Lydia Wiff - Page 4 Aviation Articles

The Intern - Part 2

I’ve heard that some opportunities are once in a lifetime.  Like traveling half-way around the world to Australia which I did four years ago this summer, or interning with the Metropolitan Airports Commission (MAC).  I had always enjoyed airports, airport operations, and generally, just being an airport rat, but this summer was an eye opener and I’m grateful for the opportunity to observe the daily operations at a large airport like Minneapolis-St. Paul Int’l (KMSP).

Learning New Skills…

If I got into everything I learned here at the MAC and Airside Operations, I’d have a very long list with a lot of things that may or may not interest the average reader.  However, I will say that I got some invaluable training in new rules that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) publishes.  There have also been many new rules coming out of the FAA through the publishing of Advisory Circulars (ACs) that give recommendations for how different segments of the industry should do certain things.

The winter operations here at KSMP will be affected by these new regulations and Airside Operations will see a shift in the dynamics of staffing, field operations, and reporting to the FAA.  It’s interesting to see how one regulation can have such a significant impact.  Also, every airport is different, so watching how other, similar-sized, airports adjust to the new regulations will also be quite interesting.  Or maybe I’m just a huge nerd and I love reading about that sort of thing (haha).

Learning About My Department…

With any job, you always go through a phase of learning how your department interacts within itself, and with the rest of the organization.  It’s important to understand the big picture and this summer I had the chance to dissect each position in Airside Operations and then look at the big-picture view of how they integrate in KSMP as a whole.

This summer, I learned about many of the daily tasks that are done by the Assistant Managers (those who run the airfield inspections, manage wildlife, etc.) and aided them in doing these during the week.  I learned about the policies and procedures that drive everyday activity and the Duty Managers who keep the office running during the daily shifts.  I also learned about the important role that Operations Coordinators have in taking information and disseminating it to the entire airport all while watching weather and airfield conditions, managing the overflow parking, and keep the phone from ringing off the hook.  Lastly, I learned how Technical Operations is the glue keeping our systems together and how the Manager of Airside Operations, my boss, really has his hands full and juggles so many duties that they are too long to list here.

Learning About Job Opportunities

Throughout the summer myself and my fellow interns have had the opportunity to participate in many tours. They ranged from FedEx’s airport operations, Facilities, Terminal 2 – Humphrey, to the Airport Police Department.

The main goal of those tours was to network with the different departments, learn about their function within KSMP, but also see the variety of jobs that exist on a commercial airport.  I have come away with several different types of jobs in mind and now know that there are many options available.  Also, my coworkers at the MAC have connections at many different airports and have offered to connect with their contacts on my behalf in the future.

Overall, the MAC has opened my eyes to the possibilities of many different facets of aerospace at an airport.

Moving On...For Now…

As I’m sitting here writing this on my last day at the MAC, I can’t help but be sad that I’m leaving my favorite airport and will be soon turning in my badge and parking pass.  I’ve had so much fun and learned so much in the last 10 weeks that it will be hard to go back to school for the next nine months.  I am very grateful to have been at the MAC and appreciate the opportunity.

I enjoyed getting to learn alongside my fellow interns from my soon-to-be alma mater and from Metro State University.  We learned together all summer, learned from each other, and became a close team when working on projects and learning about the airport.

However, I’m so excited to be just two semesters away from graduating and all the possibilities ahead of me.  I love being at the MAC and I intend to come back in the future, in one capacity or another.  Until then, it’s time to put my nose to the grindstone.

 

In the meantime, thank you Airside Operations and fellow interns for a great summer & I’ll see you all soon!

 


3rd Class Medical Reform - What You Need to Know

Recently, I wrote about some new legislation that had come into effect in April about Student Pilot Certificates.  This seems to be a banner year for the FAA as a new piece of legislation, centered around the 3rd Class Medical was recently signed into law by the President.  This particular piece of legislation has been a long time coming and allows more people the ability to exercise the privileges of their Private Pilot certificate even if they have run/will run into medical issues.

A Law 37 Years in the Making…

As early as 1979, the American Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) has been petitioning the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for an extension in validity of a 3rd Class Medical from two years to three years.  AOPA continued to advocate for pilots with medical issues by proposing to create a recreational, or sport pilot, certificate.

The development of the sport pilot certificate took over a decade and allowed a pilot to fly aircraft in the sport category with only a valid driver’s license instead of having to hold a 3rd Class Medical.  Pilots have been using the sport pilot certificate for over 10 years now and the journey towards a reformed 3rd Class Medical started in earnest back in 2012.

Interest Groups Hard at Work…

AOPA and the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) first petitioned the FAA back in early 2012 to allow pilots seeking a 3rd Class Medical exemption to fly under the following conditions:

  • Day Visual Flight Rules (VFR)
  • Fixed gear
  • Single engine
  • Up to four seats
  • 180 horsepower engine
  • Fly no higher than 10,000 feet Mean Sea Level (MSL) or 2,000 feet Above Ground Level (AGL)
  • Carry no more than one passenger

Later, in September of the same year, the FAA closed the question period – this is referred to as a Notice of Proposed Rule Making (NPRM) which lasts 90 days.  There were over 16,000 comments filed under this particular NPRM with the general consensus that thousands of pilots were in favor of a 3rd Class Medical Reform.  However, despite introducing the General Aviation Pilot Protection Act (GAPPA) into the House in December of that year, there was a long wait ahead for the aviation community.

The GAPPA expanded on the AOPA-EAA petition to allow pilots to carry more passengers (up to 5), fly a six-seat aircraft weighing up to 6,000 pounds under VFR conditions.  In March of 2013, the GAPPA legislation was finally introduced into the Senate.

The FAA Process…

Over the next several months, the FAA began a process to review the current 3rd Class Medical rules and processes.  This process was dubbed as the “Private Pilot Privileges Without a Medical Certificate”.  The Government Accountability Office (GAO) found that the FAA medical certification process was full of major flaws including technological issues, lack of clarity and inappropriate standards.

As 2014 went on, the GAPPA gained 100 sponsors in the House, and 10 in the Senate making it a very strongly supported piece of legislation.  Later that summer, FAA Administrator Michael Huerta announced that a rule to reform the 3rd Class Medical process was being presented to the Department of Transportation (DOT).  The DOT had 90 days to review the rule before making a decision.  EAA and AOPA continued to appeal to the DOT to quickly review the rule along with many others in both the Senate and the House that were co-sponsoring the GAPPA – however, the review was never fully completed.

In December of 2014, the 114th Congress came to an end with no progress on GAPPA and it then expired.  Not one to be beaten, the Pilot’s Bill of Rights 2 (PBR2) was introduced into both the House and the Senate in 2015 that included the 3rd Class Medical reform which included what the GAPPA had introduced but also added the ability to fly in IFR conditions along with VFR.  Between June and July of 2015, over 140,000 calls were made to elected officials encouraging support of the PBR2.  Support in the House and Senate for the bill grows to over 160 co-sponsors. 

All the persistence paid off when the PBR2 passed the Senate by unanimous consent on December 15, 2015.  3rd Class Medical reform language is introduced as a part of FAA reauthorization and other laws and legislation on and off again throughout 2016.  Then, the big day comes when in July of 2016, the FAA funding bill is passed in both the House and senate including language for 3rd Class Medical reform.  By July 15, 2016, the law was signed by President Obama singling the end of a very long process by advocacy groups, the FAA, and Congress.

So, What Does This Mean for Pilots?

After doing some research, it doesn’t appear that the rule will go into effect for another year.  The FAA will be going through the rulemaking process which could take up to one year.  In the meantime, here are the important facts about the 3rd Class Medical allowances:

  • Aircraft: Up to 6 seats, no greater than 6,000 pounds, and covered (unlike the previous iterations, no restrictions on complexity, horsepower, etc.) – sorry folks, no biplanes
  • Flight rules: Day/Night VFR and IFR
  • Passengers:  Up to 5
  • Aeromedical:  Pilots must take a free online aeromedical course every two years
  • Altitude:  Up to 18,000 feet
  • Airspeed:  No greater than 250 knots indicated airspeed
  • Pilot:  A pilot cannot fly for compensation or hire

Pilots looking to take advantage of this new rule need only to have a valid U.S. driver’s license and have had held a medical certificate (regular or special issuance) in the last 10 years from the date the legislation became law.

Are You Effected by the New Law?

Are you, the reader, benefiting from this new legislation?  What’s your story or thoughts?   Feel free to leave a comment with stories and/or comments on the 3rd Class Medical reform.  

More information about the reform can be found at www.AOPA.org and www.FederalRegister.gov.

Images courtesy of GoogleImages.com and the writer.

 

 

Are You Working SMARTer?

There’s an old saying: “Work smarter, not harder.”  I can’t tell you how many times someone has told me that, or I’ve had to tell myself that.  It’s so easy for me to get into the rut of approaching a goal from a disorganized process – it becomes an arduous process that has little to no intrinsic value, seems to drag on forever, and ultimately becomes a discouraging and frustrating process.  Today I’ll cover a common (or is it?) approach to accomplishing goals that has helped me to work SMARTer and not harder.

What Are SMART Goals? – A little history

In the early 19th century, a fellow by the name of Elbert Hubbard, a renowned American philanthropist, observed that many individuals would fail in their endeavors.   He concluded that they failed not because they had little intelligence or where with all, but because they failed to organize their efforts around a goal.  However, it wasn’t until the late 20th century that a new method arrived in the form of SMART goals.

Later, in 1981, we find the first record of the SMART acronym written down in a paper published by George T. Doran, a consultant and former Director of Corporate Planning for Washington Water Power Company entitled “There’s a S.M.A.R.T. Way to Write Management’s Goals and Objectives”. While the SMART acronym words have changed over the years, the overall concept has remained the same – it approaches goals in an organized fashion to maximize one’s efforts.  So, let’s dive into SMART with some definitions and some examples.

S Stands for “Specific”

I like to equate the first step in the SMART process to choosing a topic for that thesis.  You may love airplanes, but you can’t just write on every airplane.  It’s hard to write an exhaustive paper with such a subject that folks can read in its entirety before falling asleep.

In the same way, a goal must be very specific.  Too broad and you find yourself getting frustrated because you don’t seem to make much progress – too narrow and you may not be feeling very challenged or accomplished.

A good example of a specific goal is to say: “My goal is to get my Instrument Rating.”  An example of a non-specific goal is: “I want to fly.”  The difference is that a specific goal has a narrow focus, i.e., the Instrument Rating, as opposed to a general want to fly.

So, let’s run with the goal of an Instrument Rating for the rest of our SMART process.

M Stands for “Measurable”

To be measureable, a goal should be shaped in such a way as to measure success or progress.  For instance, when training for an instrument rating, you should be able to measure your success upon completing the hours of training, completing ground school, or taking the written and practical exam (and passing).

Too often we get into a rut where we’re working on some project, but don’t really have a way to measure what we’ve accomplished, or not accomplished.  This could be especially challenging when studying for the Instrument written exam, but perhaps try approaching it by measuring your progress based on what chapters or sections you have studied.  It might help to break the study guide into sections and measure your progress that way.

 

A Stands for “Attainable”

I often feel like this third step should really be somewhere closer to the beginning of the acronym just because it could save you a lot of time and grief.  That being said, it is an important step, regardless of where it is placed.

Having a goal that is attainable in the first place is crucial in your success in accomplishing a goal.  For instance, you really can’t make a goal to get your Instrument Rating if you don’t even have your Private Pilot’s License (PPL) yet.  If you find yourself in that position of needing one thing to make another goal happen, this might be the point to go back to the beginning and further narrow the specificity of your goal.

For instance, “My goal is to get my PPL, so I can get my Instrument Rating.”  Now you have your true starting point, which is getting that PPL.  This narrowed focus allows you to discover the underlying action items for a particular goal, or to realize that one goal is really subset of another goal.

R Stands for “Realistic”

This goal seems to go hand-in-hand with the previous goal, but not always.  This step really seems to fit into the phrase “time and money.”  For instance, you may have the time (it’s attainable), but you may not have the money (it’s not realistic).  I actually experienced this the first year I was at the University of North Dakota (UND). 

I had the time to get my Instrument, and eventually my Commercial Ratings, but I didn’t have the money.  So, while my goal was specific, measureable and attainable, it wasn’t realistic because dollar bills really do make an airplane fly.  If you get to this point and realize your goal isn’t realistic, it’s very important to not get discouraged and give up.  It really means that you need to further narrow your focus into something a little more specific.

Now, I can speak from experience that giving up something as enjoyable and rewarding as flying is not easy.  However, finding an alternate path, maybe a diversion of sorts, is a very smart option.  When I realized this, I chose to switch degree programs from Commercial Aviation to Airport Management.  This switch kept me in the field of aerospace and aviation, and I found that I really enjoy the business side of aviation, but I still get my dose of being an aviation nerd.  I also found out I love being around airports almost as much as being in the airplane.

I haven’t given up flying altogether, but I’ve adjusted my course to include those additional flight ratings down the road when that goal becomes more realistic.

T Stands for “Time-Bound”

Lastly, we come to having our goals being time-bound. 

Let’s start with a bad example of this: “I want to get my Instrument Rating sometime in the future.”  Now, we can see right away this is going to be a problem.  This gets us into the mindset that we’ll finish it sometime, and then sometime comes and we still haven’t made any progress.  This is frustrating, to say the least, and really is a hindrance to accomplishing some very specific goals.  A lack of a deadline actually keeps great people from accomplishing great things!

Now, a good example of a time-bound goal is: “I want to get my Instrument Rating by next June.”  Now, this is good!  You have a rough date and you know what you need to do to accomplish this goal.  You can further break down this goal by planning to take the ground school for 7 weeks in the fall, start your actual flight instruction after that, and then schedule your written exam in early spring, and practical exam by June.  You could further be specific by putting in actual dates and updating your progress as you go in addition to deciding how much time per week (or day) to spend working towards that goal.

The great thing is, you can be very flexible as long as you don’t get into the habit of doing something maybe someday.

Work SMARTer, Not Harder

Overall, I wouldn’t say that the SMART process is a fail-proof method, but it has been very successfully used by individuals, management, and corporations alike.  However, you can’t just plug things in and go.  You need to commit to following a goal through and periodically reevaluating your progress as you go and make changes as needed.

So, do you have a goal that you used the SMART process on that you’d like to share with our readers?  Feel free to comment below with your story and how you used the SMART method.

Happy SMART Planning!

Images courtesy of Google.com.

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!

A Few of My Favorite Warbirds

In the distance you hear a deep hum – as it gets closer, you see a gleaming aircraft appear on the horizon and suddenly you break out in goose bumps as a gleaming vintage World War II (WWII) aircraft passes over you at top speed.  Maybe I’m the only one that gets giddy when I hear those old war birds, or maybe there are more out there that can barely contain themselves when old aircraft come to life once again.  Today, I’ll list my three favorite warbirds from WWII along with a little history about their important role in our history.


#1: The B-29 Superfortress

Quite possibly the hardest-working aircraft ever designed in WWII, the Boeing B-29 Superfortress was designed in response to a request from the United States Army Air Corps for a pressurized, long-range, bomber aircraft.  Clocking out at over 350 miles per hour (mph) in cruise, the Superfortress could attain altitudes at over 30,000 feet with a wingspan at over 140 feet long. 

The Superfortress also came equipped with four, remotely controlled turrets – the General Electric Central Fire Control System.  Among the first of its kind, these turrets were controlled via analog electrical instrumentation.  Additionally, the B-29 was the first fully-pressurized bomber aircraft providing safety and comfort for its crew.  Almost 4,000 of these “super bombers” were built by Boeing to aid in the war effort.

Today, only 22 B-29s are in existence with one still flying which you may have seen at places such as AirVenture in Oshokosh, WI – this B-29 is affectionately dubbed “Fifi”.


#2: The P-51 Mustang

Next up we have the P-51 Mustang.  This gleaming gem was used as a long-range, single-pilot fighter, and a fighter-bomber during WWII, the Korean War and various other conflicts.  Designed in 1940 by the American company, North American Aviation, it was in response to the licensing requirements of the British Purchasing Commission. 

First flown operationally by the Royal Air Force (RAF), the Mustang was used as a tactical-reconnaissance aircraft and a fighter-bomber.  Due to the Rolls-Royce engine in the P-51B/C model, the fighter could perform at altitudes above 15,000 feet allowing it to match or better the Luftwaffe’s fighters – I wonder what they did for oxygen up there?


Not limited to just Europe, the P-51 was flown in many conflicts including the North African, Mediterranean, and Italian theaters and was used in the Pacific War against the Japanese.  During the Korean War, it was used as the main fighter aircraft until jet aircraft took over that role with the advent of new technology.  Despite the new technology, the Mustang was used until the early 1980s in conflicts. 

Now, these amazing fighters are owned by private collectors, on display in museums, and still flown in many airshows all over the country.  It just goes to show one that after even 50 years, this amazing aircraft still exists – what a testament to American engineering!


#3: The B-25 Mitchell

Dubbed the “Mitchell Bomber” after Major General William “Billy” Mitchell, the B-25 is another bomber that served in every theater of WWII in addition to remaining in service which spanned four decades.  With nearly 10,000 of these twin-engine bombers built, like many other aircraft, this design came at the request of the Army Air Corps.

Going up against other aircraft manufacturers such as Douglas, North American Aircraft (NAA) went on to design the most military aircraft in United States history.  NAA was also the only company to simultaneously produced bombers, fighters, and trainers.  Among some of the most notable missions the Mitchell flew was the “Doolittle Raid” in 1942 led by Lieutenant Colonel Jimmy Doolittle on the mainland of Japan four months after the attack on Pearl Harbor. 

Over the years, the B-25 had a few variants in design that included equipment for de-icing, anti-icing, and gunship modifications making it a versatile war-time platform.  The B-25 proved to be a formidable airframe and was used around the world for war-time activities in the United Kingdom, Australia, and the Netherlands. 


And Your Favorites Are?

While many of these aircraft were designed to subdue our enemies overseas, I can’t help but marvel at the ingenuity of American aerospace engineers and the sheer beauty of these aircraft.  My favorite part about being in Oshkosh for AirVenture is watching the reenactment of the Doolittle Raid and the tributes to aerospace egineers, not to mention all the privately restored warbirds on display.

So, what’s your favorite warbird?

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