Rockets, Racecars, and other fine things

Hello readers, it’s been a while since I’ve shared some stories with you, but let’s catch up!

It’s been a busy first few weeks this semester, mainly because of my new position at The Avion Newspaper, which I believe I mentioned before. I work as the News editor, and I manage the content which we run each week. It’s an honor to do, and I love all the new things it has been teaching me. You can read all of our issues by clicking here

My classes this semester are:

Physics 2, Turbine engines, Crew Resource Management, FMS Systems, and Aviation Legislation. It’s a pretty good variety of subjects and will keep me busy. I’m starting to get to the point in my degree program where the courses are much more specialized.

On to the cool stuff now!

My press badge. SO COOL. In the background is the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB)

My press badge. SO COOL. In the background is the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB)

On January 23rd I got the opportunity to drive down to KSC, (or Cape Canaveral, The Kennedy Space center, or whatever you prefer to call it) There, I was covering a rocket launch and had full PRESS accreditation as a reporter from The Avion Newspaper. I went with my managing Editor, Matt Micholowitz. We spent the evening hanging around the press area before we got on the bus to go to NASA static test road to watch the launch. United Launch Alliance was launching their TDRS-L satellite, which is a communications satellite for NASA’s Space Network. The Rocket was a Delta V-401 configuration and launched at 9:33 pm. It was really cold that night, and i was surrounded by a few dozen other anxious photographers waiting to get the perfect shot. My best photo we included in the Avion after I wrote a story on the launch, you can see my photo below. It was so cool to get to attend this launch, and I couldn’t have done it without being involved in The Avion Newspaper.

The Rocket lifts off at 9:33 PM, it lit up the entire area, it was awesome!

The Rocket lifts off at 9:33 PM, it lit up the entire area, it was awesome!

A few days later on the 25th  I got to go to the ROLEX 24, which was a 24 hour Endurance race featuring some of the most powerful supercars in the world. I spent 8 hours at the D  a  y  t  o  n  a    S  p  e  e  d  w  a  y with some other Avion Photographers: Trey Henderson-Editor in Chief, Matt Micholowitz-Managing Editor, Richard Weakly- Advertising Manager, Austin Coffey- Photo Editor, and Lynsay Hurilla-Business Manager.  I held a Canon 60D close and took some great photos!  it was the first time I got to use a professional quality camera and glass. The atmosphere was in an uproar of revving engines and screaming tires. I stayed from early afternoon until late at night, this allowed me to get a great variety of photos at the event.  It was the first time I had been at the track and will not be soon forgotten. I had a blast spending a day there, take a look at my favorite photos below.

A lot of power in this picture!

A lot of power in this picture!

rolex2 rolex3 rolex4

So as you can see, it’s been quite a ride so far this semester, my opportunities have opened up a lot through being at the Avion. These are the lives of students at ERAU, we get to do incredible things. It’s an honor to share them with you on this blog, as always, you are free to contact me with any questions about flying and life. It’s fulfilling to write this page, but the real value in it for me is when someone contacts me and wants to talk.

I get pretty busy here at school, and sometimes it can feel discouraging. It wears me down. Throughout last week I had a song in my head, it was from Willy Wonka and the chocolate factory. All week long it played over and over:

“If you want to view paradise,

Simply look around and view it,

Anything you want to, do it

Want to change the world?

There’s nothing to it.”

So, you know what I did? I took time in the middle of the day to watch Willy Wonka and the Chocolate factory. Sure maybe I had other things to do, but the time i spent refreshed me to get through the week. It was much more important that I was focused and relaxed.  Sometimes you just have to escape into paradise for a while, and that’s what I did. Those words have become sort of a motto for me. If you want to make an impact, then just go do it! don’t let anything hold you back. If you look for the good things in life and take joy in them, you’ll be propelled by that Joy to do things you never felt possible. I’ve done things and gone places while at ERAU that I never imagined I would do.

wonka

Please email me at wilkinsz@my.erau.edu if you have any questions or just want to talk to someone about ERAU.

 

A banner tower circled above us for most of the daytime. I couldn't resist snapping a photo.

A banner tower circled above us for most of the daytime while at the 24. I couldn’t resist snapping a photo.

 

 

An Aeronautical Science Lifestlye

 

Morning pre-flight

Hello reader,

My name is Zachary Wilkinson and I am the new guy on this page. I am a Junior living Aeronautical Science here at the DB campus. I said living because ‘studying’ simply doesn’t cover it. For me this degree is indeed a lifestyle, and I work to learn more every day.If you are considering this degree or are currently practicing it, then let me share a little bit about what I feel makes an AS student successful.

Number one You must be willing to go the extra mile to learn

Your activity doesn’t cease once you exit the classroom or leave the Flight operations building. From day one the standard expected of you is that of a professional pilot. So make it an objective to spend some time at the end of the day to think about what you have learned in your classes and how it can be applied, application is a higher level of learning. My favorite way to actively increase my Aeronautical knowledge is to read aviation related books. I believe that the more perspectives I can gain for myself the better prepared I will be for when I encounter something new. If you don’t like reading, then you will have trouble, because the amount of information you must know just for the Private Certificate is very extensive. The FAA and our library has all kinds of great publications.

Furthermore, The Flight program here at Embry-Riddle is more than just about hours and airplanes. You also accept the safety culture of ERAU and the standards of the best Flight University in the world. The reality is that only about  60% of first-year AS students remain in this degree program. Don’t let that statistic scare you, let it prepare you. Many students find out that the degree just doesn’t suit them, they switch degrees, and continue happily with their change. There is nothing shameful in choosing what is better for your future.

Number two: Be humble

The fastest way to end up sidelined is thinking that you are ‘God’s gift’ to the aviation industry. At this university you are blessed to be surrounded by professors and instructors who have decades of experience. Respect them, get to know them,  and learn from them. Also, Think on this quote for a while:

“Every pilot is a student pilot, whether ten hours or ten thousand”

—Robert Parke

The FAA has compiled a list of Hazardous attitudes which can make a pilot dangerous. They are: Resignation, Anti-Authority, Impulsivity, Invulnerability, and Macho. You can tackle Invulnerability, Macho, and Anti-Authority by being a humble learner as long as you operate and aircraft. You will find it interesting to know that the most dangerous pilot is not a young student pilot with less than a hundred hours. That student pilot is most likely a bit nervous still, he or she is cautious, they may be afraid the airplane could rip apart at any moment due to the blistering 100 kt. cruise speeds. Simply put, They are humbled by the aircraft. The most dangerous Pilot  is the one who is comfortable, they likely have over 1,000 hours and operating an aircraft is second nature to them. This is when danger can set in.

Number three: Be of Good character

“Experience is plentiful and easy to buy, but Character is Priceless” —Calvin Coolidge

The leaders of best companies the industry are not just looking for a pilot to fill a seat with minimum qualifications, they are looking for a well rounded individual who can be trusted with $100 million dollars of liability. A pilot with Integrity of character will be highly sought after and your decision making skills will be evaluated. For example, It is very common for Air carriers  to look into you before you even set foot in an interview. Things like Background checks, reference checks, and even credit checks are done. They may even browse your facebook page. When they look into how you manage your life as a whole and it will tell them a lot about how you will perform as an operator of their aircraft. Make yourself employable and as always, be careful with how you portray yourself on Social Media. Nothing is secret.

Number four: Love what you do

“Science, beauty, freedom, adventure; what more could you ask of life?”

—Charles Augustus Lindbergh

I think this would qualify as the most important of the list. The road ahead will not be easy, that is why you must be absolutely certain that this is something you want to do. Flying has to be important enough for you to be willing to retrain an activity 10 times and still put on your ramp badge and walk out onto the flightline and be ready give it another shot. The inner drive that wakes you up at 5 AM for a flight and keeps you awake till 3 AM on weekends making lesson plans is a Love for what you do.

One of my favorite things is morning activities. The air is smooth and brisk.  I get to watch the sun rise as my instructor and I fly out to the practice area. It is during these times that I know I am right where I want to be. The Florida sun is often glowing in long orange rays which peak between slowly lumbering Cumulus clouds off the coast. You haven’t seen a sunrise until you have watched it aloft.

 

What I am most excited for is when I complete my Flight Instructor certificate and can teach students how to fly. A flight instructor is a teacher,and I cannot wait to teach! But until then, I am satisfied with trying to impart some of the wisdom I have gained through this Blog.  I hope you will take some of these words seriously but more importantly I hope you enjoyed it. Thankyou for reading, you rock!

Feel free to contact me with any questions about pretty much anything: wilkinsz@my.erau.edu

What am I reading right now?        ‘The Proficient Pilot’ by Barry Schiff