Tag Archives: avgeek

10 Things Every #AvGeek Should Do Before They Die

Having been an AvGeek since the age of six and an aviation journalist for 22 years, I have a fine sense of what every AvGeek should do before they die. Below is my list, with the caveat that not everyone will be able to do these things. But can’t we dream?

1.  Go inside a working FAA control tower. Back in November 2008, I was out at Washington Dulles International Airport for the opening of its fourth runway. As part of that visit, I got to go into the control tower with then-acting FAA Administrator Bobby Sturgell. The views were amazing!


2.  Attend one of the three major air shows. I’ve covered Singapore, Farnborough and Paris. They are busy, spread out and just amazing, from the fantastic air shows (I got to see the last Air France Concorde land at the 2003 Paris Air Show), to the crush of press conferences to visits to company chalets (I still dream about the meals I had at the Airbus press chalets).

3.  Fly in a World War II aircraft. I attended a Honeywell media event where we were flown in a Boeing B29 Superfortress, where I got to sit in the bombardier seat. Awesome!!

4.  Do a behind-the-scenes airport tour. I’ve gotten to do several, including Hartsfield-Jackson, Los Angeles International, Washington National, Washington, Dulles, McCarran International, Phoenix Sky Harbor and Salt Lake City, to name a few. Seeing the inner workings of a baggage system and hanging out on the ramp are experiences not to be missed.

View from McCarran operations tower. Photo by Benet J. Wilson

5.  Sit in the jump seat on a commercial flight. Before 9/11, I got to do this several times, including: a Virgin Atlantic 747 taking off from London Heathrow; a Crossair Avro RJ landing at London City Airport; and a Continental Express Embraer ERJ-145 landing at Washington National Airport.

6.  Visit great air/aviation museums. Of course I’ve been to both Air & Space Museums in D.C. (I even got a sneak peek of the Udvar-Hazy Center on the day the Enola Gay arrived), the Swedish Air Force Museum, the Wright Brothers National Memorial, the Pima Air & Space Museum, the Palm Springs Air Museum of Flying, and the National Museum of the United States Air Force.

Jetwhine's Rob Mark at the Udvar-Hazy Center. Photo by Benet J. Wilson

7.  Do a ferry flight. Ferry flights are when airlines take delivery of new aircraft and fly them back home. I’ve done several flights from San Jose dos Campos, Brazil, to the U.S. (with stops in Belem and spots in the Caribbean including Martinique) to deliver ERJ-145s and a flight from Linkoping, Sweden, to Minneapolis-St. Paul via Iceland, Greenland (cold!) and Gander to deliver a Saab 340 turboprop to Mesaba Airlines.

8.  Attend the Experimental Aircraft Association’s AirVenture in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. This, kids, is the world’s largest air show. During the week of the show, Wittman Regional Airport becomes home to the world’s busiest air traffic control tower, handling more than 10,000 aircraft. See aircraft ranging from the Boeing 787 to a spectacular display of warbirds. Check out exhibits, air shows and vendors, and meet up with a who’s who in aviation. Remind me to tell you of my encounter with Capt. Sullenberger another time…

Photo by Benet J. Wilson

9.  Take a general aviation discovery flight. Back in the day, one of the reporters on my staff was a pilot, and she took me up in a Piper Cherokee to see the fall foliage over Virginia, and even let me fly. If you have Living Social or Groupon in your area, they always have discovery flight deals. If not, go to your local airport and ask the flight school to do a discovery flight.

10.  Fly in a hot air balloon. When I first became an aviation journalist, I attended the fall meeting of the Regional Airline Association, in Palm Springs. Bombardier hosted a media day, and a highlight was a hot air balloon trip over the valley of the sun.

10 Things You Will ONLY Hear From #AvGeeks

I was chatting with a friend who knows I’m an #avgeek, but doesn’t quite understand the lingo. She’s going to Europe and wondered whether she should fly on Ryanair. I replied “if you’re desperate to save money, want to sit in 10-inch seat pitch and care nothing about #PaxEx, then be my guest.” So please allow me to present other things you’ll only hear from #avgeeks — and things only #avgeeks would understand.  Enjoy!

  1. The movie `Die Hard 2′ makes my head hurt with all its aviation inaccuracies.
  2. Don’t even say the word “B’Gosh” after Oshkosh.
  3. I suppose Bollinger rosé  served in first class on Qatar Airways is OK, but I prefer the Krug served on Cathay Pacific.
  4. I’m not going to St. Maarten for the sand and surf — I’m planespotting!
  5. WHY does that news station insist on using Delta Air Lines L-1011 footage for every story?
  6. I just don’t understand what kind of ROI Emirates expects to get from its stake in Alitalia.
  7. Why did Southwest Airlines choose Row 44 to provide its inflight Wi-Fi service?
  8. If you’re flying on the version one of Korean Air’s Boeing 747, avoid row 45 in the middle — the seat pitch is tight and because it’s a bulkhead, it has a bassinet position, so you know that means screaming babies.
  9. I cannot *believe* that I have to take a Boeing 757 across the pond!
  10. I guess Premium Economy will have to do if I can’t get my upgrade.

Please feel free to share your own sayings!

Now Taking Off: Jetsetter Playing Cards


Regular readers of this blog know that I’m not only an aviation journalist, but I’m a 100% certified aviation geek (#avgeek). I love this industry and do what I can to promote #avgeeks everywhere.  I’m also a big fan of Kickstarter, which is a crowdfunding website that helps people fund their dreams. I have contributed to six of them, and all of them have been funded.

So today, I’m promoting the seventh Kickstarter I’m supporting.  I received an email from Paul Ruccio, the  creator of  Jetsetter Playing Cards, which is “a limited edition deck of playing cards inspired by airport signs that we all have driven by one day or another.” He asked if I would give a few tweets or a blog post on his plan to offer playing cards for #avgeeks.

I wrote him back and said if he gave me a compelling pitch on why I should, I’d support him.  Here’s what he wrote:

“Honestly, the story is twofold. Both aviation and playing cards have been such a huge part of my life ever since I was a little kid. I wanted to bring both of my passions together. When I was younger, my parents took me to every local airshow and always took me to watch airplanes takeoff and land at our local airports. One of the biggest but simplest things I remember was the green airport signs when we were driving to the airports. To this day, when I see those signs when I travel for work – it really takes me back to being a kid and spending time with my family. You can saw I get giddy, even at 30 years old. 22 months ago, my wife and I had a baby boy. Guess what he loves? Airplanes… with no influence from my wife and I (he even sits and watches the entire IMAX Boeing documentary on Netflix… and enjoys it as if it was a Disney movie). We’ve started doing the same with him and it bring so much joy to him to go to the airport and just watch the activity of the planes. Even at home, he hears an airplane fly over and he runs to the windows and says “Airplane!” 

The playing cards have the same impact with my friends and family. It has always brought so many of us together and enjoy the time spent, whether it was on vacation or just hanging around the house. Plus, its tangible. You can place smartphones, computers, and tablets aside and enjoy each other’s company while playing a simple game of cards – whatever game it may be. I decided to take the inspiration of my childhood, airplanes, and airports – then associate it with playing cards. I wanted to create a Kickstarter to share my passions with others out there that have the same memories and passions.
Now, this pitch may seem more personal than anything but there are so many people out there that share the same passions and memories. As much as it would be nice to profit from the project, my main goal is to deliver a product that people will enjoy and take them back to sitting down and playing cards with friends and family. When I decided to launch the Kickstarter, I told my wife “I don’t care if I just break-even. I just want to see people enjoy these playing cards by actually playing with them.” It’s really how I feel. There has been a lot of playing cards on Kickstarter… it has been more about the art on the cards rather than why people actually buy playing cards… to play with them.”

Ruccio did, so not only am I giving him his post and tweets, I also pledged $20 toward his Kickstarter. And I hope you’ll do the same. He’s got a tough row to hoe — although he has 96 backers and $2667 in pledges, he has only 16 more days to reach his goal of $12,000. So I hope you’ll consider helping out a fellow #avgeek.  Pledges range from $1.00 to $800, so there’s something for every budget. I appreciate it, and I’m sure Paul will too!