Aviation Posts

Happy New Year Thoughts for 2012

Happy New Year!  It’s the time of the year to reflect on the past, but more importantly, to look towards the future and all the possibilies and opportunities that lie ahead.  This past year was nothing short of incredible!  While many of my competitors continued sitting on the porch, I spent my time continuing my business strategy of going out there, meeting customers face-to-face, and making great things happen for my businesses.  I’m very fortunate to have an incredible staff who performed with precision each and every time which made my job a whole lot easier.  I’ve followed a very simple business plan:  Always do what’s right and best for my customers, do it very quickly without errors, and continue to always let my customers know how much they are appreciated and never taken for granted.  There you have it, the secret to my success in 2011, and undoubtedly my plan for an even stronger 2012 as I look towards the future.

As I reflect back on this past year, I think of all the great places I’ve visited, the things I’ve seen, the events I’ve experienced, but most importantly, the special people I’ve gotten to spend time with over the past twelve months.  Both personally and professionally, it’s been a year of growth, change, and raising the bar to yet another level.  Did I accomplish everything I wanted to this past year?  Of course not, I’m only human just like everyone else… but I know without a doubt I’ve given 110% effort every hour of every day and never once felt like I was sitting on the sidelines as the world passed me by.  My ‘to-do’ list is jam packed with items leading into the new year, but that’s a very good thing.  It means I won’t be resting on my laurels, that I’ll be as focused and dedicated as ever to embrace 2012 and all the opportunities it has to offer.

In addition to working hard in 2011, I’ve also had a whole lot of fun along the way.  I’ve had the very unique opportunity to fly and land my Cirrus SR22 Aircraft in all 48 states in the continental United States.  My journey covered more than 55,000 miles and I can honestly say that I loved every minute flying such a fantastic aircraft and seeing so many magnificent sights.  You can read more about my journey in my previous blog post, Brad’s Flying Adventure Across America.  I also traveled to more than six countries internationally, including multiple trips to the Middle East as recently as a week ago with another visit to Dubai.  It’s been such a fulfilling experience to meet people from so many different regions of the world and to learn about their cultures as I’ve gotten to know them as individuals.

As I look towards 2012, I see a truly great future ahead!  I’ve never been more excited or more optimistic about all the great things that life has in store for me.  There will undoubtedly be challenges, but I welcome them with open arms and know they will only make me even stronger.  I’m planning on continuing to follow my dreams, the live every day like it’s my last, to work hard, to play hard, and enjoy every second of the ride!

Happy New Year!  Welcome to 2012!

Brad’s NBAA Flight Plan Interviews: BARR Fight Victory!

In March of 2011, the Department of Transportation made a shocking change which eliminated the Blocked Aircraft Registration Request (BARR) program.  The BARR system enabled personal and corporate aircraft operators such as myself to block tracking of our aircraft so that they couldn’t be tracked by anonymous users with nothing more than a web browser.  Once dismantled, competitors and random people online could see every move we made in our aircraft, the equivalent of allowing someone to go online and see the movements of every road you take and location you visit in your personal or company vehicle.  Obviously, this not only caused quite a stir in the aviation industry, but also had much larger implications for society as a whole if this same principal of complete online visibility was applied in the future to other types of vehicles.  Our basic right to privacy had been eliminated, but fortunately, there were numerous industry groups ready to battle this misguided move by our government.  Among those groups were the NBAA (National Business Aviation Association), the AOPA (Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association) and the EAA (Experimental Aircraft Association).

Throughout the course of the BARR fight, I spoke with numerous media outlets to help explain why this change was a poor decision and how it would affect small businesses such as my own.  I was also in contact with numerous political leaders, urging them to work towards reversing this wrong that had been committed against so many people and businesses such as my own.

On November 17th of 2011, I got an early Christmas present when I received word that the BARR fight was over – WE WERE VICTORIOUS!  I was absolutely thrilled to say the least.  Congress stepped in and reinstated the BARR program which sent a clear message that the rights of privacy were still important to the American people and businesses.

I certainly very thankful and appreciative to each of the aviation industry organizations who worked so diligently to protect the rights of aircraft owners and operators everywhere.  I’m also very appreciative of our elected leaders who did the right thing by ensuring the privacy of the citizens and businesses they represent remains protected.

Interview #1

After the victory was announced, I was honored to be interviewed for NBAA’s Flight Plan Podcast with host Pete Combs. You can read a full article, Congress Reinstates the BARR – What’s Next? by clicking here.   At the bottom of the article there’s the full audio portion of the interview.  I’ve also included a link directly to the audio interview here for your convenience.

Read the Full Article at the NBAA Site:  Congress Reinstates the BARR – What’s Next?
Listen to the Full Audio Interview:  Listen Now

Interview #2

Additionally, as a follow-up to this story, Pete Combs did another segment during his 2011 year in review series.  You can read the full article, BARR Battle Figured Prominently for Industry in 2011 by clicking here.  At the bottom of the article there’s the full audio portion of the interview.  I’ve also included a link directly to the audio interview here for your convenience.

Read the Full Article at the NBAA Site:  BARR Battle Figured Prominently for Industry in 2011
Listen to the Full Audio Interview:  Listen Now

Thanks again to everyone who worked so diligently to make this victory possible!

My New Bose A20 Aviation Headsets Are Fantastic!

  

I literally spend hundreds of hours a year in the cockpit of my Turbo Cirrus SR22 Aircraft, so using a good quiet headset makes my frequent flights even more enjoyable.  I’ve always really liked my Bose Aviation X headsets which I purchased with my first Cirrus SR22 Aircraft – they were revolutionary, adapting world-class noise cancelling technology that wasn’t available in prior headsets I’ve owned.  Little did I know, there was an even better, quieter, more comfortable headset in my future…

Recently at an industry event, some great friends presented me with a surprise gift that was just perfect:  Not only one, but TWO pairs of Bose A20 Aviation Headsets!  Wow!  I literally turned red in the face with the shock of receiving such an extraordinary gift.  I was so appreciative that I could barely even express my thanks and gratitude in words.  Even though I had already flown many hours that day, I practically wanted to race back to the airport to try them out that very moment.  Needless to say, I absolutely loved the gift and am very thankful for their generosity!

As I climbed into the cockpit of my Cirrus to begin my journey back to Orlando several days later, I put on my new Bose A20 headset for the first time.  It fit like a glove!  They’ve re-designed the spring mechanism so the headset feels like it’s floating on your head, rather than the clamping feeling of my prior Bose X headset.  The ear cushions were also noticeably more comfortable, which have also been re-designed and are slightly larger to cover your entire ear.  The new headset felt great, but just how much better was it than my prior Bose X headset?  Once I leveled off at a safe altitude, I decided to do some real-world testing.  I plugged my prior Bose X headset into one intercom jack, while my new Bose A20 headset was plugged into another jack.  I swapped back and fourth between the headsets throughout my journey.  The noise reduction difference was amazing!  Bose has really raised the bar with noise cancelling technology that’s beyond what I even thought was possible.  Even though I’ve always thought my Bose X headset was great, my new Bose A20 headset blows it away in terms of noise reduction and comfort.

Aside from the many improvements I’ve already mentioned, there are also some additional noteworthy features which have been integrated into the new Bose A20 headset.  The first is Bluetooth technology which allows the headset to be paired with a Bluetooth enabled cellphone such as an iPhone.  Of course you’re not going to be using your phone at altitude, but the Bluetooth connectivity allows for you to have a crystal clear telephone conversation through your headset while on the ground.  This is especially useful when calling for clearances at uncontrolled airports where radio communications are poor or non-existent.  An additional notable feature is the inclusion of an auxiliary input port which runs directly into the headset itself.  This allows you to hook up an iPhone, iPod, or other device to route music and/or other audio directly into your headset without disturbing other passengers.  There’s even a user selectable switch that allows the pilot to select whether the auxiliary input audio is muted or continues playing during times when activity occurs on the aircraft radio.  Bose truly thought of everything when they created these headsets!

While I was excited to write this review immediately after I first started using my new headsets, I purposefully waited until now to do so.  I wanted to get plenty of real-world experience to make a solid determination of their quality and effectiveness before hastily proclaiming their greatness.  I went about doing my business – taking my phenomenal Turbo Cirrus SR22 Aircraft on trip after trip, working to grow my business, as I’ve done for the past several years.  I flew short legs, I flew long legs, and I flew everything in-between.  I flew completely across the country, over the heights of the Rocky Mountains to the depths of sea level in Louisiana.  Needless to say, in a very short period of time, I was able to log many hours of flight time in real-world conditions using my new headsets.  The verdict?  I’m sure it’s quiet clear by now, but just in case you missed it, they’re amazing!  I fly the best single engine aircraft in the world – the Turbo Cirrus SR22 Aircraft – I can now confidently say that it’s equipped with the best headsets in the world – my new Bose A20 Aviation Headsets.

I’d like to once again thank my good friends who surprised and delighted me in such an wonderful way.  My new headsets were the perfect gift which I’ll enjoy using for many years to come as I continue my journey soaring through the blue skies above.

Better comfort, better clarity, better noise cancellation, better features, better everything, my new Bose A20 Aviation Headsets are simply FANTASTIC!

Aspen Dreams: Flying the Rocky Mountains

  

More than 20 years ago, I took my first trip to Aspen.  It’s a magical place where everyday life feels like a distant place, like you’re experiencing living in a bubble a million miles away.  It’s a place where fantasy is reality, where everything is perfect and life is good.  At the start of my first visit, I vividly remember sitting in my airline seat feeling the rush of the steep descent over the mountain ridge into the valley for landing.  Each year, I would return to Aspen, always looking forward to the landing experience signaling the start of an amazing visit.  Roughly 15 years ago, I began flying a small Cessna 152.  From the first moment I stepped into the cockpit, I always dreamed of landing in Aspen with me at the controls.  I eventually was able to purchase a 172SP and later, a normally aspirated Cirrus SR22 aircraft.  The Aspen dream was still alive and well, but I simply didn’t feel comfortable doing any sort of actual mountain flying.

At the end of 2009, the opportunity presented itself for me to purchase a new Turbo Cirrus SR22 Aircraft for my business.  My current Cirrus was phenomenal in every way, but I still found myself only flying in the Eastern half of the US.  I imagined what additional doors could be opened for my business if only I could fly in mountainous terrain with confidence – the entire US would be within my reach to fly myself, better serve my customers and grow my business.  I took delivery of a shiny new red and white Cirrus with a state-of-the-art Garmin Perspective avionics suite.  The plane was loaded with every feature available, notably for the sake of this story, a synthetic vision system with an impressive terrain avoidance system.  These systems would prove to be especially useful in the mountainous terrain where I desired to fly.

I knew that mountain flying was inherently dangerous.  As a flat-lander pilot, I would never imagine taking on the challenge of mountain flying without solid instruction.  I turned to the helpful community members from the Cirrus Owners & Pilot’s Association (COPA) for their recommendations.  Within minutes, numerous members responded and indicated their top choice for world class mountain training was Independence Aviation based at Denver’s Centennial Airport (KAPA).  I spoke with Chuck and Bob who were both very friendly and worked with my schedule to ensure proper training time was allocated.  A few days later, I was receiving my first taste of mountain flight training with Chuck as we begun ground training.  He dispensed an impressively vast amount of knowledge which had been accrued through his many years of experience.  Early the next morning, we met at the Centennial Airport for my first actual flight into the Rocky Mountains with me at the controls.

As we departed Denver, I knew my flying life was about to change.  We activated the on-board oxygen system almost immediately after departure, which was unusual compared to my normal flying routine.  I’ve used oxygen systems in the past, but rarely for long periods of time at high altitudes where we’d be flying that day.  As we crossed over the front range of the Rocky Mountains, my eyes practically bulged out of their sockets as I glared in awe at the beautiful sight ahead.  I realized I was really doing this, I was finally flying the Rocky Mountains.  We flew for another half hour and soon were approaching our first stop… Aspen, Colorado!

As we approached the ridge next to Aspen, I was excited, nervous, cautious, you name an emotion, I felt it that moment.  Although emotions ran like a raging river through my mind, it’s also important to note that I felt very safe with a very experienced mountain aviator by my side.  As my Cirrus soared quickly across the ridge and we began our descent into the valley, I finally heard those magical words I had waited so long to hear… “Cirrus November 225 Hotel Lima, Aspen Tower, Cleared to Land”.  The descent was steep, even steeper than I had ever experienced flying commercially.  Chuck reassured me I was on the right path and doing just fine the entire time.  He has a very calm demeanor which allowed me to relax, yet also perform at my finest as he guided me through the approach.  As we descended into the valley, the amazing view of the mountain walls filled my windows which was so foreign to anything I had ever experienced in all my years of flying.  As I continued the approach, I listened with eager anticipation waiting for my Garmin Perspective system to verbally announced the 500 foot altitude call out.  Soon, the Garmin call out roared through my headset and my face lit up with a giant smile knowing we were so close.  I crossed the road on my short final approach into the airport.  My moment of glory was becoming a reality.  Moments later, the wheels of my Cirrus SR22 were gently touching down at Aspen Airport for the first time ever with me at the controls.  I wanted to dance, to cheer, to proclaim to the world I did it!  I had landed at one of the most challenging mountain airports in the country… Aspen, Colorado!

Since that first landing mountain airport landing, I’ve done more mountain training and have loved every second of it.  I promised myself I wouldn’t even dare attempt landing at any mountain airport without an instructor until I was completely confident in my own abilities.  In addition to the actual mountain flying instruction, I also did a lot of reading, most notably Sparky Imeson’s Mountain Flying Bible which I highly recommend.  I eventually gained enough knowledge and experience where I finally felt comfortable flying myself into mountain airports, including most notably, Aspen Airport.

As we fast forward to today, I’m now an avid mountain flyer and get to fly the Rocky Mountains frequently.  Whenever I fly the Rockies, I feel like a freshly minted pilot, feeling the “magical feeling” of flight as I glide above such incredible terrain.  Learning to fly in such an unforgiving environment has made me an even better, safer pilot.  It’s taught me to hone my skills and pay even closer attention to external effects such as winds, weather, and icing – not only in the mountains, but everywhere that I fly.  In case you missed it, I recently landed my Turbo Cirrus SR22 Aircraft in all 48 lower continental United States and can certainly testify that my mountain flight training and experience helped to make that possible.  I now routinely make coast-to-coast business trips to visit customers in all regions of the country, including many mountainous areas.  Even when I’m simply flying over the mountains such as on a recent trip between San Francisco and Denver, I have a sense of confidence knowing that if I need to land at a mountain airport, I’m capable of doing so – I’m prepared for the challenge, my aircraft is properly equipped for the challenge, and I can accomplish the landing safely.

If you’re even remotely thinking of learning to fly in the mountains, do it!  I can say without an ounce of hesitation that it’s the most beautiful and most satisfying flying experience anywhere in the country.  If you’re headed out West, also be sure to visit the great folks at XJet FBO located at Centennial Airport (KAPA) in Denver.  I visit them frequently and have always had phenomenal experiences before making my journey into the mountains or towards the Western states beyond.

Aspen, Colorado.  Magic, memories, bright sunshiny days, sparkle filled moonlit skies, a perfect utopian city nestled into the most beautiful mountain valley in America.  It’s also the place where I live life to the fullest, experiencing my Aspen Dreams:  Flying the Rocky Mountains.

  

Brad’s NBAA Flight Plan Interview: Industry United in Thwarting Latest User Fee Threat

General aviation taxes.  They’re collected each time I fly.  From the moment I start the engine of my Turbo Cirrus SR22 Aircraft until the moment the blades stop spinning, taxes are being collected via the use of an aviation fuel tax.  If I fly a long trip where I’m likely going to be using more air traffic services, I burn more fuel, and therefore I pay more taxes.  If I make a quick hop to see a customer closer to home, I’ll likely use less air traffic services, burn less fuel, and therefore I pay less.  Simple.  Effective.  Proven.  It’s perhaps the most brilliant fair tax in effect today by our federal government.

What disturbs me is the recent proposal by the Obama administration to implement a new type of user fee which would negatively affect the general aviation community.  The proposal calls for a $100 fee to be paid for each business flight.  That means whether I’m flying to Miami or Memphis, I’d pay the same fee.  This simply makes no sense since there’s no correlation between my actual aircraft usage and the amount of revenue collected.  To make matters even worse, a whole new bureaucracy would need to be created (and paid for) simply to collect these new “use taxes.”  This is a bad solution to a problem that’s already been solved.  The current system isn’t broken, so let’s quit trying to fix it.

Beyond the unfair nature of the proposed user fees, I think it’s also important to note the negative effect these fees will have on our economy.  Take for instance my own company’s use of our general aviation aircraft.  We use our Turbo Cirrus SR22 to visit customers throughout the country.  It allows us to visit multiple customers in a single day, often turning three days of travel into one.  We’re able to see more customers, make more sales, grow our business, hire more employees, and better serve our customers so they can grow their businesses.  It’s a win-win scenario for everyone involved.  Our Cirrus has allowed my small business to grow which has a positive effect on the economy.  If these new user fees are enacted, it will mean a substantial increase in costs to our company.  This will stifle our growth, thereby stifling our contribution to our community and to the economy.  Our company isn’t unique, there are thousands of others just like us throughout the country who rely on general aviation which will be harmed by this proposal.  This proposal is simply bad for general aviation, bad for business and bad for our economy.

I recently spoke with Pete Combs, host of the National Business Aviation Association’s (NBAA) Flight Plan Podcast series, to voice my concerns.  He wrote a great article explaining the numerous flaws of the new user fee proposal, along with an audio interview which includes excerpts from our conversation.

You can read a full article, Industry United in Thwarting Latest User Fee Threat by clicking here.   At the bottom of the article there’s the full audio portion of the interview.  I’ve also included a link directly to the audio interview here for your convenience.

Read the Full Article at the NBAA Site:  Industry United in Thwarting Latest User Fee Threat
Listen to the Full Audio Interview:  Listen Now