Becoming The Higher Flyer

Me at age 5, sitting in the flight deck of a United A320

Hi, I’m Paul, and welcome to The Higher Flyer!

For as long as I can remember, aviation has been my passion. I went on my first flight when I was six weeks old, and I haven’t slowed down since.

Growing up, I moved all over the world because of my parents’ jobs. Even though I’m an American citizen from birth, I didn’t actually live in the United States until I started middle school. Before that, we were in Poland, then in Indonesia, and then in Lithuania. Through all of those adventures, we did a lot of traveling as a family; I accrued over 250,000 lifetime flight miles combined on United Airlines and American Airlines all before my 10th birthday. In the 18 months between October 2001 and April 2003, I spent nearly a month exclusively in the air (about 650 hours total). The cabin of a 747 was practically my second home.

My affinity for airplanes shouldn’t really come as a surprise then based on the amount of flying I did as a child. On my fifth birthday, my aunt and uncle gave me two books, Modern Commercial Aircraft and Airlines Worldwide, which is when my obsession really came to be. I wanted to know everything I could about commercial aviation, so I read those books religiously, studying them over and over and over again. My father would take me to parks near the local airports so I could observe all the take-offs and landings from only a few hundred feet away. On the school playground, I’d identify every type of aircraft that would roar overhead and then name the airline that was operating it. While my classmates would hotly debate the rivalry between Real Madrid and Barcelona, I’d think to myself, “Who cares about soccer? Boeing versus Airbus is so much more interesting!” Other kids thought I was weird.

As I got older, I started picking up other interests: politics and Boston sports teams to name a few, but aviation never faded either. I went to college to get degrees in Political Science and Economics, and I joined the United States Department of State. That job was a dream come true for me; my coworkers and I were responsible for planning the logistical details of the Secretary of State’s trips. From ultra-long haul flights on Air Force 3 to presidential suites on the other side of the globe, we made sure the Secretary and his team were covered wherever they went. Because of our efforts, we helped get the Secretary to 91 countries over the course of 588 travel days, 1.4 million flight miles, and almost 3,000 transit hours during his four-year term.

I discovered websites like Flyer Talk and a number of other blogs during this time too. I was hooked in by the opportunities they described: high class travel at remarkably low prices. Reading detailed accounts about first class travel to dream destinations inspired me to take an even bigger step into the world of commercial travel. The Higher Flyer represents just that —  it’s the culmination of my passions (airplanes!) and my professional skills (logistics!). So, welcome to my blog! I hope you enjoy reading what I’ve written, and that it can serve you as a resource in your own quest to “fly higher” and enhance your travel experiences. I encourage you to contact me if you have any questions or let me know if there’s anything I can do to help you personally. Happy trails!

– Paul Colins