As we close our third issue of this freshly rebranded magazine, we are taking a look back at the 20 years that have passed since 9/11 – please read Philip Baum’s comprehensive look back at the past 20 years in avsec. Since taking over from Philip earlier this year and shifting our focus from solely avsec to covering security in all modes of transport, we hit the ground running. I haven’t taken a moment to introduce myself. Let me do that now so you may understand my background.
I like to call myself an accidental editor. I came into the magazine editorial business shortly after 9/11 happened. Let me go back even further and put it all together for you.
When I was 15 and in school, I read a book about flying airplanes and became fascinated by the idea. I couldn’t stop thinking about it and wondering what it must be like to slip the surly bonds of earth, as the poem says. I told my father about my curiosity about flying. He was immediate and swift. He said to me, “If you want to learn to fly let’s go down to the local airport and look into flight lessons.” How amazing it was to get that kind of support. We headed to the local airport and I took a Cessna Discovery Flight a program that made that first flight fun and affordable.
I was hooked. I came back from that flight and told my father I definitely wanted to get my pilot’s license. I began taking regular flight lessons at that local airport. I soloed an airplane before I had my driver’s license – I had to call home to have my mom come and pick me up from the airport afterwards. I started working at the from desk of that small FBO to earn more money for flight lessons.
My flight instructor was great but worked only on the weekends and with weather and other schedule challenges, I was eager to go faster with my training. I wanted to progress and get more ratings and was thinking about flying professionally by this point. That flight instructor told me if I really wanted to pursue flying as a career, I should look at studying at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University (ERAU). It was the only university I applied to.
I pursued flying with gusto. I got my commercial ticket as well as my certified flight instructor certificates and then became a flight instructor there. I was just taking off from the airport with a student in Daytona Beach as the Challenger space shuttle lifted off one January morning. We watched in awe and then in horror as the shuttle exploded right before our eyes as it succumbed that day.
A friend from Embry-Riddle, David Charlebois, and I shared our dreams of crisscrossing the globe someday as airline pilots.
I continued to pursue flying as a career after leaving ERAU. I did all the things civilian pilots do to build time and experience to become airline pilots – I instructed, I flew a jump plane for skydive outfit, I flew charter flights, I was a night freight pilot flying car parts to keep assembly lines moving. Then I was hired by a regional airline. Along the way, I got married and had a couple of kids. I also took a two-year opportunity to live abroad with my husband in Spain when he was given a work assignment there. When I had built enough time, I acheived my airline transport pilot certificate.
I was eventually hired by a start-up airline that was modeled around an all first class service flying DC-9s with only 56 seats out of Dallas Love Field. The 56 seats was a unique way that company was able to maneuver around the Wright Amendment that limited operations from Dallas Love in hopes that the larger, newer DFW airport would thrive. In any case, being part of a start up airline was exciting and fun, if a bit of a rollercoaster ride.
Then 9/11 happened. It was a terrible time in aviation. The startup airline I worked for didn’t make it. I mentioned my college friend David earlier…he was the first officer of the American Airlines airplane that crashed into the Pentagon. He was smart, kind, funny and driven to succeed. He was one of the first of our cohort to make it to the legacy airlines. We were all so thrilled for his success. On top of the horror of the U. S. being attacked, I was shocked to learn of the loss of my friend.
Pilot hiring ground to a halt. I took some time off and then looked for another way to make a living and happened to meet the editor of an aviation publication at the 100th Anniversary of Flight that was taking place in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina in 2003. He offered me a job saying he would rather teach me how to run a magazine than to try and teach a journalism major about aviation. I am so grateful for that chance meeting. I have been doing this work ever since.
All of that to say, that for me, aviation security and security in all modes of transport, is personal. I have been in the cockpit, in the airport, on the crew bus, transferring into the city on the metro/underground/subway/train and known a friend who died at the hands of terrorists.
I see the interconnected nature of these modes of transport and what is at risk. Real people. Real lives. I feel the ripple effects of catastrophic events like 9/11. So for me, covering security events is something I am passionate about. Connecting the dots between the various transport modes is not only fascinating but essential.
Please let us know your thoughts about our coverage and what ideas you may have for stories. We would love to hear from you. I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.