The CAF’s RISE ABOVE 53’ Traveling Exhibit – now on display at KidVenture during EAA AirVenture Oshkosh – serves two important missions. Not only does it keep the legend of the Tuskegee Airmen alive, it also has been developed to inspire our next generations of aviators by teaching just what it takes to push beyond any challenge and attain greatness.
By Dan Pimentel, Airplanista Blog Editor
The legendary story of the Tuskegee Airmen has been told many times. In brief, these African-American military pilots fought in World War II, flying bomber escort and fighter missions in Italy and North Africa starting in June, 1944. In the segregated 1940s, all black military pilots trained at Moton Field, the Tuskegee Army Air Field, and were educated at Tuskegee University, located near Tuskegee, Alabama.
While they flew a number of makes/models, they became commonly associated with the North American P-51 Mustang. Prior to July, 1944 though, pilots of the 332nd Fighter Group painted the tails of their Republic P-47 Thunderbolts red, and the nickname "Red Tails" was coined. Today, the CAF Red Tail Squadron(RTS) is a Squadron of the Commemorative Air Force, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, and their RISE ABOVE: Red Tail outreach program continues to honor these veteran aviators with their RISE ABOVE Traveling Exhibit. More on the “Road Show” later, but first, ponder this:
Everyone knows that the southern states in the “Jim Crow” era of the 1940s meant African-Americans had a rough go of just about everything. The term “racial discrimination” does not even begin to describe the treatment these American citizens suffered every day of their lives. So when asked to become the first squadron of African-American military pilots, the Tuskegee Airmen had to work harder, be better, do more, and overcome the kind of bias most of us cannot even imagine. But they succeeded, and today, the CAF Red Tail Squadron’s “Six Guiding Principles” gives us all a look inside the world of the Tuskegee Airmen as we learn what it takes to push ourselves past extreme challenges and achieve great things.
Those Six Guiding Principles are: • Aim High • Believe In Yourself • Use Your Brain • Be Ready To Go • Never Quit • Expect to Win
The CAF Red Tail Squadron’s website has complete descriptions of these principles, and it is very good reading.
The RISE ABOVE Traveling Exhibit is a mobile movie theater that tours the country and makes several stops a year presenting the history of the Tuskegee Airmen and inspiring new generations with their story of courage and determination. The exhibit features a 160-degree panoramic movie screen inside a climate-controlled 53’ semi-trailer with expandable sides that can accommodate 30 visitors. A custom painted Peterbilt semi-truck operated by the drive team of Jeanette and Terry Hollis moves the exhibit to the next air show, and the entire rig is beautiful. At those shows, the original film “Rise Above” created by Emmy Award-wining filmmaker Adam White shows dramatic footage of the CAF Red Tail Squadron’s P-51C Mustangs, and presents the history of the Airmen with plenty of aerial footage.
This traveling exhibit takes a tremendous amount of labor to move around the country, set up at each show, and welcome visitors in to watch the film and learn about this important part of World War II history. This massive effort is assisted by some very dedicated volunteers. One of those volunteers is Ken Mist (@Eyeno on Twitter) and he shared with Airplanista some of the reasons he has dedicated much of his time and money to this cause. He also elaborated on why he travels thousands of miles each air show season from his home in Woodstock, Ontario, Canada to be an important part of the road show team.
“My RTS story started back around 2011 with my friend and former Squadron Leader Bill Sheppard,” Mist said. “As the only Canadian based pilot, I got to know Bill and saw him and the Red Tail P-51 Mustang at shows. In 2013, Bill invited me to come with him down to the Dayton Vectren Air Show – as a passenger in the Mustang. Of course I said yes. During the show, there was an incident that resulted in the death of wingwalker and friend Jane Wicker and her pilot, a devastating crash which I witnessed first-hand. The incident shook me very badly and it was the RTS who collectively rushed to comfort me and I knew immediately that I would become a member of this group.”
When Mist retired in 2015, he began volunteering with the RTS and is now the Squadron’s “Lead Ambassador” which means he’s the primary volunteer who can assist the setup and teardown of the traveling exhibit. At air shows where the Red Tail P-51 Mustang is present, Mist helps the PIC with preparing the aircraft (cleaning, fueling, marshaling, security). His most enjoyable role with RTS however is to act as escort for the Tuskegee Airmen and their family members at Oshkosh for AirVenture. “The Airmen are in such high demand that it is a logistical exercise to make sure they get from venue to venue around the sprawling grounds while being cognizant that we do not impose too much on their ‘never say no’ attitude. Their resiliency is amazing and find myself at the end of the day looking more tired than they do,” Mist said.
It is the importance of this mission that keeps Mist involved. “The RTS program’s main goal is to bring the history and legacy of the Tuskegee Airmen to the people of North America, especially the youth,” he explains. “The message encapsulated in the writing on the dog tags we give to each child who watches the movie is just as important to today’s generation as it was back in the 1940’s when a whole group of Americans were told that they were not intelligent enough or even genetically capable of flying in defense of their country. Telling the story, displaying the P-51 Mustang at air shows and providing opportunities to meet living legends shows today’s youth that anything is possible.”
As the RTS Road Show was “on mission” at KidVenture during EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2019, ready to talk to interested youth, adults and aviation history buffs was Lt. Col. George Hardy, 94, one of the few remaining original Tuskegee Airmen. After graduating from training at Tuskegee in September, 1944, Hardy went overseas in 1945 with the 99th Fighter Squadron and flew the P-51C and D on 21 combat missions before World War II ended. He was 19-years-old at the time.
Hardy said it is a great feeling when he sees the Rise Above Traveling Road Show exhibit. “Especially when we get to talk to kids after they watch the movie. I tell them about the six principles of the Airmen, starting with aiming high,” he said. Hardy still lives by those same six principles, and says he continues to always try to “improve himself.”
To honor the Tuskegee Airmen and keep their legend alive has become more urgent in recent years, says Mist. “We are losing the Airmen very quickly now – less than a dozen of the documented original airmen are still alive. They represent the best in all of us and it is incumbent that we tell their story to those who will lead the world forward. The story may be American and I’m often asked why a white Canadian feels so compassionate about the RTS and the RISE ABOVE RED TAIL message – I am a citizen of Earth and we are all better for having the Tuskegee Airmen.”
While technically not my first visit to EAA’s Airventure in Oshkosh, which was in 1999, this is my first “extended stay.” On my first trip in, we flew in, stayed about five hours, and flew out. This is called “scratching the surface,” also known, in this case, as creating an itch.
For the last twenty years, I have dreamed and plotted and schemed to find my way back, and more than just “back”, but to spend some quality time here. On my first night, we dined at Ardy & Ed’s Diner, an icon both in Oshkosh and air show lore. It did not disappoint.
While “Osh-SPLASH” was threatening to kill all air traffic, the thrill of a few biz jets, a turboprop and a C-47 on very short final to runway 27 made the double beef burger and root beer go down just fine. Throw in some fine company and conversation with fellow Air-Adventurers, meeting a couple of my favorite bloggers and podcast folks - and the arrival night was already well on its way to satisfying my long-held Oshkosh dreams.
Then there was Sunday. Sunday-Funday? Not so much. Driving in to our parking spot, there were a few “wish I had four-wheel-drive” moments. Shoes filled with water almost immediately. Drainage ditches that one long-time visitor had never seen wet before were running full-tilt-boogie. But no matter, there’s a show to put on!
The FISK arrival was all but silent. Tower frequencies, ditto. But there is so much happening on the grounds, it’s impossible to be disappointed. A pair of warbirds were doing practice maneuvers over the field. A KC-135 was clearly visible as it held over Warbird Island, waiting for a Mooney mass arrival. If you’ve never witnessed wave-after-wave of aircraft coming, as far as the eye can see, well, just do it. It was a sight I’ll not soon forget.
We wandered around the grounds a bit, talked about the aircraft slowly being pushed and pulled into static positions, and made our way to the EAA Museum. Never been? It’s a “WOW” spot. “If I build it they will come” displayed in true life is here, with more homebuilt aircraft than you’d imagine could fit in the space. From a replica Wright Flyer to Burt Rutan’s wildest concepts - here they are.
At the end of day, there was one thought that returned to me time and again. And it was all due to people. Arbitrarily sitting next to a couple on the flight line – turns out he’s a several-tours-of-duty-veteran, and a guy who spent nine years building his very own RV-10 – we talked like old friends. Every contact I’ve had with EAA crew today, from EAA Communications Director Dick Knapinski to a bus driver, the parking lot staff, museum volunteers - everyone, all of them, were genuinely happy to see us, talk to us and guide us.
And then the “townies”, as we used to call them when I was shipped off to military academy - proved to be great people as well. At Parnell’s Place, I made several friends over lunch (real, true walleye, and a Spotted Cow. Delicious!). Filled mainly with locals, they chatted me up as much as I did them. The servers treated me like long lost family. Merely stopping in to the Target store - the staff was as helpful as I’ve ever seen.
I don’t know what’s in the Lake Winnebago water, but I’m looking forward to drinking a lot more of it over the next several days of #OSH19.
There are 51 weeks between each EAA AirVenture Oshkosh, but these next two (technically just 11 days) are the hardest, most excruciating of them all. That’s because everything for my trip to the World’s Largest Aviation Celebration has been planned, I am starting to put together my gear, and most importantly…
I know what’s coming.
I have just finished scoring all of the essays that were submitted for Airplanista’s “For the Love of OSH” Essay Competition, and the passion for this event was evident in all of them. Everyone that submitted has been to this extraordinary show before, and that is the only way to fully understand why ‘Oshkosh’ is such a mandatory adventure for me each year.
What’s coming is many things, all glorious. I will name just a few:
I will see acres of airplanes of every shape and size imaginable. And not just a few, some types have hundreds. But the very rare birds – mostly found in Vintage – are really my starting point in this thought. If you see one Beech Model 17 Staggarwing, it is a fantastic sight. But to see three, five, maybe eight of them parked side-by-side is jaw dropping. You cannot name a make/model that is not fully represented at this show.
I will be sure to have several “Oshkosh moments” that cannot happen anywhere else. You’ll be riding on the tram and the guy next to you asks what you fly. After I answer, I ask “and you?” He tells me he flew in one of the few Fieseler Fi 156 Storch World War II German liaison aircraft still flying. Where else does that happen?
Only at Oshkosh.
You expect that sometime during the week, you will strike up a random conversation with a stranger, and become mesmerized. Once I was sitting at the University of Wisconsin’s Blackhawk Commons breakfast buffet, and asked a woman with a spare seat at her table if I could join her. Of course the answer was yes. And of course, the same “what do you fly?” question was asked. She proceeded to tell me she flew in a Howard 500, one of the rarest and most impressive vintage business aircraft ever made. Over endless pancakes and bacon, she proceeded to tell me everything I could ever want to know about buying, restoring, owning and flying a Howard 500.
I expect that at some point in the week, I will end up over at Ardy and Ed’s Drive-in for my usual Drive-in Double (beef AND bratwurst patties), fries and a Black Cow. And I can be assured that no matter what day or time we pull into the lot, I will spot 10 or 20 of my favorite #avgeeks that have escaped from Camp Bacon. We will enjoy our meal under the approach end to runway 27, and if the field is landing two-seven, we will be serenaded by the beautiful noise of countless airplanes on final approach loping by overhead. It might be a flight of two RV-8s, or some vintage biplane. It might be EAA’s B-17 “Aluminum Overcast” or a Pilatus PC-12. The moment might also be punctuated by the high-pitched whine of expensive jet engines as a Gulfstream or Citation slips through the air right above our heads. No matter what the make/model is, the food always tastes better with landing traffic almost parting our hair.
I could go on for hours, but you get the point. These next two weeks – oh-kay, 11 days – before my scheduled July 19th departure will be tough, but this is not my first Oshkosh rodeo. Before I know it, I will be wheels up at KEUG via United Airlines, with a few short hops in the flight levels between me and a week of aviation bliss. Bring it on, I am more than ready this year.
Yesterday at Eugene Airport (KEUG), my EAA Chapter 1457 conducted a group photo shoot, bringing about 27 member airplanes together on one ramp to photograph as a large group, and also to shoot individual portraits of owners with their airplanes (and in some cases, their very patient and supportive wives).
Organized by chapter 1457 member and airbrush aviation artist extraordinaire John Stahr – owner, builder and painter of his amazing American Angel RV-8 – this group shoot was challenging on many levels. But as is the case with pilots in general, and EAA members in particular, John received a ton of help from everyone, and the shoot came off without any serious glitches. However, before we could shoot even one pic, we had to get everyone inside the fence at EUG, a typical TSA airport that is completely locked down:
In our EAA chapter, not everyone is badged to get in the gates at KEUG. So Stahr worked diligently with the airport administration to develop a plan that would allow him to place a sign at one gate, with phone numbers of three 1457 members who were badged. People like me who no longer have a hangar there and therefore no badge, simply could call one of the numbers and get in. Airport admins approved the plan, and notified the FAA tower, but that memo apparently did not climb all the way to the top of that tower, as several early arriving airplanes reported Tower and Ground had zero idea what was going on. We had set the shoot up on the large and empty east ramp, so eventually after a bit of ATC wrangling, all arrivals for the shoot were sent to our corner of the ramp.
This shoot also included a potluck dinner, with the chapter providing chicken and ‘dogs off the BBQ. One member, John Larson, pulled his immaculate Piper Archer out of his oversized hangar adjacent to the shoot ramp, and EAA chapter 31 in Creswell, Oregon loaned is tables and chairs. While members like me worked the cameras, other members moved airplanes around, first amassing them into one giant group shot, before moving them aside so we could shoot individual images without cluttered backgrounds. Stahr rounded up a couple of tall ladders and two large scaffolds on wheels so the photogs could get up high to shoot down on the subjects and their airplanes.
This was EAA camaraderie at its finest, on full display. Everyone pitched in, did something, donated something, or helped in any way they could. I am forever proud to be a member of this exceptional organization as it exemplifies all that is good with general aviation.
One last note: As a photographer on the shoot, I was in aviation heaven shooting all the great airbrushed experimental airplanes that John Stahr has painted for chapter members. There were at least five planes there with full-blown custom artwork, and they were all beautiful. It is quite handy to have one of aviation’s best airbrush artists in your chapter, and I will say this: I doubt you will find a small EAA chapter like ours with as many beautiful airbrushed airplanes as 1457, the South Valley Aviators. Sure, you can find a lot of gorgeous custom-painted experimentals at Oshkosh, but to have so many in one chapter is mind blowing.
O.K., obviously I cannot enter my own Essay Competition, the one I am hosting for this year’s #Oshbash at #OSH19. But in reading the great submissions that have already come in, (deadline is Friday, July 5, info to submit your essay is here) I was energized to write out a few thoughts on what The World’s Largest Aviation Celebration means to me.
There are people I know who just do not understand why I HAVE to travel to a little midwestern town called Oshkosh every summer for EAA AirVenture Oshkosh. They know it involves airplanes, food and friends, but beyond that, some fail to fully decode what this show actually means to me personally. I have tried to explain in words, but fail miserably because it is hard to describe the massive nature of this show to anyone who has never attended. You tell them that it is “Burning Man without the Burning Man or the Goat Yoga,” or Coachella without the Hollywood elite, the rap stars and the drugs. You say to them it is the Super Bowl, the World Series and the Stanley Cup Playoffs all rolled into one, without the football, a baseball or the puck. Nothing works.
That is because to us aviators, ‘Oshkosh’ is all of these things together, times 1,000. It is not just an air show, a fly-in or a trade show. It is not just a bunch of like-minded people hanging out for a week. It is not just about seeing old friends, watching extreme aerobatic acts, or cherishing warbirds. It is not just about buying the latest gear or swag.
It is all of those things times 1,000.
This time of year – early summer – is painful for us OSH-bound aviators. All the plans have been made, we’ve gone over our equipment checklists several times, and we’ve watched the buzz build on Twitter. The clocks on our walls have hands swimming in molasses, they move so slowly. Time stands still it seems, as our departure date is still a few weeks away. This is because we who have been lucky enough to go to this wonderful event before knows what’s coming, and it will be glorious.
I will give you an example:
I always stay at the University of Wisconsin dorms, and usually take the Oshkosh city bus into the show. On the first day heading into the show, as the bus travels down W. 20th Avenue along the north side of Wittman Airport (KOSH), it first passes the FBOs. There you spy an incredible number of high-end bizjets and turboprops, it is where the people at the top of our financial food chain park their planes. The crews of these FBOs have somehow managed to wedge in what seems like a couple of hundred of these expensive airplanes into a space usually occupied by maybe 50 of them. You get the immediate sense that anyone who is anyone has flown their Gulfstream, Hondajet or Pilatus into this show. The sight is a literal and visual catalog of what’s flying today in the business aviation world. Seeing this, your excitement builds.
But wait, there’s more:
As the bus continues west towards the show entrance, you start to see a row here and a row there of general aviation mostly single-engine piston airplanes lined up, almost all with tents pitched under a wing. It is the start of the North 40. One row becomes two, and two becomes four. As the bus ride continues, this scene explodes into a sea of GA airplanes and tents, and you can see the massive nature of the North 40. Are there hundreds of airplanes…or is it thousands? It is impossible to count them, as the scene is so big, it goes far beyond what the mind can perceive. At this point – when I see the North 40 for the very first time in the week – I am blown away. The fun has officially begun…this is Oshkosh, and it is insane, in a very good way.
The bus ride continues on a winding path that takes bus traffic down an access road between the EAA Museum and Pioneer Airport. You see the giant EAA HQ building, the beautiful EAA Academy, nice shady spots, and as you spy the scene, you notice something:
Everyone is smiling.
By the time you step off the bus at the Bus Park, it is sinking in that this truly is the world’s largest aviation celebration. Parked cars go on in all directions seemingly for miles, and all you see looking towards the show is very cool aviation stuff and happy aviation people. This is all happening under the fantastic soundtrack of EAA’s Bell 47 helicopters chopping the air to pieces overhead. You notice the distinct sound the -47s when you first step onto the show grounds, but by lunch of the first day, that sound has faded into the background, replaced by endless other yummy aviation sounds from giant jets, hot turboprops, extreme aerobatic show planes, and of course, the symphony that erupts from the numerous monster radial engines hanging off hundreds of perfectly-restored warbirds and vintage aircraft.
I could go on for hours on this topic…but you get my drift. I have just described one tiny sliver of a week filled with all the greatness of EAA AirVenture Oshkosh. And yes, it’s OK to just call it ‘Oshkosh’ just do not call it ‘Sloshkosh’ as the WX Gods may hear you and repeat the flooding of 2009.
The…clock…is…ticking down to my July 19th departure. After an easy flight EUG to STL and a quick RON in St. Louis, I will meet up with @DWThomas2786 (Derek Thomas) for a road trip northbound on Saturday, with a planned lunch break at some GA airport restaurant of Derek’s choosing. He’s a retired food service pro and he’s done his homework. This will put me into Oshkosh about 30 hours earlier than usual, so we plan a full day Sunday of eating, airplane arrivals, a trip to visit the FAA ATC facility at FISK, and more eating.
I’ve been covering aspiring astronaut Abigail “Astronaut Abby” Harrison’s career for years here on Airplanista, and have always practiced her signature tagline to “Dream Big, Act Big and Inspire Others.” She is a textbook example of someone who has set a lofty goal, and is working through all the steps necessary to achieve that goal. And her goal/dream is quite lofty:
To not only become an astronaut, but to be the first astronaut to Mars.
Abby recently earned her private pilot’s license, an important “step” in becoming an astronaut. Astronauts are really just seriously advanced pilots, and when you look back through the history of NASA, being a pilot has always been a prerequisite to eventually encountering and overcoming the challenges of space travel.
We can all learn a lot from Abby, so I thought now that she’s a licensed pilot, it was a good time for another virtual sit-down with her. If you read every word of the following interview and are not inspired to get out there and push hard toward your own goals, you might want to see a doctor and have your pulse checked. When you look at what this brilliant young woman has accomplished in her young life, you too cannot help but to be inspired. I am going to assume that just reading a printout of her daily schedule would make most of us exhausted.
AIRPLANISTA: Let’s start with clarifying your quest to get to Mars. Is it your goal to be the very first astronaut to set foot there, the first female astronaut, or just one of the astronauts to eventually get there? ABBY: My goal is to be the first astronaut to walk on Mars. To state that I want to be the first female to walk on Mars assume that a man may have the opportunity first. I can’t predict the future of course, but I can certainly dream of being first and do everything in my power to make that a reality.
Abby earned her private pilot's license this year, a crucial first step to becoming an astronaut.
AIRPLANISTA: Everyone knows that becoming an astronaut is a long and difficult process. Since you just earned your private pilot’s license, that is an obvious step. Walk my readers through the remaining steps, from today through setting foot on Mars. What exactly will have to happen to being chosen for that mission? ABBY: I just graduated from Wellesley College with my undergraduate degree in biology and Russian Studies. My next step will be attending grad school to earn a PhD in either astrobiology or planetary sciences/geophysics. After earning my PhD I will focus on advancing my career as a scientist.
Education and work experience are the most important part of becoming an astronaut, but in addition I plan to continue pursuing experience in other areas that will strengthen my application for the NASA astronaut corp and eventually the first mission to Mars. While I already speak Russian and Mandarin Chinese, I plan to learn other languages which will aid in what will likely be a multinational mission.
I also intend to continue fly and get more advanced ratings such as instrument, multi-engine, and helicopter. Over the next couple years, I plan to obtain my skydiving certification, continue with more advanced SCUBA diving certifications, and partake in extreme environment simulations and expeditions. The path towards becoming an astronaut can be very different for every individual pursuing it, but what does remain constant is the pursuit of excellence and diverse experience.
I will begin to apply for the NASA astronaut corps once I complete my PhD. Astronaut selection is highly competitive, in 2017 over 18,000 people applied for 12 slots, so it’s very common to apply multiple times. If I am selected, I would then be considered an astronaut candidate (ASCAN) and go through up to two years of training before being commissioned as an astronaut. Once commissioned, astronauts continue to train while waiting to be placed on a mission. Astronauts do not get to select what mission they go on, so whether I would go to Mars or not will not be my choice. Currently there is not an official mission to Mars planned but hopefully that will change within the next 15 - 20 years.
AIRPLANISTA: A recent release about earning your private ticket indicates you are a “pilot, scuba diver, sky diver, marathoner, research astrobiologist, student of Russian and Mandarin Chinese, and science communicator.” Along with being a full-time student, speaker and advocate for STEM education, please tell us your secret to time management. How on Earth can any one human do all this stuff at once? ABBY: Time management is definitely a skill that I continue to work on mastering. So far what I’ve learned is that delegating and asking for help when you need it is important. It’s also important to recognize that you can’t do everything and it’s ok to say no to myself and to others.
I am also fortunate to have a team of professionals who volunteer their time to help me make my nonprofit, The Mars Generation, a success. From a personal standpoint, I try to remember that when you have a long-term dream, it’s a marathon, not a sprint. It’s important to take care of your health, both physically and mentally. I do this by having a diverse set of interests ranging between STEM subjects, arts, and athletics- this helps me avoid burnout.
AIRPLANISTA: On the topic of STEM education – especially for young females – talk about how important it is for girls to becoming more active in these subjects, and how having more females in these roles will ultimately help the aviation/aerospace sector overall. ABBY: Women and girls have an amazing amount of potential to offer to the aviation/aerospace fields, so encouraging more women to take an interest and then also supporting them as they do so will be essential to creating a future where we can do great things like going to Mars. Having more women in STEM fields is also incredibly important because they serve as role models for the girls growing up today, allowing them to see that they can be and do anything that they dream of.
AIRPLANISTA: Define what “The Mars Generation” is, and give me both background and future plans for the organization. ABBY: The Mars Generation is a non-profit, which I founded when I was 18 years old. Now, in our fourth year, we have reached millions of people around the world with our STEAM educational programming. We run a variety of programs, such as Future of Space Outreach, Student Space Ambassador Leadership, and Space Camp Scholarships. Our Future of Space Outreach program utilizes digital media to reach people all around the world with information and inspiration about space and STEM.
For example, we run an awards program where we honor and offer public exposure for young people who are making an impact on their communities as leaders in space and STEM. The nomination period is now open for the the class of 2020 awards. Our Student Space Ambassador Leadership program encourages and supports young people around the world to be advocates for STEM education to their communities in unique ways. We especially encourage our ambassadors to merge the arts into STEM subjects (the “A” part of STEAM). For example, one of our ambassadors has inspired campaigns which have raised over 100,000$ to fund girls seeing movies with positive female STEM representation. We worked with another of our ambassadors to write, illustrate, and publish a coloring book featuring female representation in future missions to Mars. Finally, our Space Camp Scholarship program provides scholarships to students with an interest and aptitude in STEM who are living at or below the national poverty line to attend Space Camp.
AIRPLANISTA: If you can give only one piece of advice to a ‘tween” girl about their future, what would that be? ABBY: Don’t be afraid to fail. As girls, we’re often socialized to believe that failure is a negative thing and that it indicates that we’re not cut out for certain fields. But the truth of the matter is that failure is actually a normal and important part of learning and growing. Everybody fails at some point. Doing so teaches us not that we’re not fit for whatever we were trying, but rather guides us in what we need to do to become the best fit. Because STEM fields have a higher level of intrinsic failure, women tend to self-select out of them. By normalizing and understanding the importance of failure, we can help girls to feel more comfortable and confident in pursuing whatever future she wants to.
AIRPLANISTA: In your relatively short life, you have obviously accomplished a lot. What is one of the important life lessons you have learned so far? ABBY: I’ve learned how important it is to talk about your goals. By talking about your goals, you can build a community of people who understand and support you in achieving them. While believing in yourself is important, sometimes we need other people to believe in us as well, and talking about your goals allows them to do so. AIRPLANISTA: Let’s crystal ball the space industry. Right now, SpaceX is making big strides in the commercialization of space, and others are right there too, with private passenger flights coming soon. NASA just announced space tourism opportunities to allow the mega-rich to pay millions to stay at the ISS for 30 day “missions.” So let’s look out five years and tell me what you see, and then project what “space travel” will look like in 20 years, so the year 2039. ABBY: Nobody can predict the future, especially with an industry as variable as spaceflight. However, I am excited as the 21st century is an incredible time to be alive and experience the commercialization of space travel. I sincerely hope that we’ll see private space flight take off in the next five years, and that in the next 20 it will become widely accessible to the general public.
AIRPLANISTA: Let’s assume you achieve your goal of being chosen for a “crewed” flight to Mars. We all know that is going to be a rigorous, long ride. What concerns you about getting from Earth to Mars, and what do you fear about the mission? ABBY: Of course there’s a lot of danger associated with a crewed Mars mission but I believe that the benefits outweigh the dangers and difficulties. I believe one of the biggest dangers for the crew will be radiation - we still don’t know how to protect organic life from the unpredictable radiation of space, and it’s one of the health concerns that is most difficult to treat or reverse upon return.
AIRPLANISTA: Use this question to add anything else you think my readers would find interesting about your life, your goals or space travel. ABBY: To continue to advance in space exploration it’s important that we view it as a collaborative effort. We’ll need to have cooperation from around the world, cooperation in private and public industry, and definitely strong diversity in the people making it happen.
After flying over to the EU in early May business class onboard an Air Canada 787 Dreamliner (read about that flight here), we returned to the states May 26th aboard a Swiss Air Airbus A330-300, also business class. Departure was Milan, Italy, into Zurich International Airport (ZRH) on a Swiss Air 737, and ZRH to Chicago-O’hare (ORD), then ORD to SFO and back home to Eugene (KEUG).
I look forward to any chance I get to fly business class, which my brilliant wife/travel coordinator, Julie Celeste, is able to procure with airline points. How she does it is a mystery, but she is amazing, and I just come along for the ride. Our “deal” is that she gets us across the pond, and I get us around when there, because I have a knack for figuring out metro systems in pretty much any country we have visited.
So when it was time to come home via Swiss Air, it introduced a new chance to fly a new airline, in one of their premium cabins.
I learned from the Flight Attendant on the flight that Lufthansa Group owns Swiss Air, and it showed. I flew Lufthansa to the EU in 2012 in business class on an A380 SFO to Frankfurt and it was a fantastic experience. The food was outstanding, and the FAs were perfect, right on top of any need you have, very professional, and quite eager to make sure every second of the ride was to the passenger’s satisfaction.
The ride onboard the Swiss Air A330-300 was equally enjoyable, and it was clear that the standards kept at Lufthansa have filtered down to Swiss Air. The quick hop from Milan over the Alps, delivered us to ZRH, which was a wonderful transition airport:
Like many, I regard the Swiss as people that produce very high quality products. Swiss watches, Swiss chocolate, and the exquisite aircraft from Pilatus. So when we arrived at ZRH and saw a sparkling clean terminal, well-designed to flow people through it easily, I was not surprised. Everything about going from A to B inside this airport was perfect, and once we made it to our departure gate, even the seats in the waiting area were high-end, of contemporary design. Because we were flying back to the U.S., Swiss Air again had to check passports, even though we had already made it through one passport control zone. The airline set up two small kiosks on wheels near the gate, and asked everyone boarding to form two lines. The process went fast, the agents were smiling and efficient, and we soon were aboard the Airbus ready for departure.
Inside the A330-300, Swiss Air’s business class was grand. While this particular aircraft might have had a cabin that was a few years old, it was evident the designers did their job. Everything was where it should be, it all worked great, and the best part was the “lay flat” seat actually laid flat. Unlike the footwell of the Air Canada Dreamliner’s business class seats on the eastbound leg of this journey, I could easily stretch out and enjoyed a pretty decent nap. Of course, you sleep well after a good meal:
I am not going to go into every little detail of the menu. Served on the usual linen tablecloth on real china, I used actual metal utensils to enjoy a very good spread. Everything was hot, very tasty, and the presentation was perfect. Just like when I flew Lufthansa’s business class in 2012, the FAs were up and down the aisles during the meal constantly, and if you needed anything (like more of their delicious breads), you only had to look up, make eye contact, and they were seat side with whatever you wanted.
After watching Bohemian Rhapsody on the oversized LCD screen, I pulled the complementary eyeshades down, grabbed the blanket (imagine that, blankets on a plane), and spent much of the westbound flight in deep sleep. The ride in the Airbus was smooth, and when I awoke somewhere over New England, I scarfed down another meal of very, very good raviolis. I had just spent a week in Northern Italy, and only saw pumpkin raviolis on one menu. Blasphemy, I am a ravioli connoisseur, and pumpkin in a ravioli was as despicable as lettuce on a “taco” pizza. And Swiss Air’s raviolis were of restaurant quality, tasting even better at FL380.
We of course made it across the pond to Chicago O’Hare, where our bliss of flying business class ended big time. As per usual when coming back to the states on an international flight, we knew the customs gauntlet would have to be run. But the customs area at ORD was as horrible as any I have been in, long, slow-moving lines inside cramped hot rooms, crappy signage to tell you where to go next, not nearly enough agents to process the crush of people, on and on. The logistics team at ORD blew it on this one, as everything about the customs gauntlet was incredibly poorly planned:
Once you finally made it through the handful of agents processing hundreds of passengers, you had to retrieve your bags off the world’s largest carousel. They were dropping bags from three flights onto the same carousel, and it was almost overflowing. So when one of my bags snuck by, I had to fight my way through a sea of people, grab it, and then fight my way back to the front to retrieve our other bag. The carousel is so big, if you miss your bag, might as well grab lunch before it comes back around. Of course, you then have to schlepp those bags into the next crowded, disorganized room, determine which group of handlers to give it to so it can end up on the right bag recheck belt, and without signs, it was a total crapshoot. Lucky for us, at about the time I was going to lose it, a huge, plain clothes U.S. Customs agent with a badge came up, asked if we needed help, and told us where to go.
We dropped off our bags for recheck, and again had to figure out where to go next. We eventually determined by asking another uniformed U.S Customs agent that we needed to get to terminal 1, and to get there meant heading outside to stand in a ridiculous line of people waiting to board shuttle busses. It was under a temporary tent full of confused, often irate passengers, snaking through the tent in a “Disneyland” style series of back and forth lines that was barely moving. What was weird was that about every fourth passenger were dragging suitcases the size of Smart cars through the tent’s line, so when they tried to board the shuttle buses, of course everything stopped while they stuffed themselves and their steamer chest-sized luggage through the bus door and down the aisle. It was madness.
All this was to get us from the international terminal to Terminal 1, but the bus had to creep out into rush hour airport traffic and limp along at .0005 mph to go all the way around the airport access roads, and of course it hit every red light. What a joke. It was as if a supercomputer was programmed to design the most inefficient customs experience ever. This was America not being great.
After getting through a very slow TSA line, we finally made out gate for the flight to SFO, and on to home in Eugene. Those legs were uneventful on United, and our luggage made it home with us. It was fall into our own bed after 19 days away.
I am cursed any time I fly through ORD. That is one of the main reasons why I am meeting up with an #avgeek pal in St. Louis this year and driving into Oshkosh…bypassing O’Hare altogether. Let United cancel that last flight of the day to Appleton and strand dozens of people bound for AirVenture…I will be happily asleep in my dorm room at the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh when that happens again.
Any time I get to fly business class, it is a joy, and Swiss Air did not let us down. And yes, the little piece of Swiss chocolate they served to finish the meal was outstanding.
We all know people who have attended “The World’s Largest Aviation Celebration” at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh each summer are a passionate group. Pilots generally are quite excited about aviation in general, but when on the show grounds, magic happens, and those who have experienced that magic seem eager to write about it.
So when I opened Airplanista’s “For the Love of OSH” Essay Competition Friday night, May 31 (ahead of the planned June 1 opening by a few hours to check for bugs), we received a number of quick entries. That initial wave was followed Saturday (official opening day) with more entries, all telling pretty much the same story.
This show means a great deal to everyone who attends, but when asked to put that into words, the passion for “Oshkosh” flows freely. I will not go into any details of any individual entry, but all are very clear that this show has/had a profound impact on the lives of the essay authors.
The essay submission window will remain open at Oshbash.com until (1) we receive 100 entries, or (2) July 5th. Our panel of anonymous judges will score the entries, and as competition administrator, I will tally the results after July 5 and notify the seven finalists with the highest scores. Those finalists will be invited to attend my Oshbash Social Media Meetup event Tuesday, July 23, 530P to 730P in the EAA Media HQ Press Tent, and at 630P, all will be on stage when I announce the winners. With almost $3,200 in prizes and awards to be given away, expect a lot of smiles as people collect their swag for a job well done describing in words what this incredible show means to them.
None of this would be happening without the huge sponsorship of several very well-known aviation companies. Donating cash, prizes or awards are Foreflight, Aircraft Spruce and Specialty, Sporty’s Pilot Shop (which also sponsors the Bacon Jerky tasting we have), X-Plane 11, Flying Eyes Optics and Edco Awards and Specialties. I am getting additional support as usual from Dick Knapinski, EAA Communications Director for use of the venue, @Jen_Niffer for being my drop point for the goods being shipped (and driving them to the show), and Julie Celeste of Celeste/Daniels Advertising (my company) for web support and allowing me time out of our very busy agency workload to develop and promote #Oshbash.
If you want to get in on the competition and maybe be one of the seven finalists, go to oshbash.com and click the “Submit an Essay” link at the very top. You’ll be auto-scrolled to the place on the site where you can download the PDF rules (required) and then submit your essay in 500 words or less.
Don’t wait if interested. If early entries are any indication, I expect to hit the 100 entry limit easily, so fire up the old word processor, and let the creativity flow. I KNOW the story is in you, because if you’ve been to Oshkosh, writing about it will come easily. Just let the free flow of passion run out of your fingers to the page, tell us a good story, and hit the “submit” button. You’ll know soon after July 5 of you’ll be one of the seven finalists on stage Tuesday, 7/23 at #Oshbash.
And even if you do not enter, and are on the grounds that day, stop by this gathering of #avgeeks and help us celebrate aviation social media. If you get there at 530P there will be all the Pork Barrel BBQ Bacon Jerky you can scarf down, and I can assure you it is as good as it sounds.
By Dan Pimentel, Airplanista Blog Editor (Editor’s note - This post begins a slightly different vector for Airplanista where I will start adding in some topics other than just all aviation all the time.)
When it comes to weight loss - and keeping that weight off - there are seemingly 1,000s of methods, diets, fads, plans and programs to try and accomplish your goals. Dropping a few pounds and keeping them off is however just not that difficult, once you understand Av8rdan’s Warehouse Diet Plan.
If you have ever worked in shipping and receiving, the visualization required to understand this post will come easy. If you’ve never set foot on a loading dock, just open your mind and let your imagination run wild, it will be a fun ride.
Weight loss and maintenance really only comes down to one thing, energy management. Food (energy) comes in, and that energy is burned by your body throughout your day. It is not rocket science. The trick is to understand the correlation between what comes in and what goes out.
So let’s start with the “warehouse” set-up. There are 10 loading dock doors where semi-trucks arrive and depart, a large “floor” area just behind those doors where goods are off-loaded awaiting shipment, and the rest of the cavernous building is made up of warehouse racks to house pallets of the excess food you eat.
Your day starts with a giant full-course breakfast, the whole nine yards, eggs, bacon, potatoes, and toast with plenty of butter and jam. Imagine after you eat this that two semis arrive in receiving each carrying 28 pallets in their 53’ trailers, and a crew of forklift drivers unloads the 48 pallets of food energy. They are placed on the floor to await shipment back out.
As your body moves during your office job, energy has to be loaded onto other semis, but sitting in your cubicle only needs maybe six pallets of energy. So there remains 42 pallets waiting for a forklift to move them. Lunch rolls around, and you scarf a big burrito with the pals, which generates another semi of food energy, another 28 pallets. They join the 42 already on the floor, so now you have 70 pallets waiting. You burn another six pallets in the afternoon, and after an early departure from the office, stop off at the gym and burn a whopping 24 pallets more. So that 70 pallets on the floor is now just 40 pallets.
Dinner rolls around and since you were at the gym, you are starved and get a big, cheesy pizza, which ads another 28 pallets to the floor from the truck that just backed into door number 3 in receiving. The rest of the night is spent in front of your laptop wasting time on Facebook and Instagram, which only shaves six more pallets off the floor total, so there are now 62 pallets of food energy waiting to be moved. You head to bed, and the forklift crew’s shift is almost done. But before they can clock out, the boss – we’ll call him Hank - says all remaining pallets must be put away in the racks so the floor is clear for the next day’s shipments. In a sea of activity, every available forklift racks those pallets before the lights in the warehouse go dim, ready for tomorrow.
Well, friends, those racks represent the fatty areas on your body, the ones you hate seeing in the mirror. The more racked energy stored there, the more you resemble Chubby Hugs, the rotund cat from the “Get Fuzzy” comic strip.
Now let’s look at a different scenario, the one that will help you lose weight and keep it off.
The day starts with a small, sensible breakfast that generates just six pallets inbound in receiving. As you work, and since these forklift drivers are lazy and take the path of least resistance, they will grab those floor pallets of energy first to load out in shipping. You have a salad for lunch – another six pallets comes in – and burn those six in the afternoon. A 5KM run after work requires shipment of 20 pallets of energy, but the floor is clear. So the forklift drivers have no choice but to pull down those 20 pallets from the racks where they are being stored as fat. A respectable dinner of fresh meat, fruit and veggies brings in another 12 pallets, and you burn six before bead playing with the kids. By fasting for 12 hours, another six pallets gets consumed, so at the end of the shift, the floor is clear, not like yesterday when 62 pallets off excess food energy were racked.
You can see clearly now that as the days progress, by eating light and right and getting plenty of movement and exercise, eventually the racks - your stored body fat - will be depleted. That brings you to the maintenance portion of my plan, where you balance what comes in with what goes out, with the goal to be at net zero pallets by bedtime. See…not rocket science.
I have lost about 30 pounds recently and am keeping it off by understanding how my body warehouses excess food energy as fat. You can too, but first you have to think like a Teamster and understand how your internal shipping and receiving dock works.
Gotta run now, I hear a Peterbilt backing in to door four, so I need to fire up the Hyster and get after it, because Bubba has another load to go pick up, and I really do hope they are tacos.
You have to go way back to 2005 to understand my appreciation for Boeing’s Dreamliner, back when it was being called the 7E7. But when it was officially unveiled in 2007, it had become the 787, a nice “Boeing-ish” number that fit well into their established airliner numbering system. There was of course the 707, 727 and 737, the “Queen of the Skies” 747, a 757, 767 and the monster Triple Seven. So it made sense that the Dreamliner was to be known as the “787” and the “7E7” name was scrapped.
I clearly remember the Dreamliner’s first flight in 2009, it marked the dawn of a new era in airliner construction. The 787 is built of composite materials instead of all-aluminum, and it had been a personal bucket list item to fly in one. On May 6, on my way to an extended EU vacation, I was able to check off that bucket list box courtesy of a business class flight from Toronto to Copenhagen on an Air Canada Dreamliner.
Making 550 knots or 907 kilometers an hour over the North Atlantic.
I knew not long after we departed Toronto that the 787 was a very well-engineered ship. Major environmental improvements in cabin ventilation, interior lighting and soundproofing made the ride quite enjoyable. It is quiet, smooth, with as much clean air as you care to gulp down. The Dreamliner also seemed very fast, or at least that’s what the numbers on the screen in front of my biz class seat were telling me because from the middle seats of the business class cabin, you can barely see out the windows, so there is very little reference to tell you that you’re flying in a big pressurized tube high up in the flight levels. Which brings me to part 2 of this post:
While the ergonomics of Air Canada’s business class seats was adequate, they made one gigantic blunder that cannot be ignored. The business class cabin has a row of seats down each side, with pairs of seats between the two aisles. But between the inside seat pairs is a high partition that cannot be removed or lowered. This means a couple flying together must sit in separate cubicles in the middle seats, or one behind the other in the side rows.
This was the view of my wife Julie Celeste on our trip across the pond in business class aboard Air Canada's 787 Dreamliner.
So my wife and I had to fly the whole trip not really seeing each other, on our way to a vacation we’d spent years planning. Sure, we could stand up, reach WAY over and maybe nudge the other to look up and say hello, but it was such a stretch, my wife spilled red wine leaning so far over on one attempt to communicate with me.
For single travelers, Air Canada’s business class seats are great…very private and comfortable. But once you sit down, forget having any conversation with anyone in front of you or behind, or on either side. The cabin resembled a major office, with cubicles all the same height filled with people hunkered down doing whatever.
From my vantage point in one of the middle seats roughly in the middle of the cabin, there was what felt like 10’ to the right side windows, and 15’ to the left windows. Even with the Dreamliner’s larger windows, this felt like a flying call center, not an airplane cabin. The only clue I had when we departed Toronto at 9 p.m. was a blur of taxiway lights flying past the windows. As soon as we rotated, until we were on short final into CPH, there was no visual clues that this flying cubicle farm was high over the North Atlantic because the Dreamliner was delivering such a smooth ride.
Overall, I give the Air Canada 787 business class experience a solid 6 on the #PaxEx 10 scale, if there is such a thing. The food was decent, the service was adequate, and the seats and infotainment system was respectable. It was a very comfortable way to get across the pond, but the Lufthansa business class ride over on my last trip in an A380 eclipsed this Air Canada trip in almost every way.
As to the Dreamliner itself, it lived up to my expectations. I have to give it a full 10 on that #PaxEx scale, I could not find anything to critique with Boeing's big twin-engine wide-body. With windows that darken, and a lighting system that slowly wakes the cabin back up at the arrival end of a red-eye, I arrived refreshed and ready to blast through four stops in the EU through three countries.
And I am really glad that despite not seeing Julie for seven hours on the flight over the pond, she arrived at the same time as I did, as her cubicle and mine touched down at the exact same time.
So thank you Boeing engineers for designing a very capable airliner, and shame on Air Canada’s interior design team for not making it super easy to remove that stupid divider wall between the inside business class seats. It should have only taken the FA pushing two tiny buttons, pulling up the divider if requested and stowing somewhere…this is not rocket science here. Kind of blows my mind that on such a technologically advanced flying machine, someone could overlook such a mundane and yet very important part of the passenger experience.
Watch for part two of this series, when I compare the ride back, also business class, flying Swiss Air on an Airbus A330-300.