March 28, 2011

Welcome back everyone! Spring break is over and that means were on our last third of the semester. 25 days of classes left. It’s another thing you will love about being in college. In high school, you go on spring break and when you come back you still have like 2 months left. Here at Riddle we only have about a month. Just before spring break I did my local solo, which is different than my first solo where my instructor and I flew to an airport and she hopped out and I did a couple landings. This time I left Daytona by myself, took off and flew around in the local practice area. I did some stalls and slowflight and then came back to Daytona.

Great experience and very liberating to know I could it do it all by myself. Delta 757 flew right over me as I was coming in back to the airport, which was really awesome to see. Anyways, it was great to get home and to see friends and family. I flew out of Daytona, which tends to be easier sometimes plus I get to fly on a different variety of planes rather than Southwest’s common 737. I flew out on a Delta 757-200 and, just like Delta, we had a maintenance issue. Supposedly there was a fuel leak, so we were delayed approximately 35 minutes or so.

If you are like me, one thing that will love once you start travelling again after you’ve gained knowledge of aviation, is that you think about what the pilots are doing and what’s going on in the cockpit. I was right behind the wing and I saw that when we taxied on to the runway, which I knew because of construction it was shortened to 7,150 ft instead of 10,000ft, that the flaps were much lower than usual. I knew from learning to fly that he was performing a short-field takeoff, which is a takeoff where you want to get off the ground as soon as possible due to a shorter than usual runway. I am performing these in my course in my Cessna 172. It really is amazing how the same maneuver is performed in the different aircraft but the same idea is being used. The flaps are increased to provide more lift and take off at a quicker speed and, once you are lined up with the runway centerline, you hold the breaks and full power. Once engine instruments are in the green, you let go of the brakes and fly down the runway and rotate at a lower speed and pitch up a bit higher. Stopped in Atlanta for a bit and then flew back to Baltimore.

Wasn’t so great to go back to the cold but supposedly I brought the warmth with me. It got up to about 55-60 when I was home, but the day after I left they got a couple inches of snow, which is hard to believe. I arrived back in Daytona with sunshine and 85 degrees. The next morning, I had to go pick up friends from Orlando Intl. Their flight was due in at 11am but because of some pilot from University of North Dakota, which you will learn is kinda like our rival school, I guess, put too much fuel on board and they were over takeoff weight so they had to spend an hour or so to take some fuel out. So I spent an hour just sitting in my friend’s car at the cell phone waiting lot with the sunroof and all the windows down, listening to LiveATC through her speakers since I have it on my iPhone and she had an Aux cable and then watching those same planes take off and contact departure. It was very relaxing plus I got a nice tan. This week it is supposed to rain and thunderstorm, which I am very excited for, because although I love the Florida sun and heat, I love when a little change is thrown. Also this week, we will be picking dorms for those students who will be living on campus next year. I have happily gotten a low number for the lottery so I will most likely guaranteed a spot in Apollo, the newest dorm and right next to McKay and a great view of the airport. I also get to pick my suitemates so I have gotten together with 3 other friends who we decided to live with. Other than that it was a great spring break and looking forward to final exams and then it’s summer. If you haven’t already I highly suggest you sign up and come to the Accepted Students event here on campus on April 16. Go here to register.

March 28, 2011

 Hi everyone. How is everything going? I am doing well myself. I just got back to Daytona Beach after Spring Break so I am feeling refreshed and ready to complete the semester. It is hard to believe that there are only about 20 days of classes left until the summer.

Since I last wrote, classes have been good and the workload has been manageable. Work at the airport has also been fun and I have been working hard there on designing a training program for employees that drive on the airport ramps and aprons. It should be a very good program when it is completed.

As I have mentioned before, the spring is a very busy time in Daytona Beach. Now that the majority of the racing events and Bike Week is behind us, college spring break has been filling the area, including the 5 daily Boeing 757’s that Delta Air Lines has been flying into Daytona Beach International Airport. Going down to the beach area, normally very quiet during the year, you can see college kids everywhere on break, just enjoying the sun. It makes things exciting. My friends and I have gone down to the OceanWalk area of the beach several times to eat dinner and see what was going on and it is always fun.

As I said earlier, our Spring Break just ended as well. Many students either go home or on vacations to other areas of Florida during this time. Many, though, take advantage of the area that the school is in and stay around to socialize with the thousands of other college kids doing the same thing. I, personally, have a tradition of vacationing with my family during this time, and that is what I did. We always have a great time and this trip was no exception.

Initially, I planned on starting the trip on the Friday prior to the start of Spring Break by heading down to my parent’s house in Boynton Beach. However, when I woke up on Thursday, I discovered that my two classes on Friday had been cancelled so I actually ended up leaving Thursday afternoon, adding a whole day to the vacation. When I got to the house, I saw it furnished for the first time and I have to say that it now finally looks like a house. We stayed there until Monday, just looking around the area, going to the beach and pool, and visiting with my grandparents.

That Monday, we drove to the Universal Orlando Resort in Orlando until Thursday. While I did attend Halloween Horror Nights here in October, I had actually not visited the park as a whole for many years, since the last time I vacationed there with my family. We stayed at one of our favorite hotels on the property, Loew’s Portofino Bay Hotel, which is themed around the Italian town. The best part of staying at a Universal hotel is that by showing your room key at the entrance to the attractions at the park, you can bypass the line and walk right onto the ride. It is a great perk. They also run water taxis back and forth from the resorts to the parks, which is very convenient.

We actually found the parks to be surprisingly empty. With the exception of the new “Wizarding World of Harry Potter” at Universal’s Islands of Adventure (which I will talk about in a second), the park’s attractions seldom had wait times greater than 20 minutes. Using my iPhone, I looked up the Disney World parks and saw wait times of over 60 minutes in some cases, definitely much busier than where we were. This made it a lot easier to get around though and it was actually nice.

At the Universal Studios Florida park, a brand new roller coaster opened called the Hollywood Rip Ride Rocket. It is very similar in theme (of course, not as detailed as a Disney ride would be) to the Rock ‘n Roller Coaster at Disney’s Hollywood Studios theme park, but slightly more intense. The coaster begins with a 90 degree vertical ascent to the top, followed by a not much shallower descent down, combined with many twists, turns, and loops. During the ride, a song of your choice is blasted into your ears and the entire ride is recorded—some attempt at filming a music video. The videos come out really cool, but of course cost $50 dollars to purchase.

As I mentioned before, at the Islands of Adventure park, a new “island” based upon Hogwarts and Hogsmeade from the Harry Potter book series was constructed and let me tell you something. I consider myself a theme park expert having been to many in my lifetime but you do not know crowded until you have seen this place. Having just been constructed, it is still extremely popular, but you had to receive an entry time just to ENTER the section of the park, let alone ride any of the attractions there. What my family did one night is go to the park about 10 minutes before closing, and we were able to walk right into the area as well as the attraction there (which during the day has waits of up to 300 minutes). It was very well done for Universal, but being the Disney geek I am, I was quick to notice some of its deficiencies which took away from the fantastical effect. Nonetheless, it was great. The town has been masterfully recreated as has Hogwarts castle. Even the train at the platform is there with smoke coming out of its smokestack.

The lines, though, continued. There were lines of 90 minutes just to ENTER one of the stores in the area. Yes, you had to wait in line to spend money. Luckily, I am not a Harry Potter fan and I could have cared less to see what was in the stores. BUT, one line I did wait in was the line for “butterbeer,” apparently some type of drink featured in the book. It is essentially extra-sweet cream soda, with a butterscotch froth added to the top to make it look like beer. It is actually one of the best things I have ever tasted.

While many things had changed since the last time I was there, it was still a lot of fun. My favorites, like the Blues Brothers concert, Twister, Dudley Do-Right’s Ripsaw Falls, and Popeye and Bluto’s Bilge-Rat Barges are still there and operating.

On Thursday, we returned to Boynton Beach and relaxed a bit more before I drove back to Daytona Sunday. It was a great time and I enjoyed the much-needed break.

But, other than that, nothing else is new! I am back now to the grind and am looking forward to getting all of the remaining coursework done before a nice long summer off. I hope that you guys are doing well in school as well, and I hope that if you haven’t already, you are able to come and take a campus tour.

As usual, don’t hesitate to ask me any questions you might have!

Talk to you soon!


March 13, 2011

And just like that we only have 50 days before summer…I finally booked my trip home through American Airlines. Flying through Los Angeles. I don’t know how to feel about not being in school for 4 months. I’ll definitely miss this place!

The past two weeks have been filled with nothing. I think I may have settled a record for going to downtown Disney! A record 2 times! Just can’t get enough of it, I suppose…We tried out a new restaurant, though! A hometown favorite: Pollo Campero. Fried chicken at its finest, if you ask me!

Earlier in the day, though, we took a trip to Ikea. It was Jim’s first time! He had to buy some sheets, but we ended up with so many things!! Alex bought a chair, and I bought more rugs for my room. I absolutely love that store!! We spent hours over there.

It seems like everybody on campus left Daytona when they had the chance to these past few weeks. Remember when I said that Race Week was the busiest I’ve ever seen Daytona? Well, I stand corrected: bike week has been one of the worst things ever. Bikers everywhere! Estimates top 20,000 bikers in town. Student Village went on lockdown all day, too, giving access only to those with Eagle Cards (our University ID card). A few friends and I decided to go to the Speedway to check out what was going on. We went at the end of the day though (near 5 o’clock), so as everyone was packing up to go home, we headed to the Ford tent to get some free goodies.

The weather hasn’t exactly been cooperating these weeks either. Jim has had to ground himself because of weather. It’s been so cold (to you northerners—yes, 60 IS cold), too! Next week, though we’re supposed to be getting temperatures in the mid-80s.

This past weekend (well, technically this weekend), Jim’s friend from back home came down for Spring Break. We went to visit her and then headed over to Disney’s Boardwalk after. I liked the place. It’s one of the few places at Disney where I’ve never been. It’s so empty though, and we were able to catch the EPCOT fireworks from a distance. The day ended with a nice dinner at Bongo’s (Cuban food), once again.

So overall, things have been going great. School has been fine…although I’m thinking of changing my minor from Astronomy to Unmanned Aerial Systems. I have to go talk to my advisor tomorrow to see if they will accept some of those credits as my upper-level technical elective (so I don’t have to take too many extra classes). I also went to talk to my other awesome advisor, Stickney! To those of you who have him as your freshman advisor…kudos! He’s amazing. We’re looking into revamping the Latin and Hispanic Students Organization on campus! All you Latinos/Hispanics, join next semester!!! To those of you familiar with Miami—cafecito day, anyone??

I’ve also noticed many of you have been getting your acceptance letters. Congratulations!! If you send me your questions, I’ll answer those, and heck, I might even start addressing frequently asked questions on here, so ask away! I’m going home next Friday, so I promise next blog will be longer and better J I leave you with one thing: Sneak Preview.

March 13, 2011

This weekend was definitely a good ending to a pretty hectic week and a good kick-off to another crazy week before spring break. Trust I have three papers due; one in Com 122 (English), HU143 (Intro to rhetoric), and one for SS110 (World History). On top of all those being due, a test for SP110 (Intro to Space Flight) and constant piling homework in MA140 (College Algebra) were added in.

I decided with all the things going on that Friday thru Sunday had to be something exciting and fun for me to relax amongst all the work and stressfulness these two weeks had and would bring. Friday night while attending the ODK (a Greek organization) charity event, I hung out with my friends and fellow DJs from WIKD (Eagles FM). I stood by for awhile and tried to learn how to spin for Mobile DJ-ing should I decide to do it later on. And then around 8 headed to a hilarious Friday Night Laughs featuring two hilarious comedians; John Bush and Kyle Dunnigans! Afterwards, I proceeded back to the DJ tent and sat there freezing until I just couldn’t take it anymore.

The next day was just as, or even more relaxing than the day before considering I basically lounged around with my friend, worked on an article for the Avion (our school newspaper) and then some other homework assignments. The night brought an experiment with night time photography and the use of shutter speed and flash techniques. Over all I couldn’t complain about my weekend. It was relaxing, not overly crazy or anything and, although today (Sunday I would be doing more homework so I can hopefully have a more peaceful week, I also will be doing fun things in between. I’ll be taking time to listen to some music or look over some of my photos from the previous night/morning and maybe even edit some. I am excited for the Spring break vacation and relaxing, but I am in no way saying I won’t still have work to do over the break because I will but I am more determined than ever to stay positive and open to a moment of free thought or even a nap. So when I’m finished here, I’ll help my friend flat iron her hair and share funny stories then later on do some homework while listening to some fun music…that’s something I can look forward to definitely.

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.

March 13, 2011

I love March. So many events go on and it really is a great month, well for me at least it is. It means that it’s spring (even though it feels like it’s been spring here in Daytona for the past 2 months), my birthday was March 11 and now I only have one week left of classes until SPRING BREAK!
My birthday was really fun. I only got 5 hours of sleep because I was so excited, even though I had a cross country the following morning. In spite of losing sleep, I was though extremely awake, I mean who wouldn’t be excited to spend the first 3 hours of your birthday 6000 feet in the sky, flying over Florida?! If you find someone, let me know. My instructor and I flew to Melbourne, Florida, not Melbourne Australia. It was a great flight, even though I learned that Melbourne Tower are not the friendliest of people. My instructor and I talked about it on the way. She went on to say that our school is going to be talking to them because they have a reputation for being cruel to students, which isn’t a good thing, especially if they are on a solo flight. It causes the student to become stressed out even more and possibly upset, which can lead to more confusion and possibly even an accident.
Anyways, once back on the ground, I had classes as usual and spent the night driving around Daytona and had a pizza/movie night with friends. I was sad to say that Bike Week was the week of my birthday. I officially hate motorcycles more than when I came down here. If you do bring your car to school and are out during Bike Week, please make sure to “Look Twice, Save a Life” as they say. As we were driving around on my birthday, we saw a motorcyclist who got hit by a truck; hopefully he is ok.
Another event occurred this past week and that was the 8.9 earthquake in Japan that triggered a huge tsunami that devastated Japan. All of Japan is in my thoughts and the death toll is supposedly over 10,000 people. We also went to IKEA in Orlando, which was awesome, since I love IKEA and it was my friend Jim’s first time. Let’s just say he is now in love with the store.
Classes are going good and I seem to be enjoying some of them more than I originally thought I would. For my humanities class we actually have spent a bunch of time watching Dr. Who?, which if you don’t know is a television show in the UK. We watch and then spend the rest of the time talking about the episodes, themes, and other contributions to the series.
This coming week won’t be too difficult, although I have one test on Monday and a paper due on Friday. Many professors are being extremely nice and cancelling class on Friday because of the fact that many people are trying to get out of town early. I, however, don’t leave till the following Monday. I am flying back home to Maryland and I am very excited to see friends and family. I was planning on staying here and building up my hours because there is a great discount for people who do so but because of the huge snow storm at the beginning of the year, my mom was refunded her Miles for Delta so we got a pretty sweet discount to fly home. Plus, after spring break, we don’t have any huge breaks until the end of the semester, which, believe it or not, is about a month and a half away.By that time, I will become a junior and only have 2 years of school left until I graduate. Besides my flight that I told you about, I am scheduled to finish my private license by the 2nd week of April which is a little behind schedule because of weather and spring break but I only have about 7 flights left, including the check ride. I also received my shirt tail from my solo from my instructor. It was such a happy moment and I framed it and it is now hanging in our middle room, which you can see here. Many of you have added me on facebook and emailed me questions and I would like to thank you for your continuous support and would like to tell you that you should definitely stay tuned this week to my Youtube Channel Because I will be putting a lot of updates on the channel this week before I fly home. The rest of the dorm tours, which people have been waiting for, are also coming. Till next time-Over and out!

February 28, 2011

So here we are, almost halfway through the semester. We will all be headed home for summer break in less than two months, although many of us are going home for spring break (which is less than 20 days away!!)

It seems like so much has happened over the past two weeks. From our astronauts making Riddle history to parents visiting, I have had some of the best days since I’ve been here at Riddle.

Last weekend, the Women’s Center—yes, once again—sponsored a trip to the Kennedy Space Center. The FIRST Mentor program was lucky enough to go on a backstage tour of the facilities. Since the tour bus was filled with future engineers/potential NASA employees, our tour guide made sure we had the best trip possible. And what better way then being able to get an up-close view of Discovery on the launch pad one week before it made its final trip into space? That’s right; we got to see the space shuttle a measly one mile from where it stood! That’s about the equivalent of the length of our campus! The trip was bittersweet however—knowing this was the end of an era (not to sound cheesy or anything), but also seeing as the second launch pad was being torn down by two giant red cranes. It really made me wonder what’s next for us. Riddle is already focusing on sending a satellite into orbit…what’s next, a major in “astronaut training”? That would be amazing…

Because it was a beautiful long weekend, and the weather finally heated up to a very hot 85 degrees, our friends decided to have an outdoor BBQ. We have a few pits right by McKay (a freshman dorm/”Paradise Hotel”), so we just all got together and had a great time eating and playing volleyball. Much to my dislike, they decided to take an impromptu trip to the beach. At first, I didn’t want to go, considering I had a paper due on Wednesday, but they convinced me to go. Thank goodness my skin is dark, because almost everybody had bad sunburns!!

That Monday was homework day, which was mostly dedicated to studying for the two tests I had that week (tech report writing and computer-aided drafting). I must say I did fairly well on those, along with math and physics [from the week prior]. After Wednesday, for the first time in a very long time, I had absolutely nothing due. I didn’t even know what to do with myself, so I started researching for a potential project with a few friends. We are planning on designing an attraction to submit to Disney’s ImagiNATIONS competition, even though we can’t enter until our junior year.

Thursday was the next big day! Right after class, my roommate and I started getting ready to drive down to Titusville to watch Discovery launch from Cape Canaveral. Many, many people I know skipped their last classes to drive down (and many, many professors cancelled classes/office hours for it). I mean, come on, you must support the 1/3 of the crew from Riddle! Plus the flight director?? I think we win. Anywho, we made our way down at around 3 o’clock (which we aptly nicknamed the “Great Riddle Migration”), and decided a viewing site that would let us have a clear view while avoiding the huge crowds that gather at Space Park. We decided to drive down Kennedy Parkway, and got a pretty nice spot less than 10 miles away from the pad. Everybody held their breaths as NASA announced a computer problem in Houston. With only a 10-minute launch window, we couldn’t believe they couldn’t fix it in time. T-5 minutes and counting. 16:48. Countdown resumed. T-1 minute. Get your cameras ready! 10…9…8…7…Go for main engine start. It’s now or never…5…4…3…*puff of smoke seen at a distance*, 2…1…silence. A distant light shoots across the sky. A few minutes later, the boosters separate. A roaring is finally heard approaching. Everybody can finally breathe. Truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience. It is so sad that we will only see two more…

And just like that, this past weekend arrived. Embry-Riddle hosted its annual Parent Weekend, where parents (of course) and family members can come visit us and take part in activities hosted by the University. My parents couldn’t come, but Jim’s parents and brother did, and we had an amazing weekend together. The highlight of the weekend was probably Saturday night, when we went to Disney Quest, a five-story arcade in the heart of Downtown Disney. Jim’s brother, David, is a video game designer, so he had a blast going through all the interactive areas. After that, we had dinner at Bongo’s Cuban Café, and came home at around 1 in the morning.

Sunday was a very bittersweet day, as we said our goodbyes. On the bright side, I bought my ticket home for summer break for really cheap through American Airlines! It was almost half as much as it would have been flying out of Daytona….so I say when you’re looking to come here, fly into Orlando and rent a car (these can be so cheap sometimes!)

Well, I suppose that’s it for me! Nothing too interesting coming up in these next few weeks, although I’m really looking forward to tomorrow! Touch N Go is announcing the lineup for the Big Show in April. I have my bets on Reel Big Fish and Less than Jake…so we’ll see if I’m right! Tonight, the honors program center is hosting a speaker, Michael Foy, who will speak on “the search for absolute silence”…should be interesting, I suppose. Also remember to sign up for the sneak preview coming up in April!

February 28, 2011

Lately school has become busier than normal. I have classes five days a week and after school things to attend nearly every day (including a DJ show for WIKD-Eagles FM). But above all the managing of school work, activities, is taking out the time to rest or just breathe a little and relax finally.

It seems all my journals are having a common theme of relaxing, taking a breather, sleeping, money managing or something to the sort. Now don’t get me wrong, all those things are important, but when in college there is one thing you must remember no matter what happens: your first priority is school, an education. An obvious thing I’m sure, but sometimes you forget the fact that if you’re not careful you risk spending extra money to retake a class you failed, or find yourself under academic probation or even expulsion. It’s easy to get wrapped up in everything going on with your activities (though many require a certain GPA) or even the very freedom of college itself. But with much freedom comes responsibility.

No longer will you have mom or dad to wake you up for school each morning or the call of a friend (possibly) to remind you that you have a test or homework. The thing is you’re getting older and you have to get used to the idea of living a life that is no longer on your parent’s terms but based on your own choices that you make. Sure you can stay up till 4 a.m. but if you have a class at 8 a.m. will you be regretting your all-nighter, sleep-in and/or ultimately miss your class and regret it when you realize you missed out on vital information or an important assignment.

It’s the decisions you make today that will have a profound effect on your tomorrow. As long as you remember that you will never forget that your main goal in college is to walk across that stage with a diploma and big smile proclaiming your achievements for all to see.

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

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

February 28, 2011

So the other day in Flight Physiology, my teacher takes out the attendance sign-off sheet. He notices that the first page is full and he told us that that means that we are halfway through the semester already. I couldn’t believe what he said. He was right though because I came to my room that night and found that we only had about 60 days left until final exams. Time does really fly around here, literally. The past week has been awesome. I had a friend come down and visit for a week and it was great to see each other and catch up. He met my friends and he seemed to really enjoy himself. Great weather meant that it was perfect time to spend a whole day outdoors. So our group organized a grill session outside McKay.

We all chipped in and grilled burgers, hot dogs, and then after we played soccer and volleyball. To make it even better we decided to head to the beach. I had to rub it in my friends’ faces. While they were up north dealing with snow and cold, we were sunbathing and relaxing at the beach. During the day, we totally forgot that it was only February!

The next day we decided to head to CityWalk, which is part of Universal Studios, for dinner. We ate at Margaritaville, one of my favorite places, and then headed over to Downtown Disney to look around, shop, and basically anything. That’s another thing you can throw in your friends’ faces. You will be driving distance away from Disney, Universal, SeaWorld, all those amazing places that people come from around the world to see. Also, this past week was the last launch of Discovery down in Cape Canaveral. I was in class until 3:30 and the launch was at 4:50. As soon as I got out of class we drove as fast but “as safe” as we could to make it. Sadly, traffic and elderly drivers led to us being about 10-15 miles away from the Launchpad. We pulled off the side of the road and took as many pictures as we could.

We could feel the ground shake and the deep roaring of the rocket. It was a surreal experience and so glad I was able to see it a bit closer than school. If you are in class during the launch, most teachers let you out to see it and some even take their classes up on the roof of the College of Aviation to see it. There only two more Shuttle launches April 19th and June 28th. Accepted Students Sneak Preview is April 16th so if you are able to come down, which I highly recommend, see if you are able to stay a couple extra days so you can see it. It is so much more amazing than watching it on a tv, even a high-definition 56 inch version.

This past weekend was Parent Weekend where, obviously, parents of students could come, visit, fly with their kids, and go to class with them. My mom made the drive down from North Carolina and it was great to see her. We spent our time just relaxing together and figuring some scheduling out for next semester and what I am doing during the summer, which I decided I might stay and complete my Instrument Rating because there is about a 15% discount.

A final subject is the Daytona 500. Although I didn’t go to the race, its presence was known. You could hear the race from anywhere on campus and could see the smoke from the tires burning raging from the track. I’m not a NASCAR fan but there was one benefit to the race and that was the fact that there were so many planes flying in and out of Daytona. The day of the race, there were so many planes landing that the airport decided to park the planes on the alternate runway. I’ve never seen so many private jets and charter 737s in my life. I also loved how Delta began flying 757s into Daytona because of the known increasing traffic around this spring break period. It’s always great to see a variety of planes taking off right in front of you as you prepare for taxi. This coming week I will begin flying my cross-countries, which are flights that are more than 50 nautical miles. So that means I will most likely fly to Gainesville or Melbourne for my first trip on Wednesday. Hope you dealing with cold weather up there, northerners. Over and out.