The Great T-Shirt Giveaway

I started The Great Planes on January 1, 2017, after countless conversations with my husband about how I could do something meaningful with my unwavering passion for flight.

I’ve since written nearly 50 blog posts, and posted almost 1,500 photos to Instagram. I’ve learned a lot about aviation and I’ve learned even more about the world and its people.

I’ve been put to work running flight strips at the MSP Air Traffic Control tower, been driven around many an airfield—my favorites being Schipol and O’Hare—and I’ve sat in my fair share of cockpits—the KLM 747 takes the cake.

I’ve even met in person roughly a dozen of my followers, and now consider many of them good friends.

The creation and growth of TGP has been chock-full of adventures and milestones, the most recent of which just occurred a week ago when my Instagram account surpassed FIVE THOUSAND FOLLOWERS!

This is hugely exciting and humbling, and as a “thank you” I’m doing my first ever GIVEAWAY!

You heard right. Head to my Instagram page to find out how YOU can win one of three TGP T-shirts featuring my new logo, designed by my greatly talented friend, Ashley! The contest ends Sunday, Sept. 30 at 11:59 p.m. CT.

Thanks again to my family and friends—old and new—for supporting me as I fulfill my dreams.

Fly on.

I love the planes… I just love ’em

Repost from my former Life in Scrabble Tiles blog:

I consider only one man made “thing” on this earth to be as truly remarkable and awe-inspiring as Mother Nature herself: the airplane.

I try to make it out to Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport at least once a week to watch my flying “friends.” I pop in my headphones to listen to the MSP tower air traffic control feed, and I sit down and just stare agape, as though I’ve never seen a plane before.

“Taxi via Whiskey to 3-0 left and line up and wait,” one of the controllers will instruct a captain and his first officer. During busier times, they’ll shoot those planes off the runways one after another with seemingly no end in site. And maybe delayed, time-crunched passengers wouldn’t be too thrilled to find out they were about to “line up and wait,” but let me tell you… when I hear that phrase, you can bet your bottom dollar this girl’s happy. Because that means the show’s just starting.

And let me clarify: I love all planes. Whether it’s a little “dink” like a Subair Beechcraft 1900, or a “Big Kahuna” like an Air France Airbus A340… I love them all and am just as excited by each and every one of them. OK, there is one exception: I am obsessed (and I mean obsessed) with the MD-11… specifically UPS and/or Fed Ex MD-11s, there’s just something about that tail engine.

On the days that I’m not lucky enough to find myself out at MSP, I’ll flip on an aviation documentary of some sort or just watch a handful of plane-related YouTube videos (my current favorites being cockpit-view takeoffs — I get chills… CHILLS when they rotate).

And don’t even get me started on my aviation-related decorations and accessories. Between the many planes that sit on my desk at work, the seaplane that hangs from our living room ceiling, the biplane mounted on our bedroom wall… I can’t even keep track anymore. Though I will say that “Big Bo,” my new plush 747, holds a very special place in my heart, as do the propeller earrings my husband Scott gave me for Christmas.

But why planes? Why?

I think it’s safe to say that aviation is in my blood. My parents met as flight attendants on Eastern Airlines in the early 80s, and my dad spent more than 30 years in the U.S. Air Force. And somehow over the years, a love that I now know was there all along, just grew and grew before evolving into this great passion of mine.

As a general rule, our minds tend to “think forward.” And by that I mean, most of us are aware (and appreciative) of all the great things we as humans have been able to do thus far during our time here on earth, making us pretty excited for the future and the possibility it holds. But somehow, every time I see a plane take off, it makes me “excited” by the past. I realize how wondrous a thing it is, even today, to be able to see something so huge, something so heavy, just lift off the ground and actually fly. It makes me excited to think of what a breathtaking moment it must have been for the Wright Brothers to see their “flying machine” live up to its namesake for the first time.

And now, more than a century after Orville and Wilbur’s invention gave rise to aviation as we know it, I’m here to say: don’t let that magic die. There are so many inventions that we take for granted nowadays, some more extraordinary than others; but the plane… I mean, of course it’s “just physics,” but to me, it’s physics in its most majestic form. The fact that lift, gravity, thrust, and drag all work together to carry a tube full of people through the sky from one place to another, is nothing to scoff at.

At any given moment, there are thousands of planes in the air, just over the U.S alone. So whether you’re a frequent flyer or someone who rarely takes to the skies, next time you’re in an airplane, or even the next time you look up at the sky and see a contrail, just take a minute to think about how truly miraculous flight really is.


Oops, I did it again… that’s right, I’m back to daytripping

I’ve had a lot of people asking me about my “daytrips” recently, so I figured I’d share a little bit about what I do and why I do it.

Hopeless and alone in Chicago, I needed something to perk me up. Of course you all know I’m kidding about being hopeless, but indeed I was (and still am) living alone here in the Windy City as my husband finishes up school in Minnesota.

OK, back to the story.

Earlier this year, I got the incredible urge to fly (what else is new?) so I started perusing my favorite website, Google Flights, to find the cheapest flight to… anywhere. In my search, I set my departure city to Chicago (all area airports) and left my destination blank. I set my search to roundtrip, with both the departing and returning flights on the same day.

And just like that… I was a daaaaaaytripper, roundtrip ticket YEAH!

Anywho, I found a basic economy fare on American Airlines for $87 roundtrip. My destination for the day? Atlanta. Fun fact, I was actually BORN there.

My flights had me arriving into Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport mid-morning, and leaving that night. First things first, you have to understand that my number one priority in booking this was to get my butt up into the clouds for a few hours, so anything above and beyond the two flights themselves I considered to be a bonus.

Going into the trip, I knew I had roughly eight hours between the time I would land and the time I needed to get back to the airport for my return flight. I had done some research on the city and found a bakery I wanted to visit, a particularly awesome-sounding museum I wanted to spend time at (THE DELTA FLIGHT MUSEUM… duh!) and last, but not least, I of course wanted to do some plane spotting.

Another priority was to keep costs low, so I took public transit (MARTA) to the bakery, which was on the Georgia Tech Campus—setting me back only a couple bucks each way. Lucky for me, everything else I wanted to do was in and around the airport itself (a perk of being an AV geek). Between transportation and snacks, I spent roughly $50 throughout the day… add that to the nearly $90 I spent on roundtrip airfare and my total trip cost was about $150.

I was amazed, proud and completely and 100 percent satisfied.

Trust me, I knew after just one of these daytrips that it wasn’t smart OR sustainable to do this often. However, Scott and I only have about a year-and-a-half of living apart to get through, so I know and accept that I won’t be doing this once we’re back together. Heck, living in the same city, much less the same apartment as him is a million times better than any daytrip could ever be anyways. These adventures serve as something for me to look forward to (and enjoy) in the interim… not just to fly, but to explore a new place and experience new things.

Following Atlanta, I visited Tampa, Boston, and Denver over the course of roughly three months.

Then, lucky for me, Scott found an internship here in Chicago for the summer, so Annie the daytripper took a little vacation from the… vacations, with one exception: as a birthday present to me, Scott agreed to tag along on one of these crazy jaunts. Our destination? The Big Easy. That trip to New Orleans marked my fifth (and most fun) daytrip. Honestly, it wasn’t my favorite city, but sharing it with my favorite person gave it a certain edge.

Sadly, just last week Scott moved back home to Minnesota for his final year of school, so I (naturally) booked my sixth daytrip two days later. This time, I was headed to Baltimore. I thoroughly enjoyed exploring Maryland’s largest city… I took in everything from the Inner Harbor to Camden Yards, and even made the trek up to Roosevelt Park and Johns Hopkins University—it was historic, it was beautiful and I already want to return.

So folks… I’ll leave you with a piece of advice:

If you’re adventurous, fearless, curious and have the freedom to “pick-up-and-go,” I’d highly recommend trying one of these day trips. I am happy to answer any questions you might have, or provide any advice on destinations, airlines, when to book, etc. I’m already wondering where I’ll go next, and when. Honestly, daytripping is dangerously addictive… but don’t let that deter you. If you do it right, it’s worth the time and money. The only downside? You might need to factor in a long nap the next day.

Fly on, my friends!