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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.

Friday, June 5, 2015

Marjorie Bicknell Johnson

Friday's Fabulous Flyer!

Marjorie Bicknell Johnson

And Nobody wants to fly with her....

She's a pilot and a writer, and and all around inspiration! Wait until you read her story. I met Marjorie at the 99 banquet in Palo Alto last month. I asked her to send me her story, and what a story it is. And wait until you find out where her inspiration to write came from. Yes... she is an author!

Welcome Marjorie!

"When my husband retired, the first thing he did was to buy an airplane. He took me out to dinner and presented me with a blank card that pictured red roses. Inside was a set of aircraft keys and the message, “Come, fly away with me.”

I learned to fly in 1991 at Palo Alto Airport. When I had only one more hour left to complete my private pilot training, I decided to practice soft field take-offs, something I had never done solo. Everything went wrong that day in the Cessna 172: I uprooted a tree at the Palo Alto Golf Course.

I remember nothing about it, so it couldn’t have happened, right? The FAA assigned me 10 hours of stall recovery practice—10 hours IN stalls, not counting flights to and from the practice areas. My flight instructor quit, and no one else wanted me.


I finally found an instructor who liked acrobatics. I learned to recover from a stall in any configuration, including inverted flight. When I got my private pilot’s license, I had 260 hours in my logbook. I joined Santa Clara Valley 99s the next day and attended every function for several years. I have served as chapter chairman, vice chairman, and secretary, and several stints as a committee chairperson. Most recently, I was chapter co-vice chairman for two years.

The picture of me next to a Cessna 172 was taken on the day I got my instrument rating—I felt like I had conquered the world. I don’t have a picture of me with the 172 that crashed—it went to the aircraft bone yard. I joined Santa Clara Valley 99s the day after I got my license. One of my daughters is a pilot, and so is her son (my grandson).

My husband and I owned three Mooneys. I appear with each of them. We flew out of Palo Alto Airport for twenty years. We crossed the US several times, flew to the tip of Baja, and to Alberta, Canada. We also flew for 50 hours above Australia—in a rented Cessna 172.

I spent my working years teaching high school mathematics, but I have always written stories. I have more than ninety published articles in academic mathematics journals, but they don’t make light conversation with friends, and I had always wanted to write a novel. So, in 2002, I signed up for creative writing.

Bird Watcher was published in 2007; Jaguar Princess: The Last Maya Shaman in 2011. I expect The Lost Jade of the Maya to come out in 2015. Of course, flying plays a part in every one of these. Bird Watcher is about a stolen airplane—stolen from Palo Alto Airport. The two Mayan books are archaeological mysteries, and small aircraft and helicopters are used extensively in the field in archaeology.

I wrote Bird Watcher after I spent a whole day watching birds. (They called it “birding;” I called it “boring.”) When I had a turn with the binoculars, I could read tail numbers of small aircraft landing at the adjacent unfenced airport. My imagination took over: a thief could pick out his favorite airplane and fly away with it at night. Why would he steal it? How would its owner find it? How could the thief take it, with no key? Read Bird Watcher to find out"

Marjorie’s books are available at
and her webpage is:

Enjoy the Journey!
XO Karlene  


  1. Thanks for sharing another fine profile, Karlene. While having a major crash *before* qualifying for her PPL, Marjorie demonstrated a lot more spunk that would most student pilots, and completed the training - and a lot more. Those TEN additional hours of stall training were obviously worth the effort and I'm sure that she is a much better pilot because of them. I'm not familiar with her books, but I'll be looking.
    As always, the Friday posts are some of the very best and I enjoy 'meeting' these wonderful pilots. Thank you.
    -Craig of Cedarglen

    1. Craig, this is so true! I am taking an Aviation Law course and the trouble students get into when they fight the FAA instead of learning from their errors, fixing them and moving on. She is a far better pilot from this experience. And the FAA was outstanding in the recommendation too.
      We can learn from our failures, and they lead us to success. She is an amazing woman demonstrating so much character and perseverance.

      Thank you so much for your comment!

  2. What a great inspiration! Great because we learn you can begin to fly at any age...and, great because we learn you can overcome just about any obstacle, if you have the guts and determination!

    Welcome aboard to another pilot-author!

    1. So true!!! And she proves them all!! Thanks for your comment Eric!


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