How and why...

"How did you become a pilot? Did you become an airline pilot via the military?" These are two of the most asked questions that I get when among friends or at the airport in uniform. Since @TimChoi89 asked them a while back via a comment on "4 on, two off, 4 on – part 2 / my printed schedule after the fact" and my response wasn't posted (error maybe or private, bugs, lost on the internet...) I decided that I'd answer them with a brand new post.  It's Friday, the 13th and raining so why not.

The second question is easy; no, I did not have a military background.  I did originally look at the Navy after graduating UCSD but flight slots were too few and in demand making my chances slim to none.  I also wear some thick eye glasses so that was another obstacle in and of itself.  I can't say that I looked into the other military branches as I grew up in San Diego.  My father and uncles too were all in the U.S. Navy so yes, I was blinded and partial in my decision.  It's Top Gun U.S.A.!  That leads me to the first question which is a lot more complicated.

I started flying as a hobby after I graduated college in '03.  It was also a time in my life where I was started to feel compelled to "do something else."  I started taking lessons and thought that I was going to make it a side project, maybe instruct or fly people around for fun.  I started receiving AOPA Flight Training Magazine and in it had ads scattered throughout boasting various flight schools and programs that could lead one to a commercial airline job.  I thought to myself, "Why not?"  I read about a few schools at the same time  deciding if I really wanted to do a post-bac and go to med school.  I ended up choosing an advanced ab-initio program which gave me a jet type rating along with whoever else I needed to get hired.  The program was launched and closely associated with Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and called CAPT (Commercial Airline Pilot Training).  Unfortunately, while the program and its vision remained idealistic, fuel costs and enrollment coupled with a downward spiraling economy led the university to sell it off to the private corporation, FTSI, which has since then closed its doors.  (Phases outFTSI New Release)   I was in the middle of the program when they accounted its transition but they promised to make good on their word and see us to the end.

I graduated in May of 2006 after 16 months of training and was offered a job with Focus Airlines.  They operated as an ACMI (aircraft, crew, maintenance, insurance) 747 cargo carrier and their contract with CAPT was extensive; totaling a five year commitment, the first year one would serve as a "cadet" placed in the office helping with various tasks from scheduling, hotel reservations, tech publications, IT, etc. basically an intern type year learning the ins and out.  The second year would entail upgrading to the second officer / flight engineer position on a classic 747 followed by three years as a first officer.  Unfortunately, this program ended when the first couple of CAPT cadets were not allowed to upgrade to first officers alongside the face that Focus Airlines never had a program in place.  Coincidentally, Atlantic Southeast Airlines (now officially called ExpressJet) was in the beginning stages of a hiring spree and our amazing director helped us get an interview. I scored my first flying job and the rest is history.  Knowing and keeping ties along with timing is key in this industry and it panned out.

It's funny how people end up visiting my site.  Mr. Tim ended up here,"...by searching "the verge vs. gdgt" then I stumbled upon your twitpic and saw that you're a pilot + tech enthusiast..."  Thanks for stopping by Tim and keep the questions coming.

Ragnar Relay: It's Official!

First off, if you don't know what I'm talking about, you can read all about the Ragnar Relay on the official about page. I'm excited to announce that I signed up / volunteered myself to become part of my friend's team and celebrate his 30th birthday with this race! This individual, Jack Pham, also happens to be the person who introduced Adelle to me when he put together an awesome BBQ way back for Memorial Day 2000. He was also my UCSD freshman year roommate's high school classmate. I just can't believe that it's been over 10 years since all this! Back to the race. I will be participating in the Ragnar Relay So Cal edition which will cover ~200 miles from Huntington Beach, CA to Coronado Island, San Diego from April 15th to April 16th and am running as the 4th Runner covering a total of 15.4 miles.

I just came back from the first team meeting, and I'm super excited! There's a lot to prepare for in my journey to running my first marathon (San Diego Rock 'n' Roll on June 5th) and this is just one of the ways that I'm motivating myself.

PICTURE THIS: You and 11 of your buddies running relay style, day and night, in a 200-mile running event through Southern California. Starting south of Los Angeles in beautiful Huntington Beach your team of 12 runners will head south down the pacific coast. Along the way you will pass through Anaheim, Carlsbad, Del Mar and La Jolla. The race (and your stamina) will wrap up near San Diego on beautiful Coronado Island. This race had better make your running calendar; you really won’t want to miss it.

My First Miramar Lake of many

Every since I can remember, the very idea of running around a lake was always daunting. Let alone the veracity of the environment ridden with competitive runners (or maybe just looking like they are and like myself all decked out in Nike gear), the once you go half way or even just around the first bend you cannot turn back and all the little indentations creating the optical illusion like you're almost there...Miramar Lake has been that thorn in my side. Well, I like to come out and say, I DID IT! I ran it with my wife Adelle and actually also started out with her friend Esther Choi. It's always nice to have a running buddy but being the first time, I wanted to take it easy. I guess to be honest, her marathon like pace wasn't something that I could keep up with anyways, so I hung back and ran with the wifey. It was a good feeling as the only way that I have ever circled the lake was in a car and on a bike. I shall conquer it over again and make it my doggy. Yea, that's right...my doggy.

Off to a Bang for 2011

So far, 4 days into 2011, I've already logged two good workouts, bought some new running shoes (Nike Lunarglides+ 2) that I think I'll be training and running my first marathon with and have posted both on adellelijah.com and elijahnicolas.com! It's a constant barrage of staying busy and trying to utilize the time I have whether laying over at an airport or working while commuting using Gogo's Inflight WiFi. It's a bummer that the free WiFi, sponsored by Google's Chrome over the Holiday Season, has expired so I'm back to paying for it but count it as a business expense right? I'm currently working on more write-ups and reviews for the next few days and my wife even has a couple in the pipeline. I couldn't be more excited to finally get things going again. For now, here's my bucket list for 2011.

1) Run a Marathon before I'm 30 (San Diego Rock 'N Roll is in June and my birthday is in July) 2) Work up towards an Olympic Triathlon distance for the San Diego Tri-Rock 3) Ride a century either for the Tour de Cure of San Diego Century 4) Continue to post from 3-5 entries a week for either elijahnicolas.com or adellelijah.com 5) Focus more in the future on my cloud based endeavors 6) Eat healthier and less 7) Get down to my racing weight by June which is actually 20 lbs in 6 months

Check out the new Nike Lunarglide+ 2s!  A little loud as they didn't have the Wolf Grey / Blue combo at Road Runner Sports, San Diego.

Here's a quick pic of New Year's Eve 2011 celebrating it with great friends at Stingaree San Diego. Over priced at $50.00 presale and nothing included. Never doing that again.