Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Share Your Story: Chris Buckley, easyJet Cadet Pilot

Welcome to the 21st "Share Your Story" post. Pilots from around the world write in featuring their flight experiences, promoting their blogs, websites, social media, novels, etc. These posts show future aviators the diverse range of careers available to them. More details + how to participate can be found via the following: Click Here and Get Involved
You know, it’s funny how things work out...

I wasn’t born into an ‘aviation’ family, and it wasn’t until seeing the British Airways Concorde fly overhead in 2001 that I even thought about the possibility of becoming a Pilot. As a child, I had always been interested in planes and was fascinated by the light aircraft that flew over our house (I also remember my favourite toy was a United Airlines 747!) but after seeing Concorde, I became even more interested in the wider world of aviation. Fast-forward to 2005, and whilst studying at secondary school I began to realise that I could make a career out of my passion. From that point onwards, I was set on a career in aviation.  I was always reading books and watching shows about flying, as well as researching the different methods of flight training. However, it wasn’t until 2009 that I even set foot on an aircraft (a Thomson 757 to be precise), but after that flight I was sure that this is what I wanted to do. Flying over the alps at sunrise followed by the breath-taking approach into Innsbruck airport, who could say no to that?!

 ‘Flying into Innsbruck, January 2009’

After that flight to Austria I was hooked and desperate to get flying, but after looking into flight training it was obvious I faced a big hurdle; like many, the costs of flight training were just too huge. Thankfully for Christmas that year, my parents bought me a trial flying lesson at my local airfield (the ex-RAF airfield, Sleap Aerodrome) and exactly one month later my parents, my Granddad and I made the trip there where I flew an aircraft for the very first time. It was a brilliant day, and one that I will never forget!  I flew with an instructor for one hour in a Cessna 152 around the local area and, after landing, I instantly wanted to fly again! To my surprise, my Granddad bought me a few further lessons beginning in the summer (after I had finished Secondary School), but after that it was down to me to fund my flying.  I soon looked at getting a job and, although it took several months, I managed to get a position at a new supermarket opening in our local town. Little did I know that I would work there for over two years, make friends for life, enhance my confidence and interpersonal skills and gain the experience and ‘people skills’ required for a career in aviation. However, the most immediate tool my job gave me were the funds to allow me to buy a flying lesson twice a month. I had a brilliant instructor and by March 2011, at the age of 16, I flew my first solo in G-BNKS a full sixteen months before I could even start to learn to drive. As any pilot will tell you, the day of your first solo is one that you will never forget!

Read more by clicking below to see what Chris will be doing with EasyJet

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Share Your Story: Tommy Jernejcic (Part 2), Surf Air Pilatus PC12 Pilot

Welcome to the 20th "Share Your Story" post. Pilots from around the world write in featuring their flight experiences, promoting their blogs, websites, social media, novels, etc. These posts show future aviators the diverse range of careers available to them. More details + how to participate can be found via the following: Click Here and Get Involved
Today, the blog brings you the second part of a really great post from Tommy Jernejcic. Tommy is a flight instructor, ex-Fedex Feeder C208 Pilot, and current Surf Air Pilatus PC12 Pilot. This second part details Tommy's experiences flying as with Surf Air, an amazing California start-up. Thanks again Tommy for writing in!

Other than waking up before the sun, I enjoyed flying FedEx freight.  Good airplanes, great maintenance, and a stable income and benefits are what we all strive for as pilots, and I was lucky to have that at West Air.  There was one airplane though that I had my eyes on ever since I saw it on my first day instructing at French Valley: the Pilatus PC-12. Form meets function; business meets backcountry!  I had a friend who flew one and I was lucky enough to sit right seat on a couple of quick trips over the past few years and I loved it, hoping someday to land a job flying one.  Well not long after I committed to writing this article back, I was interviewed and hired within a week by a new and innovative company whose progress I had been following for over a year.  Surf Air was hiring a few more pilots to round out their initial pilot group before beginning service and I was going to be on the ground floor!  Excited would be an understatement for how I felt…and how I STILL feel!  

For anyone unfamiliar, Surf Air is a new Pilatus operator in California, flying scheduled commuter service under Part 135.  We are revolutionizing air travel by offering frequent flyers a First Class experience and all-you-can-fly membership for $1,650 per month, and we are definitely making waves.  This article is about my personal experience though and nothing more, so I’ll leave the company and membership details as well as the polarized opinions of outside observers to your own Google search, but I will say that I have never worked in such a positive and energized environment as Surf Air.  The entire team of management, pilots, maintenance, and concierges really are ONE team, and everyone is committed to success.  

An overview interview with Bloomberg TV

From my first day of indoc training last month up to securing the airplane after my last flight yesterday, I have felt like an integral part of that team, and I am planning on staying here for the long haul, if not for the rest of my career.

So what is life like as a Surf Air pilot?...

Click Below ∨

Monday, July 22, 2013

Airport Review: Dauphin Island Airport, Alabama (4R9)

A few weeks ago, I took a lesson in Gulf Shores, Alabama flying a Piper PA-28 Warrior. I flew out of Jack Edwards Airport (JKA, Gulf Air Center) with my instructor, Rod Kellogg, mom, and brother. You can find the full story here: Piper PA-28 Warrior Flight Over Gulf Shores

Our Piper PA-28 Warrior (N8410C) at JKA

As a part of our flight, I got the chance to fly into one of the coolest airports I've ever had the opportunity to fly into. After a sight-seeing flight around the Gulf Coast, we flew West towards Dauphin Island. On the island lies airport 4R9, built right out into the ocean. 

Dauphin Island Airport (4R9) is a county-owned public-use airport in Mobile County, Alabama. It is just northwest of the central business district of Dauphin Island, a town located on a barrier island. The airport is on Mobile Bay, west of the Aloe Bay Channel. Dauphin Island Airport covers an area of 22 acres at an elevation of 5 feet (2 m) above sea level. It has one runway designated 12/30 with an asphalt surface measuring 3,000 by 80 feet (914 x 24 m). For the 12-month period ending May 18, 2010, the airport had 3,650 general aviation aircraft operations, an average of 10 per day. We only saw 1 helicopter when we visited the airport.

I can't think of too many general aviation airports out there that are seemingly built out onto their own islands. Coming from Virginia, we don't have anything really like this. Needless to say, I was excited to try flying into this airport. Dauphin Island 4R9 is one of smallest airports I've flown into, to date. 

We did a total of 2 landings and 2 takeoffs at Dauphin Island. In-between  we took a break, shut the plane down at the end of the runway, took some photos, and explored a little bit. The photos below are from that break:

For me, this was the location of my first landing in a Piper Warrior. It wasn't the best landing out there, but I wasn't too disappointed  I knew it would be challenging to learn from scratch on a different, much older plane. 

Here is the video of one landing at Dauphin Island (runway 12). More videos like this can be found on my youtube channel: MartinsAviation1

Here is the video of one takeoff at Dauphin Island (runway 30). More videos like this can be found on my youtube channel: MartinsAviation1

If anyone is on the Gulf and has a chance to fly into Dauphin Island 4R9, I'd highly recommend it! The flight is beautiful and the airport is beautiful, what could be better? I really enjoyed spending a few moments there and can't wait to go back one day! I'll always remember it as one of my favorite airports. 

Thanks for reading and watching!,
Swayne Martin 
Twitter: @MartinsAviation

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Airport Review: Jack Edwards Airport, Gulf Shores, Alabama (JKA)

Every two years, 50+ members of my family meet at Martinique on the Gulf, in Gulf Shores Alabama, for a family reunion and a 4th of July celebration. 

Since I just recently became a student pilot, I decided that it would be fun to take a lesson wherever I travel with my family. So for the first time, I took a flight lesson outside of Virginia.

Before the summer began, I looked around at flight schools in the area. I ended up contacting Gulf Air Center, located at the Jack Edwards National Airport (JKA). I began to email back and forth with my instructor, Rod Kellogg, who was willing to make anything work for my family. We set a date and time for our flight: July 2nd, at 1pm. 

Arriving at Jack Edwards, I was happy to find one of the nicest general aviation airports/FBO's I'd ever been too. After looking around for a few minutes, I was greeted by Rod up at the front desk. He turned out to be one of the nicest, most personable people, much less a flight instructor, that I'd ever met. After talking a little bit about the flight, we walked over to the hangar where our Piper PA28 Warrior (N8410C) was parked. You can read about my flight out of JKA right here: Piper PA-28 Flight Over Gulf Shores

Just recently, a new start-up airline was formed in the South - Southern Airways Express. This airline turns Jack Edwards into a miniature commercial airport; the destinations out of JKA are: Birmingham, Memphis, and New Orleans. I saw a Southern Airways C208 Caravan on the ramp before we took off in the Piper Warrior. You can see the Southern Airways Express C208 from my Piper in the first photo, the second photo was not taken by me: 

I enjoyed the challenge of flying at a multi-runway airport. There was a lot more activity than anywhere I'd ever flown to thus far. Being summer and due to all of the vacationers, there were a lot of private/charter jets and turbo props around the ramp. I hadn't seen so many in one place since Santa Monica, CA back in March! Being in the pattern with jets flying in from around the country was a cool feeling. 

Here are the videos I took from JKA, which can be found on my youtube channel: MartinsAviation1

My first takeoff from JKA (Piper Warrior - Runway 17)

My first landing at JKA (Piper Warrior - Runway 27)

After my flight with Rod and the family in the Piper PA-28 Warrior, I had the chance to fly in the Piper PA-32 Cherokee Six. Here are two videos taken by me from the co-pilot seat of our takeoff and landing at JKA:

Piper PA-32 Takeoff Runway 6 JKA

Piper PA-32 Touch & Go Runway 6

I really enjoyed flying in and out of Jack Edwards National Airport (JKA), and hope to go back sometime soon! The people at Gulf Air Center were awesome and welcoming. If anyone has the chance to visit Jack Edwards or fly into/out of the airport, I'd highly recommend it! 

Thanks for reading,
Swayne Martin
Twitter: @MartinsAviation

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Share Your Story: Tommy Jernejcic (Part 1), Fedex Feeder Pilot

Welcome to the 19th "Share Your Story" post. Pilots from around the world write in featuring their flight experiences, promoting their blogs, websites, social media, novels, etc. These posts show future aviators the diverse range of careers available to them. More details + how to participate can be found via the following: Click Here and Get Involved
Today, the blog brings you the first part of a really great post from Tommy Jernejcic. Tommy is a flight instructor, ex-Fedex Feeder C208 Caravan Pilot, and current Surf Air Pilatus PC12 Pilot. This first part will detail Tommy's experiences flying as a Fedex Feeder Pilot. Next week will feature his experience flying with Surf Air. Thanks Tommy for writing in!

How apropos that Swayne would graciously send me a request to write a blog post about my aviation story during the same week that the next chapter was about to begin.  As I sit in the very same Starbucks where I’ve spent countless hours studying Jepp textbooks and pouring over approach plates, I can’t help but reminisce about how I got to where I finally am today- a young professional aviator, already with enough stories to fill a book, yet still with more adventures to be had!

…But I guess THAT’S the key right there.  Even though the vast majority of pilots are motivated and driven Type-A personalities who thrive on routine and seem to have a penchant toward at least moderate OCD, it’s the unimaginable and unknown that beckons us skyward.  Charles Lindbergh said it best: “Real freedom lies in wildness, not in civilization.”

An Ontario Sunrise

While I can only speak for myself, I would bet that whether or not we have individually come to this same conclusion, it is at the deepest level of who we are as aviators.  It’s why we simply smile when people, be it family or strangers, give us a puzzled look and ask us why flying means so much to us.  After all, it’s just another form of transportation, isn’t it?...

The C208 at SBP

But I digress!  So just how did this average guy from suburban Southern California end up landing (honestly, no pun intended) his dream job, and in his dream airplane no less?!  Well like most flights, it started with a thought, then a plan, and finally takeoff.  There were, however, a few in-flight diversions on the way that I’ll skip over for brevity.  Unlike many others, I didn’t grow up around airplanes or have any family or friends who were pilots.  My fascination with aviation began when I was a kid watching Tailspin, a Disney cartoon that was loosely based on the characters from “The Jungle Book” combined with “The Rocketeer.”  Fast planes, air pirates, gangsters, and the Golden Age of Aviation- what more could you ask for?!

It wouldn’t be until many years later, however, that I would have my first real flying experiences, as a cadet at the US Air Force Academy while taking an autumn soaring course.  After about twelve instruction flights, I was set loose on my first solo flight over the foothills of the Rocky Mountains on what had to be one of the most beautiful, crisp mornings ever!  Immediately after liftoff, in-tow of a Piper Super Cub, I knew right then that I didn’t just want to be a pilot- I HAD to be a pilot!  “Murphy” and his law had other plans for my Air Force career though, resulting in a “reroute” that at first seemed devastating but, as I look back now, worked out for the best.  (Cue those dreaded words from ATC: “I have an amendment to your clearance. Advise ready to copy.”

Finally in March of 2007 I emerged from the ATP, Inc. flight training program as a fully-fledged CFI/CFII/MEI and began instructing at the French Valley Airport (F70) in Southern California.  I was privileged to teach there full-time for four years, alongside the excellent staff at Executive Flight Institute.  Together we enjoyed the benefits of a then-booming economy, as well as weathered the following economic downturn.  In addition to my flying duties, I was also our flight school’s go-to-guy whenever local middle and high schools called and asked for a representative for their career day events.  Being able to educate and motivate the next generation of aviators has always been one of the chief highlights of my career, and I have always seen it as a practical, and indeed the very least, way in which I can give back to that which has meant so much to me.  During my tenure as a full-time CFI I was able to fine tune my own skills and knowledge, and I had opportunities that I wouldn’t have otherwise had, including flying a *slightly* extended cross-country trip from Southern California to Key West and back in a Piper Seneca, with my student and good friend.  That unforgettable flight is a story all of its own!

CFI Mode

As much as I enjoyed flight instructing (and still do), I was getting anxious to get back in the left seat and advance my career.  So when I had the chance to fly the Cessna Caravan for West Air, California’s FedEx Feeder, I jumped on the opportunity.  Life as a single-pilot freight dog meant long days and challenging flying, but getting to fly one of my favorite airplanes throughout a state as diverse as California was incredibly rewarding.  

While I started out as a reserve pilot, filling in open routes around the state, I was able to bid my own route after about six months.  

Delivering a Christmas Tree

For the next year and a half I flew the route between Ontario (ONT) and Inyokern (IYK).  It was the perfect route for me as I was home every night, and the type of flying required was anything but routine.  Inyokern is located in the Mojave Desert north of Edwards AFB, but just south of the Sierra Nevada mountains, at the opening of what is known as the Owen’s Valley.  It’s an area notorious for severe turbulence, windshear, high density altitude, mountain waves, and other “fun.”  

Tommy Landing at IYK

In addition, for our operations it was a VFR only airport due the fact that it lies in a very busy MOA.  This meant that I would depart IFR out of ONT and then have to cancel IFR by Palmdale, and then continue VFR for the remaining 70 miles.  If unable to cancel, I would fly an instrument approach into nearby WJF and cancel once under the weather.  

Flying Over IYK

If the flying wasn’t enough to keep things interesting, the freight I often carried was the cream filling of the Twinkie.  Inyokern is just seven miles east of China Lake Naval Air Weapons Station, the US Navy’s largest land base and the location where they develop and test their latest technology.  Delivering everything from aircraft parts to missile engines is what gave me the idea to start my “Box of the Day” photo series on Instagram and Twitter. Here are two interesting boxes: 

It was also during this time that Swayne first contacted me about contributing an article about my aviation experiences.  Little did either of us know that things were just about to change…


Check back in everyone for next week's Part 2 of Tommy's "Share Your Story" Post. Surf Air is an amazing, new company... you'll definitely want to check it out. 

Tommy, it was really interesting to read about your flying throughout the West with Fedex Feeder. The scenery is amazing. That really is a dream job! 

Thanks again for writing in and participating in the Share Your Story section of the blog, 

Swayne Martin 
Martins Aviation / From Private to Professional Pilot
Twitter: @MartinsAviation
Youtube: MartinsAviation1 

Monday, July 15, 2013

Flight Report: US Airways (Republic Airways) E-170 PHL to MSY

After a nice, short flight from RIC to PHL on an US Airways (Air Wisconsin) CRJ-200, we moved to Terminal C via bus for our connecting flight to New Orleans MSY. I hadn't ever been to PHL to MSY before, so this would be a new flight for me. 

US Airways (Republic Airways) Flight 3397 Information:
  • Flight: Philadelphia International Airport (PHL) to New Orleans International Airport (MSY)
  • Flight Time: 2 hours 53 minutes 
  • Aircraft: US Airways (Republic Airways) Embraer 170 N803MD
  • Seat: 14A (window) 

We found out flight at gate C21 in PHL and began boarding pretty soon after. Here is, first, a photo of N803MD from, and second, a photo of our plane at the gate: 

Our route of flight and altitude/speed can be found in the photos below: 

Here is my ticket from the flight: 

Here are a few photos taken taxiing before takeoff at PHL: 

Here is the video of our takeoff from Philadelphia International Airport (PHL) which can be found on my youtube channel: MartinsAviation1

I hadn't been on an Embraer E-Jet since I was a little kid, travelling on Jetblue through MCO down to Cancun. After having just flown on the CRJ-200, I was happy to find a much nicer cabin with larger windows and larger/more comfortable seats. I got lucky having selected my seat in row 14. Most of the other rows had the window aligned poorly, I heard a few other passengers complaining about this. It wasn't perfect (you had to lean forward), but still, row 14 was much better than the other rows. 

The view from seat 14A 

The seat 14A window

We flew to the West of Washington DC, right over Washington-Dulles International Airport (IAD), which you can see below: 

Here are a few more photos from the flight including a cabin overview: 

A photo I took for the Infinite Flight Team: US Airways E-170 in Flight

Descending into MSY, my brother and I looked at the radar and saw that heavy storms had been moving through the area. These are some photos of the stormy weather approaching New Orleans: 

Here is the video from our landing into New Orleans MSY. As you can see from watching the video, it wasn't raining when we came in on short final, but by the time we were halfway down the runway, it was a downpour. You can also see the water shoot up from the reverse thrust of the aircraft: 

Thanks for reading and watching!,
Swayne Martin 
Martins Aviation / From Private to Professional Pilot

Twitter: @MartinsAviation
Youtube: MartinsAviation1 

Our plane at gate B15 in New Orleans MSY