying to cram all the information from that giant textbook into 7 weeks.  Needless to say, I wasn’t as experienced at handling accelerated courses as well then as I am now.

A few years later, I have several accelerated classes under my belt, including a semester-long version of the PPL Ground School I was required to retake when I transferred.  The second time around the class went much better - this was due to the experience I had in applying solid study habits that really only could have come from experiences in several classes.  Additionally, from having one professor who was very thorough, I learned so much more that second time and while it was a stressful 5-credit class, it was a class that still sticks with me.

I Wish I Had Gotten Beyond My PPL

I want to preface this section by saying that we can’t plan for every situation in life – we also have to navigate around whatever comes our way and sometimes goals take a backseat for awhile.  Now, had I known I’d end up in the Airport Management program after switching from Commercial Aviation and Aviation Management, I would have started and finished my IFR rating instead of just waiting until I transferred to UND.

Something like this inevitability happens to everyone in life I suspect.  We decide that we make Decision B since Decision A isn’t always feasible at the time, for one reason or another.  It’s not a bad decision or even the worst decision – it’s simply the best decision at that particular time.  While I wish I had completed my IFR rating, looking back I really did make the best decision for the long run.  Plus, I now get to look forward to having a goal when I am back to flying on a regular basis – I love having goals to work towards.

Hindsight Is Better Left Behind

We all wish we could have done lots of things differently, not just flight training.  We all think “had I known that, I would have done something different”.  While that is very true, we wouldn’t have actually learned from the decisions we made.  We would probably find ourselves in a much different place than we are today.

I admit, sometimes I get really hung up on how I went about my flight training.  However, when it comes right down to it, I wouldn’t change a single thing.  I know for a fact that I wouldn’t be where I am today had I changed those decisions along the way and I certainly wouldn’t have all the experiences in flying, education, or in life that I now have today.

So, my advice is: learn from the past, but keep looking forward.

Where Are They Now?

Ever wondered what happens to students after they graduate?  Ever notice how their news on lives suddenly tapers off in our modern-day world where social media this time of year used to be filled with this class and that class, hockey games, football games, etc.?  Well, this summer I had the chance to catch up with a recent University of North Dakota (UND) graduate, Tony Batson, at the 2016 AirVenture in Oshkosh and learn about how he started at UND and what he’s up to these days.  

That Chicago Kid…

Tony grew up in the suburbs of Chicago, IL and not surprisingly, had exposure to aviation from a young age.  His father was a big part of his interest in aviation as he was told stories about aviation in World War II as a young kid.  Tony was also into model aircraft building as well as Remote Controlled Aircraft (RCA).  His interest for aviation piqued in high school when he had his first Discovery Flight at Chicagoland Aviation and soon he was working for the company as an aircraft detailer and in their office at the Lewis University Airport (KLOT).

Tony began his search for an aviation university in high school and looked at schools such as Purdue University, and others.  One of his managers was actually a UND alumni which greatly factored in his decision as he heard of how professors at UND would go above and beyond for their students. On a “freezing, cold October day”, Tony made the trip to the upper Midwest and the rest was history.

Being at UND…

Like most students, Tony’s first year was a bit of a culture shock – especially coming to the Midwest after living in the suburbs of a major U.S. city.  His roommate, a local to Grand Forks, took him under his wing.  Tony remembers when they first met his roommate offering his cars and spare keys for whenever he needed to use it.

Flying didn’t always come naturally for Tony and sometimes lessons were challenging, but Tony “hit the ground running”.   He wasn’t just involved in flying – he was also involved in different student groups on campus.

There were many groups that focused on aviation at UND, but Tony remembers Alpha Eta Roe as the “one club I really stuck with”.   As soon as he joined, he had a position – he worked his way through different leadership positions and ended up as the President of the aviation fraternity.  He remembers it as a way to network with leaders of other student groups on campus and what a benefit it was.

After UND…

College wasn’t always about Alpha Eta Ro as he remembers advisers and professors alike as being a positive influence on his time at UND.  However, the fraternity proved to be more than just a spare time activity as his work with the president of Piper Aircraft on a recent visit to UND landed him a job as a graduate intern in the Marketing Department.

He enjoys working with Piper Aircraft as it is something new every day.  Some days he could be working on developing checklists, or he’s working with Sales and matching sales leads with regional dealers or making that first contact.  Recently, he’s been working on marketing the new fleet of Piper aircraft being built to replace the aircraft at UND (and doing a great job, by the way).

Some Words for Students…

I often wonder what graduates would say to students at UND, almost at UND, or fellow graduates.  Tony advises prospective students to get involved and get to know people while his advice to current students is to work hard because it’s a great time for pilots right now.  Grads have some special advice that he tries to embody on a day-today basis:  pay it forward and help the people behind you.

Where Are They Going?

After catching up with Tony, I couldn’t help but be excited about his aviation journey which is just beginning.  I also ruminated on how his current job and experiences were because of UND and the groups he was involved in while a student there – UND is truly a great place to be.

Are you a UND alumni?  Feel free to comment with your memories as a student there or any other school you attended!

Back to the Grind..Or is it?

For many students, the first week of college is now complete.  I like to call it “National Read-The-Syllabus” Week.   We’re all getting settled in for the next several months where our lives will be consumed with lectures, readings, assignments, projects, and non-stop craziness of making sure our schedules stay on track.   It’s easy to get discouraged with the seemingly insurmountable task of just surviving the academic year – so, these are my tips on keeping your cool in the midst of the craziness, but while still having fun in school.

Listen…

Yes, this a no-brainer, however, how many of us find ourselves drifting during a lecture?  It’s not hard to get distracted by your phone (put it away!) during class, or “taking notes” on your laptop when you are in fact on Facebook or reading this blog. 

I know it’s hard to focus, but take out a piece of paper and really listen to your professors and jot down some notes.  Hand-writing your notes actually aids in storing information into long-term memory and you can accomplish this by actively listening to what your professor, or classmates, are saying and then summarizing that into your own words. 

It’s also important to listen to your classmates during group discussions, in or outside of class.  You could understand a topic a little better if heard a different way or from a different person– you just never know unless you learn to listen.

Learn…

Sure, this probably is a “duh!” phrase, but remember you are there to learn!  We all have those days when we show up because we just want those points for attending because they add up over the semester, or we really don’t want our Grade Point Average (GPA) to take a hit in that 5-credit class.  Seriously though, remember you are there to learn about something you are passionate about!

I know it can be tough to keep your attention directed when the topic may not be your cup of tea.  It’s important to realize that class is a part of the bigger picture and I promise you that one day you’ll remember that one concept from class and apply it in your job.  I know this to be accurate because I have!

Find one thing you really enjoy about that class if it’s really that tough and hold on to it!  I just sat through a first day of a class this week and couldn’t help but think I wasn’t creative enough to be there especially because the class is all about entrepreneurship.  However, I realize my professor is pretty awesome, I sat at a table with a lot of people I already know, and I’m probably not the only one feeling really un-creative.  So, we all get to be un-creative together and hopefully have a really great semester.

Laugh…

Yeah, remember to laugh!  We can all think of a really corny joke that a professor told and how nobody laughs except probably that one person – I’m usually that one person, by the way. 

Even if it’s the most boring class, you have to have fun someway!  So, laugh at those corny jokes, tell one to your fellow classmate, or your professor.  It’ll help with some of those first-week jitters, or first-quiz jitters, or first-exam jitters.  Seriously (but don’t be too serious)!!!

Also, find a time to do something that does make you laugh.  Netflix carries a lot of good comedies, but just remember to chill in moderation.  Unwind with a couple episodes, or get together with some of your friends to unwind from the stress of the week.  You’ll thank me later.

Have An Awesome Year!

Students, I hope you have an awesome year!  Remember to listen, learn, and laugh!  Most of all, remember that college is part of the bigger picture and it’s only a short part of your life, so take advantage of your opportunities and of course, make sure to keep reading the blog

Images courtesy of Google.com.

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