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The Air Up There Podcast

The Air Up There podcast.

A podcast for people who are curious about the wide world of aviation. Join the FAA as we nerd out about the future of flight, drones, and ways to make the National Airspace System safer, smarter, and more efficient.

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“We're putting it in the trees.”

“We're putting it in the trees.” Season 2, Episode 14
Published: Friday, June 18, 2021

On a flight back to his home airport in a single-engine Piper Saratoga, pilot Truman O'Brien ran into engine trouble. FAA air traffic controllers at the Portland, Oregon TRACON were in close communication with the pilot, offering him multiple landing options and working hard to help guide him to safety. But, flying at 8,000 feet, the aircraft lost altitude quickly. Even with top-notch air traffic control services, O'Brien had no choice but to make an emergency landing in the trees, deep in the forest of southwest Washington.

In this episode, we hear from the people on both ends of the transmission — Krissy Lewandowski, Portland TRACON Controller; Patrick Elmore, Portland TRACON Operations Supervisor; and the pilot himself. It's a story that underscores why clear pilot-controller communication is so critical.

The FAA's WINGS program has resources to help general aviation pilots stay proficient and enjoy stress-free flying. You can learn more about WINGS at faasafety.gov/wings.

“We're putting it in the trees.”

Building a Career with Drones

Building a Career with Drones Season 2, Episode 13
Published: Friday, June 4, 2021

In Season 2, Episode 11, we spoke with FAA drone expert Danielle Corbett to gain a better understanding of how drone pilots can fly safely and in line with FAA rules. That episode is packed with lots of information that will help you to be a great drone pilot!

In today's episode, we're talking about drone entrepreneurship. Drones can be used for a variety of business purposes, like photography, to survey agriculture, to conduct building inspections and a variety of other important functions. You'll hear first-hand from a drone entrepreneur, Eno Umoh, co-founder of the Global Air Drone Academy, an organization working hard to help young people realize the entrepreneurial benefits of drone piloting. Eno gives us insight into the endless possibilities in the drone world, and why it is so important that we're teaching future generation of drone pilots how to fly safely as they consider those opportunities.

Want to know more about drone piloting, but don't know who to ask? Feel free to contact the UAS Support Center, where they'll answer all of your burning drone questions. The FAA has countless resources, as well as drone specific social media accounts for the drone community on Facebook and Twitter.

Bonus tip: The FAA recently implemented two new rules, Operations Over People and Part 107.

Disclaimer: Reference in this podcast to any specific commercial products, process, service, manufacturer, company, or trademark does not constitute endorsement or recommendation by the U.S. government, DOT, or FAA. As an agency of the U.S. government, the FAA cannot endorse or appear to endorse any specific product or service.

Building a Career with Drones

Lose the Laser

Lose the Laser Season 2, Episode 12
Published: Friday, May 28, 2021

Last year, there were nearly 7,000 reported laser strikes against pilots — and those are just the ones that were reported. In fact, laser strikes increased during 2020 despite a lower number of air traffic operations. Laser lights can pose a serious safety risk to pilots flying aircraft, and pointing a laser at an aircraft is a federal crime.

Learn what a laser strike is, what impact they have on pilots, and how FAA partners with law enforcement to stop them on this episode of The Air Up There.

Find out more about laser strikes and read this blog post for tips on using a laser safely. Want to report a laser strike?

Lose the Laser

I Bought a Drone. Now What?

I Bought a Drone. Now What? Season 2, Episode 11
Published: Friday, May 14, 2021

Although our host, Dominique Gebru, doesn't know much about drones, she really wants to get one! Lucky for her, FAA has everything she needs to become a certified drone pilot. In this episode, she speaks with an FAA drone expert, Danielle Corbett, and learns the dos and don'ts of drone flying. Don't have access to your own personal FAA Drone Expert? Feel free to contact the UAS Support Center, where they'll answer all of your burning drone questions. The FAA has countless resources that you can access online, as well as drone-specific social media accounts on Facebook and Twitter. The FAA has recently implemented two new rules: Operations Over People and Part 107, and you can learn more here.

I Bought a Drone. Now What?

FAA Administrator Steve Dickson Talks Pilot-to-Pilot with @PlaneGirl

FAA Administrator Steve Dickson Talks Pilot-to-Pilot with @PlaneGirl Season 2, Episode 10
Published: Friday, April 30, 2021

The FAA estimates that there are 664,565 pilots that hold active FAA certificates as of December 31, 2019. Of that number, an estimated 52,740 are women. That's just shy of 8%. Eight! Pretty shocking, and it's clear there's a lot of work to be done to bring greater gender equity to the field.

But among that 8%, there are a number of bright spots, like “Plane Girl” Stevie Triesenberg, a young aviator and content creator. FAA Administrator Steve Dickson talks pilot-to-pilot with Stevie in this episode, about her start in aviation and how she's inspiring the next generation through social media.

You can also watch this interview on our YouTube channel, and follow Stevie on Instagram.

FAA Administrator Steve Dickson Talks Pilot-to-Pilot with @PlaneGirl

“Get vaxed, wear a mask, and come fly with us.”

“Get vaxed, wear a mask, and come fly with us.” Season 2, Episode 9
Published: Friday, April 23, 2021

Flight attendants serve a critical safety function in the cabin (no, they aren't just there to hand out snacks). But after years of decline, incidents of unruly passengers spiked in 2018 and from 2020–2021, they've hit record numbers — largely because passengers fail to listen to flight attendant directions about the new mask policy. In this episode we spoke with Sara Nelson, the president of the Association of Flight Attendants, about what travel has been like during the COVID-19 pandemic and why she's proud to be a flight attendant.

Read our blog post about being a good airline passenger.

“Get vaxed, wear a mask, and come fly with us.”

Convective Weather and How it Could Affect Your Flight

Convective Weather and How it Could Affect Your Flight Season 2, Episode 8
Published: Friday, April 16, 2021

Inclement weather conditions are, by far, the largest cause of flight delays in the United States. In an average year, inclement weather — including convection — is the reason for nearly 70 percent of all delays.

In this episode, we'll hear from two professionals on convective weather, flight delays, and the work that FAA does to get ahead of severe weather and minimize delays.

Convective Weather and How it Could Affect Your Flight

Simulators and How They're Making Aviation Safer

Simulators and How They're Making Aviation Safer Season 2, Episode 7
Published: Friday, April 2, 2021

Simulators — they're sort of like video games for training, research and skill enhancement. Flight and other types of aviation simulators help pilots, air traffic controllers, drone operators and more to gain proficiency and get certified faster, all in a virtual environment.

In this episode, we'll hear from multiple aviation professionals about the work that they're doing to ensure aviation safety with the use of simulators and virtual reality.

Disclaimer: Reference in this podcast to any specific commercial product, process, service, manufacturer, company, or trademark does not constitute endorsement or recommendation by the U.S. government, DOT, or FAA. As an agency of the U.S. government, FAA cannot endorse or appear to endorse any specific product or service.

Simulators and How They're Making Aviation Safer

Meet FAA Deputy Administrator Bradley Mims

Meet FAA Deputy Administrator Bradley Mims Season 2, Episode 6
Published: Friday, March 26, 2021

In February, the Biden-Harris Administration appointed Bradley Mims to serve as FAA's new Deputy Administrator. In this special mini-episode, Administrator Steve Dickson sits down with his new colleague for a brief conversation about goals for the next few years, including furthering aviation safety, COVID-19 vaccine distribution, and ways our agency can address racial and climate justice.

Mr. Mims is no stranger to transportation — he's served in leadership roles at the Department of Transportation and at FAA, in addition to the private sector. Read the Deputy Administrator's bio.

Meet FAA Deputy Administrator Bradley Mims

Dr. Susan Northrup Makes Aviation History

Dr. Susan Northrup Makes Aviation History Season 2, Episode 5
Published: Friday, March 19, 2021

In this special episode, we're celebrating Women's History Month with a remarkable woman who made FAA history this year. In January, Dr. Susan Northrup became the first woman to serve as the FAA's Federal Air Surgeon. She is an accomplished medical professional, a retired Air Force colonel, and a private pilot.

In this episode, our reporter Liz Cory talks with Dr. Northrup about her career journey and her goals as Federal Air Surgeon. You can read more about Dr. Northrup in this recent article she wrote for Safety Briefing Magazine.

Dr. Susan Northrup Makes Aviation History

Flora, Fauna, and Flight

Flora, Fauna, and Flight Season 2, Episode 4
Published: Friday, March 12, 2021

Wildlife strikes are on the rise, with birds accounting for about 97 percent of reported strikes. Factors like an increase in passenger traffic, the introduction of much quieter engines on newer planes, and a large increase in wildlife populations have all led to a rise in the probability of wildlife strikes both at airports and in the air.

In this episode, we'll hear from three professionals about the work that they do to help prevent these strikes and keep birds and those aboard aircraft safe.

Flora, Fauna, and Flight

Ticket to Space

Ticket to Space Season 2, Episode 3
Published: Friday, February 26, 2021

Space — it's big, it's dark, and there's so much that we don't know about it yet! In this episode, we'll hear from FAA experts what role the agency plays in commercial space transportation, from licensing to launch and reentry.

Ticket to Space

Drone Package Delivery

Drone Package Delivery Season 2, Episode 2
Published: Friday, February 12, 2021

Drone package delivery isn't just something cool that could happen in the future — it's happening now! In this episode of The Air Up There, you'll learn how FAA works with businesses, local governments and researchers to ensure drone package delivery happens safely. You'll also hear from representatives at UPS and Wing about ways they've incorporated drone package delivery during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Drone Package Delivery

Getting the COVID-19 Vaccine to its Destination

Getting the COVID-19 Vaccine to its Destination Season 2, Episode 1
Published: Friday, February 5, 2021

The COVID-19 vaccine distribution effort is a massive logistical operation possibly unlike anything the nation has seen in modern history. It's all hands on deck, and FAA continues to play an essential role. In this bonus episode, you'll hear directly from the experts managing FAA's role in facilitating the vaccine transportation operation.

The agency's adaptive response includes helping airlines understand how to safely carry larger-than-typical amounts of dry ice — a hazardous material — when needed to ensure vaccine doses stay at appropriate temperatures, prioritizing flights carrying the vaccine, and working quickly to provide guidance to pilots, air traffic controllers, and others who hold FAA medical certificates or medical clearances.

For the latest information about flying during the pandemic, visit FlyHealthy.gov.

Getting the COVID-19 Vaccine to its Destination

Inspired: with FAA Administrator Steve Dickson

Inspired: with FAA Administrator Steve Dickson Season 1, Episode 7
Published: Friday, December 18, 2020

What would the aviation industry be without trailblazers? Well, frankly, it would not be at all.

In our final podcast episode of the season, you'll hear from Administrator Steve Dickson about the path that led him to aviation. But this isn't your standard interview. The person asking the questions is Malik Sinegal, a young aviator whose story is rather remarkable, too.

Inspired: with FAA Administrator Steve Dickson

Drones for Good

Drones for Good Season 1, Episode 6
Published: Friday, November 20, 2020

Drones are the most rapidly evolving form of aircraft, and while recreational pilots fly them for fun or photography, drones can do a lot more. In this episode, we explore some of the many functional roles that drones play right now — from creating maps in the aftermath of a wildfire and measuring wind speed in the center of a hurricane, to monitoring crops. You'll hear from Commander Tom Madigan of the Alameda County Sheriff's Office, Lieutenant Junior Grade Nicole Chappelle from NOAA's Officer Corps, and James Grimsley, who managed the Choctaw Nation's participation in the FAA's UAS Integration Pilot Program.

Drones for Good

Wildfires and Aviation

Wildfires and Aviation Season 1, Episode 5
Published: Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Wildfires have become more intense over the past few years, and we're getting used to seeing firefighting aircraft in action. But, that's only part of our story. Aircraft are also used to direct ground operations, protect firefighters and provide a birds-eye view of the action. In this episode, we'll meet the pilots and ground crews who give us an inside look at how aircraft help fight wildfires.

In this episode, you'll hear from Joshua Nettles, Tactical Air Operations Division Chief for CAL FIRE, and Josh Mathiesen, Interagency Fire Chief for Six Rivers National Forest and Redwood National Park, U.S. Forest Service.

Wildfires and Aviation

How Air Traffic Works

How Air Traffic Works Season 1, Episode 4
Published: Friday, September 25, 2020

The FAA keeps 5,000 airplanes on average moving safely through the sky every hour. How is this possible? Listen to hear it from our experts.

In this episode, you will learn how the puzzle pieces fit together in a cross-country flight — from takeoff to cruising altitude and back down — and how an orchestra of more than 14,000 air traffic controllers, in unison with pilots and airport personnel, creates a symphony of flights moving safely and efficiently across the nation while faced with a variety of constraints like weather, construction and heavy traffic areas. You'll also hear about the critical role of airway transportation specialists, our Tech Ops personnel, who keep thousands of pieces of critical FAA equipment tuned up for controllers and pilots to use in this complex dance.

How Air Traffic Works

General Aviation and COVID-19

General Aviation and COVID-19 Season 1, Episode 3
Published: Friday, September 4, 2020

The COVID-19 public health emergency has affected nearly every industry, and companies are trying to navigate the new normal of operating. General aviation is no exception. New businesses have cropped up to meet the demand for alternative forms of transportation. Innovations in pilot training have moved at lightning speed to provide quality, technical training solutions. Listen now to hear how private pilots are keeping their skills sharp, how the industry is working to accommodate new business, and how everyone is working to make sure the skies remain safe.

In this episode, you'll hear from the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association's (AOPA) Tom Haines, Jens Hennig of the General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA), Aviation International News' Matt Thurber, and Julie Boatman of Flying Magazine.

General Aviation and COVID-19

Operation Supplies Over Skies

Operation Supplies Over Skies Season 1, Episode 2
Published: Tuesday, August 18, 2020

When the COVID-19 public health emergency cancelled everything, 16-year-old student pilot TJ Kim started flying PPE and other medical supplies to rural hospitals in his state of Virginia. He's calling it Operation SOS: Supplies Over Skies. We'll talk with TJ about why he started "Operation SOS," his flight instructor, a representative from EAA's Young Eagles program and an FAA STEM AVSED outreach representative about why they support young people's interest in aviation.

Operation Supplies Over Skies

Air Traffic Amid a Public Health Emergency

Air Traffic Amid a Public Health Emergency Season 1, Episode 1
Published: Tuesday, August 18, 2020

The COVID-19 public health emergency has dramatically reduced the number of passengers flying in our airspace, but the National Airspace System remains a critical part of our nation's response. From keeping flights carrying PPE on track to mitigating risk inside the tower cab, here's how the FAA's air traffic control team keeps the system running. Hear from Air Traffic Controllers and supervisors from Bedford, MA, Memphis, TN, and others across the system as they discuss how the public health emergency affected them at work and at home.

Air Traffic Amid a Public Health Emergency