formerly "The View From Up Here"

Formerly titled "The View From Up Here" this column began in the Liberty Gazette June 26, 2007.

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November 20, 2012 Houston Airport System's Aviation Club

The Liberty Gazette

November 20, 2012

Ely Air Lines
By Mike Ely and Linda Street-Ely

Mike: NASA’s Johnson Space Center has made Houston a leader in the aviation and aerospace industries by supplying research and development, guiding the future of those industries. Among the many destructive decisions coming from Washington is cancellation of programs that would keep the United States strongly at the forefront of space exploration and aviation. But with the dispersal and forced retirement of key employees, the City of Houston is stepping forward with plans to grow the next generation of industry leaders and workers. 

Houston Airport Systems (HAS) has created the Aviation Club, initially at two Houston area high schools, to provide focus and support for students who’ve shown a desire to enter this field. The club will engage students in science, technology, engineering, and math, which is critical if America is to maintain its leadership in space exploration. Currently offered at Sterling High School and Carnegie Vanguard High School, plans are in the works to expand the program across the Houston ISD by next year. Sterling already has an aviation magnet program so it makes sense that this should be one of the “starter” schools.

Houston continues to lead the nation in the creation of jobs during a difficult economy mostly due to more entrepreneurial business-friendly laws and tax structure. This new education program focuses on one of the city’s strongest sectors, with the ultimate goal to build a workforce to accept the challenges for tomorrow’s aviation and aerospace jobs. While there are certainly some lower paying non-technical jobs in the industry, the city of Houston realizes that the skilled technical jobs the aerospace and aviation industry provides are the ones that really help the city’s economic structure.

Mario Diaz dreamed of aviation when he was growing up. Today Mario is the Director of the Houston Airport System. He feels early exposure to the industry was critical for his career path. As a teenager, he became fascinated with aviation, became a pilot and later an executive for airports in three major U.S. cities. He has long wanted to create an initiative that would launch the passion for flying in the next generation of aviators and space pioneers. Looks like Houston is the lucky winner.

Bob Mitchell is the president of the Bay Area Houston Economic Partnership. Understanding that students have many career choices but also face many distractions, Mitchell believes the new Aviation Club will introduce them to some of the most exciting career opportunities available now and in the future.

In monthly two-hour sessions students will learn from mentors and through enrichment activities. The criteria for participation in the club include being a student from Sterling High School or Carnegie Vanguard High School campuses in grades 9-12 (later to be expanded to all Houston ISD schools), be in good standing with a minimum GPA of 2.5, maintain satisfactory attendance at meetings throughout the year and have a desire to exploring post-secondary educational and career opportunities in aerospace or aviation.

The program is designed to encourage growth in all these technical fields as well as encourage a solid work ethic, and discover a passion that makes them look forward to each work day.


November 13, 2012 Airline Airports

The Liberty Gazette
November 13, 2012
Ely Air Lines
By Mike Ely and Linda Street-Ely

Linda: Our space here is usually devoted to the good and wonderful stories that come from the world of general aviation. There’s good reason for that – we have a very important general aviation airport here in Liberty that is a vital part of the National Airspace System. Supporting our airport and its critical role as part of our nation’s network of landing facilities, as well as promoting its huge potential as an economic generator for our area is a way for us to contribute to our community. We don’t often reflect on airports served by commercial airliners, but found a couple of current studies on airline passengers sort of interesting.

One study is being undertaken to measure the stress level of passengers as they enter airports that serve airlines, and how that stress affects them while at the airport. All airports, not just big commercial ones, compete for business and it behooves them to be the best they can be. A bad reputation can easily lead to loss of tourism, convention and business dollars, so they actually study this stuff. In fact, I’ve seen charts and graphs produced by Skyscanner, showing the minor ebbs and major flows of stress levels from the point of entry to a major commercial airport, through check-in, to the purposed illusion called “security” that violates our rights (that’s my description, not Skyscanner’s), and finally locating the gate. Once the passenger has made it successfully through all these obstacles stress levels begin to finally drop a bit. Once beyond the unconstitutional, humiliating and pointless groping travelers become captive to grossly over-priced goods and services (again, that’s my frank and honest description), just as the stress levels begin to ebb. And do you know what airport planners call this time? Happy hour. You, the traveler become somewhat “happier” and the airport becomes – you guessed it, much happier, because it is in this time you will contribute to their non-aeronautical revenue. An Airports Council International survey showed non-aeronautical revenues (parking, magazine and coffee sales, etc.) accounted for 46.5 percent of airports' income worldwide in 2010, so you can see how important happy hour is.

Another question opened up in our discussion forum on whether or not to inform airline passengers of wait times through checkpoints. Now these discussions take place in an international arena, and the American reaction to such theory favors strongly the preference for truth, no matter whether that truth is good or bad news – just tell us the truth, whether the wait in this line is three minutes or thirty minutes. I found it interesting that airport management from other countries were less interested in telling the truth than they were in controlling public behavior. Alas, our own government has clearly moved in that direction as well. But we the People have not.

When it comes to that control mechanism veiled as “security”, the feds are working on “risk-based security” and the potential of identity management. They say it’s so they can streamline the process and make it more efficient and less stressful.

It used to be that the benefit of going by air was the convenience and speed realized over that of travel by train or car. Unless and until this farce called TSA is abolished, you might say you’re better off driving, but I’d say go get your pilot license and fly yourself.