About Pete


Business Administration

**Concentration:** Air Transport Concentration
**Minor:** Flight
**Career Goals:** To work in Airport Operations at a major airport, or become a commerical airline pilot.
**Why I chose Embry-Riddle:** Location, Name Recognition, Academic Program Quality.

March 13, 2011

Hi everyone. I hope that everything is well with all of you. I am doing well and just starting the last week of classes before spring break begins. I am looking forward to it and I think that it is a much needed (and deserved) break before we kick it into high gear for the end of the semester. Then, it’s summer! It is hard to believe that a whole academic year has gone by and that I will only have two years left. Time really flies here so make the most of it while you can!
I have had the opportunity to interact with many of you on the Facebook page for the incoming class of 2015. If you haven’t already, I would highly suggest joining the group as it is a great way to meet your future classmates and ask questions. I remember when I first came to Embry-Riddle, I already had “met” a good number of my classmates on Facebook so it made the transition and getting settled at college a lot easier.
By the same token, if you have been accepted to the university, I would also consider attending the Accepted Students day that is taking place here in April. The details of this event are on the Embry-Riddle website. If you have previously visited the campus and you live far from Daytona Beach, it is ok to miss this event, however, if you have never been here you should absolutely try to come. There will be presentations, professors, current students, tours, and more. If you are still trying to make your final college decision, this event is a good idea. I hope to see you there.
Since I last wrote, not very much at all has happened with me. I have continued working at the airport so that takes up a good portion of my time. Additionally, my classes have received a lot of my attention so during the week I have not done too much exciting stuff.
This past week in Daytona Beach was Bike Week. Hundreds of thousands of motorcycles converge upon the area for essentially a giant convention and party. For people who like motorcycles, it is apparently one of the best things there is to go to. Living here, it is a bit of a hassle as traffic becomes unbearable on main roads, and the noise levels rise significantly. It is fun to venture down to Main Street near the beach as that is biker bar central and there is a lot of activity there. Even if you don’t like motorcycles, I would suggest checking it out at least for a night if you end up going to school here.
As I may have mentioned in a previous entry, my parents recently purchased a house in Boynton Beach, which is down in South Florida near West Palm Beach. I have been averaging going there about every other weekend. The drive is about 3 hours and can be very boring, however one of my friend’s family lives there as well, so we carpool, making the drive much less boring. The house is just being completed and the furniture will be coming in within a few days. My spring break plans involve heading down there for the beginning, then going to Universal Orlando with my family, and then going back down to the house for the last few days prior to returning to Daytona. It should be a lot of fun as I haven’t been to Universal’s parks (except or Halloween Horror Nights) in several years.

My roommate and I sign the lease for our apartment in the middle of April, so I decided I would slowly begin to move my things over there instead of the craziness that ensued at the end of the semester last year trying to move all my things to storage and box up my clothes to send home. Even though it is annoying, it is a bit fun as school is done for the summer. I enjoyed having Apollo for a dorm (especially our airport view!) but it will be nice to have a bedroom and bathroom to myself next year.
Other than that, not too much else has been going on with me. This coming week will be pretty slow as well as I prepare for spring break, however I am sure I will have some interesting stories for you after that.
Again, please do not hesitate to ask me any questions at all!
Talk to you soon.

February 28, 2011

 Hi everyone. I hope all is well with you. Things are good here in Daytona Beach. The weather has been in the 80’s and the town has been bustling with the race events and seasonal tourism. This is really my favorite time of year. As I have mentioned before, it is a nice change from the usual slow-pace that Daytona Beach is most of the year. If you plan to attend the Accepted Students day or visit the campus this spring, you will be able to see what I am talking about.

Well, there is a lot to talk about, so I will start at the beginning. As I have written in my previous journal entries, I have been involved at Daytona Beach International Airport working in the Operations department as a shadow, basically. However, a few weeks ago, I was offered a part-time position as a “special worker” in the Operations department and, of course, accepted. I was then airport ID-badged and put to work. I started the week of the Daytona 500 race, the busiest time of year at the airport, so it was exciting to say the least.

Because the Speedway is directly adjacent to the airport, the airport plays host to all of the military aircraft plus the 250+ private jets that fly in for the event. The 3 Fixed Based Operators on the airport are full to capacity and every imaginable space—including the secondary runway 16/34—are used to park these airplanes. I got to see and experience some very cool things, and I am going to share those with you.

I do want to say first, though, that I was off from work on Saturday and was able to attend the Nationwide Series NASCAR race with my friend Justin. It was great and we had a lot of fun watching. I remember last year watching the Daytona 500 and being freezing. This year it was the complete opposite—it was about 80 degrees and sunny!

If you watched the race on FOX, you may have noticed that the United States Thunderbirds Demonstration Team performed the pre-race flyby. This is an incredibly exciting experience for the fans, but a great deal of work behind the scenes. To support all of the crew and equipment the Thunderbirds travel with, two Boeing C-17 Globemaster cargo planes had to fly in.  These airplanes are absolutely huge and, because only some taxiways at the airport can handle the immense weight of the aircraft, it actually had to use its reverse thrusters to back itself up off the runway and onto the taxiway it parked on. What an incredible sight.Once it landed, it was a huge process to unload all of the suitcases, trucks, and carts. Then, it took about 4 hours to pump in the almost 100,000 gallons worth of fuel that the aircraft needed, actually depleting the stock of jet fuel the FBO had in their fuel farm. Unbelievable. The same process occurred when the aircraft came back after the race to load back up, plus an additional Lockheed C-130 Hercules aircraft that the Air Force flew in for the team.

 The Thunderbirds are neat not only to watch in the sky but also on the ground because of the elegance of everything they do. Everything must be perfect and smooth, so even tasks like removing the chocks from the gear or lowering the canopy are done in sync and at a running-type pace.

In addition to the Thunderbirds, several other military aircraft flew in for the other races’ flyovers. Five F/A-18 Hornets flew in as well as some T-38’s. The F/A-18’s notoriously drip a lot of their jet fuel when they are parked, so this made for quite a clean-up effort after they departed. The pilots were very friendly and allowed me to sit up in the jet and take pictures. It was a great time.

The two air carriers here, Delta and US Airways, both increased their aircraft capacity for the race week, meaning Boeing 757-200’s flying in for Delta and a mix of Airbus A319, A320 and Boeing 737-400 aircraft for US Airways. One night, the terminal saw 3 757’s and 2 737’s parked there overnight, a rarity here.

As I mentioned previously, over 250+ aircraft fly in for the race, usually race fans, drivers, and race teams. The pictures show just how full the airport is. One thing that is really neat is how after the race ends, the airport is completely clear of jets within 1-2 hours. They race out of here. Some celebrities fly in as well, such as Fergie, Josh Duhamel, and Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, which was pretty neat to see. It really is great experience to see the way that the airport stays operational during the race, and I think we did a great job handling so many aircraft.

This time of year at school is also the time of year that housing decisions must be made for the following academic year. Freshman, as you likely know, are required to live on campus. For upper classmen though, the decision must be made as to whether you will live on campus or off campus, and it really is a tough decision. I decided last year that I would live on campus for two of the four years, simply because I think that when you are new to the college thing it is better to be more directly involved on campus. Next year, however, my roommate and I were lucky to find a really nice, new apartment in a town just south of Daytona called Port Orange. While I do not love the fact that I will have to drive to campus for classes every day, it is a great apartment and I think we will enjoy it a lot.

I may also have mentioned before that my parents recently purchased a house down in Southern Florida. This is great for them and something they have wanted to do for a long time, and I will be able to see them a little more often now. This past weekend, I went down there as they were beginning to purchase furniture, etc. We had a great weekend and it was the first time my whole family had been together since I came back to school in January. My uncle also came down so we really had a good time. The weather was perfect, mid 80’s and sunny the whole time. I am looking forward to going down there again in a few weeks.Classes and everything are going well. This semester’s workload hasn’t picked up to the intensity of last semester yet, but I continue to work at managing my work so that I don’t get slammed with a huge amount all at once.

I know that this time of year is difficult if you are considering different schools and trying to weigh your options. Please do not hesitate to ask me any questions you might have at all in making these decisions. I am here to help and enjoy hearing from my readers. My e-mail address again is grecoj1@my.erau.edu.

Until next time, take care and talk to you soon!

February 14, 2011

Hi everybody. I hope you are well.  I am doing very well myself: classes are good and I have really been enjoying everything this semester.

I have definitely kept myself busy, as well, both with working, classes, and having fun. I really have come to find that this is the key to having a good college experience: making the most of it. The saying really applies that college is what you make of it so make it good!

Since I last wrote, I have continued working at Daytona Beach International, particularly with the incredible traffic increase associated with the yearly events at the Daytona International Speedway, namely the Daytona 500 NASCAR race. I have such a great time with this as it is just so busy and exciting. In my next entry, I will include some more pictures and details from the weekend of the actual race.

This past weekend, I went away to visit my grandparents in south Florida, so I missed much of the excitement that took place with speedweeks at the Speedway. When I returned, however, Daytona Beach was bustling with all sorts of activity. Tons of tourists were everywhere, and the area surrounding the Speedway was full of merchandise trailers and TV studios. It always makes things more exciting around town. After the race is over, Bike Week occurs and then spring break, meaning that there is a comfortable increase in people around for pretty much the remainder of the semester.

On February 3, myself and several other students here at Embry-Riddle woke up at 3am to pre-order the Verizon Wireless iPhone 4. For me, this had been a four year wait as I had wanted an iPhone since the very first one was released on the AT&T network. However, I was unable to switch carriers so I had to wait until Verizon finally brought the phone to their network only a week ago. I received my iPhone on the 7th, 3 days before it was released to the public. It really is a great phone and I like it a lot.

I mentioned in my last entry that I had applied into the Disney College Program internship and that I had just completed my phone interview. Well, less than two weeks after I interviewed, I received an e-mail invitation inviting me to participate in the program as a lifeguard “cast member” for fall 2011. While my first choice was transportation, I am still thrilled to have been accepted as it is pretty competitive. I am going to speak with Career Services here at Riddle this week and decide on whether it is a good fit for my overall plan.

Well, you guys are probably sick of me talking about my frequent trips to Disney World, but I did go the other weekend yet again. This time, we left Daytona around 2 and got to Disney World around 3pm, leaving us until 10pm until the park closed. We had good luck in that on two separate occasions, families randomly gave us their FastPasses to various rides, allowing us to skip the line. Because of this we were able to cover the park very fully with plenty of time to spare for eating, fireworks, etc. At Monster’s Inc. Laugh floor, my friend Justin got randomly picked by the camera to be on the screen and answer some questions, which was pretty hilarious.

Well, that’s about it for this time, guys. Stay well and don’t hesitate to e-mail me with any questions!

Take care,

January 30, 2011

Hi everyone! I hope that everyone is doing well. Many of you are likely just getting into your final semester of high school. This is an exciting time of year for everyone, so make the most of it. As you begin to make decisions about schools, you will be tempted to allow your grades to drop off entirely. Just a word of advice on that: be careful. A little drop off will not be a major issue, but keep it in moderation as the school of your choice will still see your final grades. But, enough of my nagging, I am sure your parents do that enough for you! I have had a very exciting few weeks since I last wrote. Much has happened and I have lots to talk about, so I will get right into it!

First, at Daytona Beach International Airport, there is much going on. The main runway, 7L/25R is in the process of being entirely resurfaced while the business, corporate, and air carrier traffic is increasing for the racing events at the Daytona International Speedway. As you can see, the runway is being re-constructed with concrete and asphalt. The center portion is concrete—about 75 feet of width—and the remaining portion is asphalt. This serves to make the project a little lengthier than a purely-asphalt reconstruction; however the results will be well worth it in the end. All in-pavement runway lighting is being changed to LEDs, and an ILS approach is being added for the opposite runway, 25R. This means a lot of construction activity but it will truly be state of the art once the project is completed.

A somewhat unknown and private benefit of the construction is known and only able to be enjoyed by the construction workers and airport employees at the physical construction site. You see, the way the project is progressing is such that they are breaking the runway down into segments and resurfacing one area before moving on to the next. The first segment mandated the runway threshold (the beginning of usable runway for takeoffs and landings) to be relocated forward so that construction could take place on the first part of the runway. What this means is that if you are standing at the construction site, you have airplanes ranging from Cessna 172’s to Boeing 737’s, on final approach in some cases 100 feet or less about your head. They are so close that you can hear and feel the vortices from the jet engines spiraling down toward the ground. It is truly awesome.

Being out at the construction site allowed me to experience this, and it couldn’t have been at a better time either. On the particular day that I was out there, private aircraft from every NASCAR team were flying in to practice on the newly repaved Speedway. The list of aircraft included Saab 2000’s, a Boeing 727, a Boeing 737, Embraer 145’s, and more. The 727 landing so close was unbelievable. Some pictures are embedded throughout this entry.

That weekend, my roommate James and friend Tony decided to go for a flight as I had not flown since my instrument rating checkride in December. Initially, we decided to go to Savannah, Georgia for the day and look around, however when we got up around the Jacksonville area, I determined that the flight time remaining to Savannah would not give us much if any time at all on the ground there before we turned around and had to return to Daytona. So, we went to Jacksonville International Airport instead, a destination which has become a frequent stop for me and is always fun. We went out for lunch and looked around the area a bit before heading back to school.


The Daytona Beach area itself is reaching its peak tourism season as well, which to me is exciting. With the Rolex 24 race having just occurred, about a month remains until the famous Daytona 500, but before then many other, smaller, races will occur and there will be many people travelling here to prepare and attend them. I actually like going to the restaurants in the area and seeing lots of tourists as it almost makes me feel like I am on vacation too. I don’t know, I am weird I guess! Nonetheless, it will be fun time, as after the races end, Bike Week is just around the corner and shortly thereafter begins Spring Break around the area.

This past weekend, my brother and one of my best friends from home came down to visit. I showed them around campus and Embry-Riddle, and then we went to (where else) Disney World for the weekend. They liked the campus and of course we had a blast at Disney World. It is always a great time there and it really is not a far drive at all.

Speaking of Disney World, I just applied for an internship there known as the Disney College Program. I’m sure this is no surprise to you who read my journal regularly as you know how much I love that place, but being a business major here the internship is truly a great opportunity. Essentially, you work in the park as a “cast member” for a semester while attending the world-renowned Disney Institute and come away with the experience and knowledge from working at such an esteemed company. You were able to select different “roles” in which you’d like to work, and I selected transportation (monorails and boats), lifeguarding, and attractions in that order. I interviewed last week and should hear back from them within a few weeks. Wish me luck!

Other than that, my classes are going very well so far. I am enjoying them and am doing pretty well. I have had more free time on my hands this semester as well and I have been able to become more involved with clubs such as the Airport Management Club, which is something I have been meaning to do for a while.

Well, I think that is pretty much it. As you can see, it is a lot of fun here. It really is what you make of it, so make the best!

As usual, if you have any questions or comments at all, do not hesitate to e-mail me. I look forward to hearing from you soon!

January 18, 2011

Hi everyone! Happy New Year! I hope that you all had a happy holiday with your friends and family. I had a great time at home over the past month, and got to experience some really awesome things while working at the airport during the winter. Now, classes have started up again, and those seem to be going pretty well thus far too. I will talk about that a little later on in this entry.

On December 15, I finally flew home. That morning, because of the high demand for FAA written tests and the limited capacity of the extremely convenient FAA testing center on campus, I had to take my commercial pilot written exam which, I am happy to say, I did very well on. Even though three hours is allotted for the test, I completed it in less than 45 minutes, leaving me plenty of time to eat, do some final laundry, and finish packing. Then, a car arrived at my dorm to drive me to Orlando International Airport. I was excited because I was going to fly into the airport I work at—Tweed New Haven Regional Airport (HVN)—on a commercial flight for the first time. It was really neat to experience things from the other side and I was able to surprise several co-workers when I flew in unexpectedly.

The very next day, I went back to the airport and started up again working. Since I was only home for a month, I didn’t work any shifts on my own like I did over the summer, but instead helped out people with things they had needed me to do since I went away to school in August. This kept me pretty busy but it was fun anyways. I also had the opportunity to catch up with all of my friends and colleagues at the airport after not seeing them for several months.

Christmas was a lot of fun as usual. On Christmas Eve, we went over to my uncle’s house and I got to see my cousins and other family members.  It was also nice to catch up with them. We tried out a new “tradition” this year in which we all purchased gifts and had a grab-bag exchange. It was very funny and a lot of fun with everyone arguing to get the others’ gifts, etc. I received many nice presents from my family, and gave out some nice ones too. The holiday was very relaxing and that was just what I needed after the hard work I put in the past semester.

The day after Christmas though, the 26th, was much different. Connecticut and the surrounding states got slammed with a blizzard the likes of which we had not seen in years. At the airport, the weather equipment recorded sustained winds of 60 miles per hour, enough to prompt an evacuation of the Air Traffic Control Tower. I was at the mall with my family when I got called into work, and knowing that my 30-minute drive home would be nearly impossible in that weather, plus the fact that I would probably be needed all night, prompted me to pack a bag of some extra clothes and a toothbrush before I went in. Good thing I did, too, as I had to spend the night at the airport.

When I first got in to work, the snow was still just beginning, with minor accumulations. But, what seemed like right after I got in, it started coming down hard and the wind began to pick up. As nightfall set, this just got worse and worse. Because of the blowing snow, many of the parts of the airfield were not covered in a solid layer of snow as it would blow around a lot. However, after the maintenance department hit an area with their huge pieces of machinery, it would be covered again instantly by the blowing snow. Believe it or not, two corporate aircraft were trying to come in, but we closed the airport because of the poor braking action values we were getting on the runways and taxiways. The airport bought us all food and drinks, and it actually was a lot of fun.

As I just mentioned, airport maintenance plows the taxiways and runways with their giant plows and blowers, but operations still does plow some areas, such as the Perimeter Road and the firefighting access locations. It was my first time plowing, but I got the hang of it pretty quickly. The wind was intense and was making it painful to get out of the truck. Moreover, the visibility was so poor at times that I could not see the hood of the truck right in front of me. One time, I thought I was plowing a road, but instead I was in the middle of a grass area. Another time, in this low visibility, all of a sudden a blue flash of light lit up the night sky. It was very eerie but was most likely lighting from thundersnow. I got stuck in a snowbank so deeply one time that the wheels of the F-250 were completely suspended off the ground, and another plow had to come and push me out. It was really crazy. My coworkers and I would rotate positions, and then I would be in the office issuing NOTAMS, taking phone calls, and just coordinating everything in general. We got the airport back open as soon as the storm ended, though, so it was a very successful effort in my opinion.

New Year’s Eve was nice and relaxing for me as well. While I had to work during the day, that night my family and I went out for a nice dinner. I was able to meet my brother’s new girlfriend since I had been away, and that was fun as well. I tried to relax as much as I could when I was home, and that is what I did on New Year’s Eve and Day. I purchased a new TV for my room and got an HD cable box, so I spent a lot of time on my bed watching it.

Then, just a few weeks after the first storm, another significant snowstorm came and a similar response ensued. This storm, however, had been forecast to be minor, so when it ended up becoming a significant snowfall with low winds, it took us by surprise. Many aircraft already on the ground and en route to the airport were surprised as well, so I got many phone calls that night. First, the FBO called saying there were jets wanting to depart. Then, New York Approach control called and wanted a status update on the airport condition. While I was talking to him, the US Airways station manager called informing us that one of their inbound flights, Piedmont 4507, had been struck by lightning over Long Island and made an emergency landing at MacArthur Airport there. It’s very, very rare for this to happen in the middle of a snowstorm, but everyone was safe and they were being bussed in to New Haven. In times like these is when my job is the most fun, with a hundred different things going on at once and it all being your decision. This storm was actually on my last day working, as I took the rest of the time off to relax and be with my family.

I flew back on January 11th, again out of New Haven, and managed to get back to Daytona just before a storm dumped 3 FEET of snow at home. I can’t remember ever having a winter like this at home in my 20 years of living in Connecticut. Usually, too, the snow melts in the days after the storm, but the temperatures have been so cold at home that it just sits on the ground building on top of itself.

Everything back here at school has been very good so far. I like my classes and professors, although I haven’t had a real class yet (just the introduction classes). It was nice to see all of my friends again when I got back and already we have had some fun times. Last night, we had dinner and went to see a movie, and today we decided to drive around and explore, which ultimately lead us to DeLand, a little bit inland, and to the college in the town, Stetson University. We just walked around looking at things and discovered a very nice, small town surrounding the school.

With the continuing runway construction at Daytona, we still get a front row view of jet landings on runway 16/34. I sure missed waking up to the sound of roaring jet engines at home!
You all are probably in the middle of, or just finished, your semester exams. If you haven’t taken them yet, best of luck to you. Keep working hard and please do not hesitate to e-mail me with any questions.

Talk to you soon!

December 14, 2010

Hi everyone! I hope you all are doing well. It turns out I will end up writing for you one more time prior to the end of the semester, however I don’t have that much to say! Why, you may ask? Well, because the majority of the last two weeks have been spent studying for finals.

Perhaps the most significant thing that has happened since I wrote last is me receiving my instrument rating. After about 4 months of work and a good deal of studying, I passed my checkride and am now certificated to fly in the clouds, shooting approaches down to minimums. Would I do that right away? Absolutely not. Training does not always constitute experience and to push your privileges to their maximum with little to no actual experience is foolish. By working your way down (in terms of the weather) to minimums and building experience is truly the only way to do it.

Finals have come and gone, thankfully. I actually really lucked out this semester in that I had no cumulative final exams. Either because no exams were given by the professors or because I had a high enough grade going into the exam where I could bypass it with no effect on my grade, I was able to get away without a tedious week of studying. What I did have, though, in terms of finals were a practice FAA Commercial Pilot Written Exam, a normal class exam in lieu of a final exam, and the real Commercial Written exam.

For any pilots who are reading this, I will clarify a bit about the finals/written exams for your flight ratings. Essentially, at the end of any ground school class for a rating at Riddle, you take a “practice” written exam for the respective real written exam that you would take for the rating. You must pass this practice written with an 80% or higher to receive the endorsement from your professor to take the real written exam. Additionally, if you pass this practice exam with an 80% or higher, 10 points are added to your final grade for that class. This may make the whole situation sound stressful, but if you study (and memorize) the Gleim studybook, you are essentially certain to pass.

Tomorrow night, I head home for just under a month before returning to Riddle for the Spring 2011 semester. The end of a semester always has an exciting feeling to it. Unfortunately, if you live on campus, there is a lot of cleaning that must be done before you leave to ensure that all perishable food items are disposed of and the room is left clean. Of course, you must also pack your things up, which can be challenging especially at the end of the second semester. But, don’t worry, I will discuss that when the time comes!

One misconception you might have about Florida is that it is hot ALL the time. This, unfortunately, is not the case as when a cold front moves through the temperatures can drop into the 30’s and even 20’s. As I write this now, it is only 30 degrees Fahrenheit outside. It can be helpful if you are trying to get into the Christmas Spirit though, as you can see in the picture above of Santa, Mrs. Claus, and even the reindeer driving down a road. One good thing, for me, that comes with cold weather is that usually it means that the airport switches to a runway 34 operation, resulting in airplanes landing right in front of my window as you can see. Crazy!

Sorry guys, but that is really all I have for you this time. I wish you and your families a happy and healthy holiday season and New Year. Talk to you in 2011!

Take care,


November 30, 2010

Hello everybody!

I hope all is going well with everyone! I am doing well, just working to finish up the semester. It is about time for finals and the due dates for semester projects have come and gone. In nearly every aspect of my academic life, things are starting to wind down. Just a final push and I will have a nice month off to relax! Several things have happened since I last wrote. For one thing, Thanksgiving was last week. It is hard to believe that it is already that time of year. This year, my family decided to try something new for Thanksgiving, so instead of me going home as usual (which often didn’t make sense because I would fly home and back just to fly home two weeks later), my family came to Florida and we spent Thanksgiving at Walt Disney World.

If you’ve read my other entries, you already know how crazy I am about Disney World. Next to flying and aviation, Disney World is truly my other passion in life, from going there for fun to its technical workings and operations. In any case, it was truly a great time. We stayed at my favorite Disney resort on the property, Disney’s Boardwalk Inn. This resort recreates Atlantic City, New Jersey around the turn of the century complete with a full wooden boardwalk and vendors to boot. It is quite something. It is also within walking distance of both Disney’s Hollywood Studios (formerly Disney’s MGM Studios) and the EPCOT theme parks.

My grandparents came on Thanksgiving morning and we enjoyed a day together at Hollywood Studios where we later had a great dinner at the Hollywood Brown Derby restaurant in the park. It was actually one of the best Thanksgiving meals I can remember and I for the first time understood the full-to-capacity feeling that people get after Thanksgiving meals. Being my grandparent’s first visit to Disney World in many years, it was fun showing them all over the parks. One of the greatest parts about Disney World at this time of year is the decorations for Christmas. All of the resorts and parks are decorated for the holidays. Perhaps the most impressive of these decorations is at Disney’s Hollywood Studios where the “Streets of America” facade is decorated with 5 million LED lights amongst other decorations in the style of the Osborne family’s house in Little Rock, Arkansas. It is truly amazing, particularly when they have the lights dance to Christmas songs.

Other than Thanksgiving, my focus this week has been on my Instrument rating checkride, which I have this Saturday. I am very nervous but I know I am prepared for it. Checkrides are something that take a lot of effort and energy and cause a lot of stress, but it is important to remain calm and remember what you know. Nonetheless, I will be glad when it is over. For any future pilots wondering what is involved for this rating, essentially you must learn to fly solely by reference to the flight instruments due to you now having the ability to fly in clouds. This includes learning approaches to airports without being able to see the runway until you are a few hundred feet above it. Wish me luck!

Now that the majority of the semester projects themselves have been completed, it is time for the associated PowerPoint presentations that must be presented to the class. This is usually the easy part of the project and somewhat enjoyable, and once this is completed, I am totally done with the associated classes.

I sort of lucked out this semester in that I only have 1 final exam, and that exam is not cumulative. In addition to that test, I have to take the Commercial Pilot Written exam which is required after completing AS321, or Commercial Pilot Operations (the ground school for the commercial rating). After that, I head home December 15!

I am not sure that I will talk to you all again before then, but even if I am not writing, please do not hesitate to e-mail me your questions. I love hearing from you. If I don’t talk to you, Happy Holidays and talk to you next year!


November 15, 2010

Hello everybody!

I hope that everything is going well. By now, you are probably in the middle of the application process and maybe have even heard back from some of the schools you applied to, including Embry-Riddle. I remember going through this process and the stress involved with it. Not to worry, though, you will make it through it and you are almost done.

I have kept busy since I last wrote, both with work and leisure. We are getting towards the end of the first semester, so the workload has naturally gotten a bit heavier with final papers/semester projects, tests, and preparation for final exams coming up in the not-too-distant future. It is key in these times to stay organized and keep a schedule of the work that must be done. Otherwise, it is easy to fall into traps of missing assignments and tests. Fortunately, I have Thanksgiving, Christmas, and the associated breaks from school coming up as well—sort of the light at the end of the tunnel.

Since we returned to school after fall break, my friends and I have done several things that were very fun. The first of these activities was going to Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Orlando. Universal does this every Halloween season, but this year, due to it being an anniversary year for the event, it was bigger and scarier than ever. The Universal Studios Park was transformed into a giant haunted event, with 12 individual haunted houses inside of it. In addition to that, several of the normal rides were open and the “city” streets were crawling with zombies wielding chain saws, smoke, and more. It was really fun, and we didn’t end up returning to Daytona Beach until 2:30 am.

This past weekend, I took the 3 hour drive down to southern Florida to visit my grandparents at their house there. This was a nice change of scenery and a break from school life. It was very similar to going home for the weekend, just a lot closer. It was also good to see my grandparents and study by the pool for a bit. It is amazing that there is about a 10 degree temperature difference between the two places this time of year, which really makes a difference.

Some of my friends and I also flew down to Titusville, Florida a few weekends ago. We grabbed lunch at the airport restaurant called the Outer Marker. It was a fun flight and the food was good. We were even able to take advantage of the Veteran’s Day free admission to the air museum on the field. They have a former Blue Angel there as well as several Vietnam-era fighter jets and even World War II era fighters. It was a neat place and was filled with history. My roommate James Dingell took some of these pictures from that day.

Toward the end of each semester, in addition to the workload increasing in your classes, you must being planning your schedule for the next semester. By consulting the list of classes required for your major and the course schedule for the next semester, you piece together a schedule that works for you, including flight block, if you are going to fly. Then, if you are a freshman and even a sophomore or junior, at 12:00am on the morning of the first day of registration for your particular class standing, you log onto the registration website and with essentially everyone else in the same class standing, you click submit to register. This way, you can ensure you get into the classes you want, however you can imagine the chaos that sometimes comes from this process! This will occur tonight in just a few hours, but I am ready!

Since I last wrote, I also observed my friend Alan Larsen’s commercial-rating long cross country to Key West International Airport in Key West, Florida. It was a long flight but it was a great time. We got down there in about two hours and ate lunch before heading back to St. Petersburg and then Daytona. The water in Key West is a great color and it was fun flying down the chain of Keys. I was also amazed at the amount of air service at the airport considering it has only a 4,500 foot runway.

I have also been working with the Airport Operations department at Daytona Beach International Airport recently, and that has given me something to do. It is a busy time at the airport as they have just begun resurfacing the main runway, 7L/25R. Due to this construction and corresponding runway closures and/or decrease in the useable runway, the crosswind runway, 16/34 has been in use recently. This is good for me as this runway runs just outside my window and I have been able to see several Delta DC-9’s takeoff and land on it. I don’t think I will need an alarm clock while this construction is going on!

Well, I guess that is about it! If you have any questions at all, please don’t hesitate to send me an e-mail. I will talk to you soon!

Take care,


November 1, 2010

 Hi everybody! I hope you all are doing well. Things are pretty good with me. My instrument rating flight training has been progressing very quickly recently and has been going very well. Since I wrote last, not all that much has happened here at school. We had our fall break this past weekend, and that proved to be a very well needed and well-deserved period of rest.

Luckily, this semester, my professors decided to be nice and not give any real homework over the break. I remember at this time last year sitting in front of the fireplace at home and typing an essay for my COM122 class. This year, I didn’t bring home a single book and it felt great.

I know you all are reading this because of your interest in Embry-Riddle, but due to the fact that the majority of the time between my last entry and this one was spent in class or at home, I will share with you some of the aviation-related things that I did at home over the break (unless you want me to talk about sitting in lectures—just kidding!)

I flew home via Orlando International Airport. Actually, it might be a good idea to talk about your options for getting to Embry-Riddle, especially if you live out of Florida and need to fly home, so I will do that for a bit.

Basically, you have two primary options when it comes to airports. Daytona Beach International Airport is the first, which, as you know, is next to Embry-Riddle. You could literally walk to the passenger terminal with your suitcases and fly home. The downside to Daytona International is that it is only served by two airlines, Delta and US Airways, and all of the flights are exclusively to either Atlanta or Charlotte, respectively. As such, you may find the fares to be a bit higher at times, especially (and unfortunately) around the Embry-Riddle breaks.

The other option is Orlando International Airport, which is about an hour and fifteen minutes from school. If you don’t have a car, don’t worry, there are two shuttle services—DoShuttle and DOTS—which can take you. Obviously, Orlando is a major international airport so you can fly practically anywhere from there. The downside, though, is obviously the drive and the earlier time you must get there before your flight.

Anyways, I was happy to find that I was on a Boeing 737-800 on this particular route. For years since Delta Song was disbanded, Delta had been flying McDonnell-Douglas MD-88’s on the route, and I was getting very sick of those. Even better was the fact that the aircraft I was on was equipped with in-flight satellite TV. That made the 2 and a half hour flight go by much more quickly. Then, before I knew it, we were on final approach to Bradley International Airport in Windsor Locks, Connecticut.

When we landed, one of my good friends who is an Airport Operations Specialist at Bradley met me at the gate and we were able to catch up a bit while I waited for my mom to pick me up. I hadn’t seen him since the summer and it was good to be able to chat for a while. When I walked outside, I remembered one of the reasons I went to school in Florida—the warmth. It was about 50 degrees and raining, when in Orlando upon departure it was 90 degrees and sunny.

When I walked in the door of my house, my dog jumped up and was all excited to see me. I also saw my family and had the first home-cooked meal I’d had in several months. You really take that for granted when you are living at home through high school. I then went to sleep in my own bed, which was also something that was very nice after months away.

The next day, I paid a visit to my airport in Connecticut. It was a very busy day at the airport that day, which made it even more fun. For one thing, it was Parent’s Weekend at nearby Yale University and the General Aviation ramp was full of private jets. Then, due to President Obama’s planned visit in the area, a C-17 Globemaster filled with his motorcade landed. A convoy of vehicles emerged. Finally, the last phase of the runway resurfacing project began that night which entailed carving the grooves into the runway asphalt. These grooves prevent aircraft from hydroplaning on the runway and they allow the rainwater to drain more efficiently. Unfortunately, it is also the loudest portion of the project, and the neighbors did not like this at all.

Other than that, though, the rest of my break was spent relaxing with my family and some friends who were also on break. I then flew back into Orlando and drove back to Daytona. Now, we are back in classes and into the swing of things.

I apologize for not having more to talk to you all about this entry! Going home really was the majority of what I spent my time doing. Next time, I promise I will have some more stories to tell you. Please ask me any questions you might have—I would be glad to answer.

Talk to you soon!

October 18, 2010

Hi again everybody! Hope you all are doing well. Everything is going well for me. My workload has finally calmed down, and I think I will be able to take a much-needed relaxing weekend this coming weekend when I will be going home to Connecticut for our four-day Fall Break.

As I mentioned, my workload has finally decreased. In my previous entry, I mentioned how the work comes in waves, at least for me. Gladly, for the most part, I am in a trough, so I have some time to relax. Going home this weekend will be nice; I haven’t seen my dog and family since August. I will also be able to pay a visit to my airport at home and see the newly resurfaced runway and my friends and co-workers.

One thing that I like to do to relax is fly. One thing you will realize if you are coming to Embry-Riddle as a flight student is that it can get pretty intense. Especially in the middle of a rating, when the beginning is in the distant past and the completion is just past the end of the tunnel, it is easy to want to give up and stop flying. Literally every single pilot goes through this at some point. I remember that during my Private Pilot Certificate training, I had just finished a bad training flight and was very angry. I was nearly ready to give up flying when the next day, my friends (who were already pilots) offered me to fly to Gainesville for dinner with them.

That is the key, flying for fun every once in a while. It is truly essential because it serves as a reminder of what you are flying for in the first place—because you love it. Not because you are in school for it, because you will make a fortune from it (because, as we all know, you will not), not because you are being pressured to, but just because you love to fly. If you ever start feeling worn out, take a friend or two and go fly, it is a great way to build back up your enthusiasm, and, after you get a rating, to have fun and relax.

So, what I have found myself doing a lot recently is flying. Being in the middle of my instrument rating, I have felt a bit worn out with flying a few times recently, but after the two days of flying that I had this past weekend, I am refreshed and ready to go. I will tell you guys a bit about the flights I did, but first I want to mention something about Embry-Riddle’s Flight Department.

The flight department at Embry-Riddle is as good as it gets. It is recognized in this way around the country and around the world. You know it, employers know it, and it is just a fact. It is why you are interested in becoming a student at Embry-Riddle. But, if you haven’t been fortunate enough to be able to take an observation flight here (which, by the way, if it is at all possible that you come and do this, I strongly recommend it), I am going to describe a few of the things that make Embry-Riddle’s flight department so professional.

For starters, if you have never seen the ramp, take a look at the picture above, it was taken by a good friend of mine, Tony Ports. There are hundreds of training aircraft parked on it, including Cessna 172’s, Piper Arrows, and Diamond DA42 L-360’s. The picture just shows a sampling of these. Additionally, you must ramp in and out with flight dispatchers before and after your flights, much like at an airline. In the sky, you can call the operations frequency and speak with the flight supervisor to request a longer flight, report a problem, etc. The checklists and their usage as well as the callouts used in flight are closely paired with those that airlines use. This is just a sampling, though. You will experience the rest for yourself soon.

The first flight that I did this weekend was to St. Petersburg/Clearwater International Airport (PIE) with my friends Eric and Jeff. We departed from Daytona Beach at around 1930L, and arrived in St. Pete at around 2045L. We then went out for dinner and flew back to Daytona, landing around 2300L. It was a very nice flight, especially because it was at night. I have found that Florida is a very pretty state to fly in at night due to all of the activity happening below you. For our approach into St. Pete, we were vectored directly over the top of Tampa International Airport (TPA), which was also very cool. A picture of one of the terminals is also in this entry.

The second flight I did was to Jacksonville International Airport (JAX) with my roommate, James. This is always a fun flight and one that I enjoy doing very much. Flying up there affords very nice views of historic downtown St. Augustine as well as downtown Jacksonville, Florida. Perhaps my favorite part of flying into JAX though is the fact that it is a relatively busy commercial air carrier service airport. As a result, you always land in a mix of 737’s, 757’s. A320’s, MD-88’s, etc. The FBO we use at Jacksonville is one of the nicest FBO’s that I have visited, and there are plenty of places to grab lunch or dinner nearby the airport. Thanks to James for the use of the pictures from the JAX trip.

Well, that’s about all I have for you guys! Talk to you soon. As usual, please don’t hesitate to e-mail me with any questions you may have.