Author Archives: Caleb

In this day, the pilot is in high demand.  There is a growing pilot shortage.  Why? You ask?  Who wouldn’t want to get paid for this office view?  Well, that’s one of the biggest reasons…PAY.  So many great companies to work for in this industry but no matter which one you choose, your first year of pay will be barely enough to survive off of.  In this line of work we fly multi-million dollar airplanes in an overly regulated environment(s) jam packed with passengers that are expecting nothing less than safe, professional, and hassle free transport from point A to point B.

CRJ200 Pilot in Uniform

CRJ200 First Officer Pilot in Uniform.  Yep.  That’s me.

All of the studying, memorizing, practicing, studying, and practicing eventually pays off for this.  This one little thing that we have strived so much to achieve!  I can now, officially, say that I am an airline pilot.


The job is thrilling sometimes, most of the time, however, it is just flat out busy!  There is a lot of stuff to get done in a short amount of time prior to push back and take off.  The walk around (to ensure the aircraft is airworthy) needs to be completed.  Cockpit preparation and pre-flight checklists must be done.

CRJ200 cockpit first flight of the day

CRJ200 cockpit first flight of the day

My CRJ200 at Kansas City Missouri

My CRJ200 at Kansas City Missouri

Once the flight is ready, it’s time to board passengers, do your final flight plan and takeoff prep checks and then it’s “Breaks released, you are cleared to push”.  The push back commences as the engines get spooled up.  We monitor the engine parameters to make sure we have good engines for the flight.  Taxi clearance is received and we are moving towards the runway.  Next up: take off clearance.  “Exterior light….ON”.   “Set Thrust”.  “Thrust Set 89.6%” and we are airborne.

CRJ200 view from the cockpit

CRJ200 view from the cockpit

Now, if we make this next flight on time, I can probably catch my flight back home for my day off.  As usual, there is weather up ahead so the stress starts to build as you start plotting your way through the weather and coordinating course deviations with ATC.  “Center, we’re going to need 20 degrees left for weather”.

Before you know it, you flight gets diverted due to the weather you were trying to get around.



Shelf cloud moving over KIND

You are still done flying for your 4-day trip, however, instead of a quick flight home, now you have to make a two seat jump seat commute home.  Haha.

ERJ175 flying into sunset

ERJ175 flying into sunset from the jumpseat.

The visually stimulating scenery that we encounter on a daily basis and the challenge(s) we face from day to day are what keeps our breed coming back for more.   Strong-willed, type A, alpha personalities.  Yet, we still do this for peanuts.  Hopefully, things are in the process of changing for the better.  Hopefully, there are still good companies out there that not only pay their pilots what they should be paid, but that they treat their pilots the way we should be treated, as well.

CRJ200 flying past thunderstorm

CRJ200 flying past thunderstorm

So, is this career worth it?  I am still trying to figure this out on my own.  I’m not sure what else I could or would want to do without flying for a living but it’s not much of a living anymore with the wages being so low that looking forward to a “comfortable” lifestyle is many years away.  Is corporate flying the answer?  I do not know at this point.  What I do know is the quest continues in this diverse and fast paced lifestyle.  The quest for good quality of life balanced with comfortable pay all while working for a great company that looks after their employees.

Final Approach into Chicago O'hare KORD

Final Approach into Chicago O’hare KORD




It’s been a moment since I have posted anything that you might want to read about.  Why?  Well, other than the simulator training schedule my days are full of lounging by the pool studying Bombardier CRJ-200 systems in prep for evaluations and my check ride.  The stress is rising.  The tension is thickening.  The time away from home is growing.  However, being prepared is the key to a successful oral exam and type rating check ride.

Endeavor CRJ900 - Ride to Work

Endeavor CRJ900 – Ride to Work

I am rounding the corner to the end of my training time with only 2 weeks left in the simulators before my final tests are complete.  So, I hitched a ridet to work on a company aircraft (CRJ-900) and began this final phase of endurance.  The training has been awesome.  The instructors are great people and fun to work with.  The company is amazing and really knows what they are doing.  Overall, this has been a very enjoyable experience.

Airplane Wing View from the Top

View from the Top

I made it back to Minneapolis, MN after a great flight on a company aircraft.  Smooth from start to finish.  A quick ride on the Delta Employee Bus and I was at the hotel.  It was time to get my eager nose back into the books after some much needed family time.

CRJ-200 Simulator Training

CRJ-200 Simulator Training

Without missing a beat, we were back in the simulator and back to running checklists, quick reference handbook checks, doing flows, and flying our new machine to perfection with finesse and skill, refining our skills as airline pilots.  We practiced engine failures at takeoff, dual engine flame outs, windshear warnings, various systems failures, and the like until our adrenaline our brains begging for mercy!  The sim is a dark place; it challenges you; this is where you earn your wings.

CRJ-200 Simulator Training

CRJ-200 Simulator Training

Rainbow over Pan Am Sim Center

Rainbow over Pan Am Sim Center

To the average Joe/Jane, the sim center looks like a warehouse.  In many facets, it really is.  It is a warehouse where pilots are built, trained, tested, and (upon thorough inspection) put on line to operate the aircraft in which we have become a part of.

Studying this aircraft has become a way of life for me.  I am becoming more and more familiar with this aircraft, its systems, and how to fly it every day.  I learn something new every day, too.  As my oral exam and check ride approach, I am growing more and more confident in my ability to safely operate this amazing machine that will carry you guys safely and efficiently to the places you want to go.

Till the next update…..

Like this article?  Leave a comment below and tell me what you think.

It has been a little while since the last time that I posted anything on here and as you can tell it has to do with my recent employment with my new airline!  I am so excited to be a part of this growing company and also to be in the front of the pilot shortage hiring wave.  Seniority is everything in this line of work.  It could very well mean the difference between First Officer and Captain….or sitting reserve away from home versus an actual line.  It can also mean the difference between a closer, more commutable domicile vs a miserable and long commute.

Bombardier CRJ-200 Walk Around

Bombardier CRJ-200 Walk Around

The first week was Basic Indoctrination, a.k.a. INDOC.  Things went fairly smooth as the days progressed and we learned a ton about the direction of the company, the new aircraft we were going to be flying, and the policies and regulations we would operate under.  The class room was packed with some great people, all of which are new hire pilots.  We introduced ourselves, told a little about our flying backgrounds and were then handed our INDOC training manuals and our Flight Ops Manuals (FOM).  The fun was just getting started, too!  We learned about Exemption 3585, weather, Crew Resource Management, Threat and Error Management, FAR part 117, and tons of other stuff that I had previously and recently been trained on during the ATP/CTP course.  During this week, we found out what aircraft we would be flying and which base we would initially be assigned.  We had the choice of the CRJ-200 or CRJ-900 with MSP, DTW, LGA, and JFK bases to choose from.  I ended up with the 200 in MSP, which is absolutely perfect for me.

Flying Delta Airlines Home

Flying home for the Weekend

We took a 100 question quiz, which required an 80% to pass, and then it was time for a quick weekend before starting GenSubs.

The "Death by Powerpoint" approach to learning.

The “Death by Powerpoint” approach to learning.

Injured airline mannequin

Injured airline mannequin

The next week we started GenSubs (General Subjects) where we were issued our Company Flight Manuals (CFM).  The limitations, normal and abnormal checklists, and overall operations were the focus of this week’s studies.  This is also the time where you have to initially operate all of the emergency equipment and doors.  Oh, and you get to play with the fire extinguishers, too!  It is a lot of fun.  Again, a 100 question quiz, requiring an 80% to pass, marked the end of week 2.  It was now time for systems!!!

Airline Pilot Initial Training: Systems Class CRJ200

Airline Pilot Initial Training: Systems Class CRJ200

Day 1 of systems is where the fire hydrant opened up!  We were handed our crazy thick power point binders that covered the next 9 days worth of slides with room for note taking.  It was about to get real!!!  The days slowly progressed with massive amounts of knowledge being relayed to us new hire pilots.  Our stress was growing alongside the expanding knowledge of this new aircraft, too.  Thankfully, our instructor was an awesome dude.  He kept things lively but moved through what we needed to know with his experience and firsthand knowledge of the aircraft.

Airline Pilot Initial Training: Systems Class CRJ200

Airline Pilot Initial Training: Systems Class CRJ200

We were given a workbook that had review questions covering the systems we had covered that day in class.  Every evening, we would gather at our hotel and spend several hours studying the content we were learning.  The next morning, would review these questions for the first hour.

Airline Pilot Initial Training: Systems Class CRJ200

Airline Pilot Initial Training: Systems Class CRJ200

At the end of each subject area, whether it was electrics or hydraulics, there would be a nice little quiz that would start getting us to think about the systems previously imparted to us.

At one point, we had the luxury of doing a walk around our aircraft (Bombardier CRJ-200) and get a first hand look at the new bird we would be flying.


Bombardier CRJ-200 Walk Around


Bombardier CRJ-200 Walk Around


Bombardier CRJ-200 Walk Around

Honestly, it went by pretty quick and we had a lot of fun.  There was only one person in our class that did not pass the systems test but, under the new direction this company is going, instead of being washed out, the person is given the option to retake the systems class with the new hire class coming in behind us.  The systems test took place at the end of our fourth week and, as usual, was 100 questions long and needed an 80% (90% if you are an instructor) to pass.  I passed with a 95%!!!

Graduation Day: Wings Ceremony

Graduation Day: Wings Ceremony

The CEO and VP of the company introduced themselves to us and welcomed us aboard.  It was now time for the wings ceremony.  We were personally congratulated for our success so far, handed our wings and epaulets with a firm handshake and our photo was taken.  I had the privilege of meeting some awesome people during the month of training that I have been through so far.  Some great pilots, awesome instructors, and overall good people that I am excited to work with.  The wings ceremony marks the end of our classroom based training.  We all shook hands and told each other good luck as we begin our next phase of flight training.

Delta Airlines 737 on final for runway 30L at KMSP

Delta Airlines 737 on final for runway 30L at KMSP

The adventure has just begun.  Starting tTuesday (6/9/2015) I start my first Ground Flight Training Device.  This is not where you learn your checklist flows, rather, this is where you polish your flows and learn the basic muscle memory and “what comes next” items.  Once this is complete, I will have an Oral exam and nine full flight simulator sessions prior to my proficiency check (which is also the type rating check ride).  If all goes well, I will complete this training by the end of July and have my Airline Transport Pilot certificate and a new type rating (CL-65).  Exciting times ahead and a lot of work yet to be done!  Till the next time…..

If you liked this article, feel free to leave me a comment.  If you want a job with this company, make sure to put me down as your Pilot Referral!


In the life of fast paced, over-regulated, safety minded airline pilot there are decisions that have to be made in order to make progress. You have to weigh your options and the consequences of each. You also have to take the opportunities that present themselves, especially, those opportunities that can and will make your life as a pilot easier.  See my last blog about being in the aviation industry as an airline pilot.

plane window during sunset

Looking out of the plane window during sunset

On a recent trip to Houston, TX to take the FAA required ATP/CTP ( Airline Transport Pilot Certification Training Program) I stared out of my window seat from 37,000ft. It was a beautiful evening flight with smooth air and tail winds the whole way. That makes for a short commute!

Settling into the hotel room, which would act as my temporary home for the next ten days, was bittersweet, to say the least.  I already missed my family but I was overly excited to start the CTP course the next day!

Ready for the first day of ATP/CTP

All the exercise paid off!

The first day of training was a lot of fun and thankfully I have been working on getting in shape!  I was initially greeted by a departing Boeing 787 Dreamliner wearing the United livery.  This was a first for me and it was a beautiful airplane!

The instructors that we had for the first four days were great guys and really made the course a lot of fun to be in.  We went through all the required syllabus  powerpoint presentations and even threw in our own little story times that had relevance to each subject.  The course included the usual areas of knowledge, such as, aerodynamics (both high altitude and jet aircraft (get your hands on a copy of Aerodynamics for Naval Aviators:NAVWEPS 00-80T-80 (FAA Handbooks series) from, weather, and regulations.  We even covered some company specific aircraft systems, limitations, and operations (CRJ-200 and ERJ-145).

NOTE: this ATP/CTP course is in no way an ATP written “test prep” course.  This course is only designed to relay the knowledge required to pass the ATP written test.  It is still highly recommended that you purchase an ATP written test prep of some form prior to taking the written.

The knowledge portion of the ATP/CTP lasted through the first four days.

ERJ-145 Flight Training Device

ERJ-145 Flight Training Device

After taking a quick 30 question review test (super easy) we had one day in the ERJ-145 FTD (Flight Training Device).  This was more or less to recap a lot of the stuff we had previously covered during the knowledge portion in the class room.  Stuff like “Remember how we talked about L/D Max? Well this is how it applies to how we fly the aircraft” stuff.

We had Friday and Sunday off, due to it being Good Friday and Easter and with those days off, my wife flew down to spend the weekend with me in Houston!  She had a great time ordering room service and relaxing the day away in our hotel room.  It was very refreshing to see her during this time period, too.

During the next two days, we were in the full motion sims for four hours each day.  This fulfilled the 6 hour requirement for the FAA and was a lot of fun for me, since I am typed in this airplane.  For a new pilot recruit, it can be a lot to take in on your first flight.

We covered unusual attitudes, wind shear avoidance techniques specific to the ERJ-145, wake turbulence upset and recovery, and a plethora of other scenarios during this training.  We even shot a lot of category I ILS approaches, visual approaches, and crosswind landing techniques in jet aircraft.  I had a great time being back in that airplane!

After the completion of day two in the full motion sims, we were given our certificates of completion and we all shook hands and parted ways.  It’s one of the things that airline pilots do best.  We are cordial, professional, and essentially pleasant to be around.  After we introduce ourselves at the first flight, it is as though we have been friends for ages.  However, as soon as the flight(s) are completed we can shake hands say “till next time” and walk away knowing we may never actually see that person ever again, let alone fly with them.

Anyways, I called the airport employee shuttle and requested to be picked up.  They arrived shortly afterwards and toted me off to the airport terminal where I would make my way through the crowded halls full of people from all parts of the world.  The terminal halls were alive with commerce!

Houston Airport Terminal KIAH

Houston Airport Terminal KIAH

Finding which gate my flight departed out of is always a fun little task but once the gate is found, I rushed off through the airport terminal to catch a flight back to Kansas City, MO and in no time I was boarding my flight!

Airline Pilot: Houston International Airport and ERJ-145

Getting ready to board my flight home.

We taxied out and took off from 15R, made a right turn and proceeded northbound.  The best part of this flight home?  I knew a cold front was moving across the plains this evening and we were flying right along the boundary.

Flying along a cold front

Flying along a cold front

What did this mean for me?  An aerial view of the storms for half of my flight back.  If you know anything about me, I love to chase storms and sometimes even chase them in a plane.  The storms were literally within 10 miles and easy to watch out of my window seat and this made for one of the most enjoyable commutes home.

Airline Pilot: Storms from a plane

Lightning flashes out of the window of my ERJ-145

My flight returned me home and I took my ATP written test in the following days.  I do want to point out that I did not properly study for this test.  Instead, I took a calculated risk to see what I had learned solely based on the knowledge from the ATP/CTP course so I did not purchase or use an ATP prep course prior to taking my written.  I had heard there were a ton of new questions and that a lot of the new questions focused on CRM (Crew Resource Management) and TEM (Threat Assessment Management).  Nevertheless, I passed with a 76%!

ATP Written Test - Passed

ATP Written Test – Passed

Overall, I had a great time in Houston and met some awesome people that really knew their stuff and finished the ATP/CTP requirements with a passing score!  We nailed that one down.  Time for the next challenge.

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2015 started the storm chasing and lightning photography season off rather slow with above seasonal temps across most of the plains but the lack of storms has taken it’s toll on all the weather chasers.  I ended up chasing a very marginal setup near Wichita, KS on 3/23/2015 just so I could see some lightning in the sky.  Chasing partner and lightning photography expert, Shane Kirk (, accompanied me on this trip.  We had an absolute blast!

We forecast an area just to the north of Wichita, KS and got to the target area a little early, which gave us time to grab some coffee and a bite to eat!  Food ingested and coffee coursing through our veins and the first signs of initiation were taking place to our north near McPherson, KS.  We decided that we would drive up north and investigate since our storms had not yet fired.  Seeing a few flickers of lightning to our north got our spirits up and the excitement took over!

Then the storms to our north stopped flashing so we headed back to Wichita in anticipation storms we forecast there.  Without fail, they developed and put on a great lightning show and we got in position.

You can’t win if you don’t play.  We played and it paid off in spades!  A few nice lightning bolts started of our storm chasing season and resulted in a few nice lightning bolts being added to our photography collections.

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Storm Chasing:  2015 Storm Season Arrives…..BUT

There is still an unseasonable and unreasonable plume of frigid air pushing south across the U.S!  Temperatures across tornado alley should start to become a little more seasonal towards this weekend, although, if this year is anything like last year we may have a late season frost or snow in May!  Ugh!

Purchase this Print!

Oklahoma Lightning. May 2013 Purchase this Print!

It won’t be too much longer until the plains become alive with sound of rolling thunder as the lightning electrifies the air.  In fact, my town just sounded the tornado sirens during the annual statewide tornado drill!  Needless to say, chills momentarily ran down my spine as the excitement grew.  (If you want to learn how I shoot lightning, then visit this link and learn my method!!!)

West Point, Ne Supercell. - Buy this Print

West Point, Ne Supercell. 6/14/2014. – Buy this Print

I have been extremely busy with airline interview preparation and actual interviews with maybe two or three more interviews to go before the wait for a start date begins.  Storm season will be tricky for me this year as I may end up being in training during the peak of this years stormy weather.  That’s perfectly fine by me as I would rather be up in the air than pinned down by gravity.

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Splendid Mayhem. 2012 Purchase this Print!

TransAsia Crash: Flight 235.

TransAsia Crash: Flight 235.

The TransAsia crash of flight GE235 happened fairly recently but details about how and why it occurred are starting to emerge after the CVR (Cockpit Voice Recorder) and FDR (Flight Data Recorder a.k.a “The Black Box”) were reviewed.  One of the most critical areas of training a pilot receives during his/her multi-engine training is Single Engine Operations.  This is where a pilot must prove his/her ability to maintain control of an aircraft with a disabled engine.  Usually, the disabled engine is the critical engine.  It is not always easy for pilots to identify the correct failed engine and the CVR / FDR seem to confirm this, at least for this flight crew.   Check out how this crew handled the failed engine on this ATR72-600 aircraft:

  1. 10:51:13Z: Takeoff
    TransAsia crew receive take-off clearance.
  2. 10:52:34Z: Departure
    TransAsia told to contact Taipei Departure
  3. 10:52:38Z: Master Warning
    #2 Engine Failure Master Warning sounds for 3 seconds.  This warning was for the RIGHT engine (37 seconds after takeoff at approximately 1200 feet MSL).  This 
  4. 10:53:04Z: Left Engine Power Reduction
    The #1 engine (left engine) power was reduced.
  5. 10:53:12Z: Stall Warning Sounds.
    The crew receive a stall warning alert in the aircraft.
  6. 10:53:24Z: Crew Cuts Power to #1 Engine
    The crew shut down the #1 engine.  The LEFT ENGINE!.
  7. 10:53:34Z: “Mayday”
    The crew declares emergency by saying “MAYDAY, MAYDAY, Engine Flame-out”!
  8. 10:54:09Z: #1 Engine Restart Attempt
    The crew calls for restarting the #1 (LEFT) engine several times.  
  9. 10:54:20Z: Restart of #1
    Left engine is restarted.
  10. 10:54:34Z: Master Warnin!
    The crew receives another Master Warning.
  11. 10:54:3Z: Crash
    An unidentified sound is heard and 0.4 seconds later, both recorders stopped recording.


What is a critical engine?  A critical engine on a multi-engine propeller aircraft is the engine that would have the most adverse affect on aircraft handling and performance.  In short, when one engine quits there is a thrust imbalance between the inoperative engine and the operative engine resulting in asymmetrical thrust, reduced take-off/climb performance, reduced propulsive lift over the wing of the inop engine, and more.
(To read more on critical engines on propeller aircraft, click the image below)

Critical Engine Diagram of multi-engine propeller aircraft.

Critical Engine Diagram of multi-engine propeller aircraft.

It is easy to pass judgement on these pilots because we weren’t in their cockpit while this stuff was going on.  However, it is still far too early to cast judgement.

The deadly TransAsia crash does seem to demonstrates a breakdown of crew resource management and an inability to identify and verify the correct failed engine.

What are your thoughts?  Discuss below.


ERJ145 on the ramp in Houston.

This is not an easy story.  It never has been.

I am still not sure I understand exactly how it happened but all I do know is that it did happen.  On a beautiful day back in March of 2008, a day that seems like an eternity ago, I was on my last flight as an airline pilot.  I saw the writing on the wall.  Terrified about what was to come, yet, there was nothing I could do about it as it was beyond my control.  Circumstances, as some would say.

The trip went from KIAH (Houston, TX) to KBHM (Birmingham, AL).  Our altitude was below the RVSM airspace so I hand flew the Embraer ERJ-145LR.  Sure, I was backed up by the autopilot but I had mastered this aircraft and loved to fly it.  The feeling you would get as you accelerate down the runway towards the takeoff decision speed (V1).  Hearing the Captain call out “Positive Rate”, I responded by saying “Gear Up”.  The after takeoff checklist was completed but the flight was just getting underway.

ERJ-145 in flight through clouds

ERJ-145 in flight through clouds

The air was smooth even though there were scattered towering cumulus clouds all around us.  I leveled the jet off at FL240 (24,000ft) and began the slow increase in speed to 320KTS(Vmo).  The view was amazing as always.  Off in the distance to my south I could just barely make out the gulf coast waters.  No sooner that we leveled off and enjoyed the view it was time to prepare for the approach.  ATC was issuing vectors for traffic separation and we began our approach.
Just as quickly as that flight went by, my time at the airline had temporarily come to an end.  Something that every airline pilot could potentially face.  Furloughs were coming.

The crashing economy had the most to do with it and trying to keep me and my family of five to stay afloat with increasing gas costs and a weakening dollar value was intimidating.  My wife and I discussed our options in great detail and came to the only conclusion that seemed to do our family any good.  Resignation.

Regretfully, I handed in my resignation with much sadness.  I knew I didn’t want to leave my “dream job” but I could see what was coming down the line.

ERJ-145 sunset from cockpit

A shot of the setting sun in Houston, TX after landing.

I landed a busy cargo flying gig out of KMKC (Kansas City Downtown Airport) for  a hole in the wall FAA part 135 company that used the Aero Commander 500 series.  This old bird quickly became one of my favorite airplanes to fly with it’s twin Lycoming IO-540 piston engines.  There was no autopilot on this aircraft so everything was hand flown.  Even the most turbulent of weather.  VFR conditions were always fun but IFR was always an exciting challenge.  Flying this aircraft was like driving a “sporty” Ford Festiva after being trained to drive a Ferrari.  It was bittersweet, in all honesty.  I was happy to still be flying but so disappointed that I was not longer flying for the airlines.

To this day, I wish I would have stayed with the airline and rode the furlough out.  I would be upgrading to Captain sometime this year.  Hind-sight is 20/20, at best, though.   Sometimes your best decisions do not always work out the way you expect them to.  I learned this in the hardest way possible even though  I make decisions that I only hoped would have positive effects in my life.

The Aero Commander company experienced an accident that led to a massive reduction in their contracted runs and, in turn, a massive pilot furlough that I thought I had avoided.


The Aero Commander 500 prop in flight.

The economy has finally recovered enough and FAA regulated mandatory pilot retirement age has the pendulum swinging in the opposite direction now.  Instead of facing furlough’s, a mass influx of pilots is needed to fulfill the aircraft that were once vacant.  So many pilots will be retiring over the next decade that American Airlines estimates roughly one pilot will retire every 18 hours!  That is 487 pilot’s per year for just American Airlines!

This is great news for pilots!

I feel the winds have changed my course.  Storm chasing will always be a hobby for me.  I love the people I meet, the storms I see, and the experiences I have had.  However, I have always loved flying.  There really is nothing better than being on top of the clouds!

My resume has been polished up.  I have gotten into the best shape of my life, which you can read about that here, and new suit that screams professional.  It’s time to strap back in, file the flight plan, and prepare for take off!

I am not sure what the future holds but I am extremely excited!


ERJ-145 First Officer Pilot

ERJ-145 First Officer Pilot


Measure your body fat percentage calipers

I want to “GET FIT.  LOOK SHARP”.

man in suit get fit look sharp

This is me around the middle of January 2015. 193lbs and 14-15% body fat.

So I have finally made up my mind to start the arduous journey of shedding my fat.  This journey began in September of 2014 when I jumped on a set of scales.

overweight storm chaser and pilot

I’m in the grey sweat shirt and weighed roughly 225lbs. Photo taken by Dilloren Killoren.

For the last 10 years I thought that my body weight and muscle mass had pretty much stayed the same.  Compared to what I saw, my arms were still pretty muscular and my pants weren’t overly snug.  The bigger question:  Who was I comparing myself to?  As it turns out, when I only looked at myself in the mirror I only compared my physical appearance to none other than…MYSELF!


The problem with this comparative analysis is that I was comparing myself to myself.  This method of comparison just does not work and when I finally opened my eyes (thanks to a trip down memory lane via a scrap book that had pictures of me from 2004), I realized that I had gotten fat!

My wife and I decided it was time to do something about it and get back in shape.  Time to fight the fat and get fit!

woman doing deadlift exercise

My wife getting fit with a barbell deadlift exercise.

So how do you know where to start?  How can you commit to a diet and avoid all the gimmicks?  The answer was simple.  Science and experience.

I was scrolling through my GooGle+ page and happened across this article from a guy named Michael Mathews.  The title reading “The Absolute Best and Worst Ways to Build Muscle“.

At first, I was skeptical because of how many “Lose weight fast” diet schemes there are out there.  Paleo diet.  Weight Watchers.  Cardio fitness.  Meal replacements.  Blah, blah, blah…the list goes on and on.

However, after reading this article I noticed that this guy has done his homework.  Lots of well written material with loads of scientific research studies that have been conducted throughout the years are linked throughout his website.  He does offer his own line of protein shakes and a few books that I highly recommend.

So, the journey began.  I weighed 224lbs in September of 2014 when I started off by doing stretches, a 20 min walk, and some light exercise that involved only using body weight.  For the longest time, this was how I thought things were done.  It wasn’t until about mid-October that I came across “Best and Worst Ways to Build Muscle” and that is when the results really started to happen.  We invested in nothing more than a weight bench and 300 pounds of olympic weights to perform our exercises with.

Then we started tracking our diet and calorie intake.  The method that we use is called Flexible Macro Dieting.  With this diet, you basically figure out your Basal Metabolic Rate  and use a BMR Calculator to figure out how many calories your body burns every day.  Then adjust that according to the linked Mike Mathews article.  Figure out if you are wanting to bulk for muscle building or cut for fat loss or do both at the same time.

I recommend getting his book “Bigger, Leaner, Stronger” as this goes further in depth than I will and it even outlines some of the basic compound exercises and even has links and diagrams to demonstrate proper form when executing these exercises.

The main exercises that my wife and I have been doing now for over 3 months are:  Bench Press, Barbell Deadlift, Barbell Back Squat, Bicep Curls, Tricep Extensions, and this Ab Routine.

man doing barbell back squats exercise

Getting fit with the Barbell Back Squat

Back to the diet.

I will also recommend that when it comes to counting your calories or tracking your macros…Do yourself a favor and be flexible with it.  What I mean is DO NOT put too much emphasis on every little gram of every piece of food you eat.  You WILL drive yourself crazy!  Find a good meal plan that fits your macros and try your best every day to eat those numbers!

We also use calipers for measuring our body fat percentage.  We bought these calipers on amazon but read about them here: “How to Accurately Measure Body Fat Percentage

Measure your body fat percentage calipers

Measure your body fat percentage with these calipers

One method of a good diet comes from this awesome Personal Trainer, that happens to be my sister.  She recommends for women: 4oz of meat, 1/4 of carbs/ 1/4 of fruit, and 1 cup of vegetables up to six times a day.  For men, the same applies except we get 60z of meat.  This really helps out when you are traveling and still wanting stay “within your numbers”.

Just carry a set of food scales with you and don’t try to eyeball it.  Measure your food intake so you know exactly what you are eating and track your diet and food plan with something like  It gets pretty easy to eat on the go.

So far, I am loving the results.  So far, I have lost 34lbs.  So far, my body fat percentage has gone from 26-28% down to 12.7%.

I love working out now.  I love how my wife looks at me.  I love the food that we eat.  I am bench-pressing 185lbs (the most I have ever pushed up), squatting 225lbs, deadlifting 205lbs, and curling 95lbs on the barbell.

I want to “GET FIT.  LOOK SHARP”.

Follow my progress on MyFitnessPal

Have any ideas?  Want to share your thoughts?  Leave a comment.