Contract Airline Services

"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.

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Spreading Wings Gala 2019

You're Invited!

Erika Armstrong
A Chick in the Cockpit
Invites you to join the celebration 
on December 5, 2019 
6:30 pm - 9:30 pm

"An entire night of aviation geeks 
surround by airplanes!"

Wings Over the Rockies 
Spreading Wings Gala is Thursday, 
December 5th 
honoring Capt. Sully Sullenberger." 

"Join Wings Over the Rockies for a spectacular evening of storytelling, food, drink and fundraising as it honors Captain Sullenberger and propels the aerospace industry forward. 

2019 also marks the 10th anniversary 
of the “Miracle on the Hudson”. 

Wings Over the Rockies Air and Space Museum:

Wings Over the Rockies
Air & Space Museum

Front Desk & Store: 303.360.5360 Email:

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Flying Alone

Reaching Your Dreams

Beth  Ruggiero York

I came across a memoir, Flying alone, and had such a fun time reading it! I highly recommend this book for anyone who is in search of a dream and finding themselves. As it turns out, Beth and I were both 13 in 1975... so it was fun to identify with her experiences, being the same age. Thirteen was the age that her journey began. Loss that drove determination. 

After reading Beth's book you'll see that those good old days were from another era, when some pilots flew drunk, violated FARs and did anything they could to build flight time. Beth lost too many people in airplane crashes along the way. She also came close to losing her own life couple times. These stories all unfold in her memoir. Lessons learned can be found within the pages, as can the tears, successes and losses. 

This book shows the integrity, determination, and the humanness of woman in aviation in pursuit of her dreams. She learns the lessons that her instructor boyfriend never could teach her, about confidence. For anyone in a dysfunctional relationship, this book is also for you, and hopefully you can find your strength before it's too late. 

Beth's challenges were many. So much so, that most would have given up before they began. She achieved her success, and then her dreams were ripped away. Beth is a pilot at the core because she never gives up. Sometimes our life doesn't turn out as we plan, but it does turn out like it should. Beth proves that tenfold. 

And follow her 
on Twitter! 

Enjoy the journey!
XO Karlene 

Friday, October 25, 2019

Pilot Scholarships


Do you know a Pilot in need of an advanced Scholarship (CFI, CFII, MEI)

Initial Flight Training Instructor (FIR), Multi Engine Training Approval (META), or Air Transport Pilot License (ATP or ATPL) certificate?

Up to $5000 EACH


Awarding 2 worth up to $10,000 each

Go to our website for details!
The window closes November 12, 2019

If applying through Women in Aviation, you need to be a member of WAI by November 1st!
We use WAI to advertise and reach more people, but it is ISA+21 awarding the scholarships.

Enjoy the Journey!
XO Karlene 

Friday, October 18, 2019

Flight School Funding

Making Your Dreams Come True!

“My biggest dream is to become a pilot,
 but my parents don’t have much money, 
so I can’t get a loan to start my training” 

How often are these words spoken or conceived by so many 
young people throughout the world?

Welcome to Captain Andy O’Shea FRAeS and  Captain Petter Hornfeldt idea as how to help you make your dreams come true...

The pilot training concept in Europe and large parts of the world is deeply flawed. We are not talking about the quality of the training being provided, nor about the organizations that are working in the sector (even though these can be a problem). 

What we are talking about is 
the way that pilot training is being funded.

To become a professional pilot in Europe today you will need to pay anything between €50 000 and €120 000. That is only the course fee. On top of that accommodation and living costs as well as mandatory material like a personal headset, computers etc must be funded. The training can take anything from 18 months, in the case of an Integrated ATPL, to several years if the student chooses to go the Modular route. 

This financial barrier effectively turns away a HUGE number of potentially great pilots that the industry cannot afford to reject.

For the few people who have access to debt-free funding there are very few entry requirements to the flight schools. All that is needed is cash-in-bank and the ability to get a Class One Medical Certificate. These people are attracted to the industry by excellent salaries and a truly rewarding career. But why are these opportunities not open to all the people that have the ability and aptitude to be a Pilot? How desirable is this crass and vulgar entry barrier from any perspective? Certainly not from the airline’s point of view – they would like a training system that presents industry ready pilots straight out of professional pilot training. From a social mobility and equality perspective this financial barrier should cause outrage. 

For the students that either have the cash or can raise the cash for pilot training what can they expect from the pilot training industry? Well, the only mandatory requirement to commence training to become a pilot currently is the ability to pass the medical. That’s it. This leaves the way open for people who are entirely unsuited to the airline pilot career to spend large amounts of money on a professional pilot’s license that they will never get to use in an airline. They might hold a valid license, but the airlines won’t touch them.

So how do these unfortunate people qualify as professional pilots if they are not suited for an airline pilot job? 

Every training organization will tell the student that theirs is the best organization and that if they choose their school, the students will have a better chance of landing one of those coveted jobs once the training is completed. Since all the schools are saying the same thing, and the school fees can vary by several tens of thousands of Euros, it will be up to the students themselves to figure out which is the school on which they should bet their hard earned money. 

The fact is that in such circumstances most students will default to the cheapest option. And how can you blame an ATO for not turning away a student even though from “effects of controls”, it is obvious that this person will struggle and will most likely not get an airline job. An ATO is a business after all and needs to make money!

Now there are many ATOs, and their number is growing, that are conscientious about applying an assessment and selection process prior to allowing a pilot to commence training. These ATOs should be applauded because this is an area that has a deep impact on the overall system. A failure to convert high numbers of licensed pilots into successful airline careers is a major drag on the industry and deters bright people from entering our profession. After all, successful training is no real guarantee that the student pilots will find a job. So much depends on the personality traits of the pilot candidate – more on that later.

Further, there are no requirements for the training organizations to offer support to the students after they graduate. Some schools have taken it upon themselves to provide support and job-searching courses after the course is finished, but many more haven’t. 

This is where we come in...

I have been active in the airline training industry for the last 14 years and during the last 4 years I have been running my Social media company Mentour 360 SL. My idea when I started was to provide a positive and constructive insight into my job as a professional pilot and give everybody a chance to be able to ask the questions they wanted in a safe and supportive environment. I have done so by creating a mobile app called Mentour 

Aviation where thousands of aviation enthusiasts from all walks of life come together every day to ask and answer each other’s questions. I am also running a Youtube channel called Mentour Pilot which reaches around 1M individual viewers every month. In my work with the app and with my Youtube channel, I have had the pleasure to meet and talk to thousands of prospective pilots during these last 4 years and the picture being painted is not very good.

Andy O’Shea has huge experience in turning CPL qualified pilots into type-rated airline pilots – well over 10,000 of them during the time he was Head of Training in Ryanair. (Europe’s favourite airline for aspirant pilots). Through his company, Aviation Partners and Specialists, he now works with leading players in the aviation industry. He volunteers his time to be active on Committees and he Chairs the ATPG, a Group of professionals in the pilot training industry dedicated to improving safety and standards in Commercial Air Transport.

With my reach into the aspirant and young pilot population and Andy’s experience and insight into how the professional pilot training system works we want to make a difference to how pilot training is managed and executed. 

There seems to be 4 major problems:

1: FINDING THE RIGHT PEOPLE. As described above it is absolutely critical to apply an effective pilot aptitude screening process before pilot training commences. Aspirant pilots should undergo an assessment process and a selection process. An effective screening process will dramatically increase the individual’s chance of finding a job after successful training and will greatly reduce disincentive for bright people to join our industry. 

Many other common sense improvements will flow from this such as better use of scarce resources like instructors. In a future where pilot training will be based on Competency training and assessment, having the correct people in the training system will assist this paradigm shift in how pilots are trained. It will also improve the overall safety in the airline industry over the long-term, which is crucial given the levels of expansion forecast for the industry. As an ATPG colleague said recently “it is not acceptable to double the number of flights and think it is ok to double the number of accidents.” 

2: FUNDING. Unless you are lucky enough to live in a country that offers government sponsored pilot training, there is no feasible way to fund your pilot training unless your parents can produce the money in some way. Even in these rare and lucky countries, such opportunities are limited. This means that thousands of potentially very talented young girls and boys have their dreams squashed at a very early stage unless they deal with the reality of having to save up the required money. There are very few airlines that run sponsored pilot training. We think that equal opportunities should be given to everyone. The industry needs all the talent it can get. 

3: WHICH FLYING SCHOOL? If you manage to get your hands on the money, you now need to choose which school you should bet on. In Europe there are literary hundreds of approved flight schools. Each one will get you to the same level of qualification after training is finished. The difference in price is astonishing and that must make you wonder; How do I differentiate between a good school and one that is just “compliant” with the regulations and gets a visit from its Competent Authority once every year or two (or three, believe it or not)?

In fact, there really is no way of knowing which school is better without doing careful detective work. You need to research the different schools, talk to previous students and instructors and carefully evaluate the financial situation of the school. There have been horror stories about students paying for the whole training fee and then finding out that the school has gone bankrupt a week later and taken their funding with it. 

4: GETTING AN AIRLINE JOB. Once you have found the right school, paid the money and completed the training there is no guarantee that you will get a job, even if there are plenty of airline jobs available. This is because of the very nature of the airline pilot job. You must have the ability to develop the clearly identified Competencies that an airline pilot simply must have. So, in order to become a good commercial pilot you need to have some very specific personality traits. You need to be able to work well in a group environment under potentially very high (or very low) stress-levels. You need to be a good communicator, manage workload, make good decisions, understand when to lead and how to follow and be aware of the multi-faceted situation that you inhabit as an airline pilot. 

Unfortunately it is a fact that you can be the proud possessor of a commercial pilot’s license and not have a hope of getting an airline job. There are thousands of “parked” commercial pilot licenses in Europe that have never been used in any type of commercial operation. No matter how sad that situation in, it is still better than having a person who doesn’t have the right personality traits getting an airline-pilot job because of a pilot shortage. This person now runs a much higher risk of becoming part of the regrettable “human factors” statistics that plague the industry. The EASA Aircrew Training Policy Group (ATPG) has highlighted this to EASA and the EC and are pleased to see EASA agreeing that proper pre-training screening of pilots is now “recommended industry best practice” – but it is still not mandatory.

The point is that unless a student who has the right personality traits can be aligned with excellent training we are always going to have disappointment and a waste of time, money and valuable training resources on people who should never have started out on an airline career in the first place. 

What can we do about this? 

We want to open the training up to ALL the talented prospective pilots out there but also make sure that only the most suitable people get access to potential funding. There must be a clear guide as to which training organizations are good enough to instruct these carefully assessed and selected people. That ATO quality checking and legwork should be done by an organization that is only interested in working with the very best schools. This means that not only the students need to be assessed, so too must the flight schools and to very clear and transparent standards. And the airlines must be involved as well in order to make sure that these highly vetted and trained pilots have a clear line of sight to a first job with an airline. 

“We need to get the RIGHT people 
into the RIGHT schools and 
into the RIGHT seat!” 

Would you like to join a Club that would provide solutions to the issues described in this article as well as many more additional benefits? If the answer is YES!, please click this link and sign up for our newsletter. By doing so you are not committing to anything, just showing your interest. 

We will contact you when the time is RIGHT! 

Enjoy the Journey!
XO Karlene 

Friday, October 4, 2019

Darragh Metzger

Friday's Fabulous Flyer!

Darragh Metzger

Darragh Metzger was born and raised in Anchorage, Alaska, entering the world via her parents' room. Her mother walked into the hospital carrying the infant forty-five minutes after Darragh was born, so she knew from a tender age that she had a legacy of hardiness to live up to. She learned to fly in her father's Cessna 180 float plane, enjoying trips into the nearly-inaccessible Alaskan wilds with her dad and brothers. 

She now lives in Seattle, Washington, where she helps run her husband's theatrical company--The Seattle Knights, a stage-combat and jousting troupe--writing in her free time. She loves stories about aviation, and hopes one day to be able to produce a book of all the stories she's collected from bush pilots and pioneer aviators. Her publishing credits include plays, articles, interviews, short stories, and nine novels, several of which were previously released by another publisher and are now available from TFA Press in updated and revised editions.

I had the opportunity to meet Darragh at the Flight and Combat Museum in Everett a couple weeks ago. Not only is she an amazing author and pilot with a passion for aviation, she has extreme patience. I hope everyone has a chance to read her writings. 


Known initially as "On Wings of Eagles" and later as "Operation Magic Carpet", the secret emergency Jewish Airlift that began in 1948 was meant to rescue Jewish refugees from around the world and bring them to their ancient homeland--the newly reborn nation of Israel. 

In Shanghai, homeless Jews huddled in ghettos and prayed for rescue. In Yemen, entire tribes trekked miles of desert and robber-infested mountains to the ancient port city of Aden within the British Protectorate to await a miracle. 

It came in the form of a tiny, 
struggling American airline known as… 
Alaska Airlines. 

Alaskan pilots and crew little suspected they would create an aviation legend. With inadequate aircraft and no preparation, they risked their lives every time they lifted from Aden or Shanghai runways to fly Jewish refugees across Muslim territory to the new nation of Israel. 

Warren Metzger and Marian Liscomb were among those who accepted the challenge. Dodging bullets and bombs, Warren, Marian, and their fellow Alaskans faced deadly peril, bureaucratic bungling, inspirational faith and courage, horrors and heroism to help fulfill an ancient prophecy. They bore the scattered children of Israel to the Holy Land "on the wings of eagles."

Enjoy the Journey!
XO Karlene 

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Iron Jawed Angels

History Lesson on the Privilege of Voting ...

"The women were innocent and defenseless. And by the end of the night, they were barely alive. Forty prison guards wielding clubs and their warden's blessing went on a rampage against the 33 women wrongly convicted of "obstructing sidewalk traffic.”

They beat Lucy Burn, chained her hands to the cell bars above her head and left her hanging for the night, bleeding and gasping for air. They hurled Dora Lewis into a dark cell, smashed her head against an iron bed and knocked her out cold. Her cellmate, Alice Cosu, thought Lewis was dead and suffered a heart attack. Additional affidavits describe the guards grabbing, dragging, beating, choking, slamming, pinching, twisting and kicking the women.

Thus unfolded the Night of Terror on Nov. 15, 1917, when the warden at the Occoquan Workhouse in Virginia ordered his guards to teach a lesson to the suffragists imprisoned there because they dared to picket Woodrow Wilson's White House for the right to vote.

For weeks, the women's only water came from an open pail. Their food--all of it colorless slop--was infested with worms. When one of the leaders, Alice Paul, embarked on a hunger strike, they tied her to a chair, forced a tube down her throat and poured liquid into her until she vomited. She was tortured like this for weeks until word was smuggled out to the press.

So, refresh my memory. Some women won't vote this year because--why, exactly? We have carpool duties? We have to get to work? Our vote doesn't matter? It's raining?

Last week, I went to a sparsely attended screening of HBO's new movie "Iron Jawed Angels" It is a graphic depiction of the battle these women waged so that I could pull the curtain at the polling booth and have my say.I am ashamed to say I needed the reminder.

All these years later, voter registration is still my passion. But the actual act of voting had become less personal for me, more rote. Frankly, voting often felt more like an obligation than a privilege. Sometimes it was inconvenient.

My friend Wendy, who is my age and studied women's history, saw the HBO movie, too. When she stopped by my desk to talk about it, she looked angry. She was--with herself. "One thought kept coming back to me as I watched that movie," she said. "What would those women think of the way I use--or don't use--my right to vote? All of us take it for granted now, not just younger women, but those of us who did seek to learn." The right to vote, she said, had become valuable to her "all over again.”

HBO will run the movie periodically before releasing it on video and DVD. I wish all history, social studies and government teachers would include the movie in their curriculum. I want it shown on Bunko night, too, and anywhere else women gather. I realize this isn't our usual idea of socializing, but we are not voting in the numbers that we should be, and I think a little shock therapy is in order.

It is jarring to watch Woodrow Wilson and his cronies try to persuade a psychiatrist to declare Alice Paul insane so that she could be permanently institutionalized. And it is inspiring to watch the doctor refuse. Alice Paul was strong, he said, and brave. That didn't make her crazy. 

The doctor admonished the men: 

"Courage in women is often mistaken 
for insanity.”

Please pass this on to all the women you know. We need to get out and vote and use this right that was fought so hard for by these very courageous women."  Catherine Cargill

Enjoy the Journey!
XO Karlene 

Friday, September 13, 2019

Tony Ruch

Friday's Fabulous Flyer

Tony Ruch

My friend Ida Ruch lost her best friend and the love of her life after 44 years of marriage, on February 17, 2017. She misses him every day. She also misses the discussions they had about the industry. Ida was a Flight Attendant with Swissair when she met Tony. He was a Flight Instructor/Check airman/Simulator Instructor and Test pilot for Swissair 1965-1984. Tony retired on the DC-10ER flying international. Below is Ida's story in loving memory of her husband, Tony Ruch.

"I believe we are all born with a passion, that will be unique and different for every individual. Tony was born with a passion for flying. Growing up in a small town in Switzerland, that had a small grass strip as a runway, where wealthy people took their planes for a flight, it was also home to a gliding club. As an 8 year old boy he would be there whenever he could get away from home, making himself useful to the owners of the planes and the gliding club by cleaning shop and doing menial work. In return they would take him along for a their short flight adventures and he was a happy little boy. As a teenager he became a glider and at 17 yr old to become proficient to be on his own. 

He was moving into competition gliding nationally and participated with the Swiss team in the World Championship 1973 in Vrasac, at that time Yugoslavia. However, he realized in order to compete on an international level he would need much more time for training.

He asked at that time his employer Swissair if they would give him a leave of absence, unpaid, for him to have more time of training, but they declined. Also this particular World Champion ship was so competitive, that three pilots lost their lives crashing into each other in the clouds and that made him re-evaluate the competitiveness of competition gliding world. Since he was not given the time he needed, he left the the gliding competition and focused on his career with Swissair. He flew a glider whenever he had a chance.

His initial training was to become a civil engineer and after he completed this to become a pilot. He wanted to become a pilot in the military. In Switzerland every young man has to complete 17 weeks military boot camp when he turns 20. He passed all the test with flying colors to become a military pilot until his physical, when they found out that he had a color vision deviation from the norm that was required. And that put an end to his dream at age 20. That was a big one, but that’s when he put all his efforts into gliding and became very good at it.

He had a pilot friend that didn’t let things sit, and he kept on nudging him to try again with Swissair because his friend kept telling Tony I see the same color like you do, I don’t know where you a have a problem. Long story short, Tony applied with Swissair, same thing he passed all the tests with flying color until it came to the physical part about his vision. 

Now they knew about Tony’s previous experience with the military so they, the Swissair doctor had an expert with him when they did the tests. Now comes the funny part, the two the expert and the doctor started to have an argument about what color they saw, the color that was in question.

Well those two now had a problem to be solved. And it was no small matter, if the color chart needed to be adjusted, that meant it had be integrated internationally. Obviously there was a reason that Tony had to become an airline pilot. The expert and the doctor agreed that Tony’s vision was as perfect as theirs and they initiated the process to have the chart changed which included that it had to go through all the channels internationally to have it changed . And it had to be approved by the FAA.

Tony was informed about their decision in his favor September 11, 1964. And he was scheduled for flight training class with Swissair April, 1965. Flying and ground school took from April through October1965 and then the flight training on line.

Now finally at age 29 he was in his element. He quickly progressed into flight instructor, simulator check pilot, check airman, test pilot, and flew new aircrafts from MacDonald Douglas base in Long Beach to ZRH. He was also a member of a committee of the “Eidgenoessiches Luftamt” sort of similar to FAA, participating in recovery evidence of aircraft crashes. 

The management wanted him to go into the administration. But he declined. His character was, what I would call seeing with an eagle’s eye. He saw through the things and he had a keen perception what was going on behind the scene. And he dared to tell his superiors about it and didn’t shy away from difficult topics. That made him kind of a maverick.

He was very much liked but also fought by his very colleagues because he dared to shine the light on the things which were not good. Duty time regulations, safety procedures that were compromised, training issues…and much more….

Now he was captain on the DC-10 doing long range flying. Far East, South America, Africa, rotations were quite long up to 21 days, much away from home and health wise it took a real toll on him. Something started brewing within him. At that time Swissair retired pilots at age 55. He always said that he will call when he retires and not the company. He saw that many of his colleagues didn’t survive retirement much beyond 55 maybe 2 to 4 years dying mostly of cancer. That concerned him greatly. Swissair at that time vaccinated their flying personnel almost every six months for something. especially when they were flying into these continents.

He asked to company for a reduced flying schedule which sounded very reasonable, but they declined. A year later at age 48 he was the first pilot at Swissair that gave them notice of his early retirement. They were all stunned to say the least. How can a top pilot on the top of his career do something like this. His chief pilot said to him with this words … you are telling me a bad joke aren’t you??? when Tony told him about his intentions. Well Tony did survive his retirement until the age of 80 and six months. Which most of colleagues didn’t.

How did I meet Tony. Well that was simple. We had a 5 day rotation on the DC-9, mostly doing short legs 3 or 4 a day all over Europe. We had an overnight in Rome. As it was the usual procedure that the crews on overnights would get to together and go out for dinner in a nearby Restaurant. Thats’ what we did in Ostia/Rome.

After dinner we went to a Disco “Tibbi Tabo” a dancing place overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. Tony loved to dance and so did I. We danced the night away until the band closed down. All the other crew members had gone home to the hotel. But we were hopelessly falling in love, walking home on the sandy beach of Ostia by full moon and the rest is history, that was July 5th, 1973. What can one do when “Amore” strikes you? You have to submit…..

I am very grateful that the Lord brought Tony into my life and we weathered quite a few storms…some were hurricane intense… but we made it through them all with His help. And every second of my life brings me one second closer to see him again.

Among the pictures is one that shows me on my first transatlantic flight back in August 1966. I was eighteen visiting my oldest sister who lived in Forest Hills, Queens, NYC. After my mother passed away 4 years earlier in a freak accident at the age of 53. My brother in law took the picture, at that time you could still be on a terrace in JFK and wave to the passengers.

And I couldn’t believe when I saw this picture about 2 years ago when my sister sent it to me. The DC-8 had the SR ID - HB-IDA how cool is this having your name on the plane that brings you over the Atlantic ocean." Ida Ruch

Life passes in a moment
but our memories will forever stay
for those were loved deeply
and God has taken away
We will always remember!

Enjoy the Journey!
XOX Karlene