Author Archives: Ian Petchenik

Comcast Drove Me Away, Right into RCN’s Open Arms

Last week, I was a Comcast Internet customer. This week, my Internet is provided by RCN. And that’s all because of Comcast’s terrible customer service and RCN’s great social media team.

I can’t say I know anyone who says they love their cable company, but over the last month, Comcast went out of their way to treat a loyal customer with disdain and made it very clear they didn’t want my business. When I took to twitter to try and resolve a problem with Comcast, RCN’s customer service team jumped in and made it crystal clear that they wanted me and took easy, but meaningful steps to win my business. Continue reading


Thanksgiving Travel Headaches & Airline Travel Waivers

This year’s Thanksgiving travel looks like it’s going to be messy this year, with a Nor’easter bearing down on the, well, Northeast. If you’re flying for Thanksgiving, be sure to pack extra patience and perhaps take advantage of your airline’s travel waivers. Continue reading

Blue Angels

The 2014 Chicago Air and Water Show

Every year one of the highlights of my summer is the Chicago Air and Water Show. For a few days the sky is filled with the thunderous roar of jet engines and the high-pitched whine of acrobatic prop planes. And for that weekend, seemingly everyone in the city becomes a bit of an aviation geek.

You can view all my photos from the Air and Water show here.

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Flagship Detroit

Flying the Flagship Detroit

On Friday I had the pleasure of joining the crew of the Flagship Detroit on an hour-long flight around Chicago. We departed O’Hare Airport to the west and flew south and east before turning up the shore of Lake Michigan and joining the pattern for an approach and landing on O’Hare’s runway 28C. Continue reading


Malaysia Airlines Flight 370—Understanding Terminology

Over a week and a half have gone by since Malaysia Airlines flight 370 was last seen flying at 35,000 feet above the Gulf of Thailand on its way from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing. Dozens of ships, airplanes, helicopers, and satellites are currently searching thousands of square miles of sea and land to find MH370, but have so far come up empty. Perhaps most maddening is that we still have no idea what happened. The bits of information that have trickled out since it disappeared haven’t really brought us any closer to understanding where MH370 is and what happened on board.

The past week and half have been a steep learning curve, especially for those who don’t normally follow aviation. Navigating the jargon of the business can be confusing and separating all the acronyms can get in the way of understanding the situation.

What this post is: an attempt to put together some pieces of information so that reading the news doesn’t mean looking up a new acronym every two words. If you’re confused at all by ACARS vs TCAS, or you think ADS-B is what kicks in when your car hits a patch of ice, this post should shed a little light and I’ll do my best to update this post with answers to any questions you may have.

What this post isn’t: a compendium of theories of what happened to flight 370. If you’re looking for that, there are plenty of other places willing to entertain wild speculation. Continue reading

American Eagle Logotype

My Favorite Aviation Photos of 2013

Last week I went through my photos and pulled out my favorite non-aviation photos from 2013, but now it’s time for my favorite aviation photos of 2013. This year was a great aviation-photography year. I experienced the unveiling of the new American Airlines livery (and talked about it with one of the key people behind it), EAA Airventure in Oskosh, WI, planespotting with some consummate avgeeks, American Airlines’ new Embraer E175, and O’Hare Airport’s Run on the RunwayContinue reading


My Favorite Non-avgeek Photos of 2013

2013 was the year I got serious about my photography. I’ve always enjoyed taking photos, but between responsibilities at work and taking planespotting a bit more seriously, I’ve been taking a lot more photos. Looking back on the photos I’ve taken this year, here are my favorite non-aviation-related photos of 2013. I’ll have a second post that’s pure avgeek goodness before the new year.
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A Winter Walk in Chicago

With a few extra vacation days to burn at the end of the year, I’ve found myself with a bit of time on my hands. So I’ve taken to going for a walk in the afternoon and taking photos. For the past couple of days my route has taken me from Millennium Park, up Michigan Avenue and the Magnificent Mile to Water Tower Place. Visitors always tell me they’re surprised that anyone leaves the house during Chicago winters, but there’s plenty to see and do. Continue reading

Pizza Apart

“Chicago-style” vs. Chicago Pizza

Last night, Jon Stewart took to the airwaves to lambaste “Chicago-style pizza.” Not surprisingly, this kicked off a torrent of pizza-centric vitriol between fans of New York and Chicago pizza lovers. As a Chicagoan I found everything Stewart said to be funny and true, but he made the mistake that so many outsiders make: he made Chicago-style, deep dish pizza sound like the only game in town.

Watch the Daily Show bit, then meet me at the next paragraph.


One must be very clear when discussing Chicago pizza. “Chicago-style pizza” and pizza in Chicago are not the same. “Chicago-style” pizza may be what the rest of the country associates with Chicago, but deep dish is something that is often reserved for tourists and treating out of town guests. People who actually live in Chicago don’t eat deep dish on a regular basis.

Chicago’s thin crust pizza, itself a vast culinary universe, is where the real action is. Places like Apart Pizza Company or Fornello’s are where Chicagoans get their pizza day in, day out. So, the next time you’re in Chicago and want some pizza, don’t go to a deep-dish-serving chain, head to a local pizza place and order some thin crust. You’ll thank me for it.

**Full disclosure: I love New York style pizza. Some of the best in the city can be found at Como Pizza, 4035 Broadway.