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"We are the protagonists of our stories called life, and there is no limit to how high we can fly."

PHD. MBA. MHS. Type rated on A350, A330, B777, B747-400, B747-200, 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. Fighting for Aviation Safety and Airline Employee Advocacy. Safety Culture and SMS change agent.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Happy Memorial Day


One day a year, we shed a tear
For the lives we’ve lost in battle.

For the Sons and Daughters we’ll never see,
For the Mothers and Fathers who kept us free,
For our Sisters and Brothers who stood so tall,
With courage and grace to protect us all.

Remember the lives that we’ve lost,
And that Freedom comes with a cost.
Hold their love and memories near,
Tonight we sleep without a fear.

For our family and friends’ great sacrifice,
Who gave their strength, and then their life,
A gift so great… how do we repay?
Have a Happy Memorial Day!

And remember….

~ Karlene

Those who have lost a loved one, we know their tears are shed more than one day a year. The pain and thoughts of, 'if only' I had one more day, live with them daily. Today is not about the pros or cons of war, Memorial Day is about honoring and remembering those people who gave their lives for a cause, for our freedom, and for hope of a brighter future for our children. Thank you!

As Kelly Strong says, Freedom is not Free. 


I watched the flag pass by one day.
It fluttered in the breeze.
A young Marine saluted it,
and then he stood at ease.

I looked at him in uniform
So young, so tall, so proud,
He'd stand out in any crowd.

I thought how many men like him
Had fallen through the years.
How many died on foreign soil?
How many mothers' tears?

How many pilots' planes shot down?
How many died at sea?
How many foxholes were soldiers' graves?
No, freedom isn't free.

I heard the sound of taps one night,
when everything was still
I listened to the bugler play
And felt a sudden chill.

I wondered just how many times
That taps had meant "Amen,"
When a flag had draped a coffin
Of a brother or a friend.

I thought of all the children,
Of the mothers and the wives,
Of fathers, sons and husbands
With interrupted lives.

I thought about a graveyard
At the bottom of the sea
Of unmarked graves in Arlington..
No freedom isn't free.

~Copyright 1981 By
LCDR Kelly Strong, USCG~

Thank You Kelly!  

Friday, May 28, 2010

Barry Orlando: Friday Fabulous Flyer!

During the previous three months I’ve had the opportunity to meet many wonderful pilots during my blogging/flying/training adventure. Many of these pilots are just beginning their aviation careers and others are starting their second career. They all have one thing in common, an incredible passion for flying.

The current economy, personal life struggles, and the price of fuel have added additional challenges to their progress. We’re asking the aviation community for help and or advice. Today and throughout the month of June I am introducing some very motivated and talented people who just want to fly airplanes. We're asking anyone who can help to fulfill their dreams with a flying job, a plane and opportunity to build hours, or an idea how they can afford to build time… I know they would greatly appreciate your advice and assistance!

Today, I am proud to introduce you to: Barry Orlando!

Barry earned his private pilot certificate in October of 2007. Since then he has earned his High Performance endorsement and will have his Complex Endorsement after “only” 4 more hours of training. Presently he’s studying for his commercial rating and hopes to take the FAA exam before July 1st.

Barry has a total of 76 hours PIC, 180 hours total time, and has flown Cessna 172’s, 182’s, a Piper Cherokee and an Arrow. In order to stay in the flying game he joined the Civil Air Patrol and was recently promoted to 2nd Lieutenant in the Rochester Senior Squadron. He will be taking a FORM 5 check ride with Civil Air Patrol so that he can fly solo their aircraft as his funds improve. Unfortunately there is no free flying in Civil Air Patrol, not yet anyway… but we have to ask ,”why not?”

Barry lost his job two years ago. However he used this opportunity to turn his part time development company into a full-time business and spend more time with his sons. His son’s, ages 12 and 14, moved in with him full-time after the loss of his job. Barry’s challenges now are strictly from a time and money standpoint.

Barry says, “Being a single father puts things in perspective very quickly, but my boys come first with flying second.” His divorce in 2009 presented many additional challenges. But he emerged with two wonderful sons, Devin and Nathan. His 12 year old Nathan has his own blog. Click HERE to check it out.

Barry’s goal in aviation is simple: “Doing everything I thought I could never do!” Barry further states, “I love flying, being a knowledgeable pilot and sharing my passion with others. I have more to learn and building up my pilot in command time is important to me.”

A commercial rating is essential to reach his goal: Making a living doing something he loves. “Sure I love what I do as far as work, but it’s not nearly as exciting as flying. It’s a passion that helps drive me to do more, and I want to keep the fire burning.”

Barry lives in the Fingers Lakes Region of New York State. If there is anyway someone could help him move his flying career forward… he would be very grateful.

Please check out Barry’s business at Orlando Web Services or visit his personal blog to learn a little more about him at See Barry Fly. And don’t forget to share your ideas with him below.

Thank You!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Male vs Female Brains

Question of the week... How different are Male and Female brains?  

Primary Difference

Research dividing the “male” and “female” brains clearly indicates that yes... men and women generally have different mental skills. 

Women’s cognitive strengths include verbal communication, linguistic learning (vocabulary), fine motor and hand skills, seeing at night, interest in faces and people, visual memory and integrating thought and emotion. Ha! We are women hear us roar!  Could these communication skills be an asset when it comes to crew resource management, CRM, with the need to communicate? Oh yeah.

Many people think that men were more visual than women, however the reality is a woman’s strength is in her visual memory, whereas a man’s is in his hearing memory…. Which is ironic since most women think (know) that men don’t listen!

Another well known assumption is that most women can multi-task, while men are more single focused. 
Assumption or not, there is biological reason that makes this a true statement! And... it has nothing to do with shopping!

One of the main differences between the brains of men and women is the fact a man’s brain uses specific regions on each side of his brain for tasks, utilizing only “one” side at a time. A woman’s brain however, uses “’both” halves to accomplish certain skills. A man’s cerebral compartmentalization makes it easier for him to concentrate and be single minded. Women also have better-developed fibers in the corpus callosum…the tissues connecting the two halves of the brain. This tissue structure, while starting out larger with men, shrinks as men age, but with women it doesn’t. Sorry guys… sounds like another shrinkage issue problem.

Taking these strengths into the sky…

A woman’s multi-tasking ability in the flight deck could be an asset when the engine fails, ATC is talking, the flight attendants need briefing, and checklists need to be accomplished. Obviously some personalities don’t deal with pressure and stress well... men or women. A woman’s greater ability of fine motor and hand skills can also lead to strength in flying the modern planes. Especially the Airbus since a gentle touch is all that is needed on that stick. Men... don't over control her.  And women can see better at night. I suspect this is because we need to see well into the night because our work never seems to end. 

Men’s strengths, in addition to being single minded focused and hearing memory, tend to be math, spatial reasoning (geometry and hand eye coordination), map reading, seeing in bright light, and interest in objects. A single minded focus is actually a good thing during studying. And spatial reasoning with hand eye coordination will assist in flying the plane… if you don’t try to over control the stick.

What does this mean? Men and women are different… but never underestimate the power of a woman, and never underestimate the power of Princess Fifi!  

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Killing Brain Cells

A pilot’s life in training… Poor nutrition, no time to exercise, worried about passing the check, anxiety with so much to learn, and we can’t help but feeling depressed living in a hotel room for five to six weeks.

Worry, Anxiety, and Depression:

The good news is, that a little bit of worry actually can help the memory…if it kicks you into gear to study. But too much worry will lead to anxiety. Unfortunately 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.


Stress not only physically hurts you, but destroys your ability to recall. A small amount of stress can be good to get you moving, but too much will kill brain cells. Stress disrupts a chemical communication essential to learning. It stimulates cortisol, a hormone that helps process carbohydrates, but in excess will damage brain cells. Stress inhibits the brain’s ability to absorb glucose (the brain’s primary energy source) and robs its ability to moderate other chemical signals. Too much stress means that your brain cells will become overexcited and either become severely damaged, or killed.

Legal Substance Abuse:

Painkillers and anti-inflammatory drugs such as Ibuprofen are detrimental to your long-term memory… not to mention potential kidney failure.

Alcohol impairs your memory when you drink too much because the ethanol is broken down into various products which reduce calcium concentrations in the brain. The brain needs calcium to communicate, and thus your mind begins to slow down and forgets. Drinking in moderation there is no impact on recall or learning. However moderate consumption can  hurt information processing tasks. A deficiency in B1 is also associated with chronic alcoholism, which affects your attention and reaction time.

Caffeine can over stimulate the brain making concentration and learning difficult. Staying up late at night, and filling up with caffeine is actually disruptive to learning.

All I can say is that it’s amazing how pilots have survived this long! Maybe what they don’t know won’t hurt them?

Tomorrow… the difference between male and female brains...

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Help... Need Oxygen!

Regular exercise has more of an impact on sharp thinking than general good health and eating right. Of course to get the most out of exercise, we need to eat right to avoid stripping our bodies of valuable minerals and provide the fuel for energy. However…the mental benefits from exercise are outstanding! 

The brain needs oxygen!
  • Our brains account for only 2 percent of our body weight, yet utilize 25 percent of the oxygen we breathe 
  • Oxygen delivers fuel to the brain 
  • Without exercise narrowed and clogged arteries will starve the brain
Dr. Robert Dustman, Director of the Neuropsychology Research Laboratory at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Salt Lake City, has been studying the effects of exercise on brain waves for years, and found that aerobically fit 60-year-olds can mentally match people half their age. Keep the oxygen flowing and the brain will stay alert and active.
Exercise also eliminates anxiety and stress, and clears the mind!
  • If you're feeling frustrated, anxious, and not sure how to get through the evening after an already really long day... take a walk, and breath
  • Mediate. Meditation is all about the breathing, and an incredible relaxation technique
  • With a clear mind, you can focus on your studies
During my flight training, and while studying for my masters, I read on the exercise bike or the elliptical trainer for an hour each day. I would joke about increasing the oxygen to my brain while I studied, for better retention. But the truth is… it was no joke. I did retain more while reading and working out at the same time, despite the noise of the gym. 

Sitting in the cockpit for hours on end is not much of a workout.Taking a few minutes of oxygen while the other pilot steps to the back is a great idea. And a great incentive to put that oxygen mask on!

Now… I am on my way to the gym to feed my brain  as I review how to fly the Princess. The flight portion of my training has been scheduled....

June 6: New York, Athens, New York, Rome, Atlanta, Amsterdam, Detroit…  

Enjoy your day and get some exercise!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Feed A Pilot!

 Pilots in training have the most unfavorable dining options available… second only to those pilots who are flying the plane... and this is when nutrition is the most important. Hotel and airplane food for weeks on end does not make a healthy mind.

During training, studying, and aircraft operation we need the best nutrition possible! Our diet impacts our brain and the function of our memory. Without proper nutrition, we’re battling a war we cannot win.

Beware…Diets to lose weight could negatively impact your brain by starving it from important nutrients. Words of Wisdom: Don’t diet while you study.

Not to worry! There are food choices and supplements that can help. The following mealtime brain foods below can jump start that memory:

  • Aged Garlic: Improves spatial memory, fights age-related memory loss.
  • Sugar/Glucose: Improves short term memory. Maybe that’s why we can’t remember how many pieces of chocolate we just ate.
  • Pasta: The carbohydrates stimulate production of serotonin that fuels learning.
  • Fish and Olive Oil: Unsaturated fats strengthen general learning abilities
  • Egg yolks and organ meats: Citicoline enhances verbal memory
  • Apples, Pears, Beans and Peas: Enhances alertness for learning
  • Whole wheat and Nuts: The magnesium enhances alertness and general learning
  • Shellfish, beans, peas, and dark turkey meat: The zinc aids in short term recall, work and visual memory.
  • Whole grains, oatmeal, wheat germ, oysters and liver: B1 increases attention and reaction time.
  • Wheat germ, sunflower seeds, yeast, tuna, and liver: B6 Improves working memory
  • Clams, oysters, kidneys, and liver: B12 improves concentration, mental alertness and learning.
  • Oranges, strawberries, red peppers, leafy green vegetables, and blueberries: Vitamin C improves general memory.

Eat Right! Study hard! Fly Smart!
Tomorrow… Exercise and the mind.


Sunday, May 23, 2010

Flying Drunk from Fatigue!

Pilots are intimately familiar with being sleep deficit. Flying across time zones and at night messes up our circadian rhythm and takes a toll on our bodies. But Pilots in a training program have an equally difficult time sleeping. Strange bed in a noisy hotel and the stress of the program don’t help. And many of my friends are now facing the inability to sleep.

Studies have shown that less than 6 hours of sleep we begin to feel stressed, and stress impacts the ability to sleep. Then, as we age we often have difficulty sleeping without interruption. Yes, we fall asleep, but wake up during the night and lay there staring at the wall. When we don’t sleep, we diminish the ability to sleep.

What can we do to sleep better?

  • Just as we did when our kids were young, create a habit pattern. Not easy while on the road, but during training, or while at home… tell the body it is time to sleep.
  • Turn off the television and computer a minimum of one hour before bed. And if you can, do this at the exact same time every night. You are turning off the brain and training your brain, it is time to go to sleep.
  • Do not drink alcohol before bed. The alcohol turns to sugar and will wake you up during the night.
  • Do not drink caffeine 10 hours before bed.
  • Avoid all liquids two hours before you sleep.
  • Avoid desert. Keep the sugar out of your blood stream. Chocolate is a double whammy… sugar and caffeine.
  • Take a hot bath and read what I call a bathtub book… light reading that will take your mind off your day, your worries, your kids, your studies.
  • Keep the temperature cool in your bedroom. The cooling down process induces sleep. The cool room will assist in keeping you to sleep. This works great just after your hot bath.
  • Do not be afraid to take a nap! As a mother and grandmother, I assure you that keeping the kids awake to make them tired so they sleep better does not work. A baby that can nap often will sleep far better throughout the night… and you will too. Nap when you can!
  • Breathe. You still can’t turn off your mind? Practice deep breathing and visualize the breath moving slowly through your body. We do this at yoga and I have fallen asleep on my back, on a cold floor in a gym. It works.
  • Take melatonin.

Pilots cannot take most sleep inducing drugs, and neither should you. They’re addictive, and unnatural to the body. Melatonin is another story.


Melatonin is the chemical produced by the body’s pineal gland which induces sleep, and is affected by the seasons and day and night cycles. At night 5 times more melatonin is produced inducing sleep. When a pilot is flying all night, or crossing time zones, the circadian rhythm gets messed up, the body thinks it should be sleeping and yet it’s still daylight for another 10 hours…but late at night at home. The impact is that melatonin is not being produced.

As we age our bodies also naturally stop producing as much melatonin, and then we don’t sleep. But when we don’t sleep, we don’t produce melatonin, and the vicious cycle begins. For some people there have been reports of vivid dreams, and nightmares. However... this means your dosage is too high. ½ mg could be all you need. But your body will adjust and what my have given you nightmares initially, will provide a good night sleep.

I am a full proponent of pilots taking a nap during flight. The impact of lack of sleep is devastating. Personally, I would rather have my pilot rested after a 40 minute cat nap landing my plane, than one who has forced his eyes to stay open all night. Lack of sleep impacts reaction time, coordination and judgment. 17 hours awake is equivalent to an alcohol level of .05! How many pilots are flying drunk from fatigue? A scary thought.

Sleep and Memory:

Lack of sleep prohibits our ability to function properly and efficiently, creates stress, and that lack of will kill you quicker than lack of food and water. But sleep also impacts your memory, because we only store memories while we sleep. You don’t sleep… what you learned is not going into your brain permanently for retrieval later.

A note on preconditioning: If you’re not sleeping and it is impacting you, you’ve created a pattern of worry. I don’t need to be in your head to know that you fear you won't sleep tonight. You’re more than likely thinking about this through out your day in-between yawns. This thought process is actually preventing you from sleeping. Try the above techniques and tell yourself, “I am going to sleep all night tonight, and I will wake up at __ am tomorrow morning.”

Sweet dreams!


Friday, May 21, 2010

JFK: Friday's Fabulous Flyer!

Johan Farid Kahairuddin… Better known as “JFK” to his fans is Malaysia’s veteran entertainment jack of all trades. JFK is will simply take your breath away as he is an inspiration to all.

From an entertainment angle, JFK started behind the microphone with an R&B group before he moved into music production, while at the same time worked on the radio as a DJ. In 2005 JFK hosted Malaysia’s talent-cum-reality television show on prime time called Mentor.

In front of the camera on Mentor

Although he spent more than 10 years behind the microphone and in front of the camera, JFK used his left brain and his MBA and worked full time with Asia's leading satellite broadcaster, Astro, as their head of regional youth cross-platform media projects.

Having successfully built one of the largest cross-platform youth communities in the region, Xfresh, JFK was appointed by the United Nations as Southeast Asia’s youth ambassador in 2008.

 Speaking at United Nations in New York

As an award winning music producer, JFK has also worked with local music superstars producing albums while working on his own music, and music videos. His most recent project before "giving up" his entertainment life was a collaboration in New York with R&B soulstress Shayna Zaid.

Click to watch the video here: Youtube Video

While JFK spent most of his time in the media industry hosting shows and concerts in Malaysia, he found getting from one location to another challenging. There were multiple instances where he literally needed to be in two places on the same day with approximately 250 nm in between! And traveling via bus was exhausting as journeyed from one location to yet another for a television shoot…but never arriving fresh.

And then inspiration struck!

Hosting Malaysia’s talent-cum-reality television show

To solve his traveling dilemma JFK decided to try out his childhood dream, to see if it were possible to stop taking the roads all together. In early 2005 he took to the skies and he was hooked! He earned his private pilot's license within the year, and was soon able to perform back-to-back performances while still feeling fresh! He could do an afternoon show in Johor Bahru, South of Malaysia, and then fly to a concert in Penang, North of Malaysia, to do another on the same day! With the ability to perform 2 shows daily, that pretty much financed his plane in addition to his making a decent income.

By 2006 JFK took his flying hobby public and members of the media have been known to refer to him as the "John Travolta of Malaysia.” Featured on various media channels with his most recent undertaking to the skies, he was invited to give talks at the local schools & universities.

In the Media

JFK always loved working and inspiring the youth, and what a better way to convince the kids to study harder if he, someone who never did well in school and ended up being “only” a radio DJ, could actually fly an airplane!

Supporting the kids

Flying a plane was a new angle of inspiration, and JFK used it to motivate the kids. He tells them, "If I can fly a plane, a monkey could do it if he/she put enough effort into working for it!” The kids love him! Of course they find it easy to ask him, someone who they listen to on the radio and watch on TV, questions about science… particularly aviation.

In 2009 JFK decided to give up his high-flier life on the radio and on television, to work full-time on the flight-deck. He gathered whatever money he could find at the time and made his way to Australia to earn his Australian Commercial Pilot's License (CPL) with a Multi-engine Command Instrument Rating (MECIR).

 JFK found a New Home

Now back in Malaysia with his CPL+MECIR in hand, he is working at converting his Australian license to a Malaysian license and is expected to be complete this August. In the meantime, to earn some extra money, he is back on the radio with Malaysia's #1 Hit Music Station - and is also a judge on Malaysia's talent show "Got Talent Or Not Chapter 2." And despite this huge time commitment, JFK is still speaking at local schools & universities on aviation, and spending his time hosting youth events.

 #1 Hit Music Station -

One of his latest projects is to consult and assist in the development of "InfoTech Quest ptd. Ltd" to inspire the youth of Malaysia through aviation. This inspiration-driven project involves mobile flight simulators, actual simulators placed in a bus and driven to the rural areas to showcase to the kids what it’s like to be a pilot. JFK's involvement extends to development of these flight-training modules which will be rolled out with the help of Malaysian Government Listed Companies, the Ministry of Education and the Royal Malaysian Air Force.

Although JFK works around the clock his studies are still priority and he spends most of his time with his books or the Flight Simulator X to maintain IR currency! If all goes well, and as planned, JFK should be joining the world's best low cost carrier - AirAsia before the end of the year.

Malaysia’s Celebrities walking for Cancer

JFK's vision is to see more young people inspired to study & work harder at achieving their goals and proving that anything is possible if you put your mind to it, and “work really god damn hard to make it happen!”

 JFK and His Fans

For more details on the incredible JFK please visit

And if you would like to view his videos and follow his adventures, check out his website on  Being a big fan of social media, he is of course on Twitter via and Facebook via

Please share your comments with a wonderful man, JFK, and thank him for making a difference in the world.

JFK, I know you will achieve your latest quest with AirAsia, and they will be very fortunate to have you as part of their team. I also suspect there will be more horizons for you to follow. You’ve given so much to the children, your career, and life…Thank you!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Moods and Emotions

Men, how many of the women in your life can remember the fight you had ten years ago with vivid detail? She can tell you what you were wearing, what you were fighting about, and verbatim what was spoken. And you… you only remember the fight because she reminds you about it. Why is this? (Not why she reminds you…but why does she remember?)

The reason is…. Men fight with logic, while women fight with emotion, and emotion stores memories. Believe her when she tells you what was said, because she has linked it to her brain for life and chances are she is correct. (The mystery of why you have to hear about it for life… a form of corporal punishment. :)

Mood states can also significantly impact our memories. Not only is your mood state stored in your memory, but recall is best when the mood at recall matches the mood at time of learning. Congruity occurs when the person remembers positive information when he is in a positive mood and negative information when they’re in a negative mood. In addition, if you’re in a positive mood while you’re learning and in the same upbeat positive mood when recall is necessary, you will have better recall due to the increased information matching.

The feeling of sadness can also impact the memory. A sad mood may lead you to a focus on internal information that relates to failure or fatigue ,which may inhibit processing all kinds of information, whether it’s congruent with the sad mood or not. It’s important to get your emotional stuff in order before you attempt to learn anything.

Mood state effects are also the strongest when people remember personal events. A perfect example is with any pilot who messed a procedure up in the simulator. They remember. We also remember with vivid detail an emergency on our airplane. Have you ever listened to pilot stories? The details are all included. Think about this… when attempting to remember a flight procedure, or a history lesson, write a story about it and visualize that it really happened…to you. The event will become real and assist in better recall.

Tomorrow… Friday’s Fabulous Flyer: JFK~ He is amazing!!!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Practice Makes Perfect

Repetition has a direct impact on perceptual, motor and cognitive skills and our implicit memory. If we remember three days ago, implicit memory is the storing of activities we perform all the time … those things that we don’t have to think about to do. The trick for pilots or anyone learning to perform a new activity… flying a new plane, driving, yoga, musical instrument, learning to operate your iPhone… is to create implicit memories of the activity you’re learning.

How do we accomplish this? Tie perceptual clues to repetition, or direct priming, and you will increase recall.

When operating a commercial airliner we have many tasks to perform even before we depart. Each phase of flight includes a series of duties. Tying a perceptual clue to the procedure phase will trigger a reminder of what to do and when.

For example, when the pushback coordinator tells us he’s ready, I immediately check the doors, and then move onto the ensuing steps. That is the clue to trigger the series of events that will follow. When we receive the 'wave off' from the ground crew, the first officer moves the flaps. When we receive the pushback and start clearance, the captain turns on the beacon and the first officer selects AUTO on the transponder. For every action, there is a reaction. Those clues start the process and assist in recall, but how do you remember what to do next?

Repetition enforces the behavior.

Do it and keep doing it until you can do it without thinking. When the pushback coordinator tells us he’s ready, and I check the doors, I also must turn on the APU bleed, confirm the ground power is removed, turn on the fuel pumps and read the pushback check list and obtain the pushback clearance. The more I do this … it will become part of my implicit memory. But we only have so many hours in the simulator, or our plane, and have so little time to practice. Close your eyes and visualize. I promise to dedicate an entire blog to the power of visualization, but for right now…believe me when I tell you that if you close your eyes and picture yourself pushing the buttons, moving the flaps, pressing the keys on your piano, or flaring at that perfect height… your mind cannot distinguish between what you actually see from what you visualize. It works.

When processes become automatic, you have enabled yourself to perform more than one task at hand. When you can commit procedures to automatic processing they will be faster, enhance the ability to perform other tasks, and while unavailable to the conscious they will occur when the appropriate stimulus is provided. The ability to auto-process will enable you to perform more than one task at hand. Men… we call this multi-tasking.

When the world falls apart (or you're taking a checkride) and you need to focus on the non-normals of life, it’s good to know that you have the solid foundation of your normal operating procedures ingrained in your implicit memory so you just don’t need to think about them.

For all beginning pilots just starting out, I recommend you create and establish your own procedures. Do the same thing, the same time, everytime, and your learning curve will excel!

Tomorrow Moods and Emotions… how they assist or hinder memory!

Have a wonderful day!

~ Karlene

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

I Put it in There Where Did it Go!

Information processing: Input, Storage and Output.

When we study, the hope and expectations are that what goes into our brains will be available to come back out at the appropriate time … during that big test, the college exam, systems validation, or our flight check.  Unfortunately more times than not we read the information and understand it, yet when tested …we sometimes don’t have accurate and immediate recall. What’s the problem? The theory that there’s so much to learn and so little space to store it sounds reasonable, but definitely not the problem.

The lack of recall often originates with input phase of information processing, known as the encoding phase. If the information is not encoded, there will be no storage and thus no retrieval. Just because your read it, doesn’t mean you’ve accomplished your storage task.

Focus and Storage:

The amount of focus and attention we provide a subject has a great deal to do with what is encoded. If we read and allow our mind to wander, nothing is being encoded. But encoding problems are not only focus and attention issues.

“How” the information is encoded has a significant impact because of where the data is stored.

Visual information is stored in the inferior temporal lobe, and auditory information is stored in the temporal parietal cortex. And since we know that some people are more visual learners, while others are more auditory learners, we can also deduce that these people are storing their information in different locations for retrieval.

Now…the million dollar question: Which is more effective?
The answer: Both combined.

Mastering the encoding process:

Imagine if you could store the information in two locations in your brain. Do you think when you go to retrieve it you would have a better chance of recall? Absolutely!

When you study, read out loud and visualize what you’re reading and you will have better recall. While studying aircraft systems, I read the material from the manual, look at the pictures, and talk to myself. I tell myself exactly how the particular system works, and the brain does the rest: Sends the information to two storage locations resulting in better recall.  

Tomorrow… repetition and priming, more great stuff for better recall!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Building Blocks of the Memory

From flying planes to studying the brain and memory, I assure you there is a direct correlation. As another day passes without seeing the plane that I worked so hard to learn, my thoughts are: “I hope I can remember everything,” and yet… I know that I will, and so can you!

The key is keeping your brain alive, storing the knowledge properly for retention with the ability to access and processes the data when needed.

The Memory is not “one” thing, but many living, breathing, eating, coordinating, and functioning components that utilize multiple areas of your brain. Experts have given the memory many names such as explicit, associative, working, long-term, short-term, intentional, incidental, semantic, episodic and procedural. We could probably ascertain that we have ten different memories.

A key principle... If you don’t use it, you lose it!

Did you know?

  • Short-term memory is usually not retained for more than 30 seconds, and capacity is limited to approximately 7 digits! Good thing frequencies, flight levels and transponder codes all fit within those limits. While it may stay longer, if data doesn’t move to long-term memory it will be gone the next morning.

  • Long-term memory is actually comprised of three different types of memory and each retains different information! Semantic memory: Individual facts. Episodic memory: Experiences and events. Procedural memory: behaviors, habits and rote activities.

  • The “reasoning” process can only operate on information stored in “short-term” memory! The decision process occurs in the frontal lobe and activates information from long-term memory, and then swaps this information in and out of short-term as needed.

  • You have look-up subsystems for your memory! The more information you pay attention to, memory will be improved because there will be more data available in the search. If you have a choice between incidental and intentional memory…make it intentional. The longer information is attended to, the more likely the memory subsystems will store it into the memory.

A Delta Pilot/Attorney/ Iron Man/ and all around great guy said, “Whatever we learn to do, we learn by doing it. By exercise, we become fit; by thinking, we become wise. Pay attention to what you do.” Glenn Cook, Pilot/Attorney

  • Implicit memory we use daily, and explicit memory, while we hope to never use, is as equally important! Implicit memory is the memory that after awhile we don’t need to think about it, such as flying the plane. But when you lose your engine at altitude and need to access procedures to secure the engine and manage the FCU and MCDU on your A330, you definitely hope there is something stored in the explicit memory.

  • With lack of standardization, associative memory is more important than ever! Without solid procedures in place, you need to attach an action of one step to the next, using your Associative Memory. A ‘wave off’ from the ground crew and the first officer moves the flaps, is a perfect example. This works great, as long as the first step that we link to doesn’t get missed.

  • Memory formation is created by subsystems that rely on anatomical structures located deep in the brain, and that incoming perceptual information is processed by the hippocampus and passes through the cortex under the front of the temporal lobe, which projects to the entorhinal cortex and then to the hippocampus! Did you care?
We actually have multiple memories… each working with a different portion of the brain. The hypothalamus is grouped with the thalamus, and is involved with motivation, and the amygdale with emotion…Yes... both motivation and emotion impact the memory. (Why do you think women can remember a fight with such clarity?) The cerebrum is involved with intellect, memory, language, and decision making. Damage to any of these systems will destroy your ability to learn new information. But the brain can grow and continue to learn.

My eldest sister was involved in a car accident in 1982 and her brain was crushed. The doctors wired it together and said that if she ever came out of her coma, she would be blind, and non-functional. She did come out of her coma and for the next 20 years a small portion of her brain grew and learned new tasks.

For those of you who remember the attack on FedEx Flight 705 … an amazing story of incredible piloting, and survival. I had the opportunity to meet James Tucker, and while he never made it back to the plane, he did re-teach his brain how to perform fundamental tasks.

The brain is an amazing thing… and the next two weeks will be dedicated how to get the most out of it. There is a reason that I hadn’t flown for 18 months, had been a second officer for 12 years and am still able to navigate the most challenging of training programs and attain my type rating. It’s not the size of your memory... it’s all about how you use!

Enjoy the Journey!

~ Karlene

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Memory Mind and Aging

During my tenure instructing at Northwest Airlines there had been one particular year, over three months, we experienced numerous failures. These failures were by captains with an average age of 58, and who had been flying the DC-9 for most of their careers. Now they were moving to the 747 to increase their final average earnings prior to retirement. The talk of pilot management territory was they were just “too old” to learn. During this time I was also working on my masters in Human Services.

I watched many of these pilots perform, and struggle. And those who had turned 60 and opted not to retire, I watched struggle while they attempted to learn how to become second officers on the 747. These guys had been captains, many of them for over 30 years, so while did they struggle with their new position? They were brilliant and talent pilots with a vast amount of experience. And, I just didn't believe we couldn't learn after the age of 58.

An interest was sparked, and I began my research on the brain… specifically the memory and what destroys its functionality. But also what we can do to increase our learning potential.

This information, while sparked by the aging brains of pilots, is for everyone!

Over the next ten days I will delve into the breakdown of the brain and memory structure, how we process information, and the impact of our moods, nutrition, exercise, sleep, anxiety, and stress on the memory. Then, a special day for the difference between the male and female brain... and the grand finale… what can you do to enhance and keep your memory.

Whether you’re learning a new plane, learning how to fly, studying for exams, or just want to maintain strong cognitive ability throughout your life… these next two weeks are for you!

Enjoy the Journey!

~ Karlene

Friday, May 14, 2010

Nate Carriker: Friday's Fabulous Flyer!

Nathan Carriker, "Nate" is a commercial airline pilot, family man, an author... and a miracle! Nate attacks life with passion and humor, and has accomplished miracles in his life. I have a feeling there are few more out there for him.
Nate the Pilot:

As Nate tells it, “I was just another little boy obsessed with airplanes, thanks to the old TV show, Black Sheep Squadron, until my dad ignored the bills for a few months and learned to fly before I turned 9.” However, I know Nate’s passion for aviation reaches far deeper than the television show. Word is... he is still a "cowboy."

Thanks to Nate’s dad having his priorities in focus… Nate accumulated over 200 hours flying with his dad within the next seven years.

Instructor and Nate after "God knows how many landings" at KOSU on an AOPA Pinch Hitter course. Ready to solo after a couple hours... but at 14, not rebellious enough to break FARs.

Nate began working after school, soloed at 16, earned his private license on his 17th birthday and was a CFI-I by the time he turned 18. He instructed part time at his alma mater, University of Central Missouri, until graduation at the age of 20, at which time he took a job with Air Midwest, just prior to the purchase by Mesa. Despite his love/hate relationship between the Metroliner II (love) and Beech 1900C (hate), he soon found himself moving to SkyWest in search of a brighter future. This time on a Metroliner III, and soon was able to bid up to the EMB-120 Brasilia… and a long time favorite.

Mike and Nate Nate's "favorite" SkyWest Captain Just landed this EMB-120 with an Engine Fire

Nate the Miracle:

December 14, 1994 Nate tells me he made the mistake of his life, which should have ended his life. He was flying at a low altitude through the Martinez Canyon, 20 miles southeast of Palm Springs in his father's American AA1 Yankee. He was unable to climb out of the canyons floor, and in the ensuing crash sustained spinal fracture and cord injury that instantly paralyzed him.

"Yankee" The airplane that Nate killed

IFR, Commercial, and CFI training complete... And he misses her every day!

His survival and ability to fly again are nothing short of a miracle, and Nate is filled with gratitude.

“Thanks to my then-roommates Jim Bixby and Peter Barbin, also SkyWest pilots, I was rescued the next morning,
and thanks to dozens of incredibly caring people at SkyWest, Desert Hospital, and Loma Linda University Medical Center, I recovered almost completely, and returned to the line a year later, to the day.”

Happy Holidays from the Hospital

Nate the Pilot Flies Again:

Captain for 8 months Approach to Jackson WY, last flight and then off to AA (The airline)

In less than 3 years Nate was hired by American Airlines as a 728 FE in Miami, soon moved to the 767 in New York, bid MD80 in Chicago, off to Detroit, back to Chicago, five years in St. Louis, spent a 9 month flirtation with the 737, before he journeyed back in Miami where he currently flies the 767. The life a pilot.

Nate the Family Man:

Nate met his wife just before he was hired by American Airlines, and they have lived in Springfield, Missouri and have never moved because their family is centered there. He and his wife have a 9-year-old son together Reagan, and two sons from his wife’s previous marriage, the older son, Christopher, is a U.S. soldier currently stateside, and the younger son, Justin, is a college student in the Missouri National Guard, and Army ROTC.

Justin, Nate, Pam, Christopher, Reagan

Nate bought a 1966 Mooney M20C in 2000 to share with his dad… the least he could do after crashing dad’s plane. But unfortunately he had to sell it when the pay cuts came in 2003.

Mooney fun... while it lasted

Reagan in a Mooney... but first flight was in an Eagle Saab 340

"Mini-me" was named after the last President of the United States and the man whose aircraft have had the greatest effect for good in the history of aviation. He has a lot to live up to, and I know I'm biased, but I think he's got it in him - Reagan Douglas Carriker. He's got about ten hours right now and can do a pretty decent job of flying for somebody that low-time who has to choose between seeing over the nose or being able to push the rudder pedals in a 150."

Nate the Author:

Nate started writing shortly after 9/11 as a form of therapy. As with most pilots this day significantly impacted him.

“As a lifelong pilot, that day gouged a wound in me as deep as if I'd been married to one of the victims. The idea that someone could use an airliner full of innocents as a weapon to kill other innocents is still so profoundly perverse and evil to me, I still haven't been able to wrap my mental or emotional arms around it. It's like someone came into my Church, relieved themselves on the altar, killed the people inside, and walked out laughing.” Something wonderful came out of Nate’s therapy... a novel.

A Silver Ring is a multi-generational family saga, inspired by Nate’s family of aviators, more specifically his Uncle Rudy, a bomber, engineer who was killed in air combat in 1944.

Nate says....

“I've always had what I call a reincarnation "fantasy" - not a belief, just a "what if" kind of fun thought - that I might really be him, here to live the life the war took from him. Flying is as much an identity trait in my family as blue green eyes, and I revel in the knowledge that I'm doing exactly what I'm here to do. I don't mean that like I'm God's gift to aviation or anything - I still prang 'em on once in a while like anyone does, and I nearly killed myself in a small plane in 1994. It's more like the opposite - Aviation's been God's gift to me. Of all the ways people make their way in this world, this is the one, the only one, that I ever considered. If I didn't have Flying, I really don't think I'd have made it. If I did, I'd probably be living in an appliance box somewhere right now.

When you take into account that both my dad and his brother did it, though thirty years apart, and that my grandfather and all the previous generations never had the option, it comes through pretty clear to me. It's kind of funny, too, because our name, Carriker, was originally the German surname Karcher from the middle ages. Karchers were essentially medieval (when will I learn how to spell that?) truckers. They took stuff from place to place in carts. I love driving anything, and the bigger and/or faster, or more complex, the better. So I can't say I'm advancing my family's status in the world by being a pilot, but no one can say I didn't heed the call!”

A Silver Ring began as a trilogy in 2002, but Nate was told he’d be crazy for a multi-book deal with protagonists dropping like flies for a debut. So he combined his works of art into a 160,000 word novel, and set it aside while he worked on another project… the story of his journey from paralysis to flying. Nate finally took the plunge and attended a writer’s conference and was required to bring a work in process. After much debate, he realized that A Silver Ring was his deepest love and he has been working on it full time since that time. He has recently edited it down to 105,000 words. For those not in the writing game... word on the street is that agents want first time novelist’s works to be around 100,000 words.

I had the great opportunity to meet Nate via twitter, and one early morning we had a great discussion as he was preparing to pitch his novel. The story is complex and intriguing, and transcends four generations. It is a difficult story to articulate in three minutes, but well worth the time to read.

A Silver Ring is story that transcends four generations of aviators. Derrick, the fourth generation, a Marine aviator faces a crisis that no pilot should face, yet he’s distracted having just lost a worthless heirloom at the heart of his family secret: Derrick is a knot in his family tree, and the fourth Hutchinson to leave the ring behind, before taking to the sky. The first three Hutchinson’s never made it back… will Derrick?

Generations live to fly... Don"dad", Reagan and Nate

When I asked Nate if he had another novel within him he replied, “Absolutely, but I want to work on a screenplay next—to get something I've written made into a movie. I have three ideas: two involve obscure World War Two flying stories, and the other is about the world of airshow performers, who've always been huge, edgy heroes to me. The first thing I ever had published was a kind of a eulogy to two pilots killed in the summer of 2005. Their show was by far the best I've ever seen, and I could just tell by watching them fly that we were kindred spirits in love with flight, so it really hit me hard and I had to say what I did from the highest mountain I could climb. It's called Tailwinds, Masters, and it's posted to my website.”

I have a feeling we will all be seeing much more of Nate Carriker! His books
and movies will be the greatest success, as Nate continues his passion for
flying and writing.

Visit Nate on his blog by clicking here.
And read more on his website.

Enjoy the Journey!

~ Karlene