Hey, I’m Martin

I’m an Author, Coach, Speaker and the CFO (Chief Flying Officer) at When PIGGs Fly and I’m on a mission to help you believe In the Power of Possible in the pursuit of your dreams. For fun I fly airplanes, lift weights and occasionally wear a speedo on stage.


Yeah, I know! That last part about the Speedo probably threw ya, right? Well, let me explain. In January of 2018 I entered a bodybuilding competition at the age of 54 to honor my Mom, who was also my best friend and the person who restarted my weightlifting journey when she gave me a gym membership for my 48th birthday.

In February of 2016 we were living together when she died tragically and unexpectedly from a pulmonary embolism. From the moment she called out to me to the time I got to her was maybe ten seconds, but she was already unconscious. She took three quick breaths and died in my arms. And in those ten seconds I lost my mom, my creative muse and my best friend.

After her death I wrapped myself in a virtually impenetrable cocoon of grief. On the outside it would’ve been difficult for the people who didn’t know me to understand just how much pain I was really in. Ironically at the time, I was great at helping other people with their pain, even though I was a wreck on the inside.

Instinctively, I knew I needed to do something ginormous to shake me out of my morass. That’s why I chose the bodybuilding competition and dedicated my training to Mom. I hired a coach and pushed my body way past what I believed I was capable of enduring. In eleven months of contest prep I lost 31 pounds, 24% of my body fat and eight inches on my waist.

On stage the night of the competition when then emcee asked me who my biggest influence in life was, I had the opportunity to share the story of losing my mom with the audience and I could feel the healing begin to take place.



Whether I’m flying airplanes, training for a bodybuilding competition or helping people claim the freedom to live the life they want to live, what drives me is passion. I simply won’t spend my time and energy on anything I’m not passionate about. And that combination of passion and purpose came together for the first time in 2002 in the cockpit of an airplane.

I’d wanted to fly for awhile when my friend, Alan, offered to take me up for a flight one Friday evening. Standing among a group of pilots, one of them suggested that we fly from our Baltimore airport to Reading, Pennsylvania for dinner and I thought to myself, “Is that something we can really do?” Thirty minutes later five planes were airborne bound for Reading. 

Flying toward the setting sun at 4500 feet I couldn’t believe I was actually in an airplane. And I still remember the moment Alan asked, “Would you like to take control of the plane?” I was speechless. I couldn’t believe that he would actually allow me to fly the plane by myself. And when I put my hands on the yoke for the first time I immediately discovered a passion that would eventually change my life forever. 

The following morning I returned to the airport to sign up for flight lessons. And since that first trip to Reading, flying has become my greatest passion in life and the impetus for me to help people make the transition from the life they’re expected to live to the life they want to live; a life that is aligned with their core beliefs, greatest passion, unique gifts and a vision for making the world better because they were here.


Okay, so maybe you’re curious how flying and my work are connected. That’s a fair question and I have two answers. When I earned my pilot’s license and developed the ability to fly an airplane to 10,000 feet and bring it safely back to earth, I realized that if I could do that I could do anything. And being open to all possibilities is what led me to the work I do now. 

 The second answer is that flying has given me a completely different perspective on life and the world. When I’m in the cockpit I’m literally and figuratively observing the world from 10,000 feet. Flying across the country above pastures, skyscrapers and cars passing each other on endless stretches of road, I witness both the structure in life and experience a freedom from it. 

 The urge to be free is innate in all of us. Watch any toddler struggling to escape her parent’s arms. Even without the ability to form words we understand that she wants to be free. But as adults we must reclaim the freedom we’ve hidden from family, friends and society because we were expected to fit in. And for the last twenty years I’ve flown the most direct route to freedom, which is to use your greatest passion as the guide for finding and living your purpose in life.

10 Things You Might Not Know About Me

01 Mom lit my first cigar for me when I was 8 years old

Well actually, my first and only cigar. While Mom never touched cigarettes, Dad was a heavy smoker. Walking home from school one afternoon I found a cigar in the street and told Mom I wanted to smoke it. I put it in my mouth as she lit the end and told me to take the deepest breath I possibly could. With my lungs on fire and a burning cough that lasted at least five minutes I decided that smoking wasn’t as much fun as it looked. And I never had the urge to smoke again.

02 My first job out of college was as a prison guard at a penitentiary in Texas

In the town where I lived the best paying jobs were teaching and guarding inmates, and guarding inmates paid more money. So I spent four years in the slammer before making a teargas- induced escape.   

03 – My favorite cheat foods are sushi and nigiri

Most people dieting for bodybuilding competitions choose food that is really a guilty pleasure, like pizza and hamburgers. Not me! Give me a place to eat great sushi and nigiri and I’m in culinary heaven.

04 – I narrowly avoided being kidnapped during a desperate search for love

It wasn’t my intention to marry Kristina when we met for the first time in Tbilisi. But her family had other plans.

05 – Mom’s the reason I entered a bodybuilding competition at 48.

It had been 28 years since I picked up a weight. But when Mom gave me a gym membership for my birthday something clicked. I threw myself into working out and in 2018 I entered a competition. Training for the competition taught me valuable lessons I could use in other areas of my life. And now I’m hooked on competing.

06 – Every time I pass a Popeye’s I fight the urge to pull in for a biscuit

Fortunately, I don’t succumb to the urge very often. But I’ve had their delicious biscuits many times in the past and I have to force myself to look away as I go by.

07 – I’ve flown volunteer missions for Pilots ’n Paws

Pilots ‘Paws is a nonprofit organization  that works with volunteer pilots to fly for dogs rescued from high kill shelters to their new forever homes.

08 – I’m likely the only former American prison guard to start a successful business selling oilfield equipment to Russian oil companies.

It’s a crazy story and one where the business was stolen from me by another former prison guard. But much of what I learned about myself and my ability to succeed comes from the struggles and sacrifices that went into making that venture successful.

09 – You may know her from Dancing With The Stars

But I know her as the friend who comforted me on the worst day of my life. Carrie Ann was the person I reached out to as paramedics tried unsuccessfully to resuscitate Mom. And her call with me that night gave me a small island of peace in an ocean of sadness.

10 – Thank you SAK Comedy Lab for helping me restore my creativity.

Diving headfirst into improv comedy gave me the creative jolt I needed to get my life and my work back on track.