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Random Aviation Photo

31 May

I’m still feeling nostalgic for Memorial Day, so today’s photo is one I took at last year’s EAA AirVenture show in Oshkosh, Wis.  Despite my military upbringing, I never felt the love for military aviation like I do commercial aviation  — until I saw all the warbirds at Oshkosh.  Below is Miss Geraldine, a gorgeous and pristine North American P-51D Mustang. Enjoy!

My Pinterest Board: Art Deco Travel Posters – Cool!

16 Apr

As a travel buff since almost birth, I’m old enough to remember when airlines did destination posters that I thought were works of art.  When I was old enough to start buying my own art, I went straight for the art deco travel posters.

Back on Feb. 21, I did a post on how I’m using Pinterest to show off all my travel obsessions.  A funny thing has happened since then.  My board, “Art Deco Travel Posters – Cool!” has caught on like wildfire.  As of today, I have 93 posters and a whopping 239 followers of said board. I only have 118 total followers.

It seems I’ve struck a nerve with a lot of folks who are like me, nostalgic for a time long since past, or lovers of travel art.  And I’m just delighted by the folks following me and repinning my pins, including: Chris McGinnis, Johnny Jet, Chris Elliott, Meena Thiruvengadam, Sebastian White, Mira Lowe and Debbie Swiatek, to name a few.

Still not on Pinterest? Email me at benet AT aviationqueen DOT COM and I’ll send you an invite!!

Tail Dragging!

10 Apr

Yesterday, my regular flight instructor was a bit under the weather, so she suggested I fly with my original instructor. Dave Hirschman has one of the best jobs at the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association. Not only is he the senior editor of AOPA Pilot magazine, but he’s also the handler for our sweepstakes aircraft, the Aviat Husky.

Dave asked if I wanted to fly in the Husky, and I leapt at the chance. The Husky is what’s called a tail dragger. It has a wheel on the tail and an actual stick to control the yoke. The website describes it thusly:
“Access areas that will take your breath away in a Husky. Its rugged, handcrafted construction, wide-field visibility and tandem seating create an extremely comfortable and secure environment for safely flying into places other planes simply can’t.”

Two Huskys (one owned by our CEO Craig Fuller) were the stars at the AOPA Tent at the recent Sun ‘n Fun Fly-In.  Folks stopped by to take a look, have a seat at the picnic tables and even chat with Craig, who was there most of the time.

The views from the Husky can’t be beat, with large windows.  Because you fly slowly, you can actually fly with window or the door open. And I had the smoothest landing ever — in the grass!  Below are some pictures I took during the flight. Enjoy!!

Husky cockpit
The view from my window

10 Folks You Should Be Following On Pinterest

22 Feb

Yesterday, I posted about my love for Pinterest, along with all my aviation/travel geek-related boards. Today, I share 10 people I’m following on Pinterest.

  1. Stacy Small (@EliteTravelGal) – not only is Stacy one of the best luxury travel agents on the planet, her Pinterest travel-related board photos make me want to grab my passport and take the next flight to a high-end resort.
  2. Johnny Jet (@JohnnyJet) – Johnny’s website is my go-to site for all kinds of travel information. And his Dream Trips board makes me want to pack myself in his luggage.
  3. Kate Trgovac (@mynameiskate) – Kate is one of my online friends, a digital/social media marketer and my go-to person when it comes to travel and laptop bags. I interviewed her for Aviation Week’s Towers & Tarmacs blog on security-friendly laptop bags, and she has a cool board — Funky Laptop Bags (which includes her own bag designs).
  4. Meena Thiruvengadam (@msmeenameena) – I met Meena when we were both taking a multimedia course at the Poynter Institute back in 2010. We found we were fellow travel lovers, but Meena takes it to another level. Her boards include Favorite Places and I Will Go Here.
  5. Paula Berg (@paulaberg) – Paula is the digital media lead at Denver-based Linhart PR, but her real claim to fame is making her former employer, Southwest Airlines, a powerhouse in social media. I’m following her as she develops her boards for Southwest and Social Media.
  6. Josh Hallett (@hyku) – Josh is my social media sensei (he leads the social media practice at Voce Communications), an extensive traveler and a true aviation geek (check out his Flickr photos from Sun N Fun 2011). And also check out his Travel board.
  7. Mira Lowe (@MiraLowe) – Mira is the former editor of Jet magazine and currently teaches at Northwestern University and Loyola University Chicago.  She’s someone I’ve admired and respected for years, and we’re both active in the National Association of Black Journalists. I find myself regularly repinning from Mira’s boards, including Big Apple, Windy City and Passport.
  8. Christopher Elliott (@elliottdotorg) – I follow Chris on Twitter and am a regular reader of his website. I saw that he was following me on Pinterest, so I followed back. OK, so he doesn’t have any boards yet, but I know his will be good when he starts pinning.
  9. Joy Finnegan (@AvMainMag) – Joy has had an interesting career. She’s currently editor-in-chief Aerospace & Security Media and was editor of Rotor & Wing magazine. She was a pilot at Legend Airlines and has worked at Gulfstream Aerospace, Cessna and Galaxy Aerospace. Check out her boards Favorite Places & Spaces and Travels With Joy.
  10. Emma Carew Grovum (@emmacarew) – Because there is more to life than aviation/travel, I chose Emma as my last — but not least — pick for this post.  We all have to eat, and if you want some great ideas, Emma’s boards are the place to be. She’s Digital Editor for The Cooking Club (@CookingMag) and I’m proud to be one of Emma’s journalism mentors.

My (Travel/Aviation) Interest In Pinterest

21 Feb

I went to Austin, Texas, last month for a data journalism geek unconference.  The first night we had dinner at Stubbs BBQ, and my dinner companion was Lauren Young, owner of Little Lamb web design (she’s currently redesigning this site).  She started talking about how much fun she was having with Pinterest.  For the uninitiated, check out this article in the Wall Street Journal profiling the website.

I love using Pinterest to show off many things, but my favorites are my aviation and travel boards.  The first board I created was one with pictures of my beloved Boeing 747, which has 101 followers.  My next board was Cool Aircraft Liveries, which has photos of some of the best aircraft paint jobs of the present and past, with 97 followers. I work across the street from Frederick Municipal Airport, so I created Seen At Frederick Airport (FDK).

I am a BIG fan of art deco airline/travel posters, and have them hanging in my home and office. My Art Deco Travel Posters has 92 followers.  I created a board made up entirely of the graphics I use for my Strange But True Aviation News column. And then I have boards entitled Lord, I Was Born A Ramblin’ (wo)Man and Places I REALLY Want To See, with 94 followers each.

Tomorrow’s post will be on 10 folks you should be following on Pinterest.  Not on Pinterest yet? Drop me an email at AuntBenet AT Gmail DOT com and I’ll get you an invite.  Enjoy!

Giving The Tuskegee Airmen Their Due

10 Aug

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of appearing on my friend Mario Armstrong’s SirriusXM radio show covering digital/tech issues.  I was on for my embrace of social media technology and my all-around aviation geekiness.

One of the topics we discussed was one near and dear to my heart — the history and legacy of the Tuskegee Airmen.  Two weeks ago, I attended the EAA AirVenture show where a trailer for the new George Lucas film on the Airmen — Red Tails —  was screened, along with a panel discussion.  And last week, I was in Philadelphia for the National Association of Black Journalists annual convention, where Lucas did another screening and panel with Oscar winner Cuba Gooding Jr. and Oscar-nominated Terrence Howard.

As the daughter and granddaughter of Air Force officers, I grew up listening to tales of the exploits of the Tuskegee Airmen.  When we lived at Maxwell Air Force Base in Montgomery, Ala., we went to Tuskegee to see where the Airmen trained.

I hope that this documentary will bring this important piece of aviation, military and civil rights history to the forefront yet again.  I don’t want the generations to forget just how amazing they were in their time, a time when a man — and his abilities — were judged basically by the color of his skin.

So I hope that when this film is released in January 2012, you will support it.  Take your friends, your children and your family to learn about an amazing piece of American history!  And enjoy the trailer, below.

Random Aviation Photo – The Oskkosh Edition

1 Aug

It’s been a week since I was at the EAA AirVenture show in Oshkosh, Wis., and I’m still floating on air.  I was in aviation geek heaven last week, and I’m still going through all my photos.  But below are two I want to share now.

The first photo is the tail of the I Heart NY JetBlue Airbus A320 that came into Oshkosh last Wednesday.  The flight was full with JetBlue employees and interns there to enjoy a day of the show.

The second photo is a shout out to my friend and Airplane Geek David Vanderhoof, who is my military expert.  It’s the military version of the DC-9, the C9. It was in a combi configuration-cargo in the front, a few rows of passenger seats in the back.  Enjoy them both!

Top 10 Reasons Why I Loved Attending EAA AirVenture/Oshkosh

29 Jul

Kids, let’s be real – we all know that Aviation Week actually pays me to cover my hobby, my lifelong passion. This past week, I was smack in the center of the aviation geek universe, covering the annual Experimental Aircraft Association’s AirVenture Air Show in Oshkosh, Wis. For the uninitiated, more than 500,000 people and more than 10,000 aircraft converge on the headquarters of EAA, based at Wittman Regional Airport and go into an aviation bacchanal. Folks fly and drive in from across the globe to meet, learn and have fun with like-minded people. You can check out AvWeek’s Oshkosh coverage here.

Thanks to my friend and Airplane Geeks host Rob Mark (@Jetwhine), I stayed in the Fairfield Inn Oshkosh, a stone’s throw away from the show. But the VAST majority of folks actually camp, on the airport grounds and surrounding areas. You see everything from a tarp slung over an aircraft wing to tents, to RVs to tricked-out, rock-star-looking tour buses.

But I digress. I’m giving myself the nearly impossible task of ranking my top 10 events from Oshkosh, God help my soul. Airplane Geek David Vanderhoof (@dmvanderhoof) said I’d have to expand to 20, but I love a good challenge. So here goes.

10. The Wittman Regional Airport Tower. For one week, this average-looking air traffic control tower becomes the busiest in the world – busier that Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta, busier than London Heathrow and busier than Singapore’s Changi — handling the in-and-out flights and daily air show demonstrations.

Beechcraft Starship

9. Fifi, the only B-29 bomber still flying AND The Beechcraft Starship. The Commemorative Air Force has lovingly restored this titan of World War II, and Oshkosh attendees, for a donation, could take a tour of this piece of history. The Starship, a 6- to 8-seat business aviation turboprop, was designed to be the successor to the popular King Air. According to Wikipedia, FAA has nine active registrations on the Starship.

8. The aviation podcasting/video/blogging universe is lovingly overseen by Rod Rakic and Mike Miley. And they were out in full force at Oshkosh, in a tricked-out RV that doubled as a mobile studio, coffee/food dispensary and hangout for those documenting the events at Oshkosh. I was honored to hang out with a great group of folks the night before I departed.

7. Embraer Executive Jets. Wednesday it rained cats and dogs at the show, and it was a touch chilly. We were all scheduled to attend a breakfast press conference being held at their tent. Not only did they have hot coffee and hot chocolate, we got rain ponchos that protected us for the rest of the day.

Ford's Fly-In Theater

6. Fly-In Theater. Across the street from Camp Scholler (probably the most popular campground), was this outdoor movie theater, sponsored by Ford. You bring a blanket or chair and sit out among the stars to see a different movie every night. And did I mention the popcorn is free? Monday night’s feature was “Top Gun,” a film, amazingly enough, I had never seen. And the bonus was we had an actual Top Gun instructor introduce the film. My fellow Airplane Geek Dan Webb (@danwebbage) is now the only person on earth not to see this movie.

5. JetBlue Airways. The New York-based carrier flew in its “I Heart NY” Airbus A320 into the show on Wednesday and did free tours all day, complete with a bag of Blue Chips. I was thrilled to see some friends that work there who came on the flight, including COO Rob Maruster, who I worked with at Delta Air Lines. And a BIG bonus for me? I got a Twitter shout-out from CEO David Barger for all my #OSH11 JetBlue Tweets and photos!

4. What Just Flew By?I felt like I was actually living Airplane Geeks Historian David Vanderhoof’s blog. There were planes on the ground and planes in the air, making it really hard to decide where to focus!

3. The photos/videos of Jo Hunter (@futureshox). A group of us went to have dinner at Red Robin Oshkosh (if you go, get Robin to be your waitress), and I met Jo, who happens to be one of my Twitter followers. She showed me her ubercool time-lapse video of Oshkosh preparations. And check out all her aviation films, on YouTube, here.

Grant McHerron and Steve Visscher

2. The Australians. Regular listeners of the Airplane Geeks podcast know that Steve Visscher and Grant McHerron (who literally sees the world through rose-colored glasses) offer up an informative, but funny take on all things Australian aviation with their Plane Crazy Down Under podcast. They also do the Australia desk for the Airplane Geeks podcast. I’m a BIG fan and we’ve corresponded by Twitter and Skype, but we had never met – until Oshkosh. If you think they’re funny on the air, they’re even better live. And check out the July 25 edition of Airplane Geeks, which has them all together.

1. And speaking of Steve and Grant, the number one entry is the people attending Oshkosh. I met literally hundreds of folks, many who shouted “Aunt Benet” when we met. I met so many of my Twitter fans that I’ve admired for years, and it was very humbling to me when people came up and said they were fans of my work. I want to list every one of them, but I’m afraid I’d miss someone and offend them. But I WILL give a big shout out to the 2 guys who pushed my Chevy Aveo out of the mud at Camp Scholler around midnight Wednesday.

GUEST POST: Seattle is a Major Aviation Hub of the World

14 Jul

Editor’s note: I’m on vacation this week, so I have some of my aviation/airline/travel geek friends doing guest posts here this week. So next up is aviation blogger David Parker Brown. I met David back in May 2009 when AirTran did a special flight — complete with a live video stand-up on the Today Show — to show off its new inflight Wi-Fi service. He created the website, where he writes about things that interest him. Below is his homage to all things aviation in his home town of Seattle. Enjoy!

Since I was a child, I have been interested in aviation and especially airlines. For me, flying is still a magical experience and should be celebrated. I feel extremely lucky to have been raised and still live in the Seattle area; I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else. With so many places to relish aviation history, Seattle is a must-visit destination for any aviation enthusiast.

In 1916 Boeing started building aircraft in Seattle and today the 737, 747, 767, 777 and 787 are still built in the greater Seattle area.

Visitors can head north to Paine Field to watch a Boeing 777-300ER, 787 Dreamliner or 747 Dreamlifter take off or head down south to Boeing Field to watch Boeing 737s take test flights and be prepared to be delivered around the world. I don’t think there is another place you can view so many different airline liveries.

Boeing Factory Tour: Go inside the Boeing factory, which is the largest structure in the world based on volume. See the 777, 747, 767 and 787 in different stages of production and learn about the history of the company.

Future of Flight: The Boeing Factory tour leaves from the Future of Flight and a visit to the gallery floor is included with your tour ticket. Learn about the technologies used in aviation and explore the future. Be sure to get up on the Strato Deck to get an amazing view of the airport and maybe catch a plane or two taking off.

Museum of Flight: They have one of the best collections of aviation, ranging from World War II aircraft to space station modules. Be sure to check out their airpark, which houses the very first Boeing 747, an old Boeing 707 Air Force One, a British Airways Concorde and more.

Museum of Flight Restoration Center: The museum is located at Boeing Field and the Restoration Center is located north, at Paine Field. Get a behind the scenes look at how they restore the aircraft and get to meet the volunteers who work on the aircraft.

Flying Heritage Collection: This is Paul Allen’s, co-founder of Microsoft, collection of vintage aircraft that have been meticulously restored. They are beyond museum quality and they all can still fly. There are story boards and videos around the facility to put the aircraft and technology into perspective during the timeframe the aircraft were made.

Historic Flight Foundation: Located at Paine Field, Historic Flight lets you get close to the old aircraft housed in their hangar. Not only can you touch the aircraft, you can watch them fly during their set schedule and even take a ride on a B-25D called Grumpy.

Scenic Flights: After looking at airplanes, you might get the urge to get up in the air. If you have never taken a sea plane ride, this is the time to do it. Kenmore Air will take you on a tour of the greater Seattle area or you can take a ride up to the San Juan Islands to enjoy the weekend.

Yes, we might get a lot of rain in Seattle, but it is actually quite sunny near the end of summer (at least it is supposed to be). Of course there is a lot more to Seattle than just aviation, but that is for another story.

The Airline Geek’s Blogger’s Toolkit

12 Jul

Editor’s note: I’m on vacation this week, so I have some of my aviation/airline/travel geek friends doing guest posts here this week.  So next up is my social media/avgeek friend Dan Webb.  Young Dan attends Bryant University and writes the Things In The Sky blog. He is also one of the hosts of my beloved Airplane Geeks podcast. And last — but not least — he’s an editorial intern at FlightGlobal (I know I should say something snarky about my competitor, but I can’t).  Enjoy!

I’ve been blogging about the airline industry for just over three years now. When I started as I was graduating from high school, I had plenty of enthusiasm for the industry but didn’t really know where to find the latest news about the airlines. Since then, I’ve found a few favorite websites that can provide a treasure trove of information – for free!

There are, of course, plenty of wonderful news sources (like Aviation Week or FlightGlobal) that provide the same information. The websites below are best for those who are interested in getting their hands dirty with research.

So, if you’ve an airplane geek like me, you might find some of the websites interesting:

Airline Investor Relations Pages

Investor relations websites are a wonderful source of information, as you’ll often find press release archives, SEC filings, investor presentations, and earnings call replays.


Lately Twitter has become my primary news source, mainly because of the wonderful aviation community there. There are plenty of people sharing interesting news stories, and it’s likely I’ll be interested in what my fellow #avgeeks are discussing. Twitter’s also a wonderful place to discuss the news of the day with those who have an obsession with airlines. Most airlines now have their own Twitter accounts for sharing news as well.

Yahoo! Airline News

This basic website is simply a compilation of press releases and news stories about the airline business. If you can this place a couple of times a day you’ll easily get caught up with the latest news.

Airline Route

The airline route blog is a simply fantastic resource. The author is constantly scanning airline schedules to find new, adjusted, or cancelled service. The summaries of airlines’ seasonal changes are especially helpful, as it translates airlines’ high-level strategies to individual routes.

While the domestic market was deregulated in 1978, there’s still plenty of red tape in the airline industry, especially on the international side. In many cases airlines might have to apply for the authority to operate service to a foreign destination or to codeshare with a foreign airline. Just search on the site for filings with the Department of Transportation and you’ll find a treasure trove of information.


This website is the Securities and Exchange Commission’s official database for company filings. You’ll often find the same stuff on airline investor relations pages, but I just find EDGAR to be easier and faster to use.



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