Tag Archives: aviation

GUEST POST – Cleared for Takeoff: Second Annual Aviation Inspiration Day Is A Week Away

18 May

Editor’s note:  I had the pleasure of meeting Lynda Meeks, the founder of Cleveland-based Girls With Wings, at this year’s Sun N Fun.  Dave Sniadak, one of my most loyal readers, is also a PR/multimedia specialist based in Minneapolis and is helping Lynda promote an event he describes below.  I am a big fan of what Lynda is doing, so please enjoy!

By Dave Sniadak

We always encourage our kids to let their imaginations soar, but one woman is actually teaching young girls how to turn those imaginations into reality.

Lynda Meeks, the founder of Girls With Wings, is traveling to the Upper Midwest to host her 2nd annual Aviation Inspiration Day on Saturday, May 26th, at Fleming Field in South St. Paul, Minnesota. Together with the Minnesota Wing of the Commemorative Air Force (CAF), Wipaire, Young Eagles, and several other great partners, this event hopes to host hundreds of families, but more importantly, dozens of young girls – grades 1st-8th – who will learn the basics of becoming a pilot.

Meeks travels all over the nation talking with groups of girls about the importance of studying hard, exploring the world, and chasing their dreams. The Aviation Inspiration Day is the biggest event during the year for Girls With Wings, and consists of hands-on presentations, tours of the CAF hangar, interaction with vendors, and free flights above the Twin Cities. You can register for the event here: http://www.girlswithwings.myevent.com/ (and, yes, boys are welcome, too). Attendees are encouraged to preregister; admission is $5/child and gets each student into the event.

Preregistration also reserves a seat on a short flight above Fleming Field, courtesy of the Young Eagles EAA Chapter 1229. Students must be at least 8 years old to fly; space is limited and preregistration is recommended. Flights are also dependent upon weather conditions.

Rain or shine, Attendees will have the chance to get up close and personal with vintage and current airplanes, including “Miss Mitchell”, a beautifully restored B-25 bomber, a Minnesota State Patrol helicopter, a glider, and several other types of aircraft.

Meeks loves to tell her audience: “Girls Don’t Need Fairy Tales, They Need Flight Plans”. Aviation Inspiration Day presents a great message for us all to spread our wings and let our imaginations fly. Hope you can make it to the event!

Here are some highlights from last year’s Aviation Inspiration Day:

The ORIGINAL Strange But True Aviation News

18 May

Who’s next? Condoleeza Rice? You’ve got to give it to the Transportation Security Administration — they play no favorites when it comes to pat-downs.  The latest to get the full treatment were former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, reports MSNBC’s Overhead Bin blog.  The wheelchair-bound 88-year-old Kissinger reportedly got “the full Monty,” while

Dude! There are better ways to try to own the world.  Ram Porat was arrested at Nashville International Airport after allegedly climbing a fence  in the middle of the night and broke into an American Airlines jet, reports NBC Chicago.  Why did he do it? he told police that he “owned the world,” and saw the stunt as an “obstacle to overcome.”

Take a picture at the airport, go directly to jail as a terrorist.  Nancy Genovese’s act of taking a simple picture of a helicopter shell out in plain sight near Gabreski Airport in Suffolk County, N.Y. turned into a nightmare, reports Aero-News Network. She was stopped by a local police officer who questioned why she was taking pictures, accused her of being a terrorist threat. Long horrible story short, she was jailed for several days but was released without charge. She is suing the city for $70 million.

At least it wasn’t 20 cats!  A man tried to check his 19 cats on a Lufthansa flight from Rome to New York City, but was told he could only check four on the flight, reports Aero-News Network. He deserted the remaining 15 cats at the airport and allegedly caused a bomb scare after leaving bags of kitty litter and luggage.
This isn’t my jet? I hate it when that happens!  Actress Kristen Stewart accidentally boarded a jet that actually belonged to her co-star Charlize Theron, reports the New York Post.  The actresses were flying from London to Paris to promote their new movie “Snow White and the Huntsman.” Why didn’t they just share a plane?

The ORIGINAL Strange But True Aviation News

4 May

Did the baby get a pat-down? The Transportation Security Administration found itself closing Terminal C at Newark Liberty Airport after agents failed to screen a baby, reports Gizmodo.  TSA lost track of the family, so the Port Authority shut down the terminal and rescreened all travelers.

Nabbed!!  Employees at US Airways’ hub in Phoenix were dubbed heroes after they captured a prisoner being transferred from Detroit to Yavapai County, reports KTVK-TV. The prisoner had escaped from  two sheriff’s deputies who were escorting him.

This airport has gone to the dogs! A 30-pound Rhodesian Ridgeback puppy escaped from his kennel during a transfer at LaGuardia Airport, causing the facility to close for 10 minutes while we was recaptured, reports USA Today.

This ISN’T Candid Camera! Grant Calderone received a warning letter from the FAA after he used his iPad to videotape a bird strike aboard a Delta Air Lines flight from New York to Los Angeles, reports CNN. The letter said his record would be expunged after two years.

2, 4, 6, 8 – what airport do we appreciate? Go Dalian Airport!  China’s Dalian International Airport has found a unique way to soothe travelers when their flights are delayed — cheerleaders, reports CNN.  The airport had the cheerleaders perform during a recent  fog delay.

We’ll end the week with a video I learned about from our good friends at the Brown Girls Fly blog.  It’s around the world, to 17 Countries in 343 Days and 6237 Photographs. Enjoy!

The ORIGINAL Strange But True Aviation News

27 Apr

A new high in the chronicles of the mile high club.  A Qantas pilot has is facing the loss of his job after allegedly “getting jiggy” with a female passenger in the first class section of an Airbus A380 going from London to Sydney via Singapore, reports Aero-News Network.  Several passengers complained about the shenanigans of the off-duty pilot and his lady friend, and he was warned twice about his behavior by the crew.

No texting while driving. What about when you’re flying the plane?  A pilot for Jetstar on final approach to Singapore was forced to do a turnaround a mere 392 feet from the ground after he forgot to put down the landing gear because he was texting from his cell phone, reports Gizmodo. Whoops!

Venus does look like a 747 — if you squint really hard. A sleepy Air Canada pilot thought the planet Venus was an oncoming plane and reacted accordingly, reports ABC News.  He put the plane into a steep dive “that bounced passengers off the ceiling, injuring 16, and nearly caused a collision with a real plane flying 1,000 feet lower,” it adds.

Oh, those TSA screeners! In this week’s episode of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) security blotter, Four current and screeners were arrested at Los Angeles International Airport after they were accused of taking bribes and looking the other way while suitcases filled with cocaine, methamphetamine or marijuana passed through X-ray machines, reports the Los Angeles Times.  They allegedly took $2,400 in bribes over six months, according to federal agents.

TSA (doesn’t) Cares! It looks like someone forgot to read the manual on the TSA Cares program, designed to male screeners more sensitive to the needs of passengers with disabilities.  The Frank family was traveling out of JFK Airport on a flight to Florida when TSA screeners removed 7-year-old Dina, who has cerebral palsy, walks with crutches and leg braces, and a dispute ensued over how she was screened, reports the Daily.  The family claims agents were aggressive and forced the child to be screened twice, causing the family to miss their flight.

Hugging your grandma is a crime, TSA?  The Consumerist reports on an incident where a simple hug for grandma at a checkpoint at a Kansas airport turned into an event that evolved into three TSA screeners and a manager patting down the grandmother and a screaming 4-year-old.  TSA defended their actions, saying “that our officers followed proper current screening procedures in conducting a modified pat-down on the child.”

OK, here’s a nice TSA story! Carlos Palma is eternally grateful to a TSA screener at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, reports NBCDFW. Palma dropped an envelope with $9,500 inside and didn’t realize it until arriving in Iowa.

The only thing missing was torches and pitchforks.  Passengers on what was supposed to be a five-hour Shenzhen Airlines flight turned into a 15-hour nightmare that ended with 30 passengers storming a Shanghai Pudong International Airport taxiway, reports Bloomberg BusinessWeek.  The airline paid the passengers 1,000 yuan ($150) for their inconvenience, blaming thunderstorms for the delays.

Someone needs sensitivity lessons. 18-year-old cancer patient Marina Barlukova was leaving Moscow after chemotherapy and a leg amputation when a gate agent Vladivostok Avia refusing to allow her board the plane home unless she provided a doctor’s permission certifying that she was healthy enough to fly and wouldn’t die during the flight, reports RT.  She was forced to fly home on another carrier.

Uh, pilots – no fighting in the cockpit! UK carrier FlyBe fired two of its pilots after they got into a heated argument on a flight from Exeter to Malaga, reports Aero-News Network.  A tribunal ruled a “massive breakdown” happened in the cockpit, causing potential safety risk to the passengers and other crew.

We’ll end the week with this YouTube video showing what happens when a jet tries to land at Bilbao airport in a very strong wind. Enjoy!

The ORIGINAL Strange But True Aviation News

13 Apr

Sleep on your jet, avoid paying UK taxes!  A Tory donor who has given millions to the UK party managed to avoid paying taxes by sleeping on his private jet rather that staying overnight in the country, reports the Daily Mail. Under British law, as a non-resident, he could spend just 91 full days in the country each year.

Born in the USA (well, not exactly).  Ebosalume is a baby boy born three hours into a flight from Ghana to Atlanta who has been confirmed to be a U.S. citizen, reports Reuters. He was delivered by a doctor and two nurses board the flight who used scissors and a passenger’s shoestring, sterilized in Skyy vodka.

He doesn’t deserve to have a license! No surprise here — the Federal Aviation Administration ordered Michael Ferrero to surrender his pilot certificate or face fines after being charged with flying an airplane while intoxicated, reports Aero-News Network. He was spotted by a California Highway Patrol cop flying erratically about 500 feet above a highway.

Fences? We don’t need no stinkin’ fences!! David Delaney was arrested ad charged with felony trespassing after being caught either crawling under or climbing over a security fence at Fargo, N.D.’s Hector International airport, reports Valley News.

I guess they thought things were going down the toilet! The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which manage JFK, LaGuardia and Newark airports, have unveiled a major customer service initiative, reports CBS New York. The port has unveiled plans to give the airports restrooms an upgrade and add more customer service agents to help travelers.

We’ll end the week with this video of a woman literally blown away during a trip to St. Marten.  Been there, done (but not quite like that) that. Enjoy!!

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

The ORIGINAL Strange But True Aviation News

6 Apr

Oh, those kwazy TSA screeners!  Kids,  I thought I’d heard it all with Transportation Security Administration screeners, but this one — a story on MyFoxDc.com about a screener allegedly running a prostitution ring — has to take the cake.  Bryant Jermaine Livingston, 39, was arrested at Washington Dulles International Airport. He faces up to a year in jail if convicted.

The probably thought they were rock stars. Two TSA screeners who work at Palm Beach International Airport were arrested after allegedly trashing a Miami hotel room and shooting guns out of the window, reports USA Today.  The pair were charged with criminal mischief and use of a firearm while under the influence.

What it something I said?  Lateisha El, a screener at JFK Airport, was arrested after allegedly throwing a cup of hot coffee at an American Airlines pilot after he suggested she not use profanity and speak loudly in front of travelers, reports the Daily Mail. The coffee was thrown after the pilot tried to look at El’s ID to get her name.

TSA caught this one. A Delta Air Lines flight attendant was removed from a flight from Buffalo to Atlanta after TSA screeners at Buffalo Niagara International Airport noticed he was behaving irrationally, reports Buffalo News.  The flight was delayed three hours, and the incident is under investigation.

She must have *really* needed that drink! Peggy S. Albedhady-Sanchez was arrested after being denied more alcohol on a US Airways flight from Charlotte to Fort Myers, Fla., reports USA Today. She allegedly kicked and spit on the crewmember who denied her the drink, then slapped another flight attendant and kicked another one in the groin.

Who’s sorry now? As a follow-up to the story above, Albedhady-Sanchez apologized for her actions on the flight, saying she didn’t remember the incident and blamed it on medication and personal problems, reports USA Today.

I’m tired of this motha*****n snake in my motha*****n plane!! Pilot Braden Blennerhassett of Australia had to perform an emergency landing after a snake came out of his dashboard and crawled around his leg, reports the Washington Post.

We’ll end the week with this story from Alltop.com that shows art created from scissors confiscated at TSA airport screening checkpoints. Enjoy!

Top 10 Things I Enjoyed At My First Sun ‘n Fun Fly-In

30 Mar

Kids: normally I would have posted The ORIGINAL Strange But True Aviation News today, but I have been run ragged working my first Sun ‘n Fun Fly-In, fondly known as spring break for pilots. So instead, I decided to offer up my list — complete with photos — of my highlights from the show. I’ll be at the AOPA tent today until around 3. Please come by and say hell. Enjoy!

The famous AOPA "Plane Crazy" t-shirt

  1. Meeting some of my Twitter followers. B-Rad from Showalter Flying Service brought me my own set of chocks! Now I only need my pilot certificate — and a plane!
  2. Enjoying an ice cream with AOPA President (and my boss) Craig Fuller.
  3. Watching the aerobatic air shows every afternoon.
  4. Using the AOPA Facbook and Twitter (@AOPA) accounts to update members and friends on our activities at the show.
  5. Taking AOPA staffers over for interviews on Sun ‘n Fun radio, hosted by the wonderful Dave Shalbetter.
  6. Trying out pilot headphones at the Pilot Mall next door to the AOPA tent. Although I really want the Bose headphones, they’re a bit too rich for my blood at this point.
  7. Getting people to buy our very popular Sun ‘n Fun “Plane Crazy” t-shirts.  The gentleman in the photo came specifically to buy them after he saw my tweets touting the t-shirts and letting folks know they can only get them at the show.
  8. Watching the AOPA eMedia folks offering demos of our new FlyQ app, which just rocks. It will replace the current AOPA Airports app.
  9. Giving rides to weary attendees in the AOPA golf cart and meeting some great people.
  10. Catching up with my aviation journalist friends.

Showalter Flying Service chocks

Demo of the FlyQ app


AOPA's 'Keep 'em Flying" stickers

AOPA's Ian Twombly, Dave Shalbetter and Girls With Wings' Lynda Meeks on the air at Sun 'n Fun Radio

The ORIGINAL Strange But True Aviation News

23 Mar

How did we go from a 13-hour to 2-day flight, kids? It was bad enough that passengers on a 13-hour United Airlines flight from San Francisco to Shanghai had to divert in Anchorage, Alaska. But what happened next was no picnic either. Three hours into the flight, several lavatories were inoperable; then it took another few hours to hand out food and hotel vouchers, reports Huffington Post. Then the replacement plane also had mechanical issues, but the flight finally took off two days later.  All’s well that ends well!

Don’t you need passengers on your flight? Two hundred passengers on an Air India flight from Jeddah to Delhi found themselves left behind after the carrier’s management decided to move the boarding time up to ensure that the crew’s duty shift did not expire, reports the Hindustan Times. To make matters worse, for those who did make the flight, their bags didn’t because during the rush, ground crews didn’t have time to load them.

Uh, there’s a hole in the engine. Twenty-seven passengers aboard a Boeing 737 operated by Russia’s Transaero decided to deplane before departing from Moscow after seeing what they thought was a hole in the engine, reports the Daily Mail. The airline admitted the engine was missing an inspection panel, but the flight took off as scheduled.

Dude! Show some respect.  It was tragic when an LSG Sky Chefs employee was killed in an accident at DFW Airport. But it was even worse when an Associated Press story quoted an airport official thusly: “But it did cause an interruption in catering services to some flights,” reports the NYC Aviation blog.

Home alone? OK, this story is a bit of a stretch, but I’m including it. Shanpreta Howard and Antowain Johnson are facing child endangerment charges after they flew to Las Vegas for two days, leaving their two children, 12 and 9, home alone, reports the Chicago Tribune.

We’ll end the week with this great New York Times story on Ron Akana, a flight attendant who has been on the job with United for 63 years.  What I wouldn’t give to sit and chat with this guy for a few hours about the evolution of commercial aviation.  Enjoy!!

The ORIGINAL Strange But True Aviation News

16 Mar

It’s two treats in one! A photographer traveling through Newark Liberty International Airport had a key piece of equipment — an air puffer — confiscated by Transportation Security Administration because it resembled a “cartoon bomb,” reports Gizmodo.

I’m surprised it took that long! Gailen David, an American Airlines flight attendant on the job for 24 years was fired, allegedly for a series of satirical videos he recorded in the wake of the carrier’s Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection filing, reports the Sky Talk blog. Click here to see one of his videos.

United Airlines has gone to the dogs — or not. A columnist is complaining that the newly merged United Airline is discriminating against nine different dog breeds, banning them from flights, reports the Chicago Tribune.

Of course, they were seated in first class. Passengers on a recent flight from San Antonio to New York via Atlanta were delighted when two travelers sitting in first class came back to say hi. They were Pete and Penny, a pair of penguins from Sea World going to attend the premier of the Discovery Channel’s “Frozen Planet,” reports UPI.

We’ll end the week with this story from USA Today profiling one of my favorite Twitter travel peeps — flight attendant extraordinaire Heather Poole, author of the new book Cruising Attitude.  She dishes about her 17 years as a flight attendant for a major U.S. airline. Go buy her book, kids!

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