Month: July 2014

The Triton, Micronautix’s Luxury Aircraft Masterpiece

Written for Luxe Beat Magazine on 5/25/14

During the golden age of commercial flight in the 1960’s, airline travel was a luxury in itself. Surrounded by beautiful blonde waitresses, well-off clientele dressed professionally and enjoyed top-shelf drinks, plus an experience not offered elsewhere.

However, the 2000s have been cruel to the extravagance of commercial airline travel. Instead, we are shoved into sardine-sized cabins next to strangers in sweatpants, our elbows banged by passing carts serving tap water. With the unveiling of the Triton, a luxury aircraft concept designed by Micronautix, a Templeton, California-based company, at the 2014 Aviation Summit presented by Lift Event Management, those days could soon be over.

Instead of peering through about 15 x 11 inches of window on a 747, the Triton offers panoramic, breathtaking views, making for a distinctive flying and sightseeing escapade. On a normal commercial flight, passengers count the minutes until their plane lands in the destination, however on the Triton, passengers will get unsurpassed views of their favorite mountain ranges, beaches, and landmarks. “The Triton will provide panoramic views and luxury car-like accommodation in a fighter jet-like environment that sitting in the back seat of today’s average GA aircraft just can’t provide,” said Charlee Smith, founder of Micronautix.

TritonCAD-9-2

Marco Parotto, President of Lift Event Management, added that in terms of well-being and relaxation, “The goal is to make the passengers, many of whom will be taking their first flight in a small aircraft, as comfortable as if they would be sitting in a $40,000 mid-size sedan.”

Usually, these types of views are only afforded to single-seat high performance aircraft and military pilots. The model could be a huge hit for owner-flyers, air taxis and air tour operators.

Equipped with three accommodated cockpits, the Triton houses one pilot and passenger in the center cockpit, and is then surrounded by up to two passengers in each of the two side cabins, similar to a sidecar on a motorcycle. The aircraft uses a sleek, aerodynamic design which doesn’t stray too far from a typical model, so that issues such as balance and CG control (which is caused by varying passenger loads) can be managed appropriately.

With a wingspan of 42 feet, the Triton is powered by a 450 horsepower turboprop, swinging a large prop at lower RPM for reduced noise and added comfort. Given that the aircraft was created for these luxury purposes instead of speed, Micronautix gave the Triton a cruise speed of about 193 miles per hour and a range of 932 miles, with an empty weight of 2546 pounds. The company plans to offer several models, including an amphibian and electronic hybrid, “which will ­provide up to 20 minutes of near silent flight over noise-sensitive areas,” such as national parks, said Smith and reported by flightglobal.com.

1

Micronautix, which includes Smith, Parrotto, and Brian Reed, a contractor who created the computer aided design, developed the Triton as a result of the obvious hole in the aircraft marketplace. Being that airplane simulators and video games still maintain high popularity, it was clear that the urge to be in the air still existed, yet an aircraft that offered an unparalleled view was lacking. Even in popular flight sightseeing, passengers remain behind the pilot and their only opportunity is to view scenery from a side window, giving obstructed views that lack interesting angles.

Micronautix believed that a safe and quiet design such as that of the Triton would present a spike in sightseeing passengers, looking to fly over beautiful destinations such as the Grand Canyon, Hawaii, Lake Tahoe, and Key West. About ten years later, the idea and configuration evolved into a stunning design and was then refined into what is now the Triton.

As of now, however, the Triton remains a concept rather than a production. Micronautix has approached several original equipment manufacturers, including General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Extra Aircraft and Aurora Flight Sciences, but the feedback insists that they would be happy to assist but first, Smith needs to come up with millions to finance it.

To further purify the engineering and have an outside company construct the tooling and produce a full-size flying prototype would require a $5 to $7 million investment, said Parrotto. This would depend upon whether it is equipped with a fixed or retractable main landing gear and the level of avionics. Smith said, “I would be willing to hand over the design rights to the most suitable company, just to see the Triton become a reality.”

Triton Neb

Since the design is complete, the next step is to find a reputable aerospace firm that understands the hole in the marketplace for luxury flight so that engineers can bring the Triton to life. Fittingly, a one-sixth and one-tenth model will be unveiled at the 2014 Aviation Summit from October 31 to November 2 at the Palm Springs Convention Center, where 10,000 international pilots and industry experts will attend to learn about new products, receive technical advice from manufacturers and participate in hands-on demonstrations.

Besides the significant sums required bringing an aircraft to fruition, Smith understands the other challenges faced and the possibility of failure, but he isn’t giving up yet. He said, “Aviation history is filled with failed concepts that designers have attempted to bring to market by themselves. I feel the positive impact the Triton can have on aviation is more important than my own personal gain.”

Smith sees the greater good in his design and is hopeful and positive about its creation following the 2014 Aviation Summit. He said, as reported by Scott Oxarat in Aviation Digest, “Most people who experience flying in a Triton will feel the magic of flight and want more. Many will be inspired to work toward becoming a pilot because of this.”

According to Parrotto, the Triton’s key impact will be the end of today’s trend of most people being content with virtual flight experiences beyond flying an airliner from one point to another. He said, “The average person on the street will say ‘I want to fly in that airplane,’ which will be an experience that will be the seed to the revitalized growth of general aviation.”

TritonCAD-1

The Island of Lost Clothes

When you live your life eternally rummaging through a suitcase around the world, although you end up with an interesting collection of ticket stubs, post cards, knick-knacks and foreign hot sauce, you are also left with an astounding lack of clothing.

Most of my trips have encompassed a strapped-on backpack, not a rolling matching suitcase set, leaving me with no other options but to recycle clothing over and over again, mercilessly wearing them down until they have only two options to deal with their remaining shelf life – get abandoned or get lost.

Abandoning clothes at various airports throughout the world due to one too many holes, a lack of effectiveness of the sitting on a suitcase for those few extra inches of space, or simply the obvious end of an item never makes me feel guilty – instead, it makes me feel like I got my money’s worth and I actually made an economical purchase in buying something that I kept until its unfortunate end.

IMG_2319

Not everyone makes it through customs.

However, in my possession, besides the fact that most of what I own turns to dust, the rest of what I own simply disappears which does make me feel an insurmountable amount of guilt. Dresses, sandals, boots, shorts and tops all mysteriously vanish as they journey across the world with me, almost as if they decided all on their own that it was time to part ways and move on to a new, nameless owner.

There aren’t many things that are more frustrating than using time and effort shopping for clothing, spending hard-earned cash that could easily, and possibly more responsibly, been spent on food, and creating a place for it in an already minuscule closet only to have it evaporate into thin air and leave one forced to think back on trips weekends and weekends ago, wondering whose car or whose hotel room it could possibly be living in. I find myself constantly digging through my own laundry room, trying to remember the last time I’ve seen an item and questioning if the dryer is really eating things like I’ve always suspected.

Just today, I realized that a piece of clothing I brought with me on a weekend away was missing and I unapologetically harassed the concierge desk at the hotel asking if they had it stuffed in their lost and found. They seemed baffled that someone would call in for anything other than jewelry, wallets, car keys or other irreplaceable items, but for someone with limited time and money as myself, even this is good enough reason to inquire.

IMG_0675

Someone lost one two many t-shirts.

As I began to deal with the loss of yet another item, I began to really wonder where these things were ending up when I realized I was keeping my own island of lost clothes – things I had (embarrassingly) found or been given that had once  belonged to another. A tank top a friend found on the side of the road at Syracuse University, a red dress the same friend had stolen from a laundry room and sent to me, accompanied by a clever poem. A bracelet I found outside of a dining hall, a designer top an old employer had passed over to me after digging through her exceptional closet.

They were just faceless items, but like what I currently had in my own closet, I truly hoped that my past things had found new homes somewhere else on their own island of lost clothes. I hoped that someone had found them, probably a 14-year-old girl that fit into my stuff, and felt like she was having a pretty lucky day in the fact that she had just scored some nice thing for absolutely nothing.

Clothes are clothes and things are things – and they don’t carry real memories like we do. However, this doesn’t mean they don’t have history. And I, for one, like to think my own things that have been left globetrotting about have quite the stories to share as they jump from closet to closet and country to country, soon to be left in the hands of yet another relentless traveler.

Long Live the Long Weekend

It’s 4:00 pm on a Friday in Advertising, and there is truly nothing else to do. Client mishaps have been mended, weekend ads have been approved, emails and calls have been returned, and people are literally spinning in their chairs, gazing out the window towards the sunny beaches to the east and tracking the Parkway traffic on their phones.

“Whatcha doin this weekend, Gina?” I ask my coworker, who is currently studying the screensaver on her computer, a snapshot of her timeshare in Florida. “I’m going to Disney,” she says casually concerning the resort that lies 1,000 miles away in Orlando, Florida.

America hates vacations. We hate wasting time, we hate having too much fun, and we hate not working, which is probably why Americans have the second to lowest average number of vacation days in a year at 16 compared to 20 other “rich countries.” Whether you’re 25 or 55, you’re already probably pretty aware that the average number of vacation days an American employee receives after one year on the job is eight and the average number they receive after 25 years on the job is 15. And the number of days employers are legally bound to provide them with? Zero. Now please tell me what the hell I am supposed to do with eight days.

graph

Seem stingy? Probably because it is, especially when you’re already getting frustrated with squirreling away the few vacation days that you do have and trying to make sure you can still make it to the doctor for regular checkups. On top of this pathetic number of vacation days, it turns out that only 25 percent of Americans even use the full amount of the days they are provided with. To paint a global picture, France tops the list (but not by much) by legally providing employees with 30 paid vacation days per year, followed by Finland, Norway and Sweden at 25 and trailed by Austria, Portugal and Spain at 22.

When you’ve got about two weeks of fun to last you for an entire year, you really need to work to make it count, which is why my friend Gina was, and is, taking plenty of long weekends – the new week-long vacation.

Until the United States changes its vacation policies and trends (which isn’t due to happen anytime soon since these kinds of work ethics are deeply embedded into our culture, but anyway) the long weekend is slowly becoming the new seven-day getaway. Because really – why are you going to use all those precious days in one shot (half of which you will spend bored with the family) when you can do it over and over again for two and three day snippets at a time, even if it means rolling into work Monday operating on four hours of sleep like I often see my dear traveling coworker do? (She chugs two coffees and gets going, no complaints).

IMG_5995

The Grand Cascades Lodge of Crystal Springs Resort in Hamburg, New Jersey

Just because you don’t live on the Amalfi Coast (well, maybe you do) or you don’t have the dollars to finance these types of grandiose trips doesn’t mean that your travel bug has to fall to the wayside. Instead of blowing all your days at once, put together day and weekend trips that will give you vacations to last the year… until you finally get that coveted job transfer to Paris, that is.

One thing goes without a doubt – planning a long weekend getaway is a lot more tiring and requires you to get a lot more creative than getting on a plane and picking up a guidebook once a year would be. You have to give nearby cities and landmarks a second look, clean out the car so you can fit all the kids, and squeeze all your errands into the weekdays.

But on the other hand – you’ll save money, have more fun more often, feel like you made the most out of your time, spend more meaningful time with your friends and family, pick up landmarks you probably should have seen a long time ago, and most of all, when your bored coworker asks you what you’re doing this weekend, your answer will always be exciting.

Under the Boardwalk in Wildwood

When Jerseyans plan their trips for those long weekends at the shore crammed in teeny summer bungalows with barely functioning AC units, they tend to choose the same cities over and over again for the same reasons they have been biding on for the last 20 years – they go to Atlantic City when they want to gamble, Cape May when they need to relax, Point Pleasant when they’re looking for fun for the family, and Seaside Heights when all they’re asking for is a cold drink.

This is what’s actually pretty cool about the Jersey Shore – each beach-side city has its own personality, quirks, upsides and downsides – no city is exactly like the next, even if it is only one more exit down the Parkway. If each city is its own character, Asbury Park is the laid back beach rat, Red Bank is the up-and-coming fashionista, and Ocean City is the responsible boardwalk mom.

But then… there’s Wildwood.

Wildwood, which goes back to the doo-wop days of the 50’s and 60’s, can’t really be boxed into one category but instead, sits finely in the middle, conveniently close to loud-mouthed Atlantic City, quiet Cape May, and family-oriented Ocean City. So what does this make Wildwood?

What’s so cool about Wildwood is that it doesn’t need to fit into a box, because it has such a hodgepodge to offer anyway that there’s no reason not to visit. If you haven’t crossed Wildwood off your summer hit list yet, here’s all the reasons why this is one Shore city can fit into every beach check box and what you can do during your long weekend stay.

1. Bike the Wildwoods Boardwalk

Joining three municipalities to make up the Wildwoods (North Wildwood, Wildwood, and Wildwood Crest) the boardwalk itself stretches for two miles (which is where you’ll find the four piers equipped with boardwalk games and rides) but then extends both directions onto sand to the north and pavement to the south. This makes it ideal for an hour-long bike ride, if you’re moving along at a decent pace and looking to extend beyond the boards in both directions. The ride will include the quiet tourism of Wildwood Crest as well as the local friendliness of North Wildwood, while also getting the insanity of Wildwood on the boards themselves until 11:00 am on weekdays and 10:30 am on weekends. You can rent a pretty nice bike (with parking) for one hour for $6 at Sportland Bike Rental, located just a block off the boardwalk.

11

2. Grab Dinner Specials at The Boathouse 

If you can get seated between 4:00 pm and 5:30 pm, you can pick up a Sunset Special, or two entrees for $25 any night of the week at this classy establishment on West Rio Grande Avenue with a view of the Marina. Even if you don’t nab the specials, you can still get some killer seafood at The Boathouse – especially the broiled crab cake, hot clams casino, steamed mussels, stuffed flounder, or twin lobster tails. This is also one of my favorite five picks of the top waterside restaurants on the Jersey Shore.

2

3. Visit the Original Fudge Kitchen

All over Wildwood and Shore towns alike, you’ll spot various shops sporting fudge in all shapes, sizes and colors. Don’t do it. Just go to the Original Fudge Kitchen, located on the north end of the Wildwood boardwalk right before the boards end and the sand begins. Even though the imaginary “special” (“Buy two pounds of our creamy fudge and get a box of our homemade salt water taffy”) actually runs every single day of the year (which they will remind you of… each and everyday) the place is worth a visit during your Wildwood stay, even if you’re just picking up one their widely distributed samples. For $11.50 per pound, it runs a little pricey… but a sweet piece in the hot sun (one quarter pound) is worth it, especially for the vanilla marshmallow.

4. Watch the Sun Disappear at Sunset Lake

Sunset Lake, located on the bayside in Wildwood Crest, is a force to be reckoned with once 8:00 pm comes along. Get here about a half an hour to an hour before the sun actually goes down and you can watch the sun disappear behind the lake among the various waterfowl, gazebos and boats scattered about this clean area. Bring along some beers, a blanket and relax on one of the nearby benches. No one’s going to bother you and it’s a quiet way to end the evening before beginning your pilgrimage back home on Sunday.

3

5. Gaze at the Fireworks on Wildwood Beach

You could stay home and watch the fireworks from your local high school or a nearby park… but why do that when you can watch them on Wildwood Beach to start your vacation? Every Friday in the summer, the city shoots off fireworks to declare the weekend at 10:00 pm at Pine Avenue, visible from most outposts in the area. If it’s too rainy on Friday, then they are shot off on Sundays at 9:00 pm. Plus, since the Wildwood beach is like four miles just to get to the ocean, there’s always room for everyone.

7

6. Ride the Rickety Rides at Morey’s Piers 

Similar to most shoreside amusement parks, rides at Morey’s Piers run pretty expensive – the best value for a casual rider is probably the Super Value Package which includes 65 tickets for $55 (with rides ranging from 5 tickets to 12 tickets depending on the type of ride). This is a great package because you can hit only the best rides when it fits throughout your stay with no time limit. You can’t hang out on the piers and resist on going on just a few rides, especially the Zoom Phloom log flume decorated in outfit doo-wop theme, the giant swings and “IT,” a cheesy yet stomach-dropping carnival ride which looks lame but is a worthy opponent to even the bravest coaster-dweller.

7. Snap a Photo by the Iconic ‘Wildwoods’ Sign 

This famous sign marks the center of Wildwood Crest in the popular district where you can get some lame photos of you and your crew posing behind some oversized letters or beach balls – a great stop for when you’re biking the boardwalk and on your way back to grab your daily fudge fix. Be prepared, though – y0u’re not the only tourist, and if someone’s going to take a picture of you, be prepared to take several of them… and their seven kids.

8

8. Laze Around on the Beaches

Here’s another great reason to visit Wildwood – the beaches are free. No beach pass, no cash. There is a catch, however… you will need to survive the long hike from “under the boardwalk” to the five mile stretch of beach on the other side, though the powdery white sand awaiting you is worth it. Throughout the season, Wildwood beaches are the hosts to various activities including  including championship soccer, lacrosse and hockey tournaments, the National Marbles Championships, Monster Truck Races, Motocross Races, Sand Sculpting Festivals, headline concerts, and the Wildwoods International Kite Festival.

9

9. Sway Your Way Down Old New Jersey Avenue 

Wildwood isn’t known for its insane nightlife, especially compared to nearby Atlantic City or Seaside Heights, however it does have a few bars and clubs worth checking out including Keenan’s Irish Pub, a large indoor and outdoor casual bar similar to Bar Anticipation in Belmar and Echo’s, a cheesy yet sweaty indoor dance club and Flip-Flopz, a bar, club and grill which also features live music on Saturdays. Luckily, these three bars are neighbors, saving you lengthy cab rides as you bar-hop on Saturday night.

10. Hop on the Ferris Wheel by Nightfall

Even though the line gets hefty, it’s for a good reason – checking out the sights and sounds of the Wildwoods from high above in your Giant Wheel cart in Morey’s Piers is worth the wait. Built in 1985 and standing at 150 feet tall, the iconic and oversized wheel is a romantic and relaxing way to end a summer weekend trip to Wildwood… that is, if you’re not afraid of heights.

10

Virtual Blog Tour Monday

Blogging is not a solitary effort or work that exists behind a glass, where writers watch in silence as audiences read, critique and praise their work. Instead, it is a community, and to be a successful blogger, you have to join the party – not just sit in the corner and wonder when someone will come and talk to you.

For this reason, I am participating in Virtual Blog Tour Monday, an effort which I was asked to participate in by a fellow blogger where we talk about what’s going on with our writing and give you some inside looks while introducing you to three other binge-worthy blogs to check out when you’re bored at work.

me

1. What am I working on? Although I enjoy being a part of the WordPress community and getting and giving feedback to writers and readers who love the process as much as I do, at this point, I want this blog to be the takeoff point to more travel writing work. By using clips and ideas that I have written for Circus, I want to do more freelance work for travel websites and magazines and get out so I can not only improve my craft, but I can circle it back and gain a larger following for Circus as well.

2. How does my work differ from others of its genre? There’s a lot of stuff out there on luxury, high-class travel, travel for families, or travel for partying college kids. However, Circus is about the thrill of nomad travel – the joy of not knowing where you’re going to sleep tonight or what odd characters you’re going to come across on your journey. Dirty, backpacked kids deserve an intelligent guide too.

3. How does my writing process work? I think about travel pretty much all day long, everyday – so when the next week comes about and I know it’s time for a fresh post, it isn’t hard for me to scavenge my ideas together and craft a post that focuses on a particularly charming destination, wise travel tips, or interesting observations that I’ve picked up. I follow basic journalistic standards through my formal training at Monmouth University, but at the same time, I make an effort to use my human voice and let this be my own space.

4. Why do I create what I do? Back in the day when I came to the rather obvious conclusion that being a travel writer would be the best job in the world, I also quickly realized that National Geographic wasn’t going to instantly allow me to tell everyone about where to find the best cannolis in Florence. I needed my own outlet, and I found that here – a place to share work and ideas without the fear of failure while also enjoying a space to look back on how I’ve grown as a writer…. and all the sweet places I’ve been.

Check out these three other awesome blogs…

1. Fiona Andrews

Fiona is an itinerant barefoot yoga teacher who never manages to stay in one country for more than a few months at a time. Recently transplanted from southern India, she is still enjoying the novelty of amenities like electricity and indoor plumbing. When she’s not sleeping in an airport during an agonizing layover or helping her students into kickass headstands, she can be found growing her content marketing business or climbing a nearby tree.

A Day In the Life of a Yogi in India

10 Things To Get You Through 32 Hours of Travelling

 

2. Fabulously Disheveled

Amy Wray is a lifestyle and fashion editor, writer, and personal blogger. She’s hip to all things pop culture and loves champagne, chihuahuas, and reality tv.  

Swimsuits in Every Size That Are Pool Party Perfect

Trend: Statement Ankle

 

3. Like I Said…

Tamara “T” Braunstein is a journalist and writer by training and passion, currently working for a PR firm in Chicago, IL. A native of Seattle, WA, she adores the West Coast and thrives on adventure, the outdoors, and contemplating and writing about life, in all of its shame and glory.

Death of a Friend

The Caveats of My Forgiveness

The Nation’s Oldest Seaside Resort

The Jersey Shore gets a bad rap.

Whether it’s an Ocean Avenue full of bennies, Seaside Heights full of rowdy, drunken teenagers, or Asbury Park’s dirty, needle-ridden beaches, everyone has something bad to say about the famous coastline ruling the East Coast. However, when we think of the biggest cities of the Shore – Wildwood, Belmar, Atlantic City – one place that tends to escape the list is Cape May.

Why is this? Probably because Cape May doesn’t really fit the mold of the typical Jersey Shore beach town. There’s no insane florescent-lighted clubs, bungalows stuffed full of wild college kids or action-packed boardwalks. But this isn’t a reason to avoid the town – hell, if you want those things you can save yourself some Parkway driving and stay more north. However, if you’re bored of the typical dirty Shore beach (not that they aren’t wonderful) then get comfortable in the driver’s seat and find out why Cape May stands apart from every other boardwalked beach on the coast.

1. The entire city is designated as a National Historic Landmark. Sound lame? Well, unlike the “historical landmarks” your parents dragged you to on the edge of your town to learn about how colonial people made bread or something, the entire city is designated as a National Historic Landmark because of the outrageous concentration of Victorian buildings. Instead of being roped off from tourists with entrance fees tacked on, people live in these 600-or-so homes and they make it count. Wandering through the shady, laid-back town, especially near Washington Street, you’ll quickly notice that these colorful Victorians are adorned with elaborate gardens, eccentric details and people casually enjoying their tea on wrap-around porches. This makes the city feel very comfortable, lived-in, and real. 

IMG_5801

Strolling down Beach Avenue

2. The Cape May Lighthouse, over 100 years old, stands noble and dignified. Climbing lighthouses always seems like an activity you do because your parents make you, but climbing the Cape May Lighthouse is a highlight of the city experience. At the top of the lighthouse, built in 1869, you have a great view overlooking the end of the state (and the beginning of the next) where the Delaware Bay meets the Atlantic Ocean and you can check out the surrounding marshlands, where outdoor fanatics bird watch.

IMG_5837

View out of a 100+ year old porthole at the Cape May Lighthouse over the Atlantic

3. It’s a quiet, low-key and romantic beach town. There aren’t too many Jersey Shore towns that can call themselves “romantic” or “low-key” – instead, most are a little cheesy, equipped with their own theme songs, and are muddled with franchises and sticky kids. Cape May, however, with the quiet undertones of Savannah, Georgia or Charlotte, North Carolina, is a hotspot for stately weddings and, thankfully, is fit for adults. A town with pastel Victorians, quiet and cool streets, weeping willows and bed and breakfasts is made for romance. Embrace the sentimentality by going on a beach bike ride down Beach Avenue or going for a $6 wine tasting at the Cape May Winery.

IMG_5838

An afternoon wander down Washington Street

4. The city boasts the cleanest beaches around. It’s probably in part because the neat and tidy beaches, such as Higbee Beach or Poverty Beach, cost $6 a day, but nonetheless, the Natural Resource Defense Council has designated the 24 Cape May beaches one of its 38 locations of “Superstar Beaches” due to the quality of the water. You won’t run into any plastic bags or trash on Cape May beaches and, a rarity on the Jersey Shore, you won’t have to worry about any gross contamination here. Cape May feels very clean, luxurious and exclusive not only due to the beautiful homes and hotels, but also because the star attractions of the town stay neat and tidy.

IMG_5741

Cape May Point beach is one of the city’s most residential beaches

5. Cape May has got some great dining, shopping and staying. No need to rent a room at the Marriott around here – instead, take advantage of the many antiquated bed-and-breakfasts that ooze regality and charm. Most have their own legends, ghosts, themes and quirks. The same goes for Cape May restaurants in shops – you won’t find too many chains or franchises, but instead, lots of family-owned places that have been run by the same families for decades where you can find some interesting stuff and stellar seafood.

IMG_5766

Lunch at A Ca Mia, Italian restaurant and bakery at the Washington Street Mall