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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.

Monday, December 18, 2017

Monday Motivation

"Whether you think you can or 
you think you can’t, you’re right."
Henry Ford

Enjoy the Journey!
XO Karlene

Friday, December 15, 2017

Owen Zupp

Still Amazing after all these Years! 

Owen Zupp

Friday's Fabulous Flyer!  


“5 years! Wow!” That was my reaction when Karlene suggested that it might be worth an update since I was one of her Friday Flyers all the way back in 2012!

So much has happened. My four children have grown even taller and I have farewelled my World War Two veteran mother, who I suspect is now right at home with my father in the blue skies above. Personally, I have continued to write and fly and my passion for both hasn’t diminished an ounce. I still consider it a privilege to fly and an honor to share my words with people that are so generous of their time to read them. Married to a gorgeous girl, who is also a pilot, life is good. Much has happened over the years in an aviation-sense too, but where to start?

I have ticked over the 20,000 hour mark and have been very fortunate to fly a wide range of aircraft. Often those aircraft have been the subject of flight reviews for magazines and have ranged from a single-engined Cirrus to a bizjet. Within those hours there have definitely been some highlights, including being the first civilian to fly the Royal Australian Air Force’s new Pilatus PC-21 and flying a WW2 SNJ over Pearl Harbor.

I was also embedded with an Australian Army helicopter squadron on a major training exercise, which was amazing. The helicopters were concealed and camouflaged by day and were a flurry of activity by night. In those hours, the camp was in total blackout and without Night Vision Goggles it was a challenge to find one’s tent. On the last day we flew along the coastline at low level and touched down on remote peaks. Fantastic!

I was part of a crew that ferried a new Boeing 737-800 from Seattle to Sydney via Honolulu and Fiji. Boeing also showed us around the first Boeing 787s on the production line and their fabulous museum. Needless to stay, I stocked up on caps and shirts for the family. Not to be outdone, I travelled to Spain and France with Airbus to cover their military and civil projects and was very fortunate to be onboard the first flight of the Airbus A350 to carry anyone other than Airbus test personnel.

I went to the United Kingdom in 2014 for two months to learn to fly the Airbus A320 with nine other pilots who have become some of my best friends. The last three years I have been on a posting as a Captain on the A320 and A321 with a subsidiary airline, but have recently returned to the parent airline and I’m back in training once again.

Some may remember that I flew solo around Australia in a Jabiru J230D aircraft, back in 2010. In 2014 I was approached to fly a Jabiru once again to re-enact the first air mail flight in Australia, 100 years after a Bleriot monoplane first flew the route. 

Along the way we visited landmarks, overflew towns and even stayed in the same hotels that had played a role a century earlier. It was an exciting few days with substantial media coverage, including air-to-air footage shot from a news helicopter and a precious load of commemorative air mail covers on board. That night we were hosted by the French Consulate to honor the original flight by the French pilot, Maurice Guillaux.

There have been many other wonderful experiences too, but possibly too many to list here. All the while, I have been able to write about and share these incredible opportunities that I have been presented with. I have also written more books, with more on the way. As always, my family have been amazing in their support.

Five years. Yes, when I pause to recap, I guess it has been that long – it just doesn’t seem that way. As I said, I am very privileged to be able to follow my two passions of flying and writing and see them to come together in so many instances. It really has been great, see you again in five years. Thanks Karlene!"

Owen, Great to see you too!!

For everyone who wants to read some great books...
Check out Owen's work!

You can find him on his website 

Enjoy the Journey!
XOX Karlene 

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Ask a Flight Instructor


Flight Instructor!

Hello Karlene Petitt readers! 

Believe it or not, pilots don’t just start out by flying big jets like Karlene. We all start from humble beginnings, and that’s actually a great thing. The formative days of flying are honored and cherished by all pilots, new and old. There’s just nothing like learning to fly. 

Not only that, most pilots embrace the mantra of lifelong learning. As a reader of this blog, I’ve no doubt we’re all in good company. Along those lines, there’s something new you may be interested in. 

I’ve started a new initiative called Ask the CFI. The concept is simple: ask me a question, and I’ll answer it “On Air” through a podcast and Youtube video. Your flying and flight training questions will not only get answered, but they’ll get answered for others as well. 

To participate, it’s really simple -- Go to and fill out the simple form. That shoots a message over to me, and I’ll answer a good number of them “On Air”. I’ll even read your name. Hey, you’re famous! 

I’m a CFI (Certified Flight Instructor) in Alaska. I mostly teach Private Pilots at my flight school, I also hold online ground school for the private pilot level, with more courses coming in the future. 

Hope to see your questions soon. 

Throttle On!

Enjoy the Journey!
XOX Karlene

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Research in the Rainforest!

Pilots... we need photos! 

Miguel Angel Trinidad, 
Needs your assistance. 

Miguel needs pilots who are flying over 
the gulf of Mexico to South America, 
to snap photos for his research!

"I am Senior student of Biochemical Engineering, working on an environmental project in the Tropical Rainforest of Los Tuxtlas, Veracruz (México).

This is a non-profit project aimed to collect technical and scientific information available to understand and determine the current water quality withdrawal for human consumption, and as well the future availability in ten rural communities of the study area.

The project needs aerial images to see how the vegetation is distributed over the mountains from an oblique perspective. It's something so simple that the pilots or the crew can do it with an ordinary smart phone camera. There are no special requirements. The altitude, the direction and the distance are not a problem. The airways to South America are so close to the area of the project that you could spot it easily from the air with good weather conditions. The images are going to be very helpful. A lot of data have been gathered but images are missing.

The water quality and availability have been severely damaged in the coastal area of the Los Tuxtlas due to the deforestation of the zone as a product of the human activities in the past decades. As a rural area there is no access to infrastructure or technology that helps to improve the water quality. So most of the communities can just only rely on springs located away and uphill several feet above the level of the sea and few of them rely on streams. 

We were sampling the the water sources of the area and we need to determine the major cause of the variation of some crucial parameters, find solutions and alternatives to each particular case in order to ensure the long term water quality and availability.

The imagery is crucial for a complete aerial analysis 
of the damaged and preserved forested areas. 

This will help us to provide with the most complete, accurate and useful information to all those people living in the rural area (a little bit more about 2000 people in those 10 communities), in a way that they can easily understand about their water sources, aquifers and how the soil, underground conditions, geological area, climate, precipitation and the lost of forested areas have, and will have major influence over the amount of water available. And what they can do to manage effectively their water resources, contributing to preserve their health and also enhance the water quality on a sustainable way. 

The credits of the images will be shown in the final report. 
Thank you, Miguel."

If you fly over this route, 
would you please take some photos for Miguel?

You can email the photos to:
Miguel Angel Trinidad Martínez 

Please share this with the pilots you know 
who might be able to help. 
Thank you so much!!!

Enjoy the Journey!
XO Karlene 

Monday, December 11, 2017

Air Force One Confusion

With Eastern Airlines...

"The origin of the call sign Air Force One became newsworthy this past March when a restored Lockheed Constellation took flight for the first time in more than a decade. The aircraft’s given name is Columbine II, but it was also the first presidential aircraft to be called Air Force One." 

Air Force 8619: "Washington Center this is Air Force 8610 (eight six one zero). We’re at 19,000 feet and descending to an assigned altitude of 15,000 feet. We’re about 15 miles from the Richmond VOR and landing at Andrews Air Force Base. We have the President of the United States on board."

ATC: "Roger Air Force 8610, let me know when you are level at One Five Thousand and crossing the Richmond VOR. Be aware that there is an Eastern Airlines Flight 8610 about to come up to my frequency." 

Air Force 8619: "Roger, Center. Air Force 8610. We’ll give you level at 15,000 and crossing the VOR."

Eastern 8610: "Hey, Washington Center. This is Eastern 8610 checking in with you at One Niner Thousand about 25 miles from the Richmond VOR. Were you trying to call us? We heard our flight number as we were checking in. Hope we didn’t miss anything."

ATC: "Eastern 8610, I have you in radar contact. Please confirm your altitude at 19,000. And we have an Air Force C-121 ahead of you landing at Andrews. His call number is Air Force 8610. That’s what you heard." 

Eastern 8610: "OK, we copy that and we’re at nineteen thousand and looking for a lower altitude. We’re landing at Washington National. We’ll stay out of his way." 

ATC: Be right back with you Eastern……..Air Force 8610, there is an Eastern 8610 on my frequency at 19,000 feet. Confirm your type aircraft, altitude and position.

Air Force 8610: "Washington Center, we’re a Lockheed Constellation C-121A aircraft level at 15 Thousand and just crossing the Richmond VOR."

"A Secret Service agent on the plane noted the confusion and thought the president’s plane should have a unique call sign. The agent later arranged a meeting at then-Washington National Airport that included William Draper, Aircraft Commander of Air Force 8610, and officials from the Civil Aviation Authority (the FAA’s precursor), Air Force, Secret Service and the White House."

The History of Columbine II

If you want to learn more 
Join your Eastern Airlines Crew 
on the EAL Radio Show 

December 11, 2017

Episode 345!
7 pm EDT

Call 213-816-1611 

Where you can either listen or talk
Or log on to listen at

Captain Neal Holland ♦ Jim Hart 
*Captain Steve Thompson *Chuck Allbright * Linda Fuller
*Captain George Jehn*Dorothy Gagnon*Don Gagnon
Will be your hosts!

Enjoy the Journey!
XO Karlene 

Friday, December 8, 2017

Human Factors Extraordinaire

Friday's Fabulous Flyer! 

 Gitte Furdal Damm

Gitte Furdal Damm is 47 years old and has been happily married for twenty years. She lives in Denmark and is blessed with two sons. Her flying background includes having flown the King Air 200 in Africa and Pakistan for the U.N. She also flew the ATR 42/72 Cimber Air/ CimberSterling, and the ATR 72-600 Jettime, and she has also been a CRM Instructor and Flight Crew Supervisor. 

While Gitte has been a pilot for 20 years with various Danish airlines, last year she departed for a life of another kind. 

"I changed the controls of the aircraft 
to be the captain of my own company."

Gitte now teaches CRM  and states her point of view on different aviation topics in articles. She has a few works in progress to include: 
  • Writing articles for AeroTime 
  • Teaching CRM in own company, About Human Factors
  • Teaching CRM freelance for a Danish company, NaviMinds
Her life experience, education, and passion for mental health has created a foundation for her writing. She is also currently taking classes at the Danish University in Personality psychology, and previously in Cognition and Social Psychology. She is  a Certified Life, Business and Stress Coach too! 

Gitte loves spending time with her family, winter swimming, and running with her gorgeous dog. She also loves reading books, meditating, and having a glass of wine with good friends. She is my kind of lady! This week on the Flight To Success blog Gitte's articles have been the topic of discussion. 

To Contact Gitte,
and to learn more about 
Human Factors
Go to her website: 

Enjoy the Journey!
XO Karlene

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Why is Mental Health Stigmatized...

In Aviation?

Afraid of Losing Your Medical

For the previous two days I have been writing posts authored by Gitte Damm concerning human factors with resilience and personalities in the flight deck. Today she writes about mental health:  

"Since nobody has talked openly about these issues in the airlines, too many pilots are afraid of losing their medical – not being aware of the fact that it is treatable. It can be difficult to express mental issues because it is individual and invisible to others. It’s always easier saying “I broke my arm, and will be away for the next couple of weeks”.

I find one of the reasons to why pilots find it hard to speak up, is trust issues with the management. Being a pilot is a dynamic job, with different colleagues every time, different places for check in and you might not have seen your leader/chief pilot in months. This can create a distance and a culture among aircrew where it is “them versus us” making it hard to establish a trust of which you would feel comfortable talking about mental health issues.

We have seen it with the problem of pilot fatigue. Again it’s individual, and not black and white. A survey made in Europe in 2012 told us that only 20-30% of pilots write a report, when being fatigued. The argument I meet when out teaching is often in the lines of “why bother, nobody does anything about it”.

Is Mental Health Self-Assessment 
A Weakness or a Strength?

Self assessment should be a strength. Pilots who can say, "Today I can't fly!" because of a thunderstorm in the environment or one in their personal lives should be applauded. We want our pilots to come forward, but the problem begins when the pilot's career is on the line if they claim they may have a problem, even if only for a day. 

Currently there are far too many airline managers (pilots no less) that are utilizing mental health as a retaliatory tactic, because they can. The FAA has termed this "medicalization of a workplace dispute." Not only a dispute, but pilots have been retaliated with this tactic for bringing safety issues forward. 

JDA Solutions

At U.S. airlines, mental health is also considered in the same category as an alcoholic for insurance purposes. If the pilot has a drinking problem they are allotted a given amount of time (1-2 years) to get clean and sober or they are off disability. If they clean up, they can return to flying. 

However, a pilot with a mental health issue may not have an option to get better, and it is definitely not a choice. If able to get better, it may not be in the time frame identified for an alcoholic. Thus, pilots will not come forward because if they lose their medical, they will not be protected with disability insurance in the same manner as if they had a stroke. This must be changed to enable pilots to come forward if they have a serious problem. 

Mental health is a serious issue and should be addressed similarly as any other illness. It does not have to be permanent, but it can be performance impacting if not treated. Every airline should allow for mental health days of their employees without fear of retaliation. Pilot managers who use mental health as a retaliatory tactic against pilots who report safety issues should be castrated or at the very least held accountable. 

It's Time for Change! 
Thankfully Gitte Damm is making an effort!  

To read Gitte's full article on mental health, 
to include tips on stress management, 
click on the link below: 

Never Give Up...
You are not alone!

Enjoy the Journey!
XOX Karlene