Friday, February 4, 2011

#Avgeek Abundance - Flight #6

Today's entry in the blog series is an interview with Kevin Epstein. He is an aviation geek that owns and maintains Aviation Photographic and has a long-time, genetic fascination with flying, aircraft and all things aviation. Already acquainted with Kevin? Than maybe you'll learn a few new tidbits, or if you don't know him, allow me to introduce him:

When did you first discover your passion for the aviation community?

I can't remember not being interested in flight / aviation. My earliest memories of being interested in flying were back in the day when my dad would take me to the end of the runway at Johannesburg International airport (back then it was called Jan Smuts Airport), which at the time had a waist-high chain link fence, and we'd watch planes taking off and climbing out directly overhead. I think I may have been 4 or 5 at the time.

Do you or have you had an aviation hero? Who?
Yes. Scully Levin. A south African pilot. (South African Air Force, South African Airways, Team Lead - Flying Lions aerobatic team, Team Lead - Gabriel Wings aerobatic team)

In your opinion what makes you or someone an aviation geek (avgeek) or propeller head (prophead)?
Aviation is in my family DNA. My Brother is a commercial pilot, I flew recreationaly, my uncle held a PPL, My dad got into sky diving and para gliding. I'm happiest somewhere above the earth looking down - open or closest cockpit, it doesn't matter! In my books anyone who hears a plane overhead and has the involuntary reaction of looking up to see what's passing overhead - that's an avgeek. Lastly, My pin-ups are planes, not naked woman.

Why do you recommend that your friends and family become avgeeks or propheads?
I don't! You're either wired this way or you're not - I am. Sure I'll take a buddy out to the end of RWY 24R at LAX. Because I'm an avgeek, I'll have already checked FlightAware to make sure a couple heavy's are coming in. Nothing will impress more than a B747, A340, or A380 coming in low and slow, and finishing off the landing with a nice white puff of smoke from the tires.

What are the biggest challenges facing the aviation industry today, in your opinion?
I'm not going into the details of each that I list below, just listing key issues the industry has to figure out. Let me know if this is what you're looking for.
  1. Rate of innovation. It's expensive to difficult to build new and efficient aircraft - 787 is a testament to that.
  2. airlines are going to have to figure out if running a larger fleet of smaller long range aircraft, or relatively fewer large long range aircraft makes more sense. (Boeing's 787 vs Airbus' A380 for example)
  3. Airports have to figure out what airlines are doing in #3 so that they can adequately plan expansion where necessary.
  4. Security! Clearly there's a long way to go to providing security that's effective, and efficient. I feel strongly that we can have both efficient and effective security, but we definitely don't have that today.
  5. Making travelers "want" to fly again. Most of us do it out of necessity now, and often enough traveler will describe their travels as an ordeal, rather than a trip or adventure.
Take flight, share something about yourself that you don't think was covered in these questions...
I'm South African, living in Southern California. I got my MPL (Microlight Pilots License) in Johannesburg, rated for trikes, bushbaby's (that's me in the cockpit) and xair's. My Disney Land (happiest place on earth) was Petit Airfield near Putfontein a couple miles East of Johannesburg International Airport (FAJS/JNB) until I had to quit flying due the ever increasing costs. Now whenever the time permits you'll find me somewhere in the vicinity of LAX, LGB, SNA, TOA watching and photographing planes arriving at, and departing from those airports. Some of the photos I take will end up on my site which is a web site where fellow enthusiasts can register and upload and share their photos.The most exciting aviation related thing I have done on the ground was getting to go to the South African Airways maintenance hangar as a kid and watching them crank up a jet engine on the workshop test bed.

Do you agree with Kevin's analysis of the challenges facing the aviation community? Are you convinced that avgeekiness is something you're either born with or not?

Would you like to participate in this #avgeek series? Tweet me at @airport_girl for more information.

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