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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.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Practicing with Passengers

One of the greatest challenges with the current aviation industry, and one that I will pursue during my studies, not to mention is a central theme in Flight For Safety, is that pilots are losing their flying skills compliments of automation. 

The FAA is now recommending that we hand fly our planes. It took 20 years, but they too believe it's time to kick off the automation and keep our flying skills fine-tuned.  Companies are encouraging hand flying as well. We all know that practice makes perfect. And as the joke goes... the Airbus takes both excellent and shitty pilots alike, and makes them all average. But deficiency in proficiency is no joke. Especially when it's due to automation that we need and love.

Automation is safer than hand flying.

We know this. Thus I have 4 questions: 

1. If we kick off our automation have we reduced safety? 

With automation connected we have greater situational awareness. The pilot monitoring has more time and awareness to pay attention outside the aircraft. When we are hand-flying, the other pilot is busy pushing buttons and dialing knobs for the pilot flying, while responding to clearances.

2.   If something were to happen while hand-flying, who is liable? 

A concern from the pilots for not hand flying their planes is simple: If something were to happen during a flight where the pilots had equipment available, that they did not use, the pilot will be liable. We are encouraged by our companies and the FAA... so they will be liable too. But the ultimate responsibility resides with the pilots. The first time an incident happens while the pilot is "practicing" their flying skills, will be a field day in court if the pilots did not use all their equipment.

3.   Should we be practicing with passengers?

Liability aside, should we be practicing with passengers? International pilots are sleeping in passenger seats, flying long hours, and landing on the backside of the clock many time zones away with a messed up circadian rhythm. Can we be our best under these conditions? If we are not our best... should we use everything available or kick it off so we can practice?

4.   What happens when we lose the automation?

If we haven't been flying without the automation, will we have the skills to do so when we are faced with that challenge due to a failure?

The conundrum of Aviation Safety

Pete Wilson, a graduate student at Cranfield University, is conducting research for his thesis on the manual flying skills of pilots of automated aircraft. If you are a pilot, he would be appreciative if you would take time to conduct his survey. Tomorrow come back and meet the man behind the survey.

Click Here: Manual Flying Survey

What do you think the answer are? 

Enjoy the Journey!
XO Karlene

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Planes Fire & Rescue

I'm on my way to DisneyToon Studios for another Aviation Press Day, Thursday, May 8th. Planes was such a huge success and I'm excited to be one of the first to preview this movie. The last event was so much fun... meeting the directors, artists, researchers and more. And I will be sharing the excitement with you soon.

Opens in theaters on July 18th!

Enjoy the Journey!
XOX Karlene

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

CEO of Cirrus Aircraft

Invites you for a great event!

Special Invitation by CEO of Cirrus Aircraft

Speaker: Dale Klapmeier, CEO Cirrus Aircraft

Date: May 21, 2014 at 6pm
Location: Museum of Flight 
Theater Room 
9404 East Marginal Way S 


Date: May 22, 2014 at 5pm 
Location: Microsoft Campus 
Studio B/1350 – The Screening Room 
15101 NE 40th St. 


Cirrus Aircraft came from humble beginnings in a Baraboo, WI barn in 1984 where Alan and Dale Klapmeier designed and built the first Cirrus. Nineteen years later, the Cirrus SR22 became the best-selling single-engine piston aircraft in the world by pioneering the latest technological advances in manufacturing and safety. Today, Cirrus Aircraft owns the largest market share in the industry, producing aircraft more advanced that most commercial airliners, and the only aircraft certified with a whole airframe parachute as a standard feature, which to date has saved 86 lives.

Success, however, has not come without challenge, frustration, and concern over longevity. As virtually every other industry, aviation has faced formidable challenges over the past 30 years. Government regulation, certification standards, labor shortages, and cash flow challenges have brought many aircraft manufacturers to the brink of bankruptcy. Dale Klapmeier will discuss how the Cirrus team has successfully navigated the company through these turbulent times to become one of the most successful aircraft manufacturers in the world, and how these strategies can relate to other small businesses facing similar challenges.

I am really looking forward to this talk not only from a pilot perspective but from a business angle as well. We can all learn so much from the successes and failures of others. And to meet the CEO of Cirrus and have a chance to talk to him? All I can say is wow! I hope you all can make it.


Anyone interested in overcoming business challenges is welcome to attend but space is limited. Please RSVP to with the date and number of people attending.
Best regards, Gordon Alvord

I'm planning on attending the 
Seattle Museum of Flight venue
On the 21st...
(If scheduling doesn't grab me first) 
Let me know if you'll be there too.

If you can't make... 
What would you like me to ask?

Enjoy the Journey! 
Hope to see you on May 21st!
XO Karlene

Monday, April 21, 2014

How Do I Live Now?

"How do I live with my child gone?" 

YOU live in honor of your child.

You live to carry on what your child would have done with their life. You live to make sure the tragedy that took them does not befall others. You live because life is a gift.

There is no honor in taking your life. 

There is only honor in living strong for those who are no longer with us. 

To the families and friends who have lost a loved one in a horrific tragedy like MH370 or the Korean Ferry crash:

There is no bringing your child or family member back. But you can move forward. You can continue this life in honor of those no longer living. They did not have a choice. You do.

Choose wisely and use your anger and sorrow to make this world better for others, so this tragedy will never happen again. Make the loved one you lost proud. They are with you. Take their memory and their spirit and continue live on in their name.

Honor is Living...
Despite the Sorrow. 
Live strong with honor!

Enjoy the journey
OX Karlene

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Easter In Paris, and then....

Happy Easter! 

Wherever you are, 
remember to celebrate!

The day begins in Paris... and after I hand out 300 chocolate eggs to the crew and passengers I will fly to Seattle. Head home for a quick change, pick up my eldest daughter and grandkids and head to my mom's for Easter dinner, and a (surprise) birthday party for one of my nieces.  

The day will be long, but full.  I hope your day is special. 

Enjoy the journey! 
XOX Karlene

Friday, April 18, 2014

Dream Catchers

Friday's Fabulous Flyers:

Michelle and Gretchen
Team 33

Michelle Bassanesi is flying her second Air Race Classic! She is both an EASA and FAA (and current) instrument rated commercial pilot with single- and multi- engine, instrument flight instructor, advanced ground instructor. She is also an undergraduate at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University two-thirds of the way towards her BS in Aeronautics with minors in Aviation Safety and Management: Expected graduation 2016!

Valiant Steed DREAMER: N9863H is a 182R Skylane.

Michelle is on the Dean’s List and a member of the Alpha Sigma Lamda Honor Society, recognized in leadership and scholarship. She has 1360 hours in the air and is racing for the experience, the adventure, and the camaraderie. Michelle is also currently working on her FAA-Aircraft Dispatcher Certification. This is all done in her “spare time” … Michelle is a full-time working single-mum, entrepreneur, and problem solver!

She is no novice to Flight To Success. If you type in Michelle into the search box, you'll see her ambition, dedication and commitment has no wavered. Michelle has been flying strong for the three years I've known her and I'm so glad to have the chance to follow her career. She is an amazing lady.


Gretchen Jahn is Michelle's co-pilot during the race. She is a veteran racer, with 18 Air Race Classics under her wings. An instrument-rated commercial pilot with 1650 hours logged, Gretchen has single-engine land and sea certificates and a tail-wheel endorsement.

Gretchen says, "I love to meet and help new racers. There is always more to learn about the airplane, weather, aviation rules, team coordination and personal capabilities. It is fun to collect airports, become more proficient and go fast!" 

Fast they did fly. These two ladies came in second place last year. Will they increase their position this year? Stay tuned to find out!

Gretchen, Ed, Michelle and Chuck Frost!

Ed and Chuck are the owners of the valiant steed and team 33's dedicated ground crew/support!

And YOU can be ground support too. 

Enjoy the Journey!
XO Karlene

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

ERAU PhD Aviation Safety

This morning I'm heading to Paris for the beginning of a six day trip! But before I fly I have some great news:

I have been accepted in ERAU's PhD program in Aviation Safety! The adventure begins in Daytona Florida August 11th, but the journey continues here.

We are part of a team and together will make the skies safer, and continue to support our future pilots. As the workload unfolds, I will be sharing my research and posting questions welcoming your opinion into the mix.

I have a plan for safety, and it's unfolding before our eyes. You can help by promoting Flight For Control and Flight For Safety. When I finish my PhD, we can look forward to: Fight For Safety, The Truth Behind The Flight Series.  Flight For Survival is still scheduled for Fall 2015! And Flight To Success Fall 2014. 

I am earning my PhD for a purpose, not for the piece of paper to hang on the wall. I'm doing this to make a difference and create change for the promote air safety.

If there is anything you think worthy of researching during this process. Please let me know.

Enjoy the week... and make every moment count.

XO Karlene