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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.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Positive Space Tickets for Commuters?

Pilots and Flight Attendants, will you do me a huge favor and fill out this commuting feedback questionnaire? Click Here for Survey  

Only 17 minutes to complete... and time well spent.

Lori Brown, a Professor at Western Michigan University College of Aviation, is seeking to enhance their curriculum, plans on publishing her research, and is asking for your help. 

Lori Brown
Lori wasn’t always professor, but a pilot. She was originally from Seattle, but spent most of her flying years in Micronesia, based on Guam for Continental Express, then Saipan for Pacific Island Aviation. She had 6000 hours and had been commuting between Chicago and Miami for several years when she decided to stay home with her then two-year-old daughter. Managing the family with two pilot parents, traveling and leaving her daughter, were a challenge, so she changed professions. But she didn’t give up the passion of the industry or the desire to make it safer. She's been teaching for ten years now.

NAS—National Academy of Science— is conducting a mandated study which may be used for regulatory recommendations, and will take into consideration "all" information regarding commuting. Lori intends on presenting a view from crewmembers. This is your chance to be heard. She will also be presenting the results at the WATS—World Aviation Training Symposium— conference in Orlando.

She wants to try and make things better for future pilots.

Thoughts for the day…. What would happen to the industry if regulations stated that we could no longer commute? Do you think that could ever happen? Could we be told where to live? What about mergers and the housing crisis—If your airline goes away, and you get bumped out off your plane and are forced to commute, and you can’t sell your house... then what? 

More likely, what if Airlines were mandated to provide positive space tickets for employees to work? Wouldn't that reduce a huge amount of stress. Fill out the survey. Lori needs you. The industry needs you. We need to do something. 

Thank you! 

Enjoy the journey! 
~ Karlene

Monday, March 28, 2011

Airbus is an Apple?

I'm continually asked which do I "like" better: Airbus of Boeing. That's a tough question. I love them both. Equally great companies.

A couple months ago I was in a search for a new computer. PC or MAC? I asked many questions. MAC users love Apple. PC users love their PC. Nobody could really tell me "why." I finally took the plunge and bought a MAC. After operating it I realized why I love my MAC better than the PC. I do know the reasons why... despite the fact I still don't know how to operate all its features. Then I thought about the differences between Boeing and Airbus.

The way I see it, the difference between Boeing and Airbus is similar to the difference between a PC and a MAC. Boeing is the PC. Airbus in the MAC.

A PC is something that most of us know how to use. We can turn it on and operate it with ease. We know what it's doing and feel comfortable. But the MAC is smarter and can do more things than the PC. It just operates differently. Thinks different. But is more efficient, and brilliant. Once you figure out how to use all the features, there is nothing you can't do. You just need practice operating it, or live close to an Apple store... and read the manual often.

I love my MAC, and I visit my local Apple Store often. And tomorrow I'll go fly my Airbus and become reacquainted with her. One day I'll fall in love with her too like I have with my MAC. But for now, sitting reserve is a lonely job when they never call you.

For now looking forward to getting above the rain and seeing some sunshine.

Enjoy the Journey!


Friday, March 25, 2011

Betty Blake

Friday's Fabulous Flyer 

December 7th, 1941, Betty is standing on her balcony watching bombs drop on Pearl Harbor.

October 1920, in Honolulu, Hawaii, another pilot has made her arrival. Betty joined this earth with mischief in her heart and a smile on her face. How do I know? I had the great opportunity to speak to her. Granted our conversation occurred ninety-one years after her birth, but the story of her life answers that question.

When Betty was fourteen years old her father took her to see Amelia Earhart. Betty sat in the front row and told me that she was the only kid in the audience and Amelia spoke directly to her. After the meeting they had a conversation and the next day Betty went out to the airport and sat in Amelia's plane and their friendship began.

Betty had always been fascinated with aviation. So at the age of fourteen when Navy Pilot Warren Baxter offered to teach her how to fly, she couldn't say no. She would sneak out of her house and find her way to the airport. She never did tell her parents she was flying. Then one night, when she snuck out to date a pilot, her father found out he tracked her down and yanked open the door, and drug her home. "Oh, he was mad," she said. I think there was a grounding involved, but that didn't stop her from dreams of flying, or going back to the airport. 

December 6th, 1941, Betty was at the officers club with her fiance, a Navy Ensign. She's had her first drink and was suffering from a hangover the following morning. When the bombing started she initially rolled over and pulled the pillow over her head. When she finally climbed out of bed, she stood on the balcony and witnessed the event that would change her life forever. That had to be the worst hangover in the world. At the time she was a flight instructor with about 700 hours of time.

Nights of blackness followed the attack. Within a couple months she climbed aboard a ship and headed to the mainland. They had to cross the Pacific in the dark, praying they wouldn't be hit by a submarine. The black silence made for a long ride.  They docked in California but she soon found herself in New York. Alone. Because her then husband was shipped overseas, and she was left behind in a new city, without friends or family.

It wasn't long until Betty got a call to to join the military.

She became one of the first WASPs: Women Airforce Service Pilots. Interesting, at the time they were not considered part of the military, but were civil servants. It wasn't until after the war did they get commissioned into the military.

The fact that she grew up with two brothers, a neighborhood of boys, and was the only girl gave her skills that paved her way in the military. She told me she got along great with the guys because she could burp on cue and spit, when some of her female counter parts ended up in tears.

I find it difficult to believe Betty is nine-one years old. Her mind has not caught up to her age. She laughed openly as she shared stories of her life, and flying. Initial training was in Texas, and she was the "Guinea Pig" class. After training she'd chosen the Long Beach base in hope of flying home to Hawaii one day. But they wouldn't allow women to fly over the ocean. Not that they worried about the women, as she told me often that the women were expendable.

The initial training was all the WASPs got. They learned to fly one plane, then as the others came off the assembly line their training consisted of sitting in the new type. That was it... and then they flew. These planes were supposed to have already been test flown, but Betty soon discovered that wasn't the case because there was no time. She kept that secret from the other ladies. She'd fly the B17, then a B25, climb into a B-51, and fly a P47. The types rolled off the line and she climbed aboard.

Moving planes across the country was her job, and life on the road was challenging and fun. She would head out for a one day turn, and find herself on the road for three weeks, with nothing but an overnight bag. They wouldn't allow her to fly to Alaska because they didn't have facilities for women. She snuck booze home hiding it in the plane. When she found herself in city with the only bed in the same room with twenty pilots, she'd sleep in her flight suit. She told me the pilots would find themselves in strange cities with nothing to do so they would go to the bar and drink... And she kept up with them.

Work rules? There were none. She would fly from one coast to the next. Climb on a commercial flight and return home. Often the plane was filled with only military as they would bump paying passengers. When that was the case, the plane would divert to the military base and let everyone off. Then she would climb aboard another plane and fly it across the country again. Sleep was found in the seat, or on the floor in a terminal.

She's been married a couple times, raised three sons, and watched her house burn down as she flew overhead. What a life. I could go on forever with the stories of this fabulous woman.

Betty is a darling lady and I'm looking forward to meeting her in person. While she tells me her eyes are failing her, her mind is as sharp as ever. She continues to attend officer meetings, and is an honored guest speaker with whomever is lucky enough to have her.

Betty and AirFreddy

I was introduced to Betty by AirFreddy, a dynamo in his own right. Click Here to learn about AirFreddy. Thank you AirFreddy for introducing me to an incredible woman.

Thank you Betty for taking your time to speak with me. I know we'll be hearing more from you soon! Expect a visit soon. Oh... and Betty told me why she thinks Amelia Earhart crashed. That will come out in time.

Enjoy the Journey!

~ Karlene

Thursday, March 24, 2011

747-800 has A330 similarities!

A friend of mine just recently went through 747-8 differences training at Boeing. I asked what are the biggest differences between the 744 and the 747-8. The answers were surprising, as some as the improvements were similar to the A330.

  • The 747-800  has a VSD: Vertical Situation Display, which sits at bottom of ND and shows aircraft in descent profile view of what the airplane is doing. I’m told it’s active below 3000 feet, and you can see the terrain here. He says, “It’s just clutter. If I wasn’t teaching, I wouldn’t use it.”

  • -800 has a Multi-function display that can move the Inboard to the lower CRTs…. Just like the A330. 

Paine Field
  • If Hydraulic Systems go, the number 2 and 3 demand pumps kick in when flaps are beyond 20. That’s new to the 744.

  • There is a Nitrogen generating system for the center fuel tank. Suppressing flammability. A catalytic converter removes oxygen and supplements with nitrogen. Very cool.

  • 747-800 takes 20 feet more turning radius than the 744.

  • I believe it can carry 406,000 lbs of fuel, 40,000 more than 744. As comparison, the A330-300 maximum fuel load is 172, 000 lbs and the -200, is 245,000 lbs.

  • "There is a switch that will take the trim back to zero!" Yes... just like the A330. 

747-800 over Mt. Baker, Washington

  • "There’s a towing switch!" The A330 has a Nose Wheel Steering towing switch too.

  • -800 has an electronic checklist. Used normally on the lower CRT for “All” checklists. There are closed loop items. The computer automatically senses the non-completion of items. Select the item and it’s removed from the list. Proceed down the checklist until it say’s complete. There are no paper checklists. The item stays up there until complete.  The A330 does this too... but not to this extent of removing all paper checklists. The logic for certain items are still there.
  • The main deck has fire suppression and depressurizes the cabin to 25,000 feet. Cargo fire suppression has a “few” more bottles than the 744. 
  • Approaches. The -800 has an IAN. Integrated Approach Navigation... to fly a VOR, Backcourse, or NDB. The IAN appears to be like the A330’s Managed Nav approaches. But the -800 cannot land with autothrottles or the autopilot on, during the IAN approach. On the A330 the autopilot kicks off at 50 feet below the MDA, but she can land with autothrottles. 
  • It appears that the most common answer with any question on the 747-8 is:  “Depends upon customer options.”  But there is nothing as beautiful as the 747-800! 

Enjoy the Journey!

~ Karlene

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Highs to Lows... and weather is involved.

Monday ... I was honored with the task of presenting the award for the most female-pilot friendly airport in the United States to Mayor Denis Law, and the city of Renton.

Renton City Council is a wonderful group of people who serve their city, by helping families and businesses live, learn, grow and prosper. We're looking forward to the entire cities involvement in next year's flying event.

City Council and Mayor Denis Law
Ryan Zulof, Airport Manager

Tuesday ... I spent the day cleaning and conditioning airplane seats at BEFA. I couldn't stop at the seats, and those little planes never looked so good. I listened to music and enjoyed watching the planes come and go. While there, I got to watch Cassy do her solo flight.

Cassie had joined us on our December 5th fly it forward event. Tuesday she soloed, and I took the coolest pictures. Last night I learned another lesson about MacBook Pro iPhoto, and I accidentally deleted the pictures. To say I was heartbroken is an understatement. Crushed. Cassy, I am so sorry! The good news is her instructor took some pictures too.

Today ... I'm revising Flight For Control. Sunshine and 60 in Seattle... sounds like a good day to write outside.

Enjoy the Journey!

~ Karlene

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Closest Airports: They're all so Foreign!

The closest airport function on the DATA page makes finding an airport easy. But when I select the closest airport prompt, everything is so foreign!

What in the heck are those 4 letter identifiers?

RJAA, EGLL, PANC... Where in the world are those airports?

If you know the first two letters, you'll know where the airport is...
  • EI:   Ireland (Europe, Ireland) 
  • EG: England, Scotland, or Northern Ireland (Europe Great Britain)
  • LFFrance (Lower or Latin Europe, France)
  • LPPortugal (or Islands owned by Portugal such as Lajes--LFPA)
  • BI:   Iceland (North Atlantic... Brrrrrr)
  • BG: Greenland.
  • C:    Canada
  • P:    USA Pacific region. 
  • U:    Russia. (USSR)
  • RJJapan.
  • RK: Korea
  • Z:     China Z Heck if I know... do you?
ON a side note.... Did you know if you've leveled off before you've reached cruise and you press DATA and select closest suitable airports that you won't have any data for those airports? You'll need to re-cruise yourself and all the data will appear. 

Enjoy the Journey!

~ Karlene

Monday, March 21, 2011

Go-Around... but what if you're clean?

In the old days the go-around procedure was "TOGA, Flaps, Gear"... but airlines are now shifting to activating managed NAV before gear and flaps. Why?

This change is due to RNP procedures. In the Airbus when activating TOGA puts the plane into track mode. When performing RNP approaches, navigating through high terrain in the containment area, we need to make sure she is navigating in managed Nav. Thus it's essential to activate managed Nav after you've selected TOGA and get her navigating on the prescribed course.

    But what if we're on approach a RNP 20 mile approach--- still clean--- and they close the runway because Colossal Airlines blew tires.

    What happens if you select TOGA in a clean configuration?
    • Nothing but a whole lot of thrust and a great deal of aggravation.
    She will not transition to go-around and she won't climb. A better choice is to select the missed approach altitude and select open climb. This will enable you to climb to the required altitude and disarm the final approach, enabling your princess to navigate the lateral track for your required missed approach.Yes, you'll have to re-insert the approach, but that's easy when you're safely away from the ground managing the mass.

    Do you have any go-around experiences you'd like to share?

    Enjoy the Journey!

    ~ Karlene

    Friday, March 18, 2011

    Mother Earth

    Friday Fabulous Flyer

    I received a response from a pilot-writer, Michele Eades, who told me why she couldn’t participate in the “why I want to fly” essay contest. Her reason circled around the Japan crisis and her love of the earth. This morning I heard Prince William say, "Grief is the price we pay for love." Michele knows this as well as anyone.  She is a shy person, with a good heart, and caring soul, who cares deeply about the world and the recent tragedy that has befallen all in Japan. 

    Michele said,

    “As a writer - I've been personally affected by the tragedy in Japan and find that at this time I'm unable to complete & submit my own entry for the essay writing contest. I wrote 3 pages of a draft for this and have tried to work on it to completion, but to be honest - my heart & soul are much too full of sorrow at what's happening in Japan & what the consequences are for our beautiful earth. My heart & soul can't "get off the ground" with this writing assignment at this time. I saw the images of Sendai airport - water engulfing the aircraft, etc...and so many other heartbreaking's just taken the "wind out of my sails"

    I love our earth so very much - and I'm heartbroken to see what the damages are & what's to come as a result of all the abuses & neglect, taking place upon her (the earth). I also love the sky, the planes, etc. But right now, there is no "wind" on my earthly wings to complete the essay I started & wanted to submit.”

    “I look back on my childhood in the 1960's and remember very vividly all the beautiful things that influenced me as a little girl. You see, our home is across from a big park. My parents always took me to the park as a little girl and we would fly kites… chase butterflies, watch the birds - things that had to do with nature & flight. All of these things I was sensitive to and loved! My connection to the earth & to the sky as a child in the 1960's became who & what I am as a woman - a "natural earth & sky loving woman". For me, when I see the earth upset - the spiritual chords within my soul react deeply. Also, as a child always looking up at the stars, the moon...I remember nights looking up from my window to see the stars and moon and DREAMING, IMAGINING...always with a very vivid imagination which influenced me to WRITE.”

    My last international flight was to Portugal. I was in Lisboa & Oporto. It was a tremendous flight - I loved it! When I'm flying, my spirit & soul open up literally. For me, flying is a passionate & loving experience...and as I mentioned, all of it's personal for me - it's all tied together...”
    Michele Eades

    Not only do pilots care deeply, but writers and people everywhere are helping.  

    Author, blogger, and friend, Heather McCorkle say's, "Led by author Keris Stainton, a generous group of authors is auctioning off everything from signed books to manuscript critiques. The proceeds will go to relief efforts in Japan." There is something there for you!  
    Please visit:  Authors For Japan

    Remember to slow down and enjoy each and every moment... you just never know if it's your last. 

    Enjoy the journey!
    ~ Karlene

    Thursday, March 17, 2011

    Happy St. Patrick's Day!

    May your blessings outnumber
    The shamrocks that grow,
    And may trouble avoid you
    Wherever you go.

    May you always have
    Departures into the wind,
    Nice approaches to bring you in,
    Warm drinks by the fire,
    Laughter to cheer you,
    Those you love near you,
    And all your heart may desire!
    Enjoy the Journey!
    ~ Karlene

    Wednesday, March 16, 2011

    A330 Engine failure over the Atlantic

    It was a dark and stormy night and I was enroute, staring out the window, thinking about my agent telling me that I should never begin a story with the weather. But as luck would have it, weather is always involved when flying. And then, when I was least expecting it...

    Bang! Engine failure at 38,000 feet. I begin my 90-degree turn to the right with the intent to keep her coming around for a full 180-degree turn. I’m heading back. To where? I don’t know. And my airspeed is decaying rapidly.

    As I begin my turn I notice the FMA flashing a message ---“THR MCT” Yes, just like a woman she’s telling me what I’d forgotten to do. I move the operating thrust lever to MCT... Max Continuous Thrust. My hands are busy and my mind is whirling like the wind, but I turn on all my lights to warn other traffic I’m coming down.

    My goal, which I doubt is attainable, is to maintain altitude until I reach my 15-mile parallel track. But her wings are clean and she is efficient. At the very least I’ll minimize my rate of descent. I haven’t finished my turn, and I’m maintaining altitude. And then I see it---green dot. In seconds I’ll have no more energy to maintain altitude. I’ll have energy, but my airplane will have no airspeed. I spin back my speed selection to match up with green dot... my goal. I select the secondary flight plan for a reference to a parallel course reversal.

    I want to minimize my descent rate until I’m clear of other traffic, so I reach up preparing to select open descent. But wait! I stop myself. If I pull open descent now, the thrust lever on my operating engine will come to idle. Not good. I immediately press the autothrust instinctive disconnect button under my thumb. Autothrust off, I select a lower altitude and then pull open descent. I'll check the PERF page or the PROG page, for REC MAX later, to establish a level off altitude. But for now, I'm on my way down. But who is below me?

    I reach down and select “Below” on the TCAS, enabling me to see aircraft up to 9900 feet below my current altitude. I’m now on a heading 180 degrees course reversal in a descent. But where shall I go?

    My first officer has already conducted the ECAM items then performed the checklist. I select the DATA page and the closest airport prompt. But what is the most suitable airport? There’s no fire. I have time. Thankfully we’d been checking the weather along our flight. As luck would have it EGLL, London Heathrow, is our closest and most suitable airport! The only airport for miles with weather good enough to get in, a runway long enough to land upon, services to take care of everyone, and the manager of ATC, Munawar Chaudhary, will take excellent care of us. Not to mention, it’s April 4th and he’s hosting an ATC pilot forum. We’re all invited!

    I don’t want to fly across the tracks, but maintaining the current driftdown parallel on the track will take me 200 miles before I can turn. I want to turn to Heathrow now and I no longer need green dot. I speed up, and reselect autothrust to get down quicker. Once below the tracks at FL280 we can go direct.

    We talked to dispatch and ATC, and told the flight attendants the plan of action. Life is good and we're on our way to EGLL.

    Click Here to join us for the Heathrow Party! You are Invited!

    Enjoy the Journey!

    ~ Karlene

    Tuesday, March 15, 2011

    A330 Engine Failure in RVSM Airspace

    RVSM Airspace… Where do we find it? Over the ocean! A place we may have aircraft within 2 miles to the right or left of our course, and within 1000 feet vertical separation. So close we can see the details of those that we pass.

    In RVSM Airspace tracks are spaced 60 miles apart in the Atlantic and 50 miles apart in the Pacific. RNP ... Required Navigation Performance... is not only a type of performance based navigation that enables us to operate within this system, but establishes the required level of performance required to fly these freeways in the sky.

    RNP-10 requires aircraft to maintain a course within 10 mile of centerline 95% of the time. Unfortunately, as luck would have it, other aircraft may be diverting at the same time as we are. Remember that old saying, “If it weren’t for bad luck I wouldn’t have any at all?”

    While we’re open to many problems enroute, an engine failure is a biggie. At best we may have a couple minutes until she stops flying at our given altitude and wants to start down. ICAO mandates we descend 15 miles off our given route. This gives us a potential three miles of separation.

    Let's assume that the aircraft below us is at their 10-mile RNP10 limit. They’re also slopping the allowed two miles to the right. Slopping: Language used when we fly to the right of centerline intentionally. Slopping would put the other aircraft 12 miles to the right, leaving us a three-mile window for spacing.

    Note to remember: At Mach .80, a 90 degree turn takes about 8 miles.

    We will be slowing and the wind could be an issue impacting our turn radius, but two consecutive 90-degree turns will position us almost exactly 15 miles from our previous track--- A 180-degree turn heading the opposite direction, or a 90 one way followed by a 90 the other direction. I remember him telling me not to worry which direction, we can always change our mind later. Apparently not only women have that prerogative.

    The goal is to get off the track and get established on a new 15-mile track without hitting anyone in the process. But we must also remember to fly the plane. How do we do that when we lost 50% of our engines? Tomorrow is another story.

    Enjoy the Journey~

    ~ Karlene

    Sunday, March 13, 2011

    Hangar Flying!

    March 13 came in with showers and gusty winds. We were watching. Waiting. But decided the safest course of action was to keep this party inside. Jay flew a test flight with Katie and Lauren, and that was that.
    Time to call her quits. 

    215 registered, 139 women showed up to fly... despite the weather. That speaks volumes for the interest of women in aviation. Mother Nature may have not played fair... but we had a great time regardless. Thank you all for joining us! Enjoy the photos of the best Hangar Party of 2011!

    We may have been grounded, but we did make a new world record! BEFA had more cars in the history of aviation than any FBO on a Sunday in the rain!

    A special thanks to our volunteers, Bobbie, Annie, Katie, Lauren, Cindy, Linda, Teresa, Lyn, Christine, Zach, and Mireille.  You were such a HUGE help! Thank you Dan and ERAU for your continued support... the cookies, cocoa and coffee.  And to our pilots Tom, Austin, Jay, Kevin, Mark, Catherine, Kendra, Ruth, Shad and Gary.  Catherine and Kendra flew over from Tacoma. Jay in from Sequim. Ruth taught the girls how to do a walk-around and Gary entertained the ladies with everything you'd want to know about airplanes. Amanda dropped by to hang out and said next time she'll bring her helicopter! We hung out and shared the joy of talking about flying. Great duty if you can get it. Women and airplanes. Does it get better?

    Mother Nature may have grounded our flights today, but she did not destroy the meaning of aviation for all those who came out to celebrate the Women of Aviation Worldwide Week.

    All our pilots have agreed to call the women and girls who showed up for our event and take them flying when the sun shines. She will shine. We will fly.