California’s Got Board Meetings.. Lots of Board Meetings

Hello Again! Thank you for coming back to listen to me ramble. This week I continued to work on the splash page for the military training website. At the beginning of this project, I was designing the website using very low fidelity mock-ups. And by low fidelity mock-ups, I mean drawing some pictures of a website on a sheet of paper or toilet paper or Kleenex. I did pretty well; my advisor said my drawings could pass for an advanced 8 year old, so I moved on to creating a more high fidelity mock-up. For people who claim to design websites, but don’t have the knowledge or talent to carry it out, there is a program called Axure RP (rapid prototyping). This is a very simple, intuitive program that allows people to show a website design without writing the code for it. You can also create links for other pages within the site and can “preview” how the entire website would work for the user. So, I’m very happy to have this skill because now I won’t get picked last for teams in my classes anymore!

My next project looked into designing a system for planning missions on aquatic vehicles. The systems used to do this are mostly paper-based. So, the branch I work for is giving the government an upgrade. It’s very deep work. HA! Get it? Deep, you know like deep water? Alright I’ll stop.

This Tuesday was my advisor’s last day at work for three weeks. She is taking time off to go on vacation in her hometown back in Colorado. So, she gave me a list of tasks to get done before she comes back. Oh! And she calls me a smurf, too. It’s probably because I’m shorter than the average 7th grader. I was also approached recently by a friend of a friend who said, “You are so cute! I just want to put you in my pocket!” Do you have any idea how scary it is for a stranger to tell you they want to take you and put you in a pocket? I’m getting off task, here.

On Tuesday, my boss invited me to participate in this event called CX SIG (Customer Experience Special Interest Group). There is an intern at my branch who is actually a graduate student in the Human Factors program at Embry-Riddle, so I invited her to come along. At this Customer Experience event, Human Factors specialists from all over San Diego come together for 1 night each month and evaluate an interface or product from a company. At this particular event, we evaluated the website for a company called “Personal Creations.” This is similar to the “Things Remembered” company, in that it allows customers to order products that can be personally customized before delivery. At this meeting I was instructed to act like someone who was trying to make an order and criticize any part of the website that needed fixing. At first, it is kind of weird to tell the programmers and representatives of the company how horrible their website looked, but as I continued, the arrogance in me began to bloom. Ha! Just kidding my arrogance was there all along.

After this event my boss and a few of my co-workers went to dinner at an Italian restaurant close-by. When we sat down, a friend of my boss and one of the participants of the CX SIG event decided to join us. I found out that he is actually an author of a very successful book used in the Human Factors world that I have been looking through over the past few weeks. He was also featured on NPR (National Public Radio)…a dream for most people! As we were heading out, he gave me and my co-workers his card and offered his help and advisement if we ever needed it. On the way back, I had to drive with my friend, Christian, because his apartment is across the street from mine. Since he brought his motorcycle, I had to hop on the back. Oh! And it was my FIRST TIME riding one!! We were about half an hour away from our apartments and took a highway almost the entire way home. I actually wasn’t scared for having the ground go below my feet at 70 mph. Now I have the itch to get a motorcycle, though. Which is a very expensive itch.

There were some other firsts this week in California. I also got my first Jack in the Box food. Oh boy Florida needs to get one of those. Although, I don’t know if my 5’2” frame can handle another 100 pounds. My other first happened on Saturday, when I attempted to paddleboard and surf. I met with some of the interns at SPAWAR who were trying to make friends while here for the next few months. We rented paddleboards and took them to this large bay where a lot of sailboats were kept. I didn’t fall! I can’t say the same for the people I went with. We also rented surfboards and took turns holding them in the water on the Pacific side of the peninsula. I say holding because that’s all we could do successfully (and unsuccessfully a few times). On the ocean, the water was choppy, and the waves were huge. I could not even stand without one side of the board sinking into the water. So the next time I go, I’ll start off in a puddle.



Boarding, Surfing, and Falling

Boarding, Surfing, and Falling

Paddleboarding on Mission Bay

Paddleboarding on Mission Bay

It was a really long day, and I had to get some food to wash down all of the seawater. I ate half a chicken at a restaurant called Phil’s BBQ. HALF A CHICKEN!! I’m well on my way to winning a food eating contest. On Saturday, I went with my co-workers and a few other friends to a fair by the closest shoreline called Ocean Beach. I got to ride a motorcycle again to get there! The main street had vendors of all kinds lined up and bands playing blues and rock. There were rides and carnival games at the end of the street set-up for children, but my friend decided they were there for everyone. It was fun watching him fall, but overall I enjoyed seeing the different things for sale. I brought a funnel cake.. and ate all of it! Stay tuned next week when I gain 14 pounds.

Eating Half a Chicken. Good thing I had a bib.

Eating Half a Chicken. Good thing I had a bib.

Cheap masquerade masks, shark fins you can buy for your dog, a shark (you know, like riding a bull), and some dancing fools

Cheap masquerade masks, shark fins you can buy for your dog, a shark (you know, like riding a bull), and some dancing fools

My co-worker trying to show up some kids

My co-worker trying to show up some kids

When Life Hands You Lemons.. Ignore Them and Make Fried Chicken

This week began with a rough start. While I stopped at a store, my bicycle was stolen. I was actually getting a new pair of sneakers so I could be more comfortable on my ride in to work. What a happy coincidence! I contacted everyone I could, asked around the neighborhood, and filed a report. So, with my fingers crossed, I will keep on keeping on. On the bright side, I work with some incredibly kind and giving people. My roommate, Sharelle, and a co-worker, Christian, have offered to give me a ride whenever I need. I  have been treated so kindly by everyone that I work with, and although I was not feeling the best about having my primary mode of transportation taken away, I was awfully happy and appreciative of everyone around me for their help. I never thought I would get a chance to work with such kind people!

Although I may have started the week in the wrong gear, I certainly wasn’t going to continue on without changing it up. So the next morning I went on a 2-hour cruise with my roommate and our friends. Working for the military has its perks, and apparently one of them is getting on boat tours for $7. It was fun going around the bay and main island. There were all kinds of military ships at dock and fighter jets skipping along the main island’s airport. After that, we got delicious fish tacos and walked around the beach area. California has pretty beaches, but the water is not as clean or warm as it is in Daytona. So, I’m Embry-Riddle homesick, but I’m sure I will be missing San Diego when I head home in 10 weeks.

On the boat tour of San Diego

An actual ship from the Pirates of the Caribbean Film

Want this job!

USS Midway

What a Life!

Titanic has forever ruined the view of ship captains

Monday morning, I got to work and immediately started working on my project to create Human Factors professional classes and workshops. My mentor will be in charge of presenting and organizing these events for other professionals at our company. The goal is to teach professionals in other fields the proper user and usability test methods. I also worked on making a final report about the research I did last week on visually impaired people using a company-wide website. I am so incredibly sleepy from writing the 11 pages it took for me to get my points across to the designers and programmers. But boy do I love bossing around engineers and telling them that they’re wrong! I had it finished just in time for the weekly meeting. My boss said that I have good time management skills. That poor lady knows nothing about me, either that or I am very talented at making things seem more incredible than they really are.

I stepped up for another project at work. This time, I will be working on designing a website for a training group. I will be doing something called wire-framing. This is a process of sketching out design ideas and continually changing them until you reach the final design which will be coded by the programmers. You start this process by drawing out the design using a pen and paper (or towel or toilet paper). You will need a more high fidelity wire-frame to accurately test with people. This can be designed on PowerPoint or other design software. For now I am taking the list of activities someone can do using this website and grouping them into a logical pattern. In user-centered design, people call that designing the information architecture.

At my workplace there’s something called the New Professional Program that allows newly graduated students to try different projects going on with the different branches at our company. It’s a great program because it allows the student going through it to explore the options in order to find work that they enjoy doing. This week I was assigned writing up the projects at my branch to make us sound, “young, hip, and cool.” Which would be a somewhat accurate feel for my branch, aside from the whole young part. Most of the people I work with are 50 years old and up, so a majority of time they are worrying about their hips going out or complaining that they are too cold. No, I’m just kidding. But not really because they are very old. That gives me an advantage, though. If I can take in all of their advice and experiences, it will help me greatly in my career one day. Always take hand-me-down wisdom!

On Thursday, I learned how to shoot a gun… or 6. Since this week was only 4 days long for me, I went out with a few friends to a shooting range for my first time shooting a gun. I am not a huge fan, but I had to try it once just to say I tried it. It was very cool, but I had horrible aim and have the arm strength of a fetus. So, the shooting range was an unsuccessful success… if that makes any sense. And I realized it’s about time I start working out. So keeping to this thought, I went out with those same friends and ate half a pizza. The next few days were used catching up on a few Riddle-based projects.. and by Riddle-based projects, what I really mean is sleep. Sleep was greatly needed.

I think I look cool!

I ended this week at the Corvette Diner, a 50’s themed restaurant. I had a root beer milkshake with fried chicken (oh I miss the South) and watched the waitresses shamefully dance with their co-workers. I was appalled and felt slightly uncomfortable as our waitress came up to our table and started spinning my hair around in a twist. I began to growl at her little when she started putting straws in my hair to keep the twist in place. Thankfully, my roommate, Sharelle, who had joined me said that was part of the “act” at that restaurant. I ignored Sharelle the first few times she said it was ok, but she got my attention when she sprayed water in my face and yelled, “Bad Carolyn!” My hair did look pretty lovely. I will definitely be coming back so that she can style my hair with straws for my wedding.


A bow-tie out of straws!

Keep coming by!

Arriving in San Diego

Flying into downtown San Diego

Flying into downtown San Diego

I can remember my first day of school. My mother dressed me in a big, puffy skirt and styled my hair in the same trend as Pebbles Flintstone to make a good impression. After my parents took my picture, they left me with 25 other screaming, hyperactive children. I was a little alarmed and nervous being on my own for the first time. Back then, my biggest concern would have been: Who will feed me? What if I get sleepy and need to take a nap? What if I get in trouble for stealing Timmy’s lunch?

Well, 15 years later, I can honestly say I had the same fears in getting ready for my internship. Okay, okay, maybe the “stealing Timmy’s lunch” thing was a little silly. I don’t know anyone named Timmy, and besides I think Michael has been the one mad at me for stealing his lunch at work lately. I was still scared. Worried I wouldn’t be able to take care of myself, or wouldn’t be able to get to work, or scared my apartment wouldn’t be ready and I’d be living in a van down by the river with my newfound homeless friends. Not only was this not the case, but everything turned out better than I could have hoped for.

About 2 months ago, I found out I was accepted to the Office of Naval Research’s Naval Research Enterprise Internship Program under the American Society for Engineering Education. 3 HUGE names! I was hired for ten weeks in the summer as a human factors engineer/user-centered designer. A few weeks later I was asked if I would be interested in extending my internship. Do I want to stay in sunny San Diego a few extra weeks and make even more money? Is that even a real question? Well, it must be rhetorical because there really is only one answer to that.

My apartment very close to the end of the San Diego International runway. Riddle kids contain yourselves!

I got on the plane in Orlando at 11 am, flew to Dallas Fort-Worth, and arrived in San Diego at 6 pm. Seeing the glowing city with Naval battleships soaking in the bay as we came in for landing got me even more excited about the next few months of my life. As soon as I picked up my bags at the claim, I walked out into the summer heat and got a taxi. It was a 5-minute drive to my new apartment. The driver couldn’t find the apartment number, so I walked partly to the condo (and tipped him very low). Along the way, I found my landlord who met with me that night to give me my key for the next four months and to introduce me to my two roommates, Sharelle (25) and Laura (31). After the landlord left, Sharelle took me to Trader Joes, a small grocery store close by. We then got pizza at a restaurant in the same building. All the stores and restaurants were a 5-minute walk up the street surrounded by Spanish-style buildings and villas. We ate our food and brought our groceries back to the apartment. I finally got a chance to unpack and get settled in my room. The location is actually a 3-story condo owned by our landlord. It was brand new and very clean. I had a queen-size bed with new sheets waiting there for me. My room is the only one on the first floor. Growing up around 3 sisters and a brother, I wasn’t used to having so much privacy.

I woke up the next few days feeling as if I was on vacation. Since I was a week early, I had time to sleep in and visit the popular areas around San Diego. The first full day there, I walked around the city getting anything I needed to feel comfortable in my new apartment. The next day I went to the park, bathed in the radiant sun, and ended the relaxing day at a market on the beach. My roommates called it the hippie market, because it was run by, well, you know… “free-spirits.” Walking down the street I saw foods from almost every continent. There was hand-made jewelry, fresh, exotic fruits, and anything from bright scarves to leather halter-tops. The market ended at a band playing on the beach. This was my first time seeing the Pacific. I felt so small standing next to it, especially with the mile long boardwalk extending out above my head. The people lining the sand of the beach were the epitome of what I would expect to find in California. It was a very diverse crowd consisting of “free-spirits”, hula-hooping enthusiasts, motorcycle gangs, and the surfers out in the water.


Avid hula-hoopers

Avid hula-hoopers

Surfers and Swimmers

Finally got to step in a different ocean.

Finally got to step in a different ocean.

The next day was spent exploring historic San Diego. The entire day, my roommate and I walked through Old Town. Eating burritos, drinking a margarita or two, window-shopping the tourist trap shops. I know what you’re thinking, “How can anyone spend an entire day in an awful tourist trap?” Try finding the name “Carolyn,” on a souvenir. Any souvenir! Aside from the shops, there were beautifully restored buildings housing the many restaurants. Mexican culture was celebrated in a majority of them with colorful flags waving in the breeze, and performers Salsa dancing for the entertainment of others. It was hard to come home that night knowing work would start in just two days.

A good place to go on my breaks from work.

A good place to go on my breaks from work.

Great View!

Only 10 minutes from where I live!

Only 10 minutes from where I live!

Sunset Cliffs.. A little less flat than Florida. Watch your step

As my internship just officially started this past Monday, I will be posting about it in my next entry. Keep coming by…

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

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! 


 LOCATION: San Diego, CA

Summer is over! My internship is done, bags are packed (kinda) and in less than 48 hours, I will be hopping on a plane back for another semester at the college of my dreams. Overall, my summer was pretty amazing. Flying, modeling and working at King Flight School has been nothing short of a blessing. As a side note, I’ll be the first to say, although I didn’t use King Flight Schools’ courses for my Private and Instrument training, I am currently using their program for my Commercial practical test (oral and flight). In all the years I have been flight training, I have never experienced a more interactive and engaging educational atmosphere aside from being in a classroom at Embry-Riddle. The material is very straight forward and easy to comprehend. I would suggest to any prospective student pilot to browse through the King Flight Schools material in order to grasp a foundational knowledge of flying. It is guaranteed to make you a better pilot!

This last week in San Diego has been way too bittersweet, but it’s actually been eye opening. From one coast to another, I’m forced with choices that promote and bring about change. Is it weird that I actually LOVE it? Every day, we are given the opportunity to live up to our fullest potential. Some people say “why?” Some people say “why not?” It could go like this: I could go to Florida, get off the plane and drag my suitcases to the nearest taxi with complete detachment from everything around me sulking into another semester. But, that’s not me. Why? Because being pushed out of my comfort zone has been the most rewarding process I could ever experience. And if I had abided by the walls, the resistance, the voice inside my head that tells me “stop!” before I’m about to do something great- I wouldn’t be where I am.

So instead of seeing your fear as a stop sign, see it as a green light. You are far more capable than you imagine yourself to be. If you are afraid, maybe you are doing something right. Don’t set self-imposed limits upon yourself. Why not? Because truly, they don’t exist. Yes, disregarding fear might preserve a perfect, failure-free life. But perfection can never be as respected as a steadfast attempt at doing something remarkable. So if you don’t steer your own ship, you risk staying in port. Which is even more dangerous because you aren’t allowing yourself to live up to your fullest potential.

Entangled in the cancerous discipline of security, I flung my life beneath the wheels of routine and before I knew it my life was gone.  I always wanted to sail the seven seas but I couldn’t afford it.  What I really couldn’t afford was not to go.” – Unknown

 Whatever you are doing: going off to college, traveling the world, even exploring your own neighborhood – it is the way you sail that will bring you to the current you want to be in. There are far more ships on our horizons than meets the eye. And there are reasons as to why we can’t see past such horizons – simply because there is more meant to be discovered. That reason fuels my ship alone.

I’m so excited for a great semester with new roommates, enticing new class work, awesome events and unforgettable moments with my Sigma sisters. What else will it bring?

See you on the flip side. Embry-Riddle bound.

Scud Running vs. A Fear of Scud Running


As the end of summer is approaching, lots of excitement has been stirring up for this upcoming year at Embry-Riddle. I’m getting anxious for another great semester full of awesome events and neat classes. Coming to the closing of summer I’m realizing that soon I will be done with my internship, stuffing a suitcase and hopping on a plane back to Florida. There’s this really cool quote I spotted the other day:

 and it struck me. Exactly a year ago from this very moment in time, I was fearful of leaving my home for the other side of the country.. a venture that didn’t necessarily look promising, but yet it was so alluring, so full of wonder. Following a dream can sometimes be tricky- you have to take risks. But what I realized is that it doesn’t matter if you are kicking and screaming along the way- the point is that you have still chosen to fight that fear. Risks are scary things, but would you rather be safe in shallow waters or push yourself into the deep end to discover the unfamiliar? We as human beings are floating in these tides which eventually lead to delicious quenches of adventure and abundance… but if the opportunity is omitted, we live our lives in shallows and miseries. Although we still float, we have to take the current when it serves us- or we will lose our ventures.

Out of every quote I’ve heard, this is the one I want to base a life off of. You are faced with two simple decisions when dealing with a risk. First, you have to ask yourself if it’s worth it. Second, you have to decide whether or not you want it more than it your fear of it. It’s a simple Yes or No. How you go about it is up to you, but if I let an opportunity slip me by when I knew I wanted it more than the fearful impact it had on me, I would regret it, wouldn’t you? Because fear is a temporary feeling until you overcome it. Then when you fight against your fear, it gets easier until it’s gone permanently. To me, that’s worth the risk.

How do you feel when you’re in a risky situation with adrenaline rushing through your veins while you hold your own world in your hands? That’s like me when I’m in an airplane. You know something could go wrong, but you want the sky more than you are afraid of that magneto failing or your engine quitting. You decide that the period of time you are poised in between the earth and its atmosphere that you are going live in the moment and make a choice to grasp the enticing experience of what it means to choose faith over fear.

 But I’m not here in life to play in traffic patterns and do touch n goes. I’m here to go scud running along the mountains, breeze by the beach 20 feet off the coastal waters; flip an airplane on its back with an ocean in the sky. Because once you finally taste a glimpse of what it means to overcome what you are afraid of, it’s like you can fly the plane without the machine. And you never want go back.

So hello there, August… I have a feeling you are going to be a good one. :)

Blue Skies

Pilot’s Bag of Luck.

What an amazing summer it’s been- and I can’t believe it’s almost over. One month left until I’m back underneath the Florida sun. As for this pilot, summer has been nothing short of awesome. Not only have I been enjoying my old friends, my family and these California sunsets- but I’ve been appreciating the ability to sit back, relax and get my fingers further in the aviation industry. Recently, I started my new job at King Flight Schools and it’s been such a blessing to be able to experience a different and refreshing work environment and be surrounded by others who share the same appetite for aviation. I never truly realized how much WORK goes into an aviation education program until I got to be behind the scenes of it all. Wow.. and I’m learning more and more every day. I’m barely a sophomore in college and I get to experience THIS! Well, in aviation, they say you start off with a full bag of luck and end with a full bag of experience.
Yes, all these things somehow ended up in my flight bag today. Thanks AOPA for the cool sticker! This photo sums up my summer flying: breezy and relaxing. I’ve still been up in the Citabria enjoying the So Cal scenery, but I’ve also been keeping up with Instrument work- we had some great IMC (Instrument Meteorological Conditions) here in San Diego last week. Now it’s sunny- I but can’t complain!
So far I’m loving my new job. When you’re in an environment that’s filled with gems and treasures you are so passionate about, it’s hard to keep focus! If you haven’t tried out King Flight Schools program- give it a look. Their program has great training guides for any certificate/rating you are going after.
So, you get the point- my summer is going great. I’m so busy, but honestly it’s worth it. For prospective students, when you attend college, make sure you are using your summers. I cannot stress it enough. Travel, learn, educate, just do. I never knew my summer would be so crazy working two jobs that I love, flying, volunteering, traveling and even prepping for the upcoming semester. Use your time wisely and network all you can- opportunities will come to you. In the aviation field, we have to start out with a bag of luck or unfortunately, the experience would never come. I can’t stress it enough how important it is to be fearless and pursue whatever drives you. It’s your bag to fill, not your parents, not your peers- it’s yours. Whether you are filling your bag day by day or filling it along the course of these next few years, fill it with things that will FULfill who you are. Otherwise it’s just going to sit. Empty. I don’t know about you, but when I look back in a few years I want to have a bag full of adventure and unforgettable endeavors where I wasn’t afraid to take a chance in order to truly fulfill who I was. So build up; plan an amazing summer, prepare for an even better semester. Keep adding to your bag. Luck now equals experience then. You just have to ask yourself if it’s worth taking.
What’s in your bag today?
Blue Skies

Ground Effect Glow.

Let’s talk about ground effect. What is it? Glad you asked. When an aircraft is within wing distance from the ground, an increase in lift is generated in reference to the surface of the earth and airflow patterns about the airplane. This is called ground effect. It’s sort of like a cushion.
Personally, I love ground effect. An airplane flies better when in this phenomenon. However, there are two problems when it comes to ground effect. 1. The airplane may become airborne before reaching recommended takeoff speed. 2. Induced drag decreases in ground effect, so excess speed may cause floating upon landing.
So don’t get me wrong, this ‘cushion’ is a wonderful mechanism, but it can sometimes be unsafe. Sometimes ground effect can be a relief because the airplane wants to fly better, but what about this ground effect that makes us feel so secure? I think in a sense, we all have our own ground effect- a place that makes us feel safe and gives us comfort. An airplane cannot fly unless it leaves its ground effect and breaks free of the Earth’s surface. If not, there is no such thing as pure flight. Adventure begins at the end of your comfort zone. We cease to do so much when we are afraid to get out of our ground effect- it’s like we never take off. We never get airborne. Although it may seem appealing to stay in a comfortable place, it’s probably the most unsafe place you could be because you aren’t growing. We need to remember that getting out of our comfort zones is where the deliciousness is.
When you allow yourself to step out of your comfort zone, you open yourself up to a richer, more fulfilling life. You see and hear things that others miss and you are faced with opportunities that most aren’t. Determine one thing in your life that makes you uncomfortable, but would help you grow if you embraced it. There is a reason we have to go through ground effect before we can put our wings to use.  

✈ I was so excited when I got this drink at Starbucks. It’s an instrument approach drink! Finally Starbucks is starting to recognize their pilot clientele ;) If you didn’t know, VOR stands for VHF (very high frequency) Omnidirectional Range which is a means of radio navigation that enables an aircraft to determine its position and stay on course (that was the best ‘non-pilot’ explanation I could give). Haha.
The other day after my flight I looked up and found a Piper Arrow in my rearview mirror with my Embry-Riddle decal in frame. It was one of those moments. Another moment of leaving ground effect. Aside from working and flying, I am helping out at an aviation summer camp! Photos to come.
So, last thing’s last. Are you living in your ground effect, or are you rising above it?  It’s your call. When are you going to take it?
Blue Skies 
(My heart goes out to the passengers, crew and families who were involved in the Boeing 777 Asiana Airlines flight yesterday at San Francisco International Airport.)