Sunday, September 29, 2013

Maintaining My Pilot Currency

Sometimes it's hard to find the time to get out to the airport! Until early this morning, when I took my first flight in over a month, this was the problem! With my Junior Year of High School starting in full swing with AP and Honors Classes, it hasn't always been easy to find time to get out, even on the weekends, for flying. 

After talking with one of my instructors from over the summer, Rod Kellogg (I took a lesson with him in Alabama), about my recent flying, or lack thereof, I decided that it was time to make sure I wasn't loosing my muscle memory from flying.  

It's important that we, as pilots, maintain our muscle memory, and stay current through some regular form of training. I've decided to make sure that I fly at least for a short period every week to practice landings and takeoffs, plus every now and then add in a solo cross country flight. In this way, I'm not going to be spending too much money at one point, but will make sure to get more frequent "air time." 

This is exactly what I did this morning. It wasn't a long flight, but it was nice to get back at the controls again! Because the ceiling was pretty low today, broken clouds around 1,600 feet, I decided to remain in the pattern and practice some crosswind landings and takeoffs. The crosswind was definitely a factor in today's flight, but it was manageable and made for some good practice. Flying for a total of .6 hours today, I did 4 full-stop landings and takeoffs. Only costing $65, this is the kind of practice I'm hoping to do on a weekly basis. It'll make me a safer, more current pilot overall. 

Plus ... I miss being at the controls of this little bird:

In all honesty, for me to go a month without flying wasn't a good (or safe!) decision on my part. There were opportunities to go flying, and I didn't. That changes today with my new weekly schedule. 

Make sure you guys are getting out there and keeping that muscle memory!

Thanks for reading,
-Swayne Martin
Twitter: @MartinsAviation

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Share Your Story: Ben Hall, British Paralympian and Etihad A320 Pilot

Welcome to the 25th "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

So, my aviation journey begins at the tender age of 16. I had just finished high school in the UK, and was contemplating what I wanted to do with my life. Many options crossed my mind, but eventually I decided I wanted to be a helicopter pilot. I have no idea where this came from, having no friends or family in aviation, but my mind was set. There was only one problem. Money. Being a 16 year old, my bank balance was approximately £17, and my parents certainly couldn’t afford the £100,000 I needed to train as a chopper pilot in the UK. As such, I looked around for other options. 

Firstly, I contacted the Royal Air Force. I passed the initial interviews and went for my medical. Being 6”5’, I was not eligible for a pilot, as they screen everyone for fast jets, and I was told if I ejected, I’d lose my kneecaps. So, the search then brought me to the Army. The British Army isn’t that large, but it has a very good aviation regiment, called the Army Air Corps, who operate a selection of helicopters. I applied, passed the barrage of mental and physical testing, and was offered a scholarship to go to university. I grabbed the opportunity with both hands.

Having a love for all sports (particularly volleyball), I attended the UK’s number one sports university - Loughborough University, and studied Physics. During my time at university, I worked my way through the volleyball ranks, until I played in the highest division in the UK, and represented UK universities in Europe.

Everything was going exactly to plan until my final year. As part of my course, I picked an elective which involved playing rugby, as it was a nice break from the intense physics. One day, 3 months before my final exams, I was playing rugby, and had a bad knee injury, completely rupturing my ACL, and severely damaging the cartilage and tendons in my left knee. I had surgery soon afterwards, but was medically discharged from the Army before I’d even joined!

I had to replan my life. Quickly. I tried to think of any other way I could go into aviation, but nothing emerged. I graduated from university and had to find a job. I applied to a random selection of positions, and the best of the bunch ended up being in business analysis. So then started 2 years stuck in front of a computer screen, yearning to be in the air...

Little did Ben know at the time that he'd soon be flying this Etihad A320 below:

Click below to read Ben's full article and see what he flies today with Etihad. (ignore this if you're already on the main article)

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Flight Report: Delta A320 Salt Lake City (SLC) to Detroit (DTW)

We we arrived in Salt Lake City after our flight from Reno, we boarded Delta Flight 1378 from SLC to ATL (757-300). Once seated, the flight attendants asked for 8 volunteers to get off the plane for either a $400 voucher and a later flight the same day, or a $600 voucher each and a flight the next morning. Since I was flying with my family, and we didn't have a rush to get home, we volunteered and thus each got a $600 Delta credit to use on future flights. The credit can be used only under my name, which guarantees me another flight somewhere cool! (the same goes for my family)

Getting bumped from our flight was actually a whole lot of fun. We left the airport with no bags, rented a car, and drove an hour outside of Salt Lake City, towards Deer Valley and Park City, Utah. We visited the Olympic Park and even took a summer bobsled ride down the mountain! That un-planned trip was a nice little gift! Delta booked us rooms overnight at the Radisson downtown and put us on a flight to Detroit the next morning. What an awesome deal, plus an extra day of vacation! 

Delta Flight 974 Information:
  • Flight: Salt Lake City International Airport (SLC) to Detroit International Airport (DTW)
  • Flight Time: 2 Hours 50 Minutes
  • Aircraft: Delta Air Lines Airbus A320 (N337NW)
  • Seat: 26A (window, A320 last row) 

Here is the video of our Delta A320 (N337NW) taking off from Salt Lake City Airport (SLC). More videos like this can be found on my youtube channel, MartinsAviation1


Click below to read the full flight report. (If you're already on the full article, ignore this)

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Airport Review: Dare County Regional Airport, NC (KMQI)

As a part of my summer this year, I began taking flight lessons everywhere I travelled with my family. This allowed me to experience new planes, in new areas, with new instructors. Learning how to adapt to changing environments is a key skill for pilots, one that I'm still working on. 

When I was in the Outer Banks of North Carolina a few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to take a lesson with OBX Airplanes, out of Dare County Regional Airport. Read the full article here: OBX Airplanes Cessna 150 Flight Lesson

Dare County Regional Airport (KMQI) is a public airport located 2 miles Northwest of Manteo, North Carolina. This general aviation airport covers 340 acres and has two runways: Runway 5/23 (4,300ft) and Runway 17/35 (3,303ft). The facility was originally opened as a Naval Auxiliary Air Station (NAAS) and officially commissioned on March 3, 1943. NAAS Manteo was used for special training of squadrons and the most common aircraft used were F4F Wildcats, F6F Hellcats, SB2C Helldivers, TBM and TBF Avengers, PBY Catalinas and F4U Corsairs. 

Today, the airport is served by an FBO (Fixed Base Operator). From the airport, banners are picked up and dropped off for beach towing, scenic flight tours are given, and jets frequently arrive with vacationing families. In addition, while I was at the airport, I saw a Fedex Feeder Cessna Caravan C208 on the ramp getting fueled up. 

The FBO at KMQI is nice and comfortable. There is a lounge area with big leather couches, planes are hanging from the ceilings, and one has great views of both the runways and the sound side of the Atlantic Ocean. 

We waited in the lounge area for Jenny Hawk, who then drove us over to the OBX Airplanes hangar on the other side of the airport, not too far away. 

Jenny's hangar has her Cessna 150 (N704EV) inside, along with a desk, chairs, fridge, etc. Because it sits facing the water, it wasn't too hot! It was cool to be flying with OBX Airplanes for the day, I'd recommend Jenny to anyone!

From Jenny's hangar, we watched banner planes pick up and drop off their banners. I had no idea the acrobatic skill that is required of banner pilots, in planes not really designed for acrobatics! Check out a video on youtube of banner planes picking up their banners, it's pretty incredible! 

Here are the videos I have from my takeoffs and landings at KMQI (click here for the youtube channel if viewing from an email: MartinsAviation1):

KMQI is a nice airport in a very scenic area. A just 4 minute flight will take you to the First Flight Airport and Wright Brother's Monument in Kitty Hawk. If you're in the Outer Banks for vacation, consider taking a flight out of Dare County! 

Thanks for reading and watching,
-Swayne Martin
Twitter: @MartinsAviation
Youtube: MartinsAviation1

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Share Your Story: The Life of International Flight Attendant Mary Ann Laverty - "So you want to see the world, eh?"

Welcome to the 24th "Share Your Story" post. Aviators 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

So…you want to see the world, eh?

I ask myself that as I wipe each tray spotless for the next crew who will work this 747 to Rome.  All worth it, I remind myself. In an hour, I will be landing in Paris. Yes Paris! And I get paid to be there. Every tired muscle suddenly feels relieved. The landing phase of a flight often gives me that second wind, a brand new energy, even. Excitement was all I felt as I heard those plane tires touch down. 

But I'm getting ahead of myself...

"Welcome aboard!" I say to every customer with my winning smile. I will never forget the day I was told that very thing. “Mary Ann, welcome aboard. Your initial Flight Attendant training starts Sept 25.”

Read the full article by clicking below: (If you're already on the full article, ignore this)

Sunday, September 1, 2013

OBX Airplanes Flight Lesson into First Flight Airport, Kitty Hawk, NC

One thing I really started doing this summer was flying wherever I traveled with my family. Before this week, I'd flown Piper's over Gulf Shores, Alabama, and gliders over Lake Tahoe, California. Being a pilot opens up a world of new opportunities, some of which most people in the world will never experience. So many "firsts" were made for me this summer: my first flight over a beach, first flight with my mom, first flight with my brother, first glider flight, first helicopter flight, and now, my first flight into First Flight Airport!

Jenny Hawk founded and runs an awesome operation out of the Dare County Regional Airport (KMQI), on Manteo Island, North Carolina. OBX Airplanes serves student pilots in the Outer Banks area with it's Cessna 150 (N704EV). This isn't you average C150 though, it's equipped with Garmin instruments which allows the plane to be used for instrument training.

Being in Waves, North Carolina, and renting a beach house for a week, I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to fly over the Outer Banks for the first time. For years, I've been vacationing with my family for week long stays in rented beach houses, anywhere from Corolla, to Duck, to Rodanthe, on the Outer Banks (OBX). 

Here is the youtube video with both GoPro footage and exterior footage (from my dad) of our flight, edited with music. Time-lapse footage is included, check it out!: 

Arriving at the Dare County Airport, Jenny drove us over the the OBX Airplanes hangar, where our C150 was waiting. After going over the logbook and flight plan, we decided that it would be best to fly South, over Waves, NC, where our beach house and family would be waiting for a flyover. We'd then fly North towards the First Flight Airport and Kitty Hawk. 

Seeing the Outer Banks from the air for the first time was pretty incredible. It's amazing that so many people live on that tiny strip of sand which stretches for miles from Virginia to the beginning of South Carolina. We flew over the inlet side of the OBX during our flight to Waves. The water was so clear an shallow, you could see a few shipwrecks along the way too!

We were soon over our Waves, NC beach house, and all of my brothers and family on the beach. I saw a few of my brothers in the ocean waving their boogie boards and surf boards overhead for us. Jenny and I made about 3 passes of the beach, so they would know that was our plane. 

After the flyover, we flew North along the coast towards Kitty Hawk. To our right, we could see the boiler of a ship which sank right on the beach. As you saw in the video, we had a strong left quarterly crosswind, which required us to crab a decent amount.  

As any pilot or aviation enthusiast will know, the first heavier-than-air powered flight took place in Kitty Hawk, on December 17th, 1903. The Wright Brother's flew their primitive Wright-Flyer I, made of Spruce wood and Pride of the West muslin, off Kill Devil Hills, NC. Today, a monument sits atop the dune upon which the Wright Brothers flew many of their test-glider flights. This monument is easily seen from First Flight Airport (KFFA), which is only a few hundred yards away.

Arriving into First Flight Airport for the first time was a really cool moment for me. We flew over Kill Devil Hills and the Wright Brother's Monument. I couldn't help but think what the Wright Brother's might've thought if they'd been able to get their hands on the controls of the Cessna 150 I was flying. 

My dad was waiting at the end of the runway for our arrival into KFFA's runway 20. In the video below, you can see his exterior footage of our landing coupled with the GoPro cockpit footage which was being recorded at the same time. Here is the video:

The First Flight Airport was extremely quiet, as expected. There were a handful of planes on the ramp, covered with tarps. The background looking out from the airport was quite impressive though, with the Wright Brother's monument standing on the very close dune.

Here is the video of our takeoff from KFFA's runway 20. Once again, both the exterior footage from my dad and the cockpit GoPro footage have been matched up:

After taking off from KFFA, we flew back to the Dare County Airport (KMQI) and did two circuits around the pattern. You can see our landing on Dare County's runway 23 in the video below:

As we were parking at the OBX Airplanes Hangar, we had the awesome luck of seeing banner-towing planes pick up and drop off their banners. I had no idea of the acrobatic skill required of banner pilots to pick up their banners. Look up a video on youtube to see this in action.

I want to thank Jenny Hawk and OBX Airplanes for an awesome set of "firsts:" flying over the Outer Banks, flying into First Flight Airport, and flying a Cessna 150. What another awesome summer flight experience! 

I recommend anyone in the Outer Banks area to contact OBX Airplanes and schedule a flight, you won't regret it! Thanks again Jenny!,
-Swayne Martin
Twitter: @MartinsAviation