Flying on Floats

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Another two weeks have passed up here in the Final Frontier, and my excitement and amazement of and for this incredible state has only increased. One of my goals for the summer was to get my commercial certificate for single engine sea aircraft, so I figured there was no better time to start it than right away. After some research of local flight schools I settled on flying with Alaska Floats and Skis, gave them a call and scheduled a lesson.

On day one I was greeted by the most interestingly painted aircraft I had ever seen, aptly named “Flower Power.” A Piper Tri-Pacer on EDO 2000 floats, you might think it was a step down from the Goose I had flown a week prior, but as someone new to the world of floats I was excited to get my hands on anything.

Flower Power in all her glory.

I met my instructor, we did a brief ground school session before walking down to the dock, starting the plane and taxiing away. Within minutes of takeoff I was introduced to Alaskan flying in the best possible way. As I set myself up at 1,000 feet I heard my instructor say, “This is too high, take me to 20 feet and follow the river.”

A little different than Riddle’s G1000 equipped aircraft

Over the next three days, 4.1 hours in the plane, and many more hours studying at home, I learned everything I needed to know about operating a seaplane. We worked on different kinds of taxiing (idle taxi, plow taxi, step taxi) and what makes each kind work. We worked on different types of takeoffs and landings such as rough water and confined area. To me, the most interesting maneuver to learn was the glassy water landing.

When water is glassy, meaning it is completely still, the reflection of the trees, sky and clouds can make it impossible for a pilot to judge their height above the surface. Many accidents have resulted from glassy water in which a pilot flares too high, stalls the aircraft and flips on contact or the pilot never flares, digs the fronts of the floats into the water and flips the aircraft. Not only would the experience be terrifying, it could be deadly. To avoid this, the glassy water landing technique was created. In this approach, the aircraft must be set to land while the pilot still has a visual reference of height, usually the shore before the water begins. This means holding the correct pitch attitude, having flaps set, and the proper airspeed.

Then you wait.

And wait…

And wait…

SPLASH!

All you can do is hold what you know is a safe landing attitude that will allow you to touchdown safely. You cannot change the pitch of the seaplane up. You cannot flare. Only minor adjustments of the throttle are allowed to adjust your descent rate. My first few glassy landings were a mix of horrifying and exhilarating. Without a good visual reference it was impossible to tell how close we were to the water so we waited and waited until touchdown. On an attempt in which I started higher than I should have we had to wait over a minute before the floats finally reached the surface. It was a particularly long lake so the mistake wasn’t dangerous, but instead it taught me to understand how much of an increased landing distance the glassy landing has over a standard approach.

After our 4.1 hours were up, I had an oral exam and a 1.0 check ride flight with a local examiner who found me to be in good standing. I became a certified seaplane pilot!

If you’re interested in flying and haven’t flown a float plane, I absolutely recommend it. Not only does it open up a new type of flying and new places to go, but it reinforces old lessons you’ve learned with land planes. It teaches you to have better control of the aircraft and really work with the environment you’re flying in.

These lessons and more will be further engraved in my mind after I complete next week’s goal: an Alaskan Bush Flying course.

#WeareALPA

Hello everyone,

I am currently on my fourth week at ALPA, and it’s been such a rewarding experience so far! I was very fortunate to attend the Pilot Assistance Forum (May 22-24). We had a banquet too, which was held at the Udvar- Hazy Air & Space Museum. I got to talk to some of my biggest role models in the aviation industry about my future career goals and their experiences- Honourable Robert Sumwalt, Acting Chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and Lori Garver, General Manager of ALPA, who also served as the Deputy Administrator of NASA!

Photo with Lori Garver in front of Space Shuttle Discovery

Photo with Honourable Robert Sumwalt- Acting Chairman of the NTSB

In front of the Air France Concorde at the Udvar- Hazy Air & Space Museum

Brent (my boyfriend) spent Memorial Day weekend with me. We drove to D.C., and then rented out bicycles since parking can be super hectic! We visited many memorials there, and also visited the National Archives Museum. As an international kid, it was pretty cool seeing all the actual documents (Bill of Rights, Constitution, etc.). We also visited the Udvar- Hazy Air & Space Museum (which was my second time then). It was pretty cool since his favourite aircraft is Lockheed SR- 71 aka “Blackbird”.

In front of the SR- 71

Brent and I in front of Discovery

Posing with Brent near the Franklin Roosevelt statue

 

One of my meetings last week was at Capitol Hill. It was pretty interesting. We talked with the House Aviation Subcommittee about reauthorizing and making some changes to the existing bill. I also had a great opportunity to attend a meeting with GoogleX this week to talk about their plans of incorporating UAS technology in their industry.

 

Meeting at Capitol Hill

 

Meeting at Google office in D.C.

 

I have so many more events coming up, and I’m definitely excited to be with ALPA for the rest of the summer. In addition to my internship at ALPA, I am currently doing an independent study course with Riddle. My first exam was on Tuesday, and I did great!!!

I hope you all are having a great and relaxing summer!

Until next time,

Maryam

#BlackGirlMagic in STEM

We come to college to learn from books, but the biggest lessons we gain are from the people we cross paths with. As a woman of color at a predominantly white institution (and predominantly male), it can be challenging to find confidence in yourself. I’ve been fortunate enough to meet many inspirational women of all ages and even more so, women of color that seek out not only to advance themselves, but the people around them as well.

For this post I will be highlighting one particular woman that has gone above and beyond at Embry-Riddle. Meet Naia!

Naia is a junior in Aerospace Engineering with a minor in Applied Mathematics. She is actively involved in National Society of Black Engineers, McNair Scholars, Kappa Mu Epsilon, Bible Study, and Dreams Soar Inc. With all of this on her plate, Naia is also the founder of Embry-Riddle Dancing Eagles. Naia is a Pathways intern at NASA Glenn Research Center working on a High Power Density CubeSat project. Although she began her Pathways internship last September, she is currently on her second cycle of the program. 

Astronaut and NASA Glenn Research Center Director, Janet Kavandi (left) and student Naia (right) being sworn in for her first day as a Pathways intern.

I’ve watched Naia from the moment she arrived thrive among her peers as an individual, but even the most successful people have fears about fitting in! She was excited to answer a few questions in hopes of relating to other women of color pursuing, or currently in STEM fields.

“As a woman of color on campus, I feel the biggest challenge I face is Atychiphobia – the fear of being wrong. Stereotypes of women of color in society are often negative.”

As a ‘super-minority,’ women of color often feel intimidated in their academic space. We are subjected to expectations on how we act, dress, and behave. These false expectations can place a lot of pressure on women of color.

“I never want to feel like an undeserved token student or the stereotypical uneducated black female,” Naia added.

Like Naia, we’ve faced this fear of our mistakes overpowering our academic strength. Like Naia, however, I have learned to overcome this. I, myself, was fortunate enough to meet Naia, and many women like her within the past few years, who strives beyond false expectations and imaginary boundaries and women that make their own connections and find motivation to persevere.

Organizations like the National Society of Black Engineers and the Organization of Black Aerospace Professionals exist on our campus to allow minorities such as ourselves to flourish. Such organizations exist for other minority groups as well such as the Society for Hispanic Engineers. All of these clubs, and hundreds more are open to everyone.

Naia’s advice? “Remember to build a network of like-minded, motivated and positive individuals.”

Always remember your goal. How do you define success? Finding people that define success the same way you do will allow you to excel. Women of color have an opportunity to flourish academically and socially alongside women like Naia at Embry-Riddle. The university has an abundance of student organizations that can allow you to find the connections you need to persevere. We may have to work twice as hard for recognition, but we do it together.

We met Ms. Johnson at an annual career fair representing NASA and took it upon ourselves to network! We were then invited for a private tour of Kennedy Space Center. Don’t be afraid to make your own opportunities!(From left to right – Grace Johnson, Education and Youth Projects, Moriah Graham from Aeronautical Science, Danielle Rosales from Communication, and now alumna Cheyenne Nurse with a B.S. in Spaceflight Operations (formerly Commercial Space Operations)

Never forget that we’re more than a statistic, we’re breaking the glass ceiling. We’re pushing the boundaries for another generation. Naia and I encourage women of color to look past fears, concerns and intimidation to attend schools like Riddle to embrace who you are while achieving your dream. There are no limits.

⋆ Dani

Drone Antics

So the past couple of weeks I’ve been flying my Mavic Pro around my hometown and surrounding area. My ultimate goal is capture enough footage to make a short video showcasing all the cool things I did this summer. For now, a lot of videos I have now are place holders for what’s to come.

I primarily use Adobe Premiere Pro to edit my videos and originally used to use Sony Vegas. It was hard adjusting from Vegas since I’ve used it for over six years, but now I’m super comfortable with Premiere and even After Effects. Currently I’m reading up on color grading and color correction which is something I’ve been meaning to get better at.

If anyone’s interested, the draft of the video can be found here!

Memorial Day Weekend in Georgia

This past Memorial Day weekend, my boyfriend and his family invited me to see a a small piece of Georgia – Conyers. Half an hour away from Atlanta and my boyfriend’s hometown, Conyers became more than just a weekend getaway from Daytona.

With only 3-hour halves, the drive wasn’t bad for him and me at all. Malik and I took the time to talk and share stories about how we got to Riddle and about our hometowns playing a role in our personal goals. Needless to say, I was eager to see somewhere new and where he grew up.

Malik and I with his car Diana (Yes, she is named after Wonder Woman).

The next day, Malik introduced me to a faculty member at Rockdale Career Academy (RCA). RCA is an opportunity for students of the surrounding area to excel in concentrated programs and complete dual enrollment for college courses. Malik in particular took well over five dual enrollment courses that counted for college credit. It was at RCA that he truly put his dream of becoming an Aerospace Engineer into action. Malik also introduced me to his mentor, Rass.

Rass is the type of person you could talk to about life and goals. He shared with me his garden where he grows varying fruits, vegetables, and herbs. If you’re from the Caribbean you are more likely to have an understanding for the term ‘old head.’ It merely means someone older in age with traditional values that stem from Caribbean ties or roots. In this case, Rass is the type of old head that shares his wisdom in hopes of youth achieving their dreams. He reminded Malik and I that success is not based on materialistic matter, but accomplishing our goals. This was only our first day in Conyers and I was being reminded to appreciate opportunity. We ended the night with something more aligned with tradition for Malik and me by attending the 2017 Atlanta J’ouvert. Its celebratory roots date back to slavery. Today, j’ouverts vary throughout different islands and countries of the Caribbean with the same goal – have fun and embrace the culture. There was music, food, and flags (never attend a j’ouvert without your flag).

There were we;;-over 600 people in attendance including famous Caribbean musicians and artists. The flag you see flying on the far left is of Trinidad and Tobago.

Exhausted from the j’ouvert, Malik and I made Saturday a lazy day. We stayed in and played Uno with his brother and sister. His mom even woke up early just to make us stewed oxtails, macaroni pie, and vegetable rice – all foods from the Caribbean that he and I don’t have often in college.

On our last day, Malik took me to the Golf Course where he worked and trained throughout high school. Keep in mind, I have NEVER golfed before. I know ‘zero’ things about golf! He insisted that I give something new a try. I took a swing at it. I took a very, very horrible swing. The ball didn’t move at all and I’m sad to say that I only sent a good chunk of the Earth about 10 feet away (pretty good distance in my opinion). “You’re not gonna hurt the Earth,” Malik reassured me. “Try again.” So I did try again, and again, and again. Eventually I started to get the ball; some landed near and others far. I’d like to think that I’m on way to being a pro, but Malik protests. I’m determined to try it again.

Malik taking a swing after almost a year. He was an all-star in golf and helped lead his team to a championship.

Malik ended the day with a surprise date at a drive-in movie theater. I love going to the movies, and there’s just something about a drive-in theater that fascinates me. Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tells No Tales was a 10/10. If you haven’t seen the movie yet, stick around for the post-credits scene.

All-in-all, it was a memorable weekend. I’m happy Malik could share his hometown with me and even happier that we accomplished so much in a few short days. The road-trip was easy for us. We’re hoping to enjoy a few more long weekends throughout the summer and in between classes and work. The Florida Keys, perhaps? I’ll have to ask him what he thinks!

⋆ Dani

 

First week at ALPA

Hello everyone!

I just finished my first week of my summer internship at Air Line Pilots Association, International. My dad and I drove from Florida to Virginia. It was a fun drive, and we made on stop for the night in South Carolina. My housing for the summer is paid by the institution, and the apartment is gorgeous! I really love it! We even got to tour the facility last Sunday, and I was super excited to start!

Driving to ALPA for the Sunday tour

Photo taken outside the ALPA office in Herndon, VA

On Monday, I had an orientation and basically completed all my paperwork. I got to meet a lot of the employees and talk to them about their careers in the industry! I also got to meet Lori Garver, who is the General Manager of ALPA and the co-founder of the Brooke Owens Fellowship Program. Before working at ALPA, she served as the Deputy Administrator at NASA from 2009-2013. Her efforts at NASA focused on advancing U.S. aeronautics and space activities through technology development, partnerships and innovation. This was her second time serving at NASA, having previously served in a number of positions from 1996-2001. Other public roles have included being the lead civil space policy advisor to Mr. Obama during the 2008 presidential campaign and the head of his transition team for NASA. She also served as the lead space policy advisor for the Hillary Clinton and John Kerry presidential campaigns (Brooke Owens).

On Tuesday, Chad Balentine, the Supervisor of Engineering and Accident Investigation, talked to me about ALPA’s policies and strategic plans. On Wednesday, we went to Washington D.C. for a meeting with some of the FAA investigators. It was very informative, and I definitely learnt a lot.

On Thursday, I got to attend the Aviation Safety Information Analysis and Sharing (ASIAS) Executive Board meeting, where I got to network and meet a lot of aviation professionals. I learned a lot more about the ASIAS program, but also had to sign a NDA (non-disclosure agreement) since the information is confidential. Friday wasn’t as busy, since we had to prepare for the Pilot Assistance Forum next week from May 22nd-May 24th. I am super excited to attend this forum!

ASIAS Executive Board Meeting

I will definitely keep you all updated on how it goes in my next blog.

Until next time,

Maryam

 

Summer Biweekly Photoblog is Now a Thing!

Hello, hello! After receiving some feedback and suggestions from my lovely supervisor and boss, I’ll be starting a biweekly photoblog! The format won’t really change from what you’re already used too (it’s really just more photos and less words), so I hope you all enjoy it. I plan on doing a lot of really neat stuff this summer so I look forward to what the summer has in store for me the next few months.

Shortly after I completed my last final, me and two of my roommates went to Venice, FL. Basically the place I fled to in order to avoid Hurricane Matthew. Here’s a photo of me getting stuck in a tree, 16ft off the ground.

It was nice to finally come back to Venice. It’s really a nice town that has a lot to offer, and I fell in love with it after my first visit.

Aside from bike-friendly roads, awesome people, and neat architecture, Venice has some really nice beaches.

I mean, correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t think there’s a jetty in Daytona Beach.

It was really nice seeing a sunset on the west coast again.

A Long Way from Home

3,789 miles. As I sit here typing, I am 3,789 miles from home sweet home Embry-Riddle. I’ve found myself in Talkeetna, Alaska for the summer, working as an intern for K2 Aviation, a company that performs flightseeing tours around the Alaska Mountain Range in Denali National Park.

It has now been one week since I packed my bags and, accompanied by my mother, boarded an Alaska Airlines flight from Chicago to Anchorage.

Getting ready to board a flight from KORD to PALH.

We spent three days in Anchorage before making the 113 mile drive to Talkeetna. On the third day, I had the honor to visit to Lake Hood Seaplane Base and spend time flying a 1944 Grumman Goose, a multi-engine flying boat. It was as incredible as its sounds. With Goose expert Burke Mees in the right seat, we departed one lake for another, doing steep turns and stalls along the way. I could, and probably should, do an entire post about that flight, but for now I’ll simply say that my time in N703 is by far the most interesting entry in my logbook I have to date and will likely hold that title for years to come. I would encourage anyone visiting Anchorage to do an hour long flight with them, or at least take a look at the historical plane. If you are interested, more information can be found at www.goosehangar.com.

Sitting on the wing of the Goose while floating in Figure Eight Lake, just outside of Anchorage.

The arrival of Thursday meant my first day of work with K2 Aviation. My position for the summer is being a part of the office staff team doing customer service. It means I’ll be doing anything from answering calls and questions of people interested in the flightseeing tours to assisting mountain climbers get all their gear prepared for their attempt of climbing North America’s tallest peak.

Oh yeah, did I mention that Denali, formerly Mount McKinley, is the tallest mountain in North America? It stands at 20,310 feet above sea level and is accessible for only a small margin of the year running from around April to July. As someone who doesn’t claim to be the least bit in shape, I decided to take the easy route of getting to the top and boarded a plane.

Aboard a deHavilland Beaver I experienced the most amazing flight I have ever been a passenger on (most amazing flight overall being the Goose). Seeing the summit of the continent’s tallest peak poking above the clouds, flying between cliff walls thousands of feet high, cruising just hundreds of feet above a 44-mile long glacier, and touching down on the snow bank in the middle of a National Park combined for an experience that still makes my jaw drop when I look back on it.

The peak of Denali in the distance.

I don’t pretend to have Alaska figured out yet. I still get confused when I call my friends after my shift for them to groggily answer that it’s 2:00am and it better be important. I still struggle to get in bed when I look out the window at a beautiful sunny day even though the clock says it’s 9:45pm (and it stays brighter later every day!). But what I have figured out is that this is going to be a summer of adventure. Adventure that will take me all over Alaska, on many modes of transportation, and deeper into the wilderness than I truthfully want to go.

While I probably won’t accomplish all the adventure goals I’ve set for myself, I promise to make sure you enjoy reading about the ones I do. So stick around, bookmark this page, and check back often because the Grumman Goose, glacier landing, and Denali summit tour was only week one. We’ve got 12 more to go.

-Brian Reedy

Missed Connections

From art crawls to art galleries, I dived head-first into the Lexington art scene. I traveled to Cincinnati to visit art galleries and an aquarium. I explored the history behind Kentucky and neighboring states, but there was still much more to do.

There were so many things I missed out in in Kentucky that I wish I had the opportunity to experience. I’m not a basketball fall, but I’ve heard there’s nothing better than bleeding blue at UK basketball game during March Madness. I also missed Keeneland – a local horse derby. Again, horses aren’t a passion of mine, but I had a sunhat or two that I could have sported! Lexington is also home to a few Bourbon trails. I have no idea how Whiskey is made and I don’t have much interest in drinking it, but Lexington is best place to learn more.

Ultimately, I missed out. FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) is absolutely real (Broad City reference). I kept telling myself that four months is plenty of time. All I did was blink, and my time was up in Lexington. To future interns: consider how much time you truly have in your host city and plan accordingly! If you don’t get something done (like me), then you have an excuse to cater to your wanderlust and visit again. I’ll be back Lexington!

Feelin’ Hot, Hot, Hot

No, but seriously… is Daytona ALWAYS been this hot in May? The moment I drove over the Georgia-Florida state line I could feel the change in heat. Aside from fighting the curly hair struggle in humidity, I’m excited to be back!

Local restaurants and coffee shops like Tia Cori’s and Sweet Marlays’ coffee shop have been calling my name. I can’t forget Bethune Grill – home to the best wings in Daytona. It’s a must-have!

Five minutes beyond the mom-and-pop shops is the “Most Famous Beach in the World.” I’ve already pulled my beach blankets from storage and prepared an emergency beach bag equipped with sun screen, shades, a good book, and a Bluetooth speaker. I’ll always be ready for a spontaneous trip to the beach.

Even better, I have a few friends staying in town for Summer courses so we’ll be getting into the habit of $6 movies on Tuesdays. Wonder Woman, Pirates of the Caribbean, and Cars 3 are just a few of the movies on my list.

I’m a year from graduation, so this could very well be my last Summer in Daytona – home to enjoy a lot of local pleasures. I’ve already begun checking things off the list, but for every item I cross out I add three more. I’m not sure if this will ever happen, but I’ve just added Skydiving and Swimming with Manatees.