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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.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Women Who Fly

Just in Time for the holidays!

Yes... I have a story in this book... 

What happens when a woman pilot goes to Saudi Arabia in the 1980s and is told, "Don't talk on the radio"? My story and many more are included in Women Who Fly.

Women airline pilots share their stories, including an emergency landing in Russia, a flight over Antarctica, and a trip to Washington, D.C. to accept a Congressional Medal of Honor. These accounts, thirty-six in all, will entertain, thrill, and inspire while giving you a glimpse inside the lives of these female aviators. 

All proceeds go to scholarships!

The book includes over 70 photos and all proceeds go to support the ISA+21 scholarship fund. ISA+21 has already helped over 200 women by donating over $1.3 million dollars to aviatrices whose stated career goal is to become an airline pilot.

Make Christmas Shopping easy this year!
Buy a dozen on Amazon now
by clicking: Buy Women who Fly 
and gift them out for the holidays!

The holiday gift that keeps on giving! 

Enjoy the journey!
XO Karlene 

Friday, November 9, 2018


Father of Aviation in Atlanta!

Mayor William B. Hartsfield
 approximately 1945

Friday's Fabulous Flyer

Dale Hartsfield asked me when I was coming to his airport.
"Your airport?" I asked. 
That's when he shared his history... 

Dale Hartsfield writes:

"William B Hartsfield was a City Alderman in 1923, when he was given the job to go find some land for an airport in Atlanta. The problem was most people had not even seen an airplane up close if at all and asked what is an Airport and why do we need one? 

What Atlanta’s airport looked like in the mid 1920’s.

Hartsfield, along with others ended up leasing and then purchasing 296 acres for Atlanta’s airport. Hartsfield went on to become The longest serving Mayor in Atlanta serving 6 terms / 24 years. He is generally considered to be the Father of Aviation in Atlanta! The city named the airport for Hartsfield 8 days after his death in 1971. 

In 2003, Atlanta’s first African American Mayor died and the city decided to rename the airport. But, a fight began among many citizens including me.

Dale Hartsfield

I went on to become the Hartsfield family spokesperson. At first, the city wanted to drop the Hartsfield name altogether and and make it Jackson international. By then it was already the busiest airport in the world. My friends said if I had not stood up and fought today the Airport would be Jackson international. Although I am still not thrilled with the Hyphenated name, we did ok fighting City Hall. 

Atlanta’s airport-what 
The Terminal looked like when it was 
named Hartsfield in 1971.

Some said it was a racial thing. 
To me it was a family thing. 

After the renaming from Hartsfield Atlanta International to what had got to be the longest airport name in the world...Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, people said I should write a book on my experience and the history of the Airport. Right!! 

But in  2008 I began to write it. I had never written a book. It took over 6 years to finish with 100’s of hours of research. The book came out in November 2014. 

You can see a preview on my website It is an interesting story for anyone who likes, history, Aviation and/ or politics!"

Politics in Atlanta?

The Father of Aviation in Atlanta/ 
The plaque was put up in 1971 
and is still at airport terminal. 

Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson 
International Airport 

Next time I'm there... 
I hope to be reading Dale's book!

Enjoy the Journey!
XO Karlene 

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Inspiring Future Pilots

With the Girl Scouts! 

Last Friday I joined the girl scouts for a wonderful time talking about aviation and my flying experience. They shared with me what courage meant. We talked about facing our fears. Learning from our mistakes. They reminded me that there is hope in our future. I found a new best friend, and I suspect we will be seeing some future pilots, too. 

Oh... and they sent me off 
with a wonderful card and cookies! 

The Future is in Good Hands! 

Thank you Girl Scouts
for being amazing

Enjoy the Journey!
XO Karlene 

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Pilot Fatigue

My Research is Complete
and I'm compiling comments.

One comment, while it doesn't categorize into the study, has been included in future research. 


Comment from pilot:

"I do not believe I saw one single question on your survey related to fatigue. Fatigue is a very serious issue for any commercial airline crew. A pilot's decision to hand-fly an aircraft will be affected by the pilot's determination of his/her physical state and the state of his/her fellow Flight Deck crew member. If the Flying Pilot (FP) is too tired, he'll more than likely allow the Autopilot (AP) to fly the aircraft. If my departure time is before 7:00 AM, I normally do not hand-fly the aircraft because my day more than likely started at 5:00 AM or 4:00 AM in the morning. We normally get on the hotel van an hour before departure time and I normally wakeup an hour before the hotel van time; therefore, a 7:00 AM departure is a 5:00 AM wakeup call, a 6:00 AM departure is a 4:00 AM wakeup call, and a 5:00 AM departure is a 3:00 AM wakeup call. 

I've had a few 5:00 AM departures. They are dangerous to say the least. Even if you go to bed at 8:00 PM, you more than likely will just lay in bed until 10:00 PM, which only allows you to get 5 hours or less of sleep. This is the best time to allow the AP system to fly the aircraft. Also, if you are on the last hour of your 12, 13 or 14 hour duty day, allowing the AP to fly the aircraft is more than likely the safest thing to do; especially if your landing after 11:00 PM.

One more thing: the regional airline industry is an entry level industry for new pilots that graduate from schools like ERAU. Mainline carriers take the best regional Captains and military pilots so they don't have the same new hire safety issues that regional airlines have. Safety is at its most risky point during a new hire's first year or first 500 hours. During this time, it's good to have the new hire pilot use the AP as much as possible because it will teach him/her how to fly the aircraft through AP demonstration and recognize the different automation modes.

I fly the Bombardier CRJ700 (70 Seats) for a regional airline. The aircraft has a glass instrumented Flight Deck but no Auto-Thrust system. We hand-fly the aircraft as much as possible below 10,000 feet and normally engage the AP before FL180 but definitely before FL290 due to RVSM automation requirements. We do this primarily because it's FUN! We know that some day we'll move on to a "mainline" carrier and fly an aircraft that wasn't even designed to have the pilot fly it except for 5 minutes during the takeoff and landing. Mr. Henry is more than likely experiencing this now at his mainline carrier (he's a former regional pilot)."

To the Pilot who submitted 
this comment...
Thank you! 

Awareness is the first step 
to solving the problem.

Enjoy the journey!
XO Karlene

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Safety Culture and Pilot Training

Results in the Lion Air Crash?

I'm receiving many emails and comments from people who participated in my research in response to the Lion Air accident. Now the FAA reports that the airspeed indicator was the problem. The update is that they may have had a runaway stabilizer as a result of. As we all know, technology is not infallible and components will break. However, pilots should know how to fly.  

The question is, why couldn't they fly their aircraft? 


"Can we agree that any captain should be able to maintain aircraft control using standby instruments and power, safely fly an ILS on radar vectors, and land without incident..." 

"I'll be very surprised if there was something mechanically wrong about this airplane that made it un-flyable. I hate to think that it was pilot error, but that's exactly what I will expect to hear. I hope to be proven wrong."

My research is complete! 

Thanks to pilots worldwide who cared enough to assist in this research. I had 7490 pilots respond. While some surveys were incomplete, and some aircraft did not have autopilot, autothrust, or an EICAS, those were removed from the structural equation model (SEM), but all data was gathered to evaluate opinions. The final data analysis (SEM) was with 5661 surveys. I only needed 1599 to validate the model. 

What the results identified was that statistically aircraft and systems understanding has the greatest and positive impact on a pilots willingness to fly their aircraft. Statistically pilot training has the greatest impact on the level of understanding. That pilot training has a negative impact on pilots choice to manually fly their aircraft. Meaning the more training the pilot has, the the less the pilot is willing to fly their aircraft. Safety Culture has the greatest impact on pilot training. And finally when a mediating hypothesis was analyzed to see the impact of Safety Culture on Pilot Training and how that impacted a pilots willingness to manually fly, we found a negative relationship. I think my stats guru best explains this relationship with his statement: 

"Wow! Safety Culture is sucking 
the benefit out of pilot training!

Pilot error does not happen in isolation. If pilots are not given the tools to do the job, then what can we expect when the aircraft breaks?

I believe we found the underlying variables 
contributing to pilot error: 
Safety Culture and Pilot Training. 

Two things that are fixable. 
Hopefully that will be sooner than later.

My dissertation is in the final review phase now. As soon as it is approved and published, I will update the research website and provide a link to the full dissertation for everyone. Standby for a book from this research as well, that will be a gift to all participants! 

Thank you for caring enough to participate
in the interest of safety!

Enjoy the Journey!
XO  Karlene 

Monday, November 5, 2018

No Free Lunch at the Airline

Breaking news:

A man used a United Airlines computer at Peoria’s airport to steal meal vouchers was sentenced to 33 months in federal prison this week. He must also pay $559,345.67 to United Airlines. 

And then the Show Begins...

Eastern's Flying Hostesses

Eastern’s first “Flying Hostesses” were: Miss Beulah Unruh, Miss Madeline Moon, and Miss Marian Cook. Others in the first class were: Miss Edwina Davis, Miss Rita Brady, Miss Anne DePriest, Miss Carrie DePriest, Miss Doris Frost, Miss Gertrude Van Hoven, Miss Alice West, Miss Katherine Turner, Miss Helen M. Kymer, and Mrs. Susan Garber.

Episode 389
November 5, 2018

Call-in number is 

at 7:00 P. M. EDT 

or listen in by clicking the hyperlink:

Enjoy the Journey!
XO Karlene 

Thursday, November 1, 2018


Thursday's Thought...

When you argue with an idiot 
you step down the their level. 
When you reach their level, 
you will be beat by experience.

Enjoy the Journey
XOX Karlene 

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Trick or Treat?

Happy Halloween

The night is full of creeps and ghouls
yet I'll be spending the day with fools.
There will be no tricking, and no treating
But if all goes well, a little beating! 

I hope however you spend your Halloween
there is candy and smiles involved!

Enjoy the Journey!
XO Karlene

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Aviation Safety Update

The Research is Complete. 

The data has been analyzed. 
The report is being written. 

Yesterday, a pilot sent a message with following photos from the Lion Air crash stated:

"One you might look at in 
reference to your research."

Equipment will break
But Pilots should be able to fly an aircraft 
with faulty equipment in VFR conditions.


We must never jump to conclusions as to what happened, Boeing and the authorities will figure this out. Boeing builds an excellent aircraft and pilots should be trained to fly them, despite onboard failures. Christine Negroni wrote an interesting article on the subject: Not enough time for Lion Air to Save Flight.

Wait until you see the 
results of my research.

Thanks to all the pilots who participated in the study We ended up with 7400 surveys. You are amazing. And the results will be coming your way soon. 

Prayers sent to the families and friends 
lost in this accident. 
I hope that the answers come soon. 
They won't return your loved ones, 
but they might make a difference for the future. 

Enjoy the Journey!
XO Karlene 

Friday, October 26, 2018

Nathan Koch

Friday's Fabulous Flyer! 

 Nathan Koch 
Qantas Captain 

Nathan Koch: 

"My beginnings in aviation are probably no different to most of you reading this post. As a child, I was fascinated by aeroplanes. A noise overhead had me looking skyward, (it still does, sad isn’t it?) 

Birthdays were an exciting time as I would be less than subtle about my gift wish list. A plastic model aeroplane kit was all I wanted. But enough is never enough and I needed to send something into the air. A control line model was the next step up. Hours of building painting, running in my new little engine and soon the big day arrived. Off I went to the flying field. And within a few short seconds, I was on my way home with a pile of balsa fragments, some larger hardwood pieces and bits of broken metal, not to mention, a broken heart. 

So, back to the drawing board. Mark II was bigger, stronger and, just like The Titanic, crash proof. I had many happy hours of going round and round in circles following an airborne buzzbomb. 

The next step was not far away. All the earnings from my weekend job ended up donated to the local hobby shop, and in return they gave me my ticket to aviation freedom. I was no longer attached to my pocket rocket by braided wire, and aviation entered the third dimension with my shiny new radio controlled model. 

That was in the mid-1970’s, the same time as the advent of CB radios, the “Breaker, Breaker, this is the rubber duck,” kind of 2 way radio. In Australia, they were illegal, and unfortunately were operated on the same frequency band as our little airborne fireflies. This was my introduction to electromagnetic interference and automation surprise. It was like carrying a knife into a gunfight. No contest really; a slight crackling on the radio, versus a little aircraft with a catastrophic loss of control, and another episode of “Balsa meets earth.”

The end of High School was nigh, and career choice time. Unlike the US, Australia doesn’t have a College system, we go straight to University. Here’s where I take a 90 degree turn. I was fortunate (or unfortunate) enough to have two things that interested me greatly. Aviation and veterinary medicine. My problem was, at decision time, aviation was in one of its slumps. I knew no one in the industry to help guide my decision and tell me that by the time I was qualified, they would probably be looking for pilots once more. So Plan B became plan A. (All the pilots reading this, never underestimate your ability to mentor future colleagues, it’s invaluable.) 

I didn’t achieve the scores required for veterinary science, but I managed to squeak into a general science degree. Fortunately, towards the end of my course, I had learnt the not so subtle art of placing butt on seat and I completed my degree in human pathology (the study of disease,) and pharmacology (the study of drugs, the good ones, that is,) at the pointy end of the results list and into veterinary school I went. Another 5 years of assuming the position and I was the proud holder of a veterinary degree, about to be unleashed onto a blissfully unaware animal population. 

I started working in a mixed large and small animal practice on the edge of Melbourne. Just up the road was a small country airfield and plenty of opportunities to look up. I was now working fulltime with money burning a hole in my pocket, so it was time to convert looking up at flying machines, to looking down from them.

At that time, airlines had strict age cut off limits, so I didn’t believe I was destined for an airline career, but I needed to fly nonetheless. An ancient Cessna 150 was my springboard to the heavens (well, a couple of thousand feet anyway.) The first magic moment of solo flight was not far away. I don’t think it matters how long you’ve been flying, that first solo flight is NEVER forgotten. A Private Pilot Licence then followed and the battle to make new friends had begun, not because I wanted to break Facebook (I don’t think Mark Zuckerberg was even born then,) but because everyone was a potential cost sharer to feed my need for speed, (well, 105 knots, anyway.) 

Then came a chance meeting with one of my old university lecturers. He had owned his own aircraft for many years and possessed a Commercial Pilot Licence. Over a cold glass of beer, he convinced me I should study for my Commercial Licence. (Convince is too strong a word, he had to hold me back and stop me from running to the nearest theory school and signing up before we’d even finished our drink.) 

With the world’s newest Commercial Pilot License in my pocket, I needed to make a decision and see where I could go with my flying, and the adventure began. 

1989 saw a bitter domestic pilots’ dispute in Australia and the pilots from the 2 major domestic airlines resigned. I had resigned from my full time Veterinary job a month before it began. Work was difficult to come by. Fortunately, the flying school where I had trained had a maintenance division and I became involved in the restoration of an ex-Air Force DC3. The company also had a contract with the local power line authority carrying out low level power line inspections, looking for trees that were too close to lines and potentially sparking bushfires. Risky tree were identified from the air and ground crews went out and pruned them. 300 flying hours at 200ft above the ground and I was on my way. 

My instructor rating followed, even more closely followed by a major recession in the early 1990’s. No one was learning to fly. By a long string of chance meetings and good fortune, I became the aerial traffic guy for Melbourne’s top rating radio station. As “The Traffic Doctor” I now had a steady (but low) income which allowed me to hang around the flying school during the day and pick up a few students, (for lessons, not….)

Some 4 years later, I bumped into an old client from my first veterinary practice. I knew he had several aeroplanes and he offered me a job in Broome, in far north Western Australia. A Cessna 180 and 185 (tail draggers,) and a Piper Aztec and Navajo were at my disposal, TWIN ENGINE TIME!!!! There is extraordinary countryside in that part of the world, well worth a visit. A 6 month stint there, and with a deep suntan I returned to Melbourne. 

Quiet times and back to veterinary work, but I had a target. Given the distances between major centres in Australia, one of the aviation opportunities for pilots is flying “bank runs.” No money, just cheques, contracts and also priority mail and parcels to be delivered by a whole gaggle of couriers. It took me 6 months to convince the powers that be to give me a job. They have a fleet of Aero Commanders, one of which was used by the late great Bob Hoover to perform his incredible aerobatic routine. (If you don’t know who he is, the YouTube clip of him pouring a glass of iced tea whilst performing a barrel roll is something to behold!)

18 months later, I was in a position to apply for regional airlines and I scored a job with the regional branch of the now defunct Ansett Airlines. I flew Metro 23’s. No autopilot as the then boss of the company said that if there had to be 2 pilots on a single pilot aircraft (a requirement for carriage of passengers,) he wasn’t going to waste money on an autopilot. I spent 8 months as a First Officer then was promoted to captain. 

During all this time, something had changed. Equal Opportunity legislation meant that it was illegal to discriminate on age. Airlines started opening up their recruiting to all. I think it didn’t take long for them to realise that having a broad base of life experience in their ranks was actually a good thing. 

After a wait that seemed like an eternity, I was offered to opportunity to undertake the selection process with Qantas, and I WAS ACCEPTED! I couldn’t believe it. My first fleet was the Classic Boeing 747. We Had -200’s, -300’s and even 2 B747-SP’s. We all join as second officers, and not only was I qualified to sit in either the captain’s and first officer’s seats, but I also earned a flight engineer’s licence and occupied the sideways seat when they were on a break. The world was mine. 

I spent 3 years seeing the world and the opportunity came up to become a first officer on the Boeing 737 fleet. We had -300’s and -400’s, eventually replaced with -800’s. GFC’s came and went and eventually I was offered a command on the 737, which I have been commanding for the last 4 years. I’m happy as a pig in whatever pigs are happy in. 

Along the journey I also completed a graduate certificate of management, as well as a graduate certificate of aviation human factors. I have become a passionate advocate of human factors principles as countless lives have been saved since we have started working “together.” And I have been fortunate to take some of the lessons we have learned back to other professions. I have started speaking at both medical and veterinary conferences and I hope to plant a few seeds amongst these good doctors and hopefully we will see improvements in patient safety, for all creatures. 

Qantas also has a Pilot Assistance Network, or PAN. We have been trained as peer supporters and provide a sympathetic ear for our colleagues to discuss any issues, be they work or non-work related. We have psychologists available to offer further assistance if we feel there is more that can be done for those who have sought our help. If your company has something similar, I urge you to get involved. If not, try to get one going. The mental health of our colleagues is of paramount importance. 

I now facilitate our Fearless Flyers courses as well. It’s a great thrill to use some of the lessons I have learnt over the journey to help people overcome their fear.

And my tonsils are being exercised over the airwaves once more with irregular spots as the talkback radio vet, a four legged Frasier Crane. 

My story is perhaps a bit different to many, but if there’s any message I can pass on to you, it is that anything is possible. Thomas Edison said that genius (and I would add that it applies equally to success) was 1 percent inspiration and 99 percent perspiration. Dream your dreams and put in the effort to turn them from “I wish” to “I did.”

Thank you for sharing your story Nathan!

Enjoy the Journey
OX Karlene