Earthbound Aviation with Adam White

Nicola Tims
August 24, 2020

From a young age, Adam always had his sights set on the skies - he wanted to be an astronaut. Throughout his college years, he modified his plans to be a little more “earthbound” within aviation, and worked towards getting his pilot and mechanic certifications.

Qualified and a little uncertain with what he wanted to do in his aviation career, Adam started with volunteer work in Ecuador; namely humanitarian work with a mission aviation fellowship, which helped him realise that this was the type of work he wanted to do. 

“I didn't really want to be a big airline pilot or cargo pilot, basically being a bus driver in the sky,” he says, “I wanted to fly small airplanes; remote rugged rural bush type planes.”

25 years on, and Adam hasn’t looked back. He flies single-engine piston aircraft over and above the Alaska region, including a M7 Maule (which sits on floats in the summer and skis in the winter) and a wheeled Cessna 206.

"Took me 2 hours 8 minutes to fly from Nenana to Soldotna today. Driving would have taken 9 hours with no stops." -Adam White on Instagram

It’s ok to be a day late, it’s not okay to be years too early.

Adam has always placed a significant amount of importance and awareness on safety. He’s spent 20 years as a medic with the local fire department, and has seen a lot of trauma and loss during this time due to poor decision making. 

Through these experiences, he’s actively worked towards mitigating the risks and not making the same mistakes.

Adam shares some advice that has stayed with him since he first moved to Alaska, some 25 years ago, and has this displayed over the door in the hangar:

“You don't have anything that's so important that you have to do it today. It's okay to be a day or two late. It's not okay to be years too early. Don't get yourself boxed into thinking you’ve got to finish this today.” 

This is how he came across Spidertracks. “Safety has always been a big thing for me. It was the notion of needing to have a better way to communicate, better peace of mind for my family, and for the mission organisation. It gives me the ability to remove a lot of trepidation and worry because they know exactly where I am.”

Cost-effective communication

He reflects on how he used to communicate before installing a Spider in the cockpit.

“Before having Spidertracks, I had a satellite phone that I carried, which was rather expensive. I was always trying to keep my wife updated on my plan for the day and where I was and all that, because there was no other way to communicate, other than places where I'm flying.” 

"The hot and smoky days of summer. We might hit 90 today."

Although there are existing technologies available in the area that support aircraft tracking, they are not always reliable, especially in the more remote areas where Adam can often find himself flying.

“I do have an emergency locator transmitter (ELT) [on board], yet for that system to work, it has to flawlessly operate after a catastrophic event, and we all know the chances of that happening are pretty slim. Alaska is a pretty rugged place, and we don’t have the same infrastructure as other parts of the United States do. I think the biggest thing that Spidertracks brings to the table is the Spiderwatch function, and it’s ability for it to automatically turn itself on when I fly through that transition speed...somebody is going to be notified if I stop communicating.”

Not only does Spidertracks help give reassurance for those who live and work with Adam, but also for those who fly with him.

“I tell people all the time about the Spidertracks unit, it’s part of my safety briefing for our passengers. I explain to them what I've got one on board, and why I carry it. It's really neat to see their expressions change, and if they were nervous about the flight, it tends to ease and calm a lot of their fears just knowing that somebody is going to be watching us the whole time.

The “anti-nagging device”!

We’ll let Adam take it from here.

“Early on, my wife would check the Spidertracks app and kind of follow me there, but then she got confident and comfortable with what it was capable of doing, and she rarely checks it now, which I kind of give her a hard time about - that she doesn't care where I am anymore. 

I don't have to worry,’ she says, ‘I know that if something happens, I'll get a text message, and then I can take care of things at that point, but until then, there's nothing for me to worry about.’ 

She never really was nagging me about those things, but I kind of present it as an anti nagging device - my wife doesn't have to worry about where I am, so she doesn't bother me when I'm flying trying to figure out what's going on.

"Windy Pass"

It's always a big joke between us because she really wasn't nagging. Other [Pilot] friends whose wives are genuinely concerned about where they are and what they're doing, and because of that concern, they do tend to reach out a little more and say hey, where are you, what's going on. I tell those guys, look, this Spidertracks device right here fixes that problem. You know, you won’t have that problem anymore with this.”

“It's a great marriage tool, [you can put that in writing] - it improves your marriage!”

If you want to find out more about the ‘anti-nagging device,’ get in touch with one of our friendly team members today!

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