Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Aviation Safety Month

The month of March itself is the first sign of spring.  The weather gets warmer in some places, (well, at least a little), and we are constantly reminded of the first blossoms.  The sign of life.  To many, like myself, flying is life.

Sometimes we don't know, or understand why, so many souls leave the Earth too soon, due to an aviation tragedy.  All we can do all we can is investigate to understand why, or through which they were taken from us ever so soon.  That is why I wish for my blog to designate an important topic to the aviation world to have a month to discuss what can be done not only to improve the safety of the skies, but to pay hommage to the many people that we've lost due to every aviation tragedy thus far.

We are blessed with many experienced and veteran commercial airline pilots all over this world who dedicate their careers and their whole lives to work toward this goal.  Not only to work toward this goal, but to pay tribute to the lives we've lost and to which I, and many others are forever grateful. 

My birthday last year was not a good one, as the world and I learned that night of the disappearance of MH 370.  A Boeing 777. Hearts skipped a beat, or nearly stopped for a second or two within many, upon learning that tragic news.  To this very date, we are still looking and searching to the deepest and most far point for so many far away answers - especially the victims' families.  Families from so many past aviation tragedies around the world are grieving for their loved ones every day, every moment, they are not with us.  It is my mission, and the mission of so many other pilots, to make sure that these tragedies do not reoccur.  For the not only our sake, but as a tribute and vow to the departed souls that we will never be able to replace.

As a child, I once walked beside the memorial site of ground zero of Northwest Orient Flight 170 to which N121US disintegrated in air and crashed near Tell City, Perry County, Indiana, on March 17th, 1960 on it's way from Chicago-Midway to Miami, ending the lives of every single person on board.  I read the names of the souls to which some were instantly buried there since the crash.  From that point, having never flown before, I vowed never to take to the skies - especially in a prop plane.  It was nearly a decade later that I took to the skies, for the first time, as a passenger flying with that same airline on a transatlantic flight.  From that point on, it was love at first flight.  I went on later to take to the skies in a prop 172 for my intro flight to become a pilot..

That's the way it should be for every flight no matter gen-av or commercial.  Safe.

Something told me to write this post today having thought consistently every day this week about what happened on the early night of May 31st/June 1st, 2009 over the South Atlantic Ocean.  Not only that time, but the early morning of March 7th/8th over Southeast Asia, and the list goes on. 

Thinking of what can be done..

The work that is still left to be done...

Israeli-NY Flight Club Safety Meeting with Karlene Petitt
Learn as much as you can as a student pilot, whether you are flying in a Cessna 172, to the 744, 748, 777, or as a student inside the massive super A380 jumbo.  You are a living piece of flesh and blood with a brain.  Our airplanes are not.  If you sense something is amiss, say or do something about it immediately.  Do not ignore the signs, whether they be warning or not, early or late - it's never too late until, it actually is.  (Speaking of being late - it is, by the way, never too late to obtain a glider rating.)  Buy and read books on Aviation Safety whether they are fiction or not.  Didn't you know fiction mirrors truth? If you are a commercial airline pilot, train and encourage CRM & TEM (Crew Resource Management / Threat & Error Management) and promote every single crew and emergency resource you have to its advantage.  Encourage your aviation high schools, aviation academies, and flight clubs to hold safety meetings.  Invite non-pilots to these meetings to show them that flying is safe and fun.  Promote aviation safety and enthusiasm.  Keep yourself healthy, learn from your mistakes and take responsibility for your actions or non-actions.  This is how we climb and grow.

Train yourself to be several steps ahead of your aircraft.  Encourage others to do the same.  Fly safe.  Fly smart.  And spread the word.

Pre-flight checklist complete.




For this, will be the biggest first step.  Every soul both alive on this Earth and departed from it are counting on you.


Monday, March 9, 2015

Ford International Airport

MONDAY MENTION
Gerald R. Ford International Airport
Grand Rapids, Michigan


For the first time in weeks, I had a chance to get out of the snow clobbered streets of my new home in Grand Rapids, Michigan.  The month of February wasn't easy, less alone an enjoyable one, for the eastern half of the U.S. with the uncooperative and unforgiving weather, but the weather is starting to pay off and make up for the most difficult travel experience for many, and my relocation experience from NYC to West Michigan.


So..

What would a pilot do on a beautiful day with the highs in the 40s (F), clear blue skies, with melting snow, such as today?  

Head to the airport!  

I took this time today to head over to the gateway to the Midwest, if not, the world, like I do on many occaisions when I fly to the offices of Gerald R. Ford International Airport (GRR / KGRR) to say a quick, "hello!"

Named after the 38th President of the United States who was raised in Grand Rapids, Michigan area, Ford International Airport has serviced over 2.3 million passengers traveling to, through, and from West Michigan worldwide.




One of the things I love about this airport, besides the field being quite close to my new home, is the fact they offer services to which many airports do not.  Gerald R. Ford International Airport is not just any air field.  Beyond the air field, is a state of the art, refurbished, modern terminal area (Concourse B) including a game room for youth, shops, and what we all need especially for those early morning flights, that Pike Place taste of Seattle - a Starbucks. A nice array of food shops are also available for pilots and passengers/guests alike.

If you are an animal lover like I am, then GRR is also the place for you.  Ford Airport provides pet therapy services to passersby and I had the honor of meeting one of the dogs during my visit today.  This is something for those travelers who have come from afar needing a smile on their faces from a caring K-9. 

Another specialty is that when the holidays come around, Ford Airport invites special groups come in from local middle and high schools to do live performances, giving that warm holiday welcome and wish for a pleasant journey - or for that matter - that welcome home for the holidays.  That means a lot, especially for pilots, crew, and passengers alike who are away from and unable to be with their families over the holidays.

One of the amenities they have to offer for a pilot, if not, the aviation spotter is the observation deck.  Not only an observation deck, also an outdoor park adjacent to runway 08R/26L, which is currently undergoing expansion to be opened this summer.  This is a definite place to take visiting friends from out of town, or perhaps, the whole family out, for some plane spotting while enjoying some fun in the sun.

In this day and age, air travelers and passenger loads are doubling and tripling by leaps and bounds.  Ford Airport has made, is making, and continues to make all the means to not only be most accomodating to all of their passengers, but also add that hometown feel to the experience.  It is my pleasure and honor knowing that not only when I fly, but to have them right next door.  If you are coming to Michigan, (especially on your way to Oshkosh/OSH15 this summer), please stop by and enjoy the Ford Airport experience!



One can fly many carriers non-stop from Ford Airport to:

DELTA AIRLINES/Endeavor Air/GoJet
  • Detroit, MI (DTW/KDTW)
  • Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN (MSP/MSP)
  • Atlanta, GA (ATL/KATL)
  • Cincinatti, N. Kentucky (CVG/KCVG)
  • NYC (LGA/KLGA)
UNITED AIRLINES/Shuttle America
  • Chicago, IL (ORD/KORD)
  • Denver, CO (DEN/KDEN)
  • NYC/Newark (EWR/KEWR)
SOUTHWEST AIRLINES
  • Denver, CO (DEN/KDEN)
  • Baltimore, MD (BWI/KBWI)
  • St. Louis, MO (STL/KSTL)
  • Orlando, FL (MCO/KMCO)
  • Tampa, FL (TPA/KTPA)
AMERICAN AIRLINES/Envoy
  • Chicago, IL (ORD/KORD)
  • Dallas/Ft. Worth, TX (DFW/KDFW)
AIR WISCONSIN
  • Philadelphia, PA (PHL/KPHL)
ALLEGIANT AIR
  • Las Vegas, NV (LAS/KLAS)
Other airports/General Aviation:
  • W K Kellog - Battle Creek, MI (BTL/KBTL)
  • Coleman A. Young - Detroit, MI (DET/KDET)
  • Republic Airport - Farmingdale, NY (FRG/KFRG)


The list above is a current snapshot per date of this post, as routes, airlines, and citypairs are based on various fluxuating markets. 

Of course, my personal dream is to have a seasonal non-stop service from Grand Rapids to Amsterdam, The Netherlands.. perhaps, with a 787?  It wasn't coined "Dreamliner" for nothing.  A great way to celebrate the Dutch heritage of West Michigan.

For further information about Ford Airport, please visit their website or follow their Facebook and Twitter accounts.

Thank you, Ford Airport, for your 50 years of service.  You have been a tremendous asset not only for West Michigan but the world you serve.  Not only the physical world, but the worlds of dreams you are building for the future of aviation through the aspirations of growth within our youth.

For those who I met in the airport offices today, (puppy dog included), it was a pleasure and an honor.  We shall be seeing each other again, soon!

Monday, March 2, 2015

Monday Mention: Women In Aviation

This week, we commemorate and celebrate those women who have taken their dreams to the skies.  Not only have they taken their dreams with them, they have also inspired other young women to line up and take off their dreams.  The truth is, we need more women in aviation and I personally do everything that I can to advertise and encourage this. 
 
When I think of Women in Aviation, several women come to mind and would love to share, or mention, on this Monday, as they always not only took their dreams off, but have also encouraged, other women to do the same.  They also happen to be aviation authors.

 
Syd Blue
 
Syd came to mind today as I was formulating my thoughts about this week - Women In Aviation.  I ran into Syd online a while back when I learned that she had published her book "Fly Girl" and she also has come out with the book, "Circle."  Syd launched a website "Fly Girl: Life In The Skies" and she can be followed on Twitter as well!  I highly recommend following her on Twitter and visiting her website where all of her books can be found. 
 

 



Karlene Petitt

 
I ran into Karlene online a few years back sitting in the very spot in which I am now typing this post.  I often wondered what made her dreams take off, not only for herself, but how she has come to inspire and encourage other women to fly.  She tells everyone how in her newest book, "Flight To Success: Be The Captain of Your Life."  I highly recommend this book as well as her aviation thrillers in the Flight series, "Flight For Control" and "Flight For Safety"  I also highly recommend that you read her latest post on her website about Women In Aviation and especially to catch the story of the little girl who can fly at only two years old! 
 
Karlene has been a tremendous inspiration and asset to this blog and even well before it was known as "Captain Aboard."
 
So many other great aviatrixes have come to mind when I think of this week.  Namely, the late Nancy-Bird Walton, a student of the late Sir Charles Kingsford-Smith, who was one of the pioneers of Australian aviation.

For the women that have taken off and joined the aviation community, all I can say is, we need more of you.  You have made so many paramount contributions to the industry and it only has just begun.  If there are any young women who are out there and are thinking of taking their first flight lesson - do it.  It's time to fuel your passion.  There are so many opportunities awaiting for you, so many levels to climb - most of all - you have a support system, a community, most of all a family awaiting to welcome you with open arms.   
 
If you are a female flyer and would love to be mentioned this week, feel free to send a DM on Facebook or Twitter.  You can always contact this blog at squawk@captainaboard.com 
 
Have a great week!

Sunday, March 1, 2015

LLAP

This past Friday, the world was informed media wide of the passing of famous and most talented actor and artist, Leonard Nemoy.
 
We all spent a lot of time with Mr. Nemoy, fans especially, even if it was looking at him from behind a big canvas or television screen.  Personally, I remember going with my family to the movie theatres back in the 80s for the Star Trek Movie Series.  From time to time, I would catch the earlier television shows late at night.  We watched the movies religiously as soon as they appeared on the big screen, just as everyone else.
 
Nemoy's most famous trademark was, is, and always will be the hand gesture which originates back to the Holy Temple of Jerusalem when the High Priests would give their blessings of peace to the Israelites.  People think of the hand gesture as being Vulcan, but it is actually - Jewish.  Being proud of his Jewish background, Nemoy chose that very hand gesture and those same sentiments that would be blessed to many people, as  a reflection of those same wishes and sentiments.
 
In his last statement on Twitter, he tweeted:
 
"A life is like a garden. 
Perfect moments can be had,
but not preserved,
except in memory. 
 LLAP"
 
He is very right.  Live life for each moment and cherish the great memories.  We come in this world, each of us, for a purpose.  We fulfill them with flying colors, then once they are fulfilled, we leave, whether we choose to stay or not.  Our legacies, however, will live on in memory.
 
A scene that will forever live in many people's minds..:
 
Best viewed on Desktop Site
 
 
His asset, memory, and the legacy he left will live long and prosper.
 
Mr. Nemoy,
 
Thank you for the many years and your many talents.  Your contributions to the entertainment industry and the artistic community were, are, and their legacy, paramount.  May your soul raise to the highest levels and rest peacefully in the Garden of Eden, while your family, friends, and fans be comforted as those in Jerusalem and Zion.
 
LLAP