Adam Holmes is a commercial pilot and a Torgoen fan who submitted us a great review of his T9 watch. We are always eager to learn more about our customers, and of course, feature them as Torgoen adventurers.
How did you get into aviation?
My Dad used to take me to a small grass strip airport in the suburbs of Chicago when I was a kid to watch the gliders be towed up. Later I would end up working at the local FBO on that airport in high school as I earned my Private Certificate. I used the money from working the line to fund my flying. My Dad was the one that encouraged my love of flying. Aviation was part of my family, my grandfather flew on B-24's in the South Pacific and my cousins both fly for Major airlines. I would solo before going off to college where I finished the rest of my ratings through CFI
Tell us about your most memorable adventure/flight?
That's a really tough question, here's just a few from in between my first hour and now.
- I was flying a C-208 Caravan for a freight company. Flying just west of Abilene, Texas at dusk, I was dodging massive thunderstorm cells. I was at 6,000 ft in clouds when lightning struck my spinner. It's weird how thunder sounds when you're right next to it. After getting my bearings, I saw that only my Digital clock wasn't working, everything else was fine. I continued on to my destination, landed and inspected the aircraft. I found the entry and exit holes from the bolt, just about the size of a dime. It certainly was a "tell me a time when" learning experience!
-I was in Montreal giving Instruction on a Challenger 300 for the corporate operator I worked for. While there I was asked to go to Bombardier and do an acceptance flight for a new Challenger 350. This is rare because I was relatively new at the company and usually very senior pilots were selected for this. Due to weather they weren't able to make it up. I went to the Bombardier facilities and was given a tour. Then myself and the Test Pilot for the Challenger Program flew the plane North over the Hudson Bay and performed a myriad of tests including; gear cycles, control tests and simple maneuvers. We returned to Montreal and had dinner with the Test Pilot team and chatted about flying, something I will never forget!
The most important thing to remember when operating an aircraft?
The thrill of flying is idyllic. The forces that keep us flying are simple, the methods in which we achieve that are complex. Everything you do prior to a flight is about risk mitigation. Before a flight, the vast majority of the work is planning for "what if" scenarios. Pre-flight, walk-around, route planning, weather deviations, emergency procedures all boils down to being ahead of the airplane. You may brief a procedure a thousand times and never need it, but it's that one time that something does happen and you wish you had. Everything has a purpose and a plan-B. Early on in flight training you're always told to stay 5 minutes ahead of the aircraft. It holds true for a C-172 as it does for an Airbus A320.
How different is it operating a commercial aircraft ?
In terms of flying, almost nothing is different. Pull back, go up, push forward, go down. Although due to the aircraft complexity a lot of times you're more of a system manager. Weight and speed are two of the biggest learning curves when transitioning to a turbine powered transport category aircraft. Things happen fast and coincidentally it's hard to slow down. Climb and descent planning become crucial at heavy weights. Even though you have a plethora of automation that can help, it can become the cause of a lot of problems. A lot of time is spent on how the Pilot, Auto-pilot and Flight Management System (FMS) work together.
What is your dream craft/destination to experience?
I don't have an "aircraft bucket list", but I would say the more rare the aircraft, the more I would want to fly it. I've been to all 50 states, most of Canada, Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean but there is always a new airport to visit. Growing up in Chicago I wish I had the opportunity to fly in and out of Meigs Field but it was torn down a few weeks after I got my Private License.
What are your 5 essential items when in flight?
Pen and paper
Torgoen watch (of course)