Posts Tagged ‘ Aircraft ’

Ramp it UP!

I skipped the New year’s Day post intentionally…it’s so cliche, and I’ve probably broken any resolutions I’d have put down already anyway!

So I began this year actually pretty mopey, for various reasons.  One of them, I’ve writtenImage about before, and I realize now that I am coming into the end of what I call the Winter Doldrums.  Last January (about a year after my Dad passed away), my Mom got the green-light to have both my Dad’s ashes and my grandfather’s ashes interred at Arlington National Cemetary.  21 Guns and everything.  It was sobering and humbling on so many levels.  Equally awesome is the fact that they are next door to each other.  I’ll visit them both this weekend in honor of Dad’s passing, and I’ll get a photo and put it up here, if I can manage one.  I used to think I do my best thinking while I’m in the shower (some of it, I still do), but now I’ve learned that I do some of my best thinking while I’m visiting Dad.  I don’t know what it is.  I come away from his resting place hopeful, motivated, and optimistic about things to come.

I got Gary Keller’s book, “Shift”–effectively Volume II of the Bible series that he’s written for Realtors–from my brother in-law’s new bride (thanks again, Steph!) for Christmas, and it.  Is.  Fantastic.  The information in there is undeniable, and really gets me riled to get after it.  After all, business won’t find me if I don’t get in its way.  Over and over again, I am thankful that I found a place as committed to giving its agents the tools they need to be successful businesspeople…I don’t see too many NYTimes Bestsellers from folks working at ReMax or Long and Foster, and I definitely don’t see as many of them.  Gary Keller is just a dynamo, and he has recruited the right people (looking at you, Matt Sutter) to find the right talent for the organization.  The folks in this office are the people I thrive on being around.

I think my present situation keeps me pretty well-grounded.  For half of the day, I am a student in the real estate industry, learning everything I can about prospecting, marketing, honing my message, finding what works, learning to be bold, brave, and direct with people. Then, I go to work.

I go from being the student to being the instructor…except nothing’s changed.


Who’s the new guy?

I work at a for-profit aviation maintenance institution, where each night, I give my students every piece of hard-won advice, every tip, trick, mistake I’ve made, and triumph I’ve conquered.  These soon-to-be aircraft mechanics take classes called “Cabin Atmospheres,” “Turbine Engines,” “Fuel and Instruments,” and “Comm/Nav,” where they will be taught all of the ways that airplanes solve difficult problems.  How do airplanes fly themselves?  There’s a system for that.  How do airplanes keep the passengers from freezing when it’s 50 below at 37,000 feet?  There’s a system for that, too.  These things are all in the curriculum, taught from the book, but I’ve found a way to bring my students–my customers–value that many other instructors don’t.  It’s easy, really.

Everyone hates being the new guy.  You don’t know what you’re doing, you don’t know where the chemicals are kept, where to dump the 40 gallons of fuel you just drained from the plane, where the bathrooms or break room are, who you must report to…it just stinks.  You are being analyzed under a microscope from the moment you walk in, when you’re the new guy.  What I try to instill in my students are knowledge and methods and skills that will make their time as the “F-N-G” (take a guess what that stands for…yep, you’re probably right) as easy as possible.  I make them learn some of the skills they see once at the beginning of school (or sometimes never at all), and not again until they walk onto a hangar deck somewhere.  I do this because they get more inherent value out of that than they do under other instructors.  I work hard to make sure that my students understand that I’ve got nine years of experience, and they can have it all if they’ll just pay attention.  The fear of being the F-N-G has been a wonderful motivator, even to those who don’t much care to pay attention.

I am so looking forward to this year for several reasons:  First, my goal is to really ramp it up when it comes to keeping in touch with the several tribes I have around the country.  (“Tribes” is actually a Seth Godin term, and you are not whole inside until you’ve gotten to know Seth Godin.  Trust me.)  I’ve fallen down on that at times, and if you’re mad at me for it, I’m sorry.  Secondly, this is the year I plan on making my very first six-figure income.  I have the knowledge and a plan, and the courage to implement both this year.  The reason I’m so excited about this isn’t so much money (though, of course, it’ll be nice); it’s that I’ll have the ability to spend more time with those I care most about this year.

And finally, if I’ve taken home six figures this year, it means I’ve done between 10 and 13 transactions, which means what?  Exactly–I won’t be the FNG any longer!

Here’s to an unbelievable 2013.  How are you challenging yourself this year?  Are you the FNG?  What can you do to make that phase last only as long as it needs to?  What are you a student of this year?  What are you teaching yourself, or taking a class to learn?  What do you plan on getting better at?

As always, I appreciate that you took the time to read my post here.  I’ll talk to you all again soon!


GEESH…It’s December Already!

It’s been a turbulent year for me, to be honest…I went through no less than three jobs as an aircraft mechanic before finding the one I’m actually happiest doing (instructing maintenance), and it was mainly because I became disenfranchised by the industry.  Somewhere along the way (beginning about 5 years ago), I lost the hunger to be around airplanes when my work became mundane, routine, and financially limiting.  Inspections, for example, are what I know pretty well.  There is no better way than by doing an inspection to get to know an airplane inside and out.  It’s also boring as hell (to me) after about the third time around, because nothing changes.  Some people thrive on doing the same thing over and over again, becoming an expert in that task or area…not me.  I get bored too easily.  Goal

The other area of aircraft maintenance is called “line maintenance”–it is an entirely different set of tasks, very time-sensitive work.  The pressure is on when you’ve got a plane full of people staring at you, trying to literally will you to fix the plane so they can leave town–and you don’t even know what the problem really is yet.  This type of work tests your mettle as a mechanic, because it is very much systems-based troubleshooting that you need to be good at.  I enjoy this area of maintenance, though I’m not particularly good at it.  Regardless, the money isn’t there.  When I’ve got 12 people in the lobby waiting on their private jet to be ready to fly–12 peoples’ lives in my hands–and I’m not even making $50K a year to do it, the money-to-responsibility ratio just isn’t there for me.  At that point I am beholden to everyone but God to do things right, or 12 families will be devastated, and I’m not making good money as an eight year mechanic?  Not worth the time, in my opinion.

The last half of this year has been wonderful (though slow) and filled with experiences I haven’t had before.  I earned my real estate license, managed to find my first clients (or rather, they found me), and I’m working my tail off to make sure they are well taken care of, in addition to working full-time as an instructor.  I honestly don’t even know where the last few months have gone.  I’m pretty introspective by nature, but the last time I really took stock of my life, it was July!

I can’t wait to see where this next year takes me.  I will make the switch to doing real estate full time as soon as I can–the more I talk about it casually with friends at parties, the easier it comes to me.  A full-time real estate agent works hard, but literally gets paid to talk to people–something I’ve been doing naturally (and for free) since I was a kid.

I hope that your holidays are happy and bountiful.  My family is Italian, and I’m genuinely grateful every year that I get to make it to Christmas dinner.  Only if you’ve been there can you appreciate the food–the homemade pasta and meatballs, the pizzelles and cannoli…oh man, it’s really a great way to culminate a whole year’s worth of working hard and taking care of business.  I hope you get to have endless amounts of your family’s Soul Food, and I hope that everyone who comes in from out of town is safe and sound doing so.

As we roll down the calendar to the New Year (provided we make it past December 21st), I hope that things in your life are going how you planned them to be.  Mine are right now, but not without some significant time and effort on my part.  In order to break out of the norm and steer your life toward wealth, health, more friends, less drama, convenience, or fulfillment…it really does take work.  Not, “Well, I hope this happens” kind of work, but real, hard, “This is what I need to do to start getting there” work.  If you’re already there, God bless you.

I hope this post finds you all well, and there will be more to come.  In the event that I miss you, Merry Christmas, and Happy New Year 🙂


Surprise Disappointments, And Life’s Other Realities

I’ll never forget where I was when I found out an unexpected truth in life–one which completely defies everything I thought I had known when I was a kid:  Airplanes, for all intensive purposes, have no “reverse.”  They must be pushed back by a tug.  I’m not sure why I was disappointed; I guess I’d always assumed that airplanes were like any other complex machine–cars, riding lawnmowers, trains, even some motorcycles–and all of them can do both.  (Thrust reversers cannot be counted because while many of them can move an aircraft backwards from a dead stop, it is dangerous to do so because of the amount of junk that gets kicked up when they are deployed.  It is not safe to stir up stuff in the air, to be ingested by the front of the engine.)

In keeping with our aviation theme, one of my other biggest disappointments happened when I found out that pilots aren’t responsible for directly hand-flying the airplane the whole time–they have an autopilot system which keeps the aircraft on course and at the assigned altitude.  For all that time, I had thought that the biggest reason for pilots being so revered in the early days of commercial flying was because of the immense responsibility inherent to managing a quarter-million-pound machine with so many souls aboard.  When I was a kid, I had equated pilots to any other profession for which you are highly paid for your skills–surgeons, dentists–and I was disappointed to find out that they aren’t even doing most of the work themselves.  For all you pilots out there, I mean not to diminish your responsibility or skills, but I’m sure on some level, you can relate.

My wife mentioned to me over wine on our deck that she has several of these disappointments of her own, which lead me to post on this topic based on the assumption that others have them, too.  One of the biggest disappointments my wife has encountered came while she was working at a particular hotel to get through school; she told me it was depressing to see the vast difference between what the hotel’s customers see, and the condition of the behind-the-scenes stuff that makes the hotel function.  Outside, there were gleaming, polished floors, freshly vacuumed carpets, and granite countertops; the workers’ workspaces were dark and dingy, and not well-kept at all.  Everything was strictly utilitarian, and it was as if they  got to be around the glitz and glamour without being able to participate in it.

Along the way while she was finishing her Epidemiology degree (epidemics, not epidermis), she told me one day that people shouldn’t be using soaps that say “Antibacterial” on them because they are unnecessary.  “But how could that be!” you ask (I did).  “Isn’t the goal of soap to kill bacteria?”  The answer is no.  I was disappointed to find out that soap’s only purpose in life is to make it harder for germs to stick to your skin when you run your hands under the water.  Soap’s only purpose in life is to be slippery.  (Further, this brings new meaning to the phrase “wash your mouth out” with soap.  I think the terrible taste was actually a design enhancement.)

The reason we shouldn’t be using antibacterial soap surprised me, too; the reason is that by using antibacterial soaps, we expose the germs to a toxin that they will eventually evolve to resist.  Then, what have we created?  Antibacterial-resistant (or, in the case of antibiotics, antibiotic-resistant) germ strains.  Sort of amusing that we are creating germs that are becoming harder for us to kill.  I know…it surprised me, too.

Here’s one more for the books:  How many of you were disappointed to find out that some musicians on the radio don’t actually write their own songs?  I was…as a longtime music student, poet, journaler, blogger, and guitarist, I had no idea that some of my favorite songs weren’t written by those who performed them.  People who do all of their own music–write the lyrics and melodies, and then perform them–are out there, but more often than not, they are the exception, not the norm.  I guess I had always assumed that in order to make it to the level that some of these musicians are at, you would have had to have cultivated some talent.  The reality is that it’s hard to find people who are the “Triple Threat”–people who write, sing, and perform all of their own songs.  It’s the reason people like Bob Dylan, Tori Amos, and even Taylor Swift have such dedicated fans.  (NOTE: This is not music commentary, so do not rant about the obvious sacrilege of Bob Dylan and Taylor Swift being the same sentence.)

What were YOU disappointed to learn?  The older I get, the more I wish I could go back to being a kid again–no responsibility, everyone was inherently good, and life was grand.

Aircraft Owners: Summer Care Is Essential!

Depending upon where you live, “summer” may be a relative term.  After all, “summer” in Phoenix is a little different than “summer” in Anchorage.  In either case, however, summertime preventive maintenance tends to get thrown to the wayside in favor of taking advantage of the great weather and mobility that a pilot has at his fingertips.

Many people think of taking care of an aircraft in terms of only fixing what is broken (or about to break) when needed, but a little preventive maintenance will go a long way.  The term “preventive maintenance” is actually defined by FAR Part 43 as a number of different actions–any of which a pilot is legally allowed to do.  It includes servicing, repair, and replacement of landing gear tires;greasing or servicing bearings with their required lubricant; servicing landing gear shock struts with air, oil, or both ; replacing elastic shock absorber cords on landing gear; replacing defective safety wire or cotter keys, and the list goes on.  A pilot is allowed to perform any of these actions without having to enlist the help of a certified A&P.  (A small sidenote, however–do not leave your safety wire tails like they are in this photo–they are most likely to be caught on someone’s skin, metal inside of fairings, or fluid lines if left as they are shown.  Fold them over at their ends so the wire is smooth and professional looking, and you will prevent later injury and damage due to chafing.  When done properly, this is called a “pigtail.”)

Obviously, it is critical to keep up with things like making sure tires are at their proper pressure, and windshields are clear and free of scratching or crazing.  But there is one thing you can do that will save you time and money, and breed pride and respect among those who happen to meet you on the flight line:  Keep your aircraft clean.

It is easy to let things like the finish of your aircraft go–after all, it’s a giant pain to scrape bug guts off your leading edges after every flight–but here are some easy and quick tips to prevent those guts and other junk from building up on your leading edges.  Some people simply use water and a Scotch Brite pad–a bad idea if you like your leading edges to be shiny. A small spray bottle filled with a diluted degreaser (such as Simple Green) and water does the job of cleaning off those bugs without having to put much elbow grease into it.  This also preserves the finish of the leading edges, which will dull over time with constant, abrasive scraping.  A quick walk with the bottle after each flight will prevent buildup, and negate having to get a belt sander to clear off the hardened and petrified bug guts.  Simple Green also works well if you have oil leaking constantly down your aircraft’s belly–dilute it in a bucket and go at the mess with a sponge and rags.  It takes some time and isn’t fun, but it will save you money in the long run because a clean aircraft finish will provide an immediate indicator of the source of a leak, saving your mechanic time during diagnosis.  Also, multiple leaks may be present that you are not aware of.  While small leaks from some places are considered “normal” or acceptable, even the smallest leak from other places could turn out to be catastrophic if not immediately addressed.  If one leak covers over the other, your initial indicator of the problem is lost.

Once the cleaning is done, the preservation begins.  Whether you use leading edge tape on your wings or not, it is a good idea to keep your aircraft’s finish clean and shiny.  Cleaning bugs from a clean, shiny leading edge is far easier than from an already-dirty and porous one.  Your aircraft will thank you in the way of looking great and standing proudly on the flight line if she (they’re always a “she” with me, I don’t know why) is polished and looking great, and the more slippery her finish is, the less drag there will be on her during flight.  You may even eek out an extra knot or two simply by keeping your plane waxed.

There are many different wax and aluminum polish products out there which can be applied either with a buffing wheel or by hand, but no matter which method you choose, remember these tips:  ALWAYS clean the area of dirt and debris first.  No sense scratching your finish while trying to make it shiny.  When applying wax or aluminum polish, move in a circular motion, and do not linger over one spot more than any other (particularly when using a buffer to apply).  Once, when I was hand-waxing a Beech 18 part-time to get through A&P school, I noticed a small change in the aluminum’s color in one particular area–I assumed it was dirt in the metal, and cleaned and polished even harder.  What I hadn’t realized was that the highly polished aluminum skin was made of Al-Clad, and I had rubbed through the pure aluminum (which makes up the top 5% of the skin’s thickness, and shines most brightly), and I was looking at the slightly different color of the aluminum alloy beneath it.  It could happen to you.  Don’t linger in one area too long.

Most waxes are applied the same way any automobile wax is–“Wax on, wax off”–but occasionally different materials require different methods or preparations.  Always make sure you read the directions of that particular product.

As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, the finish of your aircraft will speak volumes about you before you ever get the chance to.  A clean, highly polished aircraft says that, even if you don’t maintain that finish yourself, you care enough to make sure that every detail of your asset is cared for.  That is the type of person people naturally choose to associate with–the clean, collected, professional person.  Make a great first impression by giving people exactly what they can expect from you, and it will pay dividends when the time comes that they actually meet you.

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