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"We are the protagonists of our stories called life, and there is no limit to how high we can fly."

Type rated on A330, B747-400, B747, B757, B767, B737, B727. International Airline Pilot / Author / Speaker. Dedicated to giving the gift of wings to anyone following their dreams. Supporting Aviation Safety through training, writing, and inspiration.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Making a Difference...

In Aviation Safety!

Today's post is a letter from Tzvetomir BLAJEV, a dedicated professional, that I had the opportunity and honor to meet in Brussels, at the EUROCONTROL Flight Safety conference, a couple years ago. His commitment to aviation safety is passion-driven and focused. Please take a moment to read his letter, and hear how proactive aviation safety is in Europe, and what the good people, who care about safety, can make happen with dedication and commitment. Thank you Tzvetomir! By the way... Hindsight is the aviation magazine you want to read!
What I have tried to do

It was the beginning of November 2012. The conference hall in Santiago looked more like a stadium. One could barely see empty seats and participants were still entering. I saw Paolo who, after the death of his son in an aircraft accident, quit his job and joined in the work of the Flight Safety Foundation. Paolo also saw me and made his way around some people to reach me and started speaking with his throaty voice “Ciao Tzvetomir, such a success - the whole of South America is here. You know, you have saved many lives, just that you and the people you saved will never know it.”

In the beginning of 2004 I was tasked to facilitate "Safety Information Sharing and Safety Improvement" for EUROCONTROL. A number of products emerged from this work - Safety Alerts, Safety Action Plans and Toolkits and, a little bit later, SKYbrary. Another product was also envisaged, a magazine style of publication which would communicate ATM safety knowledge and debate to both pilots and controllers in an easy to read style.

We launched HindSight in 2005 and you are now reading the 24th edition of it. Twice a year our editorial team tries to assemble a special publication for you. A publication that attempts to respect two important guiding principles for what can and what cannot be published. What I call here The Yin and The Yang of safety.

The Yang

This is the rational, logical, engineering point of view. Safety is achieved by a predefined structure of safety barriers. The barriers are sometimes redundant and sometimes support each other. You can invest in a rigorous stop-bars safety policy which will prevent an incorrect entry to the runway protected area or you can consider implementing Runway Status Lights to provide autonomous alerting to those who may be directly affected by a potential runway conflict that the runway is occupied.

In this way, in order to prevent runway collisions, we need a structure of safety functions which prevents runway incursions, prevents runway incursions to result in a runway conflict and ultimately to prevent a runway conflict leading to a runway collision.

Talking about safety structure and functions, in HindSight we particularly try to share with you the positive experiences of those who have developed and implemented new procedures or systems and can tell us what improvements these brought. Learning from good and bad, we also try to outline real incident and accident scenarios and investigate with you what information these failure stories tell us about the effectiveness of existing safety protections.

In sharing with you the technical part of safety, we “censor” only if the information about the standard procedures is misleading. We try to promote a healthy and constructive discussion with arguments based on facts and disagreements being a matter of opinion.

The Yin

Of course, safety cannot be only explained by the structural design of safety protections. There is much more to human and systems behaviour than just the rational de-construction of safety functions, training, compliance with procedures and reliability of equipment. People working in aviation and influencing safety come with their social and personal identities; they can be big or small cogs in the “safety machine” but they are more than cogs or nodes in the network; people are also carriers of an identity which influences and is influenced by their working environment. In other words, there are strong cultural issues in the way we “do things around here”.

We try avoiding talking too much about safety culture directly in HindSight but instead aim to become part of this culture. We try to find those story-tellers and meaning-shapers that challenge and make explicit our underlying assumptions on how things work or don’t work. Our shared underlying assumptions, created slowly over the years, almost sub-consciously built in our daily life, are in fact our safety culture.

Case studies, “camp fire” stories, comments and discussions have, as we hoped, over time continually given you someone else’s cleverness that can enrich your understanding and maybe challenge your assumptions. Or they can cultivate an ethical dilemma. On the one hand, use of the construct “situation awareness” when investigating past runway collision cases where it may be more a label of the symptoms than the underlying reasons. On the other hand it can be a useful system design guide to help maximise the ease of runway conflict detection and interpretation by controllers, pilots or vehicle drivers.

When we share with you the stories we try to avoid emotional conflict on a personal level.

The Yin and Yang are seemingly opposite and mutually exclusive. But this is only at a superficial level. They are part of one and the same story about safety; it is just the point of view that may be different. Apart from the structural, constructivist point of view and the safety culture point of view there is also another perspective - the perspective of power and interests. I can proudly reveal that over the 12 years of HindSight production we have only had two partially successful attempts for “political” influence. Once we removed the statement that “using stop bars will not solve all your problems” and once we removed the name of an aircraft operator.

I have made this overview of HindSight because with the next edition it will have a new Editor-in-Chief. I am very confident that with Dr. Steve Shorrock in command, HindSight will be in very good hands. So my final Editorial is my report to you as a reader on what I have tried so far. I felt a responsibility to give my best to reduce the risk to peoples’ lives and to contribute to a cause I strongly believe in.

Paolo is not anymore with us. But his words are still with me and are reward enough for what I have tried to do.

Enjoy reading HindSight!

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Buying Aviation Parts...

The Smart Way!

Guest Post by: Rachel Stires

My friend Rachel Stires is pretty awesome, and I love when she sends me guest posts. Today is how to by part the smart way. So, for all you little plane owners... you'll love it.  In her real life, Rachel is a media relations specialist for ILS. In her free time she writes, travels, and "absolutely loves to be sky-high, with beautiful views you can only get from flying!" 

When you’re a new pilot, jumping into the aviation world can be a little overwhelming. There’s so much to learn, so much to experience, and so many resources available for you. If you own your aircraft, or are thinking about purchasing one, it’s important to know where to find parts in case you want to replace or upgrade parts you have. 

Here are some tips to get you started: 

Price check: 

This one may seem a little obvious, but still something I would recommend. Whatever method you choose to find parts, make sure to check the part you want against other suppliers. For example, if you find a part on eBay, let’s say a digital transponder, it’s a good idea to check prices on other sites. You might want to check the price for that particular model, or for transponders in general so you can get a good idea of what price range you should expect.

New or Like New: 

If you’re buying on a budget, checking out used parts might be a good idea. Much like buying used car parts, there’s definitely a viable market out there with plenty of people selling parts they no longer need. There are a number of global marketplaces out there that sell parts, some catering to specific brands or niches, and others blanketing over the entirety of aviation parts. Whichever you choose is up to personal preference. All used parts usually require certification before they can be sold again, so you also don’t have to worry about any faulty parts.

Read Reviews: 

Like any product you can’t see until it ships to your house, it’s important to read up on reviews, installation tips, and other advice regarding your parts. There are plenty of aviation forums and websites available for you to check out and review should you feel the need to. You might also be able to pose your own question and get feedback on how a particular part works with your aircraft, or people’s overall experiences with them. Either way, getting feedback from likeminded people might make your decision a bit easier.

Check the Seller’s Reputation

This applies mostly on global marketplaces like eBay or Amazon, but it’s important to check the seller’s ratings and make sure that you can trust them. A low price might look attractive, but it might also be a scam waiting for some unsuspecting person. Both sites have user profiles you can check, and people usually leave feedback on their experience with the buyer. A good buyer will have multiple strong reviews, or a website or social media platform you can check for more information. I’ve had situations where I was scammed out of some money, so make sure it doesn’t happen to you!

Whether your aircraft needs a tune-up, upgrade, or there’s just a new feature you’d like to incorporate into it, buying parts is a necessary part of owning a plane. Research will help you get the best results for you and your aircraft, so make sure you put in the time that this will require. With time and experience, you’ll find resources that work best for you, and you’ll be flying a better aircraft in no time.

Enjoy the Journey
XO Karlene 

Author of:
I am Awesome. The ABCs of me. 

 Flight For Sanity coming soon....
 Catch up on the series so you will be ready!

Motivation and Children too! 

Monday, October 24, 2016

Find Guidance ...

In Your Heart and Soul...

"I am guided by non other
than my spirit and soul
- from within."

~ by Eleesha,
photo from

Seek and you shall find all answers. 
And for those of you 
who you can't find them from within... 
there is always Google. 

Have an Incredible Week! 

Enjoy the journey 
and remember to smile along the way!
XOX Karlene 

Friday, October 21, 2016

Inspiring the Future

Begins Today! 

Inspiring the future begins with behavior!

This election has been appalling. Not as much for political beliefs... we all have them. Everyone has an opinion as to how things should be done. 

How we react to the circumstance of our life, successes, failures, and the mistakes we make indicates resilience, accountability, and willingness to accept responsibility. How we behave when we don't win the game, indicates our level of sportsmanship. How we talk, react to opinions, judge people, or negotiate a deal indicates our character. 

Our children and grandchildren are watching this behavior. I would never tolerate this language, the disrespect, poor sportsmanship, or making fun of others with my children. I know my parents would not have tolerated that with me.  And yet we are watching this behavior on television... with presidential candidates?

As many of you know my mother-in-law passed, and my husband and I have been working diligently to clean out her house, see what needs to be fixed, and attempt to sell. This is not our first house deal, we have also worked with tenants, house sales, and purchases over the years. Our behavior is always the same... do the right thing, and treat people how you would like to be treated. We have never negotiated anything that would harm someone, leave them with a bad deal, and always worked for a common goal. We have walked away from a contracts if the other side was not on the same level of integrity. 

Watercolor by Tilly Goble

I had the opportunity to meet two incredible women in this process. Vince Campbell from LynnMac Commercial Sales Broker and Property Management who lived across the street. I told her I was selling for sale by owner, and that my mother was an agent too. Then she connected me to another incredible woman, Tilly Goble, Nassance Photography, who was renting down the street with her husband and small son, and had been looking for years for their first home. But due to bidding wars and cash offers they always one step behind.

The Compassion of the Deal
Begins with Character

We were all on opposite sides of the street with the "numbers" for this sale. But because of who we were, we were all playing in the same yard for the goal: I wanted to sell, Tilly wanted a home, and Vinece wanted to help us both make this goal a reality. The complications were many... but we made it happen. Tilly painted the watercolor above and wrote a beautiful letter that accompanied the offer. She had also made us a wonderful video with photos of the home, that brought tears to our eyes.

I had to write about this because of all that is happening in the world, with the election, and with unethical behavior of people scatter about, I'm here to say there are good people and we must always set the positive example. During this process I came across a video that Tilly had made.  She reminds us about the importance of Grace and Honor to All Women.

Imagine if we had
Grace and Honor to All!

Enjoy the Journey!!
XOX Karlene

Thursday, October 20, 2016


In Progress... 

One of my cohort superstars sent this to me...

It speaks Volumes!! 

Enjoy the Journey
XO Karlene 

Author of:
I am Awesome. The ABCs of me. 

 Flight For Sanity coming soon....
 Catch up on the series so you will be ready!

Motivation and Children too! 

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

The Joy of Writing...

Begins By Doing It! 

Authors have all heard the statement, "I'm going to write a book one day." We smile, and offer words of encouragement. But it takes more than deciding to write, or having the vision of a book, it takes action. And once you take action, the words will fly. 

Photo from

Lately numerous people have told me they are stepping into the writing business, and I have promised a blog on the subject for quite awhile. 

Why have I been delayed in writing this? 

Because, I have been writing... my fourth novel and the proposal for my dissertation. And, I've been slowly but surely reading and editing a friend's book. Thus, I've been glued to the computer. 

So, you know how to get started? 
Start writing!

The one book the helped me was Stephen King On Writing. He said, "Write for the garbage can." Don't get too wrapped around your writing. Get it on a page then you can perfect it.

Lessons learned from writing my first novel: 
  1. Don't edit along the way. You may find you've spent hours, weeks, a month editing chapters that don't end up in the book.
  2. Write the story, and then edit for spelling and grammar. 
  3. Be flexible. I like to make an outline, but I'm super flexible. My characters begin talking on the pages, and they always take the story another direction. I have a plan, but I go where the story wants to take me.
  4. Develop a thick skin. You can't make everyone happy, and you will get hate, love, you're awesome and I can't believe you wrote that, all from the same sentence. 
More Books on Writing: 

Reach out to the writing community. 

Join writer's groups, sign up for a conference, and if you have a chance find a writing teacher. My mentor, William Bernhardt, taught me the craft, and then sent me on the way. Bill offers an online writing course too.

Nathan Everett is another great source!  When your book is ready, he will help you edit, publish, or any combination there of. He's got some awesome books himself... check out Elder Road Books. Talk about creative genius!

My Friend, and best selling author, Heather McCorkle is an amazing source. She's also an avid blogger sharing writing tips, and she's another creative genius who can help you bring your book to life with her amazing covers.

Another great book was Noah Lukeman's The First Five Pages. He will teach you about hooks, tone, character development, and always... show don't tell. Not to be confused with show and tell.

Remember, writing is a skill that can and will be developed as you do it. How to keep motivated and make the book become a reality? 

Read Flight To Success Be the Captain of Your Life. This book is filled with true stories, many of which include how I wrote my first book, lessons I learned along the way, and I provided contact information, in back of the book, with other authors and my favorite editor, that can help you find your way to writing.

Enjoy the Journey
XO Karlene 

Author of:
I am Awesome. The ABCs of me. 

 Flight For Sanity coming soon....
 Catch up on the series so you will be ready!

Motivation and Children too! 

Monday, October 17, 2016

Monday Motivation

What do you Fear?

"I'm not afraid of
werewolves or vampires
or haunted hotels,
I'm afraid of what real
human beings do 
to other real human beings."

Walter Jon Williams

My friend sent me this great quote, and I had to posit it. Because the truth is, I have found it amazing (and sad) as to what people are capable of doing to others for money, greed, power, promotion, or because they had their egos bruised, or they are just cruel and have no self-control. But these people keep giving me plot points for another novel. Flight For Sanity coming soon! Make sure you catch up on the series!

Enjoy the Journey
XO Karlene 

Author of:
I am Awesome. The ABCs of me. 

 Flight For Sanity coming soon....
 Catch up on the series so you will be ready!

Motivation and Children too!