Monday, January 28, 2013

Tips: Studying for the FAA Knowledge Exam

After talking to my instructor when I was first starting out, we decided it would be best to get the FAA Written out of the way at the beginning of my training. I would recommend the same thing for new student pilots as well. Here are three reasons why: 

  1. Training becomes more fun: You have the confidence in aircraft systems necessary to really know your airplane. It is extremely rewarding to pass the FAA Knowledge Test. You won't feel that nagging feeling of knowing you need to study for an exam. You won't be stressed out about the exam during training if it's already done! Best to just get it out of the way! The final check-ride and oral exam comes at the end, so no need to worry about that (for now). 
  2. Do it while the weather is bad: Get the exam done while the weather outside is questionable and often poor. Once the weather improves in the spring and summer, finding a time to fly will become much easier! In addition, it can become more predictable in the spring/summer compared to the winter = less cancelled flights! 
  3. The knowledge gained will SAVE you TIME and MONEY: After having studied for the FAA Written, you will have a solid base knowledge of many airplane systems, aerodynamics, navigation, maneuvers, etc. Your training will go faster (you'll already know how to handle certain situations). All of this equates to money saved. The better prepared you are for a flight, the smaller the learning curve is. Because of this, you'll save money and time, finishing up safely and effectively in minimum time. 

All of this led to the question: "what is the best way I can prepare for the Knowledge Exam?" I am using a variety of study tools available. When deciding on study tools, my parents and I decided to go for diversity of materials. In the end we hope these will expedite training, give a good base knowledge, save money in the long run, and of course, do as well as possible on the Knowledge Test. (shoot for 100%!) I'd rather not be a C pilot...

Here is what I am using to study and why: 

1.  Jeppesen Private Pilot's Textbook: Jeppesen has a line of standardized textbooks ranging from Sport Pilot to Airline Transport Pilot. I decided to go with Jeppesen for my main textbook because their system has textbooks laid out in the same fashion for every level. There are questions at the end of each sections to test knowledge. In the future, when I need a book for the next certificate (lets say instrument) I will know what to expect diving into the book. So far, I've gone through the first two chapters (I'm shooting for 1 per day). There is a lot of information presented at once! 

2.  Sporty's Learn to Fly Course: I am someone who learns a lot visually. The graphics, advanced animations, in-cockpit footage, and much more contained in this modular course really have been great to watch and learn from. They have flashcard sections, formatted practice tests, and will even give you an endorsement to take the FAA Written after having passed two tests with a minimum of 80%. Reading from a textbook is great, but actually watching how people fly in live time is priceless. The course is pretty pricey, but well worth it in my opinion. 

 3.  Gleim Private Pilot FAA Knowledge Test: this textbook is full of every released question that the FAA could give on the written exam. It is divided into units and sub-units. Each question is given, with the correct answer being given in a separate column (including an explanation for why). At the end, there is a practice test with randomly selected questions and answers. For me, this will be used mainly as a follow-up tool after having read the Jeppesen book and watching the Sporty's Online Course. In the end, a lot of choosing on materials comes down to what you are comfortable with and what type of learner you are. Do you like visual animations? Do textbooks work better for you? My opinion is that in an ideal situation you will try to learn using as many available methods as possible. 

Hope my ideas might have given you something to think about when deciding on study materials! Best of luck to all of you,
Swayne Martin

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Do You Really Want to be an Airline Pilot?- from Airline Pilot Chatter

Today, Brad Tate from the blog Airline Pilot Chatter wrote a nice and thorough post about becoming an airline pilot. He writes about what expectations he had going into the career in addition to the contrast he witnessed while actually being a pilot. He gives information as to how the career has been going recently and what it might look like in the future.  Towards the end of his post, Brad also wrote a message to future pilots like myself. 

If you are an aspiring pilot, I highly recommend that you check out his blog, post, and Twitter (available from his blog) 

Here is the post: So You Really Want to be an Airline Pilot?

Brad Tate is "an Airline Transport Pilot with over 20 years experience in commercial aviation. Crisscrossing the United States, Canada and Mexico as an MD80 First Officer for a major U.S. airline, he enjoys sharing the view and a few stories along the way." After having such a long and continuous career as a pilot, I find it helpful to receive advice from him. 

After a month or so of emailing with Brad, he decided to put a little bit about me into his post. Just like Karlene did a few weeks ago, Brad offered some seriously good advice for new pilots and what kind of mindset you need to have in order to go into a field like this. 

My favorite passage he wrote in his post today is this: 

"I am sad to say that it is not uncommon for me to come in contact with people who have forgotten that they have a job they once longed for and worked very hard to get. Maybe their expectations were not met, but it is far too easy to get caught up in all the negativity...and that's no way to live.   Is the job as good as it used to be?  Will it ever be as good as it once was?  Maybe not, but I think my friend, author and fellow blogger Karlene Petitt put it best when she said  "I guess it depends if you are flying for the end goal, or the journey."  I am here for the journey and I think Swayne is too."

An Image Brad captured climbing out of KDCA in August

Friday, January 18, 2013

Trip to France 2012

Part of this blog is to write about the things which have inspired me in aviation. I thought it might be a good idea to include a few trips I have taken, many of them having inspired me even more to become a pilot.

Over the last summer, I had a great opportunity to go exchange with a friend in France. I would join his family on the island of Noirmoutier, along the Western Coast of France. This trip was the first time I have ever travelled alone. It was a lot of fun to go on a trip and see what it would be like by myself.

Never having flown on Air France, nor an A380, I thought this would be a good chance to do both. I booked my flights from Washington (IAD) to Paris (CDG), Paris (CDG) to Nantes (NTE). Returning, I flew from Nantes to Paris, Paris to New York (JFK), and then from New York (JFK) to my home city.

The legs from IAD-CDG and CDG-JFK were both on Air France A380 F-HPJG. It was incredible to fly on the 380. I booked each leg on the upper deck in the rear economy section. I was excited to fly on the top deck for the first time! Travelling over to France and back I couldn't stop thinking about how much work and technology went into the aircraft. I mean think about it, its the largest plane in the world carrying 500+ people, travelling about 500mph to a city across the Atlantic. I still don't understand how planes like that get into the air, it just seems so impossible. (I mean, I do understand, but it's hard to comprehend)

Anyways, if you have the chance to book a flight on the A380 vs another plane... I would highly recommend going with the A380, its a pretty cool experience. 

Sunday, January 13, 2013

First Cessna 172 Flight Lesson

Today, I took my second flight lesson. This time I decided to try out a Cessna 172 instead of the Tecnam Sierra P2002. My instructor suggested I try out different aircraft to see what I am the most comfortable with. 

Last week, I definitely enjoyed flying the Tecnam Sierra. My instructor compared it to a sports car because it is so easy to maneuver and light to the touch. You barely have to touch the controls to get it to do something. Having grown up around aviation, I always thought of the Cessna as being THE general aviation aircraft, which it essentially is. That is why I was excited to try it out today. 

Today started with me sitting backseat in a 172 (club plane) observing while my instructor and another man did instrument currency  They did some approaches and really had the chance to fly under IFR because of the low clouds/fog. It was a great experience being able to sit backseat and see how they were doing the instrument navigation (much more advanced than where I am!) 

After about 2 hours, we headed back to the airport and to get the plane into it's hanger and post-flight it. 

I then headed over with my instructor to the rental 172's. I was excited to fly the 172 (to see how it felt vs the Sierra)! We did a pre-flight, pumped in some more aviation fuel and were ready to go. About halfway down the runway, on our rollout, the instructor let go of the controls and said "your plane." I was surprised that I was already doing a takeoff on my second lesson! It was a really cool experience to do that takeoff and really feel how fast those planes can climb. 

Because I was just testing out the plane, there really wasn't any set schedule or instruction. He just let me do what I wanted with the plane. It was sunset and there were some small clouds at our 1,200 flight level. It was SO FUN to do some cloud busting. Flying around through those golden clouds at sunset is something I will never forget. 

Overall, I liked the 172 ok, but I think I will be training with the Tecnam Sierra. I liked how the Sierra was more responsive/light to the touch. 

Hope you all had a great weekend, and got to do some flying, it was really fun for me. I won't forget it! 

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Where In The World?

Hey, everyone...

You know the pretty cool map with all the red dots on it near the bottom of the right hand sidebar?  The one pictured here?: 

It's called a Clustr Map.  I was excited when I found Clustr Maps because it gives a neat visual of where the people visiting the blog are from, without giving away too much information on each visitor. 

My Blog is the Clustr Map featured map of the week!

So to all my new guests coming via Clustr Maps, thanks for stopping by!  I hope that you enjoy what you read while you're here! It would be great if you want to follow the blog and follow us on Twitter too (@MartinsAviation)! I hope some of the information and stories I have posted here will not only inspire future/current aviators, but anyone who has a dream of their own. Take it to the next level! There are people out there who will want to help you along! 

Oh, and if you have a blog of your own, I highly recommend Clustr Map (no, they are not paying me for this promo). I think it's really cool to see from where around the world people are visiting the blog. You can click on the map inside the right hand sidebar on my page. From there, you can zoom in on each continent to see specifically where people are viewing from. (yellow represents online/recently viewed... red indicates a past view)

If you like the blog, feel free to contact me via my profile. Follow us on Twitter receive updates about new posts, and interesting content at @MartinsAviation

Safe Flying! Have a Great Week!
Swayne Martin

Monday, January 7, 2013

Dont Let Others Dissuade You

This post goes as a coupling with a post Karlene wrote today on her blog; some more about my story and what I have faced. In addition, she answers some questions that were really relavent to me, in deciding if being a pilot is the right path for me. Her post can be found on her blog: Flight to Success

Starting off researching becoming a pilot, the first thing I did was join an online forum for pilots. Looking back on it, wow... what a terrible decision. If you want to research the dark side of aviation, go there. There is an opportunity given by online forums to share information and be constructive. Sadly, I found relatively none of this. The one bright/dark side (depends how you want to think about it) is that you do see the other side of aviation, when things don't always work out. In many places on the forums, I felt like I was surrounded by disgruntled workers. 

I have essentially given up using the forums because I got very little from them in return. When people would respond to a thread, it often turned into a rant about their own careers rather than answering the original question, or at least trying to be constructive. 

Here are a few highlights of negative responses which I received via the forums:
  • “Good luck man, but if it were me knowing what I know now, I'd run man.... run fast.... run away...”
  • “You could end up multi-divorced, bankrupt with no retirement, and permanently disqualified from flying (medical, violation, training failures).”
  • “It can be thoroughly rewarding, just don't be surprised if you become a divorced, depressed alcoholic along the way.”

And my personal favorite, about this blog
  • “I started a journal of the same nature when I began college and started my pilot training. It's remarkable/comical looking back on it. I was SOOOOO excited to become a pilot.” 
Needless to say, comments like these are hard for someone like me to hear, especially when it is your passion/dream. 

Just know, if you are an aspiring pilot, THERE IS an OPPOSITE SIDE  to this. In relation to this, here is what two pilots, Karlene and Brad, said (both have fantastic blogs): 

“I think staying out of the forums is an excellent a matter of fact, I do the same.  The union representing the pilots of American Airlines hosts a forum for pilots to discuss their thoughts and concerns with like minded individuals.  Unfortunately, the forum has degraded over the years to a small group of pilots who constantly see only the negative side of the profession.  It is easy to get to this point of your career and forget how good you have it.  I don't like being influenced by people like that, so I don't participate in the forums.  It's too bad really, because there is a lot of good information to be passed around if the forum was being used as it was designed. I think you are going to be an inspiration to many young people who may be discouraged by the state of the airline industry in the past ten years or so and beat down by the negativity present in so many public forums. Stand your ground and don't let the naysayers get to you Swayne.”   -Brad Tate, the blog: Airline Pilot Chatter

“Swayne, there are always people who are negative with whatever they do. Do you think when you meet the woman of your dreams and you date that the same level of excitement will last forever? Of course not. It shifts. Romance of flying will shift too. But it doesn't have to go away. Life changes. Life is hard work. Flying is hard work. But very rewarding. I'm not sure of anyone who started their dream job can be as excited about it... in any the end of the day. I guess it depends if you are flying for the end goal, or the journey.  But the point is... you should never listen to someone else and what they think and don't like, or do like. Do what makes you happy and what you want to do. If it turns out you don't like it anymore, then change jobs. There are no guarantees in life. For anything. You just have to love what you're doing when you're doing it.

My answer is run from those people. There will always be people pulling you down because life did not live up to their expectations. If there is something you want to do… do it. This is your one and only life. Remember one thing—Happiness is a choice. Some of my best times were the most challenging. No matter what challenges we face, we can look for the good. We can find the good”   -Karlene Petitt, the blog: Flight to Success

For aspiring pilots: What I have gotten from so many pilots online and off, is this: It is ALL about attitude. Make the best of what you have and remember what you are doing and why you are doing it. Just like in anything, there is a certain amount of risk that corresponds with becoming a pilot. The industry is ever changing, and it can be hard to figure out which steps to take in order to become truly "successful." In the end, the career can and likely will pay off if you work hard, stay positive, and keep your enthusiasm. Just remember why you started in the first place. 


I'll end with this great quote from Cap'n Aux (Eric Auxier, Author of the Last Bush Pilots). He also has a great blog:
  • But rather than worry about whether this career is going to be worth it, turn this question around.  Do you dare risk NOT doing it??  If you let those jaded cynics talk you out of it, forever will you wonder "what if" other words, you'll be miserable!”  -Cap’n Aux

^I know I would regret it forever if I don't at least give this career a shot. What about you?

Saturday, January 5, 2013

1st Round of Gear

The first round of flight gear came in the mail today. More to come in the future :) 

Going out tomorrow for my first Cessna 172 Lesson. Doing a test flight with it to see if I like it more than the Tecnam Sierra (from my first lesson). I am going to write something about how it went tomorrow. I really liked the Sierra, we'll see how it goes. 

Have a great weekend!

First Logbook!

Federal Regulations... Books don't get much more exciting than this!

And of course, something to hold everything in :)

Friday, January 4, 2013

Writing for the Blog: Flight to Success

A week ago, I took my first flight lesson and really enjoyed it. I wrote a lot about it in another post: on the top bar: "First Flight Lesson"

I was fortunate enough to come into contact recently with one of the most supportive people I have ever had the privilege of emailing with. Her name is Karlene Petitt, the author of Flight for Control, Flight for Safety, and her blog: Flight to Success

Karlene is a long time airline pilot. She has been a pilot for 8 airlines, has 7 type ratings, 2 masters degrees, and one published novel, Flight For Control. Currently, she flies as an international airline pilot, operating an A330 for Delta all around the world. In addition to being a pilot and author, she is a mentor, motivator, and speaker!

She asked me a few weeks ago to write a story for her about what my first flight lesson was like, and how it impacted my life. I thought this could be a great opportunity to share my story, about how I am making my personal dreams into a reality. I hope that anyone reading will be inspired enough to go take their passion to the next level. 

My story/post on her blog : Swayne Martin: Friday's Fabulous Flyer

On her blog she writes not just about her own flying experiences, but what really makes you "successful" in life. She posts the stories from some really amazing people, never failing to include points about what makes pilots "successful." A lot of it comes down to attitude. Are you in the industry for the end goal or the journey? She encourages her readers to reach for their dreams, and never quit.

If you have the time, I highly recommend that you read her blog and go through some of the posts she has written. In addition, I would encourage you to look under the "Friday's Fabulous Flyers" section on the bottom right sidebar. One in particular, Cap'n Aux's post, is really great.

Thanks for reading, hope you enjoy her blog!

Thursday, January 3, 2013

My Goal with this Blog

My Ambitions: Click Here
Don't Let Others Dissuade You: Click Here

I created this blog not only to keep a personal record of my own training (so I could look back at what I did), but for something else as well.

When I took my first flight lesson, I realized that I was going to begin a personal journey, turning what I could only dream of into a reality. There are so many people around the world who have passions (like mine with aviation), that might have not really pursued/explored them. When I was younger, I loved going to see air-shows, flying commercially, and doing anything/everything aviation. I was and still am privileged to have a family that supports my interests and passions no matter what they are. Sadly, many people don't always have a support system within their own families, and might loose their passion because of it.

With my story, I hope to inspire new, future, and present aviators (or anyone!) to pursue/explore their passions in life, and take them to the next level. What does the "next level" mean? For me, it meant actually going out and flying. Learning how to fly, instead of just flying for travel or always wondering what it would be like. 

What are some goals for this blog?:
  • Inspire others to take their passion head on 
  • Show people what made me passionate about aviation
  • Demonstrate how I am making my dreams into realities. (show that it can be done!)
  • Get others to do the same. Go out and follow your passion with a thick skin, don't let others tell you how to think or what to do with your life. 
  • With the "Share Your Story" section, show aspiring aviators the diverse range of careers available to them
  • Finally, show what path I will take towards a professional pilot career. How will I become successful in the industry?

^ All in the hope that my story will inspire others to do the same. Make a blog, twitter, facebook page, whatever! Share it. Show the world how you followed your passion. I have gotten emails and messages from incredible people I don't even know, all around the country, thanking me for sharing my story, saying how it inspired them to begin really pursuing their own passion. Often people said they were more than willing to help me along! It's amazing what you can create just by sharing your story with others online. It can help you personally, as well as affect people you don't even know from all around the world. 

I am at a point in my life where I have to start thinking about, not necessarily deciding, what I want to do in life. And closer yet, where I want to go to college. Do I want to go to an aviation college? Do I want to train on the side, outside of school? Is there a major I have in mind? Those are just some of the things I have to think about right now. 

Good luck to all of you who have to make some important decisions soon! I hope you choose to follow the path which you are the most passionate about. In my mind, success = happiness! 

"Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path, and leave a trail."  -Ralph Waldo Emerson

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Cap'n Aux and His New Vlog

I have been fortunate over the past few weeks to email with Eric Auxier from the blog: The Adventures of Cap'n Aux 

Here is a good excerpt/short bio of Cap'n Aux from Karlene Petitt's Blog, Flight to Success:

"Eric Auxier—better known as Cap’n Aux, is an A320 Captain, author, and in general, “ a funny guy.” He has found the humor and lightness in life, and believes that there is good in the world and there are many good people doing wonderful things. 
He's right—because he's one of them. 

Cap’n Aux graduated from Cochise College in 1983, AZ, with an AS in Pro-Pilot and all his ratings, and then from Arizona State in 1986 with a BS in Aeronautical Engineering. While he tells me that he was “blessed with parents who liked to spend money on their kids' education” he built his flight time the hard way—civilian route, paying for it himself.   

How fun it is to follow the career path of a professional pilot who chased the dream, and caught it. Cap’n Aux not only filled his logbook with hours, but he filled it with memories and experiences more colorful than most."

Today, he announced the early release of his new Vlog on Youtube! His 30+ years of airline expirence will be shown through videos, photos, etc to more fully show the public what being a pilot means to him. 

He kicked it off today with this video, featuring many of his favorite photos and videos from his piloting career:

Here is the link to this video on Youtube: 30 years in the Life of an Airline Pilot

Here is the embed code for those of you who want to feature his video on your site: 
<iframe width="420" height="315" src="" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>

Thanks for reading, go check out Cap'n Aux's Blog and SHARE his video! I really enjoy reading his posts and watching some of his videos, they are really great.

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year everyone! Have a great 2013!

Hope you all have a great new year and can make some really good New Year's Resolutions. What are mine? Here are some for this blog: 

  • Get my first solo by summertime
  • Pass the FAA Written by March
  • Work on bringing people to the blog, so I can inspire people to follow their dreams
  • Show how possible it is to make your dreams into realities with some hard work
  • To help along and encourage anyone who is thinking about starting flight training
  • And a few more...

Best of luck to all of you this New Year, I hope it will be a year to remember!,
Swayne Martin