Our New Jobs

It’s been awhile since I’ve last written and a lot has gone on so it’ll take a few posts to catch everyone up. Lately, I’ve been worried that I’m not sharing enough of my experiences. It was easy as a private pilot in training because going to a lesson was a big event for me. Now that I’m working in the aviation field, I don’t want to take it for granted and what I used to consider a big event become normal life. Therefore, I have a lot to share!

Jake and I are now co-workers if I hadn’t share that already. He went on his first trip with the company this past week. I’m so glad to see him happy with his job and enjoying flying. Though downside, he likes to send embarrassing emails to the flight control department and my co-workers make fun of me. I enjoyed sending the release to bring him home early due to scheduled maintenance.

Working in the Part 135 world is different for the both of us. I’ve never worked in the airline world and can only go off Jake’s experiences and what I have read and heard about dispatch offices at regional airlines.

Both of us get treated better in this world and respected more as people. He gets crew meals that the company pays close to $100 for two pilots, where airlines won’t pay an extra $8 for two more first class meals for their pilots. I get paid for working holidays, even if I don’t work a holiday, I get a bonus day off. Lastly, I make more money than I would at a regional.

But then more is expected from us. If I was a dispatcher at a regional airline, I would dispatch and follow flights. At my company, we aren’t flight planning (yet!), but releasing flights still, moving the schedule around, calculating duty and rest, booking hotels for the pilots, ordering crew meals, dealing with irregular operations, and a few other things piled on. I can’t wait to begin flight planning and hope some of those duties are taken off of us, since already my day is pretty packed to make sure everything gets accomplished.

From a pilot stand point, he has to take care of the customer more, especially since his aircraft doesn’t have a flight attendant. He makes sure the catering is there, makes sure the lav is serviced, or has to empty it himself sometimes. Make sure the cabin is clean and stocked. These extra things we wouldn’t do at an airline, but we don’t mind them because we are treated like people instead of a number. At airline, the Director of Operations wouldn’t know my name. The chief pilot would only be familiar with him if he caused problems most likely.

I’m loving my new job and so is Jake. I think the majority of people focusing on the airlines as the main way to go in aviation is a mistake and there are many more options for people, and it may end up making you a happier person!

Fun Day Gliding

I’m a strong believe in networking will get you very far in life. And I don’t mean network just to network, but actually form bonds between people with like interests. I’ve gotten to meet and bond with a lot of different people in aviation since I moved. Women in Aviation has really helped me in this. Also, since my dispatch school is here as well, I get to meet people through them as well.

I’ve been interested in gliding lately as my next rating. It’ll help build time for my commercial rating for a LOT less. It’ll also help my stick and rudder skills and become a better pilot. Since we moved, I have doing a lot of research on where to join a gliding club. My WAI chapter put me in touch with another member who is big into gliding. We talked some about gliding and she said she would take me up to see if I liked it.

photo 3-2It was so exciting! I have to admit I was nervous right before the tow plane started pulling us. All those nerves went away once we were started being dragged across the grass. I had the biggest smile on my face, I got to go up in the air again!

We were released at 3,000ft. The difference between being towed and just gliding was immense! It was so quiet and free! When released the tow plane banks to the left and the glider to the right for safety. Banking in a glider requires much more rudder and is steeper than a powered aircraft. Good thing I love steep turns!

After a little I got a chance at the controls. The main differences are more rudder, lots more rudder! And if you’re not in a thermal, your nose won’t be on the horizon, which kind of threw me at first. This flight we couldn’t find many thermals, so it went quickly. I learned more about how the rules of the pattern and how they differ from powered aircraft. Landing felt so different since you don’t have power and also you’re so low to the ground. You’re not breaking once you touch the ground, the grass is doing that for you!

We hooked the glider up to a golf cart and towed it back down the field. I was so happy! Though I was still iffy about joining the club. It’s quite a lot cheaper than powered aircraft, but it’s a club so you do have to invest in the club and buy shares and have an initiation fee. We stood around talking for a bit, and I talked to other club members. Everyone loves it! I also love the rule, no talking about work on the field, just flying! Everyone is such an avgeek and I love it.

photo 4-1Another gentlemen there was nice enough to take me up again once the sun had been out more. He just came over and asked to steal me for a bit. I was so excited to go up in a different glider! This time I sat in back and it was a low wing glider. He was telling me it was much more slippery than the other one. I felt it required a lot more rudder and even cross coordination in turns.

Everyone seemed very concerned I might get air sick going up in gliders. He mentioned when we were turning I shouldn’t look down the wings but at the horizon. I never felt sick, though I did avoid looking at the wings.

This time we got more thermals! We were soaring instead of gliding. It was so fun and he was so skilled at staying in the thermal and spotting thermals by the cloud formation. I was impressed. It didn’t really bother me going round and round in a thermal. He kept checking on me because we were pulling 2Gs. It didn’t really as bad as a steep turn in a powered aircraft. He left me fly the glider more since we were up longer, working on putting in more rudder. Instead of a nice instrument showing if your turn is coordinated, there’s a string taped to the canopy you use. So high tech! I learned how in this glider you put in a bunch of rudder and use the stick but after getting into the bank you have to take the ailerons out and almost turn them the other way to keep from over banking.

photo 2-5Landing was different in a low wing since I could see the air brakes better and it’s more like a nose wheel than a tail wheel plane. Afterwards, I was talking about my fear of landing in a glider since you have to manage your airspeed so much better and I always feel like I put in power in my powered aircraft landings. He told me how using the air brakes plays that part in a glider.

If I wasn’t addicted before, I was addicted after this flight! Plus when you join the club you have to do a crew day once a month and you get $20 off every flight for that month. I hope to join the club and get to fly the tow plane eventually! It’s a kick butt Piper Pawnee. I just need to get my tail wheel, complex, and high performance endorsement! There goes gliding being cheaper than powered aircraft….too bad it’s a one seater! There is another grass field not too far away with a Cub that’s pretty cheap for tail wheel. I know what my “fun” money will be used for in the upcoming months!

Hopefully, I’ll have more good news and flight training to share in the near future!



Applying Flying to Everyday Life

Jake and I have gone on a few flights together since I got my PPL. He always pushes me to become a better pilot during those flights, even if I’d just prefer to enjoy the flight.

Something that has stuck with me that he’s always telling me when we fly, if you find yourself not doing anything keep asking yourself “what else could I be doing?” In flying, it’s holding altitude, making a radio call, checking your position against a sectional, checking your position against a VOR, checking your instruments, lots to be done all the time!

I’ve started applying this method in my work too since it’s such solid advice. When I’m sitting at my desk doing nothing, I check maintenance times on the fleet, follow up on customs paperwork, check NOTAMs and weather, and may other tasks. It’s also task management, which we learned about in dispatch school. There are a lot of little things that need to get done during the course of the day and phone calls and IROPs (irregular operations) can pop up at any time! It’s important to get these things done when things are slow. It’s the same with flying. Whether you’re siting in a cockpit or at the Operations Control Center, aviation is very similar in all aspects.

This method really helped me out the past Tuesday, which is my Friday at work, and always the busiest day of the week. I started work at 4am and by 6am things were already busy. For the next 10 hours I worked constantly. I didn’t get a chance to take my lunch because if I did I’d fall behind. There were 6 flights on Thursday going internationally that didn’t have paperwork filed yet, lots of flights for the next day, and a lot of flying happening that day. We ended up having a delayed flight that made the pilots unable to fly the next day, reposition legs were moving around, booking cars and hotels for the crews was a lot of work due to the moving around. It was rewarding though to finish the day and have all the customs that I could filed, every notice of arrival taken care of, all hotels and cars booked, authorized all the flights that day, and taken care of everything else that popped up. I know if I had gone the Part 121 route I wouldn’t have to deal with some of those things, but I’ve really been enjoying the 135 world even if I have the extra duties.  Following this method though makes my life easier!

Jake wants me now to apply it to my free time and cleaning the apartment….that’s not going to happen.

Lunken Airport Days

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The amazing B-17

I’ve been slacking lately! I’ve actually been much more into aviation more than I ever was in NYC and am LOVING it! It’s so nice that I can actually do things aviation related because more is going on and it’s also easier to get to with a car.

I attended my first Women in Aviation meeting with my new chapter. They’re great ladies. The president of the chapter and some other ladies work at a competing company in the area, we just have to overlook that. I’m so excited that I can get more involved with the local aviation community!

photo 2-4

I love the T-6

Luckily, there was an opportunity right away. I volunteered to help out at Lunken Airport Days at the WAI booth. I got to see so many cool planes and talk about aviation for a few hours. I was sad more people didn’t come up to the booth, but we obviously didn’t have enough cool free stuff since that’s all anyone cared about there. They told me other events there is more interest. We have some exciting events coming up though. There is the Wings of Women Conference in Dayton, the UPS Plane Pull, and iSpace. So many opportunities now available!

Hopefully, next week I’ll get to go gliding for the first time as well because I was put in touch with another woman in the chapter who flies them in the area. Being brought together by this organization is amazing!

Another great thing is since I work on airport property there are a lot of other companies and departments along the road I drive into work. My boyfriend picked me up from work this past Tuesday and we got to see ARFF practicing putting out an aircraft on fire. I drive past the burnt shell of it every day wondering if I’ll ever get to see it on fire and within the first month I got to see it happen! We pulled over and walked up to the fence to watch them in action! Hundreds of feet away we could feel the heat of the flames it was that huge and hot, nothing I ever want to be that close to! It was surprising how quickly they were able to put the fire out with just water (they were using diesel fuel, not Jet A). We ran into one of the firefighter’s brother and he told us they only do this about once a year and to stop by because they love giving tours. It’s on my list now, I highly suggest seeing if your big airport does these things to watch it since it’s very impressive!

That was on my bucket list of things to do here, I also accomplished driving under the runway when a 747 was taxiing over me. I’m getting spoiled by all these cargo 747s around. I’m currently watching them take off out the office window.

Just a quick update on what was happening, I hope to share more soon and get somewhat back into training. I’ll be writing more learning material soon too since October is fast approaching for my first class. Until next time!

How to Read A METAR

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I’ve found that my page, How to Read a Sectional has been pretty popular. I’m not surprised since it was something I struggled with at points in my training. While, I’m working on one for high altitude charts for instrument (and dispatch) students, I have added a new page.  I’ve now added How to Read a METAR to my pages! My friend, Emily (yay! shout out!), was the one who did suggest it since she isn’t a student pilot but would love know how to read them.

As a student pilot, I knew how to get the information I needed from METAR and TAFs, but there were still things I didn’t understand in them. When I got my dispatch certificate I learned a lot more about these and now I feel much more confident that I’m not skipping over something or don’t understand it in the remarks section. Who really understands SLP? I know I didn’t!

Check out the page and let me know what you think! If you have any suggestions for other pages please comment, I’d love to know what other students struggle with in their training!

Aircraft Dispatch Instructor!

I’ve really been immersing myself at work. I want to get to the point where I don’t constantly have to ask my co-workers questions. They understand and know I’m new, but I want to learn quickly. This specific career makes it difficult to learn everything quickly because there is such a variety of ways things can go wrong and being prepared to handle those different scenarios takes work and time. Doing customs paperwork also takes time, but that is my next big challenge.

This past week has been busy. In 10 days, I’ve worked 9 of them. It’s the transition from my training schedule to my actual work schedule which caused my days off to vanish. I’m finally on my “weekend” though. Do I just lounge at home and enjoy working a job that gives me lots of days off? Of course not. Besides the left over tasks from moving (like going to the DMV, ew), I headed out to the school I received my dispatch license to say hi. I had actually said hi on my only day off last week, but they wanted me to come back today.

Why? Because I’m going to be one of their instructors now! Yay! I’m going to specifically teach flight planning. I’m beyond excited. It’ll keep me up with my flight planning and all the Part 121 regulations that I could get rusty in while working Part 135. It works with my schedule and they don’t want me to sacrifice time there to teach with them, which is great. I’ll start with their next class in October, which gives me some time to plan my lessons and what I’m going to say.

It’s interesting how life works out for you. When I was in flight training and thinking of the idea of becoming a flight instructor full time, I was kind of hell bent on that idea. After soul-searching and discussion with friends and family, I realize that may not be the best route for me. Now, I’m still getting to work in aviation in something I love and even better, I get to teach it too! It ended up working out really well. I couldn’t have hoped for better. Keep an eye out for new stuff popping up. I plan on writing more about instrument charts and airspace before I start teaching!

Cessna Chick or Lear Lady?

IMG_6818No, I’m not actually changing my name. Maybe if I was piloting a Lear, that’d be a different story. But I got to go on a maintenance flight on one of our jets, a Lear 60. I fell in love with it! It is one cool airplane!

At my company, they like to send employees on flights in the jets so we can better understand what our pilots and customers are experiencing on a daily basis. It is required for dispatchers in Part 121, but not in Part 135, so I’m very glad my company still likes to do it. I had found a great flight just around the area and went to my boss to ask if that was an appropriate flight to get my initial familiarization flight on. He agreed and said it was  good catch, and sent me and the other new guy on the flight.

IMG_6837We ended up having a full house with two crew scheduling people and two people from another department on board, oh and a mechanic. It can seat 7 and we had 7. I know in a Cessna Citation CJ 2 that would be a bit of an issue. It’s similar to a Cessna 172, you can have all the passenger but not enough fuel or enough fuel but a butt in all the seats. Lear 60, we could fit everyone and the fuel we needed. It probably wasn’t full though, it was just an hour flight.

There were some delays, not sure why. But my co-worker and I sat at the nice FBO waiting, I was quite fine with that. Finally we got under way after a quick taxi to the runway. Oh man, can these tiny jets climb! It was crazy how high we got by the end of the runway. I loved it! I’m used to my 152 climbing maybe at a 1000 fpm, if I’m lucky  or an airliner with a bunch of baggage and people. We got up to FL380 probably in 15 minutes, that’s higher than a 737-300 can go!

PIMG_6839eople started checking out the front and talking to the pilots. I couldn’t wait to go up there. I asked them a lot about the airplane. It’s service ceiling is FL510, but I asked if it could really ge t up there. Of course not. The high 40s is where it stops normally. I was also interested in what I could do to help them out more and was glad to have a good interaction with them.

The rest of the flight I enjoyed in back. Again, I’ve sat in the some Citations and my head would almost hit the ceiling sitting down. Not this one! It was very comfy. I can see why people would pay $7,000 to fly in the back of one of these. Though, I think being in the front would be way better.

photo-4The Lear 60 is amazing, but they have TINY wheels, which makes them impractical for us. If loaded heavily, they barely land on 5,000ft of runway. If the runway is wet, that’s not possible. The tires get hot too and have a tendency to blow up. I’ve learned every private jet seems to have a downside. These planes are in maintenance a lot because of their issue.

We landed back at the airport. It was great flying over where I live and getting to see the things I (somewhat) recognize now. I got the lay of the land a bit better, but I just really enjoyed my first experience in a private jet. We can ride on empty legs and you bet I’ll be taking advantage of that again in the future!

I’m really enjoying my new job and starting to get the hang of it. More updates to come!