Episodes
The average person probably has no idea what the FAA’s Technical Operations, or Tech Ops, employees do or what an adventure the profession can be. And by adventure, we mean wild beasts, volcanoes, and camping in the middle of nowhere! In the latest ‘The Air Up There’ podcast episode, “Adventures in Safety,” we talk about the extreme nature of Tech Ops and the great lengths our technicians go to maintain the airspace infrastructure so  pilots can fly safely and air traffic controllers can...
Published 12/16/22
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...
Published 12/14/22
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...
Published 12/14/22
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...
Published 12/14/22
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...
Published 12/14/22
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. Read the show notes on our blog.
Published 12/14/22
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...
Published 12/14/22
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...
Published 12/14/22
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...
Published 12/14/22
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...
Published 12/14/22
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. Read the show notes on our blog.
Published 12/14/22
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. Read the show notes on our blog.
Published 12/14/22
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 —...
Published 12/14/22
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. Read the show notes on our blog.
Published 12/14/22
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...
Published 12/14/22
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...
Published 12/14/22
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...
Published 12/14/22
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...
Published 12/14/22
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...
Published 12/14/22
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. Read the show notes on...
Published 12/14/22
The FAA is accountable for how aerospace impacts our planet. We join businesses, other governments, and citizens on a mission to "Invest In Our Planet," the theme for Earth Day 2022. We will continue to take bold actions, be innovative in our approaches, and implement solutions equitably. Just last year, U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg released the U.S. Aviation Climate Action Plan, which aims to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions from U.S. aviation by 2050. Transportation...
Published 12/14/22
Published 12/14/22
Anyone who has ever had a goal is probably familiar with the phrase, "the sky's the limit." Ironically, that logic can be quite limiting because, for some, the sky is just the beginning. Take Sirisha Bandla, for example. Once upon a time, Sirisha was on a rooftop, gazing at the stars and wondering what it would be like to explore what's out there. Then, in 2021, she joined Virgin Galactic's Unity 22 suborbital flight and became the second India-born woman to fly to...
Published 11/18/22
What comes to mind when you think about air traffic control towers? Probably not how they can create opportunities for small businesses that make a positive impact in their communities. This episode of The Air Up There podcast examines how investments from The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) keep flights moving safely, people employed, and small businesses thriving. In this episode, we chat with Jeff Babbitt, a disabled veteran and owner of TJ&B Air Conditioning and...
Published 10/21/22
On this special Girls in Aviation Day episode, we meet two young aviators who share their love for the flying community and give advice about how others can get involved. Sahara is an instrument-rated pilot attending Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. She's seen dramatic growth on campus since her first class a few years ago, when she was one of only two women in the lecture. And Mia is a high school glider pilot, who was raised in an aviation family. Both reflect on their...
Published 09/23/22