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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, October 20, 2014

The Days are Flying By....

Last week gave me Monday and Tuesday to catch up.  Which was much needed. There is a reason we have children when we're young. Wednesday I flew to NRT with a great crew. Which I felt a bit guilty slam clicking...but I was so very tired and had homework. The flight back to Seattle on Friday was with a Captain I had worked the panel for on the freighter. So much fun catching up! The skies were just beautiful as was the flight.

Friday I landed in Seattle, and that evening found me at  the Bridge of Hope event. My girlfriend Geri Jeffery, (Formerly Geri Brown when we were in high school) has been giving her time, energy and life to helping others. She and her husband Mike hosted a spectacular event. The evening reminded me how fortunate we are, and how many blessings we have to be thankful for. Those kids in Sierra Leone are faced with some pretty horrific life challenges. Sierra Leone is the poorest countries in the world and the Bridge of Hope is giving the gift of education, the hope for a future, medical and dental attention, and faith. To learn more about Bridge of Hope... click HERE.

Steve and Janet Potter (high school friends) 
And Geri and you know who

The question for 
All Football Fans is...  
Do you know who 
the right and left wingmen are? 

Saturday was more catching up on life and a walk with the hubby. After the rain all day, the evening was beautiful. We headed out, but then returned to grab my camera. So glad I did. 

Sunday I met JR... The One Million Mile Passenger... as he was in town and came for dinner.  A great break from homework. 

Today I will be spending the afternoon with granddaughter miss Kohyn to celebrate her 4th birthday. Our birthday date delayed. And I think I might be flying to NRT/TPE/NRT/ SEA beginning Tuesday. But we'll see, as I'm on reserve. 

Have a great week everyone! And remember to enjoy every moment! 

XO Karlene

Thank you so much for reading and sharing my novels Flight For Control and Flight For Safety with your friends. If you haven't left a comment on Amazon, please do so. It helps so very much! 

Friday, October 17, 2014

Capt. Jim Wright

Friday's Fabulous Flyer

Jim Wright

Due to a sleepy little town called Seattle, Jim fell in love with the sea, met his soon to be wife and the rest is history. Literally. His connections to Seattle, hers to Alaska, and a bush pilot named “Mudhole Smith,” is undoubtedly filled with aviation history. Take a journey of an incredible man living life out loud with his beautiful copilot at his side...

Jim Wright...
"By Alaska standards my bio is unremarkable; born in Seattle just prior to WWII where my Dad had worked in the “Little Red Barn” and was later in charge of the B-17 Handbook Unit at Boeing. Living in a seaport town, my interest in seafaring developed at an early age.

At 15, a deckhand/mate job opened up in a 136’ converted minesweeper running to British Columbia and Alaska for Marine Medical Missions – (I also met my future wife, Carol, on this vessel).

“Jim in Willis Shank Wheelhouse”

After completing high school, California Maritime Academy offered me the opportunity to attend and graduate with a license as 3rd Mate of Ocean Steam & Motor Vessels – Any Gross Tons and a BS in Marine Transportation. This was followed by tug boating jobs to Alaska before being commissioned in the US Army to manage and operate harbor craft in Ft. Eustis, VA and Pusan Korea.

The Korea part was an unaccompanied tour that coincided with our first year of marriage.

“Married 2 weeks before being sent to Korea”

This year we will have been married 51 years with 3 children, 8 grandchildren and 3 great-grandchildren; one grandchild is now taking flying lessons and aspires to be an airline pilot.

 “J C 50th Anniversary”

 “Two Sons, Daughter, Carol, Jim”
“Our Grandson taking his first flying lesson”

After completing active duty, I went back to sea as a deck officer in break-bulk cargo and container vessels, mostly in the Alaska trade.

  “North Star”

These jobs gave me the opportunity to accumulate Alaska and Puget Sound pilotage and raise my license to Master of Ocean Steam & Motor Vessels of Any Gross Tons.

Prior to the completion of the Trans-Alaska Pipeline terminal in Valdez, Southwest Alaska Pilots Association found themselves short of pilots and invited me to join their group. 
After accepting their invitation we moved our family to Homer, Alaska then later to Anchorage. The next 30 years were spent piloting vessels of every size and description from 300 DWT (Deadweight Tons) trampers to 270,000 DWT VLCC’s (Very Large Crude Carriers) in and out of Alaska ports from Icy Bay in the Gulf of Alaska to Kotzebue Sound and ports in the Arctic – most of our work was in Cook Inlet, Prince William Sound including Valdez, Dutch Harbor and the Kodiak Island Group.

So, what does a Harbor Pilot do? The simple answer – Pilots travel to a “Pilot Station” in small boats, occasionally under difficult conditions. The photo was taken at the Bligh Reef Pilot Station and could be subtitled, “Why old pilots retire”.

“Bligh Reef Pilot Station"
Once the pilot boat is alongside the ship the Pilot boards by means of a rope-ladder and takes navigational control of the vessel.

“Jim Dave R. Pilot Ladder"
This includes directing the conduct of the vessel by courses or rudder orders to the helmsman, engine orders to the mate, VHF orders to assist-tugs (if tugs are available), handling communications with VTS and/or other traffic and directing line handling and/or use of the anchor. The relationship between the Master and Pilot is quite unique. While the Master remains in command of the vessel, the State Licensed Pilot has navigational control.

When the vessel is ready to sail the pilot takes her back to sea and disembarks at the Pilot Station. Boarding and disembarking are nearly always done underway.
 “Jim-Pilot Ladder Arco Spirit"

Travel to and from the job for an Alaska harbor pilot often involves flying in charter aircraft both on floats and wheels but mostly on floats. Since float planes typically are not IFR certified, much of our flying is done in MVFR conditions. The definition of the term “MVFR” often seemed to be related to the urgency of the job.

A now retired UAL Captain and former Pan Am pilot, who we’ve become close friends with, warned Carol that “getting there was the most dangerous part of my job”. He was proved correct when a 206 on floats taking me, a fellow pilot, and a trainee to a passenger ship job in Prince William Sound went down in Portage Pass in bad weather.

“Plane Crash & Float”

Following this incident (now some 8 years ago) Carol saw her chance to convince me to retire.

Retirement has opened up consulting work instructing “Bridge Resource Management for Pilots” and evaluating pilotage candidates at simulator facilities in Seattle and Seward. Various other Simulator assignments with pilot groups have provided a venue for interesting “Automation Dependence” discussions. Relating “Automation Dependence” examples from aviation to the maritime setting has provided good feedback from pilots in simulator and classroom sessions.

Boating has been a part of our family’s life for many years and has provided opportunities to pass on life’s lessons to our kids, grandkids and great-grandkids – often a challenge.

 “Cape Fairweather”

We have taken our current boat, “Cape Fairweather”, several times through the Inside Passage to SE Alaska and revisited places from my early days in the Alaska trade.

Carol was raised in SE Alaska and still has friends and family members in the Ketchikan area. Carol’s parents originally moved to Cape Yakataga, Alaska, 1n 1947 where her dad worked for the CAA (FAA now).


This experience brought them in contact with many of Alaska’s early bush pilots including “Mudhole Smith”, who’s company later mutated into Alaska Airlines. When her Dad transferred to Annette Island (a major refueling stop in SE Alaska) Carol commuted to high school in Ketchikan with Ellis Airlines and worked summers in the Pan Am Terminal coffee shop. Here she served coffee and donuts to many interesting people including Charles Lindberg who often passed through as Vice President of Pan Am. Her brother still lives in Ketchikan and has served many years with the Air Search & Rescue Unit. His aviation stories reinforce the hazards of flying in Alaska. 
  “Flying to Seattle 1947”

 “Yakataga Carol 1947”

 “Yakataga Mail Run”

Jim contacted me a month or so ago with a question about automation taking over the oceans as well as the skies. He had a question about the video the Children of the Magenta...wondering if there was a more current version out there. After you leave a comment, check out his concerns on Automated into Mediocrity, if you haven't yet.

Enjoy the journey!!
XO Karlene

Thank you so much for reading and sharing my novels Flight For Control and Flight For Safety with your friends. If you haven't left a comment on Amazon, please do so. It helps so very much! 

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Avaiation Inspiration...

Mark Berney is a pilot...but not just any pilot... he is what GA and the world needs. Over in Bremerton, WA,  Mark has been hosting flying events for Foster kids and making a difference in lives of so many on so many levels. He's keeping aviation alive and inspiring the kids.

The event was a success: 

In Mark's words....

A warm mid-July marked the second annual TRAC airlift held at the Bremerton National Airport. The Kitsap Aviation Squadron again hosted the event, flying 17 campers and 18 staff personnel on scenic flights around the Kitsap peninsula. Our Squadron, with 30 flying members, operates a pair of Cessna aircraft. Eight pilots donated their expertise and time to fly the campers this year.

Teen Reach Adventure Camp, or TRAC, is a three day camp program that pulls in foster care teenagers from the local community. The camp is held on two consecutive summer weekends, the first for girls and the second for boys. Run by volunteers, TRAC provides fellowship, games and other adventures for the campers. The waterfront town of Indianola served as home base, but before the kids arrived to set up camp, they took a trip to the airport for a chance to spread their wings!

This year’s girl’s camp arrived at the airport at 1:00 pm, on Friday the 11th. New faces, as well as some friends from last year’s event filed off the bus and into the port building. On seeing a particular camper for the second time, I suspected I’d have lots of questions to answer regarding my flying career, airplanes and my knowledge of Minnesota. (My suspicions were correct! She and I would have a really nice conversation as she waited her turn to fly.)

After a welcome and a safety briefing, it was time to fly! Pilots Val Tollefeson and Steve Jennings were lined up to operate the 172, while Steve Charboneau would start off in the 182, with a planned hand-off to Terry Bryant mid-way through the event. Val got off the ground first and headed North with a camper and two counselors aboard.

Steve, along with a camper and a staff member, was just getting airborne when he detected a vibration he didn’t like. Checking the engine monitor revealed a lack of EGT on one cylinder and he wisely choose to return to the field. Unfortunately the 182 would be scratched for the remainder of the day. Steve’s young passenger, however, was unphased by the quick trip around the pattern and was “good-to-go” for a full flight later in the day.

Fortunately, 172 operations rolled along smoothly. Val completed two flights, and handed the aircraft off to Terry for a couple flights. Steve Jennings finished the day with a single flight in the 172. In all, we completed six of a planned eight flights. Despite the setback, all campers that wanted to fly got up, including the young lady from the shortened 182 flight!

One week later, we did it all again for the boy’s camp. The 182 was back on line, and both aircraft performed well. David Brenegan and Grant Blackinton staffed the 172, while Jay Villalva and Don Dicksion piloted the 182. Both planes got up and down smoothly all afternoon and eight flights were dispatched without a hitch.

This summer’s kids were a mix of brand new and slightly more seasoned fliers. It was a wonderful thing to be a part of a young person’s first flight experience. Seeing a few returning kids that now have a bit of a “long term” relationship with the Bremerton Airport, our pilots, and our aircraft was quite rewarding, as well. It was a great privilege to be involved in these kid’s lives through this brief, but very special event.

A huge thanks is due to Bremerton National Airport director Fred Salisbury and his staff. They were not only supportive of this mission, but downright enthusiastic to have the kids back for a second year. And finally, thanks again to our eight pilots that made this happen!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

NextGen Defined...

Yesterday I watched an interesting video in my human factors class. It might be a little bit propaganda.... but there are many good things about NextGen and the benefits will be many.

NextGen is economically driven, which is not a bad thing. Our challenge is to make sure it's safe. Operationally I've noticed when we fly ocean crossings and need a higher altitude due to weather or fuel efficiency, and are denied "due to traffic" and we can see traffic would not be a conflict. By having control will provide a huge benefit.

What do you think about NextGen? 
Any concerns, fears or thoughts?
XOX Karlene 

Thank you so much for reading and sharing my novels Flight For Control and Flight For Safety with your friends. If you haven't left a comment on Amazon, please do so. It helps so very much! 

Monday, October 13, 2014

Aviation. Inspiration. Life.

Week 6 has is underway....

Last week began in Bend Oregon  babysitting two little ones. While we were at the Black Bear diner eating chocolate chip pancakes we received a call that my mother in law passed away. She would have celebrated her 101st birthday in November. It's been 47 years since her husband had passed. It's time for their reunion. We are so sad for her passing, but it was time. We will love and miss you Grandma Annie. That day we dropped the kids off at school and hiked up Pilot Butte mountain.

In loving memory of Anna May Petitt

The week pressed on with great fun. Nature walks and dinners at the park. Thursday I caught an 6:25 flight out of Redmond and worked my way to Austin via Salt Lake City, sitting in the cockpit on both flights. The best thing about jumpseating is meeting great pilots. I didn't get much reading done, but the conversations were interesting. 

Austin was great fun chasing after a 3 year-old and 9 month old crawler while keeping up on schoolwork. Late nights of reading and some very early mornings. Sunday arrived, and by evening it was time to work my way home. 

I got a great seat on Alaska Airlines. They even announced a "famous author" was on board. "Me." Ha. Ha. Then they announced the happy 60th birthday of a man across the aisle. I was sitting by his wife, so I autographed a copy of Flight For Control for him and we passed it over. Sunday night found me horizontal in my bed before midnight my time zone.

Today is a day of reserve... short call at 1400. YAY!! I'm hoping I can sit reserve the entire week without the phone ringing. I've got two major papers to write and 4 chapters, and a couple conference calls. This morning I meditated. Lifted weights. Watched a great NexGen video... that I will post tomorrow (Oct. 14).

But the highlight of my morning was the email I'm sharing below as I am going to shamelessly market my novels every chance I get. :)

"Hi Karlene - My bride, Terry *** flew with you awhile back and scored a copy of Flight For Control for me.  We’re in the south of France (her Chairman’s Club award trip) on a rainy day and I just finished your book.  What a fun, thought provoking read.  The plot twists kept me engaged and the characters were wonderful.  You put me through the wringer in the final chapters and the very end sent me for a Kleenex (yeah, that’s right, leaving me feeling like a wimp ;-).  The acknowledgements and discussion questions were a nice touch.  I know what’s on my Christmas list. Thanks for a story well told, Bill ***"
The journey continues... Off to the gym for a two hour elliptical session and read my human factors book! 

XOX Karlene 

Thank you so much for reading and sharing my novels Flight For Control and Flight For Safety with your friends. If you haven't left a comment on Amazon, please do so. It helps so very much! 

Friday, October 10, 2014

Puja Niroula

Friday's Fabulous Flyer

 Puja Niroula

My friend, Jennifer Lesher began mentoring Puja three years ago when Puja was entering her sophomore year at Rainier Beach. Puja's family came from Nepal, from a refugee camp, when she was 12. She has done amazing things already, and Jennifer says, 

"I'm confident she'll do more amazing things with her future. I've helped her as much as I can, by buying her school supplies and things she'll need for her dorm, but I just can't cover her financial aid gap, so I helped her do the gofundme campaign instead. 

She is a very hardworking, goodhearted young lady and she has seen things in her young life that I can't even imagine, and still, all she wants to do is give back. She humbles me, she truly does."

Puja and Jennifer

Here's her story, in her words -

My name is Puja Niroula. I am 19 years old and I have a dream to continue my education and become a nurse or public health worker. I have worked hard to create this opportunity for myself. I have been admitted to Western Washington University, and I have been given some financial aid, but I need a little more so I don’t burden my family with debt.

I came here from Nepal when I was 12 years old, but my story starts before I was born. More than 25 years ago my parents were evicted from their native Bhutan because of their ethnicity. They were given the choice to leave or be killed. They moved to Goldhap refugee camp in Nepal. I was born there in 1995. The first 12 years of my life were very difficult. Then, in March of 2008, when I was 12 years old, the camp burned to the ground. My family lost everything, but we were grateful that we were all still alive.

Others were not so lucky. Many were terribly injured and some died. I did what I could to help. I pulled people out of burning houses. I helped organize a group to take the injured to a distant hospital. At the hospital, I helped to distribute medicine and water to the patients. We had to live in the jungle for 6 months after the fire. It was a very rough time. Food and clothing were in short supply. But, we were lucky, because in the fall of 2008 we got to come to America.

Life in America was not always easy, but I was determined to get my education. I focused on school and improved my English on my own. The hard life I led in Nepal made me strong and gave me confidence to achieve anything. I learned English and completed high school with a 3.8 gpa.

Now I’m ready for the next stage of my life – college, then a career. I remember how much it meant to me to be able to help others after the fire, and it made me want to have a career in healthcare. I want to make a contribution to society, and I want to be able to take care of my parents, because they have worked so hard, for so many years, to take care of me.

I will be grateful for any help I receive, and I promise I will make good on my commitment to complete my education.

If you want to help Puja 
Please Visit her GoFundme site...
I'm headed there now.  
Giving of the heart to those who help themselves, is a gift that will be paid forward. Puja is one of those people who will do incredible things in this world. 
Enjoy the Journey!
XO Karlene

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Cabin Cooling Systems

Airplane Tech Talk for the Non-Technical: 

By Jennifer Lesher

My prior duo of posts about airplane turbine and reciprocating engines was popular, so I’ll expand the series to talk about the mysterious inner workings of other airplane parts. This week, let’s talk cabin cooling.

Smaller reciprocating engine aircraft usually have very simple cooling for the passengers – ram air; that is the air that is forced into the cabin by the forward motion of the airplane. Kind of like the “air conditioning” on your first car.

Some fancier reciprocating-engine aircraft have coolant/compressor air conditioning systems, known as vapor-cycle air conditioning. These run on a principle similar to what operates your home or car AC system.

To whit: imagine a long, long continuous tube. The tube contains the refrigerant and sends it through several stages. First, vaporized refrigerant passes through a compressor, where it’s squeezed, which heats it up. Still in vaporous form, it then it hits a condenser. The condenser is a series of coils that have cool(er than the vapor) air flowing past them. When the hot vapor goes into the coils it condenses into liquid and loses its heat.

The heated air goes overboard as a waste product. The liquefied coolant goes into an expansion valve. Attentive readers may remember from the turbine post that fluids lose pressure when they’re sent through a divergent opening. They also lose heat.

In this case the drop in pressure is very sudden and causes an extreme drop in temperature. The liquid then goes through the evaporator coil where the warm ambient air blows over it and gets cooled down while at the same time turning the liquid inside the coil into vapor, which goes to the compressor to begin another cycle.

This cool air is sent out to the cabin where passengers appreciate the ability to fly without schvitzing all over their spiffy outfits.

Turbine engines have a completely different and surprisingly simple system. In a turbine engine, hot air is bled off from the turbine compressor and sent through something called an air-cycle machine.

Here’s how the air-cycle machine works: bleed air goes into a primary heat exchanger. A heat exchanger is just what it sounds like – it exchanges one temperature of air for another – in this case hot bleed air for cooler ambient air. This doesn’t cool the bleed air to ambient temperature, but it cools it quite a bit, and vents the heat overboard.

From here the air goes through a compressor and gets squeezed, which also heats it up. From the compressor it goes to yet another heat exchanger (still compressed). By this time, the air is quite a bit hotter and denser than it was when it started, because even though it was cooled by the initial heat exchanger, after that it’s been through the compressor.

So then it goes through a turbine (a spinny thing that’s driven by moving air or liquid), which both expands it (and, as we already know, expansion causes it to cool) and absorbs heat energy to perform the work of spinning the turbine. Voila – cool, cool air for your cabin comfort.

Both types of system have water as a by-product, and there are various ways of dealing with the water, but that’s a topic for another post, or maybe not because it’s not as cool (heh) as air-cycle machines." 

If you have any questions for Jennifer, please ask. And make sure to follow here at:

Enjoy the Journey!
XOX Karlene