Introducing the newest member of the Gadling team… Kent Wien
Since air travel is such a significant part of most of our lives, we’re bringing on Kent to share his experiences as a commercial pilot with Gadling. Kent will be writing about each of his trips, giving you an idea of what life is like at the pointy end of an airliner. Keep an eye out for his “Cockpit Chronicles” feature, and follow along with him in the air and on the ground.
1. Where was your photo taken: 38,000 feet, on the way back from San Juan to Boston in a Boeing 757.
2. Where do you live now: Exeter, New Hampshire
3. Scariest airline flown: I was once a flight engineer (3rd pilot who sits sideways) on a 727 for a small charter/freight company that operated out of Dallas. We were contracted to fly within Alaska for a summer to haul fish and cargo throughout the state. Due to what was later blamed on improper maintenance, we landed in Kotzebue with all main tires locked up. The tires never moved while we skidded down the runway. That got my attention. I left shortly after and a few weeks after my departure the FAA shut the airline down for a month due to maintenance violations.
4. Favorite city/country/place: I suppose most people have a soft spot in their heart for their hometown. I was lucky enough to grow up in Anchorage, Alaska.
5. Most remote corner of the globe visited: A Soviet ice camp 160 miles north of Barrow, Alaska. We brought two Norwegian scientists to this huge floating complex complete with temporary buildings that had telephones between them, a cafeteria and dozens of Russians who traded with us relentlessly. I suppose I’ll have to post a feature on that experience — just in case anyone else happens to find themselves floating on a Russian ice camp.
6. Favorite guidebook series: Since I occasionally get called out at the last minute on a trip somewhere that I’ve never visited, I like to load up the Wikitravel.org page of that city on my laptop or iPhone and take it with me. I’ve found that Wikitravel cuts right to the important points of a city and it’s a good start when looking for something to do.
7. Worst hotel experience: During training in Texas I once found nearly 20 cockroaches in a florescent light fixture above my bed. I took the light apart and dumped them into the toilet. The next day there were 20 more. I did this ritual every day for the entire month I was there. We stay in some pretty nice hotels while on trips, but for some reason our training hotels rate at the bottom of the scale.
8. Leeches or mosquitoes: Mosquitoes have a new talent. They’re killing people. Even when I was living on a lake as a kid, I would’ve preferred leaches over mosquitos any day.
9. Worst place to catch a stomach bug: In the cockpit on a flight from Las Vegas to Dallas with the above mentioned charter airline. It was my one and only experience with food poisoning. I doubt it was fun for the other two pilots.
10. How did you get started traveling? I was fortunate enough to have a dad who was also an airline pilot when I was growing up. One day he got a call to deliver a 737 from Seattle to London. My sister and I convinced him to take the trip, since we knew it was our opportunity to fly in an empty jet and even get a chance to ride in the cockpit. We spent a few days in London, saw some plays and really enjoyed our first taste of international travel. I later went to France for summer exchange student program and it was these two experiences that inspired me to fly internationally for a living.