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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.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

737 Flash to the Past

Last week, flying between Seattle and San Jose, I jumpseated on Southwest Airlines. Each flight had been oversold, and I sat in the cockpit.  Each trip, the plane had been a different model of the 737. Each crew couldn't have been nicer.

On my return flight to Seattle I soon learned that the Captain had been hired by America West in 1991. I had been hired in 1990. While I'm sure our paths may have crossed in the halls of training, we hadn't had the opportunity to work together. I was lucky enough that when the America West furlough of 1992  came along, I was locked in the training department and didn't get furloughed.  He did. Luck is all about perspective.

The light bulb came on and I realized that if I too had been furloughed at America West, I too could be a captain for Southwest Airlines.  You just never know in this industry. His path took him to Morris Air, and when SWA bought Morris... he came with the purchase. My path took me to Guyana, Tower, NWA and I came with the Delta purchase.  I had a fleeting smile and a nice thought at the alternate possibilities of life. But the truth is... I love my life and every experience I've encountered along the way. I'm very glad to be at Delta flying the A330. It truly is all about the journey.

B737-700 SEA/SJC

B737-300 SJC/SEA

This return trip also brought memories from the past. The 737-200/300 was the first 737 I instructed in at America West. Below are the overhead panels of the aircraft above.  While the forward panels look like these aircraft are two different aircraft types, the overhead panels do not. There is not a great deal of difference with the switching logic over the years. Do you know why?

When the first 737's came out, the switching logic was lever-latch. The technology at the time. Southwest was a major customer for Boeing. The FAA was on the verge of mandating a new type rating for the new models. They all came to an agreement. If Boeing built their future Boeing 737 aircraft with lever-latch switches instead of push button, the FAA wouldn't require the new type rating and SWA would save millions in training costs.

Does the overhead panel, between pushing buttons or moving switches, impact the operation of the aircraft from the pilot's perspective? Negotiations are a powerful thing and create history.

Thank you Southwest Airlines for your continued hospitality!

Enjoy the Journey!

~ Karlene


  1. Hi Karlene,
    Perfect timing for me to post this question (since you talked about career paths) I am a Junior at UND and am trying to figure out where I would like to end up in terms of an airline. I am from MSP and Mesaba and then Northwest/Delta was the path I wanted to take. When Mesaba was sold to Pinnacle my thoughts changed- Skywest then hopefully Delta, but I am also interested in SWA and JBU. We have a new program at our school called the gateway program with JetBlue and Cape air. Basically the program works like this (btw, there is no contract involved) : You do an internship at cape air as an undergrad for a semester (after interviewing to get accepted into the program). Then after graduation you flight instruct for one year, then you head out to Cape Air where you fly their 402s for 3-4 years. Then you get an interview with Jetblue. (Basically, they said the entire program is an interview with JetBlue). I would end up at jetBlue at the age of 25-26. I was wondering what youe thoughts are- my problem is I am not sure that JetBlue is where I want to go (nothing against the comapany, I have heard they ae awesome to work for). Basically, as you know the other option is to go to a regional and get PIC 121 turbine. At cape air you get 121, but it is not turbine. Basically my dilemma is if I fly for cape and dont get hired, then I have no turbine time. If I go to a regional my options are more open, but I probably wont get hired by a major at 25-26 as I would with the gateway program. Basically I am curious for your opinion on the matter. I hope this isnt too confusing of a question and I apologize for the length.

  2. Hello anonymous student... I just read your question. Let me give this some thought how to answer. This is your life! Be back soon.

  3. Anonymous... response posted on September 29th post. I hope this helps and doesn't muddy the waters.

  4. Thankful that the technology that they were trying to keep in place wasn't strings will bells on them, calling tubes, Morse code keys, A-N range navigation.
    Seems to me every Boeing still has a lot of 707 in them.

  5. Now that is a flash to the past. Did I tell you I almost got a 707 rating? Then Guyana sold their plane. Bummer.


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