Monday, July 21, 2014

I've Moved! -- To A New Website

It's been a long time since I've changed anything with the blog, and it's time for an upgrade. Over the past few weeks I've been building a new website for the blog and myself. It has every post, section, page, and comment that you'll find here... with more AND on a much better platform. 

All traffic to this website and its posts will soon be re-directed to the new website. So if you've subscribed here to get posts by email, please subscribe on the new site to keep receiving emails. 

Are you ready? HERE IT IS:

I am so excited for the change and promise that I'll be updating the feed with cool posts more frequently now that I'm on a better platform! 

Thanks to all of my long time readers, I know you guys will love the new site,
-Swayne Martin 
Twitter: @MartinsAviation

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Blog Update

Hey everyone! 

I just got back from a trip out to Boulder, Colorado to work with the guys at Boldmethod. It was a great time! We did some preparation for Air Venture 2014 and even got to do a little flying. There will be more on that soon! 

There was an issue with my video from the trip to Jordan, so I had to delete the video and re-upload it. Here it is: 

I'm looking into re-designing the site and moving it to a different platform, so haven't had much time to publish updates from the summer. Hopefully things will get organized soon! 

Hope you guys have been doing well and have had an amazing summer,
Twitter: @MartinsAviation

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Back From Jordan!

I'm finally back in the United States after an amazing trip to Jordan! It was definitely the trip of a lifetime, I hope it won't be my last trip to that incredible country. It's hard to describe everything we did with words, so I'll give you a glimpse of some of the coolest activities via this video. 

If you're considering a trip to Jordan, by all means GO. You will not regret it. It is an absolutely amazing place, with some of the coolest activities in the world. 

I'll have more posts soon about my flight with Ayla Aviation.

Thanks for watching!
-Swayne Martin 

Monday, June 9, 2014

Blog Pause - Traveling To Jordan!

It's time for a little pause in the blog. I'm headed off tomorrow to Jordan in the Middle East with a good friend of mine from school, to stay with his family for a few weeks. I will be there until June 28th, when I arrive back in the United States. 

On the way over, I'm flying the following routes (I've included links to flightaware tracking so you can see where we are, live!): 
  • Washington IAD - Amsterdam AMS (KLM A333): KLM652
  • Amsterdam AMS - Amman AMM (RJ A320): RJ152
  • Amman AMM - Aqaba AQA (RJ E170): RJ302

Experiencing Jordan and the Middle East for the first time should be pretty amazing. I can't wait to see and experience some pretty unique things while we are there! 

And best yet, when I'm in Jordan, I'll have the opportunity to experience flying in the Middle East with Ayla Aviation Academy. I'll be flying with an instructor out of King Hussein Airport, Aqaba in a DiamondStar DA40 over the area, which should be incredible! 

Stay tuned for more when I get back, it should be amazing! I'll have tons of videos and photos to share soon :) 

Thanks for reading,
Swayne Martin 
-Twitter: @MartinsAviation

Saturday, June 7, 2014

First Flight With My Mom

With school being so busy, I still hadn't gone flying with my mom... until now! She had flown in the plane with me before, but when I was with an instructor. So this was truly the first time we had ever really flown together. 

It's actually really fun flying with mom because she isn't a pilot. It's one of the few times as a teenager that my mom hasn't had any advice for me! She told me afterwards that it was a completely strange feeling for her, putting her life into my hands. Sure, in a car I'm in control too, but she can always grab the wheel. It would probably be a little bit difficult to learn how to fly in an instant! 

So since I received my PPL, I hadn't yet flown with a parent solo. I was in all honesty pretty nervous, having the life of someone you love in your hands is a tremendous responsibility. 

Here is a short clip of our takeoff that my mom recorded on her iPhone: 

As is typical with summer weather, it was pretty bumpy. The plan was to fly around for a little over an hour, around Richmond, Jamestown, to the James River, and back. After flying over our house and school, I decided to cut the flight short and head back. It was beginning to be uncomfortably bumpy... No use in wasting time and money on an unpleasant experience! It was still a fun flight though, here are some pictures: 

Our route of flight is shown below via CloudAhoy (I recorded it on my iPad, using my external XGPS160): 

After such a bumpy flight, I was a little concerned that it would be a windy, rough landing. On final approach it was gusty, but nothing too bad. And then... We greased the landing, making an awesome ending to a turbulent flight! My mom said "I've never felt such a smooth landing, not even on commercial planes." ... Thanks, Mom! 

Hopefully we will go flying again soon, just for a little longer next time!

Thanks for reading,
-Swayne Martin
Twitter: @MartinsAviation

Friday, May 30, 2014

Share Your Story: Chris Horak, Future Air Force Pilot

Welcome to the 34th "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

Hey everyone, my name is Chris Horak and I am a 21 year old upper gulf coast native. I began taking flying lessons in October of 2012 with Rod Kellogg as my instructor. I trained in the good ole PA-28 Warrior N8410C out of Jack Edwards Airport. My training was stretched out over a year and a few months due to me trying to juggle flying along with being a full time college student. I took my check ride on 16 Feb 2014 up in Jasper, Alabama at Walker County Airport with Joey "Gordo" Sanders. Gordo is a retired Colonel, U.S. Air Force F-4 Fantom pilot and currently flies for Fedex. He does examining on the side. I had around 60 hours when I took my check ride.

One of my main goals from the beginning of my flight training, was to eventually get my tail wheel endorsement. I have always had it drilled in my head that "you aren't a real pilot until you can fly a tail wheel airplane." So I went to Ferguson Airport (82J) and took lessons in the good ole Piper Legend Cub, AL-3C-100, N155WB. My instructor was the wild Capt Jimbo Wilson, former U.S. Marine Corps A-4 Skyhawk pilot. Jimbo has been a family friend of mine my whole life and used to skydive with my father. I also received some valuable instruction from former NFO John Jenista. After 7.6 hours and 79 landings, I received my tail wheel endorsement on 19 April 2014. I am completely hooked on tail wheel flying now. If you haven't experienced it yet, get trained and you will find out exactly what I am talking about.

The next fun/educational thing I got myself into was Capt Jimbo's Super Decathlon Spin Recovery/Intro to Aerobatic Manuever training. I learned how to perform and was evaluated on aileron rolls, loops, falling leafs, immelmanns, 1/2 Cuban 8s, approach turn stalls, spin recovery, inverted flight, the Marine Corps way of dropping a nuclear bomb from an A-4 Skyhawk (simulated obviously), and of course Capt Jimbo's way of losing a Mig that's on your tail. That was the coolest experience that I have ever had flying. I am continuing to get aerobatic training from a CFII friend of mine, Dewitt, in a Starduster SA300. That is one heck of an airplane!!

The next step for me is Air Force pilot training. I graduated from the University of West Florida on 3 May 2014 with a degree in mathematics, and received my commission through the ROTC program, as a 2d Lieutenant on 2 May. I am currently awaiting orders for flight school but am super excited to see what God has in store for me.

I have always been around aviation my whole life. My grandfather flew, my dad flew, and they both were skydivers as well. Being in the sky never was an issue for me growing up. I remember countless family trips taken by air with my dad being PIC. I even have a tandem skydive under my belt. Needless to say, the thought of being a pilot has always stood in the back of my mind but I never took action to it until halfway through college. I know that this is what I am meant to do with my life and I look forward to serving my country while at the same time, doing what I love to do the most! 

Blue Skies Everyone,

-Chris Horak 


Thanks so much Chris for writing in and sharing your story! It's awesome to be hearing more from Rod's students down on the Gulf. It looks like you're just about to get started on an exciting path with the Air Force, which is amazing. I wish you the best of luck and can't wait to hear how it goes! 

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 

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

After School Cross-Country Flight

One of the hardest parts of being a Private Pilot has been wanting to fly, but being stuck on the ground. With my Junior Year of high school ending quickly, things have been incredibly busy. Finding the time to get into the air has been difficult, but all the more rewarding when it finally works out. 

About two weeks ago, I saw a great weather forecast for a Tuesday afternoon. I don't normally have the time after school to fly, but really wanted to make it work! I called up the airport, and sure enough, they had my old plane, Tecnam P92 N16HV, open that afternoon! (I'm trying to build experience in the Cessna, so have been staying away from the Tecnam recently) Throughout the day, I checked on the weather forecast, which was marginal up until my flight. Luckily, it cleared up! 

Amazingly, since getting my PPL, I hadn't taken a fully solo cross-country flight (with a destination 50+ nautical miles away from my point of departure). I decided on the route shown below: KOFP-KFCI-KFVX-KOFP: 

Throughout the flight, I logged the flight using CloudAhoy, my iPad, and an external GPS (XGPS160). It was my first cross-country using Foreflight on the iPad, so I was excited to try it out! The amount of technology in that tiny Tecnam was incredible: external GPS, iPad (with Foreflight), iPhone (with Foreflight), internal GPS, Garmin 496, and a multi-function display! 

Enroute from Hanover to Chesterfield, I made a quick diversion, doing a few turns over my school for friends who were at afternoon practice: 

With the winds being so calm all day, it was a great flight and not turbulent at all! After checking the ATIS, I set up on a 5 mile final for Runway 15 at Chesterfield KFCI. I don't normally do long final approaches, but with my track, and with the winds being light and variable, it made sense. 

After a smooth landing at Chesterfield, I took off and turned West towards Farmville KFVX. Once again, it was a smooth and uneventful flight. I got a little bored and listened to Potomac Approach, with lots of commercial traffic arriving into Richmond International. I ended up doing 2 touch and go landings at Farmville because the weather was so good. I thought about shutting down to get a passport stamp but didn't have the time. (someone had the plane right after myself)

Once I was finished with Farmville, I headed back towards Hanover at 3,500 feet. Earlier, it had rained, so you can see how green Farmville was as I departed: 

Flying back over the James River and towards Hanover, I was happy that the flight had gone so well. With summertime weather arriving, it's rare to find a completely smooth day for flying. 

This was one of those lucky days. 

Thanks for reading! 
-Swayne Martin 
Twitter: @MartinsAviation

Thursday, May 15, 2014

TEDx Youth Speech: What If You Could Do Anything?

As you read earlier, I recently gave a TED Talk at my school's conference. The video below has the speech in addition to the introduction video. (The speech begins at 2:40):

For all of the pilots out there, remember that if there were no bad flying days ... there wouldn't be any good days. 

Thanks for watching!
-Swayne Martin 
Twitter: @MartinsAviation

Sorry there haven't been many updates recently! With Junior Year finishing up, I've had a full workload between final exams and standardized testing. 

Friday, May 9, 2014

Share Your Story: Haley Howard, 19 Year Old CFI

Welcome to the 33rd "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

I started flying last year. On February 28th, 2013 I had my first lesson. July 3rd, 2013 I received my Private Pilots license. I then started working towards my Instrument rating doing a lot of cross countries and hood time. I got my Instrument rating November 11th, 2013. After that I took off to the west (Spanish Fork, UT) where I did some mountain training, back-country flying and received my Commercial Pilots License January 22nd, 2014. I stayed out there until the end of February 2014 while I did a CFI ground school course. I came back to Alabama and finished up my CFI with Rod (Kellogg) and took my checkride, (twice) (I'll explain later) April 23rd, 2014. 

I wish I could say I grew up around it but I really have no flying background at all. Nobody in my family ever ventured into the aviation world. I am the youngest of 6. Me and my siblings have totally different interest. One works offshore, one served in the army, One is a horse trainer and works in Hollywood western films, one is a police officer and one is a soon to be English teacher, Me... I'm just a pilot. I guess my love for traveling is what really got me into flying. From age 11 to 17 I wanted to be a professional surfer. I traveled all over and spent the majority of my time in the water. I competed in surf contest locally and on the East Coast. When I finally picked up a small sponsor I thought that was it... that's what I was gonna do the rest of my life. After a month in a half in the southern jungles of Costa Rica when I was 17 I realized I loved surfing but lost my interest in the competitive side of it. I just wanted to travel! It didn't matter where I was going or why I was going It only mattered THAT i was going. I have a few more stories in between all that and the time I started flying one which involved buying an RV and trekking across America in it for a few months but lets skip to what matters.. Flying!

I started flying in Gulf Shores, AL out of Jack Edwards with my first flight instructor, Nate Coleman. I flew a C-152 with him up until I got my Private License. I really enjoyed those first few months learning something completely new to me. I was fortunate to have a really good Instructor too. I had my first solo April 10th, 2013. Scary stuff!! I did the usual 3 landings and bring it in thing. I'm sure it's the same for every pilot but I'll never forget that day. I just couldn't believe someone trusted me enough to let me fly a machine into the air by myself... well maybe they didn't trust me but that's what insurance is for right? I think I was hooked to flying the first day I stepped in the plane but the hook was definitely set on that day. 

I was working a full time summer job (7 days a week on the beach at a Parasail and water-sport company) while I was a student pilot. Nate was cool enough to get out there early before I worked most mornings to fly with me (I owe him big time!) After about 52 hours in the logbook I took my PPL Checkride with a really cool examiner named Chip. It was a success! "It wasn't as bad as I thought it would be." Of course that was just my "License to Learn". Well that won't suffice... Time for the next thing.

I continued my training with Nate this time in the PA-28 (Cherokee Warrior) and after many practice ILS's, LOC's, VOR's, holds (sorry Nate for frustrating you during these), radio chatter and long cross-countries I took my Instrument Checkride with another great DPE, Mal. Again, "It wasn't as bad as I thought." That was a really rewarding rating to get and probably some of the most important training for any pilot.

After a bout 100 hours of time building I went over to Utah to learn how to fly around the mountains. That was some really fun flying and I met some good friends I still talk to. I flew the Piper Arrow for the 10 complex hour commercial requirement with another good instructor, Rob Machado. He taught me a lot about mountain and canyon flying which was great! This training was fun because after a lot of stressful instrument and precision flying I got a chance to stick my head back out the window. I took the CSEL Checkride with, yes, another great examiner, Lynn French. I think he enjoyed making it a little difficult by lots of distractions and talking during the checkride but it was a good day! "It wasn't as bad as I thought." Now I can get paid to fly!

I started the CFI ground school the following evening. This is where I met Scott Pettis. He's a 15,000 hour pilot and is the captain of a PC-12 (Pilatus). His boss, who owns the PC-12 wanted him to get his CFI so he could start logging time while Scott flew him all around the country so he was 1 of 4 students in the class with me. We helped each other with CFI lessons and flew around in the DA-40 and the Cessna Corvalis together taking turns being the student and the instructor. I got a chance to fly the Pilatus with him back from Sacramento. I also got a couple turns at flying a helicopter with him, an R-44. He's a really good pilot and I learned a lot from him.

Well I eventually got tired of being land-locked in snowy Utah and had to go back to the beach. I got back to Alabama February 26th 2014. Rod was kind enough to help me out with some more CFI practice flying and getting my checkride scheduled (I owe him big time too). Rods another awesome pilot, anybody can learn a lot just flying with this guy for a few minutes. 

Another requirement for the Initial CFI is Spin training. I did some spin training back in the summer with Nate after I got my PPL but the FAA was looking for something more recent so I got to go to Pensacola and do a Spin course and Intro to Aerobatics with this Genius of a Pilot Jimbo aka Capt. Cuervo. Fun Stuff!!!

Meanwhile during all the craziness of studying and preparing for the checkride I got the opportunity to run a few scenic flights out of Gulf Air Center at KJKA, and do a little bit of banner towing with a local pilot, Bancroft or "Banc". I also got to go along on cross countries with Rod in the Cirrus, Cherokee 6, Comanche, and King Air. It has been great flying different planes and getting the feel for each of their own flight characteristics. 

After all the fun it was time to take the checkride. It was scheduled for April 21st, and got pushed back to the 22nd for weather and aircraft maintenance problems. For the CFI initial checkride the FAA local FSDO inspector has first choice of giving you the ride and I got assigned a lady from the Birmingham FSDO, Nina. the checkride went good that day I made it through the famous CFI Oral portion. That was the part I was dreading. We made it into the Warrior to knock out the required maneuvers and i was going to finish the ride in the Comanche to demonstrate Power-off 180s and Complex proficiency. Got about an hour into the flight when the ceilings started dropping quick on us forcing us to land. I got a LOA (Letter of Discontinuance) due to weather. I wasn't able to finish the ride with Nina but fortunately I was able to go up to Jasper, AL. the next day and finish the maneuvers in the Comanche with another great Pilot and DPE, Gordo. Again, "it wasn't as bad as I thought." The checkride went great despite the plane trouble me and Carl (local pilot and CFI) experienced on the way up there that morning. Basically ending in a dead-stick landing at a remote airstrip in north Alabama. After returning to KJKA and receiving some "pit-stop" maintenance we went for a second go up to Jasper where I finally became a CFI. More power trouble on the way back that night but we were able to land safely home.

My career goals aren't set in stone yet but I turn 20 this October and plan to have my Multi Engine and Seaplane ratings before then. I like to think that one day I'll be running a Seaplane Island Hopping/Exploring/treasure hunting company down in the Caribbean or on some island in the south Pacific one day, whether or not that will work out is left to the choices I make down the road and the Pilot Gods :)

I have a few more flying stories I'd love to share but I will be up all night if I keep writing so I'll wrap it up. I can say that I am very lucky to have such amazing pilots and instructors to look up to. Nate, Rod, Rob, Scott and many others have each taught me different things about flying that you can't really put a price on. I hope to do the same for my future students. At only 400 hours total time, flying has been the most challenging and rewarding thing I've ever done and I have much more to learn and experience from it. Any aspiring pilot that reads Swayne's Blog for advice and has lasted all the way through my long post, The only thing I can say is study, fly, study again, fly, and study some more. You'll learn something new every time you crack open that book or read that article. If anything, besides my talented instructors, has gotten me this far in aviation it's because I read everything I could and watched every video I could about flying. Stay persistent, respect the weather and keep flying!



Thanks so much Haley for writing in and sharing your story! The fact that you're a CFI and only 19 years old, two years older than myself, is so cool! I have a feeling you're going to have an awesome and exciting career. You've already done so much! 

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