‘Medicine has been my life, but flying is my passion’

I believe there are multiple paths in life. Whether the topic is spiritual, technical, flying, driving or any other matters not. There are multiple ways to accomplish nearly anything. When it comes to flying, the paths to aviation and within aviation are myriad. Victor Vogel was a medical school professor for 25 years and did […]
Source: http://generalaviationnews.com‘Medicine has been my life, but flying is my passion’

Customs & Border Protection hires UND student pilots

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Air and Marine Operations (AMO) has launched a program to recruit students exclusively from the University of North Dakota (UND) for careers as airborne law enforcement officers. Under the program, sophomore and junior students learn the foundation of federal law enforcement while continuing their studies at UND. AMO’s mission […]
Source: http://generalaviationnews.comCustoms & Border Protection hires UND student pilots

Drones are Helping Scientists Weigh Seals in Antarctica

It’s always nice to see a positive drone story. Today we’ve heard about a new way in which drones are helping with conservation efforts. A project in one of the most remote parts of the world, Antarctica, has shown that aerial photography can be used to effectively weigh and measure leopard seals. Keeping track of […]

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Source: Quadcopter/Drone newsDrones are Helping Scientists Weigh Seals in Antarctica

Important Items Every Professional Pilot Needs in Their Flight Bag

Important Items Every Professional Pilot Needs in Their Flight Bag

Plus what you definitely need in your overnight roller board.

When I was a private pilot I carried a small flight bag with my pilot supplies inside.  As I moved along to instructing, the bag pretty much stayed the same.  I flew for a part 135 carrier and my needs changed slightly.  But until I started flying for a smaller airline and then to a large airline did I realize my needs really changed.

Back when I first got hired at a major airline, the company was in pre iPad days so all the manuals on the plane were in manual format also great with all your Jeppesen charts.  This made for a ridiculously heavy flight bag and I certainly did not want to carry anything more than my medical, ratings and sunglasses.  Now that the iPad has arrived, all this heavy data is compact and easy to carry, which has changed out our flight bags significantly. Now, for me, it’s about carrying the things that make me most comfortable when traveling on a multi day trip. This is my latest list and why I carry them, I also try to keep the flight bag as light as possible.

Flight Bag

iPad and charger, for obvious reasons, they are required.  Also it’s probably obvious that you can’t go anywhere without your phone.  I have an iPhone so the charger is the same as the iPad.  No matter what dire emergency my wife or kids have do I take that charger out of my bag when I am not flying.  If you have kids, you understand.

Passport, medical, licenses and copies.  I keep these in a dedicated aviation document bag so that they are all together.  The doc bag is zippered in case somehow the bag gets tipped over.

Tide stain stick.  For some reason every airline on the planet really does not care if you have time to eat or not.  This almost always means you will eat your food in the cockpit and on your lap.  At least once per month a drop oatmeal or something gooey ends up on my tie without fail.

A plastic utensil set ready because I sometimes forget to get one in the food court.

Emergency cash, I put a twenty dollar bill in my doc bag in case of emergencies.  Once I left my wallet at home at that twenty bucks was a lifesaver. (Be prepared, former Boy Scout)

Two full size bandaids.  Every airplane has some spot with a piece of something sticking out ready to get you.  It never fails that I bleed a little bit at least once a year.  While usually this is not a big deal, most airplanes are a petri dish of germs since management never thinks that cleaning the cockpits is necessary.

Extra batteries.  I use a Bose headset that runs on AA batteries.  I always carry a couple of those just in case.  They also just so happen to fit in my led flashlight, so it’s a bonus two for one deal.

Ear buds, because once in a while you have to dead head in the back and there is always one passenger that want to ask you a zillion questions.

Overnight roller board

My overnight bag has a few items in it that are dedicated to that bag and do not come out.  The first one may surprise you, it’s a plastic bag.  I put a plastic bag similar to a grocery bag in my suitcase for dirty clothes.  This keeps my clean clothes clean and not smelling like the socks I wore for yesterday’s 14 hour duty day.  Believe it not the best place to get the bag is in your hotel.  In every room is a hangar with a plastic bag on it so that you could put your laundry or shoes out to be cleaned. (Don’t do that). Take that bag and make it yours, they are heavier and the perfect size.  Plus you can be like me and use it over and over.  I have a nice heavy duty bag that I have used for over ten years.  The recycling junkies would bound to be super proud of me.

Mini umbrella. Get a small one that fits on the large outside pocket of your dollar board and walk arounds in the rain are a no brainer.  Snag another one of those hotel bags to use as a wet umbrella bag and your golden.

Dedicated shave kit.  I have a shave kit just for work, it has everything the top bathroom drawer at home has.  Once A month I restock it.  I buy the mini shaving cream and all the other mini size toiletries at Target to keep it light and small.  I also thrown in one extra set of blades for my razor.  This makes packing for a four day trip a breeze because you have all this in their already.   I also found this really small sewing kit for emergency repairs.  It has a little bit of thread, a needle one button and a safety pin.  It has saved the day more than once.

Shoe bag, I keep dedicated shoes for overnighting in my bag in a cool little shoe bag so they don’t get the other stuff dirty.

My favorite bag, the lunch cooler bag.

I really love my lunch cooler bag.  I generally only carry it when I have my roller board since it slides over the top.  The main compartment I use for bringing my travel food.  Eating on the road is challenging, so I carry some basics in my bag.

Instant oatmeal. Add some hot water from the plane and in five minutes breakfast is served.  If you are in the hotel then I use the coffee pot to make hot water.  They are light, filling, and better for you most anything else.  I can’t deal with the $16 breakfast at the Holiday Inn (or any other hotel). It is way overpriced and they think it’s better than it usually is.

Protein bars.  I call these my emergency rations.  They keep forever and will tide you over with protein.

Extra plastic utensils plus napkins and some wet wipes or a small bottle of hand sanitizer.

I have discovered this sandwich spice that you can buy from Penzys that adds some amazing flavor to the most mediocre sandwich found in most airports.  For some reason bland and boring seem to be the theme song in sandwiches that you buy at the airport. Combine that with the slow service and high prices and you could easily get discouraged. Add some of that spice and take a trip directly to flavor town.

Any kind of fruit that I can get away with bringing if I am not flying out of the USA.  Bananas are my favorite because they are filling and healthy.  I also stock some nuts and some of those small candies they give to kids on Halloween.

Of course all three of these flight bags have a really nice crew bag tags that makes it easy for me to pick out in the crew van.  I try find the brightest and easiest ones that  can help me find my flight bag.  Hopefully this will give you some ideas on what to stock in your flight bag to make work more pleasurable.


5 Easy Steps to Developing a DIY Pilot Leadership Program For YOU!

5 Easy Steps to Developing a DIY Pilot Leadership Program For YOU!

There are lots of articles on flying tips and instruction.  However there is very little written about what to expect when you finally make it to that airline job.  All the years you spent perfecting your flying skills and your abilities have paid off, but now what?  Is it still about learning the plane or new systems or is there something else to master?  Consider these items as you develop pilot leadership.

Most pilots get so involved in all the training and building time that they forget to develop an actual pilot persona..  Pilots are the ambassadors of an airline and they have considerable influence on the operation as well as the passengers.  When I say influence, I am not referring to operations.  The pilot in the operations mindset is merely a spoke in the wheel of getting a flight from A to B.  What I am referring to here is building your character.  Just like training and experience it takes time and nurturing to build a leadership character that people will actually look up too and want to follow.  I put together a short list of traits that most people never really think about, but will serve you well in your career.

  1. You are perceived as the leader

    .  Pilots have been trained to handle all kinds of emergencies and also trained to eliminate panic and worry as they work together to solve problems.  Most passengers know that airline pilots are the consummate professional and you are usually labeled that in their minds until you give them a reason to change it.  Being polite and cordial is a great starting point.  A lot of pilots are caught up in the fact that they “are in charge” and have a problem relating to people, crew members and even passengers.  Most passengers have some sort of stress level when they travel, whether from their kids, the weather, traffic, family or just a bad day.  An extra effort in being polite and happy goes a long way in people’s perception.  It can also be measured in how well they think your going to do your job.  The pilot group as a whole needs to take special care in how our group is being perceived.  Pilot leadership has to be developed and maintained.  The best example that I can think of is the example of a car salesman or dealership.  A common misconception is that used car salesman are of skeptical character and not looked upon in high favor.  That is the perception that that industry has groomed for itself whether they like it or not.  Is it fair?  Probably not, but that preconceived notion as to be overcome before you are willing to trust them to their word about a cars condition and price.  If that industry has a bad reputation, it’s really up to the people in it to find a way to change that perception.  Airline pilots are automatically given a level of respect by most passengers.  But it is up to the pilot group as a whole to make sure we groom that by working on our individual characters and being receptive to input.  This can be somewhat awkward at times but if people really care about the industry, it will help everyone out in the long run.  I remember once when I was a first officer, hearing a captains brief to our flight attendants which was rather rude and conceited.  I decided to respectfully bring it up in cruise later that hour.  To make a long story short, he was not aware that was how he came off and actually was receptive to hearing my input.  That makes life easy when we as a pilot group can be receptive to how we treat others.  Remember it’s not all about how well you can fly the plane anymore.  Everyone can fly well and everyone gets better over time, so big deal.  Not everyone is willing to be humble and work on becoming a great leader, it takes work.

  2. You are the ambassador for some child’s best memory. 

    I think it is the greatest thing when a kid gets to visit the cockpit either before or after the flight.  These are golden opportunities to inspire the next generation of pilots and to plant those seeds of career.  I know of a lot of pilots who first were inspired to become a pilot because someone let them see the front office.  Yet so many pilots are guarded about letting kids come up front for a look.  Listen, it is imperative that we do this, too many kids do not get the opportunity to be wowed by someone or something.  I have heard some say they don’t like kids, and that’s why they don’t invite them.  Perhaps that is something to overcome and change if that is your thinking.  I look at it like this, that seat is just as much mine, as it is a child’s when they come fly with me.  Let me encourage you to take extra care to put them in it, put some headphones on them and take their picture so mom and dad can put them on Facebook.  These acts of kindness go a long way especially when the weather is bad, we lose their bags, the plane is late or there are delays.  Taking the opportunity to put a check mark on the positive side of their flight experience is a chance we always should take.  Even if the kids are too young to remember, the parents are taking note and that makes a huge difference.  This is a huge character trait of pilot leadership.

  3.  Say hello to your passengers.   I have been a captain at a major airline for 14 years now, it never ceases to amaze me when I say hello on the PA outside of the cockpit.  Some people are shy and do their briefing from the confines of the flight deck and I understand that.  But the minute you step out that door and state who you are, every head looks up and pays attention.  Most passenger briefings are way too long and way to monotone and most people ignore it.  But tell them who you are and give them the opportunity to put a face with a name is huge.  People want to see who is in charge, they love some interaction even if it’s just seeing your face.  I try to stand at the door and say hello to people when they walk in the door, people love it.  It never ceases to amaze me how a little personality can make someone feel less stressed and more comfortable.
  4. Crew is family. 

    Let’s face it, if you work as a pilot, you can be gone a lot.  Traveling is part of the gig and sometimes you can spend more time with your crew then you do with your kids.  The environment of airline travel is really not about ensuring everyone’s needs are met.  I always take the opportunity to ask our flight attendant crews if they need a meal or coffee if I am going into the terminal. Flight attendants are not always given the time nor the opportunity to get some food, the mere offer is appreciated.  This is probably the easiest way of developing your pilot leadership, people want to follow leaders that care about them.   If you are working on the holidays, it is so fun to take a few moments and make it better for someone who maybe separated from their families.  There is always room to bring candy and cookies to put a smile on their face.  I remember a specific event when we had a particularly long day of flying from coast to coast.  About a third of the way there was a buzz on the PA from one of the flight attendants announcing she made us lunch.  She planned out a homemade lunch as a surprise for the pilots and crew (first time I met her). She brought everything from home and took the time to make us chicken burritos from scratch along with fresh guacamole.  I was blown away and I have never forgotten that.  Those random acts of kindness get etched in our memories and last into our retirement as a highlight of people we work with.

  5. Last but not least is discipline

    . This may sound funny or even odd, but the sooner you develop a discipline to do the right thing, the more impact you will make on the industry as a pilot.  Do you have a 5 am showtime, then work the math problem in reverse so that you can still be a few minutes early and be well caffeinated and have a solid nights sleep.  That may mean a 9 pm bed time and missing your favorite Monday night football, but we owe it to our passengers to be be well rested and ready to go.  I have often said I would hate the idea of my surgeon rushing to the hospital at the last minute, frantic from traffic and only having a few hours of sleep.  I want my doctor in much better shape than that and I think we would all agree to that.  We hold people’s lives in our hands and it takes discipline to make sure we present ourselves in the best popular scenario.  This form of pilot leadership will only be recognized by yourself, but it is a form of integrity that will serve you well in the long run.

Hopefully this article has inspired you to think about your career in aviation differently. It is up to us a flight crews to take care of the industry and how people perceive us in our roles to transport them around the world.  Developing your self is as important as developing pilot leadership.

Ken Schulte is a major airline pilot as well as owner and operator of Airspeed Junkie a unique supplier of pilot supplies and unique gift items in the aviation industry.  He also is a co-host on an aviation podcast called Sky Talk Radio which pokes fun at the airline industry from a crew point of view.


Congressional Testimony Focuses on Competition: “The Rest of the World Has Not Been Sitting in the Sidelines.”

During yesterday’s House Aviation Subcommittee hearing on drones, witnesses testified that the U.S. must work harder on regulation to maintain its global position in the industry.  Witnesses from all areas of the industry, including representatives from Stanford University, AirMap, AUVSI and FAA spoke to committee members.  Major power infrastructure was represented by the Southern Company. […]

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Source: Quadcopter/Drone newsCongressional Testimony Focuses on Competition: “The Rest of the World Has Not Been Sitting in the Sidelines.”

Aviation Bomb Scare, a True Story

Aviation Bomb Scare, a True Story

Today’s media headlines are always full of shocking events about violent and hateful events that can make you lose sleep at night.  As a pilot whether you are a private pilot or a professional, it is likely you have played all kinds of scenarios through your head.  What would I do if the gear won’t go down?  What will I do if the engine fails on take off?  What will I do if someone does something suspicious on board creating an emergency?  These are all things we think about from time to time but hope never happen.

In the late eighties, well before 9/11 changed out viewpoints of terrorism and catastrophe I was taking off for a short flight in a regional airline turboprop.  I was the first officer on the flight and was really happy I was building up my multi engine turbine time since I wanted to go to the major airlines.  The captain of the flight had significantly more experience than me and was fun to fly with.  Shortly after leveling off in cruise flight, the company called us on the number two radio that we monitored.

We were told that we were needed to return to base, no reasons, just return.  Now to any pilot on some sort of a schedule this means your day is going to get longer.  So I asked why we were to return, the dispatcher hemmed and hawed like he did not want to say why?  The captain insisted so I had to coax it out of him.  They finally answered with the response of: ” well we had a passenger come to the plane, loaded his bag and then changed his mind and left.  The bag is still on the plane and is now suspect”

So of course after a few blank stares of disbelief, we turned the plane around and got that thing on the ground.  My first thought was one of surprise.  I was surprised how I felt, like “well who would do this to someone?”  If it was a bomb, which is what our dispatcher was trying hard NOT to say, then what are we supposed to do about that?  This is probably the one scenario I never took the time to think through.  It was not common to blow up airplanes yet and the thought never really entered my mind.  I remember being calm but being in a hurry.  Where do we go after landing?  What do we do with our passengers?

Shortly after landing we were told to park in a remote spot on the airport and we unloaded all of our passengers as quickly as possible. I remember the fire department being there and all of the fireman had these silver fire suits on, it was 103 degrees on the ramp.  Slowly they took every single piece of luggage off the plane and gently put it on the ground for the bomb dog to sniff.  This took quite a while as we watched from the distance until every last piece of luggage was inspected.  Next was a thorough inspection of the plane to make sure that nothing was tampered with or hidden.  This took hours and I felt sorry for the fire department.

Soon everything was labeled good to go and we were asked to get back in that same plane and resume the operation.  All the passengers left, but the crew still had to go.  Now came the second part of my learning to think through situations.  Do I go? Do I refuse?  Is it really safe?  Did everyone do their job well enough to ensure my safety?

Nonetheless I did not have anything in my experiences to make me question anything so we left and went flying again.  In today’s world (as of 2017) these kind of events have happened enough that we have actual procedures to work with.  Our cognitive learning abilities also caused airlines to start briefing their crews on hot spots in terrorism and things that new groups are doing or attempting so that flight crews can be better prepared.  These are all things that can be hard to think about in flying today, but it is something we do have to address.  Chances are good that some sort of procedure ten years from now will be developed because someone or some group did something suspect today.  It is us up to us as pilots and flight attendants to constantly train ourselves for the worst case situation.

Ken Schulte is a professional pilot for a major airline.  If you are interested in hearing more aviation stories, you can visit his podcast called Sky Talk Radio