Saturday, May 10, 2014

So Long, "Blogging at FL250!"

I've kept this blog essentially unchanged since I started it in 2005, retaining the same title & format even after my job took me well above FL250 (which came from the maximum certified altitude of the Q400 that I was flying back then). I never really cared for the verb "blogging," though, particularly in the name of a blog. I stuck with it because...well, I didn't really have anything better in mind. But when I started writing the monthly column for Flying, it forced me to brainstorm titles appropriate to the subject matter I anticipated covering, and I ended up really liking Taking Wing. It's an equally appropriate title for what I've written about here and anticipate writing here in the future. I've toyed with the idea of changing the blog's name for years, and now, while I'm starting a new chapter in my flying career, seemed like the right time to take the plunge.

I'll also be experimenting with layout and formatting over the next few weeks. Bear with me as I do, I have little experience with blogger template design & tweaking. I anticipate this current layout being an interim stopgap until I find something I like better. Meanwhile I'll likely revamp the blogroll (which hasn't been touched in years) and organize the archives better. Any suggestions are quite welcome.

Finally, it's worth noting that with my change in jobs will come a certain change in content. I've been able to express some pretty strongly felt opinions over the years without the slightest pushback from my employers. I know that many fellow pilots, other employees, flight ops management, and even a few senior managers at my last two companies visited this blog. I've generally been careful about not naming my employers while at those companies (though their identity has been pretty easy to guess for anyone with industry knowledge), and I've made it clear that my opinions are solely my own. I've also become more careful about how I post operational details over the years. So far, I've been able to stay out of hot water. I suspect it's partially because my work record has been otherwise very good and partially because most regional airlines have limited resources and much bigger fish to fry than a blogging pilot.

My new employer is different. They are a huge airline that is very sensitive about their corporate image. They have a well-defined social media policy that, among other things, prohibits public criticism of the company or fellow employees. They have a social media department whose job it is to know exactly what is being said about the company online, by both the public and employees. They have a history of firing employees who strayed from their social media guidelines. They have a very large and active legal department. Their flight operations department takes their new-hire pilots' probationary periods seriously. And frankly, I have a lot more to lose now. This is my dream job. My Flying Magazine gig meets the requirements of their media policy, but likely raises my profile a bit at a time I'd rather be under the radar. So I'm naturally going to be careful in what I write, while still trying to be honest and relevant.

The first change is that I'm going to stop using even a cute pseudo-name for my employer. The one I've been using makes it a bit too obvious who it is. From now on, they're just "my company" or "my airline." I'll continue to refer to my plane as the "Mad Dog," since it's an unofficial nickname common to several US airlines. There will likely be fewer posts about my current flying, and you're not going to find much opinion in them about our procedures or the people I fly with unless it's fairly positive (the good news: so far I've only found positive things to say, anyways). I'll be largely focused on the airline industry as a whole, recounting past flying I've done, and giving advice to other pilots on their way up through the ranks. And as always I'll throw in the occasional travel, motorcycling, and GA flying posts to mix it up a bit.

That said, I'm going to try to post here more often (he said for the hundredth time!), include more photo content like I used to, link to my columns at flyingmag.com, and be quicker about responding to comments. I'll keep the "FL250" web address as a homage to the blog's beginnings. I hope you like the new "Taking Wing" blog, and welcome your comments and suggestions!

(Photos deleted) Above: My last flight at my last airline, March 27th 2014. (Photos deleted)

14 comments:

Anonymous said...

This bums me out. My favorite posts were recaps of your regular lines. Going to be sad to see those go.

Sam Weigel said...

Anonymous-- They won't be gone completely, I'll just have to be a lot more careful about what I write, especially at first. I just wanted everyone to be aware of that.

Anonymous said...

I'm just glad you're still doing the blog! Oh well you can post photos from your GA adventures!

Casey said...

Hey Sam! The link to your Flying Mag columns just goes directly to Flyingmag.com. I understand about flying under the radar, especially starting at a new airline and being on probation.

Sam Weigel said...

Fixed - thanks!

Don Hodges said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Don Hodges said...

another thought - if you keep the blog, turn off the comments.

Sam Weigel said...

Dan Hodges said: "You summed it up with "have a lot more to lose". As a (very) old [employee of your airline] myself, I'd consider just doing the FLYING gig. Lotsa ambushes in social media and a big employer has little patience for drama."

Dan-- I've been able to keep the blog fairly drama-free over nine years, even without moderating the comments very heavily. I'll take your advice under advisement. If I'm just finding it hard to write anything within the social media policy, I'll kill the blog. If you see something specific that's sketchy, please speak up. I appreciate the help and the concern from someone who knows this company a heck of a lot better than I do. The one immediate change I'm making is to be much more active about moderating comments - starting with yours ;-). Will remove any identifying info aka company nicknames.

Adam said...

Hi Sam, I've been an enthusiastic reader of your excellent blog since the early days so will be very sad to see it go.
I started my commercial career around the same time you started yours and changed seats on the Embraer about the same time you got upgraded at your old place. Now I'm also taking a step in a new direction and about to start my 737 type rating! Our careers have had a number of similarities so it has been great to follow you throughout all the changes. Still, I wouldn't wish to risk my dream job either so if you do stop blogging, I like most of your other readers will fully understand why. In the meantime though, a very big thank you.

Radu said...

Sam,

I've been a long time reader, although I don't think I ever commented on your blog. It was as interesting as FL390. I was sorry to see that one go, and I would be sorry if the same happened to yours. I'm a part time CFI, but haven't had the courage to jump ship from engineering to flying. Maybe one day. Please hang on to your blog for as long as you can, helping me and others live vicariously. If not by delving in the details of your current assignments, at least regale us with memories of freight dog days :).

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Sam Weigel said...

Anonymous 3:43-- ??? I assume you're referring to the flight attendants on my last trip? They're old friends who I've flown with many times over the years (they've both been at CP as long as I was). I didn't know the FO but good guy - all in all, great last crew.

I took your comment to be trollbait so I deleted it. If it was an innocent question, my apologies.

Aviation Test Equipment said...

Hi Mr. Sam,
This is my first time visiting your blog so I haven’t seen your old blog template but hey! Your current blog is awesome! You’ve chosen nice color combinations, and the title “Taking Wing” suits your blog.
Cheers!

Syed Kazim Ali said...

Latest All Hot Current Affairs, Bollywood News updates, funny and lol pictures
HotCurrentAffairs