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Discipline and Positivity Will Help Improve the Pilot Population as Much as Anything

Conditions are often not ideal, but when you work amongst positive people you can do amazing things.

Conditions are often not ideal, but when you work amongst positive people you can do amazing things.

There is an article I have seen circulating on social media about the pilot shortage and how airlines have largely brought it upon themselves through the way they treat their pilots.  While I don’t doubt that the airlines couldn’t treat all of their employees better (what company outside of Google couldn’t?), I found the article to be mostly a bunch of whining with a whole lot of contradiction.

The one area that I wholeheartedly agree with is that flying is becoming too darn expensive for the vast majority of people to pursue.  A select few may be able to secure scholarships, have rich parents, or survive a career in the military before going to an airline, but for the rest it will be a massive financial sacrifice to secure a good job flying planes.  No matter how much pride or excitement someone has for flying, if you can’t afford it, it will never happen.  That is the real challenge when it comes to people not becoming pilots.  I know it has been for me.

It all went downhill from there.

She goes on to mention how airline executives talked a lot about discipline in last week’s IATA conference and how that translates into cutting costs and charging passengers more.  However, the definition of discipline she provided was, “requiring punishment for bad behavior…”  So who exactly behaved badly here, the passengers who are being punished with increased fares and fees, or…yeah, I don’t see anybody else mentioned in the following paragraphs except for employees.  That is the real focus of the rest of the article.

I find it interesting that she chose to use that definition of discipline since she followed that up with plenty of examples of employees that could use a little discipline of the type she mentioned.  She also states that, “discipline is something you force, not something you earn.”  Which I completely disagree with because of the definition of discipline that I feel is far more applicable in this situation.  I prefer, “willing behavior in accord with rules of conduct.”  This likely stems from my military background and how I have seen both good and poor discipline affect outcomes. 

"Just a few people with a positive ideology can change the world."

“Just a few people with a positive ideology can change the world.”

When personal discipline is present amazing things can be accomplished and the organization as a whole functions more efficiently, and with higher morale.  The exact opposite occurs when a lack of discipline is exhibited, which is when her definition of discipline comes into play.  Personal discipline is in fact earned through hard work and determination to do your very best against all odds.  It is exactly the type of discipline that allows the diligent pilot to wade through all of the crap the article mentions to get to that cockpit they dreamed about their whole life. 

If that discipline then fades away because of the actions of an employer, that is an indictment of the individual, not the employer.  So you don’t make a ton of money at first, neither do most people coming out of college with mountains of student loan debt.  You have to spend time away from your family?  So does every military member in the world, and I’m not just talking about deployments.  But that was part of the job I signed up for and I knew what I was getting into.  If you didn’t take the time to understand the demands of the industry you are entering then once again, that is your problem, not your employer’s.

A story is then shared about having a vacation cut short by the company that was scheduled by the company at the expense of the author.  That really sucks, and if I was there when you had to cut your vacation short I would empathize with you, and probably agree with your complaints, and then go about doing my job the right way, because that is the kind of discipline that makes a successful company from the bottom to the top.  Instead she proceeds to describe how she regularly wasted company resources such as fuel by extending flights, provided poor customer service because “why should I care about the passenger who will miss the connection…”, and brags about how, “there are things I could and did do which cost the company thousands…”.

She submits that employees “aren’t doing anything wrong” when they act in these ways but therein lies the problem.  Just because you haven’t technically broken any rules does not mean you didn’t do anything wrong.  In fact the greatest contradiction in the article came right before that last quote, and it was easy to spot because it included the word “but”, “I was proud of my position, and I have a deep appreciation for my comrades, so I would never do anything to harm my professionalism, but there are things I could and did do which cost the company thousands…”

You are not proud of your position when you reject your own personal discipline in favor of petty retaliation that has no impact on the person that upset you.  There is no professionalism in admittedly costing your company thousands of dollars because you didn’t like the way you were treated.  We all have aspects of our jobs that suck, but you deal with it if it means enough to you, or you find a new profession.  Discipline is not just punishment, it is a willingness and determination to do your best and to do the right thing because that is who YOU are, not because everyone else gives you what you want, or what you think you deserve.  That is what true pride in your position entails, standing tall because you did your absolute best despite the challenges you faced.

We live in a world right now where people call foul when everything doesn’t go quite their way, even when they signed up for it.  Many people are quick to point out the shortfalls of an industry or company or person, and want to place the blame for everything squarely on somebody else’s shoulders.  Nobody wants to take accountability for the role they played in the situation no matter how minor.  It is no wonder that we see this in our leaders because so many of us exhibit it ourselves.

Fortunately, she actually provided the answer to her own contradictions near the very end of the article, and I could not agree more with the assessment.  “Just a few people with a positive ideology can change the world.”  WOW!  Those are powerful words that could not be more true.

The only way the next generation will be as passionate about aviation as we are is if we exhibited pride in our profession and discipline in our actions.

The only way the next generation will be as passionate about aviation as we are is if we exhibit pride in our profession and discipline in our actions.

If you stop and think for a minute, almost all of us can think of at least one person, if not many, that had a positive influence on our life that changed our world.  Maybe it was a teacher, coach, or family member, but their “positive ideology” inspired us to set and achieve goals that we never thought possible.  We saw the impact they had on us and we wanted to be like them.

We wanted to have an impact for good, but somewhere along the way many of us lost sight of that.  Instead we focus on the things that suck and how we were wronged by this person, or that stupid supervisor, or some company that screwed us over, and that is the ideology we have chosen to sell to anyone that will listen.  The relative anonymity of the internet has allowed us to project that negativity in ways never before possible, but there is absolutely no reason we can’t turn the tables  back in the other direction.

We can look at people like Ron Rapp who is quick to call out the FAA and other organizations when they damage the industry he has such a passion for, but also immediately follows that up with a solution that will meet the intent of proposed changes while at the same time improving the industry as a whole.

Or Eric Auxier who actively promotes the wonders of aviation to anyone that will listen.  He acknowledges the challenges he has faced, and continues to face, but chooses to have a positive outlook and focus on the good.

To quote something attributed to Abraham Lincoln in the movie Pollyanna , “If you look for the good, you will surely find it.”  That is true of everything in life, but is something that can be a great challenge if you never look for it.  It takes a concerted effort to get past all of the crap that happens and choose to focus on the good.

It bears repeating what the author said near the end of her article because it is the message she should have shared instead of the paragraphs of complaining and negativity that she chose to focus on.  I will be the first to admit that I struggle with this same challenge, which is maybe why I was so quick to recognize it, but all of us would be a lot happier, and our industry would be a lot more appealing if each of us would commit to the following phrase:

“Just a few people with a positive ideology can change the world.”

June 17, 2015 I Written By

I'm Dave and I am a proud Avgeek. It goes way beyond liking airplanes. It is a passion that cannot be subdued.

Giving Them Wings: The Basic Airborne Course at Fort Benning, GA

The C-130 is the chariot of choice for modern Airborne students.

The C-130 is the chariot of choice for modern Airborne students.

This article originally appeared on NYCAviation.com.

Dropping something out of an airplane is generally frowned upon for most people because you never know where that thing you dropped is going to land or whom it might hurt. However, in the C-130, dropping things out of our airplane is what makes us different from UPS or FedEX; that, and landing on dirt strips that are only 3000 feet long.

In the history of the US military, a number of significant drops really changed the face of the wars where they took place. As a member of the 50th Airlift Squadron, I am proud of the heritage that has been left to me by those who participated in those airdrops, including D-Day — probably the most famous airdrop of all.

The HBO series Band of Brothers (which if you haven’t seen, I highly recommend) made that airdrop known to my generation and really reinforced the dangerous nature of those types of missions. Another fascinating part of that series was the training and transforming of those men into paratroopers to prepare them to make that fateful jump.

In the decades since that jump, not a ton has changed in the training. Sure, the equipment has improved; though not exactly the same, it still follows the same basic pattern. That includes using three of the four 250-foot jump towers at Ft. Benning where the training continues to take place.

To read the full article and see more videos and images please visit NYCAviation.com.

April 6, 2015 I Written By

I'm Dave and I am a proud Avgeek. It goes way beyond liking airplanes. It is a passion that cannot be subdued.

High Level Weather Pictures

So I’ve never posted from my phone before but I have a bit of time while I sit at the doctor’s office waiting so I thought I would try it.

One of my favorite parts of flying, as it is for many people, is the amazing views you get to experience high above or in between the clouds.  No picture will ever truly do these views justice but here are some of my favorites.

If you look closely you can see our leader on the clouds in front of us.

If you look closely you can see our leader on the clouds in front of us.

There were some pretty serious storms over Tennessee last week.

There were some pretty serious storms over Tennessee last week.

Sometimes being in between the clouds is the most beautiful place to be.

Sometimes being in between the clouds is the most beautiful place to be.

You can't even imagine some of these colors.

You can’t even imagine some of these colors.

I would love to see some of your favorite pictures.

My apologies if you tried to look at these previously as my phone didn’t shrink them down at all.

I Written By

I'm Dave and I am a proud Avgeek. It goes way beyond liking airplanes. It is a passion that cannot be subdued.

Sorry! Email Newsletter Fixed

If you just got your first email from this blog in two months this morning, my apologies.  Something was wrong with the plugin that sent out my posts to RSS readers as well as the email newsletter that gets sent out when I write.

So if you haven’t been to the blog in awhile because you got nothing from me, please come back and visit and enjoy some of the stuff I have been writing.  This is what you missed while it was broken:

Video of Homemade B-29 Bomber

Lessons Learned: Planning and Executing an 8-Ship Formation

Advanced Mountain Airlift Tactics School (Videos and Pictures)

The Germanwings Crash Makes Me Sad

March 31, 2015 I Written By

I'm Dave and I am a proud Avgeek. It goes way beyond liking airplanes. It is a passion that cannot be subdued.

The Germanwings Crash Makes Me Sad

It makes me sad that 150 lives were needlessly lost.

It makes me sad that someone who clearly needed help did not, or could not, get it.

It makes me sad that the actions of one person can tarnish the reputation of an entire industry.

It makes me sad that the media is more concerned with being first than being right, especially when human lives are part of the story.

It makes me sad that some people are more concerned that news networks are using Boeing images where Airbus images should be, rather than the people who lost their lives.

It makes me sad that a tragedy that should bring people together is instead dividing them.

It just makes me sad.

March 30, 2015 I Written By

I'm Dave and I am a proud Avgeek. It goes way beyond liking airplanes. It is a passion that cannot be subdued.

Advanced Mountain Airlift Tactics School

This picture sums up most of the flying that we did at AMATS.  Tilt the screen to line up the horizon and it will blow your mind.

This picture sums up most of the flying that we did at AMATS. Tilt the screen to line up the horizon and it will blow your mind.

I had the great opportunity to go out to Reno, Nevada for a mountain flying course that really opened my eyes to the challenges of flying in a mountain environment.  I felt like I had a little perspective having spent four months flying in the mountains of Afghanistan, but this course gave me a whole new perspective on what mountain flying can be like.

The Advanced Mountain Airlift Tactics School (AMATS) is put on by the 192nd Airlift Squadron which is part of the Nevada Air National Guard based out of the Reno-Tahoe International Airport.  It is designed give C-130 operators an introduction to mountain flying, which has certain inherent dangers that are not present in less topographically diverse terrain.

The course is designed to have one day of academics and three days of flying, but weather (an incredibly important aspect of mountain flying) prevented us from getting the third day in.  From an academic standpoint, topics like weather, previous accidents, and proper mission planning were covered in-depth.  This information was then applied to the actual missions that we would be flying in the coming days.

This is the mountain we climbed over during our "zoom climb".  Imagine flying right for that mountain and then initiating the climb only a couple of miles before you get there.  You can see the low-point on the ridge we aimed for.

This is the mountain we climbed over during our “zoom climb”. Imagine flying right for that mountain and then initiating the climb only a couple of miles before you get there. You can see the low-point on the ridge we aimed for.

The first day of flying focused on flying through narrow canyons where one can get easily confused by which canyon you are flying as well as navigating through less defined terrain.  After a short transit to the training area, we executed a penetration descent (essentially pitching the nose over and descending at maximum rate) then leveled off for a relatively standard landing at an out base.  The first real part of the training is what’s called a zoom climb.  Essentially you fly straight for a mountain at a high-speed and then pitch up and climb about 2000-2500′ in a matter of 20 seconds or so.  Now that is nothing for a fighter, but to see a Herc climb like that, even for a short period of time is pretty awesome.

The next phase of the mission was very reliant on proper mission planning.  One of the challenges of flying in mountain valleys is that it is really easy to fly up the wrong valley and put yourself in a terrible bind.  Through proper mission planning you analyze the terrain to find key markers that will aid you in flying up the right valleys and avoiding dangerous terrain like box canyons that you may have no way of getting out of.  My sincerest apologies that I was without GoPro for this part of day one because it was incredible to experience.

Dropping in over the lake on our way to the second airdrop of the day.

Dropping in over the lake on our way to the second airdrop of the day.  Formation flying is so much fun.

After winding our way through the mountain valleys we exited by way of our first ridge crossing, though nothing compared to what came on day two.  After dropping our heavy equipment at the drop zone we switched positions with our wingman and they led us out on the second route which was much more wide open and presented a slightly different challenge.  When terrain is really wide open there are two potential challenges.  The first is the lack of ground references to verify your position throughout the route.  This often forces you to utilize your navigation system a little more to ensure you are hitting your turnpoints and getting to where you need to be.

The other challenge is that open, gradually climbing terrain can easily sneak up on you if you aren’t careful.  We generally fly our routes between 300-500 feet AGL and as we crossed these wide open areas it was interesting to see how often our AGL altitude would drop without us even noticing.  We never got too close to the ground, but seeing us creep towards the slowly climbing terrain was eye-opening.

It's not hard to get up for work in the morning when you get to look forward to flying this beauty.

It’s not hard to get up for work in the morning when you get to look forward to flying this beauty.

This route was also a great opportunity to witness a little hidden terrain.  What this means is that smaller hills can get hidden when they have taller terrain behind them.  There are more factors involved than just size, but the real danger here comes when you think you are farther away from terrain than you actually are.  In a worst case scenario this could lead you to not climb early enough with catastrophic results.  After passing the second area of hidden terrain we then climbed up a steep valley for our second ridge crossing of the day dropping down over a lake and into the drop zone for a standard CDS drop, and a recovery back to the airport.

While not an incredibly cool shot of the plane, look at those clouds behind it.  Weather in the mountains is unpredictable and excitingly dangerous.

While not an incredibly cool shot of the plane, look at those clouds behind it. Weather in the mountains is unpredictable and excitingly dangerous.

All of the videos on this post came from day two which was equally as impressive as day one.  I should add that the grandeur of these mountains towering well above 10,000 feet was jaw-dropping beauty for our crew that is used to flying in Arkansas where our highest terrain is only around 2000 feet.  If you ever get the opportunity to fly in the beautiful Sierra Nevada mountains I strongly suggest it.

Day two was focused on high altitude drop zones and landing zones.  The first video above gives you a little glimpse of a formation takeoff and transiting to the training area.  There are two important reasons this was included.  The first is the weather.  Look at the clouds as we fly towards the training area.  The second reason is caused by the weather.  Flying through such tall mountains can create some seriously drafty wind conditions.  Add this to the fact that a huge storm was starting to blow in that would ultimately have 100 mph winds and drop four feet of snow and staying in position was serious work for the pilots.  If you feel like the video is a little bouncy or jostled that is why.  It can be a challenge to stay in position in calm conditions so add 30-40 knot winds and it is even more challenging.  I give all the credit in the world to my pilots who kept as where we needed to be.

The first part of this training involved a rapid descent through a gunsight valley into a high altitude drop zone followed by a rapid climb out the other side.  The real challenge of a high altitude drop zone is that it takes longer for your plane to slow down to drop speed.  On top of that we were descending into the drop zone which makes it almost impossible to slow down at all until you actually level off.  Once again, proper mission planning was necessary to ensure that our descent began on time, so that we would be leveled off in time, so that we could slow down in time, to drop our load on time.

It was really cool to see how well the numbers we had planned worked out allowing us to get our drop off on time.  It was equally awesome to see how well our climb out numbers worked on the other side of the drop taking us up and away from the rapidly rising terrain.  The views were absolutely stunning, and something that the guys in Reno take a little bit for granted.  At the top of this climb you can see us fly well above two good-sized lakes at about three minutes into the video.  Those lakes would make a more prevalent appearance later in the mission.  We then circled back around for another high-altitude drop without a hitch.

The most exciting part of the day came after the second climb out up and over the mountains.  To take us from our high altitude above the mountains down into the valleys for our next phase of training we would execute a ridge crossing.  Initially, this was probably the most uncomfortable I got during all of this training.  If you look closely in the video you can see the plane in front of us bank to the left way passed the ridge, and then we dropped over the top.  The pilot banked the plane up to almost 60 degrees and the nose dropped quickly below the horizon.  It honestly felt like we were headed right for the top of the ridge until we picked up speed and it carried us right past it.

It was exhilarating to see such a large plane drop out of the air so fast.  You can actually hear our instructor scream with excitement right as we cross the ridge.  Shortly after that you can also hear the really loud sound of rushing air.  That is the sound of the pressure release valve trying to keep up with the pressurization in the plane.  It would end up taking another minute before the system would catch up after we leveled off.

Once we got down to the valley floor we transited over to another ridge for a second ridge crossing into the valley where the landing zone was.  While not quite as exhilarating as the first crossing it was still pretty awesome.

The work at the landing zone provided many of the same challenges as the drop because the plane does not slow down as fast.  My apologies that I only got two of the landings, but the battery died.  The first landing in the video is at normal speed to give you an idea of what it looks like.  The second landing was at 2x speed which is honestly more what it feels like.  The added challenge of this landing zone is that there is rising terrain on three sides which means you have to slide in between the two ridges and then climb as quickly as possible after takeoff before turning for the next pattern.

Flying back to the airport provided maybe the best example of how powerful the weather can be in mountainous terrain.  We were flying at least a couple of thousand feet above the terrain but we still had a couple of sections of turbulence that caused us to lose at least 300 feet of altitude almost instantly.  Mountain wave turbulence is some of the most dangerous weather you can experience in a plane because it is incredibly strong and can extend up to 200 miles away from the mountains that caused it.  That means that you may not be expecting it.

One of the biggest lessons I learned from this trip is just how important it can be to get good weather forecasts, and to truly understand how it can affect your operations.  I think most of us are quick to understand the dangers of ice, thunderstorms, and the wind associated with it, but it is the clear air stuff that can really ruin your day.

As I mentioned before our third day got weathered out because of the aforementioned mountain wave turbulence which was really an incredible disappointment because we would have been executing air drops on the side of mountains and up narrow valleys.  Then we would have done dirt assault landings at high-altitude which would have been some awesome video, but what can you do?

The AMATS course was the most worthwhile training I have gotten in the C-130.  It was easy to see how everything they taught us could be applied in an operational environment.  Even for the training that we perform on a regular basis there were key aspects that were taught.  It really is a shame that this course is not more widely utilized because it will literally save the lives of the people who properly apply it into their missions.

I gained a whole new respect for people who regularly fly in the mountains and the challenges that it includes.  No matter how experienced you are the mountains can jump up and bite you, but taking advantage of training like this, either civilian or military, will go a long way to ensuring that you get to enjoy flying through the mountains and the wonder that they are.

March 16, 2015 I Written By

I'm Dave and I am a proud Avgeek. It goes way beyond liking airplanes. It is a passion that cannot be subdued.

Lessons Learned: Planning and Executing an 8-Ship Formation

There was much anticipation for me before we took the runway.  Especially because lead had a maintenance issue.

There was much anticipation for me before we took the runway. Especially because lead had a maintenance issue.

It’s been awhile since I did one of these posts, and it certainly isn’t for a lack of learning, but quite the opposite actually.  I’ve actually been a little overwhelmed recently with how much I have learned but I finally have a minute to put some of those thoughts to paper, or keyboard I guess.

The biggest learning that I have done recently took place just after the new year and involved planning and executing an 8-ship formation flight for my squadron.  We ended up with only six planes in the formation because of some maintenance issues, but it was an awesome experience nonetheless.  The maintainers actually deserve a huge amount of credit for getting that many flying considering what they had to do to make it happen.

There is just something about having this much airpower on one runway that gets me excited.

There is just something about having this much airpower on one runway that gets me excited.

I found out about this mission about a month before it was scheduled to take place and got some preliminary planning done before we all left for Christmas.  To the surprise of no one that has served in the Air Force, when we came back from the break, the powers that be changed our plan completely which meant we had a week to put the new plan in place.  I say we because I received a ton of vital help from about a half dozen people who provided guidance and expertise for something that I had never done.  It never would have happened if it weren’t for their help.

That week of planning was probably the most learning I have done in my relatively short career and I am so grateful for it.  With that being said I can’t really describe those lessons I learned because I don’t know how without spending the week that I put into it, besides, it is the flight that is the interesting part for most of you.

Sometimes it takes a little time to get everyone in position...

Sometimes it takes a little time to get everyone in position…

Because we don’t fly with this many planes together very often anymore it took a little work for all of the pilots to get back into the groove of flying with so many planes.  It is not just a matter of putting six planes close to each other, as you have to deal with the turbulence created by the plans in front of you as well as the accordion effect that takes place when you put any large number of moving objects together.  The closer you are to the back of the formation, the more challenging it becomes.

As you can see from some of these pictures it can be really challenging to stay in position in these conditions.  I give all the credit in the world to the pilots, and mine in particular, because they were working hard to stay in formation and keep it tight.  Being in the number five aircraft we had a great view of the formation and it was awesome to watch the ordered chaos come together almost perfectly as we recovered over the airfield.

...But it's pretty sweet once everyone slides into place.

…But it’s pretty sweet once everyone slides into place.

For the second half of the flight we actually planned to split the formation in two with a rendezvous about forty minutes later to bring us back together for the second airdrop.  As the person who had spent 40+ hours planning this thing down to the minute, and reassuring everyone else that it would work, I can’t really explain how excited I was when we reached the rendezvous point and I was able to look out the pilot’s window and see four other C-130s trucking towards us.

My pilot banked the plane up to turn towards them pointing the plane right at the last aircraft in their formation.  Then about a minute later he banked it back up the other direction and we were back together as a complete formation.  With all of the work it took to get there, it was incredibly fulfilling to see it come together so smoothly.

As I said before, there were really way too many lessons that I learned in the planning stage to try and cram them into one post, and most of them would make no sense without being there to experience it.  But, there are still a handful of lessons that came from the flying that can be applied to lots of different types of flying.

It was a huge relief once the flight was over and everyone taxied safely back to parking.

It was a huge relief once the flight was over and everyone taxied safely back to parking.

First is having faith in the people you fly with.  Whether they are sitting in the seat next to you or five planes away in the back of the formation, there is an incredible amount of trust we put in people we fly with.  In the 600+ hours I have in the C-130 I have never once been at the controls, though I do get to steer the plane through the autopilot sometimes, which means that every time I step onto the flight deck I am literally placing my life in the hands of the two pilots at the controls.  On this particular flight I could not have asked for a better pilot.

Second is the saying, “if you don’t use it you lose it”.  As I mentioned previously, I regularly fly with some incredible pilots.  They have flown me into different countries, through mountain valleys, and into dirt landing zones, but even the best pilot loses a little bit when they don’t do something often.  This was apparent during the first part of the flight, but it was equally important to me to see how quickly their proficiency of flying in a larger formation came back.  So for all of you pilots out there make sure that you are challenging yourself and forcing yourself to do things you don’t do often so that you can remain proficient.

For those of you thinking that formation flying is just for military planes, you couldn’t be more wrong.  It takes a matter of seconds to find videos of civilian formation flights on YouTube.  There is even a group of Bonanzas that fly in formation to EAA Airventure at OshKosh together.  If you are looking for something that is incredibly fun, and challenging, then I highly recommend a formation flight.  Make sure that you put in the proper planning though because it is not something to be taken lightly.

To take a look at more of the pictures from the fun we had head over to my friend’s Flickr page.

February 18, 2015 I Written By

I'm Dave and I am a proud Avgeek. It goes way beyond liking airplanes. It is a passion that cannot be subdued.

Video of Homemade B-29 Bomber

I’m working to get my stuff together from the awesome training I did last week, but while you wait for that I thought I would share this awesome video my cousin sent me on Facebook.  It is incredible to see the handiwork that some people create.  I love the touch of having the flyable Bell X-1 under the wing that they actually fly.

So take a few minutes and enjoy this wonderful video.  If the video doesn’t show up try clicking here.

February 8, 2015 I Written By

I'm Dave and I am a proud Avgeek. It goes way beyond liking airplanes. It is a passion that cannot be subdued.

Air Force One to Find a New Home on the Boeing 747-8 Intercontinental

"Air Force One over Mt. Rushmore" by U.S. Air Force File Photo.

“Air Force One over Mt. Rushmore”  U.S. Air Force File Photo.

I know I am a little biased due to my preference for Boeing over Airbus, but the announcement that the latest variant of the 747 will be the new Air Force One really isn’t a surprise to anyone that followed the process at all.  It honestly would not look good to a lot of people to have the American President flying in a French plane.

Just to be clear, the callsign Air Force One applies to any Air Force aircraft that is carrying the president.  Which is why the S-3 Viking that carried President Bush onto the deck of the USS Abraham Lincoln was Navy One, because he was on a Navy plane.  The presidential helicopter bears the callsign Marine One when the president is on board.

Sorry for the lesson, I will get back to the story at hand.

Almost two years ago I wrote a piece about the 787 being a potential replacement for the presidential fleet of three aircraft.  I doubt that it was ever really an option because of the requirements they have for these aircraft, but it was kind of fun to think about it.

The newest 747 variant is the perfect chariot for the American President.

The newest 747 variant is the perfect chariot for the American President. Photo: Boeing

The latest version of the queen of the skies is a fitting fixture for our President to strut around the world in.  This plane is not just a means of transportation for a powerful leader, but a symbol of his office and the power that it bears.  It was a clear decision to pick the most majestic aircraft that is manufactured in America.

The A380 would have been a perfectly acceptable choice as well, along with a few other options, but the symbolic nature of this aircraft really made this choice a no-brainer.

The new planes won’t join the 89th Airlift Wing (the presidential squadron) for about eight years, so we will have gone through at least one more president by the time it enters service.  However, I’m sure I speak for all the other avgeeks out there when I say I hope we get to see some of the development, but I’m not naive enough to think we will see much of anything.

January 30, 2015 I Written By

I'm Dave and I am a proud Avgeek. It goes way beyond liking airplanes. It is a passion that cannot be subdued.

There’s More to Come I Promise

If you follow this blog very closely then you have likely noticed that there hasn’t been a ton of content generated recently.  I hope this doesn’t sound like an excuse, but life has sure been busy.  Between family, work, and school there just hasn’t been as much time as I would like to write on here, which is what I really enjoy more than most other things.

I have also been doing a little writing for NYC Aviation and IFlyBlog which has been a ton of fun interacting with those amazing people.  If you are not familiar with either of those sites then I highly suggest you become familiar because they are full of great insights and information.

I would like to promise that I will be writing a lot more in the near future, but I just started my capstone project for my masters so I’m not sure how much extra time I will have.  With that being said, there are a couple of exciting things coming up that I would be completely crazy if I didn’t write about them.

The first is a mountain flying course that I will be taking part in.  I am hoping to get some good GoPro footage to share from the scenic Sierra Nevada mountains.  It will be an amazing flying experience for me and I hope to be able to share as much as I can.

The other super exciting event in February is Aviation Geek Fest 15 (#AGF15 for those of you on Twitter) put on by the wonderful people at AirlineReporter.  This will be my first time attending and I can hardly contain how excited I am.  If you are unfamiliar with this even make sure you check out the details here, and then find a way to be there next year because they once again sold out in about 30 seconds this year, though there is a waiting list.

So once again my apologies for not being more consistent, believe me I wish this was where I had the free time to play.  Just keep your eyes out because there is some fun stuff on the horizon.

January 28, 2015 I Written By

I'm Dave and I am a proud Avgeek. It goes way beyond liking airplanes. It is a passion that cannot be subdued.