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!

January 2010

It’s now two weeks into the Spring 2010 semester and I must say it’s going well. My classes are as follow: Introduction to Aerospace Safety (SF210), Air Traffic Management I (AT200), Principles of Management (BA201), English Comp & Literature (COM122), Survey of Meteorology (WX201), and Instrument Flight Single Engine (FA 221). I just started to get in depth work for these classes and I’m excited most about AT200 and SF210; my core courses.

I started my first Part 142 course hear at ERAU which includes a hefty amount of simulator time. I’m currently working towards an Instrument Rating, an additional privilege to my private pilot’s certificate.

During the last two weeks I had books to buy and other supplies. But over the weekend I drove to Orlando with some friends to go plane-spot, a common activity amongst pilots.

The famous Daytona 500 and the Speed Weeks are approaching and will bring in quite a number of visitors to Daytona Beach. I’m excited as it will be my first races, aside from practices. I’m hoping to attend the 500 as well as the Rolex 24.

That’s all for now. More follows as the semester continues.

Over and Out.

February 8th

Hello again to all you readers out there! Let me just start this journal by saying thank you to all of the people who have sent emails with questions, and friends and family who are always chomping at the bit, waiting for me to post another journal. Things here in Daytona have been flying, and I couldn’t be happier with this semester’s turnout so far. Classes are still going fairly well and I am beginning to feel a little more at ease with the workload and overall expectations of what’s to come. I had two tests this last week, in Calculus and Physics, which I felt thoroughly prepared for and my performance was reflected in that. I scored very well on both tests and it was very pleasing to see the work I’d put in so far pay off. It has been freezing cold all this last week, but the good news is that it is supposed to be in the seventies during this entire upcoming week. I can definitely dig that! Walking to classes in the cold, especially at eight in the morning, is a real bummer – particularly when you are late so running through it is your only option. Nevertheless, I’m looking forward to warmer weather.

As far as student activities are concerned, I just have one thing to say about last week. Rush Week was a blast! All of the events were planned and organized very well, so it was nice to just be able to attend, have a great time, and get to know all of the brothers in Pike. I was able to attend all of the rush events, which included an “Invitation Only” dinner on Friday night, which was essentially for all of the men who received a bid to join Pike. We had a blast, and I am very happy with my decision to rush Pike. Besides Rush Week, there have been quite a few things going on in Daytona. We had the Rolex 24 race last weekend, then yesterday was the Budweiser Shootout, and all this coming up week is the Daytona 500 celebration leading up to the race on Sunday. It should be a lot of fun, but it will certainly be crowded. I headed across the street to the Volusia Mall yesterday, and was informed that I was being charged forty dollars for parking. I told the woman I just simply wanted to go to the mall, and she waived the fee. That seems like the start of a crowded and overwhelming week. I’ll try to stay on campus to avoid it all.

As I said before, my classes are at their stage where tests are beginning to start flying at me from all angles. I had two tests last week, and I have three tests this week. I feel fairly confident, but it is a little much all at once. Regardless, I’ll keep you updated as to how I perform. I am also looking into doing an internship in West Palm Beach working at the ATC Tower and TRACON (Terminal Radar Approach Control – basically the guys who handle all the departures after takeoff and arrivals before landing) facilities. I have completed all of the paperwork and have met all of the requirements to apply for the position, but I am required to wait until the first of March to go any further. However, I am excited about the opportunity nonetheless.

I hope you all enjoyed the Super Bowl. I am a Jacksonville Jaguars fan, so I really didn’t care who won the game. The Pikes had a get-together at one of the brother’s houses, so some of my pledge-brothers and I went and hung out. It was a great time, and an excellent opportunity for me to continue to meet more of the fraternity. Anyway, that’s all for now. I have an Air Traffic Management test tomorrow at eight o’clock in the morning. What was I thinking taking a class that early? At any rate, shoot me an email if any questions arise about Riddle or college in general. You can also find me on Facebook.

See ya!