Introducing a new chapter in our Aviationtag Ambassador series, where we transcend boundaries and connect with aviation enthusiasts worldwide. Today, we're delighted to present Mike, a 59-year-old self-employed photographer hailing from the scenic Crystal Coast in North Carolina. His passion for aviation showcases the universal appeal of Aviationtags, bringing together fans and collectors from every corner of the globe. Join us as we dive into Mike's unique journey and discover the shared love for aviation that knows no geographical limits.
Mike, what do you do for a living and in your spare time?
I’m a professional photographer and own/operate Beaufort Photography Co. here along the Crystal Coast of North Carolina. My spare time is filled with all things aviation, as well as reading, biking, playing Magic the Gathering, collecting James Bond autographs and memorabilia, and hanging out at the beach. I love history and live just over a mile from where the pirate Blackbeard’s ship, the Queen Anne’s Revenge, is sunk, off the coast of Fort Macon in Atlantic Beach.
Is there a particular reason why you are interested in aviation and aircrafts?
In January 1982, I flew for the very first time. I, along with 4 other students and our filmmaking professor, flew from CHA in Chattanooga, TN to LAX in Los Angeles, California to spend a week with Robin Williams, Tanya Roberts, Michelle Pfeiffer, and several other actors and directors. We spent a day on the set of the movie Beastmaster, attended the Mann’s Chinese Theater LA screening of Das Boot, were invited onto the set of Grease 2, etc. Both the trip to Hollywood and the flight were life-changing. I’ve been interested in aviation and photography ever since.
How many Aviationtags do you own?
How did it all start with collecting Aviationtags?
I've been collecting aviation related memorabilia for 25 years and aviation related tags for one year, having purchased my first tag on May 17, 2022. Less than a month passed before I happened across the Aviationtags website and purchased my first Aviationtag on June 12, 2022 - a white Germanwings Airbus A320 D-AIPW tag. During this first year of collecting, my collection has grown to 755 tags, of which 116 are Aviationtags, though those numbers tend to increase weekly.
What else do you collect?
I have 325 1:400 scale diecast aircraft and a dozen 1:200 scale. I also have an extensive collection of BWIA related items. I collect aviation timetables, postcards, First Day Covers, vintage travel posters, etc. I’m currently building a 1:400 model of Piarco International Airport (POS) in Port of Spain, Trinidad. It was the main hub of British West Indies Airways (BWIA) from 1940 until 2006 when BWIA became Caribbean Airlines.
Do you fly a lot?
Following a kidney transplant in 2022, I'm finally back to flying, having already flown four times so far this year. I'm also planning a trip to POS in 2024.
From 1990-2010, I flew several times a year. All of my flights have been within the US except for two flights to the Dominican Republic in 2009 and 2010, ORF-ATL-SDQ. Probably 75% of my flights have been ORF-ORD or ORF-MDW aboard United Airlines. I’ve also flown quite a bit aboard American Airlines and Delta Airlines.
What is your favorite Aviationtag and why?
I actually have two favorites. First is Caribbean Airlines 9Y KIN. I currently have 9 tags from that release. It’s my favorite because BWIA is my favorite airline and since they became Caribbean Airlines, it has taken over that number one spot. My second favorite is ANA JA02AN. I currently have 11 tags from that release. I’ve always been facinated by Japan and Japanese culture. Though JA02AN was released just one week after I purchased my first Aviationtag, I wasn’t yet familiar with how the releases worked and, therefore, have had to acquire those tags from both Aviationtag and from other collectors.
Do you have any interesting aviation memories that youl would like to share?
Back in 1990, my (then) wife and I were flying DFW-DEN SHR and on the last leg we were aboard a small regional plane. We were midway between Denver, CO and Sheridan, WY and the female flight attendant was next to my aisle seat with the drink cart serving beverages.
Right at that moment we hit a large pocket of turbulence and the drinks, drink cart, and flight attendant all went airborne and she landed smack in the middle of my lap with her arms around my neck holding on for dear life! My (then) wife was not even remotely amused... ;)
What is still on your bucket list?
One item on my bucket list has been to fly back to Los Angeles/LAX and visit the In- and-Out Burger that borders the eastern end of LAX to planespot. In October I was able to mark that off my bucket list as I flew from OAJ-CLT-LAX and was able to spend an hour planespotting from the restaurant. I love this hobby and Aviationtag!
Thanks for all you guys do for us aviation geeks around the world! I’m very grateful to be able to own pieces of aviation history, thanks to you!
Thanks for your time and your passion, Mike!
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