Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Keep Negative People Out of Your Life

You know what I'm talking about. The people who see a problem to every solution and won't entertain that there is empirical evidence to the contrary. For many of us, if we really thought about it, we'd be able to identify a multitude of people who might fall into the category of "negative" but for a large portion of this group it might be argued that those negative people serve a purpose. Maybe they've helped you in the past or they bring a sort of playful aspect to your life outside of serious ideas; either way they serve a purpose. But do they really?

According to Travis Bradberry, the co-author of Emotional Intelligence 2.0 & President of TalentSmart, leading when no one else is following yet is one of the 10 most important mental attributes that mentally strong people possess over their counterparts along with fighting when you feel defeated and making mistakes, looking "like an idiot", and trying again despite those mistakes.

And I'm sure each one of us can think of a few examples of acclaimed famous people who found themselves publicly or privately dropping the ball in some area only to pick it right back up and go on to greatness. Almost all of which who will tell you that failure is all apart of the journey to success and many of whom will tell you that the greatest attribute you can possess is an unwillingness to give up.

J.K Rowling, the famous author of the Harry Potter series, explains this in her commencement address to Harvard graduates, explaining that:

"You might never fail on the scale I did, but some failure in life is inevitable. It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all – in which case, you fail by default".
And it's that knowing that failure is inevitable that I return to my original point. As the successful continue to preach the benefits of perseverance and the joys to be found after failure is seen in hindsight, I ask once more how much purpose do the negative people serve in your life?

Once while I was still in school, I found myself in a relationship with a person who had heard an idea of mine and immediately commented that "you have all these ideas of grandeur but you don't even have a job". And she was right, I didn't, but does that make my idea or the possibility of it it coming to fruition any less valid? No, it doesn't. But what it did do was stop any further thought in the possibility of moving on an idea because it immediately stifled the rationality of it's concept. So I ended up not pursuing it any further.

And it's not her fault that I didn't start down a road that, looking back, seemed very solid. It was mine. We get to choose who we allow into our lives and who is turned around at the door. And perhaps it can be argued that in situations such as at work or other group settings the decision on who we interact with is not entirely in our own hands - but who we allow to influence us is.

And if failure is an eventuality for all of us on the path of success, how useful is it to have negative people surrounding you when you ultimately do hit a failure? No matter what their purpose in your life is or could be, what they bring into your life will hardly ever outweigh what they take away by their negative look on a situation that takes away the possibilities and opportunities a failure may actually hold.

My advice - keep the doubtful and short-sightedness of negative people out of your life. You're doing more for your success than you might ever imagine.

"You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with." - Jim Rohn

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Whatever it Takes

I take empowerment from the words, "whatever it takes" despite many seeing the phrase as a bit cliche. The obvious truth in the latter thought is that for something to be considered cliche, it had to be uttered so often that the point of the idea lost some of it's meaning. This may have happened because in just 31 years of life I've already seen the lack of commitment many people hold to the affirmation that they will do whatever needs to be done in order to find a successful outcome. Now I'm far from successful in my current endeavour but when it's come to making time, I left my job in April and have lived a meager existence henceforth so that I can wake up everyday and work until I go to sleep. It's rare you'll hear me announcing this, though, as many people who get up every morning to work their jobs would perhaps scoff at the image of a man sitting for twelve hours on a porch and hacking away at a laptop and claiming to be at work; yet the truth is, it's frustrating and mundane work that has to be done in order to find success in my actions of the future. Paycheck or not, it has to be done.

As if the prospect of being lonely the next year, outside taking the time to see family, spend quality (yet mostly virtual - Skype and Xbox) time with my son, and sparingly maintain relationships with friends wasn't enough to label this as 'uncomfortable' - the fear and waking up in the middle of the night in terror to thoughts of failure are things I promise that most of you reading this would gladly do without. But the end goal to put meaning to a death, help those in the process, and make-up for the unconscious but nonetheless selfish inaction that in over four years of being able to, I still did not take my father flying is one that also holds limitless hope and pushes me to carry on. It makes the jars of peanut-butter that I've found most of my nourishment in these past almost-seven months taste that much sweeter, it makes the period of time that I was bald when I shaved my head for money to cover operations costs a source of awkward-looking pride and not shame, and it has given me happiness in teaching my son a lesson that my father taught me - and I'm able to see it when he pridefully seems to always introduce me to people as "my Dad who is going to fly for 100 days".

This whole adventure, no matter how many times I've sat in fear of the possibilities of failing, with a company holding my family name that started in memory of my father, has realistically been my father's last and maybe greatest gift to me. He always told me that a person can do anything if they really want it; and he would remind me of the blessings of being American because America created a system where a person can start again each day they wake up. It's what drove me to becoming a soldier in his footsteps and, after many life lessons, I find myself being guided by him again as I follow a dream. It may sound empowering at first, but I assure you that as I sit here on a rickety porch in the complete solace of a Saturday night and I contemplate the overcoming of struggles in the past and the possibilities that the overcoming of struggles in the future hold, your perspective of what is empowering is important.

Consider this: If you ever had a dream that seemed so impractical that perhaps you moved on from it, but every once in awhile you find yourself looking back on it, it's not too late but how much do you want it? My father used to tell me as a child who approached him with self-doubt in things that I wanted to do. He would ask me if whatever I wanted to do was possible. Not necessarily possible by me in the state of my life but in general but in general was it possible? If the answer is yes, then he would inevitably explain that no amount of circumstance can overcome the fact that if I wanted it bad enough then I could do it and all that was left was to find a way. Or as my father used to say, "you already told me it was possible, so now you just have to figure out how to do it - it was you, not me, that admitted that there's a way to do it". He was a man of few words and always had a way of convincing you with your own thoughts.

How right he and his words remain. Maybe the way isn't easy, maybe you have to change things in your life and give up the comforts and inhibitions that so many of us are used to considering a standard part of our everyday lives; yet if you want something bad enough, the cost of living uncomfortably for a little while is one that is worth the realization of a noble thought, dream, or idea. Isn't it? And even with most of agree, more often than not you will hear them say "I'll get to it someday", or "I can't right now because life is just too overwhelming but I will", or "I'm so weary that it can wait".

These are the exact things I told myself when I would fly to visit everyone in Baltimore after being away at school. I had my pilot's license and could have made the time to take my dad flying over the course of four years but so often I only had the week or weekend to spend time with my son before I had to return to Chicago the same way I arrived via a coordinated drive to the airport, flight to Chicago, and coordinated ride home from the airport only to return right back to the work and training that I had just escaped from. Most wouldn't blame me for having prolonged an effort to push off coordinating with a local aircraft rental place, spending the limited money that I had at the time (now I realize it was far from limited), and finding a day that my father wasn't feeling too bad from the nerve pain he had from his bout with amyloidosis. I believed that doing this could always wait until 'another more free and less stressful' time. It wasn't until we found out about his cancer that I found myself empowered by the notion of my father most likely having less than a month to live and I went to an airport to coordinate a flight. And later that day I stood at his bed side, in late May 2015, telling him that I was sorry I hadn't made the time earlier but that I would take him flying on the way home to hospice the next day.

Looking back now, I vividly remember him hearing me tell him that and sitting straight up while exclaiming, "REALLY?! That's awesome Joe!" I reaffirmed his excitement by saying "Yes, we're going flying Dad, even if I have to carry you to the plane". And overwhelmed with a bitter-sweet joy, I walked out of the hospital room and there I saw my crying mother, who looked up at me and told me, "I'm sorry Joey; you just can't do that. Everyday is a gift right now and we don't know how long he has. You just can't". And as selfishly as I wanted to think she was wrong, I knew she was right. Taking him flying would have probably put too much stress on him because he would have certainly had to be carried to the aircraft.

Not taking my father flying is something I will forever regret but it's not what has echoed in my head ever since. How could it - he couldn't have taken that flight no matter how much either of us wanted to at that point. The real regret are metaphorical short videos that play in my head where my father asks "when are we going flying?" I respond how I used to, telling him "very soon Dad, I promise" with him finally responding exactly as he always would in a hopeful and understanding voice, "I'm looking forward to it, son". But I never did.

In my head life was always too fast and there was always so much to do. I think we all do this, which is to act as if there will always be more time. But rarely is there ever enough time for things outside of a moment and lacking priority or urgency. Cancer took less than a month and a half to take my father. It seemed like only a blink of an eye after getting the phone call, and there I was standing next to him assuring him that we were going to do something I always told him that we'd do together. But life said we couldn't. The time I thought we'd always have was gone. The clock was expiring and there just wasn't any left; our time together was solely to say good bye.

So it is from that and with the memory of watching the most honorable and truthful man that I have ever known pass away with his family by his side holding him, that I've truly seen what is important in life. It's our relationships with one another and the meaning we make out of this crazy and often fucked-up adventure that we're on. No possessions or excuses for missed opportunities to become closer are important in the end. Ultimately, we get what we choose to receive and that's it.

So what is it that you want and how much do you want it? It's yours to take if you want it enough and no lifestyle comfort can ever be enough to make-up for what you gave-up if you settle on something else. And I tell you this while on a mission to atone for my own past sins in disregarding the gift of opportunities past by while I embrace the time ahead. I know that my father, who was my biggest supporter when I decided to leave a great job at Lockheed for my love of aviation, doesn't hold it against me nor was he any less proud of me at the end for not having watched his boy actually fly the airplanes he always talked about. But I also know that out of this it's possible to take the pain in my father's passing and do something great for others. And when I'm successful, and maybe even not in any intended way, I know my father would beem knowing that his boy helped other with the pain found in the void of his absence.

When people look down on me for 'being too much of a dreamer' or scoff at the ludicrous idea of trying to fly an aircraft for 100 days, it's they who I feel sorry for; not me. The aims of what myself and now a whole team of people who have made my dream theirs, see what might be possible. It could be done within an envelope of safety that mitigates a lot of the initially perceived risk; It can bring inspiration to so many people who act as if the American Dream has died as they settle for a comfortable place outside of what they wished was possible; It can draw people to the field of aviation that sees a real crisis with a shortage of pilots looming over it's head; it can raise awareness and money for a cancer research program that has shown real advancements in sending cancer patients into remission; and lastly I can do it all with people who share my love, in the most basic of aircraft that can be named after my dad - so that finally a son can take his father flying.

So now to a question I hope you're asking yourselves and that I found myself asking when considering this large undertaking - is it possible? And for me the answer was: Yes. Yes it is possible. And for me alone, the thought of not going all in to do something with such beautiful and meaningful implications would be the ultimate spit in the face to the gifts I've been given in this life. I'm able, I'm present in mind and body, and there is a way to do this. It has been far from easy at times, and there have been so many great people that have helped me to get to even here, sitting on the porch typing this.

So with this gift I promise that I will not quit; I will continue to take the paths that get myself and anyone with me there. And it is with the greatest hope that I urge I tell anyone reading this - you should, too. Because you can, too. Because it's possible, too. Whatever it takes.

"...still a man hears what he wants to hear and disregards the rest." - Paul Simon, The Boxer

Friday, June 17, 2016

Remembering Joseph Earl Burlas III - Happy Father's Day

A tribute to the greatest man I will ever know was one of the hardest things that I've ever had to write and yet, it was also one of the easiest. On the dawn of this Father's Day weekend, I remember my hero. 
The Eulogy of Joseph Earl Burlas III, Given on 07/23/2015 
This evening I am faced with the next-to-impossible task of finding the words to commemorate a man that was larger than life itself. Everyone in this room has had their lives touched by my father, and many of you understand just how amazing a man he really was. He was a man of principle, and a person who was committed to what he believed was important in life. Yet in contrast, he was also quick to tell a joke and did not stress about the little things in life. He lived his life in a way that I imagine many of us only wish we could, and that is with a clear definition of what mattered to him and what didn’t. With that, I can tell you what DID matter to my father fell into three categories, consisting of his love for our Lord, his love for his family, and the love he had for his country. I would argue that he loved those things in that exact order. And I believe it is safe to say that many of us know or have known someone that claims to stand for principles, but in my personal experience it is a rare thing to see systematically frame their life completely around only those things. 
Growing up, I got to see first-hand that if he wasn’t doing something as a Commander, or later in life as an Army Journalist, then he was at home spending the rest of his time and energy with his family. He approached the duties and responsibilities for each area of importance with the utmost care and seriousness; and with everything outside of that, he brought with him a carefree sense of charm, understanding, and easy going spirit that I just loved to be in the presence of. And I know many people here have their own stories that agree. I believe that if you were to ask my father what he did with his life, he would tell you that “He was a Soldier”, and he certainly was. He would tell you that he knew he wanted to be a Soldier from a very early age, and in asking my Grandfather what the best way of accomplishing that would be, he was told that if he wanted to join the Army, become an officer. If he wanted to become an officer, go to West Point. And so he went to West Point and in 1982, he graduated with “The Select Few”, a name for his graduating class that my father took the utmost pride in. But honestly, that’s where he would leave that story. You see, my father was a humble man, and what he wouldn’t tell you is all the hard work he had to put into it. He wouldn’t tell you that he was told ‘no’ at first when seeking an appointment to the school, and he wouldn’t tell you that he gladly did an extra year at the United States Military Academy Preparatory School in order to make the dream a reality. He would probably also leave out that he was an Eagle Scout, and that he won multiple national awards, and that he was a nationally ranked marksmen in competition. He would leave all that out, because the pride he felt inside for having done all of that was enough, and after much deep reflection, I can never remember him bragging. Ever. What I do remember of these listed accomplishments, and the real reason I know all of this, is that they came as part of a lesson. And in hearing of what he did when he was younger, he also told me that he had to work three part-time jobs, and that hearing ‘no’ only made him try harder. And that lesson concluded with him telling a very young me, with “no matter who tells you no, if you want something bad enough, you can do it – I did”. It is a lesson that has helped me through the hardest and most self-doubting moments of my life, and one I very much hope I am passing onto my own son. 
My father sure did love teaching each one of his children lessons, and he had a way of doing so that each of my siblings can agree, have lasted our lifetime. And it’s funny when you look back. I realize I wasn’t the easiest child to raise and was quite rebellious at times, but with the most important lessons as I got older -- he had some sort of old wisdom about him, where he rarely shouted to make a point. He often didn’t even insist on his own point of view. He would tell you what he thought, he would point to where he thought you could do better, he’d relate with a personal story, and then he would let you make your own mistakes. And that has continued from my mid-teenage years to the present. He’d be very clear, and then he would withdraw and wait for you to seek his advice if you needed it. In that way, he helped each of his children to find their own place in the world, and to be independent in a world where we often have to set out on our own and be alone for a little while in order to find our place in it. And as children we saw how hard life can get, but I can tell you that we rarely ever really felt it. When the Army downsized in 1993, my father was a part of helping the Army to ‘get smaller’ and went from being an Active Duty soldier to a reservist. This meant that he could no longer be a full-time Soldier, and had to find other employment. Before he was even fully out of the service, he had already taken up a job selling water purification systems on commission. A very pricey item back in 1993 that today would be equate to a reusable Britta water filter. Looking back I can really see how much stress both my mother and father were under, but as kids we knew nothing of the sacrifices they made. There was food on the table, a roof over our heads, and we knew how much they both loved us. Now my father was a Soldier, but I can tell you that he never treated anyone at home like we were Soldiers. He put us above his work and sometimes I wonder how, because as kids we misbehaved with the best of them and it certainly sometimes drove my mother crazy, all of which he would come home to after a long day at work. But my father was the rock that we could all lean on and be comforted by, and I like to think that we, his family, were also his refuge from the storm that can sometimes rage on in life. 
But like I said, his life was built around God, his family, and his country, and it was only a few months before my Dad found a job working for the Government again as an Army Journalist. And I think he found his true calling there. In the Army my Dad was a Field Artillery officer, which meant he coordinated the firing of cannons and other indirect fire to support Soldiers on the battlefield. While he was proud of this and found meaning and importance in it, I can tell you that the pride he took in, as he would say, “telling the Soldiers story”, was second to none and he excelled at it. In the first five years of being a journalist, he won over 20 district and national awards including the Journalist of the Year multiple years. He was so successful in this, that he was able to take a job working for Army News Service at the Pentagon. For a time, and if you Google his name, you can see that he was also the Pentagon spokesperson for the Army and is quoted in thousands of articles and references in a few books on then current events. 
When our Nation was attacked on September 11th, he, and I know at least one other person in this room, was working in the Pentagon when it was struck. While he has never really talked much about it, I know that he lost good friends and co-workers that day, some that he worked really close with and I believe it haunted him for the rest of his life. But my father was not someone to stand idle and when the Chief of Staff of the Army, General Eric Shinseki, asked for my father to accompany him in travelling abroad and visiting Soldiers engaged in operations, he jumped at the chance. I can remember my father coming into my room one Friday morning and telling me that he was leaving the country that afternoon with the Chief of Staff but he’d be back on Monday… like it was no big deal.
I think our Dad was realizing what his children and wife already thought of him, that he was important and his beliefs and commitment to them set him apart. What I don’t think he realized was that to us, he had always been a real-life superhero. When he got sick in 2003, and was diagnosed with Amyloidosis, the prognosis given to him was not good. He sought treatment for it but for a while his condition continued to worsen. Now I joined the Army in 2002, and in 2005 I found myself very involved in the conflict in Iraq. It was around midway through my tour, in the summer of 2005, that he was told by doctors that there was a medical trial that consisted of Chemotherapy and stem-cell replacement but that they did not know how much longer he had. At some point after that I called home and was told the news; that he would start the chemo, but that they didn’t know how long he would live. I asked if he would go to the Red Cross and try to get me a compassionate release that would allow me to come see him and he told me, “no, I’m proud of you, I believe in what you’re doing, and I’m okay right now. You have a job to do”. He assured me that if it did take a turn for the absolute worse he would send for me, but that I was his hero and I shouldn’t worry about him. And with all the stories I could tell, and there are a lot of them, I think that sums it up. My father’s life was dedicated to putting his God, his family, and his country before himself. One of the last things he said to us as a family was that he felt as though he didn’t do enough in this life. And when I got a chance to speak to him alone, I told him that it made me SO proud to hear him say that. Because, I explained, that if you really believe in a mission you will never feel like you did enough until the mission is complete, and that no matter how long he lived, he would never outlive the mission of ‘Telling the Soldier’s Story’. But I reminded him how he spent the latter part of his working life dedicating it to giving Soldiers – young kids like me when I was overseas – a voice that they would never have without him. And that makes me so, so proud.
When I look back on my father’s life, I see a beach at sunset – ever so beautiful as the sun shined down upon it – and steadfast in its resolve to be morally unmoved despite the chaotic and violent waves that life sometimes brought to crash down upon it. My father’s mission here is complete. He leaves behind a family who loves each other, each having taken his lessons and served society in a way much like his. Both of his sons having joined the Army at 17 years old. Daughters who became a firefighter/paramedic and one who works with Special Education children. Each knowing that the gifts in life are each other and the relationships we forge while protecting the fabric of what you stood for. You are our hero, sir, and while you were a Soldier here, I know you’re helping to guard the gates of heaven now, until we see you again. I love you, Dad.

I am so happy that out of all the people to get to have a Dad, I got to call you mine. Rest easy pop and I'll see you soon. Happy Father's Day, sir.

"I watched the affect my father’s love and humor had on the world around me, and I thought: That’s something to do, that’s something worth my time." - Jim Carey

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

This is Why You Will Fail, Unless...

This has to be by far one of my most favorite TED talks. If you have read anything on this website over the last five years, you may have seen my passion for flight. The moment I realized that I would fly for free, or even pay to do it (as we all have) because I could not see life without it, I dropped everything with the stipulation that as long as my son was taken care of I would see my passions through. And doing so has led me on one of the most incredible journeys that I have ever experienced.

The TED talk that I am posting below was given by a gentlemen named Larry Smith who dares to explain to the audience why they will fail to have a great career. What struck me most was his articulation of the audacity that some people have to use anything, including personal relationships, as an excuse for why they never followed their dreams. In fact, he goes as far as to illustrate a scenario in which a parent who never followed their dreams is confronted by their child who announces that they wish to follow theirs. His take on the hypothetical conversation that transpires is on point.

I was lucky enough to be raised by a father who struggled, but never gave up, in order to follow his own dreams. In doing so, he was able to encourage me to follow mine and always reassured me that if I really wanted to do something - I could because he did. I highly recommend the video below to anyone dealing with doubts in their chosen career or life paths; and offer the video as a reaffirmation to those who have courageously set off to follow their own passions. Please, take the time to listen to his message.

The last part really resonates with me and it's the quote I'll be ending this post with. It made me smile because I thought back to the eulogy that I had the honor of giving at my father's memorial service this summer. I will post the full eulogy at a later date when I take the time to really write something worthy of the beautiful person that my father was but for now, I leave you with this:

From the Eulogy of Joseph Earl Burlas III, Given on 07/23/2015

You see, my father was a humble man, and what he wouldn’t tell you is all the hard work he had to put into it. He wouldn’t tell you that he was told ‘no’ at first when seeking an appointment to the school, and he wouldn’t tell you that he gladly did an extra year at the United States Military Academy Preparatory School in order to make the dream a reality. He would probably also leave out that he was an Eagle Scout, and that he won multiple national awards, and that he was a nationally ranked marksmen in competition. He would leave all that out, because the pride he felt inside for having done all of that was enough, and after much deep reflection, I can never remember him bragging. Ever.

What I do remember of these listed accomplishments, and the real reason I know all of this, is that they came as part of a lesson. And in hearing of what he did when he was younger, he also told me that he had to work three part-time jobs, and that hearing ‘no’ only made him try harder. And that lesson concluded with him telling a very young me, with “no matter who tells you no, if you want something bad enough, you can do it – I did”. It is a lesson that has helped me through the hardest and most self-doubting moments of my life, and one I very much hope I pass onto my own children.

"Do you really ever want to look at your spouse or your kid and see your jailers? There was one thing you could have said, you could have looked the kid in the face and said: "Go for it kid, just like I did". But you won't be able to say that cause you didn't, so you can't. And so the sins of the parents are visited on the poor children." - Larry Smith

Sunday, December 13, 2015

An Update on My Life and This Website

It's been a very long time since I've sat down and wrote anything on here which is funny because I know one particular English professor who has highlighted this website in her class. So for that, I'm sorry. I only really looked at updating this after hearing from two people I have a lot of respect for tell me just how much reading my website brought them back to the "beg, borrow, and steal" mantra of what its like chasing down the dream of flight. So with that, I think it's about time I begin updating this old lady. Additionally, I probably have somewhere in the range of fifty stories that I had begun to post but still had to format and publish, so I might start there in the coming days. Unfortunately it takes about a half an hour to format anything on here and that's not really the fun of posting. Still, excuses aside, it's about time I resurrect this project. When I started writing here, my main goal was to chronicle what I wanted to do in aviation and the steps that I took towards accomplishing those goals. It appears that somewhere between me getting my private pilot's license and beginning graduate school, I fell off. So here's to the blank page and the work it is going to take to make this website relevant again. Wish me luck.

As for my life, it's hard to pick a point to begin this update. As of last year, and in addition to earning my private pilot's license, I went into the Summer of 2013 a proud holder of a Bachelor's of Science in Aviation Security with a minor in Aviation Administration. I think one of my major updates after that was my choice to continue my education and pursue a masters degree as well. As of May 2015, I now have an Aviation Transportation Management Masters of Science degree. I think I'll write and then back date an article for each of these perspective accomplishments since it's nice to think back on and will keep the chronological integrity of the website intact for any new aviators that may find themselves stumbling upon this corner of the internet.

Other major life events have transpired, too, and I believe that an entry for each would be appropriate. Most notably, I lost my father to pancreatic cancer this summer. Being that he was one of my biggest supporters and my personal hero, I believe that writing something about him and just how much of a champion he was for not only myself but also our family would be very fitting.

As far as extracurricular activities in aviation, I was blessed to have competed in both a regional and national SAFECON competition with the Lewis University Flight Team. Along with that, this year I'm proud of say that my work with a group of wonderful aviation professionals during my graduate studies has culminated in being published in two separate aviation safety articles regarding Laser Illumination Events. In simple terms, the articles deal with researching the harmful ocular effects of people pointing laser pointers at pilots on final approach. Look for the links to the two articles, one in the Journal of Aviation Technology & Engineering (JATE) and the other in the Collegiate Aviation Review (CAR), in the near future.

Lastly, I want to say thank you to everyone who has not only believed in me but supported my quest in redirecting my life to the skies. I know it hasn't been easy for my family, friends, and everyone else that I'm either away from or have relied on. Each one of you has helped to make my dreams a reality. I've always said that life has a funny way of quietly reassuring us that we've done the right thing, especially when things get hard and even when things are in doubt. So thank you, so very much, to each one of you. I hope to continue to make you proud in both the near and distant future.

Look for the many updates listed above to come over the next month. Until then, I leave you with a random aviation video.

"Having once decided to achieve a certain task, achieve it at all costs of tedium and distaste. The gain in self-confidence of having accomplished a tiresome labor is immense." - Arnold Bennett

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

The Flight Before Christmas

Neil Doran is an old coworker of mine from the Defense Information School when I was working for Lockheed Martin. While the majority of his career is based around public affairs, he's also a pilot and someone who really encouraged me to "get to flying" early on. In wishing me a Merry Christmas this year, Neil sent me this poem and I wanted to share.

The Flight Before Christmas
Twas the night before Christmas, and out on the ramp,
Not an airplane was stirring, not even a Champ.
The aircraft were fastened to tie downs with care,
In hopes that -- come morning -- they all would be there.

The fuel trucks were nestled, all snug in their spots,
With gusts from two-forty at 39 knots.
I slumped at the fuel desk, now finally caught up,
And settled down comfortably, resting my butt.

When the radio lit up with noise and with chatter,
I turned up the scanner to see what was the matter.
A voice clearly heard over static and snow,
Called for clearance to land at the airport below.

He barked his transmission so lively and quick,
I'd have sworn that the call sign he used was "St. Nick."
I ran to the panel to turn up the lights,
The better to welcome this magical flight.

He called his position, no room for denial,
"St. Nicholas One, turnin' left onto final."
And what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a Rutan-built sleigh, with eight Rotax Reindeer!

With vectors to final, down the glideslope he came,
As he passed all fixes, he called them by name:
"Now Ringo! Now Tolga! Now Trini and Bacun!
On Comet! On Cupid!" What pills was he takin'?

While controllers were sittin', and scratchin' their heads,
They phoned to my office, and I heard it with dread,
The message they left was both urgent and dour:
"When Santa pulls in, have him please call the tower."

He landed like silk, with the sled runners sparking,
Then I heard, "Left at Charlie," and "Taxi to parking."
He slowed to a taxi, turned off of three-oh,
And stopped on the ramp with a "Ho! Ho! Ho!"

He stepped out of the sleigh, but before he could talk,
I ran out to meet him with my best set of chocks.
His red helmet and goggles were covered with frost,
And his beard was all blackened from Reindeer exhaust.

His breath smelled like peppermint, gone slightly stale,
And he puffed on a pipe, but he didn't inhale.
His cheeks were all rosy and jiggled like jelly,
His boots were as black as a cropduster's belly.

He was chubby and plump, in his suit of bright red,
And he asked me to "fill it, with hundred low-lead."
He came dashing in from the snow-covered pump,
I knew he was anxious for drainin' the sump.

I spoke not a word, but went straight to my work,
And I filled up the sleigh, but I spilled like a jerk.
He came out of the restroom, and sighed in relief,
Then he picked up a phone for a Flight Service brief.

And I thought as he silently scribed in his log,
These reindeer could land in an eighth-mile fog.
He completed his pre-flight, from the front to the rear,
Then he put on his headset, and I heard him yell, "Clear!"

And laying a finger on his push-to-talk,
He called up the tower for clearance and squawk.
"Take taxiway Charlie, the southbound direction,
Turn right three-two-zero at pilot's discretion"

He sped down the runway, the best of the best,
"Your traffic's a Grumman, inbound from the west."
Then I heard him proclaim, as he climbed through the night,
"Merry Christmas to all! I have traffic in sight."

Hope everyone is having an incredible holiday season; Wishing everyone the best!

"I owned the world that hour as I rode over it. free of the earth, free of the mountains, free of the clouds, but how inseparably I was bound to them." - Charles Lindbergh

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Google Reviews the Last Four Years

A lot has happened since 2010 and below are four videos from Google that review each year. I really wish I had found these sooner but I'm glad to have had the last one come up as an ad on something else I was viewing. I have to say I'm very impressed and in my opinion the quality of the videos get better as the years progress. Look for my "Year in Review" for 2013 to be up in the next few days.

Google - 2010

Google - 2011

Google - 2012

Google - 2013

"Desperation is sometimes as powerful an inspirer as genius." - Benjamin Disraeli

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Video on Military Air Power

Saw this video on military air power and was rather impressed. Our military air superiority is a direct result of the risks taken and the sacrifices given by a select few so that others may brave the skies in defense of this nation. The video below highlights this.

"Hitler built a fortress around Europe, but he forgot to put a roof on it." - Franklin D. Roosevelt