See that plane up there? It’s one of 12 Cessna 208B Grand Caravans that make up Air Choice One’s fleet. And you know what else? I’m flying on one… THIS FRIDAY.
I recently had the privilege of interviewing the airline’s CEO for an Airways Magazine story (more to come on that at a later date), and having never flown on a small plane myself, I completely lucked out… as they were willing to send me on a there-and-back jaunt from Minneapolis to Mason City.
You guys… I’m stoked. The only problem is, I’m kind of… well, nervous.
You see… most of you know that I have an
unhealthy incredibly large obsession with airplanes – it doesn’t matter if I’m on the ground looking at one or flying at 30,000 feet, I love the HECK out of those magical metal beasts.
But what a lot of you might NOT realize is that only within the last year or so did my INTENSE FEAR OF FLYING dissipate. Back in my television news days (2010-2014), WSMV in Nashville flew me out to interview for a position, and wouldn’t you know it, some intense turbulence rocked our 737 so hard that we suddenly dropped and nearly hit the ground.
That obviously was an exaggeration, but you guys… all of us on board SCREAMED. And that in and of itself was enough to instill an incredible fear of flying in my little head that plagued me for years to come.
Once I really started following my dream of aviation journalism/photography, though, that fear waned. I actually would rather be in the air flying through heavy chop than doing much of anything else.
So… having never flown on a small plane before, I don’t know WHAT to expect. Help me out guys! I’ve heard horror stories of people getting sick due to “feeling” every. little. movement. I’ve watched every episode of every season of May Day Air Crash Investigation… and lo-and-behold, a LOT of the planes that crash are… you guessed it: LITTLE PLANES.
Honestly though… I am really, really excited. I know I’ll be in excellent hands (Air Choice One has a perfect track record) and I know that it will be a lot of fun. Not a lot of people get to take a “just because” flight, so I consider myself very lucky.
So… stay tuned for a full report Friday evening, if I make it back. Dun dun DUN.
Time really does fly… but come this weekend, you’d think I was flying just to pass the time. Something big, something HUGE, something SO exciting is happening. BUT.. I’m keeping my lips sealed for now. I’ll just tell you this – two days, four states, five flights. That’s all you get for now. You’ll hear more from me Monday or Tuesday.
ANYWAYS… those who know me well, know I stress out pretty easily. But oddly enough, since I’ve started to really hone in on my aviation journalism and photography, I’ve gotten a heck of a lot busier AND a heck of a lot happier. Who’d have thought there’d be a positive correlation between the two? Not me. Not in a million years.
June brought a lot of changes in my life… I hit the big 3-0, we moved from Minneapolis to St. Paul and I lost my dear, sweet stepmom. With that being said, my apologies for being MIA in the blogging world, but I’m sure you can understand why I was.
However, my love of planes helped keep me sane and grounded throughout that time. And, over the last month I’ve hit a couple milestones that were quite exciting for me:
1. On my birthday, June 16, I hit one THOUSAND Instagram followers on @thegreatplanes (currently, I’m creeping up on 1,300 – it’s a good feeling).
2. I’ve had my third and fourth stories published on Airways Magazine’s website, both of which feature several of my own photos (and even one of my husband’s):
3. My Instagram friends, @jfkspotting, hit 7,000 followers and in doing so, named my page the ninth best of all those followers. Thanks guys!
4. I found that there is a bus that takes me directly from my new apartment to my favorite spotting location at MSP – the gold parking ramp. I was asked to leave by airport police, which I calmly and apologetically did. BUT, after a few days I didn’t feel quite right about it. I reached out to a contact of mine at the airport who in turn spoke with the police chief who confirmed I CAN be up there. The chief passed the message along to his officers and now I go three to four times a week. Now THAT’S a “great planes” win!
Thank you all for the love and support. To think that six months ago I went out on a whim and just thought I’d “take a shot” at pursuing something that I love… and seeing where I am now – it’s pretty incredible. The things I’m learning, the people I’m meeting, the stories I’m writing and the places I’m going… I’m very thankful and cannot wait to see where this love takes me in the years to come.
I’ve been quite happy lately. “Why?” you ask? Because I’ve actually been chasing and fulfilling a dream, and have found along the way how good it really feels to accomplish something, especially when you’re very passionate about that something.
“The Great Planes” on Instagram has well over 600 followers – something I never thought I’d see just five months into it. Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport (MSP), my home away from home, has shared TWO of my photos on their Instagram account – and just yesterday, Sun Country Airlines posted one of my photos on theirs. These may seem like very minute successes, but they’re actually huge for me.
It wasn’t terribly long ago that I was relaying this dream of becoming an aviation journalist to my husband Scott… thinking nothing would ever come of it. I can even remember SO vividly a time that we were walking through Loring Park and talking about this very subject. Scott said to me, “Why don’t you just write something up and submit it to newspapers or something?” It got me sort of excited, but I didn’t really think I could do something like that. I didn’t think I had the will and the drive to TRY to do something like that.
But lo and behold, just months later, here I am with my second piece published on the Airways Magazine website, thanks once again to the immense kindness of THE Aviation Queen: Benét Wilson.
If you remember, my first piece was about how smaller manufacturers, specifically Embraer and Bombardier, are stepping up to the plate to compete with the big guys: Boeing and Airbus. It was fun to see my family and friends react to my work being published. And it was equally as fun to see the comments and likes on Facebook, and the retweets and favorites on Twitter.
My second piece, though, was a bit different. This one was more of an Op-Ed on a topic that I knew had the potential to cause a bit of controversy. Even though it happened well over a month ago, I didn’t think people had quite gotten over the “dragged doctor” incident on United Flight 3411…
I was right.
It seemed that the popular opinion following the incident was that United Airlines is truly, utterly awful. BELIEVE me, I do think United really messed up. I think what happened was awful and that the airline is ultimately at fault. I also think there are two sides to every story. I really just wanted to try to get people to look at what happened in a different light. Trust me, I HATE what happened to Dr. David Dao, as most people do. At the same time, however, I do NOT think it is fair that the lasting impression following flight 3411 has been United = Bad, Doctor = Good. Because it’s just not that cut and dry.
For my story “Is Ignorance Bliss? United Flight 3411 is Part of a Larger Story that Isn’t Being Told” I had the pleasure of interviewing Anthony Roman, president of Roman and Associates, a risk management and investigation firm. Roman, a former commercial pilot himself, noted that even though United was ultimately the catalyst behind this unfortunate incident, Dr. Dao was still at fault to some extent, namely for not obeying the commands of law enforcement personnel. I also spoke with Jamie Horwitz of the Association Professional Flight Attendants (APFA) who provided some background information on the recent congressional hearing on flight 3411 that he attended. Jamie also directed me to the recent Op-Ed written by Bob Ross, president of the APFA, that shed light on bigger issues in the airline industry, including constant pressure from Wall Street to please investors.
I knew some angry people would voice their disagreement after reading my piece, and they didn’t disappoint. Some people respectfully disagreed (thank you), and others said things that were slightly hurtful, including:
“Airways Magazine is known for its interesting and very professional writing about aviation. But this article is totally nonsense. Please, put it offline and save at least your reputation.”
“What a load of absolute bullshit! Sometimes I simply cannot believe the crap you Americans come up with!”
“How much is the writer getting from this?”
“This definitely comes off as a shill piece.”
But, you know what, there were some people who either agreed with the article, or respected and supported the thoughts presented in it. My favorite was:
“Finally someone calls out the fact that the passenger failed to comply with law enforcement. Thank you!”
Those who know me well, know how incredibly sensitive I am. I cry fairly easily, and simply put, I hate to be hated. But… upon reading these comments, both the good and the bad, I realized how much I’ve toughened up. Not only did I not even flinch at the bad comments, I actually giggled and was weirdly thrilled by it. To think that something I wrote and ideas I shared could affect people in a way that compels them to say something, that right there is enough motivation for me to keep doing what I’m doing, and keep doing it with a smile on my face.
I’d like to think I am a good person. In the past, however, I may have been what some people would consider a “pushover” … well, not anymore. Thick-skinned Annie is here to stay. I’ll defend myself, hold true to my words and stand up for what I believe is right. And, as this post’s title alluded to, I’ll keep an open mind and a full heart while I am at it. At least I’ll try my best to. 😉