Monday, July 20, 2009

Crashpads on wheels? GREAT IDEA!!

I got a facebook msg from a pilot who's early on in his training. I decided I'd just copy/paste my response here because I'm feeling a little lazy today.

"LAX parking lot is home away from home for airline workers - Los Angeles Times

It's a pity. I wish I had more to look forward to pursuing a career in aviation. Have you heard of this kind of arrangement before?"

My response:
I saw that article too. Oddly enough, it's not the first I've heard of it. I have a friend who flies for Piedmont. His family bought and renovated an old bus for a family vacation. Nick was based in NC but got displaced to Roanoke recently. Instead of bothering to find a new crash pad he just put everything in the bus, hooked his jeep up to the back and found a KOA near the airport that had showers and wifi.

The sad thing is, I think it's a great idea. Here's my personal airline experience. Just after I got hired on at Spirit, they opened a San Juan base, which is where I got sent to. The crashpad there cost me $400/month, and I had to pay $12 each way in taxis to get to the airport. On top of my $800/month rent at home. After a 1 1/2 months there I was able to transfer back to FLL. My crashpad was $250/month, but at least I drove my car from Daytona to FLL every week so that I'd have a car while there (I was on reserve). Buuuuut after 2 months in FLL, after a round of furloughs, I got displaced to ACY. There aren't any crashpads in ACY since Spirit's the only show in town. I had to stay in a hotel and rent a car. Plus, everything out of ACY is day trips, so I had to have a hotel every night. Total cost for the month? $2400. Add that to my $800/month+utilities back home, and I was in the red for the month.

So after all that, I seriously see the plus of having a crashpad on wheels, and the next time I get displaced, I'm looking into a RV. :)

On the career thing: just keep the faith. That's why my older pilot friends tell me. You're in a good spot right now. By the time you get all your ratings people will be hiring again. It's not a glamorous career anymore, but when I'm cruising at FL390 amongst all the contrails I really couldn't care less ;)

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The probation 15...

I didn't have a problem with the freshman 15 in college. I did enough walking to keep myself healthy, since I didn't have a car. I really didn't have a problem until I moved off campus (and had a car), but even then I only gained about 5 pounds.

Getting my first airline job, though, was a different matter. In less than a year my weight creeped up to 142 pounds, which for my height (5'0") was a BMI of 28!!! I didn't realize how chubby I had become until even my size 10 pants were getting tight (in high school I wore a size 4). I'm calling it "The Probation Fifteen."

One of the first things I did after I was furloughed was rejoin Weight Watchers. I can't say enough good things about their program. There is nothing you can't eat on WW, instead you're encouraged to eat things that are GOOD for you and keep you full. Sooner or later you learn that you may loooooooove a big ol' cheeseburger, but for the calories (or Points, as WW uses) you could eat a huge Greek salad and some pita chips with hummus, which (for me, at least) is a lot more satisfying. But if you want to have that cheesburger, go right ahead, just count the Points.

Well 2 weeks ago I finally reached my goal weight of 120 pounds. I'm back to the weight I was in high school. My BMI is 23, which is "normal." I wear a size 6 now, but that's alright, because after all I didn't have any "womanly curves" in high school, either.

I've promised myself that when I go back to work I WILL NOT GAIN THE WEIGHT BACK.

So I'm going to share my tips with you on how to keep the probationary (or reserve or line flying) weight gain from creeping up on you!

- If you can run, running is a GREAT way to exercise. is a cool site where you can find running routes all over the country. Also, GirlsWithWings tells me that most hotels can give you trail maps as well!
- Since I ruined my knees playing softball I don't run. And most hotel gyms lack an elliptical. So learn how to do exercises that don't require one! Fitness Magazine has really great resources. A lot you can even do in the hotel room. Or go swim laps in the pool! Do some exercise every day you're on your trip.
- Carry an insulated lunchbox. I have a Travelpro bag that has an insulated pocket, but most FA's I know swear by for cute insulated totes. This way, even on 4 day trips you can carry healthy snacks like hard-boiled eggs, yogurt, string cheese, and maybe even some frozen entrees. Bring some extra zip-lock bags for ice. If you're lucky you'll have a fridge in your hotel room to refreeze those icepacks, but at the very least you'll have an ice machine!!
- Don't forget to carry workout clothes with you! If you pack them, you'll want to use them!
- I know some people even carry their workout videos with them. I don't always carry my computer with me on trips, but if you do, consider that! Of course, I don't know how appreciative any other hotel guests below you will feel about hearing you jumping around.

If anyone else has tips, I'd love to hear them!!

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Another aviator flies west...

One of the great opportunities I've had in my life involve a very cranky old airplane at KTIX in Titusville, FL. A few weeks after we started dating David brought me down for the Valiant Air Command Warbird Museum open house. Tucked into a corner of tarmac was a group of guys called the Air America Foundation.

These guys, for years, have been putting their heart and souls (and blood and sweat) into restoring a Fairchild C-123K Provider to flying condition. I instantly fell in love with the airplane and became good friends with the crew. Almost every Saturday for the next year and a half I spent with my boyfriend and friends working on "Big Lou." Through AAF I've learned how to rivet and re-skin this beast of an airplane.

The heart and soul of this amazing organization was Paul Vasconi. With his motivating force and near-obsession (maybe it WAS a full-blown obsession, actually!) with the project, Paul managed to create an cohesive group of people who spent every weekend, and often weekdays, on the dream of restoring our baby to flight. Paul gathered donations, conscripted people to the cause and made sitting on top of a metal airplane in the middle of a Florida summer something we looked forward too all week long.

Unfortunately Paul passed away unexpectedly July 3rd. David and I miss him terribly. It's hard to believe that someone who had so much drive and energy towards anything he wanted to accomplish could be gone. He was a great friend and mentor.

David and I have promised to not let AAF and Big Lou fail in Paul's absence, and I know the rest of AAF feels the same way. We will get Big Lou to fly someday. We'll continue to educate the people about Air America and the amazing airplane that is the C-123K Provider. That's our promise to Paul, wherever he is. David says he's up there flying B-17s and C-123s. Knowing Paul, he is.