1.)Where was the first place that you traveled that made you think WOW—travel is amazing (think history book come to life or …..)
I had always traveled with my family on vacation trips to Europe and the United States. But the first time I got to travel for business—doing what I love—was on a special trip to Istanbul, Turkey. On that trip, I was invited to deliver a brand-new airplane (a Boeing 777-300ER) from the Boeing Factory in Everett, Washington (near Seattle), all the way to Turkish Airlines’ home base in Istanbul.
That trip opened my eyes because I had never thought I could be on a delivery flight, flying a brand new airplane with airline executives and just a handful of reporters on board. Imagine—a 300-passenger plane just for a dozen people on a 13-hour crossing to Turkey. That was special. And I keep a huge poster in my office showing our wonderful airplane taking off to Istanbul.
But, now that I’ve traveled the world, I do remember one place that made me think WOW, travel is amazing. I went to North Korea in 2016 on a special trip to fly all of the country’s national airline planes. We got to spend several hours of our 5 days in North Korea flying vintage Soviet airplanes, but when on the ground, we got to visit Pyongyang, Wonsan and Hyangsan, three important cities in the isolated country.
Even though I was scared all the time—mostly because we were heavily escorted by minders who were paying very close attention to our each and every move—this trip opened my eyes and taught me that the world is filled with surprises that are worth exploring. People in North Korea are oblivious to what’s beyond their borders, and the way they saw us, foreigners, touched me deeply in my heart. We were like aliens to them. It was very, very special.
Also, after eating their food for 5 straight days, I realized how fortunate we are to enjoy vast amounts of proteins every day. They survive on small amounts of rice and vegetables only. Proteins in North Korea are so scarce, that dog meat is a delicacy and only the most privileged can afford it. I tried it, and I’ll never forget it.
2.)If you had unlimited resources, where would you go and what would you do?
I would fly around the world on my own plane. I would try to visit the most important countries in every continent and try to land at the most challenging airports on the planet.
You see, being a pilot and and aviation enthusiast are two things that help me remain motivated day and night. When I’m sad, I hop on my plane and go flying around the Caribbean. That makes me smile, no matter what the situation is.
I figure—If I had unlimited resources, I’d definitely try to fly around the world on my own plane and visit the prettiest destinations known to man. I’d love to land in Greenland, for example. Or try to cross the Atlantic with a stop in Iceland for dinner. Who knows? Maybe one day I’ll be able to afford that. (Fingers crossed!)
More realistically, though, I’d increase my magazine’s distribution and make sure each and every town in the world gets it. Airways Magazine shows the beauty of aviation, and I’d like for every aviation enthusiast kid in the world to receive my magazine and get some of that passion that drives me—and many other aviation enthusiasts—every day.
3.)What were you afraid to do and how did you find the courage to overcome it?
I was afraid to visit North Korea, I must admit. Reading all the news of foreigners remaining captive made me super anxious. In fact, being an aviation reporter and entering the country as a “tourist” made me even more nervous. I was afraid they’d Google my name and find out I was going there on a journalist mission. But my tour organizer told me, “They have no internet over there. They have no idea what Google is. Don’t worry, they won’t know who you are.”
I remember the morning prior to my departure to Pyongyang. I had the most devastating headache of my life. I was so stressed and nervous I could barely wake up from bed. But I managed to put myself together and stayed for 5 amazing days in a country that’s completely isolated from the rest of the globalized world. Now I have a few stories to tell my children and grand children, one day. One thing is for sure, though. I’m not going back until their senseless regime is over.
4.)What apps do you use regularly that make your life easier?
I have three apps that help me keep track of my daily life. First, I use “Sleep Cycle“, which helps me keep track of my sleep. You’d be surprised, but Pilots don’t get to sleep regularly. This affects our concentration and our performance up in the air. That’s why we’re all addicted to Coffee, because it counteracts the lack of regular sleep and pushes us to remain afloat. This app counts the hours you’ve been in bed, and the amount of time you’ve effectively slept—that is, been under deep sleep.
My second app, is Weight Gurus. It’s important to me to remain in shape and not gain weight. All the traveling makes one try new things to eat, at different times. This, obviously, makes one gain weight and perhaps become unhealthier. I try to work out as much as I can and keep my weight under control. It’s not easy, but the effort definitely counts.
The third and last app I use, is my calendar. I keep everything on my schedule neat and precise. My Apple Watch helps me remember when I have a flight, or when I have to take my vitamins, or when my it’s time to stand up and move after many hours sitting down… It also reminds me when my magazine’s articles are due, or when my team is supposed to upload the most recent issue to press. I used to love using my Rolex, but honestly, I wouldn’t know how to live without my Apple Watch anymore. It’s become a part of me, and I don’t want to let it go!
5.)What place do you wish more people have seen?
I’m not sure. I haven’t been to many places, yet. I have friends who’ve visited over 160 countries. I’ve only visited 72. But If I could bring the world to Venezuela and show off the beauties this country has to offer, I’d definitely do it. It’s a marvelous country with stunning scenery and flying opportunities.
In fact, I’m organizing an Aviation Enthusiast tour for the end of the year. I intend to take a group of AvGeeks to the Angel Falls and fly vintage Antonov An-2 airplanes. We’ll also go to Los Roques (the Archipelago), and I’ll get to be the captain on all flights within the country.
6.)Best advice you have been given and by whom?
Good question. One Pilot that writes for my magazine is always making fun of me because “I move too much.” He always, always tells me to “stay hydrated and keep Tylenol in my backpack.” Honestly, I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve had to use that Tylenol to battle jetlag and how many times I’ve needed to wash down a huge bottle of water to counteract travel-induced dehydration.
It’s fundamental to remain hydrated during long-haul travel. Just now, in China, my headache wouldn’t go away. But as soon as I drank a full bottle of water, it vanished. Water does the trick. Stay hydrated!
7.)When were you surprised by the kindness of strangers on a trip?
Kindness is not something you get to find regularly. At least that’s what I’ve found out.
I think the countries where people are the kindest are usually Asian countries. Japan surprised me as a place where people are happy to care for you. I remember landing in Tokyo and arriving to my hotel in Shinjuku. As soon as I set foot inside the hotel, at least four staff members ran to help me with my bag, smiling and bowing. They’re the coolest people. The way they hand back a passport or a credit card—with both hands, instead of one—that always makes me smile. They’re super polite and so happy to serve you.
Just recently, on a trip to Shanghai, the Flight Attendants on my China Eastern flight were completely devoted to serving me. They were so happy to be doing their jobs. I appreciate that. I always will.
I think that the culture to serve is extremely valuable. Making a foreigner feel welcome in a country that’s so far away from home is key to enjoy visiting new frontiers. And every time I encounter welcoming attitudes from locals, I try to show my appreciation and gratitude.
8.)What inspired you to travel for extended periods of time or live in a new country?
I have lived in four countries in the short span of my 30 years of life. Venezuela, Italy, France, and the United States. I have loved each and every place where I’ve lived. So different. So challenging.
Thanks to my experience, I’ve learned to appreciate what I have today. I’ve learned—the hard way—how to do things and how to move around crowded cities. These places have taught me so many things that can only be understood as a local, and not a tourist.
When visiting a new country I make sure I stay at common brand hotels. This way the cultural shock isn’t that strong to begin with and I’m able to adapt to that new place slowly. I’m not like those travel adventurers who venture into a local hostel just to mingle with other world tourists. I like to take things slow, progressively adapting to the place I’m visiting, learning the behaviors and likes of the locals and trying to enjoy as much as I can—again, keeping my body hydrated and making sure I’m having the time of my life.
Again, I like to feel welcome when I travel. I’m not an adventurer seeking to mingle with closed-minded locals. I like to feel like I’m not in danger and love to leave places wanting to come back.
9.)I travel because….
It’s what I love. It’s what I do. It’s what keeps me going, motivated, happy. Hopping on a new plane, new airline, arriving at a new airport, getting that new stamp on my passport. That’s what defines me, and I’m grateful to God for giving me the life style that I so much fought to get. Ah, and did I mention it’s my job, too?
I’m grateful to have a girlfriend who supports my job and is proud of what I do. She’s the backbone of my happiness and there’s nothing I want more than having the opportunity to see the world with her next to me.
The only drawback of traveling with her, though, would be having to fly straight routes instead of crazy connections just to try new airplanes or airlines. But I’ve done plenty of that already! I’d be more than happy to fly ultra-long-haul routes (18+ hours) with her next to me. She’ll hate me for it, but when we get to the destination, I’m sure I’ll be able to surprise her. (Ha!)
Enrique Perrella is the Publisher and Editor in Chief of Airways Magazine, the world’s #1 commercial aviation magazine since 1994. He is a Commercial Pilot and a King Air 100 Captain who flies around the Caribbean when he’s not behind the desk putting together another monthly issue of his magazine.
Enrique is an avid aviation enthusiast. He’s traveled the world and keeps a close count of the types of airplanes he’s flown on, and the number of airlines and airports he’s been on. He is a graduate of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and holds an Aviation MBA from Luiss Business School in Rome, Italy.
Enrique is driven by his passion for all-things aviation and hopes to continue logging new destinations while keeping his loved ones close to him.
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