NCQ: Behind The Scenes

I arrived to see Natan at 3:50 p.m. Monday afternoon and didn’t leave until 2:30 a.m. the next morning.  It’s been a while since I’ve pulled an all niter doing a project like this, however, it was well worth it as we attended the Israel Independence Day Fly-By 2012 event last Sunday.


Thought, planning, mapping came into order as Natan decided that now would be a good time to start his own website.  An event like this could not have been passed up.  A story to be told.  A story of Israel’s and NY’s finest pilots to show NYC and Long Island what Israel means and what it means to be apart of a place in the Middle East that stands for democracy, diplomacy, and equal treatment for all of its citizens.

THE MESSAGE FOR THE STRENGTH AND COURAGE OF ISRAEL (Please visit HaTikvah on Facebook for more photos of Israeli Independence Day!)

Only the NY Flying Club headed by Robert Keleti and event organizer Alon Pereg could pull such a great day together.  It was a day where the Jewish pilots of NY and abroad bonded together to promote aviation awareness within the community and abroad.

Natan and I brainstormed the ideas, then  he took to the keyboard with his many photos, videos, and other interesting stories to tell of the event.  I personally thought he was going to strangle me a few times as I had to get up for a stretch or to take some water or to go watch the special on the Discovery Channel about the world’s scariest airplane landings.  (I am very greatful for the coffee, also.)  His dedication to the article shined as he was more focused on his writing than seeing the aviation special on the television.  Impressive.

This is how I brainstorm when I blog. Everyone has their idiosyncrasies.. (Photo courtesy of Natan Hoffmann)

For the many times we’ve had to edit, re-edit, re-re-edit, etc, to get all of the quirks untangled out of WordPress, it was well worth the finished product which went live at 1:49 a.m.:

I would like to express my thanks to Natan for having me as a guest participant on this project and for a job well done.  He should have many new successes with his website (which has now been added to the “Connecting Flights” page on the top menu bar.)


Yom HaShoah


Yom HaShoah is Holocaust Remembrance Day. 

Today we remember the precious souls both Jewish and Gentile that perished during the Holocaust.  There are really no words to describe what a horrific event in history it was not to mention one of the worst events in humanity.

Not only in Germany and Poland, but it was also in France. Hence the patch worn by French Jews stating the French "Juif" (Jew)

One need not necessarily to have had family in Europe during that time to realize what a tragic event took place.  I personally fall under that category and the wake up call came to me during my Paris trip of 2006.  I had left the Gare Du Nord station headed to Antwerp, Belgium to visit some friends when the multi-lingual announcements came: French, English, Dutch.  When the German announcement was made, it was the creepiest feeling I had felt in a long time.


I have been told stories of youth who have participated on the Poland / Birthright trip who have visited the camps and their experiences.  They saw the gas chambers and the crematoriums that were preserved to educate.  They seriously wanted to leave as it was truly traumatic just by being present.

Even though I personally did not have any family in Europe during this period of time, I do know survivors and have friends with survivors in their families.  They are living proof that this event in history is not a made up conspiracy and I personally question the mental stability of anyone who denies that this tragedy in history took place.

How could any human being go through so much suffering?  The death marches, the hospital experiments, the starvation and non-stop labor in the coldest of temperatures, the beatings, the burnings, and the list goes on.  For any human being to endure that much suffering on that intense of a level, well, is beyond human.  Perhaps, angelic.  I will say for those who did survive, it has not only affected them, but continuing generations in some cases past that.  For those who didn’t survive, well, pictures speak a thousand words that could never be spoken by the souls who did not make it.

Passover, the holiday that just “passed over”  is the festival of redemption.  Of liberation.  Most important of all, to educate.  This is why the youngest at the seder table asks the Four Questions and recounts the story of The Exodus.  Educating the world by doing our part so that even worse events like this should never rise again.


Leaflet from Holland depicting the Dutch resistance against the Nazis.

The entrance to the Auschwitz death camp. The German sign reads, "Work Makes You Free" Well, in some rare cases. Photo courtesy of Hatikvah

There is liberation, hope, education, and most of all, a future. Photo courtesy of HaTikvah.

And most of all, protect what is right by using our



Bad Things, Good People

This post goes out to four very strong ladies who are flying through some very turbulent skies right now.  They have shown enormous strength through these rough times and may they continue to flex their wings.

The wingflex and strength of an aircraft being guided in the right direction by the control tower.

A very painful question asked by many people is, “Why do bad things happen to good people?”  I know I make a ton of analogies to aviation, however, please allow me even more so to use aviation to help explain my thoughts:

Aircraft manufacturers spend billions of dollars constructing passenger aircraft every year to provide a product to its clients and passengers that will fulfill the job.  Each plane has an origin and destination.  Flight plans must be made and safety measures must be carried out.  To guide each plane along the way is a control tower (or centers) that watch every move  of every aircraft on radar no matter the length of the flight.  The towers know what type of aircraft are in the skies and what they are made of.  Controllers wouldn’t (or shouldn’t) guide or vector and aircraft down a wrong direction or altitude to set it up for a mishap or worse, a crash.

Imagine we are all airplanes in an airport.  What has cost to construct our lives is priceless.  Just watch a newborn taking its first breaths into this world.  We were constructed with flesh, blood, and a central nervous system which was tested to withstand many stressful times in our lives.  Unfortunately, as we soar through life we encounter rough air, some times more turbulent than others.  Unfortunately, some people encounter such heavy turbulence that it causes them to crash.  Despite the fact we have mechanisms to resist it, it does put a lot of wear and tear on our bodies through stress.  It is to our advantage that we have a control tower of sorts, handbooks, checklists, etc. through friends, communities, religious organizations that would never guide us down the wrong path even though they may advise us on something that we find totally not to our advantage at the time.

I’ve been told many times by certain people that bad times have great outcomes.  They may not come at the time we want, however, if we remain strong, flex our wings, request from the control tower a different path or altitude, then we should see our final destinations through the strength we’ve endured.

Be strong through blue skies!



It was a clear night and Long Island never looked so beautiful outlined with the street lights beaming from below at 2,000 feet.  Having just passed the Northport stacks we were headed just over the (Long Island) sound for a bit and the moon’s reflections hit the cool waters like magic.  Our flight instructor, a former Israeli Air Force pilot and aviator par excellence, beckoned me for the sun shield to cover up the deck window.  From then on, it was all instruments for someone who was sitting to the left of our instructor, who I’ve had the honor of sharing the virtual flight deck with as both a Captain (777/A380) and a First Officer (747/757) for the past year when we weren’t in N34HD, our flagship sailing the real-life skies.

His precision, exact.  Checking instruments, making mental calculations, it seemed like clockwork even though I knew there was a lot involved for him in those critical moments airborne.

Our instructor quickly had me store the sun shield in the back compartment so that this distinguished aviator, could do his first ILS approach into Long Island’s Islip-MacArthur Airport.    What was once non-visible became visible and he nailed the ILS spot-on for runway 24.  Upon touchdown our instructor and I beamed with pride at what he had accomplished at 20 years old.

This is one of many stories that amazes me about someone who I am not only proud to call a colleague, a fellow pilot, but also one of my best friends.

It is my honor to welcome into the flight deck,

Natan Hoffmann!

Welcome to the flight deck, Natan!


Why airplanes?


I  can recall myself in my grandmother’s backyard looking up into the sky at these noisy “flying things” as they passed over. My grandma would tell me its an airplane? But I was only 3 years old and I wouldn’t know what an airplane was until I grew older. When I was in second grade, I would borrow airplane books from the school library. I read them lots of times and studied every detail in all the books. By the time I was in 5th grade, I knew a large majority of airlines and aircraft by heart, and instead of paying attention in class, I would draw on paper many aircraft with the airlines logos on them. A year later, I went to middle school and met my teacher Jacob Kranz, an Orthodox Jew like myself, who happened to be a private pilot!


It’s amazing the connection you made with Orthodox Judaism and being a pilot.  I personally didn’t know that Orthodox Jewish pilots existed until we met.  Little did I know that I had one (that would be you) hiding out in my back yard.  Literally!  Later on, we discovered a network of Orthodox Jewish pilots throughout the world.  It has been amazing to have such a close connection to one another.  Speaking of close connections, where are you at with family?


I am the eldest of 6 children. I am a twin, not identical though. After my twin comes 3 boys and 1 girl. She is the youngest of us all.


Tell us about your, or should I say, “our” furry friend?  Why would he also make a good pilot?


Haha! You want me to talk about Coco? Well, Ok! Coco is my family’s pet Pomeranian dog. He is very adorable and human like. Sometimes, he becomes “bi-polar”, because he lives with a family of 9 people all together, and we can become very loud. Coco’s favorite sport is tennis and soccer, and sometimes football. Coco enjoys sleeping on a bed with his older brother Natan! (wink)  If Coco were human, I’m sure he would become a pilot because he is intelligent, fast moving, and loves taking car rides to the airport.


After having spent personal time with Coco, I must say that he is one of a kind.  I would also agree that he would make a better pilot than most because he’s always alert, intelligent, quick to react, concerned about safety, and always protects the ones he loves.  A definite match for Natan and his family.  Thinking about what it takes to become a pilot, I had to dig deeper and find out what gave Natan the full throttle to take off on his journey through the skies:


Simple, I was born to fly! I knew all along I wanted to do it, it was just a matter of time to connect all the dots of aviation that I had encountered. When I was in middle school, my teacher who is a private pilot took me flying for my very first time in a small aircraft, a Piper Warrior III. I was then convinced that I wanted to become a pilot. I had already fallen in love with aviation, but after the experience of “hands on” flying, I was 100% sure that I would follow my dreams and set goal of becoming an Airline Pilot, to which I am still working on accomplishing to this very day. I currently have had experience in flying IFR (Instrument Flight Rules) and Multi-engine. I can proudly say that no matter what obstacles I may encounter (and believe me, I have encountered many), that I will always be motivated and prepared to take to the skies, and always be happy with myself in making a commitment to becoming an Airline pilot.


A very long haul journey to where you are today indeed, Natan.  I am rest assured that The Control Tower from Above has cleared you to final descent, make vectors to final, and before you know it you will be touching down to success.  Speaking of success, who helped pave the way or inspire you to landing success?

Natan in the office of a Del,..err Northwest Boeing 744.

Natan and myself during a pre-brief before entering the 744 deck to Tel Aviv from JFK. He was our Captain that night. I followed suit as the Captain on the return leg as we were scheduled on the 777. Both were great missions.


Wilbur and Orville Wright for making flight possible. Ilan Ramon and the entire crew of the Columbia Space Shuttle, who’s life’s were perished upon re-entry, Women of Aviation for staying strong and fighting for their rights, Robert Keleti for being the best Flight Instructor one could ever ask for and for being there for me when needed, My parents, Roy and Lori Hoffmann for telling me to never give up and for all the love they give to me. Thank you. My grandmothers who both are survivors of the Holocaust. Thank you both for coming to fly with me! To all the people who follow their dreams and become an example for one another, and finally to God for giving me life and always helping me move in the right direction!


Excellent choices!  Each and everyone of the above possesses something special because of how they have shaped you to who you are today.  Women are essential to the existence of aviation.  All one has to do is to take a look at how they shaped our industry.  We need more female pilots.  We are blessed to have advocates out there through individuals, organizations, and conferences.

I have no doubt that your family has a great deal involved as I have had the personal honor of knowing your family through my many visits and I am forever grateful for the many times I have been over to visit with everyone.  (Even if it was only to watch NCIS.)

I also agree about Robert, what can I say about our instructor?  I am speechless.  His knowledge never ceases to amaze me and every time we fly with him, there is a special feeling that is inexplicable.  He knows what he is doing and he knows how to cater to our personal needs as students to mold us into excellent pilots.

Natan working on flight plans with our instructor Robert.

Natan flying our flagship N34HD into the sunset.



Dreams are very important in a person’s life.  It gives a sense of direction.  What are your thoughts?



People’s dreams are very much like a flightplan. We all have a set destination. But unfortunately, we sometimes deviate from that flightplan and divert. In the end, you are left with two choices, to continue on and complete the flightplan, or to create a new flightplan.



Natan giving the term “WINGFLEX” a whole new meaning through meditation. (Photo courtesy of Jeremy’s Flight Deck)



Speaking of dreams, Natan, like my first guest Karlene, is also a giver.  Natan has given me the ability to see what it means to take a dream and turn it into reality.  I had been fighting for years due to personal circumstances to enter flight school.  I don’t know how he did it, but he gave me a huge kick in the ass to start my career as a pilot.  I am forever grateful for him being such an inspiration and support throughout the time we’ve known each other.  I am pretty rest assured that I will not only continue to share the virtual deck with him as both 777/A380 Captain and a 744 First Officer, but we will be sharing the deck together when we have our ATPL working for a major international carrier.



Autism Awareness

Imagine waking up in the morning in your own world not knowing where you are, not knowing what will happen, and not knowing who to communicate to.  Your mental signals are waving like a rock concert that never ends.  You are mentally in a state of confusion or perhaps the light of the sun against your eyes appears to the the light of a million suns.  If you are able to go into the bathroom and shave, the razor goes down the side of your face it feels like someone is taking a sandpaper machine and fiercely scraping the side of your face.  The bristles of the tooth brush are like knives against your teeth.  When someone touches you, you resist, because the feeling of a simple soft touch is actually the feeling that someone is punching or stabbing you.  It hurts.  You are afraid to meet new people because of what they might think of you and the way you think, feel, or function as a human being.  Each case varies, however, these are some of the many feelings of someone with Autism.

The month of April marks “Autism Awareness Month”

Autism is an impairment of neurological development.  Two main areas are social interaction and communication.

Each year the statistics are growing by leaps and bounds.  It has now become an epidemic and many people are unaware and/or now sure how to respond to it.  During my ten years of working with individuals on the Autism Spectrum, I have attended numerous seminars on Behavior Analysis and have seen and been told stories of parents who have lost thousands, if not, millions in the market as they had to take the day off to attend the seminar to learn how to work with their child, or in some cases, children who are on the spectrum.

During my non-aviation time, I have been working with learners with PDD-NOS (Pervasive Developmental Disorder-Not Otherwise Specified a.k.a. “atypical” autism) along with other areas of the autism spectrum both in a residential and vocational setting.  It really is a difficult job, however, when you feel the success of the individuals that you work with, you get the best feeling in the world.  Because of this, I wish to spread to you this feeling by showcasing some photos taken by a learner of mine who shares the same passion as I do:


Besides aviation photography, we like to have fun with other scenes such as the following:

A Prayer For Autism

Blessed are you that never bids us to “hurry up” and more blessed are you who do not snatch our tasks from our hands to do them for us, for often we need time rather than help.

Blessed are you who take time to listen to defective speech, you help us to know that if we persevere, we can be understood.

Blessed are you who walk with us in public places and ignore the stares of strangers for in your companionship we find havens of relaxation.

Blessed are you who stand beside us as we enter new ventures, for our failures will be outweighed by times we surprise ourselves and you.

Blessed are you who ask for our help, for our greatness need is to be needed.

Blessed are you when by all these things you assure us that the thing that makes us individuals is not our peculiar muscles, not our wounded nervous systems, but is the God-given self that no infirmity can confine.

Blessed are those who realize that I am human and don’t expect me to be saintly just because I am disabled.

Blessed are those who pick things up without being asked.

Blessed are those who understand that I am weak and not just lazy.

Blessed are those who forget my disability of the body and see the shape of my soul.

Blessed are those who see me as a whole person, unique and complete, and not as a “half” and one of God’s “mistakes.”

Blessed are those who love me just as I am without wondering what I might have been like,

Blessed are my friends on whom I depend, for they are the substance and joy of my life!