Power the Sky
Joe Sener is a private pilot and a retired engineer with a deep-rooted love for aviation. He has been in the aviation industry for the last 20 years and has undertaken many flying trips. He has two kids who lead productive lives. The avid traveler is ever ready to fly an aircraft or camp in Oshkosh. During his interview with Jackery, Joe shares his favorite memory from 2015 or 2016 when he decided to go on a mountain flying trip in Colorado. He also shares his experiences as an aviation camper using his compact and portable Jackery Solar Generator.
1. Where are you from, and what do you enjoy doing?
I'm a private pilot and retired engineer. My wife and I live out in a resort area of Northwest Illinois. I've been kind of a perennial visitor to the world's largest air show, "EAA AirVenture," in Oshkosh, Wisconsin.
I grew up wanting to be an astronaut. I've spent some time in the US military as a paratrooper, so I've been into aviation in one kind or another. Later in my career, we lived outside Chicago with airplanes flying overhead. I thought I'd give it a shot, and that's when I picked up my license.
2. What Jackery product do you have? And how has it helped you?
Jackery Solar Generator 300 (click here to learn more). Get 12% OFF using coupon code in the checkout page. Counpon Code: SKY12
In 2023, there were 677,000 attendees (over 8 days) in the world's largest air show called "EAA AirVenture," with 11,000 airplanes parked and camped at the airport. Everybody was carrying a Wi-Fi device, and I had an iPad for aviation (cockpit) purposes and one for evening reading. My copilot had the same thing. We both had smart phones and we've always tried to find a way to charge all these devices.
Previously, I've tried a one-kilowatt Honda generator. While it works, it’s not like you can cook by the airplane. And even the smallest generator weighs 35 pounds. My daughter goes camping with her family, and they use a CPAP machine. She had to take a power station to charge it, and I found out that these power stations are pretty cool.
So, I started researching all the devices, and I came across Jackery. Jackery’s Explorer 300 could recharge my cell phone around 18 times. Over a year ago, my wife and I bought a small camper with a solar panel attached to its roof. That's when I thought of buying the matching Jackery SolarSaga 100W Solar Panels and see how they would work. And I found it unbelievably great!
While parked and camped next to our airplane at AirVenture we plugged in the CPAP (which has an on-board heater) all night long. We also charged my iPhone, and my copilot's Android phone. When we woke up at 6 a.m., we used only 36% of the Jackery.
While there are charging stations at the end of every row, they are all full, and you've to wait in line to charge devices. So, using the Jackery with solar panels was a fantastic idea. We plugged in the solar panel to completely recharge the power station while we went to the daily airshow, and it took three hours or less.
This all made it different from gasoline generators. No matter how quiet it is, the gasoline generators still generate fumes amongst a row full of airplanes. It's still got a hot muffler, something you don't want.
3. What is your favorite memory from out on your adventures?
My favorite memory is from 2016, when I got my instrument training and my son was graduating from college. We both decided to go on a mountain flying trip to Colorado. We found an instructor who was notably the dean of Search and Air Rescue for the state of Colorado.
We flew to Broomfield Jefferson County (KBJC) and underwent a full day of specialized ground school, relearning the things you think you learned as a private pilot. We visited six airports in and around the Rockies throughout the adventure, each presenting its challenges and high-altitude landings.
The trip was phenomenal, and it would have been impossible without the instructor.
4. If you could only pack the three most essential things to take with you on a trip, what would this be? (2-day trip, for example)
So I'm gonna want the avionics that I'm carrying on the plane. Devices that range from telling where I am right now to letting other people know who you are and where you are.
Oshkosh is all about camping. You can't get a hotel room. So it's $800 a night because everybody's coming there, right? And if I'm going to camp, I've invested in some very good gear. So I went to REI, and I said I wanted a stormproof tent.
I invest in the right gear. Because it just makes life simpler, and Jackery was a big part of that. I already had the generator. It's like, why do I want something else? Well, because I don't want to carry a 35-pound generator and be that guy in the campground. Invest in the right gear and it’ll make life just that much easier.
5. Do you have any advice for someone looking to start a similar lifestyle?
Try not to plan it all out. I spend a fair amount of time coaching rising juniors and seniors at the university level in the College of Engineering. They all want to know what's the perfect curriculum to follow and what's the perfect plan. But five years after graduation, nobody's gonna care where you went to college.
They’re gonna care how you're contributing, and if I tried today to draw a straight line from my college education to my present state, it's not possible. So it's kind of like don't plan it all out, be present. Take a risk and be ready when the next brass ring comes.
Joe Sener loves spending his time traveling to EAA AirVenture — the world's largest air show with the busiest airport. In 2023, EAA had around 677,000 attendees. There were 11,000 airplanes parked and camped at the airport. The total aviation transactions (takeoff and landings) were about 148 per hour. It closes around 8 p.m. at night, and all these people wander around to charge their devices.