Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving!

Hope everyone out there has a very happy Thanksgiving Day! 

All us of pilots should be especially thankful for the ability to fly freely in a world that just recently took to the skies. It's only been a little over 100 years since aviators have had the privilege to conquer and explore the skies, defying gravity in the process. 

I'm thankful for the chance I've been given over and over again to do something that so few people in the world have had the opportunity to do. When I'm flying, it's a special time for me; it's a time when I can forget about everything that holds me back on the ground. I don't have time when I'm up there to think about anything but being in the moment and staying safe. 

Most of all, I'm extremely grateful for the people that have helped me get to where I stand today. My friends, family, and pilot mentors mean the world to me, I know I wouldn't be in the same place without them. There are way too many people to list here. Chances are that if you're reading this article, you've played a key role in my journey towards becoming a pilot. THANK YOU so much for all of the support you've given me. 

Over the next few days, I'll be updating the blog more frequently. In the days before Thanksgiving Break, teachers were cramming in extra work and tests, so I didn't have any time to publish any updates. 

Stay tuned for more to come soon, have a great holiday!
-Swayne Martin 
Twitter: @MartinsAviation

P.S... going on my first "VFR Flight Following" flight (ATC coverage) with an instructor tomorrow, will have an article summarizing the experience.  

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Flight Report: Delta 757-200 Economy Class (Atlanta ATL to Orlando MCO)

This flight was our final of two, from Richmond, down to Orlando and Daytona for a visit to Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. You can see articles from my college visit via this link: Click Here

Delta Flight 1980 Information:
  • Flight: Atlanta Hartsfield International Airport (ATL) to Orlando International Airport (MCO)
  • Flight Time: 1 Hour 30 Minutes
  • Aircraft: Delta Air Lines Boeing 757-200 (N618DL)
  • Seat: 33F (economy, window) 

It was nice to be back onboard one of my favorite planes to fly on, the 757. Over the summer, I flew on one 757-300 from ATL to Las Vegas, and originally was scheduled to return from Salt Lake City on another 757-300. We ended up getting bumped off our flight in exchange for around $600 to use for any Delta flight, plus, we got to explore SLC and return the next day. You can read about that trip in the Flight Reports section. On the 757-300 we were originally scheduled to fly on, I was seated in 33F, the same as on this 757-200 flight. The view was the exact same between the two planes. 

Below is a photo of row 33 and the cabin view from our row: 

We departed from Terminal B in Atlanta, and taxied to Runway 27R for our departure to Orlando, Florida.

In the video below, you can see our takeoff from Runway 27R at Atlanta ATL. More videos like this can be found on my Youtube Channel: MartinsAviation1

To read more of this Flight Report, click below. (If you're already on the full article, ignore this)

Friday, November 15, 2013

Share Your Story: Sarina Houston, Aviation Writer, ERAU Graduate

Welcome to the 28th "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 students the diverse range of experiences/careers available to them in aviation. More details + how to participate can be found via the following: Click Here and Get Involved
From Sarina Houston...

I was 15 or 16 years old and visiting my dad for a summer in Idaho when I took my first flight. At the time he lived on a ranch north of Boise that had a gravel landing strip. He was working on his pilot's license and his instructor flew out to the ranch with a Cessna 172 for a flight.

When my dad woke me up at 6 a.m. unexpectedly one morning for a "plane ride," I rolled my eyes and thought …here we go on another one of dad's 'adventures.' I dragged myself out of bed rather reluctantly, not knowing that that precise moment in time would shape my future.

This is where the value of a really great instructor is often overlooked. I think back on that flight, about how little I knew about airplanes, and about how this one instructor had the power to influence my feelings toward aviation in one way or another.  He could've been annoyed that I wanted to tag along. He could've made me observe from the back seat. But he didn't. Instead, he handed me the controls and let me fly. That day, he made me believe I could fly an airplane.

When I got back home to Michigan, I went to the local airport on a whim and asked for a job. Days later, I was working at the local FBO answering phones, washing planes and managing aircraft logbooks. Every two weeks, I handed over my paycheck in exchange for flight time...

To read more of Sarina's "Share Your Story" article, click below. (If you're already on the full article, ignore this)

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Day Two: My Embry-Riddle College Visit, Daytona Beach, Florida - The College of Aviation and Related Programs

As you read in my previous article, College Decisions for a Student Pilot, there are so many ways to the "top of the mountain," in my case, a professional pilot career. One option is not necessarily better than the next. In this, I'm in no way trying to "push you" towards Embry-Riddle, just showing you one path, and some of the things I learned from my visit. 

I took the opportunity a week ago to visit Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Daytona Beach, Florida. My two day visit is broken into three separate articles: Day One (College of Business and Campus Tour), Day Two (College of Aviation), and Observation Flight/Flight Programs. In each article, I will try to summarize the programs and degrees I learned about, in addition to some things I found surprising about the school. 

Embry-Riddle introduction video (*note, this is for the Prescott Campus):


When many people think about Embry-Riddle, they think of a flight school, or, as my friends have dubbed it, "sky college." What many don't realize is that ERAU is just like any other 4 year school. While it is an aviation-centered school, degrees range from Aeronautical Science, Business, Air Traffic Control, and Engineering, to Space Physics, Engineering, and beyond. One thing I failed to mention in my first article is what the general feel of ERAU is on campus. It's a relatively large private school, with around 5,500 students. Since it's aviation based, there is a special understanding people have of each other, that would be impossible to replicate at any other school. At the Starbucks on campus, I heard nearly all of the students having conversations about their flight experiences, etc. In this part-two article, information is going to be centered on the College of Aviation.

Information from the ERAU website: 

"The College of Aviation (COA) is housed in six buildings located on the western edge of the campus near the flight line. These buildings are: (1) College of Aviation building, (2) Advanced Simulation Center, (3) Flight Operations Center, (4) Sam Goldman Fleet Maintenance Hangar, (5) Emil Buehler Aviation Maintenance Science (AMS) building and (6) the AMS hangar. The COA is organized into five academic departments. These departments are Aeronautical Science, Applied Aviation Sciences, Doctoral Studies, Aviation Maintenance Science and Flight Training. There are approximately 2,400 students enrolled in the 10-degree programs administered by the COA. The Aeronautical Science degree (Professional Pilot) has the largest enrollment of any similar undergraduate degree program in the nation."


College of Aviation Building

The COA Building houses the academic leadership of the College, and also has specialty laboratories which support various degrees, including Air Traffic Management, Applied Meteorology, and Safety Science. With 17 classrooms, and several specialized laboratories, such as the FAA Testing Center, High Altitude Normobaric Lab, Flight Tutor Lab, 3 ATC Labs, Aircraft Performance Labs, and even a disorientation simulator, the COA building contains everything that a future professional aviator could need. 

ERAU is probably best known for it's Aeronautical Science Degree Program. Aspiring professional pilots choose this degree as it touches on everything a commercial pilot should need to know, so they are more prepared by the time they get hired: 

The Air Traffic Management program is one of the most advanced and highly acclaimed ATC programs anywhere in the country. I was shown around the 3 labs they have for ATC (TRACON, Tower, and En-Route) by the director of the program. I was very impressed with entire program they have set up. It directly mimics the actual ATC set-ups, using the same build plans. In one room, student "pilots" "control" aircraft and communicate with people training in the TRACON room. This is an interesting setup as the fake pilots can give the controllers a hard time, by missing instructions, making directional mistakes etc. 

I'm personally not interested in ATC for a degree, but I think understanding the other side of communications is critical to understand what the controllers are going through. They have a program at ERAU called "ATC for Pilots," which helps pilots understand some basics of Air Traffic Control, so that they'll have better communication skills while on the job. That is a course I'd definitely be interested in!

Watch this video to get a good sense of what each ATC lab has to offer, I think it's pretty incredible! 

The ERAU ATC Program was even featured on CNN! Check out this youtube video of the coverage (sorry for the bad quality, it was the only one uploaded):

The Meteorology Degree Program Video: 

Advanced Simulation Center 

The Advanced Simulation Center is adjacent to the College of Aviation building and contains the most advanced ab-initio aircraft simulation on the planet. The center is equipped with aircraft-specific Cessna 172 and Diamond DA-42L (twin engine) Flight Training Devices (FTDs). An interesting fact about the Cessna 172 simulators is that the bodies of the FTDs are actual Cessna 172 aircraft frames, which have been cut to fit as a simulator. There are also 2 Canadair Regional Jet (CRJ-200) Simulators, one a stationary FTD, and one a full-motion class D FTD. The school utilizes these simulators due to new Federal Aviation laws requiring those who apply for reduced ATP minimums (a great perk of ERAU), to have full motion simulator time. 

Fleet Maintenance Hanger

Embry-Riddle is known for the quality and safety of all of it's aircraft. With a fleet of over 88 aircraft, piloted often by teenage pilots in training, the maintenance department has quite a job on it's hands. ERAU often talks about how they "fly nothing but perfect airplanes." I didn't really get a feel for this until the actual campus visit. With their massive maintenance hanger and mechanical crew, the aircraft are extremely well maintained at the school. When I fly out of my local FBO and send a rented plane in for a check up, due to some strange vibrations, etc, I rarely get to see what exactly they're working on to fix the problem. When you're a student pilot at ERAU and notice a problem, they'll take the plane into the hanger and uncover the engine, to show the student exactly what's wrong with the aircraft. Every pilot needs to understand some basics mechanics to safely fly, this mechanical-oriented environment is fostered at Embry-Riddle. 

Aviation Maintenance Science (and adjacent hangers) 

"At the heart of every flight of every commercial, private or military aircraft is the work of the professional aviation maintenance expert. Without the devotion of these very special people, the air travel system would cease to function. The demand for degreed aircraft maintenance specialists in the aviation/aerospace world has never been greater than it is today. The Aviation Maintenance Science (AMS) program at Embry-Riddle produces these aviation professionals- the best in the world."

Something that many people don't know about the AMS program at ERAU is that they have many fully-operable aircraft, including two jets. There is an ex-USAF C-21A Learjet in addition to a recently donated Gulfstream III. Both are fully functional, but very expensive to fly. Due to this, the AMS department utilizes the aircraft for engine tests, checklists, etc. 

As you can see in the video below, it was pretty difficult to move the new Gulfstream to it's resting place on the ramp!: 

In addition to the two jets, ERAU AMS has a very diverse fleet of aircraft that the students work on. You can see some of these aircraft, some in the AMS hanger, below: 

As you can see, we had a very busy "day two" around the ERAU Daytona campus! The next and final article of three from this visit will be about the observation flight I took in an ERAU Cessna 172. In addition, I will detail the Embry-Riddle Flight Training Department and related facilities. 

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

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Flight Report: Delta MD90 Economy (RIC to ATL) - Whose Plane Are You Really Flying On? - The History Behind the Plane You're On.

This was my first of two flights during my trip down to Orlando, Florida, for a visit to Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach. I left for this flight at around 10am on a Wednesday, so was fortunate to miss some school!

Delta Flight 1931 Information:
  • Flight: Richmond International Airport (RIC) to Atlanta Hartsfield International Airport (ATL)
  • Flight Time: 1 Hour 45 Minutes
  • Aircraft: Delta Air Lines MD90 (N925DN - ex China Eastern B2265)
  • Seat: 30A (economy, window) 

Most people don't realize some of the interesting history behind the airframe onboard which they are flying. To find out some of this history, it's as easy as typing in the aircraft's tail registration into Google, and seeing where and when the plane previously flew. Before being purchased by Delta, this specific MD90 was formerly China Eastern MD90 B2265. The MD90 is typically thought of as a short(ish) range plane, used in nation-wide flights. The fact that this plane flew into such destinations such as Shanghai, Beijing, Hong Kong, etc., would surprise the average traveller. 

Transition details from China Eastern to Delta can be found in the table below. This photo can be enlarged by clicking on it. (Note how the MD90 was ferried from China to the United States):

We had a nice takeoff out of Richmond International Airport, quickly ascending into a broken layer of clouds at about 17,000 feet. As always, GoGo in-flight wifi came on after 10,000 feet, something I quickly took advantage of! 

In the video below, watch our takeoff from Richmond Airport (KRIC). This video comes from my Youtube channel MartinsAviation1:

One interesting part about this flight was that on my trip down to Orlando, portable devices were not allowed during taxi, takeoff, or landing according to the FAA (and Delta Air Lines). Flight attendants, as was normal until very recently, walked through the cabin to make sure that everyone's devices were off and stowed. Notice on my Flight Reports during our return, just a few days later, that this rule was eliminated by the FAA and quickly adopted by Delta, shifting some of the Flight Attendant's responsibilities. 

To read more of this Flight Report, click below. (If you're already on the full article, ignore this message)

Monday, November 4, 2013

Day One: My Embry-Riddle College Visit, Dayonta Beach, Florida - Surprising Things I Learned

As you read in my previous article, College Decisions for a Student Pilot, there are so many ways to the "top of the mountain," in my case, a professional pilot career. One option is not necessarily better than the next. In this, I'm in no way trying to "push you" towards Embry-Riddle, just showing you one path, and some of the things I learned from my visit. 

I took the opportunity a few days ago to visit Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Daytona Beach, Florida. My two day visit will be broken into three separate articles: Day One (College of Business and Campus Tour), Day Two (College of Aviation), and Observation Flight/Flight Programs. In each article, I will try to summarize the programs and degrees I learned about, in addition to some things I found surprising about the school. 

Embry-Riddle introduction video (*note, this is for the Prescott Campus):

Here are some quick facts about Embry-Riddle, from their own website: 
  • Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University (ERAU) is the world's oldest, largest, and most prestigious university specializing in aviation and aerospace. 
  • It is the only fully accredited, aviation-oriented university in the world. 
  • ERAU was founded in Cincinnati, Ohio, on Dec. 17, 1925
  • ERAU has traditional, residential campuses in Daytona Beach, Florida, and Prescott, Arizona. Embry-Riddle's Worldwide Campus provides educational opportunities to working adults at more than 150 locations in the United States, Europe, Asia, and the Middle East. In addition, degree programs are offered through Worldwide Online via the Internet.
  • ERAU students come from all 50 states and 125 nations. International students make up 15% of the student body at the Daytona Beach Campus and 6% at the Prescott Campus. Female students make up 17% of the student body at the Daytona Beach Campus and 18% at the Prescott Campus.
School Rankings: 
  • ERAU Daytona is #11 of all Southern Regional Universities 
  • It has the #1 Aerospace Engineering Program in the Nation (14 Years in a Row) 
  • Largest Air Traffic Control program in the United States

Many people think of Embry-Riddle as an aviation/engineering-only university. What they might not know is that ERAU has a large Business Degree program. They offer the following degrees: 
  • B.S. in Aviation Business Administration 
  • B.S. in Business Administration
  • Minor: Business Administration 
  • Master of Business Administration 
  • Master of Business Administration in Aviation Management 
  • Master of Science in Aviation Finance 
  • Bachelor of Science in Business Administration Accelerated MBA 

During my visit to the College of Business, I sat in on Airline Management Class BA315. In this class, general business management principles are applied to case studies which involve the dynamic, complex aviation industry. When I was in class, students were reviewing how airlines determine pricing for different seats and the logic is behind those decisions. 

After my visit with the College of Business, we went to Propellors Cafe for a quick lunch by the end of Runway 25R, Daytona International Airport. One thing you really begin to realize when touring ERAU is how connected the campus is with aviation, being right on the airport. There are 4 Delta and 4 US Airways commercial flights per day, plus many private jet operations. Embry-Riddle alone accounts for over 400 takeoffs/landings per day on the field. The campus is directly adjacent to it's own flight line. In the images and videos below, you can see how ERAU is truly an airport-school. The flight program for the school will be reviewed with detail in a separate article.  

Delta Air Lines MD88 Takeoff from Daytona International Airport (over the ERAU Flight Line): 

One of the things that really impressed me about Embry-Riddle was the depth and breadth of the school's engineering program. I had no idea about some of the amazing projects on which ERAU students have been, and currently are, working. From building autonomous vehicles, designing aircraft, and wind tunnel testing, to aquaponics, being the #1 Aerospace Engineering school in the nation has it's benefits. 

Here is one really cool story from the College of Engineering... There had been a problem with United States Harrier Jets sucking small pebbles into its engines. So what did the government do? They came to ERAU with the problem, looking for a fix. ERAU students and professors were given the project, using a school lab (which they blacked-out by covering the windows, etc), and establishing a key-card entry for this top secret project. How cool is that?! These real-life projects are some of the things that make ERAU unique. 

During my first day, I took a campus tour of ERAU Daytona. As you'll notice, the Daytona campus is pretty concentrated in a small footprint. I didn't really mind this, as they pack in some terrific facilities. Below are some photos from that tour, as well as the campus map again: 

Henderson Welcome Center (from ERAU's website:) 

While at the campus, we observed the renovation/construction of the College of Arts and Sciences. The new building for the college—which produces half of the semester credit hours completed at Embry-Riddle—will be the largest on the Daytona Beach Campus (5 stories tall, 140,000 square feet). Along with new classrooms, labs, and office space, the building will feature the largest university-based telescope in the state of Florida to support the college’s astronomy program.

Another thing you might not know about Embry-Riddle is that the university is serious about producing astronauts. Six current or former astronauts are graduates of ERAU: Daniel Burbank (Worldwide Campus, Langley AFB, Va.); B. Alvin Drew (Worldwide Campus, Las Vegas, Nev.); Ronald Garan Jr. (Worldwide Campus, Las Vegas, Nev.); Susan Kilrain (Daytona Beach Campus); Nicole Stott (Daytona Beach Campus); and Terry Virts Jr. (Worldwide Campus, Spangdahlem, Germany.

So there you have it--my "Day One" at Embry-Riddle Daytona. I was a good way. We were on our feet all day long. Stay tuned for "Day Two," an overview of the Aviation Maintenance program and The College of Aviation (Aeronautical Degrees, ATC, and Meteorology). In the third article, I'll be writing about the observation flight I took, in addition to the flight programs at ERAU. 

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

Twitter: @MartinsAviation
Youtube: MartinsAviation1

Not a bad place to have a world-class university...