July 1, 2008

I would like to start this article off by wishing everyone a Happy Fourth of July! The past two weeks have been nothing but fireworks over here at Continental.

Remember how I told you this summer could not get any better? Well, I was wrong. Sit back, relax, and get ready to be blown away by one of the most amazing experiences of my life.

It all started last Thursday when we took a tour of Houston Center. Houston Center is an Air Traffic Control facility that provides guidance to aircraft flying between airports. Houston Center controls the area between west Texas and Louisiana. During our tour, we were given the opportunity to sit next to an Air Traffic Controller and watch how traffic is controlled. All I can say is wow! I have a new appreciation for how much work is involved in keeping aircraft separated.

On Friday, we all got up and proceeded to the airport once again for a tour of Continental’s ramp tower. This is like a mini Air Traffic Control Facility for Continental Airlines. In the ramp tower, two controllers guide aircraft pulling into and out of gates at the Terminal. It was so neat to get a bird’s eye view of what goes on every day when you depart from an airport.

When we arrived, all of the morning flights were preparing to depart. The room was filled with pilots calling in waiting for the ok to depart. Once they received the ok, about 12 airplanes began pushing back from the gate. It was insane to see so many aircraft moving in such a small area. This just shows us just how many people are needed to keep an airline operated at full capacity. It takes the two controllers and hundreds of ground personnel just to get the aircraft to the taxiway!

After the ramp tower tour, it was time to relax. It was Friday, and little did I know, this would end up being my favorite weekend so far of this internship!

We started off the weekend with a day trip to Galveston, TX. I haven’t been to the beach since April, so we all decided to have a nice relaxing day at the beach! It was nice to get away from the busy life of an intern and just relax. We spent the day walking on the beach, playing in the 85 degree water, and shopping at the wonderful beach shops. After a long day down south, we returned to Houston to get a good night’s rest. Saturday was going to be a big day for all of us.

Saturday morning, we began our journey to Seattle, Washington. After a 4 ½ hr flight, we arrived at one of my favorite cities in the United States. It was such a beautiful day, 70 degrees and not a cloud in the sky. What a change from the 100 degree heat Texas throws at us every day. Saturday night was spent checking into the hotel and preparing ourselves for the days to come. Sunday started at 5:30 a.m. where we proceeded to downtown Seattle to see the wonderful view at Sunrise. I was shocked just how beautiful Puget Sound can be in the morning.

After the sunrise, we proceeded to the Public Market Center. This is one of the most famous markets to buy seafood in the United States. Everyone was so friendly and we tried such wonderful seafood. I tasted the best Alaskan Salmon I have ever eaten. Next we proceeded to walk around Seattle and see what the city had to offer.

After lunch, we proceeded to the most beautiful place I have ever seen in my life, Mt. Rainier National Park. It was a 3 hr drive south of Seattle, and it was well worth the trip. Upon reaching the visitor center, about one third the way up the mountain, there was 11 feet of snow on the ground and it was 75 degrees outside. We were in shorts and a t-shirt playing in snow, what an experience. After 3 hours of admiring wildlife, snowcaps, and an amazing sunset, we proceeded back to the hotel.

The next day was the main event, a personal tour of the Boeing Factory in Everett, Washington. We got up bright and early once again and began our day with the famous space needle! We rode to the top and got a breathtaking view of Seattle from 600 feet in the air!

Next, it was finally time for what we had been waiting for, the Boeing tour. When we arrived at the Boeing facility, we were dwarfed by the largest building in the United States! The Boeing factory encompasses 98 acres under one roof. After we checked in, we were greeted by our tour guide and proceeded to the factory. As we entered, the air was filled with heavy machinery piecing together aircraft the size of foot ball fields.

The tour began with the Boeing 777. This aircraft is currently their most popular aircraft for traveling internationally. We were given the opportunity to see every step of the building process. Boeing employs over 80,000 people at this plant, and it takes brainpower from each and every one of them to produce one of these magnificent planes. You don’t realize just how big these airplanes are until you stand next to them! The wingtip is about 3 stories above the ground, and the engine has a diameter of 12 feet.

After the 777 tour, we saw the newest addition to the Boeing fleet, the 787. This aircraft encompasses the state of the art technology and efficiency. This aircraft can literally be snapped together in as little as 3 days! It is expected to have its first flight towards the end of 2008. After the tour, we proceeded to the gift shop, and then headed back to Seattle for the last few hrs of the trip.

This amazing weekend came to a close with a 45 min ferry ride across Puget Sound and back. This was the first time we got to see all of Seattle as a whole, a truly beautiful city. We then proceeded to the airport to catch the midnight flight back to Houston. I slept in first class all the way home. The aircraft landed at 7 am and I was at work by 8.

What a wonderful weekend! But wait, this week isn’t done quite yet. We depart for Argentina on Thursday!!! I can’t wait.

Until then, have a great night, I need to catch up on some sleep.

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allen624

About allen624

Minor: Aviation Weather
Age: 21
Hometown: Dallas, TX
Career Goals: To become a captain for a major airline.
Activities: Part time flight instructor at Embry-Riddle Team Safety Leader
Why I chose Embry-Riddle: I wanted to go to a school that would train me to be the best and safest pilot I could be. The discipline and professionalism Embry-Riddle provides for their students has allowed me to achieve this goal.

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