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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.

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

Monday, April 14, 2014

Soar with the flow of life!

Monday Motivation:

“Do the best you can, and then let go. When we release the outcome life works out just as it is supposed to. 
There is perfect timing for everything."

With two novels written, Flight For Control and Flight ForSafety, and the third in the works, and a motivation book in my computer, as well as two children’s books in chute…I had decided to attend graduate school in 2015, so I could put some projects to bed first.

However, with Asiana crashing in SFO, a couple planes landing at the wrong airports and a freighter hitting a hill on approach, I decided I could not wait another year. I have to start my mission sooner than later—to improve aviation safety

Thus I applied to—Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, with plans to earn a PhD in Aviation Safety. I filled out the application, received fabulous letters of recommendation, and wrote essays defining my goals, time management strategies and how I would make navigate the course. There was one more thing I had to do—take the GRE.

I bought books. Planned my study sessions. Worked online. Every spare moment I was studying flash cards for vocabulary, or learning how to do a math problem or two. Well, like all challenges in life, I ran into a few snags. My husband ended up in the hospital and out of commission for a couple months, then a few heart procedures. Then grandkids needed babysitting, a new grandbaby born, and unplanned trips with work. Yes…this was my life—short of time and delightfully complicated.

Despite all the challenges, I took the GRE. I was thoroughly embarrassed by my score—as I am the type of person who strives for that 100%. I did average. Could I get in with an average GRE?

My interview went great, I have strong work and life experience, and managed two masters degrees while working. Would all this outweigh my test scores? Were these test scores normal? I had to come to grips with my demons—I might not get into graduate school...this year.

I learned a valuable lesson during this process. I realized the power of acceptance for being human. I did the best I could under the circumstances of my life. I actually learned a ton during the GRE study process. Most importantly, I put myself out there, worked hard and took a chance. I also came to a very calm and peaceful acceptance of releasing the outcome. I want to get into Graduate school, but...

Maybe we don't get what we want, 
maybe we get what we need.

If I don’t get in this year, I will have another year to accomplish all I have to finish. I could study and take the GRE again and improve my scores. I know that I will attend graduate school at ERAU. Will it be this year? Will it be next year? Or the following year?

The point is, we don't always have to be perfect right out of the gate. Good things take time. And if we don't succeed, we can learn from our mistakes and do it again. Success doesn't mean we don't fall down. Success means being able to get back up when we do, and to keep trying. 

Sometimes all we can do is the best we can. 
And then we have to let life unfold as it should.  

Do we have to succeed to be successful? 
Or is showing up a success in itself?

Make sure to put my novels on your reading list!
They are part of the grand plan...

Enjoy the Journey!
XO Karlene

Friday, April 11, 2014

Darby Brashaw

Friday's Fabulous Flyer

Darby is said to be "every older mans regret and younger mans dream."  She is also the co-star in Flight For Control, and the leading lady in Flight For Safety. And what a lady she is.

Who is Darby Bradshaw?

Darby is sassy, feisty and lots of fun. She's loyal to her friends, drinks way too much coffee and loves to fly. She's been known to dance for her friends, play strip poker, and drink tequila shots. Her favorite game: Truth or dare. But on a serious side, when she told me her story of how she began flying, it was not unlike many women pilots who took to the sky in the early days.

Karlene: Will you tell us how and why you began flying?

Darby: Sigh. Sips Starbucks. "I began this journey trying to prove myself to everyone. But what I found in process was a family. Pilots are a pretty awesome group. They're more or less intelligent... sometime more, sometimes less... but they are funny and have brass balls. Well, some of us have brass ovaries, but that's another story...

The naked truth is, I learned how to fly and was in control of a plane far beyond feeling like like I was in control my life. But I also learned a huge lesson during those early days of flying. I realized there was nothing that I could not do. I was not worthless. I was pretty awesome and one of the elite. I also learned that I did not need to prove myself to anyone, because I had a license that said I was God.... Oh wait, I mean pilot."  (Insert a wink here that only Darby can do)

Darby Bradshaw was born to fly. She may not have known it at the time, but like many women pilots in the early years, most women took to this male dominated profession to prove something to someone. Most often it was to themselves. They fought battles of the sexes in the early years and paved the way for those who followed. Times had changed. So Darby thought. 

When her airline shutdown, as emulated in Flight For Control, and merged with another in Flight For Safety, she was stapled to the bottom of her seniority list and transported back twenty years in time. What was more painful than a stapling? As Darby says, "Ripping that fourth stripe off my shoulder."

The remainder of this story is yet to come...

While Darby is larger than life she keeps a low profile so not to cause grief at work. And while I'm able to write about her deepest secrets and sometimes most intimate moments, she still has yet to allow a real photo of her to emerge. I have already decided who will play Darby in the Movie. None other than...

Amy Adams

It's more than the fact they look like they could be sisters, but Amy's versatility would bring out the best Darby. Speaking of the best, I have a few questions for our heroine.

Karlene: Tell us what's going on in the romance department. Giving up on pilots yet?

Darby:  (Laughing) "You would think I'd learn!" (Serious) "Everyone believes that being a single captain, flying the world, and having no ties is enchanting. But you know... it gets old. There's nothing like having someone to come home to and just hang out with. They make you coffee in the morning and you don't have to get dressed up and go out to dinner first, to have sex. Ooops. I didn't just say that did I?"

Karlene: (My turn to laugh.) So tell me... since you were Kathryn's side kick in Flight For Control, but the protagonist in Flight For Safety, which story was the most fun for you?

Darby: Grinning. "That's a tough question. The reality of all our stories is that sometimes we have to go through hell before we can find heaven. We have to deal with the hard stuff to get to the good part of life. And the reality is, that hard stuff is so emotional that it's kind of a rush. So what did I like better? Every part of my story has given me something to learn. I laughed and cried, lost and loved. I liked it all. And kicking a little ass when needed was pretty awesome."

Karlene: How do you feel about the automated world with the plane you fly?

Darby: "I love it. I hate it. Both equally powerful emotions. I don't fly like I used to. I think it's making me rusty. That saying that Airbus takes excellent pilots and crummy pilots and makes them both average is so true. I'm not going to I heard rumors you are going to do something about it." (Wink)

Karlene: Before we let you go, what advice would you like to give to our readers?

Darby: "Don't be afraid to be yourself. If you want to jump on the it. If you want to dance naked in the it. And whatever you do, don't fear. Don't fear teaches you humility and gives you strength. Don't fear being vulnerable. There will always be people who will be critical, so give up that thought of needing to being perfect... which is impossible anyway. And stop picking on yourself. You are awesome just how you are...Believe in yourself."

"Life is way too short to give up a moment of compassion, caring, and love. I just want to ask everyone what they are waiting for? This is your life... live it!"  (Deep breath. Sip of coffee.) "And read Flight For Control and Flight For Safety ... especially if you want to know a little more about me." Huge smile and wink.

For all of you who have read 
What do you like best about Darby? 

Enjoy the Journey!
XOX Karlene

Thursday, April 10, 2014

The Tail Fell Off

The Not so Ugly Truth About the V-Tail

In my search for a plane I landed on the Bonanza A36. The same plane that Matt is flying around the world! But in the process quite the debate started with the V-tail.

In Defense of the V-Tail Bonanza, Paul says...

"The v-tail is overbuilt to the Utility standard, stressed to higher g factors, ultimate load factors etc....has been since 1949.

The v-tail enjoys a relatively good safety record despite the hyperbole surrounding "that funny tail,"

The vtail is by far the most tested, examined,scrutinized airplane flying. The only civil aero plane built with real wind tunnel aerodynamics as a large part of its design. Dive testing to 300 mph. Drop testing of the landing gear (dropping the airplane 20 ft or so, I forget, to test its ruggedness (all that did was pop the tires) There were many built (10,400 approx) and thus the pool is quite large. Accident statistics can be presented that are scary to the uninformed observer.

There was a rash of airplanes spit out the bottom of some thunderstorms, in pieces, or found to have poorly balanced or non balanced tail surfaces after painting or changes to its weight (maintenance induced flutter) that contributed to this run of inflight break ups. More than 70% of them involved convective activity in some way. Regardless, for a time, there was as opened restriction while Beech tried to find out what was going on. They found nothing.they were told to try again or the FAA would take over. They loaded it to gross weight......

Took It to every extreme imaginable.

The only finding was some flutter at a very narrow corner of the envelope. Hard to configure but nevertheless it was obtainable. They put a small cuff on the leading edge joint of the horizontal stab and the fuselage to protect against flutter, but more importantly...demanded that every vtail get their tail surfaces balanced, and to a tighter specification. In inch/pounds 16.8 to 19.6 or close to that. An Airworthiness Directive was issued to mandate inspection of the tail, installation of the aforementioned cuff, and repeated inspections every 100 hrs of the also mandated rebalance of the ruddervators after painting, etc.

At the same time as this, there was an emphasis put on weather and weather avoidance in pilot training, along with the first generations of spherics, lightning detectors that helped pilots AVOID T-storms and bad weather in general. Convective activity, sigmets and other tools became available. This is all in the early to mid 80s.

Well, the result of all this has been the Bonanza now having one of the better safety records among high-perf complex airplanes...with the only inflight break ups over the last 20 yrs occurring, according to NTSB reports, with convective activity, and loss of control resulting in overspeed and exceeding the airplane's ultimate load factor as causal factors.

The V Tail bonanza is a safe airplane. It's as safe as the pilot can make it. The tails don't "just fall off". I've been asked this question at an airshow once. In the inflight break ups studied, the tail never did "just fall off" anyway. Upon exceeding the Maximum Load factor the wings would fail first, followed by the tail.

The Maximum load Factor on the Bonanza is roughly 16% higher than the rest of the civilian fleet of airplanes as Walter Beech chose to illustrate its structural integrity by building the airframe to the Utility standard, rather than the Normal standard that Cessna, Piper, and all other certified civilian airplanes were built. This means you enjoy an ultimate load factor of 8g. This comes to inflight loads of over 11 tons as they also chose to keep the airframe certified in the Utility category at full gross weight, as well.

Well, I just sitting around and decided to give you my little story about the Bonanza and Debonair. Yes, they are strong. And safe.


I've decided if anyone asks me if the tails fall off, I'm going to answer, "Yep, with no warning! I've been lucky so far, but TODAY, WELL, YOU NEVER KNOW!!!!!!" 

Enjoy the Journey!
XO Karlene

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Aviation Humor

Truth is funnier than fiction!

ATC: "Delta 351, you have traffic at 10 o'clock, 6 miles!"

Delta 351: "Give us another hint! We have digital watches!"

Tower: "TWA 2341, for noise abatement turn right 45 Degrees."

TWA 2341: "Center, we are at 35,000 feet. How much noise can we make up here?"

Tower: "Sir, have you ever heard the noise a 747 makes when it hits a 727?"

From an unknown aircraft waiting in a very long takeoff queue: "I'm bored!"

Ground Traffic Control: "Last aircraft transmitting, identify yourself immediately!"

Unknown aircraft: "I said I was bored, not stupid!"

O'Hare Approach Control to a 747: "United 329 heavy, your traffic is a Fokker, one o'clock, three miles, Eastbound."

United 329: "Approach, I've always wanted to say this...I've got the little Fokker in sight."

A student became lost during a solo cross-country flight. While attempting to locate the aircraft on radar, ATC asked, "What was your last known position?"

Student: "When I was number one for takeoff."

A DC-10 had come in a little hot and thus had an exceedingly long roll out after touching down. San Jose Tower Noted:

"American 751, make a hard right turn at the end of the runway, if you are able. If you are not able, take the Guadeloupe exit off Highway 101, make a right at the lights and return to the airport."

A Pan Am 727 flight, waiting for start clearance in Munich , overheard the following:

Lufthansa (in German): "Ground, what is our start clearance time?"

Ground (in English): "If you want an answer you must speak in English."

Lufthansa (in English): "I am a German, flying a German airplane, in Germany. Why must I speak English?"

Unknown voice from another plane (in a beautiful British accent):"Because you lost the bloody war!"

Tower: "Eastern 702, cleared for takeoff, contact Departure on frequency 124.7"

Eastern 702: "Tower, Eastern 702 switching to Departure. By the way, after we lifted off we saw some kind of dead animal on the far end of the runway."

Tower: "Continental 635, cleared for takeoff behind Eastern 702, contact Departure on frequency 124.7. Did you copy that report from Eastern 702?"

Continental 635: "Continental 635, cleared for takeoff, roger; and yes, we copied Eastern... We've already notified our caterers."

One day the pilot of a Cherokee 180 was told by the tower to hold short of the active runway while a DC-8 landed. The DC-8 landed, rolled out, turned around, and taxied back past the Cherokee. Some quick-witted comedian in the DC-8 crew got on the radio and said,"What a cute little plane. Did you make it all by yourself?"

The Cherokee pilot, not about to let the insult go by, came back with a real zinger: "I made it out of DC-8 parts. Another landing like yours and I'll have enough parts for another one."

The German air controllers at Frankfurt Airport are renowned as a short-tempered lot. They not only expect one to know one's gate parking location, but how to get there without any assistance from them. So it was with some amusement that we (a Pan Am 747) listened to the following exchange between Frankfurt ground control and a British Airways 747, call sign Speedbird 206.

Speedbird 206: " Frankfurt, Speedbird 206! Clear of active runway."

Ground: "Speedbird 206. Taxi to gate Alpha One-Seven."

The BA 747 pulled onto the main taxiway and slowed to a stop.

Ground: "Speedbird, do you not know where you are going?"

Speedbird 206: "Stand by, Ground, I'm looking up our gate location now."

Ground (with quite arrogant impatience): "Speedbird 206, have you not been to Frankfurt before?"

Speedbird 206 (coolly): "Yes, twice in 1944, but it was dark, -- And I didn't land."

While taxiing at London 's Airport, the crew of a US Air flight departing for Ft. Lauderdale made a wrong turn and came nose to nose with a United 727.

An irate female ground controller lashed out at the US Air crew, screaming: "US Air 2771, where the hell are you going? I told you to turn right onto Charlie taxiway! You turned right on Delta! Stop right there. I know it's difficult for you to tell the difference between C and D, but get it right!"

Continuing her rage to the embarrassed crew, she was now shouting hysterically: "God! Now you've screwed everything up! It'll take forever to sort this out! You stay right there and don't move till I tell you to! You can expect progressive taxi instructions in about half an hour, and I want you to go exactly where I tell you, when I tell you, and how I tell you! You got that, US Air 2771?"

"Yes, ma'am," the humbled crew responded. Naturally, the ground control communications frequency fell terribly silent after the verbal bashing of US Air 2771. Nobody wanted to chance engaging the irate ground controller in her current state of mind.. Tension in every cockpit out around Gatwick was definitely running high. Just then an unknown pilot broke the silence and keyed his microphone, asking: "Wasn't I married to you once?"

These are the good ole days!

What is the best you've ever heard? 

Enjoy the Journey!
XOX Karlene