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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, April 30, 2012

Monday Motivation: Acceptance


“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; 
courage to change the things I can; 
and wisdom to know the difference.”
--Reinhold Niebuhr


My virtual mailbox is filled daily with comments on the AF447 crash, from one very concerned individual. Some of what he shares is accurate, but most is based on interpretation and not fact. I know why he writes. The power of anger and the sadness for the lives lost... that did not have to die... overwhelms him and a large group of people in Europe, while the rest of the world has forgotten and continue on with life as usual. Maybe we choose not to dwell on the past. But when the past haunts you there is no moving forward unless you find closure. Many people cannot find closure.

The bottom line is that the incident that happened with AF447 losing their data is not unlike anything that hasn't happened before. Yes, this particular system failure has occurred many times at numerous airlines, and airplanes. The only difference with this accident was the pilot's reaction to the failure.

But when I receive emails that state, "Airbus systems are evil and are out to annihilate aviators as their computers possess the ability to take human life because we don't honestly understand what they're really doing, especially when they throw pilots a curve ball when they shut down and toss control of the aircraft back at the crew like they did with Air France 447!" ... it reminds me of the serenity prayer. 

We must know he difference and change what we can. We have the power to change the training requirements. We cannot stop aircraft manufactures from building automated planes. This is the future. We cannot stop equipment from breaking, this is life. But we can take control of the human side of the equation. Each pilot can work to be the best they can. We can create awareness when safety issues arise. We can learn from the past and make sure that accidents like this never happen again. We can create awareness. Through awareness will come the change we need.

What can you do to make a difference? When an accident happens and you want a resolution and someone held responsible and it just isn't happening, how do you move forward? How can you create awareness? I wrote a novel Flight For Control, and working on Flight For Safety. The outline is complete. Tomorrow the work starts and each day I will report my progress. The sequel is taking the runway. This is my effort in helping change the world... one word at a time.

Enjoy the Journey!
XOX Karlene

Friday, April 27, 2012

Clayton Hollenback



Friday's Fabulous Flyer:  

Clayton Hollenback:

“Research Scientist in Iowa, Husband, Father, culinary expert, webmaster, and PR guru for Medicine on the Move, Ghana... a man with many talents, who flies and builds planes when he's not planting seeds in his garden, or tending his chickens....”

Clay grew up in North Central Indiana, went to Purdue University, where he met Tracey. He graduated in 1988 with a degree in genetics, and he and Tracey married in 1990. They moved to Iowa in late December 1992 so Tracey could go to Palmer college of Chiropractic, and they’ve been there since. They decided they had too much free time so they had two boys—Garrett 7 and Reid 3 ½. 


 

Living in Wilton Iowa in a 112-year-old farmhouse on 10 acres, surrounded by maize fields, with about 20 chickens and an active vegetable plot, keeps Clay busy, and yet he finds time to work, build planes, and support Medicine on the move. 


 

Karlene: Clay, can you tell us about your day job?

Clay:I work in the department of internal medicine, division of infectious diseases at the University of Iowa with the inflammation program. I work with helicobacter pylori and francisella tularensis. My work involves determining the mechanism of infection and how these bacteria prevent the killing oxidative burst after phagocytosis by neutrophils…. Or you can just say I’m a Bionerd.. easier to say…"

 

Karlene: So your day job is every little boy’s dream— you play with bugs, and you’re also a pilot. When did you first start flying?

Clay:  My first logged flight was 9-24-02, I received my certificate with 42 hours logged on 2-7-03 at 5:37 PM… in a Cessna 150— N8686G. Not that it was a big deal or anything…
My qualifying cross-country solo… I left Iowa City (IOW), headed north for a Touch and go at Cedar Rapid, continued on to Waterloo (ALO) for another T-n-G, then to Dubuque (DBQ) T-n-G, south to Mount joy (DVN) for fuel and a carbonated non-alcoholic beverage and then back home to IOW… completely uneventful… Other than almost missing Dubuque.

Karlene: I’m glad you didn’t missed Dubuque. You’ve come a long way from the Cessna. What is the most memorable aircraft you have flown?

Clay: A homebuilt Experimental Starduster biplane.

Karlene: Have you ever had any interesting moments while learning to fly?

Clay: One particular afternoon my instructor decided it was time to do some cross wind landings. Winds were about 20 degrees of center at about 20-knots gusting to 25. We departed IOW and stayed in the pattern for a t-n-g. I had a very difficult time holding the center line so we went around. After 3 more attempts my instructors gave it a try to show me how it was done. After he went around twice he decided it was time to leave the pattern a do some work in the practice area. The winds had increases to the point that I couldn’t hold my lines on any maneuver. Working at about 700 feet AGL it had become very gusty. It was time to head home. I rolled out of left handed a maneuver to head east (right). Almost as soon as my wings were parallel with the ground a gust of wind hit us lifting the left wing and nearly flipping the aircraft over.

I can remember looking over at my instructor and seeing nothing but the ground beyond him. The wings had passed vertical and we were losing altitude FAST. My instructor and I had slammed the rudder and ailerons full left. They had absolutely no affect for almost 2 very tense seconds. Finally righted at about 250 feet AGL we made a beeline for the active. Fortunately for us the winds had come around and we straight down the runway. Unfortunately the winds had increased to 35 knots gusting to 50. It was my first full throttle, no flaps landing. Our ground roll was only about 200 feet about 600 feet shorter than normal. We parked the plane and exited the aircraft silently, a bit shaky and very pale. We later discovered that a front had moved through almost 6 hours ahead of the forecasted, announcing its arrival with it a 70 knot gust.
 
 
 Clay's first ride in a CH750

Karlene: I hear you are building a plane, can you tell us what it is and how you selected it?

Clay: I’m building a Zenith Ch750 an all-metal STOL aircraft from the Zenith AircraftCompany.  I chose it because I want to be able to actually complete the plane in a reasonable amount of time and then land in my own yard. The company has an excellent reputation - and the parts are beautifully made.  

 

Karlene: How far along are you on completion?

Clay: The Horizontal stabilizer, elevator and rudder are complete. I’m about 70% done with the rear fuselage. Over all about 30-35% DONE.

 

Karlene: Have you had any help with it, or are you building this on your own?

Clay: I had the privilege to have Jonathan Porter and Patricia Mawuli  from Medicine on the Move assist with me with the rear fuselage. It was an amazing display of confidence and ability. When Patricia gets going it’s best to just stay out of her way. Or you might get “the look”….She is a machine in the shop, serious focused and competent... just amazing.

 


Karlene: I’m looking forward to meeting Patricia one day. How did you hear about her?

Clay: I found out about Patricia through Medicine on the Move. I first ran into Jonathan while surfing through the Zenith builders’ forum. He had posted that “one of the staff went to pick some parts and got a surprise...She took hold of a lovely Royal Python”. How could I not look him up to get more of the story? I looked his MoM website over and I thought I might be able to help … My plan was to build him a basic, functional website that he could maintain and then move on… things change… 2 years later I run the MoM website and a lot more! 

Karlene: So, you volunteered your spare time to be the MOM webmaster?

Clay: Yes, it took a while for them to understand that I just wanted to help, but I was happy when they gave me the keys to the website and I took it on. It takes up a lot of my spare time, but I really enjoy it - especially getting to read the blog posts before they are posted to the special blogspot page.

Karlene: That’s a huge undertaking. Why do you do it?

Clay: I enjoy helping others. I know I’m making a difference and I’m trying to be an example to my two young sons. There is more to this world than our little corner of it.  

 


Karlene: You are setting an excellent example. I heard that MoM came to OshkoshAirVenture  last year, and you were instrumental in making that happen.

Clay: I Talked about OSH every time Jonathan and I spoke. I told Jonathan it was THE place to be if you had even a passing interest in aviation and a fantastic place to launch an awareness campaign for MoM. He told me before he and Patricia arrived in 2011 that this was going to be their “once in a life time visit to OSH”…… Driving out of the parking lot the last day he said “we’ll be back next year, I don’t know how we’ll do it but we’ll be back”… LOL.  Patricia gave a great AOPA interview and the organization got a lot ofother coverage.

Karlene: Will MoM come to Osh this year?

Clay: YES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! and I will be there too!

Karlene: I’m hoping to be there too. Where will they be? 

Clay: We’ll have a home base in the Zenith booth again but will be all over. We’re camping this year, stop in for some West African culinary flavors - my favorite so far is called 'Omo Tuo'  or rice balls in peanut soup.

You had better be there – you have a great book... Flight For Control... and thank you for giving MoM a special mention – everyone else has to read the book to find out more! I hope to get signed copy of your fantastic book... ;-)

Karlene: Of course. Do you think you would like to visit Ghana and MoM? Maybe we could go at the same time.

Clay: Absolutely, I’m planning to visit as a volunteer, for Fly me day 2013. If all goes well I’ll spend 2 or 3 weeks staying at the special accommodation/training Centre/mini-clinic that is currently nearing completion.

Karlene: When you go down there, what would you hope to contribute?

Clay: I’ll contribute in any way I can. I’d like to go over some survival skills with the girls of the AvTech Academy, a special training school set up by Patricia and the team at Kpong Airfield in Ghana. It’s something ALL pilots need to know. 

 

Karlene: That’s great. Yes, all pilots need to know this for sure and that would be a fantastic contribution.

Clay: I just want to see the people I’m helping, and to get my hands dirty working on a few projects - and eat lots of peanut soup!

Karlene: Thank you for sharing your story, is there anything you would like to add, perhaps some sites that readers could visit to learn more about MoM?

Clay: Not only do I look after the MoM website, but now also the Social-Entrepreneurship behind MoM -WAASPS website, the MoM blog, FAM blog (the weekly column of Jonathan under his Pen Name Captain Yaw), MoM Face Book page, MoM You Tube channel and Pinterest page. I’ve taken on the roll of Webmaster, Public relations rep for MoM and the MoM social media director. And the roll I’m most proud of is that I get to pester the folks in the field for their blogs and get to read them first - my day is not complete without sending a 'Where is today's blog?' message at least a few times! 


 

Clay, thank you so much for all you do for Medicine on the Move. You’re an incredible man sharing so many gifts with the world, and your rooster too, I’m looking forward to meeting you at OSH.

Enjoy the Journey!
XOX Karlene

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Financial Stress Trickles Down

Swedish Hospital is the largest non-profit hospital in Seattle, and they could be in trouble. But there is something they could do... Maybe take lessons from Waste Management?







Posted on September 21, 2011 .... Swedish was about to layoff 150 employees. The hospital is in money trouble and believe a big part of the problem is due to thousands of uninsured, costing the hospital millions. Brill states, "Swedish is not alone with nearly 150 layoffs. Providence Hospital in Everett will drop 150 to 175 positions. Multicare in Tacoma to lose 300 to 350 positions. Many other hospitals are struggling too."


Distraction
During our extended visit in Swedish, word came down there was another layoff, and the hospital staff - from food workers to nursing - was in a buzz that shifted their focus from doing their job, to what's going to happen with their job. I've seen the same thing at the airlines inside the flightdeck. Distraction leads to errors.

Cutting the staff is not the solution to Swedish's problems.
Finding Hidden Pennies 

United Airlines saved about $50,000 a year by removing olives, lemon peels and grapefruit juice from their condiments. American Airlines saved $40,000 a years by removing one olives off the dinner salads. American Standard, a pluming fixture and air conditioning company saved $70,000 a year at one of their plants vacuuming their carpets instead of sending them out to be cleaned. Savings can be found in many places.


Saving Swedish
From what I've seen there are a lot of ways Swedish could save money. Simple things like reusing the plastic pitchers in the patient's room and refilling the water and ice with the plastic liners. The total of three weeks we spent in this hospital, I watch dozens of these go into the garbage can from our room. Some nurses brought refills with the liner, others tossed them.



Waste continued with the numerous rolls of unused tape that were left on shelves. Gauze pads for wound cleaning found there way in our room, and were never used. Scissors, suture removal kits, and tubing was left laying about. We were on quarantine for a few days and nothing could be reused.

Besides, I don't think any supplies going into a room can come out and be used for someone else. They weren't used and were thrown out. And the menus... we received 1-3 daily. Clear liquid. Partial liquid. Low Fiber. Full. I can't remember the names of each, but they had to have thrown 20+ of these away. Could they make laminated menus, chained to the beds, and keep them in the rooms and clean?

Who Is Paying?

Who is paying for these wasted supplies? Are the uninsured patients the only place bleeding this hospital?

What about the half a dozen meals that we ordered that were sent back because the various doctors changed diet requirements. Full liquid. Partial liquid. No fiber. Back to full liquid.

Who is paying for the "chest" xrays that were supposed to be taken of my husband's abdomen?

What about the broken IV and the half bag of liquid gold called TPN, and the lipids that were supposed to go into his body and had to be thrown away? 

TPN (Total Parental Nutrition) "A hospital may charge $2,000 just to place the catheter in. Home health agencies charge the patient's insurance or Medicare from $3,000 to $6,000 per week for the nutrition." Note: This was a 1998 price. Imagine now.


Who pays for the IV that burst in one arm, and because the PIC line had to be shared between antibiotics and the TPN, half the TPN had to be thrown out. Why didn't they put in a dual PIC line? Why didn't they make a smaller bag? Who is thinking?

Who pays for the pain meds, or Silver Nitrate, that the patient is prescribed, despite not taking any pain meds or the need for Silver Nitrate during their stay?

The Answer: We All Pay

Unless we bring this to someone's attention... nothing will ever get fixed. How has your company managed savings from waste?

Enjoy the Journey!
XOX Karlene

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Check Your Insurance Policy

Are YOU Covered?

My friend who is medically retired as a NWA Captain recently learned that her husband has never been medically covered as he worked on his farm over the years. Despite her numerous calls where agents assured them that he was covered... they were wrong. She learned this because a farmer was severely burned and his medical bills exceeded a million plus dollars, so she decided she look into this further.


This message is going out to all NWA retirees, all airline retirees, and anyone who is counting on their spouse's Airline Medical Insurance because they have their own business, I recommend you look into this.

Search: Exclusions

"Page 33 of the NWA medical contract (112 pages) table of contents under Exclusions."

EXCLUSIONS:

Unless otherwise specifically included, benefits will not be paid under Basic Health Coverage, if so covered, or under Major Medical Coverage, if so covered, for charges:

(A) Resulting from sickness covered by a Worker's Compensation Act or similar law.

(B) Resulting from accidental injury arising out of or in the course of employment for wages or profit.

(C) Resulting from an act of war, whether declared or undeclared; or injury sustained while the Covered Person is in military service for any country at war.

(D) For services furnished by a hospital or facility operated by any government or any authorized agency of any government, or furnished at the expense of such government or agency, unless the Covered Person would be required to pay such charges.

(E) For eye refractions or eye examinations for the correction of vision or fitting of glasses, furnishing or replacement of glasses, or furnishing of hearing aids.

(F) For dental treatment or dental X-ray.


Clause of Importance
For the Self-Employed

"Resulting from accidental injury arising out of
or in the course of employment for wages or profit."

Anyone working a retirement job? Are you working in the simulator for someone else? Flying charter for yourself, or someone else? Does your wife work for the airline and you're counting Any job that you are working, and gaining profit, and may have an accident that will require medical insurance...you will not be covered under your NWA policy.

Most employers will, or should have, coverage. And if you're working for someone else, Labor and Industry will cover you. But for those of you who are self-employed... Buy insurance.

My friend shared with me a company that provides very reasonable insurance in Oregon: SAIF So we know it's available.

Are You Retired from Another Airline?

It would be wise to do a little "exclusion" search to learn if you and your family are covered.

Enjoy the Journey!

XOX Karlene

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

F.A.A. Pilot Family Care Act

Pilot Fatigue
Mental Health
Aviation Safety

These are among the hot topics in the aviation industry. As they should be. NASA has done numerous studies on fatigue and napping. The FAA finalized their Fatigue Ruling for commercial airlines. The National Mental Health institute discusses the serious impact of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. We question if pilots are Flying Drunk with Fatigue: 17 hours awake equals an alcohol level of .05. There are not enough hours in a day to read all the research that points to one statement:

Pilots should not fly fatigued.


We have the research. We’ve watched the impact. One would think we have advanced to a level of understanding of how important rest and mental health is for pilots. But we have a long way to go. 

As many of you know I have been Sitting Bedside in the Hospital while my husband has traveled through hell over the previous three weeks. He’s a fighter and I have been instrumental in his survival.
Everyone needs an advocate. And when we go through challenging times like this, we shouldn’t have to worry about our jobs. But as the weeks continued and there was no release date in sight, I called my Chief Pilot “Support” Center, to determine how much sick leave I had, and asked if I could use my vacation.

CPS (Chief Pilot Support) told me that I had 150 hours of sick leave, and should use that before vacation because we renew our sick bank in June. And then he said….

CPS: Wait. Who is in the hospital?

Me: My husband.

CPS: You can’t use your sick leave while your husband is in the hospital. 

Me: But I am sick. I've been here every night. I haven’t slept in 3 weeks!

CPS: Sick Leave is for when you’re sick, not your husband.

Me: But I am sick. I can get a doctor’s note.

CPS: This doesn’t pass the Sniff Test. You better call your Chief Pilot in Seattle.

Then he hung up and pulled me off payroll.

Shocked? I was.

I would expect the support center to support. It's hard enough for pilots to ask for help... we are fixers ... so when we do ask for help, we need it. Second, did he expect me to go fly a plane after being awake for 3 weeks?



Was he Thinking?

I don't think so. As it turned out the person in charge of my Chief Pilot Support Center is not a pilot. He also missed the memo that it's against company policy, FAA rules, and safety to fly fatigued. The point is... at this time of the equation, I was sick. Nobody can live under stress like this and not have their health compromised.

I could have called in sick and not told him what was happening, but that is also in violation of my company's, and my, core beliefs... "Tell the Truth." I never imagined the support wouldn't be there. All I wanted to do was give up my vacation and not use sick leave.

Thankfully I found support in Seattle.

I soon learned that Washington State had passed a law for this type of situation with the Washington State Family Care Act which enables a person to use their sick leave while caring for seriously ill family members.
  • How many pilots are forced to go to work when their head is someplace else during a time of crisis?
  • Do you want them flying your plane?
  • How could an airline manager force a pilot to choose between paying the pending medical bills and their mortgage with hundreds of lives in their hands while stressed and fatigued, or stay home and care for their spouse, child or parent?
  • Where would that pilots head be? Not in the plane.
Have you faced a situation like this?

It's sad that our government has to mandate laws for companies (or rather individuals running departments) who do not have compassion or exercise common sense to do the right, and legal, thing.
Thankfully I am protected, which enabled me to take the safest and most humane course of action.
NOTE: It's been brought to my attention that California has the same law. Please check with your state to determine if you have this law, and if not... get it on the books.

Nurturing verses Working

It's true that women have more of a nurturing mindset, and understand the power of being there. Men, on the other hand, financially fix things. They show their love by providing. Most male pilots (and we know that more than 96% are men) would go to work to make sure they could pay their bills. But is that where their heads would be? What about the woman who is faced with caring for her elderly parents or children? These responsibilities traditionally fall in the woman's lap.

We need to do something to make sure a pilot is not forced to fly when they have family members in crisis or they are going through a divorce. All airlines should have the Family Care Act in place. Is this something the FAA should mandate?

Your life is in your pilot’s hands. You want their heads in the plane. What comes of this is another chapter in Flight For Control’s sequel… Flight for Safety.

Are you in favor of a F.A.A. mandated family protection act, similar to the Washington State Family Care Act , that supports pilots who need to be someplace else than in an airplane during the event of a family crisis? I am.

Support the creation of the

F.A.A. Family Care Act

Something to increase safety, when flight managers don't get it.

This post was written for three reasons:
  1. Aviation Safety:  To fix what's broken.
  2. To realize even the "BEST" companies in the world can have people saying the wrong things.
  3. Inform people in Washington and California of their rights, and hopefully more states will add this law.

Enjoy the Journey!
XOX Karlene

Monday, April 23, 2012

Monday Motivation: Worry

"Let me be taken away from my daily
worry and strife. So I may emerge
worry free with the capability to
create - all the solutions that I
wish for - or want."

~ by Eleesha, Inspirational Affirmations Author


We returned home from the hospital yesterday, and the previous month I've had so many people tell me not to worry, or say they know I'm worried, etc. I have a little secret: Despite the numerous challenges I've faced, I have actually I have never been worried. Exhausted, yes. Stressed, yes. Worried no. I've made a decision for my life to remove the worry from my mind.

Don't Worry Take Action

Worrying creates depression, causes health problems, and kills brain cells. Worry destroys the memory. Actually little bit of worry actually can help the memory, but only if it kicks you into gear to do what needs to be done. But too much worry will lead to anxiety, and anxiety reduces available working memory capacity. Too much anxiety… and depression sets in. And a depressed individual’s processing capacity, and lack of motivation, will contribute to inferior cognitive performance. Shall I go on with physical responses to worry? Ulcers, aging, heart problems, etc.

I learned how to remove worry when our middle daughter was in the hospital after she'd been paralyzed from back surgery, seven years ago. The doctors had said she may never walk again. When I left the hospital for my daily mental and shower break, I would receive calls from family crying and telling me Kayla would be okay. Meaning she would walk. But I always knew she would be okay, even if she didn't walk. Her life would just be different. I realized that was the key to my survival. Having faith that whatever happened was just going to be fine. It may be different than we'd planned, but it would fine if she survived.

How to survive the insurmountable
challenges of life:

Do what needs to be done in the moment, and have faith that everything else is going to happen like it is supposed to.

Exhaustion from not sleeping, and stress from dealing with the daily challenges will always be there. But when you can learn to focus on what needs to be done now, and not let your mind travel down the road of "what if," you can survive anything.

When you imagine the "what ifs" you feel the pain mentally, emotionally and eventually physically as if it has already happened. But what if, your what if doesn't happen? You've just experienced the pain that you've created in your mind for no reason. It wasn't reality and you got to live it.

For those of you who believe in the power of prayer, when you start thinking about the negative side of what might happen, in essence aren't you're sending those messages...prayers... out into the universe? Watch what you think about. Focus on what needs to be done.

If your mind is not focusing on worrying about what might happen, you have the power to deal with what is happening. Of course you should prepare and take appropriate action for what you have control over and can anticipate, but the key word is action. If there is nothing you can do but mentally fabricate the worst case scenario, then STOP thinking!

Life is What You Think About.

For all my pilot friends, stop worrying about your careers, or passing your tests...Just prepare.

Are you a worrier? If so, how is that working for you?

Enjoy The Journey!
XOX Karlene


Friday, April 20, 2012

Lydia Westi

Friday's Fabulous Flyer

Lydia Westi

Lydia Westi is a little angel studying, learning and helping others through the gift of flight. This young lady once dreamed of becoming a hairdresser because her family didn’t have enough money to send her to school, and now she is flying airplanes, and helping save lives.


We first met Lydia when she was fifteen years old, as one of our Why I Want To Fly essay contest winners. We were with her while she went through surgery on her arm. And now you’re about to see this beautiful young lady growing up as she spreads her wings flying into the future with grace and glory, and two working hands. Please take a moment to read Lydia’s Story and her essay by clicking HERE. Then come on back to read what Lydia has been up to.



Karlene: Your life has changed completely over the previous few years. But I know you have fond memories of growing up. What was your favorite?


Lydia: I enjoyed going to church and the Gospel songs.


Karlene: Tell me about that turning point in your life, in your mother’s store. At the time, what did you think of these strangers asking you about your arm, and did you have any idea where it would lead?


Lydia: The only thing I asked is 'why is that these people are only asking about my arm and have stopped buying things to just talk about my arm'. I did not have any idea what would happen.



Karlene: Mr. Porter has changed your life in many ways. First he gave opportunity to fly. Second he’s working to help fix your arm. How does this make you feel to have this person, who once was a stranger come into your life and change it?


Lydia: I was very happy when they came into my life.


Karlene: I know you are, as I know he is grateful you are in his as well. What does learning to fly mean to you?


Lydia: Flying means so many things. To be able to fly to the rural communities is really important also taking them health care. The day I first flew, that day was the happiest day of my life. Flying now makes me feel excited and I giggle a lot when making the plane do things.



Karlene: I can imagine that was the happiest day of your life, flight has changed your life in so many ways.


Lydia: My first flight was a little bit scary and I held onto the seatbelt because I was scared, and then we flew around the airfield and I could see the lake and land, seeing everything from the air I asked myself 'So, we have this beautiful land around us', I did not know it was so beautiful when I only saw it from the ground.



Karlene: One of the greatest gifts for pilots is to experience a different view of the world. Some of the most incredible scenes I’ve ever seen have been in flight. You were recently given another gift as you underwent some serious surgeries, can you tell me about this?



Lydia: My arm was not very useful how it was. The surgeons cut my back to take muscle for my arm and my legs to make skin grafts for my arm.


Karlene: The advancement of medicine never ceases to amaze me. How successful were the procedures?


Lydia: I think that they are very good. My hand is still not in the normal place, but it works very well and I can do many things now. Even wear long sleeve shirts and blouses and get washed and dressed easier. It is also easier to do the washing and cooking this way - AND flying!


Karlene: I know there were many people in the United States praying for you. It must have been frightening to go through this. How much do you remember?


Lydia: It was scary, and at one point I thought I was going to die... I don't remember but I am told that at one point I called out 'Alpha Alpha, finals to land'. I think that the idea of getting better to fly helped me a lot to get better - especially with the painful physio from Aunty Alberta!



Karlene: Having something to look forward to is very important to recovery. And your flying is important to many. Can you tell me what Medicine on the Move all about, and how they have impacted your life?


Lydia: Medicine on the Move help the rural communities that need help with health education and training. On Monday I gave a SODIS (Solar Water Disinfection) demonstration to some of the community members who came for training. I have also learned to do patient assessments including taking blood pressure and taking care of wounds. If somebody had taken care of my wounds as a child I would not be disabled today. I want to teach others so that they don’t have to go through what I have been through.



Karlene: What are you plans for the future?


Lydia: I want to FLY. I want to fly to take basic health care to rural communities, if possible. I have already been practicing the ETCHE bag drops and am learning to fly the Medicine on the Move Zenith CH701. I am also learning to service the Rotax engines and enjoy working on the carburetors and changing the oil (I get to cut open the oil filters for inspections)



Karlene: Tell me about the above photo.


Lydia: I was interviewed on TV3 to share with the audience how I have overcome my disabilities and turned them into abilities - because disability is not an inability...


Lydia, you have proven a disability is not an inability. You are such an inspiration to so many people, and give strength to all. I look forward to the day I can come to Ghana again and meet you in person.



Captain Yaw is the man who changed Lydia’s life and is changing the lives of the people in Ghana with Medicine On the Move—MOM. After spending the previous few weeks in a hospital in Seattle, with all the challenges that presented, I still feel fortunate for the medical facilities we have available in the U.S. I asked Captain Yaw what the hospitals were like in Ghana and this was his reply:



Rural hospitals in Ghana go from OK to 'seriously lacking'. Many don't have doctors - others are, in effect empty buildings. The majority are lacking in supplies and cleanliness is a surprise when you find it.


The big city hospitals, such as where Lydia was, have some fantastic doctors and nurses, and a lot of patients... the patients are more than they can handle. Surgery is carried out back to back in the theatres... the challenge of the environment leads to complications and infections...

Everything here is a challenge - from the quality of the power to the regularity of the water supply - imagine the related impact on medical things…


I can imagine.


Creating awareness is the first step to change. Please take a moment to drop by and see what Medicine on the Move is doing. They changed Lydia’s life, as they are many more.


Enjoy the Journey!

XOX Karlene