I was fortunate to spend 12 days in Gulf Shores, Alabama during Christmas break with my close friends Haley Howard and Rod Kellogg, both pilots for the Shrimp Basket. The plan for the trip was for me to essentially tag along with Haley and Rod, building time and experiencing aviation from their perspective.


This trip proves more than anything that making connections and friends in aviation can lead to pretty incredible experiences. As you’ll find throughout various future articles, I logged over 5o hours in the 12 days that I was in Gulf Shores, getting my tailwheel, high performance, and complex aircraft endorsements. Their generosity allowed me to simply pay for the ticket down, with the flight time I gained coming at no extra cost.

I flew out of Richmond on December 26th via Atlanta on Delta to Pensacola, Florida. Arriving at noon, Haley and Rod surprised me with a pickup at the airport in a Cirrus SR22 – not a bad taxi to the Jack Edwards Airport (KJKA)! Right from the beginning, I was thrown into the cockpit and logging time – I loved it!

After departing from Pensacola (KPNS), we flew towards Jack Edwards Airport, Alabama (KJKA), our main base for the trip. Here’s a video of my landing on Runway 09:

Upon arrival, I was placed in the back seat of Shrimp Force Two, the Shrimp Basket’s American Champion Scout, used by Haley to tow banners around the beach… but that’s for the next article!

On The Ground At Perdido Winds Airport

On The Ground At Perdido Winds Airport

Thanks Haley and Rod for starting my trip with flight time right off the bat!
-Swayne Martin
Twitter: @MartinsAviation


About The Author

If you want to become a pilot, I want to make your journey just a little easier. I'm a First Officer for Envoy Air, one of the largest regional airlines in the world, and have partnered with industry leaders like the U.S. Air Force to teach about various aviation careers. For a full bio, click the "About" tab above. Use the "Contact" tab to shoot me a message.

3 Responses

  1. Karlene

    Swayne, this is awesome. So…how do you feel about a plane to push a button and eject? Do you think that this is a good trainer for basics? Would love your thoughts.

    • Swayne Martin

      Karlene, thanks for the comment! I really enjoy flying the Cirrus but can see why some pilots wouldn’t like all of the automation. For me, I like that it has features such as the “LVL” button which can take you out of disorienting situations, or the parachute which allows a life-saving backup.

      BUT I don’t think the Cirrus is a good starter airplane for pilots. It’s extremely complex and advanced, requiring a lot of knowledge and study. Many accidents happen in Cirrus aircraft when wealthy, new pilots wish to buy it as their first plane (or even to train in). It’s not great as a starter aircraft in my opinion.


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