Posted by: Korry | May 3, 2012

Changing Course

Over the past few months, I’ve written numerous posts about the journey of life and how it often takes you places you don’t always expect. I’ve written about how sometimes we need to take a leap of faith in life and be a little crazy. We have to think about what it is we really want in our lives and then we have to go after that dream with all the vigor we can muster.

Until now, you may have read these posts and thought that I was just spouting off at the mouth. Well, today I’d like to share with you that I firmly believe every single word I write on this blog and that I’m putting my money where my mouth is. In fact, I believe in it so much so that it has even helped me to understand that it’s time for me to take a few chances of my own. And so if you were wondering why my blogging suddenly stopped a few weeks ago, you’re about to get your explanation.

The answer is that an opportunity came up that would allow me to transfer to Chicago. After much consideration, my wife and I decided to go for it. Mind you, in some regards, this makes no sense whatsoever. We own a home in Pennsylvania that I bought at nearly the peak of the housing market and will now be looking to sell at what may ultimately be the bottom of the market. (Note to self…buying high and selling low is an investment strategy that fails every time!!) Both my wife’s family and my family live within a few hours of us. And, we have many incredibly good friends that live nearby as well.

So why on earth would I want to take a loss on my home, leave family and friends and travel to a city we’ve never lived in before? The answer is because that’s what we need to do. Let me explain.

While I love flying the line, you can probably tell from my posts that I’m incredibly passionate about management as well. I love fighting for causes I believe in, digging into the details and working every day to make life better for those around me–family, friends or colleagues. Heck, that’s why I got my MBA in the first place! But life happens and I slowly started to feel as though I was doing in many ways the things I write about not doing on this website. I started to feel as though I was settling. My wife wasn’t having tremendous luck in the job search and it just felt as though both of us were starting to simply spin our wheels.

Then one day I was working a flight to Fort Lauderdale. Midway through the trip, I went to use the lavatory and started to have what I can only describe as a completely surreal conversation with one of our flight attendants. He looked at me and said, “You’ve got such amazing positive energy. I just love it.” I thanked him and in the back of my mind thought he must be nutty. I even asked him if he was into palm readings or something. He said no but that he was just an incredibly faithful person. Then he said, “You’re facing a lot of uncertainty now, aren’t you?” I nodded. “You haven’t been married too long either have you?” I nodded again. And after a few more questions really hit home even deeper from this guy I had never met before he said, “Korry, sometimes it’s hard to walk through doors that open in front of you because you don’t always know where they lead and doing so also means you must close other doors in the process. But you have to cast your faith and believe.” At this point he was definitely starting to freak me out a bit.

Over the course of the next few days, several other things happened that were similar to this although not quite so distinct. Maybe it was just coincidence. Maybe I was just ready to hear what I wanted to hear. But in many ways, I believe God was saying to me, “I’ve tried to tell you where you need to go but you don’t seem to want to listen…so I thought I’d try something a little less subtle!” (Now maybe you’re starting to think I’M the nutty one!)

Whatever it was, I came home from the trip with lots of questions running through my head. I sat in bed with Jen and asked if maybe her difficulty on the work front and our general malaise were because we weren’t on the right path. Maybe it was time to change course. Maybe it was time to be a little crazy and to take a giant leap of faith and trust.

After a lot of thought, we decided to throw caution to the wind and do it. We’d leave the safe route behind and instead pursue a less-traveled path. And just then, as if right on cue, the Chicago base was announced. We decided to go for it.

And thus began a few crazy months that have involved remodeling many of the rooms in our house in order to get it ready for sale, all of which culminated yesterday when we officially listed our home for sale. (Thanks to my experience with this blog software, I even designed a website about our home which you can see at if you’re interested).

So the blogs stopped because between painting and ripping up flooring and laying tile and doing all the things you need to do to get your house ready, there just wasn’t time to write. Hopefully, now that the hard work is done, I should be able to post more regularly.

Where this journey will take us I have no idea. Yes, I have aspirations to enter flight operations or general corporate management within my company, but only if the right opportunity comes along. I’m passionate about making a difference in this crazy business and on improving the lives of everyone the airline touches–employees and customers. I’m not looking to simply continue the status quo.

All I can say definitively is that I’m excited and energized by the decision to move forward. I’m not letting life control me; I’m controlling my life. There are costs and benefits to every decision, especially major ones like this. But I’d rather die poor and penniless knowing I pursued my passion with vigor, that I never gave up on my dreams and that I never settled.

So I’m all in. As George Washington famously told his troops after crossing the Delaware, it’s time to burn the boats. Let the journey begin.

Are you ready to do the same?

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Posted by: Korry | April 12, 2012

Hi, I’m Your Pilot…Now Who The Heck Are You?

Imagine your morning routine with me for a minute.

After leaving your home for the office, you make your daily stop at Dunkin Donuts and say good morning to your friendly barista. A few minutes your later, you park your car and walk into your office but immediately find something strangely out-of-place. It’s the same building. Same cubicles. Same advertisements on the bulletin board near the water cooler. But for some reason, all your coworkers are different and you recognize absolutely no one. All the time spent building rapport was for not because each person you meet throughout your day is completely new. You don’t know them and they don’t know you. It’s almost like you’re starting from scratch.

Welcome to life as an airline pilot. Now it’s not quite this bad, but it’s close. Read More…

Posted by: Korry | April 5, 2012

The Pilot’s Dead. Could You Land?

Admit it. More than once while on a flight you’ve asked yourself whether you could land the plane if the pilot died. Heck, I’ve even asked that question. Granted, I’m pretty confident that since airplanes are all basically airplanes that if the pilot died I could safely–although not necessarily smoothly–land the plane.

Now let’s throw another twist into the mix: what if you were 80 and your 81-year-old husband was the pilot who suddenly and unexpectedly passed out? Could you remain emotionally composed enough to deal with the death of your husband AND somehow manage to safely land a pretty advanced, multi-engine plane under such stressful conditions?

As it turns out, that’s just what happened to Helen Collins over the skies of Wisconsin earlier this week. (See the full story here). Read More…

Posted by: Korry | March 29, 2012

One Flew Over the jetBlue Nest

So there I am, enjoying the last few remaining days of my “staycation” when all of a sudden I begin to get bombarded by friends asking what the heck happened at jetBlue? Perplexed, I turned to my trusty iPhone and soon found myself absolutely shocked and in disbelief over the amazing events surrounding the jetBlue captain who apparently lost it during a flight from New York to Las Vegas.

Clearly, my friends wanted to know my take on this spectacle. How could something like this happen? Well, you’re in luck because I’ll give you my two cents (and that’s truly about all my thoughts are worth!!) and what I have to say may well surprise you. Read More…

Posted by: Korry | March 22, 2012

Ahhh Vacation!

Ahhh vacation! Time to relax. Time to let the worries of work stay at the “office.” Time to…stay put??

That’s right, this week I’m enjoying one of life’s greatest joys: the “stay-cation.”

Don’t get me wrong, I love to travel. I love to explore new cities, taste new foods, and learn about new cultures. But getting on another airplane on my days off? Not exactly ideal. Staying in yet another hotel room? Forget about it! And with passenger loads as full as they are these days, flying stand-by can be more stressful than relaxing.

So with the exception of a weekend trip to Cleveland to visit a good friend, I’m staying put for this week of vacation. I’m catching up on home projects and hopefully just resting up (especially from the unbelievable head cold I had last week that is still nagging me a bit).

In the airlines, vacation is yet another seniority-determined perk. Today, I hope to explain how vacation works in the airlines. Read More…

Posted by: Korry | March 15, 2012

Still under the weather

Ok, seriously, this cold may be one of the most obnoxious things I’ve experienced in a long, long time. The runny nose…the congestion…the sore throat…I’m over it all! And while I have woken up from the NyQuil-induced coma I mentioned Tuesday, I unfortunately don’t have the energy to put together a coherent and well thought out blog, so I’m hopeful you will all give me a pass today as I call in sick from blogging.

Instead, I’ll offer you this clip from a PBS special titled “Carrier.” This 10-minute clip focuses on night carrier landings during rough seas where the deck of the ship is rotating side to side and tipping forward and aft. It is pretty unbelievable if you ask me. To all you Navy pilots out there, my hat’s off to you. Simply amazing.

Talk to you next week!!

Posted by: Korry | March 13, 2012

Flying Sick

You know that scratchy feeling you get right in the back of your throat just before you come down with a cold? Well, I started to feel that awful feeling this past Friday as I got ready to head to the airport to begin a 3-day trip with layovers in San Francisco and Chicago.

The unfortunate thing for me was that I figured that scratchy feeling had less to do with the start of a cold and a lot more to do with the fact that my wife and I had spent the previous four days ripping and tearing our kitchen and family room apart in a pretty massive renovation of an incredibly outdated decor. Dust was flying everywhere as we removed old carpeting and disassembled the subfloor so that we could install a better and beefier subfloor for the tile we’ll be laying next week. 

Surely that must have been the cause of my scratchy throat, right? Oh how wrong I was. Read More…

Posted by: Korry | March 8, 2012

3 Steps to Avoiding the Fast Track to a Dead-End

You’re irreplaceable! You were destined for this job! No one could ever do your job as well as you!

Have you ever received any of those glowing complements? If so, be extremely cautious because they may be a sure sign you’re on the fast track to a dead-end.

Now, if you absolutely love your job and could never dream of doing anything else, then those complements are an outstanding testament to how well you perform at work and congratulations are definitely in order!

If, on the other hand, you desire to move up, then you’re in a heap of trouble because being “irreplaceable” means that no one would ever want to promote you out of the position you hold and that the company so desperately needs you in! You’re simply too valuable where you are to move on.

Is this you? Are you on the fast track to a dead-end? Well never fear! There’s a way out and it involves just three simple steps!

Before I give you those three simple steps, I need to set a few things straight.

For starters, some people may try to tell you that you’ve simply done your job “too well,” implying if you had only done a little less-well at your job then you would have avoided the fast track to a dead-end in the first place.

I think that is one of the most ridiculous things I’ve ever heard! Every company needs its people to perform at an incredibly high level. Every company dreams of having a workforce made with all-stars who perfectly fit together! Just think of how efficient and productive any company could be if it had the best people for each job actually in each job.

Unfortunately, that’s just not reality. Instead, what actually happens is that companies try their best to find the best people, and then they try to fill the positions with the people they actually have. When they find someone who does a particular job extraordinarily well, they often don’t want to risk losing the efficiencies and gains that person brings by promoting him or her into a new role and replacing them with someone less qualified.

This, my friends, is the fast track to a dead-end.

Furthermore, this thinking is also flawed because why would any great company EVER want to promote someone who wasn’t excelling at their current position? Do you think they say, “You know, Joe has been doing exceptionally average work in his current position. He must not be challenged enough. I bet if we promote him into a position of even more responsibility that he will finally be in a spot to succeed. He will finally start to do amazing work.

You and I both know that’s even MORE ridiculous. If you can’t do your current job well, why on earth (or even mars for that matter) would the company ever promote you into a position that would challenge you even more?

So clear your mind of all that nonsense and follow these three simple rules to get off the fast track to a dead-end and hop on the elevator to the top.

STEP #1: Keep Doing Your Current Job Extraordinarily Well

No one should give you more responsibility if you can’t handle what you’ve got now, and no one will (or at least should) promote non-performers. This is the admission ticket for the promotion dance. Forget what anyone else may say. Always focus on performance. Strive for excellence. That’s the type of discipline needed at the top, and you should expect nothing less of yourself regardless of where you currently are.

STEP #2: Find Your Replacement

The fast track to a dead-end has at its core one word: Irreplaceability. Think about it: if you’re too valuable to be taken out of your current position, then the key to having the dead-end shackles removed from your ankles is to remove the aura of you being irreplaceable. This is tough to stomach since virtually all of us would like to know that we are irreplaceable and that we bring real value to what we do–at home or at the office. But if you can’t find someone to replace you, what makes you think a company will want to do that either?

Finding a replacement allows you to practice so many other leadership skills that will be needed in positions of greater responsibility: mentoring, leading, recruiting, etc. These are all skills you can talk about when you’re sitting in the interview for that new position. Not in a general way, but in a very specific, “I did this or that” kind of way. You won’t just have the experience that comes from the job itself, you’ll also have the experience that higher-level managers need.

All of this, however, is easy compared to the last and most critical step:

STEP #3: Cast Your Ego Aside

Harry Truman famously said, “It’s amazing what you can accomplish when you don’t care who gets the credit.” Promotions come to those who seek value for the company they work for, not just for themselves. So if another person gets a little credit because they do something that creates real value for the company–even if the person only did it because you suggested it or helped guide them towards doing it–cast your ego aside and congratulate them on a job well done.

Leaders cannot do every job in an organization, but to succeed they need every person in the organization to do their jobs amazingly well! If a leader runs around taking credit for all the things other people do, how many people will want to be “led” by that person anyway?

A leader’s primary job is to cultivate action towards a common goal. The leader sets the vision and inspires, coaches and guides those around her to work towards that common goal. Along the way, individuals succeed and great leaders recognize that success. They praise the work of others as an example of exactly the kind of thing the organization needs. By doing so, the leader ultimately gains the recognition he or she desires.

So those are the three simple steps to getting off the fast track to a dead-end. Step One: Keep doing your current job extraordinarily well. Only by doing your job well will you ever earn a chance to move up. Step Two: Find your replacement. If you have a replacement, you won’t be irreplaceable. And Step Three: Cast your ego aside. Don’t worry about who gets credit in the short-term. Instead, act like a leader and inspire, coach and guide others (including your replacement) to achieve the organization’s common goal.

Have you ever found yourself on the fast track to a dead-end? How did you handle it?

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Posted by: Korry | March 6, 2012

The Tale of Mr. Varney’s Two Airlines

The sale of Varney Air Lines in 1930 was bittersweet for Walter Varney. The former World War I pilot had started the company only four years earlier when the US government opened up new air mail routes for bid. Varney had bid on an obscure air mail route of Pasco, Washington to Elko, Nevada, and since he was the only bidder he won the contract. (That’s my type of auction!!) After expanding the company quite a bit, Varney Air Lines was now merging with four other carriers and Varney found himself out of the airline business.

So what’s an “unemployed” aviation pioneer supposed to do next? Start another airline! This time, his company would take flight in July of 1934 as Varney Speed Lines and operate between El Paso, Texas and Pueblo, Colorado. Two years later in 1936 the company was sold to a larger-than-life businessman and pilot named Robert Six. Varney was again out of the airline business, this time for good.

End of the story, right? Actually, that’s just the beginning. Read More…

Posted by: Korry | March 1, 2012

Making Bag Fees Fair

On Tuesday, I wrote that the truth about bag fees is that you asked for them! Thanks largely to internet websites that help consumers find the lowest possible fair, airlines introduced a plethora of new fees–bags, food, entertainment, etc.–largely to increase revenue they’ve lost to “cheap tickets.” These new fees are a very controversial subject for most travelers like Bill, who passionately pushed back on my piece (you should definitely check out his comment and my reply if you haven’t already). But more than the fees themselves, Bill  said:

“The real issue is one of transparency. Customers have no idea how the airlines calculate ticket prices….When the base price makes no sense, when we’re charged $25 for a bag or $15 to sit in the aisle, when we had never seen that before, of course there’s going to be complaints. And when it appears the quality is dropping to school bus with wings status, but the prices are still the same or higher, people are going to complain.”

Bill, I think you–and the travelers who undoubtedly feel as you do–are spot on: the problem is fairness! We can stomach winning or losing in sports so long as the game is played fairly. We can handle the disappointment that comes with being passed over for a promotion at work if we feel like the selection process wasn’t simply rigged or a formality. We can even pony over additional cash for airline bag fees if they’re transparent and fair…and here’s how. Read More…

Posted by: Korry | February 28, 2012

The Truth About Bag Fees Is That You Asked For Them!

Picture this. Your best friend calls and suggests an amazing weekend getaway for you and your friends. Maybe it’s golf in Myrtle Beach. Maybe it’s a girls weekend in Las Vegas. Whatever. You call around to see who’s in and then eagerly turn on your computer to book the trip. You scour the web checking sites like Expedia, Orbitz, Travelocity and the one-stop-shop Maybe you even visit a few airline websites to see if a “better deal” exists right at the source. After just a few minutes, you’ve located the best fare possible, effortlessly booked your trip and quietly said to yourself, “Isn’t the internet great?”

A few weeks later, you arrive at the airport, wait in line to check your bag and then quickly become incensed by the fact that the airline has the gall to charge you $25 to check your bag! What nerve!! You start saying things like, “It never used to be this way,” and “These airlines are totally out of control with fees these days.”

I’ll admit that there’s definitely a part of me that sympathizes with you. Air travel, despite being an incredibly efficient and cost-effective way to travel, is still expensive, and paying $25-$50 per checked bag quickly adds up–especially when traveling with your entire family!

The honest truth is this: bag fees are here to stay…because you asked for them! Today, I’m going to tell you why, and it has everything to do with the way you buy gas for your car. Read More…

Posted by: Korry | February 23, 2012

Giving Up So We Can Give More

Yesterday marked the end of Mardi Gras…and the beginning of Lent, the 40-day season that precedes Easter. Traditionally, Lent is a time that Christians give up something in their lives. In part, this is done to recognize the sacrifice they believe Jesus made for them. And as our priest pointed out during the Ash Wednesday service my wife and I attended, Christians also give up so that they can give more!

Now for me, I’d already prepared for the giving up part. I said my goodbye to sweets by ordering a large M&M Blizzard, and I said adios to morning hits of the snooze button by allowing myself a few extra hits yesterday.

But what about the giving more? Sure, I could exercise more or read more or do something like that. But the relative impact those types of things would have would be minimal, at least to those around me. So what could I do to add more value to the lives of those around me?

That’s the question I’d like to pose to you today! Read More…

Posted by: Korry | February 21, 2012

Techie Tuesday: How Does an Aircraft Move on the Ground?

In recent weeks, we’ve discussed how an airplane generates Lift and how a turbine engine works. With lift and power, an airplane can easily take flight. But that doesn’t clear up one of the most complicated parts of flying an airliner: moving on the ground. That’s the subject for today’s Techie Tuesday.

Now I know it may seem odd that I say taxiing an airplane is one of the more complicated parts of flying, but it is. You are (hopefully) never as close to other planes in the air as you are on the ground. There are fuel trucks, baggage trucks, catering trucks and other equipment that serve as moving obstacles. And that doesn’t begin to even bring up the subject of how complicated some airports can be to taxi around! Take a look at this airport diagram for Chicago’s O’Hare, one of the more complicated airport layouts I fly through on a regular basis:

Chicago O'Hare Airport Layout

The first thing you should know is that Read More…

Posted by: Korry | February 20, 2012

Finding the Right Balance

When I started Life’s Flight Plan in September of last year, I didn’t really know much about blogging. I knew that people always seem to be very curious about what it’s like to be a pilot and I knew that I had a belief that the principles of aviation can help assist in our daily lives. So, I started writing and assumed I’d just figure it out as I go.

So far, I’m thrilled that so many of you find my writings to be worth reading! It’s fun to check my WordPress app for my iPhone and see how many views the site has had on any particular day. It’s also crazy to see just where those views come from–almost every continent of the globe. I really can’t thank you enough for that support.

Earlier this year, I laid out my New Year’s Resolutions which included growing the readership of this blog as well as coming up with an additional seminar based on the principles I write about here. On February 1, I announced that I had decided on a concept for the seminar–a simple, concise and highly effective guide to using the principles I write about every week to help you achieve your goals. I’m super excited about this program and I think you will see it will bring tremendous value to you, too!

I’m also working on a complete redesign of the site, an official Facebook page (admittedly long overdue) and a more robust twitter feed (@lifesflightplan) where you will be able to follow the ins and outs of my daily life as an airline pilot. I will most likely start offering some special updates to email subscribers, and I may offer podcasts as well.

All of these goals are exciting. The challenge, of course, is finding the right balance! The most important priority I have for this blog is to provide content you find enjoyable and valuable. Writing those types of posts takes time and I definitely want to focus on quality, not quantity. I want each post to either answer a question you have about this amazing industry or leave you with a substantive takeaway that you can use every day to help advance your work or personal life. I want this site to truly help you find “Inspiration to Climb Higher.” The first major change you will see is that I’m going to be making only two posts per week instead of four–one on “Techie” Tuesday and another on Thursday. 

Thank you again for your support over the past six months. I can’t wait to see where the next six months will take us!

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Posted by: Korry | February 16, 2012

Culture Building Rule #1: Always Tell The Truth

So you want to build a winning culture? You want to realize the results that come from putting your employees first and really building an amazing team that seems to just run on autopilot like the team in BOATLIFT?

If you want all of that, you must follow Culture Building Rule #1: ALWAYS TELL THE TRUTH!!

Yes, people talk about this all the time, but the problem is I don’t believe they actually do it. That’s not because they intentionally set out to “lie” to their coworkers and it’s not because they’re bad people. In fact, I think some of the most damaging “lies” that affect the relationship between coworkers come from when the employees are actually trying to do the right thing.

What do I mean? Here’s an example. Read More…

Posted by: Korry | February 15, 2012

QOTW: Employees Come First

“If the employees come first, then they’re happy, … A motivated employee treats the customer well. The customer is happy so they keep coming back, which pleases the shareholders. It’s not one of the enduring Green mysteries of all time, it is just the way it works.”

-Herb Kelleher, Founder and Former CEO of Southwest Airlines

Doesn’t this quote just make a ton of sense?

Happy employees mean happy workers who will probably be much more likely to bend over backwards for the company or to go the extra mile even when not absolutely required. A happy employee puts their heart and soul into their work because they feel a sense of belonging and a common purpose with their company.

Developing that sense of belonging and common purpose is all about culture. Read More…

Posted by: Korry | February 14, 2012

Techie Tuesday: How Does a Jet Engine Work?

In last week’s Techie Tuesday feature, I wrote about a crazy three day trip I recently flew that included a problem getting one of our engines to start correctly. Since today is Valentine’s Day and there’s a chance you may be taking your significant other someplace to celebrate, I thought I’d try and help you understand just how those massive turbine (a.k.a. jet) engines actually work to propel your plane into the sky! Read More…

Posted by: Korry | February 13, 2012

Want a Great Culture? Start Communicating!

Standing in the heart of the Shinjuku ward in downtown Tokyo, it’s hard not to suffer from a bit of “culture shock.”

Shinjuku in Tokyo, Japan

The signs are in Japanese. The people are speaking Japanese, and unlike many other countries I’ve visited, it’s somewhat difficult to find people who speak even a small amount of English. (Insert snooty American comment here).

It’s as isolating as it is intriguing. No wonder Bill Murray found himself truly Lost in TranslationRead More…

Posted by: Korry | February 9, 2012

The Top 5 Effective Communication Techniques

This week I’ve spent a lot of time focusing on the importance of effective communication. You may have the best product or idea, but if you can’t communicate why it’s so great then you will never get traction.

The good news is that no one is born an amazingly effective communicator. The skills are learned and refined over years and years. That means that you can start working today to become one.

With that in mind, I’d like to offer what I view as the Top Five Effective Communication Techniques. Read More…

Posted by: Korry | February 8, 2012

QOTW: Information vs. Communication

“The two words ‘information’ and ‘communication’ are often used interchangeably, but they signify quite different things. Information is giving out; communication is getting through.”

-Sydney J. Harris

There are definitely times when we need information more than communication, and there are definitely times when we need communication more than information. Knowing the difference between the two and knowing when you or your audience needs one or the other is critical to being an effective communicator. Otherwise, you risk a failure to communicate. Read More…

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