Aviation Geek

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By: Tom Schulte

Smack-dab on the middle of the refrigerator, among photos of his children, grandchildren, and past adventures, lies a small magnetic airplane with a simple quote across its wings. The phrase reads, ‘Time spent flying is not deducted from one’s lifespan.’ And while this is not the most deep or scientifically-sound notion, it embodies my grandfather Bud’s love for the airline industry. In-turn, he passed this interest and mild-passion on down to me, as I have dubbed myself a true aviation geek.

Similar to people having the need and obsession to study things like ingredient labels on the side of boxes, once seated on an airplane, I feel compelled to reach for the airline’s internal magazine and immediately flip to the last few sections. Typically I begin with the information regarding their fleet. Aircraft statistics including cruising speeds, altitudes, passenger-loads, I find to be extremely interesting. Additionally, they include a few paragraphs as to their general strategy in terms of fleet-expansion as well as their rationale. From more efficient fuel-burn to airlines leveraging the raging battle between Boeing and Airbus for their business, I truly cannot get enough of the story lines.

Flip a few more pages and you will find the Holy Grail for aviation geeks, a map of the airline’s current and future routes. Seemingly thousands of beautiful blue, red, and black ribbons spreading across the pages, highlighting all your travel possibilities. My mind runs wild with questions as to the strategy behind choosing hub cities as well as the need for these new routes. Most recently my interest and excitement peaked upon receiving emails from both Jet Blue and Delta--advertising their new non-stop service to cities such as Austin and Nashville from Boston. I am fascinated by their speed and ability to meet the demand of their customers needing to travel to these cities that have exploded in popularity overnight.

As I review and edit what I have written, I have come to terms with the fact that many will disregard this piece due to lack of interest in the matter. I am okay with that. However, I am hoping (and quite frankly gambling on) that this will hit a few readers in the sweet-spot. People just like me that spend an entire flight with a smile plastered to their face, listening to the hum of the engines, while welcoming the unexpected turbulence—this is for you.

(Quite possibly the greatest Christmas gift we received as a family. A beautiful, framed map hanging in our kitchen with color-coordinated pins signifying destinations that the six of us have traveled to. Five of the seven continents, with future plans to explore the remaining two).