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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.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

"High Flight"

                                High Flight
                            Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of earth
                            And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
                            Sunward I've climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
                            Of sun-split clouds - and done a hundred things
                            You have not dreamed of - wheeled and soared and swung
                            High in the sunlit silence. Hov'ring there
                            I've chased the shouting wind along, and flung
                            My eager craft through footless halls of air.
                            Up, up the long delirious, burning blue,
                            I've topped the windswept heights with easy grace
                            Where never lark, or even eagle flew -
                            And, while with silent lifting mind I've trod
                            The high untresspassed sanctity of space,
                            Put out my hand and touched the face of God.

 Pilot Officer John Gillespie Magee, Jr.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Jennifer Dybell: Why I Want to Fly

Jennifer Dybell

"I love the Universe, and I love exploring and experiencing it. Whether it be caring for animals, nurturing a garden, or venturing out to forests and lakes, listening to a good old Geography or Physics lecture.. or simply looking up at the stars to discover our Earth's past. But what better way is there to experience such a glorious creation than being in the greatest creation of all.. our Sky!
Since I was a child, I've always looked up towards the sky. My earliest memory is lying impatiently on my Dad's lap in the hustle and bustle of an airport, looking out of the giant windows, watching, searching. I can still remember the strange scent of the building, a mixture of leather and coffee, and the most vast, diverse amount of people than Europe and Australasia collided. Never had I visited a noisier place, which at the same time seemed in itself to create a hollow silence. Yet, I blended in with everyone else. I was just another passenger ready to embrace the skies. Another passenger with no special significance, fading into the background.
It was unfamiliar territory for me. And since then, I've been forever searching for the answer to the question: why do we travel? We travel because life itself is a journey. Although few people stop to consider it. The majority of people I know consider travel a hassle, an inconvenience, a headache. But not me, and especially not when it's air travel. Being in the air is an exhilarating experience, and humans have mastered the skill of flight. I want to be one of those masters, and posses that skill. I want to help people along their journeys, and so help them throughout life. Besides, life isn't about the destination, where you suddenly end up, it's about the journey and the connections and achievements you make along the way.
Thinking about this, I've always considered flying a plane as a metaphor for controlling your life. I see it very similar to taking off against the wind and being in control of something so huge and important, that you simply cannot just give up. I want to be the Captain of my life. If I master the skill of flight, I master my own life. An ambition cannot simply be ignored"

Jennifer you are the Captain of your life and can do anything you want. Flying is the perfect metaphor for life. Keep your dreams alive and one day, you too, will be spreading your wings and soaring to new heights and far off destinations.

Enjoy the Journey!

~ Karlene

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

What Kind of Plane is Bob Building?

Van's Aircraft RV-7

The RV-7 is a two seat aerobatic tailwheel aircraft.  Bob tells me he's about 90% done and he's "working his way through a list of final construction items in preparation for the final assembly."  

When will he be flying her? 
By the end of this year! 

Why the Van? 

Bob became interested in Van's airplanes by talking to several NWA Pilots who had RVs. He tells me there is a large group who fly out of Arlington Airport. 

"After seeing one, I was hooked. Van's is the most successful kit built airplane in history with several thousand planes built and flying. So I was convinced that a novice like me could build one in my garage. I took some construction classes offered by the Experimental Aircraft Association and I started. It has been an incredible experience researching and building an airplane from a box of parts, but when the day comes to fly the airplane that I built, all the work will be well worth it."

Van Aircraft  is located in Aurora, Oregon, just south of Portland, and there is a large community of RV builders throughout the world, and some have chronicled their building on blogs.

Check this out: RV-7A N704HJ

 "From the A330 to the RV-7. I'll miss the break room!"  Bob

Bob already knows he has an invitation to fly during our Women of Aviation Fly It Forward event next March.  And Van Aircraft will be at Oshkosh this year... check them out.  I think I'll invite Van to our flying event too.

Enjoy the Journey!

~ Karlene

Monday, June 27, 2011

Monday Motivation: Great Teachers

Great Teachers 
Inspire their students 
to Believe that 
THEY can Become 
Paula J. Fox
The Heart of a Teacher
simple truths The Gift Of Inspiration

The art of being a great teacher is a unique challenge when working with adults. With children... minds are open, willing, inquisitive, and they want to believe. Learning is a natural process. With adults, the challenge is unique. The primary obstacle: Ego.

The Greatest obstacle to Learning as an adult is being Teachable

Whether you're learning to fly a plane, earning a new type rating, switching from Boeing to Airbus,  transitioning from a PC to a Mac or writing a novel, this applies to you.

Adults know better than to accept everything someone tells us as truth just because it's spoken. We also know that much of what is taught is opinion. However, both those truths can block the ability to learn. 

The adult student who opens their mind and knows that in every situation there is something to learn will succeed. Only with an open mind and parking the ego outside are we able to identify truth from opinion and fact from fiction, and grab what works. When we hear something that doesn't feel right we search out the truth, we don't disregard because our ego is blocking the path. If we believe that we have something to learn, we will.

Teachers, we would love her hear your unique challenges when working with adult students. Adult students, what works best for you?

Enjoy the Journey!

~ Karlene

Friday, June 24, 2011

Amanda Franklin: Friday's Fabulous Flyer

Amanda Franklin recently passed away, leaving a huge hole in the sky and the hearts of many. The rain poured from the heavens as tears flowed with the passing of this beautiful and talented woman. She will be missed by many, but her memory and imprint on this world will last forever. 

Christine Hollingsworth shared Amanda's story with me, and I asked her is she wanted to write it. Christine sent me the following post of how this amazing woman, Amanda Franklin, lived and inspired many, and is the reason Christine flies today.

"I cried writing this. Anyone more than a little familiar with the air show circuit would recognize Amanda and her husband, Kyle, as they performed their famous Pirated Skies routine around the country. I was lucky enough to see them twice at Oshkosh. Kyle flew their Waco biplane, and Amanda was his wing walker.

Both Amanda and Kyle come from long lines of air show pilots. Kyle's famous father, Jimmy Franklin, was good friends with Amanda's father, Bobby Younkin. All of them were active in air shows across the world for many years. Amanda's brother, Matt, also performs in air shows in a very well-lit Twin Beech.

Amanda became a pilot at sixteen and learned to fly more than fifteen types of airplanes. Watching her at Oshkosh was one of the moments that made me want to learn to fly. I was lucky enough to talk to her after her performance was over, and I told her I wasn't sure if I wanted to fly because I had never seen any women around the airport at home, only guys, and I didn't want to be the only one there. She assured me that I would have plenty of support from other women pilots and mentioned the Ninety-Nines, of which she was a proud member.

While on the ground, Amanda dedicated all of her time to paying tribute to our soldiers and helping more people, especially young people, become interested in aviation. She was wonderfully sweet and caring, and above everything else, she was brave.

March 12, 2011. While performing at an air show in Brownsville, Texas, the biplane's engine suddenly failed. Since they were so close to the ground, Kyle did not have much time to conduct any emergency procedures. Amanda had enough time to return to the forward seat in the open cockpit before Kyle landed adjacent to the runway hard enough to collapse the main landing gear. Even though the engine quit, the electrically-driven pump for the smoke oil continued to run, dumping the flammable oil into the hot engine compartment. Both Kyle and Amanda survived the initial crash but experienced severe burns and were taken to the hospital.

Kyle, being seated further back from the engine, was burned less severely than Amanda and was well enough to update the couple's Facebook page every day, giving reports on their healing progress. Many people sent get well wishes, cards, and donations to help with their hospital bills, as well as suggesting unconventional burn treatments that had been tried in other countries. Amanda's injuries, however, proved to be more serious than the doctors initially thought. After one particularly bad day when an infection raged through her body and destroyed most of the experimental skin grafts she had just received, Kyle believed Amanda did not want to continue suffering through months of painful treatment that did not appear to be working, and the doctors advised him that after taking such a hard hit to her immune system, she was unlikely to survive the following two weeks leading up to her next skin graft. She was placed on comfort care, and the world waited.

Amanda and Kyle
Amanda Franklin passed away on May 27. She was twenty-five years old, and she was one of the biggest inspirations to me. It is entirely possible that I might not have learned to fly without watching her perform or speaking to her. The world is missing a beautiful, talented woman pilot.

As tragic as their accident has been, Kyle has tried to help others use it as a learning experience. Several manufacturers are considering redesigning their smoke oil systems in order to prevent a similar incident from occurring. We shouldn't need horrible accidents to happen to show us our mistakes, but when they do, we owe it to the victims to learn everything we can and do everything we can to keep it from happening again.

Kyle has a long way to go as far as healing on the inside, but he also has to heal on the outside. If you would like to donate to help with his family's medical bills, please visit the International Council of Airshows Foundation

A fund has also been set up through Moonlight Fund Moonlight Fund that specifically helps female burn victims."

Thank you Christine for sharing Amanda's story. Kyle we are all terribly sorry for your loss, and my heart goes out to you and your families. Amanda's legacy lives on in others, and will continue to do so.

Enjoy the Journey... You never know how long it will last.

~ Karlene

All pictures and information courtesy of

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Abby Jarve Takes to the Sky

I don't think there has been a flying event at Renton Airport without Abby Jarve's smiling face waiting to take to the sky. She's drawn to the the airplanes and to the sky. She loves the excitement and challenge of flying and doesn't fear the hard work to get there. She's also a student at Aviation High School, and I know she's been bitten by the flying bug. Last year she also entered the "Why I want to Fly" essay contest and won an hour free flying lesson. Abby is back to tell us what she liked about her flight.

"I have to say that my favorite part about the lesson was the take off and landing. It feels so weird getting back on the ground, feeling the bounce it does right before the plane goes down for good. I thought 45 degree turns were fun too! I was really surprised about how hard it was to taxi the plane, I had problems getting it to stay on the yellow line! Well, I think all of it was my favorite parts... I loved it! It was so fun! My instructors name was Len Quiat, he works at Boeing as a test pilot. Thank you so much, you are amazing!"  

 Click HERE to read her essay. 

I love this wing! It's going to take me into the sky.

I'm so glad you loved your flight Abby. There will be many more to come.

Enjoy the Journey!

~ Karlene

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Stephanie Stanton: Why I Want To Fly

Stephanie Stanton
"The skies are blue on this crisp, autumn day. Children are laughing and skipping. The birds are chirping high up in the old oak tree. The leaves are slowly changing color, from vibrant green to rich reds, golden yellows, and dark browns. One by one they fall from their high perch and land softly on the ground, but the ground is the last place Stephanie Marie would ever think to be on a day like today. Instead of being outside jumping in the great piles of leaves as all the other kids her age are doing, she would rather be in a small box with 5 inoperable windows, two locked doors, no air conditioning and a wall full of gauges and levers. Most would not understand why anyone would want to do this, let alone a child, but Stephanie knows the power of this grand machine.
It is the allure of freedom and independence that draws her to that small vehicle in the middle of an empty field. The bright red and yellow adorning stripes on the side of the plane shine brightly in the mid-afternoon glow. Only a select few can truly understand Stephanie’s passion for flight. 

Once experienced, flight becomes a thirst for the trill of ‘throwing yourself at the ground and missing.’ Freedom from gravity requires choice, skill, and the willingness to fight the laws of nature. She must have gas in her plane to fuel her escape from the bounds that hold humanity to the earth. Too much gas will make her plane too heavy and too little could mean disaster; after all, ‘too much of a good thing can be bad.’ Lucky for her, she has found the perfect balance. Her planes flaps and rudders must be fully functioning so she can steer her vessel safely. Any mistake could spell catastrophe at any time during flight. Stephanie, after going through her pre-flight checklist, is clear for take-off.
She moves with the mindset and precision of a surgeon operating on a patient. Any error in could be fatal, but Stephanie knows what she is doing. Practice and training have given her the tools to be a part of a world with another dimension, a world with more depth than one person can ever see in its entirety. She can see the changing of seasons as the warmth of summer transforms into the coolness of autumnon the carpet of color that lay far below.
The beauty and majesty of God’s creations which only birds, butterflies, and pilots will ever see becomes forever etched in young Stephanie’s mind. The feeling she experiences as she swoops effortlessly above the trees and skims above the gleaming water is simply indescribable. It is the feeling of success resounding through the mind of a child. She knows she can fight for her freedom to soar with just the right balance of subtlety and force to combat even the most solid laws which govern her freedom. After all, she can defy gravity."

Stephanie, you have the heart and soul of a pilot. Keep flying and feeling that freedom. Your words are poetry across the page as your wings are to the sky. Had you been living in location of a free flight... it would have been yours. 

Fly safe!

Enjoy the Journey!

~ Karlene

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

A330 Glide Ratio

An interesting discussion has been floating about concerning the glide ratio of the A330.

Airbus recommends that with an all-engine flameout to fly a speed of 300/.82M -- the optimum relight speed. This speed will produce a glide of approximately 100NM from FL400 which equates to a 15:1 glide ratio.

Then someone asked, "What is the glide ratio for green dot?"

Have you ever been asked a question that there is no answer? 
This is one of those times. 

After talking with my friend at Airbus he reminded me that "green dot" is the speed that provides the best lift-to-drag ratio when the airplane is in a clean (gear and flaps up) configuration. And green dot is a function of weight and altitude. Therefore, there isn't one answer... but many.
For non-airbus pilots: Why do they call a speed green dot? 

Because, there is literally a green dot on the speed tape for quick reference. As indicated below... around 249 knots.

For those inquiring Airbus minds... just thought you'd want to know.

News Flash: This update is three days after the post. Interesting data has been coming in. A330 Pilots are and coming up with more green dot data and sending it my way.

250KIAS (307 TAS)  & 1100 ft/min:  28:1 glide ratio
307KTAS = 31109 ft/min    /   1100  =  28.28

FL220 394,000 pounds:
300kias/430TAS & 1900'/min   23:1
430kts=43573 ft/min  / 1900=  22.9  

Enjoy the journey!


Monday, June 20, 2011

Monday Motivation: Dreams

"Let me dare to dream and in
doing so, may my dreams not
just come to be fulfilled
- but also achieved."

~ Eleesha

 This week I'm sharing exciting news that my dream of becoming a published author is gaining momentum. My novel, Flight For Control, is finally complete and on submission. But the most exciting news is...

Flight For Control is a finalist in the Pacific Northwests Writer's Association literary contest.

The 2011 PNWA summer conference will be in Bellevue, Washington, August 4th-7th, and I'll be there. I'm honored to be standing beside fabulous writers. Please join me in congratulating the other finalists at Critique Sisters Corner. 

And visit Eleesha for your daily inspirations by clicking Here

Exciting news has just arrived: 
 Katja just got her pilot's license today!  

Congratulations Katja!

Enjoy the Journey!

~ Karlene

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Update on Lydia

Lydia before surgery
July 16, 2011: Latest Report from Captain Yaw:

Dear Friends and supporters of Lydia's surgery,

Last night we sat with Lydia, our last visit to her before travelling to the USA for the launch of 'The Calling' a documentary about what we do here, starring Lydia! The Calling.

Lydia managed to lift and manoeuvre around 250g with her right arm, the grip on her hand not quite enough to hold it, so a hook was made in the 'chocolate peanuts' bag to allow her to lock it on her finger with her thumb. The range of movement of her arm is such that, once her hand surgery is completed later this year, she should be able to operate all of the aircraft controls without modifications.

We sat with her and looked at the photos of her arm. The skin is growing back in islands on most of it, but seems remarkably 'lacking' on the rear of her elbow. I looked into her brown eyes, set perfectly above the squeezable cheeks that are her hallmark, and reminded her 'You are like an airplane, and we need to fix your wing... now, if you were the engineer and you had to make a decision on this patch without skin what would you do?' [Remember, the metal sheet over an aircraft ribs is called 'skin'.]

Lydia looked down, frowned and raised her head slowly, caressing her right arm with her incredibly strong left one. Without a smile, and moist eyes she expressed 'can we wait to see if it grows.', we explained that it may, but the doctor would have to look at it and help make that decision over this weekend. Straightening her shoulders, she said 'then if it is needed, I would need more surgery'. There was no sign of her usual smile, that cheesy heart warming 'Lydia smile' that propels us onwards in this re-constructive epic.

We explained that, IF another skin graft was needed it would not be as big a deal as the earlier surgery and the amount of skin to be taken from her other leg would be small (er). Her look was not one of a convinced person. I felt like a dirty rag on the floor having to have this conversation with this gemstone of a young person. However, I cannot be present to have that conversation should it be the case, and it is more than 50% likely to be the case, from what we can see. Patricia stood behind Lydia, her hand draped onto the little shoulder, face down-turned. These two young women, aviatrices to the core, both normally as bright as the midday sun, ready to fly as long as the fuel will last, both grounded in emotion of the challenges that still lie ahead.

Fortunately for me, Alberta the amazing Physio, sat with us, Alberta is our lifeline and constant hand holder (and hand massager and hand exerciser) on this voyage. Alberta has the 'real spirit of caring', and she provides informed strength and encouragement, and can relate to the two younger West African sistas. Alberta offered her words of reassurance and her hugs of caring - and we all retook our positions of strength. Our smiles slowly returning to our faces and our stoic spirits plugged back into our sources of motivation - that of changing lives, one flight at a time.

We talked about the work to be done in rural Ghana and the nett outcomes of all of these challenges, realising that Alberta and Dr Ampomah are now woven into the Medicine on the Move fabric, our own special MoM Kente hand woven with the shuttles weaving more and more lives into our living strips of cloth, stitching them together to create a blanket of caring support for more and more people, the colours varied and the texture diverse.

Never in all my wildest thoughts and dreams could I have imagined the effect on so many lives of a little girl, a very special little girl who, over the past year, has learned so much and demonstrated such a strength of character - who has become a pacemaker for many of our activities - daily reminding us that 'the time to make it happen is NOW', every smile and every hug letting us feel the love that is in the people we need to reach, many of them never having had any health education, and to do all that is possible in the encouragement of community health empowerment...

We have been able to complete half of one of the accommodation units (well it will be this week), meaning that Lydia will be able to move to airfield into a clean and suitable home in the girls hostel. WE hope to raise the funds to pay the balance of Lydia's surgery, complete the hostels, build a trauma clinic, complete the 4 seat ambulance and kick start massively the work on the lake during the coming weeks.

Thank YOU for the support you have given,not only financial, but equally and in may ways more importantly in the giving of your time, provision of transport, accommodation for weary travellers, meals, prayers and those so so so valuable words of encouragement that help us to keep on doing what we do - and you are a part of it. For those who have been able to visit Lydia, it has meant so much to her, IF you would like to visit her, especially since we cannot provide visits as we have now we are travelling, she is in the Re-constructive Plastic Surgery and Burns Unit at Korle Bu - it is behind the Maternity block... (directions below) - just ask for the little pilot - all of the staff know that she flies (and is teaching them all their check lists!)

Have a great weekend.

Regards from the MoM Ghana Team

To get to Korle Bu Hospital, go from Kwame Nkrumah circle, towards Obsetsebi Lamptey Circle, keep going straight (About 3km) till you can see the red and white James Town Lighthouse to the left and the road past that last traffic light bears right. TURN RIGHT AT THE LIGHT do not go over that light!!!! ... Korle bu is on the right after about 1,5km

Captain Yaw reports....

"Lydia is currently in and out of consciousness - she was calling
'Alpha Alpha Runway 19 last night... she has to return for flap
transfers from thigh and back tomorrow... We really appreciate the
team support! Thank you all!"

Dr. Ampomah

"Dr Ampomah - appears to live between the ward and the theatre... really is a lovely chap - THANKS RESURG AFRICA..."

Our little butterfly with her injured wing will be flying soon!

Enjoy the Journey!
~ Karlene

Friday, June 17, 2011

Friday Fabulous Flyer: Curt Alexander

Curt Alexander
Like father like son, Curt hadn’t always wanted to be a pilot. But growing up in an aviation family with an Airline Captain for a Dad and a mother as an ex-flight attendant, you know that it was in the back of his mind. Yet he was undecided and searching. I seem to remember his dad, Bob Alexander, searching too.

Curt said, “Of course my parents were supportive of whatever I would choose. My dad just said to do what makes you happy.”

Curt Jumpseating with Bob in dad's A330 at Delta
Bob Jumpseating with Curt on Compass

Accepted into Central Washington University (C.W.U), he still wasn’t sure which direction to go. He decided to join the Army Airborne. Unfortunately after months of training he discovered that he had a stress fracture that would take many months to heal. He had the option to stay in and spend six months or longer attempting rebuild is leg, with a high probability of it breaking again, or he could take a medical discharge.

He opted to be honorably discharged because he realized that he, too, wanted to become a pilot. A far better career flying planes than jumping out of them. Within weeks, at the age of 19, he was enrolled into the C.W.U. aviation program in September of 2000.

He earned a four-year degree and obtained his flight ratings then became an instructor at Wings Aloft at Boeing Field. It wasn’t long until he was flying charter flights for them, too. Charter flights and instructing wasn’t quite enough to pay the bills, so like all dedicated pilots he held down a second job— one that most pilots would envy as a brewer at Mac and Jacks.

Mac & Jacks

Great fortune occurred when Curt got hired at Mesaba. But unfortunately after about a year and a half he was furloughed. Unfortunate might not be the right word in Curt’s case.

When he was first hired by Mesaba airlines, he didn’t have enough hours to work for Compass. But his year at Mesaba, he earned that much needed experience and time. And then it gets better—Compass was giving preferential interviews to Mesaba’s furloughed pilots. Within three months Curt slid on over.

He’s now based in Minneapolis flying as a First Officer at Compass Airlines. He's been there since February 2010 and loving his career choice.  

Curt and BoB... flying in dad's footsteps
What was life like with a dad for a pilot?

“As for growing up with a pilot as a dad, it was definitely different. There were stretches of time where he was gone, and a few moves while we were young. But my parents made an effort to keep my sister and I in one place once we were a little older, even if that meant a commute for my dad. We were fortunate enough to see much of the world as a family. I would say that gave me a different perspective on the world growing up. And it definitely gave me the travel bug at an early age. By ten I knew how to bargain with the street vendors in Hong Kong to get a good price on a watch. Overall I admired my dad and how he pursued his dream. He simply said, ‘I am going to be an airline pilot’ and did.”

What is Curt’s favorite thing about flying?

“Well that would definitely be the traveling. Not many jobs take you to so many places. A lot of them I would never have thought of visiting. I also enjoy the ever-changing schedules. I would never fit happily into a 9-5 setting. I look forward to flying internationally in the future though.”

Curt’s parents were wise enough to allow him to find himself—Apparently a central theme through the generations of Alexander men. And this amazing young man never looked at the misfortune of a broken leg, a furlough, or hard work, as something to stop him from pursuing his dreams. And with each setback, another door opened. A great lesson everyone can take away with his story.

Fly safe Curt and continue to enjoy the journey you call your life. I know your dad is proud of you too! I’m looking forward to flying an international trip with you one day. It will happen. 

Enjoy the Journey!

~ Karlene

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Send The Love

Another on-time arrival! I'm home after eight days on the road with a warm bed waiting for me. But while my body may be in Seattle, my heart and prayers are in Ghana with a special young lady: Lydia Westi.

Today Lydia needs strength, hope, encouragement and prayers. Please take the time to read the email that Jonathan Porter sent to me. Please comment and leave Lydia a message. He will read them to her, and your words will help to get her through this frightening and painful journey in her life.

"Hi there 'friends of Lydia - the disabled young lady working towards becoming a health education pilot'!

Lydia Westi is in the hospital for her surgery on the 16th June.  She will be in hospital for three weeks.'  She will be admitted to Korle Bu for surgery by Dr Ampomah who received specialist training in Glasgow via Resurg Africa. Click HERE to see more.  

Many of you know Lydia personally, Just over a year ago we found Lydia, then 14 years old, working in the market, her right arm suffering from a severe contracture, still bleeding and covered in thick yellow pussy crusts - over 10 years since the incident started and having less than 2 years in any school.  We took her into the MoM/WAASPS family and today, her arm is clean, infection free and covered in fresh skin, she has put on weight, started using a computer, reading and writing to her age group level, has started learning to fly a plane, is capable of running the tower-radio at the airfield on her own (with a great radio voice) and still owns the smile that warms the heart of all that meet her.  We are all proud of her and wish her well in her surgery.  Lydia was one of the key catalysts in the creation of the AvTech Academy, and is the youngest student in our special Vocademic training school.

This will be the first of three or four surgeries that will take place over the next 18months to two years.  We are all excited and also a little scared, as always with somebody who is about to have a slice of flesh, skin and muscle removed from their back, then have a large amount of the skin around their arm peeled back, vessels and tendons carefully released and some repositioning made before grafting the skin and muscle flap (they call it flap surgery) and then fix the arm in position whilst it all starts to heal.  BUT it is a start - and we want to thank all of you for being a part of getting Lydia to the point she is at today, physically, mentally and emotionally.

We are told that the initial cost of the first surgery will be $4,000, which will be paid to Korle Bu on the morning of 12th June, plus we will be looking for volunteers to take food to her every day (we cannot be there everyday with the airfield, school, MoM and the operations), provide visits of encouragement and post-op support of the kind that we all need - happy smiling, friendly faces - can you help? There will be other costs associated, as always, dressings, post-op stuff, etc.  So the challenge list is high.

Preparing for surgery Lydia went to the airport to say good-bye to the planes and the people she works with. She took a flight, kissed the planes good-bye, and told everyone she will be back soon. 

We are hoping that when Lydia comes out from surgery, about five weeks from now, she will move into the new accommodation unit at the airfield - a clean fresh environment that will further reduce the risks of post-operative challenges.  We are close to achieving that too... Nonetheless, this is going to be a challenging time.

Please, if you would like to help, either towards the surgery and care costs, completion of the girls hostel, daily prayers for her surgery and recovery, or with visits, physio, send a letter or a photo of encouragement, a small you-tube (low res please) get well message... we can even arrange a skype call for her - all of these things are part of her recovery.

For this little young lady, who is a real demonstration of rural Ghanaian resiliency and response to being given the opportunity to do something amazing, we look to you all to work together as a team with us - as she goes on to get her pilots license, probably to become the first disabled pilot to be issued a license from ab-initio, and reaches out to her fellow Ghanaians, changing lives one flight at a time.... we need to work now to change her life, one surgery at a time, one physio session at a time and, I have no doubts, several days of tears at a time.  

You can see Lydia flying at and you can read about her here:

If you have not met her.... well, you need to, because this is one special young lady with a real heart, as you can read in her essay that won a prize in an international competition -

When you read that... you will understand!!!

Thank you those who have already supported this, and in advance for those who will be on hand in body, mind and spirit in the coming weeks.

Thank you all."

Jonathan Porter / Capt. Yaw
We Love you Lydia! Soon you'll spread those wings and fly!

Enjoy the Journey!

~ Karlene

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Reflections on the Road...

We said good night to the sun as we departed Atlanta, and then we met her on the other side of the ocean as she crested the horizon to say good morning before our arrival into Amsterdam.

The previous eight days I've flown with a different crew each leg, visited Ireland for the first time, flew with crew members I hadn't seen for years, met many wonderful people and connected with new friends. This is what aviation is all about... The journey. The adventure. Connecting the world.

The job is more than flying, its about the crew and the people we meet on the road.  The good people sharing their lives one flight at a time. A moment of laughter, dinner, a glass of wine... friendships are born. Then we depart and fly into the sunset in different directions. Better off for the time we spent together.

Greg, Renee, Harry, Jennifer, An, Terry, Me, and Cynthia
A wonderful evening in Amsterdam with a great crew. And in the center of our group is my friend An, who drove two hours to join us.

An Alons and Karlene

An and I met on Twitter and we clicked from the very beginning. I am so glad to know this special woman, and feel honored she would drive so far so we could meet. I'm looking forward to our future friendship and the many adventures we have in store.

Next stop... Seattle.

Enjoy the Journey!

~ Karlene

Monday, June 13, 2011

Monday Motivation ... the Journey to Happiness

"The key to life is Happiness... 
The key to happiness is aviation!"
Jasmine Clarke
 And This time we found happiness in Dublin Ireland.

Arrival into Dublin, filled with magic and luck of the Irish, was nothing short of spectacular. And the magic continued... 

Atlanta to Dublin, and we're on the crew bus. I sat beside one of our flight attendants and we began chatting. Where do you live?  Seattle. Where did you go to high school. Highline. What year did you graduate? 1980. Wow! Me too! Yes... we graduated from the same high school... Laurel, nice to see you again.

Lauel and Karlene after a long flight... Go Pirates!

We happened to arrive in Dublin during the weekend of a Taste of Ireland.  A walk through town, expert travel tips from Leanne, and a beautiful day filled our layover. 

Then at the AULD DUB we listened to the local talent of Brian Brody. Fabulous singer and great entertainer. Brian on Facebook

Karlene and Brian

Deb, Leanne, Karlene and Leslie

And then who should I find in Ireland? Darby~ Miss D.B. was waiting for our arrival in Dublin. The first photo I have with her. Classic.  (Yes, she really is a redhead despite what she claims.) What a great surprise this was.

Karlene and Darby

We had a great layover. Leanne, thank you for the great travel tips. Darby stayed on with some friends. I returned to the U.S. and got the landing. We're planning on meeting up in Holland with An!

Ireland Travel Tip:

 Take the Dart Train to Howth (Not the junction, but to the end)  

Baily Point
  • Take the number #1 train from Tara Station near Liffey River and Trinity College. 
  • Hike the Sea Wall to the summit and take the trail (above) back down, or the bus.
  •  Eat at the Oar House on the Pier.
    • Make reservations first, then hike the trail. Round trip will take about two hours.
  • Or you can pack a picnic and dine at the top of the cliffs. 
  • The Abbey Tavern, with open fire pits, is great for Irish coffees. 

If you stay in town, find your way to the Auld Dub... not to be confused with the "Old Dub."

Tomorrow ~ Amsterdam, as the adventure continues.

Enjoy the Journey