Me, Myself and I

Hello readers!

My name is Maryam Gracias, and I am a junior majoring in Spaceflight Operations with minors in Flight, Aviation Safety and Human Factors. This is my first blog ever! A little about myself, I was born and brought up in Dubai, UAE but my family and I moved to Bradenton, FL five years ago. I played professional tennis at IMG Academy in Bradenton, where I also graduated from high school with Highest Honours. It was a huge culture shock coming to America, and the transition was not easy. Now that I live in Florida, I love to camp, spend time at the beach and of course, go to Disney World! I am the first person in my family to be involved in the aviation industry, and I am currently working towards becoming a pilot. After earning my degree, I want to join a good organization where I can prove my capabilities, talents and contribute my skills. 

I am currently a Flight Safety intern at Delta Air Lines. So far, it has been such a great experience! I have met tons of people who are passionate about the industry. I will be going to Pittsburgh for the Aviation Safety Infoshare in April, and Delta is paying for my flight AND hotel! The Infoshare is basically a place where all airlines come together and share confidential information, so whatever happens at the conference, stays at the conference! Participants can attend the Infoshare only if they work for any airlines. I am super thrilled that I got selected to go with Delta. I have never been to Pennsylvania before, so I am excited!

I am a very adventurous person, and I LOVE travelling, so I try to go somewhere new as often as possible. I got selected to go to Cuba for Spring Break as part of the Ignite Research Program at Riddle. My research topic will focus on how Delta’s flight operations resumed back to Havana after the suspension of US air carriers into the country. I can’t wait to blog about it and tell all my lovely readers about my wonderful experience!

I hope you have a wonderful and relaxing spring break!!!

Until next time,

Maryam

August 2009

I continued my flight training throughout the summer and planned to complete everything by early August. However, I ran into delays due to weather, illness and scheduling. Nevertheless, I completed everything in the Part 141 syllabus, literally two days prior to the move. I was rushing to finish up training in order to arrive at ERAU with my certificate. Because of this, I wasn’t able to fully grasp every topic to the fullest that was required. In the end, I was signed off to take my FAA check-ride, but failed it. As a result, I learned a valuable lesson; flying should be something you enjoy doing and should not be considered at any time a “crash course”. In addition, stress and emotion should be taken into account any time one goes flying. The ‘IM SAFE’ checklist is a good way to determine if you are fit for flight:

  • Illness – Am I too sick to fly today?
  • Medication – Are my medications approved by the FAA?
  • Stress – Am I too stressed out to go flying today?
  • Alcohol – Is my judgment impaired for any reason?
  • Fatigue – Am I too tired to go flying?
  • Eating – Is my body well-nourished for today’s flight?

We had packed the cars the night before, so on moving day I only had to pack final items, such as toiletries, alarm clocks, etc. During our travel to Daytona Beach, my family and I took the Auto-Train from Lorton, VA to Sanford, FL. This cut down on the driving and gave us all a more relaxed and more comfortable experience. We had driven to Florida one time prior and it was enjoyable, but I don’t plan to do it again for a long time. The Auto-Train provided us with breakfast, dinner, a reclinable chair each, a lounge car, movies and the most legroom you could ask for. It was the cheapest way to transport a car down south, aside from driving it. I think it’s the greatest option, because you’re constantly moving, getting served, and they don’t nickel and dime you for luggage like at the airport because you just shove everything in your car. Upon arrival in Sanford, Florida, we waited a half-hour for our cars to arrive at the lot, which is typical wait time. It took less than an hour to arrive in Daytona, and according to my mom, I drove right up to the place, like I had already been there before. Upon “de-car-ing” we were greeted by two upperclassmen ready to assist us with unloading our stuff. Which at the time seemed overwhelming, but as time progressed, I purchased more and more stuff for the room.

Orientation week was really great, we had so many shows and lots of activities to choose from. There were shows such as Survey Says, For Men Only, a Hypnotist, and a comedian to name a few. Activities were all across the board from BBQs, to pool parties, to “play fair.” It was really the most fun that I’ve had in a while. Unfortunately I was unable to make “play fair” because we took an unexpected tour of the beach. During which I drove off the path and got my car stuck in the sand. We waited an hour for beach patrol to come with the truck to pull us out. It was a lot of fun regardless, but I had definitely learned a lesson there.

During my first week of classes I learned a lot about how to manage my time. I learned when and where to do my homework. It was the same back home, but I definitely need to take it more seriously now that I’m in college. While in college, each student is provided with a course schedule/syllabus which describes what will be covered each class and what homework is due for the next. This helps a great deal, especially when your professor verbally assigns homework and you’re not sure if you wrote down the correct task. Emailing and getting to know your professors is the key to success in college. You’ll get a better experience because your professors will get to know your learning abilities or disabilities and will work with you should any issues arise. College isn’t like high school, you are the person who needs to make the initial step of explaining to your professor if you’re not understanding something.

Constantly you will hear people talking about time management. It becomes very important, when you realize mom and dad aren’t there to help you with the chores. Laundry, cleaning and eating well are now your responsibility. You have to make time yourself to go partying or hang out with friends. You won’t be asking your parents if it’s alright anymore, because you’re the boss now. You won’t fully realize it until maybe the third day on campus.

Daytona Beach is definitely a great college town. Nearby are Stetson University, Daytona State College, UCF Daytona Campus, Keiser University and Bethune-Cookman College. The town is split into two main parts; Speedway and Beachside. Speedway is all shopping centers and chain restaurants and of course the NASCAR speedway. Beachside is where the beach hotels, thrift shops and clubs are located. Both parts of town are busy, however the beach is definitely the place to go on the weekends.

I’m glad I’ve finally made it to college. I’m still wondering whether or not I want to continue with my Aeronautical Science Major. It all depends on how my first semester here goes. I’d also like to mention that everybody is different with managing their time, regardless you learn different skills to better manage your time in the University 101 course.

Over and Out.

November 3rd, 2008

Hello again, it’s November! I can’t believe it, one more month and the fall semester is over. I’m a little sad that this is my last semester taking aviation related classes. I’m going to miss the enthusiasm from the teachers and their wonderful flying stories. This semester has truly been amazing.

Flight technique analysis has been a worthwhile class, and the best is yet to come! This week, we are starting the application part of the course. This is where crews of 5 people get together and simulate several situations using the Aerosim program. Aerosim is flight sim times a million. It is super accurate and realistic. The cockpit is an actual picture taken from a real 747-400 and every button and switch works just like the real one. The point of these sim sessions on the computer is to tie everything we have learned in my past 3 years at Riddle together. Every student has an opportunity to be in a pilot position, while the others play the role of air traffic control, dispatch, and the lead flight attendant. It should be a wonderful learning experience. The neat thing about the sim sessions is that it takes the place of a final exam. We are graded on how well we work as a crew, handle an emergency, and get 400 people on the ground safety in a timely manner. Where else can you say you played flight sim for a final? Truly awesome!

In flight management systems, we use the same Aerosim program used in flight technique, but we learn the specifics on how to use the automation. The first 3 tests were over how to properly fly the 747-400 using the autopilot. There was one written test, and two practical tests using the simulator. I love it! It is such a great learning environment to actually see how every thing works through Aerosim. Last week, we started to learn how to program the flight management system. This is the little computer that holds all of the information relating to the flight; truly the heart of any aircraft operation. I can’t wait to see just how much can be accomplished with this equipment!

Crew resource management is also way above my expectations for a college class. Last week, we had crew led discussions. This is where 3 students run the class and are in charge of starting a discussion on a specific topic. This was so much fun. Our topic was how time and task management is important in the cockpit. Because of the fact that I am a flight instructor, I talk in front of people everyday. Therefore, I love giving group presentations and leading the class. You learn so much from everyone when you lead a classroom discussion.

Last week I took my second test in flight safety. I have learned so much from this class. It is a perfect example of a class that is focused on the students learning as much as possible with out any tricks. The tests are straight forward and allow to you leave with knowledge that will stay with you forever.

Finally, I had my third test in airline dispatch last week. Whew, what an interesting one. It was over aircraft performance. I was given weather, an aircraft, weights of cargo and people, and a bunch of other information relating to the flight. From that, I had to determine how much fuel we needed on board, how much we could weigh at take-off and landing, climb data, etc. Tons of fun! It was an intense test, but I did really well. The reason I aced it was because of the performance class I took last year. This is a perfectly good example of how Riddle provides you with information that you will never forget. I didn’t do a performance problem for over a year, and I still remembered 75 percent of the information. I was truly shocked. I hardly had to study for this test because most of the knowledge was already in my head.

Finally, I just want to say just how much fun I’m having being a flight instructor. I flew every day last week at sunset! It was probably the most amazing week of flying in my life. The weather was clear skies and about 65 degrees. This proves that I truly love my life at Embry-Riddle and I would not change a thing!

Well I hope everyone has a great start to November. I am starting to get sad that my senior year is almost half way over! I still can’t believe it. Well, it’s time for me to start my day. I have two classes to go and I’m flight instructing for most of the night. Have a great day everyone!