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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.

Friday, December 31, 2010

Amanda Sargent

Friday's Fabulous Flyer!

 Amanda Sargent

Fabulous she is... she's funny and brilliant too! She sent me her bio last night at 10 p.m. while I was busy being a sleep camel--- storing up on my sleep for the next round of exhaustion, and she made this easy. 

"I was born in Bolivar, Missouri at a very young age... the youngest and cutest of three, and the only girl. I'm sure my mom was ecstatic to put girly things on me but that was very short lived. When I was about two years old, my dad bought a Piper Tri-Pacer and I was strapped (willingly) into it. There are no pictures, and I have no way to prove (or disprove), but rumor has it that I was perched high on my booster seat holding onto my dolly as my dad did whooptie-dos and barrel rolls. I had a smile on my face the entire time! It was probably in those first flights which defined what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.

Dad's plane with Brothers

My family and I (and the plane) moved to Bremerton in the late 80's. 

I thought everybody's dad had a plane... and then a few years later, he sold it. Life just wasn't the same and I just had to find a way to fly again. My teachers can attest to my dedication of keeping my dream alive as I'm sure they were sick of seeing reports about flying, space travel, planets and the Wright Brothers. Even my Mt. St. Helens science project had aerial pictures that were taken from my dad's plane. In 1999 I started fixed wing lessons part time at Bremerton airport, but that was short lived when the flight school closed. (Shhhhh, don't tell my friends I've flown planes. I have a reputation to uphold, ya know!) :)  I started again at Tacoma Narrows in the Summer of 2001 and got about 35 hours with 11 hours solo.  We all know what happened  in September, which in turn forced that flight school to close as well.  

Another few years go by without any progress towards my dream of flying, I heard an ad on the radio about a helicopter academy.  I couldn't call the number fast enough to get information.  I hadn't ever thought about flying helicopters before and like many others, figured you had join the military to do it. I attended the seminar and took a demo flight and felt an overwhelming sensation.  I knew that THIS is exactly what I wanted to do. It all made sense so I signed up for flight school, moved 5 minutes away and completed my CFI in 18 months. My first instructing job was at Tacoma Narrows airport. One of my favorite maneuvers as an instructor is to teach students how to hover... something they couldn't do just 10 hours before. It's an incredible feeling to know that you've had an impact on someone's life in such a short time.  In true Amanda fashion, my flight school filed bankruptcy and I was once again looking for a job.

Knowing that it might be awhile before finding another flying job so I went to school at Green River Community College in pursuit of an Air Traffic Control Degree. While attending GRCC, I got a job as an intern at the FAA in Renton in the Planning & Requirements department. One major accomplishment while working for the FAA was winning the "Most Creative Paper Plane" award at the annual company picnic. (I'm sure this prestigious award will get me far...) :)  Just at the end of my degree program and internship, I received a call from Ichiro Seshima, Chief Pilot/Owner of Classic Helicopter, asking if I would be interested in working for a flight school again. "Yes!!!" was the only answer. I started in October 2009 as a flight instructor/tour pilot/administrative assistant/VA administrator/ Drug and Alcohol supervisor/marketing representative/etc.  I wear a ton of hats, but enjoy  the variety and challenge.

Evan's Creek

I've flown my fair share of tours, but flying kids and girls of all ages are truly my favorite.  I've heard "whoa, our pilot is a girl" so many times that it hardly phases me anymore. Growing up, I never had a thought that I wasn't cut out to be or good enough to be a pilot, but realized that it's still not 100% accepted so it's kind of funny to hear the surprised comments from customers. That's why I'm participating in Fly it Forward at Renton Airport, what a great way to end the year by sharing what I love and inspire girls for 2011.

First Solo

Greg Baker donated some hours to help beat Canada!  He's extremely generous with his time and talents and loves sharing the gift of flight with those that have never experienced it. I've met and swapped stories with some truly amazing people along the way and am very fortunate to be able to have the job that I do and share my love of flying with so many people.  As an instructor, I enjoy being able to spark someone's imagination when they realize that they too can fly."

Thank you Amanda for your incredible story! 

Click  HERE to see Amanda's great video of flight.

 "-After a 2 day, 1500mile XC from Seattle to Seward, AK my fortune cookie said "Avoid unchallenging occupations, they waste your talents"

Amanda has over 800 hours and about 50 "first flights" for the centennial celebration... so far. :)

Today is another day. I awoke to another 89 emails with people wanting to fly with Amanda--- but she is already booked full.

Greg Baker, from Classic Helicopter corp is donating a helicopter for three hours to support women in aviation. Thank you Greg! We'll read more about him soon.

Austin may join us if the weather warms up. Shad is helping. Jay is flying his 182 in again for day 3 of the fun. And Mark may join us for a few hours again. Mireille Goyer, the woman behind Centennial of Woman Pilots is driving down from Canada.  We have people. Blue skies. Faith. A so many flying it forward today!

Happy New Year!!!!

Enjoy the Journey--- It's been a good one!


Thursday, December 30, 2010

What Did You Do Today?

Today I flew in from Tokyo, and landed an A330 at SeaTac Airport. Three hours later, I took off in Lake Washington, Renton airport, in a Beaver.  I love this plane!

Doug DeVries flew 22 passengers today. And he let me fly! The highlight of my day, week, month. Flying does not get any better than this. Did I say I'm in love with this plane? The sky crystal blue. The water like glass. The ladies smiles could not be beat.

Shailee, Rayan, Allison

Susie Head and Barbara Grandma behind

Natalie, Darian, Toni, Cassidi, Shailee
Betty McCombs and Terri Lindow
And then we moved from the dock and the planes they flew! Jay Sacas flew 12! Shad flew 7. Thank you guys. We could not do it without you.

Jonathan and Jessica Moore
Then we had three BEFA members show up with their women and gave us 4 more... for a total of 45!

Jay and Camille (football player)

Me, Jay, Isabella, Emma, and Aleni

Aleni is going to become a pilot! And our last flyers of the day were brought to us by Mark, a wonderful Delta Flight attendant that joined me on my flight from Tokyo to Seattle this morning. He brought is wife, daughters and one of the girls' friends to join us.

Claire Benson and Ella Ludwig

Kalle Benson

Claire, Ella and Kalle
Harlen, I really appreciated your help today!


Now, I've officially been awake for 32 hours. It's time for me to sleep. We have another busy day scheduled tomorrow. Yes... the weather couldn't be more beautiful for our event. An eagle stood perched, watching our planes fly--- and Mount Rainier stood guard on the other end of the field.

And we couldn't have done this without Katie and her Mom Annie's help. Thank you ladies!

Note: I'm missing some names on the pictures above. Please tell me who you are. are on Facebook. Help yourself!

Happy New Year!!!

Enjoy the Journey~


Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Heading Home

One of my favorite things about flying is the view. There is nothing that can compare to what we see thousands of feet above the earth.  Yesterday I wasn't looking down-- but up. Flying 1000 feet below JAL 777 across the Pacific was very cool.

Today I depart Narita, tomorrow I land at SeaTac.  0730 arrival, and then I'll head to Renton Airport for another day of Fly It Forward.  Adrenaline and smiling faces will keep me going as we count down the New Year-- and register our women at Renton Airport.

Happy New Year!

~Enjoy the Journey

Karlene ~

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

It's All About the Crew

I've been flying with a husband and wife team. Captain Bob Hilten, and his wife Lynn, are incredible. Not only do they both fly an exceptional airplane, but their professionalism doesn't waiver with their commitment to each other, their job, and their love of flying.

And they've adopted me. Bob and Lynn invited me to join them on their Christmas Eve dinner. Then tonight, back in Honolulu, they kidnapped me and took me out again. Another wonderful evening.
Everyone say's, "It's all about the crew" and they're right.

On their days off, Bob and Lynn, ride their horses into the mountains of Montana for camping trips. They kayaking, ski, backpack, fly their own Cessna, and snowboard.   Lynn is also a Vet, a gifted pianist, and photographer. Bob has a brilliant mind for the sciences, physics, astronomy, and is semi retired from the Navy.  And you should see them fly a plane.

Despite the 160 knot headwinds into Osaka or the dodging of thunderstorms upon our return to Honolulu, the trip has been incredible. Thanks to a wonderful Crew.

Enjoy the Journey!

~ Karlene

Monday, December 27, 2010

Aviation Count-Down!

Fly It Forward Event continues---

Oshawa: 273    Renton: 221   

Our superstar, and very own Santa, Austin Watson has been flying his plane in lieu of his sleigh in honor of --- The gift of flight for women and girls. Yesterday he took to the sky again.

Austin and Beth

Austin flew 12 more women today. He tells me he had to quit when wind gusts were reported at 25+. He said, "It got pretty sporty and right thing to do was stop."

 Hailey and Priscilla (Austin)

"It was definitely not first flight experience weather by the time we stopped."

 Phyllis, Austin, and Fran

Austin says, "Lotsa bad WX  coming our way this week. Think I got last possible ride in for a few days at least. Will fly again if WX cooperates."  Austin, I hope your wrong on the bad weather.

 Jill and Austin

Mother nature must be on our side. We have 86 women scheduled to fly on the 30th and 31st.

Someone asked Austin, "What does CG mean?" He said,  "well it depends, In aviation it is Center of Gravity, otherwise if I'm hanging out with the boys, it is Cute Girls." Austin... I'm thinking it could be Cute Guys too. Maybe Cessnas Go!

Our Santa dropped by Renton Tower and gave them Christmas cookies--- homemade by his mother-in-law, and thanked them for doing such a great job in helping us.  In turn, they said that "we did a great job too."

Austin, you're doing a great job!

It's midnight at home now, so that means only one thing. Time to climb into my Airbus and head into the sky.

Departure: Osaka Japan. Destination: Honolulu.

Fly safe and enjoy the final days of 2010~

~ Karlene

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Christmas Poem Aviation Style

'Twas the night before Christmas, and out on the  ramp,
Not an airplane was stirring, not even a Champ.
The aircraft  were fastened to tiedowns with care,
In hopes that come morning, they  all would be there.

The fuel trucks were nestled, all snug in  their spots,
With gusts from two-forty at 39 knots.
I slumped at  the fuel desk, now finally caught up,
And settled down comfortably,  resting my butt.

When the radio lit up with noise and with  chatter,
I turned up the scanner to see what was the matter.
A  voice clearly heard over static and snow,
Called for clearance to  land at the airport below.

He barked his transmission so lively  and quick,
I'd have sworn that the call sign he used was "St.  Nick";
I ran to the panel to turn up the lights,
The better to  welcome this magical flight.

He called his position, no room for  denial,
"St. Nicholas One, turnin' left onto final."
And what to  my wondering eyes should appear,
But a Rutan-built sleigh, with eight  Rotax Reindeer !

With vectors to final, down the glideslope he  came,
As he passed all fixes, he called them by name:
"Now Ringo!  Now Tolga! Now Trini and Bacun!
On Comet! On Cupid!" What pills was  he takin'?

While controllers were sittin', and scratchin' their  head,
They phoned to my office, and I heard it with dread,
The  message they left was both urgent and dour:
"When Santa pulls in,  have him please call the tower."

He landed like silk, with the  sled runners sparking,
Then I heard "Left at Charlie," and "Taxi to  parking."
He slowed to a taxi, turned off of three-oh
And stopped  on the ramp with a "Ho, ho-ho- ho..."

He stepped out of the  sleigh, but before he could talk,
I ran out to meet him with my best  set of chocks.
His red helmet and goggles were covered with  frost
And his beard was all blackened from Reindeer  exhaust.

His breath smelled like peppermint, gone slightly  stale,
And he puffed on a pipe, but he didn't inhale.
His cheeks  were all rosy and jiggled like jelly,
His boots were as black as a  cropduster's belly.

He was chubby and plump, in his suit of  bright red,
And he asked me to "fill it, with hundred low-  lead.
He came dashing in from the snow-covered pump,
I knew he was  anxious for drainin' the sump.

I spoke not a word, but went  straight to my work,
And I filled up the sleigh, but I spilled like a  jerk.
He came out of the restroom, and sighed in relief,
Then he  picked up a phone for a Flight Service brief.

And I thought as he  silently scribled in his log,
These reindeer could land in an  eighth-mile fog.
He completed his pre-flight, from the front to the  rear,
Then he put on his headset, and I heard him yell,  "Clear!"

And laying a finger on his push-to-talk,
He called up  the tower for clearance and squawk.
"Take taxiway Charlie, the  southbound direction,
Turn right three-two-zero at pilot's  discretion."

He sped down the runway, the best of the  best,
"Your traffic's a Grumman, inbound from the west."
Then I  heard him proclaim, as he climbed through the night,
"Merry Christmas  to all! I have traffic in  sight."
Author Unknown, but brilliant

I hope you had a wonderful Christmas!

~Enjoy the Journey!


Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas

Last night I flew from Tokyo to Honolulu. For everyone who wonders how Santa delivers all those toys in one night--- he really has two. We left Tokyo on Christmas Eve night, and landed on Christmas Eve morning. Just before we crossed the date line, I'm fairly certain I saw Santa dash through the night skies. Moderate turbulence. Dodging thunderstorms. That fat Jolly Old Elf had a lot of work to do tonight. But enough of my captain...

I'm flying with a husband and wife, captain and first officer, who graciously took me out to a very nice Christmas dinner tonight. We laughed all evening. Thank you Bob and Lynn.

Before I close my eyes, I counted the number of women we have attending the 30th and 31st fly it forward events at Renton Airport. 57! Shad, Doug, Amanda and Jay have passengers! Austin is planning flights for two days. Peter is organizing flights too.  Jay is working on the majestic football team.

Today's stats: Oshawa 271, Renton 205.  We can do the math. Weather permitting, planes flying and people showing up... we just may create our holiday miracle!

Merry Christmas! 

Enjoy The Journey! 

XOXO Karlene

Friday, December 24, 2010

Austin Watson

Friday's Fabulous Flyer!

Austin: "I like to fly airplanes."

Each week, I write about a fabulous person in Aviation. Today, Christmas Eve, I wanted to write about Austin because he is the essence of giving.  The man who heard about our Fly-It-Forward challenge to take women into the sky, and embraced it as a mission of love. He's coordinated, communicated, and gathered people to fly-- and donated his time and plane, too! He's given so much.

Today, he gave me the greatest gift. He wrote his fabulous flyer for me! And I can sleep before I fly tonight. This amazing man shares his incredible story of how the strength and power of the women in his life have helped make him who he is today.

Thank you for sharing your story Austin. You are a gift, and an inspiration to all!

"I am the youngest in my family, including the youngest of all the cousins. Dad was a Greatest Generation Soldier, gone a lot, and I was brought up for the most part by some great women, my Mom, Gramma, and Sister. Mom built ships in WW-II and was military wife to dad who spent time in three wars. Gramma was military wife of US Marine General and I spent many a summer at her house being shown the way, also tiptoeing past grampa and the dog either of whom might bite you at the least provocation. When Mom & Gramma weren't working on me, sister, Josie (we call her the sergeant-major) was keeping me in line.

Austin at 19 with Patti and Mary

Part of what I learned from them is how amazingly hard workers women are, and how high of standards women have, something we men certainly need to appreciate, celebrate, respect and strive to live up to. Eventually, I married amazing woman number four in my life, Mary, was inspired to get on with it, retire from rock and roll, and become an Engineer. Mary is truly is the balance in my life that keeps my standards of excellence motivated and high.

I was a child of the space age and never missed a NASA launch. I even watched the first space walk on a TV in a Tent at the Boy Scout National Jamboree in Idaho. Later on my passion for Space meant setting alarm clocks for 2AM so as not to miss a launch. If it flew, I was interested. I built every airplane and rocket model at the Base Exchange when I was a kid and budgeted my allowance carefully to do so. I built real rockets that really flew. Back in the 1960’s that meant making your own rocket fuel in your bedroom and loading it into metal pipes fitted with crude nozzles.  We built hot air balloons that were flammable paper or plastic bags with a burning source of heat suspended below. Scary stuff and not what any kid wants to get “caught” doing these days.

When I was 16 and we moved to Fort Sill Oklahoma where there was a flying club, Dad asked if I wanted to learn to fly. I said, “Yes”, but nothing ever came of it. I think I had discovered girls and he was certainly busy as commandant of the officer candidate school making lieutenants to send to back Viet Nam. I did learn to rappel down a cliff with Dad which was kind of like flying.

We moved to Washington State where Boeing, the people who made the 747, was located during the employment crash of the early 1970’s. This is when I met Mary, decided to get with it and become an engineer. By the time I graduated, Boeing was on the upswing and I went to work there hoping to become part of the Space Program.

When I went to work for Boeing, I said to myself, “If you want to be the best Boeing engineer you can be, then you have to learn to fly.” But I didn’t. The space program collapsed. We saved our money and traveled around the world for two years. Upon returning, we started a family and priorities changed. Certainly, spending hours at the airport flying and risking a growing family were not on my list. My son and I did sneak a ride around the pattern at Boeing Field during a father’s day air show. We still argue about if it was a plane or a helicopter. During family raising years, I hopped around between jobs in Aerospace, Biotech, and the PC Semiconductor industry as markets in the NW ebbed and flowed. 

Life went on and when I was 47 years old, just 10 years ago, I was diagnosed with Colon Cancer. I call it my message from God. I felt fine one day, then the next was thinking “Me, the youngest in the family about to be the first to die.” I thought. “Oh My God! This is all backwards. I’m not done yet.” Well, I was lucky, an amazing woman surgeon, Dr Debbie Wechter, did her magic along with a lot of other great folks at Virginia Mason. I "retired" for two years, not knowing what was to be my future. Mary held the family together through all this, doing an amazing job while I was going through the post-cancer crazies.  Eventually the doctors convinced me and  I decided I was most likely going to stick around a while and off I went back to work at Boeing.

Having a new vision of what was important, and recalling what I had said to myself in 1977 (To be the Best Boeing Engineer you can be, you must learn to fly), I vigorously took up pursuit of that lifelong desire in April 2004 in a tired old Cessna 150. First few flights scared the hell out of me. Time went on. I got re-labeled "cured" which means that you are as statistically likely to get cancer as anyone else.

The FAA asked for stacks of doctor reports and paperwork to prove I wouldn’t have a “cancer attack” and fall out of the sky I guess. That really slowed things down but on I flew getting more and more training and hoping for the day I’d get cleared to solo and license. It all happened eventually.  I worked hard and got my private, commercial, float, and instrument ratings, logging 800 hours in the air over a six year period. It was hard work for a 50-something, but I did what Mom taught me, stick with it and persevere. Three of my four best instructors during that period were women, Karen, Darlene, and Liz. Liz taught me to land. Karen, an artist on floats taught me to read the air made me get comfortable in the mountains and Darlene taught me to fly over glaciers in Alaska".

 Austin with Darlene

Recently I bought my own floatplane, a beautifully restored 1979 Cessna R172K XP-II. Its tail number is N758LM. Most aviation folks call it Lima Mike. Some of the guys teasingly call it Little Man, but I secretly call it Love Mom.

So, to try and bring this little private blog to a close, let me say if you haven't figured it out already, I am passionate about the amazing power, strength and quality women bring to life, and also about flying, especially in floatplanes, and being up there a little closer to God. And I am passionate about while I am here on this earth passing along to the next generation some bits of inspiration and knowledge from my life."

The Fly it Forward event at Renton on Dec 5th brought all of my passions together on one awesome day and into focus in a very sharp way."

Austin, you truly are a gift to the world. I am so thankful to know you. You've touched many lives, and will continue to do so.

Not only did Austin fly LM for our December 5th Fly In Event, but he is flying again! Look what Austin is doing now: 

Celebrate 100th Anniversary of first Licensed Women Pilot

Help make Renton Airport the Most Female Friendly Airport in the world!

We were in 1st place until a Canadian airport passed us up last week. We have until the 31st to get back into 1st place and we are almost there but we need some more un-pilot-licensed women/girls to fly from Renton this year.

I (Austin Watson, Commercial Seaplane Pilot) am flying women/girls on Sunday the 26th in my floatplane. Free, zero cost to you!  I will take two at a time on a 15 minute circuit around Mercer Island. Maximum combined weight of two passengers is 300 lb. Call, text or email me if you are at all interested.

I can fly you on other days if that helps

Austin Watson          206-979-4654

An amazing woman pilot (Delta Airlines), Karlene Petitt is organizing this. Please also contact her as she has other opportunities including a larger Beaver floatplane, several Cessnas, and a Helicopter available between now and the 31st.

Go to Karlene’s blog to sign up: Http:// (No contact information will be released to anyone.) Pilots can click on the $100 bill and enter a chance to win $100. Drawing Announced New Years Day!

Mireille Goyer is the national organizer. Go to her website to learn more too:

Austin Watson 
You are an amazing man. Thank You!

Merry Christmas Everyone... to all a good night, and a very safe flight!

XOXO  Karlene

~ Enjoy the Journey

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

I Want to Be a Pilot!

31 years ago I stood in front of my high school counselor's office, waiting patiently to discuss my future. When she finally had time for me, I excitedly said, "I want to be a pilot! What do I need to do?"

Moments of "the stare" and she said, "Women can't fly in the military, so I'm not sure what to tell you." And off I went. Lost. Unsure. Flying without a flight plan.

Today I had the incredible opportunity to meet with two young ladies who inspire to work in aviation. Below are photos from their Young Eagle flights. 

Katie McConville

Lauren Crom

These 16-year-old students are attending Aviation High School. Mature. Articulate. Brilliant. And they're focused on careers in the Aviation Industry. We're going to be seeing much more of these young ladies, and I'm excited to share what they're up to. But not yet. Plans are formulating.

The world has come a long way since I began flying. There are incredible education opportunities available, but students need mentors. Not many kids are as fortunate as Lauren and Katie whose parents are completely involved in their education. These lucky ladies are also being mentored by Peter Morton

If you have the chance to mentor a student--- do it! The rewards are many, for everyone involved.

I'm off to Tokyo this morning. Flying Fifi to Asia for the holidays. An exciting holiday season it is-- Santa is coming! 

Happy Holidays!!!

Enjoy the Journey~

~ Karlene

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

A Flying Miracle Brews

There were many people who performed an incredible feat on our December 5th Fly It Forward  event. We flew 173 women and girls in "one day" at Renton Airport. Smiles, laughter, tears and inspiration soared. And then--- Lesley, our neighbor to the North, decided she didn't want to lose the "Most Female Friendly Airport In The World" award.

A couple days ago she hosted another event and flew over another 100 women, bringing their total up to 262. Congratulations Lesley. Oshawa, Canada is in first place.

Renton is currently at 182. And holds the most Female Friendly Airport in the "U.S." Despite if we regain our title or not, we did create miracles.

And yet--- "81" more women by the end of the year? 10 days? Christmas? New Years Eve? Seattle weather? I'm leaving on an eight day trip on the 22nd. Can we do it? Is it possible?

Is there a Santa? Does he fly? Duh!

Oh yeah, I've met many Santa's in the last few weeks. Peter, Doug, Austin, Wes, Shad, Jay, Glen, Dick, a couple Toms, Ryan, Charlie, and Mark. Then the Christmas Angels, oh my--- Kathy, Debbie, Jean, Bonnie, Anne, Bobbie, Emily, Amanda, and Diana, to name a few. They've all been making dreams come true. And now, in a little town in Boeing country, the elves are hard at work, and while....

A Northern wind is blowing,
The rain she does pour
A Christmas Miracle is brewing,
Something magical is in store

Never doubt the power of imagination and the magic of belief

Enjoy the Journey~ 

... And Believe! 

Want a free flight in Renton this year? Email me!


Friday, December 17, 2010

Doug DeVries

Friday's Fabulous Flyer!

Fabulous doesn't come close to describing this aviator, adventurer, inventor, engineer, and all around great guy.

Doug didn't start out with the dream of becoming a pilot. As a matter of fact, in 1980 he'd attended ground school with a friend. Because of limited funds, they had a choice between buying a catamaran or taking flying lessons. They purchased the catamaran.

It wasn't until a few years later when Doug was laying around on a lazy Sunday morning, when he decided to venture to the airport. His first flight was with a former air force pilot in a 2 seat Piper Tomahawk and he says, "The rest is history."

Doug is making History. He graduated Cum Laude from Polytechnic State University, California, in mechanical engineering. The next twenty years were spent manufacturing life support ventilators. He developed 7 himself.

1989--- Doug's father was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig's disease, ALS, and eventually died of respiratory failure. His father chose not to go on the ventilator.  At the time they were bulky and inefficient. Doug had a new mission--- to create an in home ventilator.

1997--- he formed the company Pulmonetic Systems which developed the LTV, a portable ventilator, to improve the quality of life for patients such as Christopher Reeves.  200 employees and 16 U.S. patents later, Doug sold his company to fly.

Inspired by Steven Coonts' Cannibal Queen, Doug purchased a 1942 Stearman and spent 5 years and 3000 hours rebuilding her. Oshkosh in 2001.  Then in the fall of 2005 he shipped her to Australia and flew it 4000 miles in the remote outback.

 Great Circle Air Safari

This is a story you'll want experience--- and can!

And the adventures continued...

Apparently Doug spent his youth taking apart and rebuilding anything he could, and some may think he's yet to grow up. I think he loves the big kid tinker-toys. He purchased his second box of parts (The Stearman was the first) --- this time a 1955 de Havilland Beaver--- N67DN. This particular plane had been in the movie, Six Days, Seven Nights, staring Harrison Ford and Anne Heche, and had been totaled on one of the sets. 6 years and 7000 hours of labor he gave this beautiful plane the life of flight once again.

N67DN Lake Washington December 5th
Doug had a great idea to fly the Arctic. Why? "In the summer, it's cold, wet, and drab; and that's the good season.... from endless nights in winter to the sun that never sets in summer, this mysterious place is, in a word, exotic. So as a pilot, seeing the Arctic from the air seemed like a great way to go, and just to add a higher degree of difficulty we decided to do it in seaplanes on straight floats. Amphibs are for wusses."

Doug and Mark
This idea to fly the Great Arctic Adventure was harnessed when Doug found his partner, and "leader" of their adventure--- Mark Schoening. Mark is another story that must be told.  I'll stay focused on Doug for now, but beware Mark--- I'll be looking for you.  Two years of planning began. 

"For the Beavers: fuel shipped ahead on icebreakers, a risk analysis to identify and prepare for mechanical failures, and extensive preventative maintenance. For the pilots, training: cold water survival, underwater egress, rough water landing, and CPR to name a few. And then, on August 2, 2008, plans morphed to action, and the Great Arctic Air Adventure lifted off Lake Washington and banked to the North."

He's obviously plotting his next mission

Nobody can tell the story of the Great Arctic Adventure better than Doug.  "Arctic rain that came in sideways driven by a frigid 30-knot blow, blasted through the seams of our tent, slid under our ground cloth, and seeped into our sleeping bags... swarming mosquitoes, cold wet feet, and unflyable weather...  The flyable gap between the heavens above and the earth below was shrinking, and in the face of the building headwind our groundspeed was deteriorating from a norm of 95 knots to under 60 knots, a precursor of things to come..." 

Baker Lake

His writing is as beautiful as his plane. A must read:

We need to take a little flash back to 1985. A time when Doug was backpacking with his Malamute, and ran into medical student who was interested in putting together a team. Within a few years they were racing all over the Pacific Northwest.

Snow camping in the Boundary Water area of the Canadian border. Trips to Minnesota and Alaska. Training a kennel full of dogs--- "That was a pretty exciting time, but very demanding working full time and trying to care for and train a kennel full of dogs." 

Where did I meet Doug? December 5th, at Renton Airport he banked south, landed on Lake Washington and took women and girls for free flights. 

December 5th, Lake Washington, Renton Airport

Doug graciously donnated his time, his plane, and gallons of fuel his Beaver guzzled on behalf of the Centennial of Women Pilots:  Doug, among the smiling faces who joined you were my kids and grandkids. They're still talking about it.

What does Doug have planned next?
  1. The Magnetic North Pole-- We still have 8 drums of fuel sitting in Eureka.... considering making a run to the pole with the Beav on skis this spring. 
  2. Africa. I am working with my friend Mike Lester on a trip through Africa with several Beavers on wheels, tentatively set for 2012. 
  3. Siberia above the Arctic Circle. This is the trip Mark and I are really dreaming about. The idea would be travel north to Inuvik as before, then hang a left and travel through Northern Siberia north of the Arctic Circle, coming out somewhere in Scandinavia. We would like to use the Goose I'm restoring, but I may be in Depends by the time it is finished. 

Doug, thank you for sharing your story-- and the many beautiful pictures.  I know there will be many more adventures to follow, and we all want to know what you're up to.

Remember to Enjoy the Journey--- I know Doug is.

~ Karlene