Hello! I would like to start by introducing myself. My name is Pete Greco, and I am a sophomore at Embry-Riddle in the Business Administration program, Air Transportation Concentration. I am honored to be able to write this and help give you some insight into the school and what it is like being a student here.
I was born in Connecticut and attended Hamden Hall Country Day School in Hamden, CT from 7th until 12th grade. Long before this time, however, I knew that I wanted to be involved in aviation. Early on in high school, I found out about Embry-Riddle from a friend of mine, and I quickly started to realize that it really is the school to go to if you want to be involved in aviation.
Coming from a small, private high school where I was the only person interested in aviation in the least bit, it was a huge change to enter Embry-Riddle and find people everywhere who were the same way. Whenever a jet would depart from Daytona Beach International Airport (which, as you may know, adjoins the campus), everybody’s head would look up to see what it was that had just departed. It really is a powerful thing for someone who loves airplanes as much as I.
My freshman year at Riddle was very exciting, to say the least. There are several other journals on this website that feature freshman writers, so I will not get too far into it, but I will say a few things. Firstly, if you are from the northern United States like me, you better love warm weather, because there is plenty of it here. Being someone who doesn’t do cold, I love this aspect of it. Other friends I know do not. I lived in McKay Hall, which I believe to be the best freshman dorm on campus. It features private bathrooms and doors that open up to a balcony—no need to go down stairs to be outside. I did not have my car freshman year, so that posed a few challenges, but you will quickly make friends that do have cars and who will drive you where you need to go. One thing that my friends and I enjoyed doing freshman year, and still do, is heading down to Orlando to visit Walt Disney World or Universal Orlando—even if just for dinner. One memory I still carry is from the very beginning of freshman year when we travelled down to Titusville to watch the night launch of the Space Shuttle Discovery. What an incredible sight and definitely one of the most amazing things I have ever witnessed in my 20 years.
Let’s jump ahead now to the present. One thing I do want to mention is that while I am a Business Administration/Air Transportation major, I am also a Flight minor. I conducted flight training at Embry-Riddle’s flight department and received my Private Pilot Certificate on April 6th, 2010. As a result, I also have insight into flying at Embry-Riddle. It is always a great time, even though occasionally it gets stressful and tense. In the end, however, you are receiving a very high level of training and training that is airline-oriented to prepare you for a future career. I will let the Aeronautical Science students on here explain this more to you, however.
I have wanted to be an airline pilot for as long as I can remember, In fact, my mother has found drawings I made in the first grade featuring a very poorly drawn Delta Air Lines Boeing 747 with the caption, “When I get older, I want to fly a Delta 747.” I still want to be a pilot, and am, however I have realized that the state of the pilot market at this point in time is not stable enough for me to put all of my eggs in one basket and I want to make myself more marketable and have more career options. As a result, I changed my major to Business Administration and picked up a flight minor. In my opinion, this prepares you better for life after college than a pure flight degree would. I intend to get all of my ratings and re-evaluate the market upon graduating. As I will describe later on, however, I have found another aspect of aviation that I love as much as flying, so I definitely have some decisions to make later on.
During my senior year of high school, I was fortunate to have an internship at my local airport in Connecticut, Tweed New Haven Regional Airport (HVN). At this time, I was still dead-set on being an airline pilot and was focused on only that. As a result, when I began the internship, I knew little about any other aspect of aviation besides flying. During my internship, though, I was introduced to a part of aviation that I always knew existed subconsciously but never made anything of it.
I am referring to Airport Operations. Any of you who fly at airports with commercial service will notice occasionally vehicles driving down the runways and taxiways conducting “inspections,” or shooting off pyrotechnics for wildlife control, but probably also don’t think much of it. What you see these individuals doing is only the visible part of the job, however. It is a job that is extremely detailed and one that requires a great deal of time and effort. Just as there are Federal Aviation Regulations that you must learn and abide to as pilots, there is a whole set of regulations that airports must abide by—specifically Part 139—and it is Airport Operations’ job to ensure that the airport and all people on it and using it meet these regulations. Essentially, you are in charge of every little thing that happens at the airport and make sure it runs smoothly on a day-to-day basis.
My internship opened my eyes to this and made me realize flying wasn’t the only way I could be actively, hands-on involved in aviation every day. So, my second aspiration became to work Airport Operations at a major airport.
This desire became a reality for me, partly, this summer. When I returned home, I got a call from Tweed airport stating that two of the Airport Operations Supervisors had left to pursue other jobs, and asking if I would work there for the summer, full-time, as one. I couldn’t believe the opportunity I was given: I would be able to work in a position that I was going to college for after only completing one year of school! As the summer went on and the airport administration saw my work, an offer was extended to me to return to Tweed every time I was home from college, and after I graduate. To top it off, they sent me to Chicago, IL for a week to attend the American Association of Airport Executives’ (AAAE) Basic Airport Safety and Operations School (ASOS). In addition, I was trained in Aircraft Rescue Firefighting (ARFF), as part of my job at Tweed, being a smaller airport, was to operate the $750,000 2007 Rosenbauer Panther 4×4 fire apparatus, pictured.
I have now moved back to Embry-Riddle and just finished getting settled in. I was lucky to have gotten the top floor of Apollo, the newest dorm on campus, at the far South end looking straight over Daytona Beach International Airport. The view is incredible; there isn’t a thing that you can’t see. Last year, my suitemate was lucky to have gotten number 24 in the housing lottery, so we essentially got our pick over dorms.
Since I have been back at Embry-Riddle, my friends and I have already had some great experiences. I believe that it is crucial to make the effort and to not just sit around all the time, or party constantly (although, as you will find, there is definitely time for that). Instead, you need to go out and try to meet as many people as you can. I know my friends and I do, which is why we are able to have so many awesome experiences. Last week, I went to one of my suitemate’s houses for dinner in Sanford, and on the way back to Riddle, we decided to stop by Orlando-Sanford international Airport. When we pulled to the FBO, we saw an F/A-18 crew chatting to some flight instructors in the lobby. We joined in on the conversation, and the next thing we knew, we were out on the ramp being shown the aircraft by the crew and watching them do a full-afterburner departure. What a sight.
Then, last weekend, my friends and I went to Walt Disney World outside of Orlando—something that (if you are anything like me) you will be glad to know is only about an hour away. We purchased Annual Passes, and already are planning to return there this coming weekend. We covered the Magic Kingdom and EPCOT, and this weekend we will go to the rest of the parks. The Universal Orlando Resort—featuring Universal Studios Orlando and Universal’s Islands of Adventures—are even closer, plus all of the other great attractions Orlando and the surrounding areas have to offer.
Well, I think you are pretty much all caught up on me! I am looking forward to writing for you all in the coming months, and please do not hesitate to e-mail me with any questions at all. I will be sure to keep you updated with everything going on with me!
Talk to you soon!