A Riddle Student’s Spring Break!

Spring Break 2014 is a wrap from all of us here at ERAU!  I just wanted to have a short “photo” blog on what an “ERAU Student Spring Break” might look like…

Inflight meal service via Biscoff cookies is a must on ANY flight!

Inflight meal service via Biscoff cookies is a must on ANY flight!  Enroute to Sebring, Florida for the 12 Hour race night practice to kick off spring break.

Flying with my dad and girlfriend is always a great time!  Here we are enroute to Muncie, Indiana from Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Flying with my dad and girlfriend is always a great time! Here we are enroute to Muncie, Indiana from Grand Rapids, Michigan.

I had a few chances to go flying over break and my dad's 1950 Piper PA20 Pacer was exercised quite a bit!
I had a few chances to go flying over break and my dad’s 1950 Piper PA20 Pacer was exercised quite a bit!

Descending into ATL from IND on a Delta A320.

Descending into ATL from IND on a Delta A320.

 

A full Order of Busyness With a Side of Airplanes

 Hello there everyone, long time no see! I got a haircut while I was away. It’s good to sit down and write a little bit!

On a beach in San Diego, CA.

Me on a beach in San Diego, CA. I was there with the  Avion exec board and our Advisor, Wes, for a Conference.

Let’s catch up! the last time I posted was about 5 weeks ago :) First things first, I got the opportunity to be interviewed by the Daytona Beach News Journal about my place here at ERAU. They sent a photographer and put together a pretty nice story which can be found here. It’s an honor to represent my school, and just plain cool to be on the front page of the local newspaper too! I was referred for this opportunity by Ken Byrnes, the Chair of the Flight Department. I serve on a board of Flight students called the Chairman’s Advisory Council, and we meet with Ken weekly to discuss the Flight Program. Through that position I also was interviewed by Fortune 500 magazine on my view of the Regional Airline career path.  So if those aren’t two  good reasons to get involved on campus then I don’t know what is! I want to encourage you prospective students to set down roots here as quickly as you can. Embry-Riddle has so many staff members and professors who are looking for talented and dedicated students to represent our wonderful University. So, come with the intention to get involved and contribute to a better ERAU!

 

As you may or may not know, Here in Daytona we host the D  a  y   t   o  n  a  5  0  0          NASCAR race. I’m not a big fan of race cars, but it does bring a few billion dollars worth of amazing jets to DAB airport for the week. I, of course, took a few hundred photos of them and have created a Facebook airplane spotting page for them which you can join here to see the photos!  Most notable among them was the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds. who performed the flyover. I’ll throw some of my favorites here in the blog for you to enjoy. I used a Canon 70D with a 100-400mm lens to shoot all of these. As an executive member of The Avion Newspaper, I get to use our camera equipment, that’s a definite plus! if you have an interest in photography or writing, consider joining the Avion once you get here!

 

An F-16 Falcon, one of the UF Air Force Thunderbirds!

An F-16 Falcon, one of the US Air Force Thunderbirds!

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From February 25-28 I went to San Diego, CA with other staff from The Avion Newspaper for the 2014 Associated Collegiate Press Conference. At this conference we get together with staff from other collegiate newspapers from Journalism Schools all around the country.  I got the chance to attend seminars on writing, editing, and photography taught by collegiate professors from some of the most well-known names in journalism. I sharpened my writing skills and realized many things that I’ve been doing wrong. There’s always room to get better, that’s one of my favorite things about a hobby. It was strange being there as a representative from a school as unique as Embry-Riddle, many of the people I talked to weren’t big fans of airplanes at all! They thought we were pretty neat, as most of the other colleges were liberal arts universities. It was a nice change of pace.

This week is Spring Break for ERAU students, so I’ve gotten plenty of time to relax. On this past Monday and Tuesday, I got a really great opportunity. I was hired by the College of Aviation Dean’s Office as a photographer for the 2014 National Training Aircraft Symposium. This landmark symposium was first started by Dr. Tim Brady, Dean of the CoA. It brings together representatives from Aviation Universities, Air Carriers, Aircraft Manufacturers, and the FAA to discuss the Aviation Industry. It was really neat to listen to more than 60 aviation professionals discuss how to make our industry run better in the wake of the ’1500 hour rule’. I also got a few business cards and talked with some awesome ERAU alumni who are working for major Airlines.

I’m at the point in my college journey where I’m getting pretty busy, but I still find time to answer the occasional Email, I’ll write some blogs more often too, I promise! So if you have any questions about ERAU and how to get involved here, email me at wilkinsz@my.erau.edu

Sitting in a Cirrus SR-20 at this years NTAS Conference

Sitting in a Cirrus SR-20 at this years NTAS Conference

Onwards and Upwards! 

Rockets, Racecars, and other fine things

Hello readers, it’s been a while since I’ve shared some stories with you, but let’s catch up!

It’s been a busy first few weeks this semester, mainly because of my new position at The Avion Newspaper, which I believe I mentioned before. I work as the News editor, and I manage the content which we run each week. It’s an honor to do, and I love all the new things it has been teaching me. You can read all of our issues by clicking here

My classes this semester are:

Physics 2, Turbine engines, Crew Resource Management, FMS Systems, and Aviation Legislation. It’s a pretty good variety of subjects and will keep me busy. I’m starting to get to the point in my degree program where the courses are much more specialized.

On to the cool stuff now!

My press badge. SO COOL. In the background is the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB)

My press badge. SO COOL. In the background is the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB)

On January 23rd I got the opportunity to drive down to KSC, (or Cape Canaveral, The Kennedy Space center, or whatever you prefer to call it) There, I was covering a rocket launch and had full PRESS accreditation as a reporter from The Avion Newspaper. I went with my managing Editor, Matt Micholowitz. We spent the evening hanging around the press area before we got on the bus to go to NASA static test road to watch the launch. United Launch Alliance was launching their TDRS-L satellite, which is a communications satellite for NASA’s Space Network. The Rocket was a Delta V-401 configuration and launched at 9:33 pm. It was really cold that night, and i was surrounded by a few dozen other anxious photographers waiting to get the perfect shot. My best photo we included in the Avion after I wrote a story on the launch, you can see my photo below. It was so cool to get to attend this launch, and I couldn’t have done it without being involved in The Avion Newspaper.

The Rocket lifts off at 9:33 PM, it lit up the entire area, it was awesome!

The Rocket lifts off at 9:33 PM, it lit up the entire area, it was awesome!

A few days later on the 25th  I got to go to the ROLEX 24, which was a 24 hour Endurance race featuring some of the most powerful supercars in the world. I spent 8 hours at the D  a  y  t  o  n  a    S  p  e  e  d  w  a  y with some other Avion Photographers: Trey Henderson-Editor in Chief, Matt Micholowitz-Managing Editor, Richard Weakly- Advertising Manager, Austin Coffey- Photo Editor, and Lynsay Hurilla-Business Manager.  I held a Canon 60D close and took some great photos!  it was the first time I got to use a professional quality camera and glass. The atmosphere was in an uproar of revving engines and screaming tires. I stayed from early afternoon until late at night, this allowed me to get a great variety of photos at the event.  It was the first time I had been at the track and will not be soon forgotten. I had a blast spending a day there, take a look at my favorite photos below.

A lot of power in this picture!

A lot of power in this picture!

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So as you can see, it’s been quite a ride so far this semester, my opportunities have opened up a lot through being at the Avion. These are the lives of students at ERAU, we get to do incredible things. It’s an honor to share them with you on this blog, as always, you are free to contact me with any questions about flying and life. It’s fulfilling to write this page, but the real value in it for me is when someone contacts me and wants to talk.

I get pretty busy here at school, and sometimes it can feel discouraging. It wears me down. Throughout last week I had a song in my head, it was from Willy Wonka and the chocolate factory. All week long it played over and over:

“If you want to view paradise,

Simply look around and view it,

Anything you want to, do it

Want to change the world?

There’s nothing to it.”

So, you know what I did? I took time in the middle of the day to watch Willy Wonka and the Chocolate factory. Sure maybe I had other things to do, but the time i spent refreshed me to get through the week. It was much more important that I was focused and relaxed.  Sometimes you just have to escape into paradise for a while, and that’s what I did. Those words have become sort of a motto for me. If you want to make an impact, then just go do it! don’t let anything hold you back. If you look for the good things in life and take joy in them, you’ll be propelled by that Joy to do things you never felt possible. I’ve done things and gone places while at ERAU that I never imagined I would do.

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Please email me at wilkinsz@my.erau.edu if you have any questions or just want to talk to someone about ERAU.

 

A banner tower circled above us for most of the daytime. I couldn't resist snapping a photo.

A banner tower circled above us for most of the daytime while at the 24. I couldn’t resist snapping a photo.

 

 

NBAA Regional Forum: Great Success!

On January 30th I was fortunate enough to be able to attend the National Business Aircraft Association’s Regional Forum in Boca Raton, Florida on behalf of Embry-Riddle.  The exhibitor area and static display ramp were sold out with over 80 vendors and 20 aircraft.

The exhibitor area was packed with vendors and potential customers alike, really putting a positive vibe over the whole event.

The exhibitor area was packed with vendors and potential customers alike, really putting a positive vibe over the whole event.

The advances in technology were at the forefront in the static display area with Cessna showing off its newest revision Sovereign aircraft alongside its TTx piston rocketship and Gulfstream bringing its G280 demonstrator.  Turboprop aircraft were also shown off including a new Quest Kodiak, a Beech King Air 250, and the ever pleasing Piaggio Avanti II, rounding out the new aircraft contingent.  On the technology side, FltPlan.com was there supporting their online and mobile flight planning applications and many vendors were selling new iPad and wireless capable apps for everything from flight and performance planning to inflight wifi.  The ever changing technology is sure driving the revived business and general aviation markets!

 

Technological advances are really driving the business and general aviation markets as a whole.  New flight deck systems such as this Garmin system in a new Cessna Citation M2 are not only making pilot's jobs easier, but also making flights more safe and reliable.

Technological advances are really driving the business and general aviation markets as a whole. New flight deck systems such as this Garmin system in a new Cessna Citation M2 are not only making pilot’s jobs easier, but also making flights more safe and reliable.

The real purpose of traveling down to Boca was to interview five industry officials and get their take on the state of business and general aviation as a whole and maybe provide some insight into the future.  First I heard from Gil Wolin of Wolin Aviation Consulting, a man that grew up in the back of his dad’s V-tail Bonanza and has been in the industry for over 70 years.  He brought up the points that aircraft sales are up and that new aircraft are driving these numbers even higher, validating my point that new technology is again driving a prominent industry in a time of uncertainty.  We then heard from Mr. Steve Johns, an aviation insurance broker from Michigan with over 25 years of experience in the industry.  Mr. Johns spoke about insurance rates and that they are decreasing and have been for some time now, helping the unstable market in these times.  Mike O’Keeffe from Banyan Air Service also spoke with us about FBO and aircraft sales being positive in late 2013 and early 2014, again showing good signs for our industry at the moment.

Check out the recap of the entire NBAA Forum in Boca Raton on our COB YouTube page!

Check out the recap of the entire NBAA Forum in Boca Raton on our COB YouTube page!

To wrap this all up I just want to reassert that general aviation is such an important piece in the global economy.  It isn’t only a thing of pleasure, it is a definite business tool for everyone from middle managers to top level management in all sorts of industries.  Flying in an airplane is a true form of being able to time travel, something that people have been dreaming about for quite some time.  Being able to travel anywhere quicker than the airlines, get closer to the destination you are really going to, and still have an office to work in with wifi connectivity makes business aviation a go-to answer for any sized company or family really.  Thanks to organizations like NBAA, AOPA, and EAA and initiatives like No Plane No Gain, general aviation is on an upswing and might once again return to its glory days.

No Plane No Gain

For more coverage of the NBAA event in Boca and other ERAU College of Business and aviation news, join me on the new COB Report video series on our YouTube channel at youtube.com/user/eraubusiness and view our newest video recap on the NBAA event in Boca Raton (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_lmefabO_nI).

Happy flying,

Kyle

Me at NBAA BCT

 

The Joys of Aircraft Ownership

Last January was an exciting time for me.  Not only was I coming back from the Holiday Break as a junior, but I was coming back as an aircraft owner.  A Piper PA-23 Apache, N1140P had came up for sale on the market during the last few weeks of December 2012 at an airport just a short drive from my house.  I had been looking at light piston twins for the entire fall just researching and feeling out the market, and this Apache was the airplane I had been looking to get for quite some time.

Here’s my Apache over Daytona Beach in the Spring of 2014. Light piston twins can be a great way to travel and fairly economical if you fill the seats on long hauls. Photo credit James Dingell.

The Piper Apache started out as a design from the aircraft manufacturer Stinson in the late 1940s and early 1950s.  Eventually making its way to Piper, the Twin Stinson name was swapped out for the Apache, starting the long line of “Indian Pipers.”  The early Twin Stinson had smaller Lycoming engines and an “H” tail design, not unlike the B-25 Mitchell bomber.  The Apache was really the first light twin piston engine airplane to make it big on the market as everything before it was quite large, such as the big Beech 18 Twin Beech and Cessna T50 Bamboo Bomber.

The onset of the Apache was quite a significant one as the airplane was really the first “light” piston twin to catch on in the general aviation market. It was touted as a smaller business airplane but doubled as a family station wagon as well. Just as the advertisement says, the Apache is quite the utility airplane with it’s rugged twin engine design and extremely roomy cabin.

Buying an airplane is quite easy, hand over the money or sign finance paperwork at the bank and it’s yours, but it’s the other things that make aircraft ownership rough.  Insurance has to be found and paid for and a hangar or ramp space for the airplane is also needed.  An annual inspection of the airplane is required which can set you back some serious cash and if you’re flying for hire, a 100-hour inspection is needed every, yes you guessed it, 100 hours of flight time.  Then you have the consumables: fuel, oil, oil filters, tires, light bulbs, all of the little stuff.  It really does become an expensive toy very quickly.

 

Annualing an airplane is quite expensive, and on a complex airplane (one with retractable gear and flaps and a constant speed prop) like this Piper Aztec or my Apache, it gets even more expensive and time provoking.

It might seem like there’s a lot to keep straight when owning an airplane, and there is, but it all teaches you to be a better manager and teaches you to take care of the equipment you are using.  In flight training, most people have total disregard for the equipment they are using, but when you own the machine it changes all perspectives about the joy of flight.  Owning a light airplane can open all sorts of doors for you.  Just driving up to a hangar and getting an airplane out and not having to schedule one at a flight school or jump through a lot of hoops to get into one and rent it is quite nice.  The disadvantages are quite minor ones, like cleaning and detailing the airplane.  If you’re going to have it, you might as well keep it spotless, right?  I have spent many late nights and early mornings keeping the ole Apache clean, and it’s quite enjoyable in itself when it’s all finished and polished up.

Owning or even just taking care of an airplane is quite the task. One of the most enjoyable parts of owning an airplane is seeing it shine and gleam at the end of a long day of flying.

 As you can probably tell, I absolutely love my airplane.  Owning one is quite expensive, but the advantages and experience that one can pull from it is priceless.  Going flying isn’t the only thing to it, the management skills and dedication needed can really teach a person a lot about life in general.  It is a great way to really experience aviation!

Happy flying,

Kyle

 

Why are all of those flights really delayed?

As an aviation business major here at Embry-Riddle, I have taken a lot of neat classes in the past three years.  Everyone likes classes that make you think and answer real-world questions, and Airline Management taught by Dr. Abdelghany here in the College of Business is one of those courses.  In Professor Abdelghany’s class you learn the management side of airline operations, which is a very complex model in itself.  From who is involved with each and every flight, to how an airline schedule is built and run on a day-to-day basis, to how an airline recovers from a major storm just like Winter Storm Ion that just blasted through the Midwest and the East Coast, most every part of airline management is covered.

At landing slot controlled airports, only so many flights can takeoff and land per hour all based on what airline “owns” each slot. With any storm, the number of flights that can operate per hour is decreased because of the weather conditions which impacts every flight in the system. This diagram shows the impact during a weather system and a recovery plan below depicting what flights depart when to recover operations.

Here this week we saw US major airline jetBlue cancel all of its flights from its four major Northeast US airports: New York JFK and LaGuardia, Newark, and Boston.  Some stated that they thought it was a sign that jetBlue, or B6 as it’s known in the industry, was on the brink of failure, on the verge of shutting its doors.  In my opinion, I think it is a great way for jetBlue to recover from the terrible start to the winter season.  Two major weather systems have wrecked airline schedules to start 2014, and the flights you see on the boards aren’t the only things affected.  Resources, including airplanes and crews are misplaced at different destinations and duty hour limits (maximum hours one can work per day) are reached at difficult times.  Not only are resources limited, but worker safety is a giant factor as well.  In Indianapolis this week, exposed skin could potentially be hurt via frost bite in as little as five minutes meaning that ground crews are stressed to the max in the frigid temperatures.

Every box indicates a flight which has resources involved including the airplane, the pilots, the flight attendants, gates, etc. When a flight is delayed, a domino effect happens and all flights later on down the schedule using the previous resources are affected as shown here.

This and more is discussed in the Airline Management course at Embry-Riddle, making students in the Aviation Business major or minor very well prepared for a successful career in the aviation industry and the airlines specifically.  So the next time a flight is delayed and folks are wondering why, step back and look at all of the things affected by a major storm.

Major winter storms like Ion in January 2014 affect airports all across the world. Here you can see that it takes a massive effort between airport, airline, and government officials to get airline schedules back on track.

Happy flying,

Kyle

 

 

 

The Future of General Aviation

My 1955 Apache with my Dad’s 1950 Pacer. Airplanes like these are mainstays in the general aviation category.

Some of you might be wondering why I’m righting a blog about the future of general aviation because these blogs are supposed to be related to student life at Embry-Riddle.  But, what about life after Embry-Riddle?  I plan to stay in general aviation as a career and I am a huge general aviation proponent and believe it is a vital component to the transportation system around the globe.  It is a pure form of time travel, and when someone is lacking a bit of time and needs to get from Point A to Point B more efficiently, regularly, general aviation is a the go-to to provide that service.

The GA industry has sure evolved since its major inception just after the Second World War, and it is still evolving today.  Just like its big brother, the airline industry, competition across the GA market on the big scale has decreased, but it is still extremely strong today.  One reason it is so strong is because of the advent of growth in the experimental aircraft category, which continues to pave the way for new, feasible aviation technologies.  Parts being non-certified doesn’t always mean bad things, unlike their general connotations.  Non-certified parts are generally cheaper and of the same quality as their certified counterparts, and sometimes they’re identical to the same, more expensive piece!

Consumer electronics are another revolutionary in the aviation industry as well.  The onset of the true Electronic Flight Bag age is here, and that was all because of the iPad.  No longer are the days of purchasing new charts every 56 days, just click “download” in ForeFlight and updated charts are at your finger tips.  Cell phones are also being used for the same application, and that sector is only going to grow like the size of their new screens.  One other consumer electronic device has revitalized flying, and that is the GoPro.  Capturing everything aviation, the fish-eyed GoPro is making waves and bringing new people to the industry, young and old.  Inflight wifi is also the next big thing that is coming to light airplanes, and hopefully soon.  Costs are going down on that technology as developments are being made.  I really think that will spark new interest in the common man with new found connectivity while on the go.

With all of these positives, there has to be a negative, and that comes in the sense of rapidly growing costs.  No longer are the days of ads with $5000 airplanes, now $500,000 gets you a nice traveling machine.  Fuel costs and associated airport fees are also skyrocketing which is only driving down the activity in and around general aviation.

Back to when General Aviation was growing rapidly. Piper offered to teach you to fly for free if you bought your own Piper J3 Cub.

I wrote this because I truly care about general aviation.  I grew up around it and always aspired of owning a company in this industry sector because of all of the great things that come from it.  True innovation happens here, and the gift of flight is given to so many here as well.  I cannot wait to see what the future brings to general aviation!

Happy flying,

Kyle

 

 

 

 

Kicking off the New School Year

Well, school has officially started and my favorite time of the year has already come to pass: ORIENTATION! I have never been more proud to be an Orientation Ambassador and to attend Embry-Riddle. Orientation has been the most rewarding experience of my college career and I now have a new Owesome O-team family! We kicked off orientation week with a retreat at Camp Ocala, where all of the student leaders ( including Student Government Association, Housing and Resident Life, ERRSA, and Orientation Team) came together for team building activities and some fun. The friendships that were made and unity that was created in these few days helped all of us make it the best orientation yet!

The new team pumped for orientation!

Kayaking with the O!

Fun team building activities!

One of our favorite games to play: Mafia!

Having some fun at Playfair!

Orientation week was filled with all kinds of events, including check-in, convocation, movies, a magician, group sessions, BBQ’s, advisement, a speaker, a hypnotist, pep-rally, info sessions, Playfair, volleyball and soccer games, and so much more! The best part about being on the O-team is our “mullet” philosophy: business in the front and party in the back. As an orientation ambassador it is our responsibility to professionally transition the incoming students and prepare them for classes, while also displaying tons of energy, school spirit, and bringing excitement for student involvement on campus. We’re able to accomplish these tasks in a professional manner while also remembering to have some fun.

SGA and O-team at Playfair

O-team showing off their awesome ERAU swag!

Showing some school spirit at the pep-rally!

Our team is comprised of about 40 members, and it is our job to set the stage for 1200 incoming students during orientation. We are their first impression, their go-to, and their leaders at ERAU. It is such an incredible feeling to know that we were able to make an impact on the lives of all of these students, and get them eager to join organizations, excel academically, and find their place on campus. Reliving orientation for the third time now renews my excitement and drive here at ERAU, and has unveiled a passion I didn’t even knew I had. I love being a leader and inspiring others to do their best, to work hard, and make their dreams attainable. I love interacting with people and learning about all of their different backgrounds. I love having the power to make a difference, even if it’s just one person at a time. I am really looking forward to see what the Class of 2017 is going to bring to Embry-Riddle because they couldn’t have kicked off the new school year any better!

What have I been up to besides orientation? Thanks for asking! :) I’ve recently taken on a new leadership role as president of Sigma Sigma Sigma, which is going to be much more responsibility than my previous role as Vice President, but I couldn’t have asked for a better chapter that will support me and the officer team as we transition this semester. I am also getting involved in Formula SAE this semester, where we will design, build, and test a small Formula-style race car. Not to mention, balance my full-time course load of engineering classes. Should be a busy but fun semester, so keep reading the blog for updates!

Goodbye island life

This is probably the only blog from an Embry-Riddle student who started two first days at this University, 5 years apart.

Sometimes it’s hard to imagine that one year ago, I was a Key West trolley tour guide.  I entertained tourists with facts of the island and repeated the same corny jokes to them every day, sometimes with a few originals.  Chances are good that if you visited Key West and rode on an orange and green trolley over the past year, I was your bus driver and guide.  I also drove the Key West haunted tours, a type of meet and greet with Key West characters like Robert the doll as well as the other types of spirits….not necessarily the ones found in haunted houses.  I found myself living on the island by accident.  I went to be a dog sitter for two weeks and ended staying almost a year!  You might say I caught what the locals call the “Keys Disease” and it’s hard to resist.  People come for a visit but never leave.  It’s said on the island that if you show up to work every day, you have a job.  If two weeks later you’re still showing up on time, they’ll make you the manager.  Well, sure enough, the dog left town with its owner and I stayed.  As well as being a tour guide, I worked other side jobs such as newspaper delivery boy, bakeshop dishwasher, and event security (a.k.a. bouncer).

The island life was a relaxing and good one.  It is hard to resist the sunniest place in Florida with the least amount of rain.  It ‘s truly Paradise except, endless renditions of Jimmy Buffett songs blaring down from Duval Street.  One day I woke up with one more hangover and realized I wasn’t moving forward with my life.  It was time for me to progress forward on my flight plan for life.

This was the culmination of a restlessness that I tried to resolve, and it brought me through many different experiences.  These included several semesters at a state university, a shopkeeper in South Beach, and an unpaid Internship for Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen in DC.  This was right after I withdrew myself from Embry Riddle; I wanted to try something different in life. But my passions drew me back.

On August 27, 2012, my second first day of college began.  Once again excited to be making progress, living in campus dorms, and starting from where I had left off, but more focused on my degree: Aviation Business Administration.  In one week, I will be curing my desires, dusting off the backpack and train hopping across Europe to appease my wandering soul.  In one month, I will be attending classes with the Study Abroad program in Berlin, and in one year, I will be an Embry-Riddle alumnus. It’s a long way from the old island life, and it feels great!

The Rungs of an RVR Ladder.

POSITION: Women in Aviation Conference in Nashville, TN

Well, I have now returned to school from an on-the-whim Spring Break trip back home to San Diego! As most of you know, I was fortunate to have a 10 day Spring Break and be able to attend the Women in Aviation Conference held in Nashville, Tennessee! Wow. I can’t even begin to describe how awesome of an experience it was. I was in aviator heaven. From Boeing to Gulfstream to Virgin Air to XOJet to AOPA to Walmart Aviation to Delta to United to FedEx to UPS to name a few.. I guess you could say I was a little overwhelmed. Meeting pilots and company representatives from all over the world was nothing more than humbling. Honestly, I never truly realized how much there is to aviation until I attended this conference.

Top Left: Boeing. Bottom Left: Gulfstream. Top Right: FedEx. Bottom Right: WAI Main Booth.

From banquets, to FedEx chocolates, to having lunch with the Women in Aviation Chapter from Ghana, Africa, to Women in Corporate Aviation and Setting Your Stage for Success meetings, to just spending time with the girls in the Women in Aviation Chapter here at ERAU, this was an experience that I will take with me for a life time. Walking into the main Exhibit Hall at the Opryland Resort Convention Center, there was this overwhelming feeling I had- like I was a part of a family. Ok, ok, maybe that sounds weird, but there’s just this sudden connection you seem to have when you know everyone that possesses the same interests are all in the same room as you. I met some incredible and inspirational women and left with stories that I will take with me throughout the aviation world for many years to come. There’s this incredible ladder called aviation and I’m loving every moment in climbing it.

Embry-Riddle’s Booth at the Women in Aviation Conference

Spring Break back home in San Diego, CA

I got to spend a great deal of time with family and catching up with my beloved city. Not to mention- real Mexican food! I miss home, but it was definitely fun running around being a tourist in my own town for the week I was back. Now it’s time to finish out these last 4 weeks strong!

While being at the Women in Aviation Conference, a quote that I read on the plane ride home from BNA back to SAN struck me: “It’s better to be at the bottom of the ladder you want to climb than at the top of the one you don’t” – Stephen Kellogg

I immediately thought, ‘Wow. I don’t think I could have read that quote at a better time.’ Whether it’s through a job or getting a degree, we’re all climbing a ladder, but only some of us are climbing the ones we truly want to climb. Some of us climb ladders because others expect us to or it is the one that has simply presented itself in front of us. Whether it’s parents, friends, or society who tells you what ladder to climb- I want to know: are you climbing the ladder for yourself, or others? Let’s take a detour; in aviation terms, RVR is a means of visibility (Runway Visual Range). It is the distance which the pilot of an aircraft on the center line of the runway can see the runway markings so the plane can be landed in safe visibility. Some of us can see a reward at the top of our ladders so we quickly and eagerly climb the rungs to get the trophy; the job title, the degree. Yet we don’t see that starting a journey in and of itself is a reward we have already proclaimed. It’s not about the ultimate satisfaction at the end, it’s the juiciness inside the middle of the sandwich. RVR is great, don’t get me wrong, and you may be able to see the end of a certain ladder, but that doesn’t mean it’s yours. Your ladder may be scary, tall, frightening with minimal visibility as to what is at the top. Let that fear be your reassurance, because once you take that first step, you will open up a world of reward that you could have never imagined and I can guarantee you that nothing is more exciting than following not your parents, not your friends, not society’s ladder laid out for you, but rather your own. Trust me. It’s much taller.

To the starting end of the semester and my first year in college -

Blue Skies.