Friday, August 22, 2014

FF: The World At Your Fingertips

OK, I must admit, I came back to Microsoft Flight Simulator after quite a long hiatus. I thought I was done with it until the payware add-on to Microsoft Flight Simulator, PMDG, finally released their newest product: the Boeing 777.  Their 747, which I have used for a while, was quite a hit, but the 777 proved to me to be absolutely stellar. After having used the Phoenix Simulations PSS 777 Professional for years, I have come to surmise that there is no comparison whatsoever between the two platforms and computer systems.

And yes, my virtual airline has made a nice return with this virtual 777 fleet willing to travel to many long haul charter destinations. The possibilities are endless when you are your own scheduler and don't have to leave your own home.
Last night, I had one of my best simulation experiences to date. The city pair : New York JFK to Paris CDG. I always enjoy this city pair as Air France introduced me to the real life Boeing 777 experience in May of 2006. As a pilot and avgeek, it was an experience I will never forget for the rest of my life and beyond.  There is something about hearing and feeling the start up and power  up of two GE-90 powerplants that gets the adrenaline going.

What makes the PMDG 777 so grand is that it is tremendously realistic. It is a Level D simulator without leaving your home less alone your PC laptop. Or for those realists, the three computer set up with several wide, flat screen TVs, less alone, advanced controls setup.

I plan on writing a full product review on the PMDG 777 at a later date, however, I will present to you some screen shots as this week's:

AUGUST 22ND  2014

Initial vectors out of Grand Rapids for Amsterdam - Thanks to business premier class.
This city pair will be transferring over to an A330 simulation next year.


Everyone has their favorite intersection...

Bienvenue à Paris - Welcome to Paris!

Final for Paris CDG 09L

During the flight sim, I could not help to remember and commemorate the souls who didn't make it to Paris, Beijing, nor Amsterdam, not to mention other destinations.  We must always remember them... Next week we'll expand more on that. 

But for now... After all, the all nighter last night, I rest assure you I will be getting my due rest tonight and all day Saturday.  Saturday night will be the return flight to JFK from Paris, then headed out Farmingdale, Long Island, to my base airport (Republic-KFRG) for some real life flying along the East Coast on Sunday.  My next project, which I have been researching, is to find the most suitable A330 payware - to discover a whole new world of flying with the Airbus.

No matter where we go as pilots both in the real or virtual world, no matter which aircraft, we always have the world at our fingertips.

What are your favorite simulator add-ons?  Any favorite airport/scenery add-ons?
I hope you all have a relaxing, peaceful, and enjoying weekend!


Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Barbara Harmer

March of 1993.  A young, dignified woman stood before a thriving airline ready to take on a new challenge, ready to make history.  True, she did leave school early, however, it would be her first long-haul flight: from hair dresser to one of the world's most elite pilots.  She was ready to rise to the challenge and head on: to be the world’s first female pilot for the SST Concorde.

Photo by Adam Butler/PA

One must take a look into the history of Barbara Harmer to learn what a remarkable individual she was.  It was to my unpleasant surprise to learn two weeks ago just that she had succumbed to cancer at fifty-seven.  Even though it is a very young age, one must take a look at all of her accomplishments.  By doing so, it will not take much to assess how much of an impact she has made in the commercial aviation industry.

Born on 14 September 1953 in Loughton, Essex, she grew up in Bognor Regis, a seaside resort on the south coast of the United Kingdom.  She attended a convent school until the age of 15 until she took it upon herself to explore the possibility of becoming a hairdresser.  Other things came to mind for her as she applied for an air traffic controller position at London’s Gatwick Airport.

During her time as a controller for London-Gatwick, she decided to pursue other schooling with the intentions of obtaining a law degree.  Amongst her studies were Geography, Law, and Politics.  With all of this on her plate, she also decided to start taking flight lessons at Goodwood Flight School in Westhampnett, West Sussex.  It was May of 1982 when Harmer obtained her commercial pilot’s license.  Having submitted over one hundred applications, she found her first home with Genair, a small transport airline out of Humberside Airport in Kirmington.

Her breakthrough in the industry came in March of 1984 when British Caledonian asked her to join their team flying BAC 1-11s and then transferring over to the McDonnell Douglas DC-10 long-haul.  Everything changed when British Caledonian merged with British Airways to which she became one of the 60 female pilots out of  the 3,000 male/female total post-merger.  It was 1987 when she was asked to join the Concorde program by undergoing an intense six month conversion course.  She would be the first female pilot operating Concorde under commercial service as a First Officer.  (The first female Concorde test pilot was French aviatrix Jacqueline Auriol.)

On 25 March 1993, Harmer made her debut across the Atlantic from London’s Heathrow to New York’s John F. Kennedy.  Harmer was the first of the two commercial female Concorde pilots as French aviatrix Béatrice Vialle, came aboard with Air France as a First Officer in 2001.  Harmer had served as a Concorde pilot for ten years before it’s final flight; Vialle made thrity-five trips before Air France withdrawaled their fleet from service in May of 2003.

After the Concorde chapter closed the Concorde team were transferred over as Captains to BA's subsonic fleet.  As a result, Harmer took on a new role: a Boeing 777 Captain.  She flew long-haul operations until taking a voluntary redundancy from the airline in 2009.

What is most amazing about her: She had so much more to offer our world besides taking to the skies.  She was a yacht-master who had taken to the waters and competed in many competitions winning several of them.  She also was heavily involved in gardening creating a beautiful Mediterranean garden outside her home in Felpham, West Sussex.

Lastly and sadly, she was scheduled to compete in a trans-Atlantic yacht event in 2013, however, she passed away from cancer at St. Wilfrid’s Hospice Facility on 20 February 2011.

For those who knew her, you've had this special person in your life: as a family member, co-worker, friend, etc.  She has climbed so many levels in such a short period of time and at record speeds.  She took her love of air and sea and molded it into such a creation that is a reflection of the committed service she provided to her airline and the aircraft that she flew – so uncanny, so surreal, in so many outstanding ways.

No matter which aircraft, flight deck, or cabin we enter, Barbara’s legacy will be there joining us to climb higher and higher with us setting record speeds no matter what our dreams and aspirations are.

(Please visit The Memorial Ride to find out more how Barbara was an inspiration to her loved ones and to donate to St. Wilfrid’s Hospice Facility.)


Tuesday, August 19, 2014


YES!  It's August 19th, which only means one thing: it's


National Aviation Day (US) was established in 1939 by former U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt to commemorate the birthday of Orville Wright.  Mr. Wright was still alive when this proclamation was issued and codified as (USC 36:I:A:1:118)

This day should not only be a federal holiday in the United States, but also a worldwide celebration of what the Wright brothers have brought to the world.  The freedom to travel anywhere for a record number of hours.  The science, the technology, and the industry.  

Words can only go so far, so I will leave you with a bit of photo journalism which was shot near JFK yesterday.

How will you be celebrating your Aviation Day?  Flying, hopefully!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Natan Hoffmann

Reflecting back to a day at work a few years ago, I was speaking casually with one of my colleagues, who mentioned in passing that he was in touch with a local Jewish high school student at the time who was interested in becoming a pilot. I couldn't help to think of my interest in speaking with this student as I was always was looking to connect with fellow pilots and aviation enthusiasts with similar backgrounds at the time.  

N34HD - Cessna Skyhawk 172
Many months passed and I didn't hear from this individual who had since graduated from high school, until one March evening when I was checking my Facebook, and to my surprise, noticed a new friend request from a young gentleman standing beside a 172 sporting four bars.  The next thing I knew, we spent about over two hours on the phone that evening discussing our stories and love of aviation and how we came to being who we are.  Then came the meet ups at the library or for spotting at North Woodmere Park in Long Island.  A month later, I was sitting inside of that same 172 for my first time as a passenger.  Time quickly passed and then before I knew it, I was at the controls of that same 172, for my intro flight. 


It was a clear night and Long Island never looked so beautiful outlined with the street lights beaming from below at 2,000 feet.  Having just passed the Northport stacks we were headed just over the (Long Island) sound for a bit and the moon’s reflections hit the cool waters like magic.  Our flight instructor, a former Israeli Air Force pilot and aviator par excellence, beckoned me for the sun shield to cover up the deck window.  From then on, it was all instruments for someone who was sitting to the left of our instructor, who I’ve had the honor of sharing the virtual flight deck with as both a Captain (777/A380) and a First Officer (747/757) for the past year when we weren’t in N34HD, our flagship sailing the real-life skies.

His precision, exact.  Checking instruments, making mental calculations, it seemed like clockwork even though I knew there was a lot involved for him in those critical moments airborne.

Our instructor quickly had me store the sun shield in the back compartment so that this distinguished aviator, could do his first ILS approach into Long Island’s Islip-MacArthur Airport.    What was once non-visible became visible and he nailed the ILS spot-on for runway 24.  Upon touchdown our instructor and I beamed with pride at what he had accomplished at 20 years old.

This is one of many stories that amazes me about someone who I am not only proud to call not only a true pilot, but also a true friend.

It is my honor to welcome into the flight deck as this week's
Tuesday Tweeter,


Why airplanes?

I  can recall myself in my grandmother’s backyard looking up into the sky at these noisy “flying things” as they passed over. My grandma would tell me its an airplane? But I was only 3 years old and I wouldn’t know what an airplane was until I grew older. When I was in second grade, I would borrow airplane books from the school library. I read them lots of times and studied every detail in all the books. By the time I was in 5th grade, I knew a large majority of airlines and aircraft by heart, and instead of paying attention in class, I would draw on paper many aircraft with the airlines logos on them. A year later, I went to middle school and met my teacher Jacob Kranz, an Orthodox Jew like myself, who happened to be a private pilot!

Hanging with the Beechcraft Super King Air in KBDR

It’s amazing the connection you made with Orthodox Judaism and being a pilot.  I personally didn’t know that Orthodox Jewish pilots existed until we met.  Little did I know that I had one (that would be you) hiding out in my back yard.  Literally!  Later on, we discovered a network of Israeli/Orthodox Jewish pilots throughout the world.  It has been amazing to have such a close connection to one another.  Speaking of close connections, where are you at with family?

I am the eldest of 6 children. I am a twin, not identical though. After my twin comes 3 boys and 1 girl. She is the youngest of us all.

Tell us about your, or should I say, “our” furry friend?  Why would he also make a good pilot?

Haha! You want me to talk about Coco? Well, Ok! Coco is my family’s pet Pomeranian dog. He is very adorable and human like. Sometimes, he becomes “bi-polar”, because he lives with a family of 9 people all together, and we can become very loud. Coco’s favorite sport is tennis and soccer, and sometimes football. Coco enjoys sleeping on a bed with his older brother Natan! (wink)  If Coco were human, I’m sure he would become a pilot because he is intelligent, fast moving, and loves taking car rides to the airport.

After having spent personal time with Coco, I must say that he is one of a kind.  I would also agree that he would make a better pilot than most because he’s always alert, intelligent, quick to react, concerned about safety, and always protects the ones he loves.  A definite match for Natan and his family.  Thinking about what it takes to become a pilot, I had to dig deeper and find out what gave Natan the full throttle to take off on his journey through the skies:

Seneca V

Simple, I was born to fly! I knew all along I wanted to do it, it was just a matter of time to connect all the dots of aviation that I had encountered. When I was in middle school, my teacher who is a private pilot took me flying for my very first time in a small aircraft, a Piper Warrior III. I was then convinced that I wanted to become a pilot. I had already fallen in love with aviation, but after the experience of “hands on” flying, I was 100% sure that I would follow my dreams and set goal of becoming an Airline Pilot, to which I am still working on accomplishing to this very day. I currently have had experience in flying IFR (Instrument Flight Rules) and Multi-engine. I can proudly say that no matter what obstacles I may encounter (and believe me, I have encountered many), that I will always be motivated and prepared to take to the skies, and always be happy with myself in making a commitment to becoming an Airline pilot.

JFK: At home in the 744

A very long haul journey to where you are today indeed, Natan.  I am rest assured that The Control Tower from Above has cleared you to final descent, make vectors to final, and before you know it you will be touching down to success.  Speaking of success, who helped pave the way or inspire you to landing success?

Wilbur and Orville Wright for making flight possible. Ilan Ramon and the entire crew of the Columbia Space Shuttle, who’s life’s were perished upon re-entry, Women of Aviation for staying strong and fighting for their rights, Robert Keleti for being the best Flight Instructor one could ever ask for and for being there for me when needed, My parents, Roy and Lori Hoffmann for telling me to never give up and for all the love they give to me. Thank you. My grandmothers who both are survivors of the Holocaust. Thank you both for coming to fly with me! To all the people who follow their dreams and become an example for one another, and finally to God for giving me life and always helping me move in the right direction!

Excellent choices!  Each and everyone of the above possesses something special because of how they have shaped you to who you are today.  Women are essential to the existence of aviation.  All one has to do is to take a look at how they shaped our industry.  We need more female pilots.  We are blessed to have advocates out there through individuals, organizations, and conferences.

I have no doubt that your family has a great deal involved as I have had the personal honor of knowing your family through my many visits and I am forever grateful for the many times I have been over to visit with everyone.  (Even if it was only to watch NCIS.)

I also agree about Robert, what can I say about our instructor?  I am speechless.  His knowledge never ceases to amaze me and every time we fly with him, there is a special feeling that is inexplicable.  He knows what he is doing and he knows how to cater to our personal needs as students to mold us into excellent pilots.

Dreams are very important in a person’s life.  It gives a sense of direction.  What are your thoughts?

Enjoying Nature

People’s dreams are very much like a flightplan. We all have a set destination. But unfortunately, we sometimes deviate from that flightplan and divert. In the end, you are left with two choices, to continue on and complete the flightplan, or to create a new flightplan.

Boeing brothers for life
Natan has given me the ability to see what it means to take a dream and turn it into reality.  I had been fighting for years due to personal circumstances to enter flight school.  I don’t know how he did it, but he gave me a huge kick in the ass to start my career as a pilot.  I am forever grateful for him being such an inspiration and support throughout the time we’ve known each other.  I am pretty rest assured that I will not only continue to share the virtual deck with him as both 777/A380 Captain and a 744 First Officer, but we will be sharing the deck together when we have our ATPL working for a major international carrier.


Friday, August 8, 2014

Week In Review

I hope your week was productive and successful.  Here are some personal highlights from this week, and yes, it was spent with some awesome pilots and awesome times:

Living the pilot life...
  • Sunday, August 3rd: Met with my good friend and pilot Karlene Petitt - Author of the aviation mystery/thrillers "Flight For Control" and "Flight For Safety"  We had an awesome lunch and walkabout through the streets of NYC.  We met some interesting people en route.  Please stay tuned to her blog as she will be elaborating on this a bit more.  It was truly great to see her once again.

Touring Blarney Castle with the newlyweds.

  • Monday, August 4th: My friends from Cork, Ireland got married!!  A hearty congratulations and cheers to my friends Eoin O'Callaghan (PPL) and Siobhan Oliver (now Mr. & Mrs. O'Callaghan)!  You should have a life together filled with many blessings and great times and can't wait for my next visit to give you these wishes personally.  

  • Monday, August 4th: My student got a job!!!

  • Thursday, August 7th:  Celebrating my father's birthday...  He would have been 65 years old this year, however, his memory and spiritual presence is still very real and very here.  It was a day filled with Moody Blues, Clearance Clearwater Revival, and Gordon Lightfoot.  

  • Thursday: August 7th:  Attended a wedding of a couple from a local family on Long Island that I am close with.  It truly was a joyous occasion and I wish the newlyweds a beautiful life together filled with nothing but success, joyous occasions.  May the wings of your marriage spread and reach many spiritual levels....
My CFI and good friend Robert was in attendance.  

Wishing everyone a relaxing weekend ahead.  
What are your plans?