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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, August 31, 2011

A330 Fun Fact

Yesterday we followed a 747-400 across the Pacific. A few occasional bumps, and longer than planned flight plan, but we found Tokyo.

The arrival into Nartia's International Airport was busy. We held, were vectored, and change runways the last minute due to a shift in winds. Which by the way never actually shifted until the company behind us. What is the max tailwind to land the A330?

Now for A330 Trivia....

Did you know there is a way to unlock the cockpit door of the A330 from the inside the flight deck without using your hands? I'm thinking that this could question could win you a few beers.

How do you do it?

On the top left corner of the overhead panel you'll find the CKPT DOOR CONT panel. Notice the two black circles below the words CKPT and CONT? Well, those are pressure sensors. All you have to do is blow! The sensors will notice a different pressure and the door will unlock.

Yes... it's true! How do I know? We did this on the flight into Tokyo yesterday. Time to fly... and I'm off to Bangkok.

Enjoy the Journey!

XOX Karlene

Wednesday Wellness: All About Exercise

"Off the Record Q & A with a Local A.M.E."

DR. Larry

Dr. Larry, I received a great question from one of our readers about weightlifting….

“Pilots need to maintain cardiovascular and overall fitness throughout their lives, and aerobic exercise is usually the main means of doing so. Do you recommend pilots also do weightlifting? Is weightlifting healthy, and do the benefits outweigh the negatives?”

I’d never thought of any negatives about weight lifting, only benefits—Increases metabolism, creates strong bones, and prevents back issues with demands of carrying luggage around the world. We would all love to hear your advice. Also, in alignment with this question, what type of exercise would you recommend for pilots to maintain overall good health? Is there one exercise better than the other for optimal health specific to the job?

Good question Karlene, and more power to the pilot who stays fit. For the record, let’s acknowledge that fitness is both physical and mental. Also, the following are my beliefs, based upon 30 years of sports medicine in addition to watching my patients, friends, relatives and myself getting older.

Anyone with experience knows staying fit is much easier than getting fit. As we age, we lose muscle mass, making it harder to do things we did when we were younger. Daily living requires some level of muscle and cardiovascular ability. Climbing stairs, getting out of chairs, lifting bags out of cars and planes are examples of simple activities requiring strength. Balance, coordination, and personal independence demand muscle tone. What's more, when muscles atrophy joints tend to deteriorate. The question then isn’t why to stay strong but rather, how and when do we make it happen?

Time is in short supply for most of us and sad as it sounds, people in general have a limited amount of time to take care of themselves. Given the most critical aspects of wellness are cardiovascular and cerebrovascular health, I recommend aerobic type workouts first and foremost. We can be structurally weak and still live well, but not when we are cardiac weak. Twenty to thirty minutes per day, four to five days per week of raising one's breathing (and heart rate) to a level slightly harder than normal will meet minimum benefits.

The next best activity is strength training and there is no down side if done correctly. Fifteen to twenty minutes, two to four days a week of mild to moderate training will maintain or improve strength. Working on repetition rather than max weights will go further for the casual lifter. One can do both upper and lower body in the same session. If working out more often, vary between upper and lower body to give a day between lifting to allow for muscle rebuilding.

Lastly, yoga, Pilates or tai chi are encouraged to help with flexibility, core strength and mental alertness, among other benefits. These too take time yet they can be done while traveling if one has the desire and a bit of creativity.

Everyone has different tastes and goals when it comes to exercise. Most of us can't do everything, so the key is pick something, or things you like, do them consistently and don’t let home or travel provide an excuse. Remember, doing something is far better than nothing, then pat yourself on the back.

P.S. If it makes you feel better, few people actually “enjoy” exercising for the sake of exercise, and it's often said, the best feeling of exercise is taking the shoes off when it’s over!

To your good health,

Dr. Larry Greenblatt

Advanced Senior AME

Heart Attack and Stroke Prevention

Family and Sports Medicine

Thank you Dr. Larry for the excellent advice. And... for the record, I love to exercise for the sake of exercise. I actually can hardly wait until I put on my tennis shoes!

For everyone who is busy, but still finds time to exercise, how do you do it?

Enjoy the Journey!

XOX Karlene

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The Flight Deck....

Aviators can't navigate without a bit of humor in their day... and the joke for me yesterday was, I had two days remaining on reserve and scheduling called for a 13 day trip!

Narita. Bangkok. Singapore. Shanghai.

Heading East tomorrow. But before I go, I must ask an important aviation question...

What do you call the Flight Deck, alias Cockpit, if there are all women pilots flying?

My friend Zyola just sent me a link to her newest endeavor:

Coming soon... this looks like a ton of fun!

Now, since I'm heading on the road... sky... someplace out there, I will have stories and photos galore! Stay tuned... the fun has just begun!

But 13 days away from home? Seriously?
Yes... I can do anything for 13 days!

Enjoy the Journey!

XOX Karlene

Monday, August 29, 2011

Monday Motivation: Lack of Limitation

"My fear of lack and
limitation, has created
the lack and limitation
- I am experiencing
right now."

Author of The Soul Whisperer

"One of our greatest fears, is the fear of lack or limitation; either not having enough, or the inability to make more - of what we want. This deep rooted feeling is a fearful one, where we are always dreading - the worst.

The problem with this is that your fear - will ultimately come to create - exactly what you are fearful of.

With this understanding, make sure that you prevent this from ever happening, in your life. Let go of all your fears about lack and limitation today - so that this situation will never be given the opportunity to be created in the future."

No limitations. No fear. Spread your wings and you too shall fly!

Enjoy the Journey!

~ Karlene

Thursday, August 25, 2011

William E. Boeing, Jr.

Friday's Fabulous Flyer

William E. Boeing, Jr.

Last night I had the great honor of being part of history, as William Boeing Jr. was honored with the first-ever Red Barn Heritage Award. The Museum of Flight's vision is to be the foremost educational air and space museum in the world, and William E. Boeing Jr. has spent a lifetime committed to furthering this vision through education and preserving aerospace history.

William Boeing Jr. and Karlene

While Boeing's career has been vast and far-reaching, he's never traveled far from the roots his family planted in Seattle. Of his most important achievements was his saving, moving and restoring the Red Barn... Where the first Boeing planes were made and beats as the heart of The Museum of Flight.

Bill Boeing and Joe Sutter

Among the many guests honoring Mr. Boeing tonight was Joe Sutter... Mr. 747 himself. Who happened to be the first person I recognized at the party. We had a nice little chat and he told me a couple things about the Boeing and the Airbus.

Karlene and Joe Sutter

When I told Joe that I was now flying an Airbus he said, "Airplanes are supposed to do what the pilot tells them not the other way around. The difference between Boeing and Airbus is the Airbus tells the pilot what to do. That's wrong! The pilot should tell the plane what to do. And you can tell those Airbus people I said that. What are they going to do to me anyway? I'm ninety years old."

Robbi and Doug DeVries... Thank You both for a wonderful evening. We had a fabulous time, and we're both looking forward to our sculpture/wine release/book signing party. Maybe we could invite Billy Joel for Kathy.

Dick (My hubby) and Karlene

Enjoy the Journey!

~ Karlene

Fly Right Films

"Listen up, Read Back, Fly Right"

Yesterday afternoon I had the opportunity to meet four outstanding individuals- Chris Jules, Kirby Kauffman, Charlie Hewitt, and Steve Rychetnik, who are all making a difference in Aviation Safety.

The Fly Right Team flew in from Anchorage Alaska to do some preliminary shooting for volume three of the Aviator Series with Dick Rutan, and to promote Max-Viz. I was honored to join them at Seattle's museum of flight to meet these talented folks, and discuss some future projects. They also came with gifts~ two videos from their aviator series with Dick Rutan: Attitude Flying, volume one, and Decision Making, volume two.

I spent the evening watching both. Side note: I had the great opportunity to speak with Dick Rutan, with my co-hosts, during a interview, and I wish I'd viewed these videos before hand. I learned so much more about Dick Rutan through these films. They captured his passion and emotion, and showed his commitment to aviation safety and his love of flight. Our Flightpodcast interview will be posted soon, along with a more detailed discussion on the power of these videos.

For now, I'll say that these films are entertaining, beautifully choreographed, educational, and bar none the best I've seen. But wait, I fly an Airbus for a major airline... why should I watch a general aviation training film? I'm just sayin... we never stop learning, and there is always time for aviation humor. For all GA pilots, these videos are a must see. For everyone else... these videos are a must see.

Fly Right Team~ you do excellent work!

Chris, Kirby, Charlie, and Steve

Inspiration comes in many ways, and I find it fascinating learning where genius originates. The short story on how Fly Right Films came to be ...

Charlie and Chris were operating Mirror Studios in California. A recording studio; TV, radio, music, voice over, etc., Charlie moves to Alaska, has always loved aviation, and realizes aviation safety is lacking. He cold calls the F.A.A. and Mirror Studios ends up doing a series of aviation safety videos. Check out the titles of the films... they all happen to be "Fly Right" ... and thus Fly Right Films has branched out as an entity of its own, under Mirror Studios. Charlie meets Dick Rutan at Oshkosh, one thing leads to another, and here they are making the aviation world safer. Did I mention that Charlie began his flying during film one, and received his pilot's license during film two?

With Right Films you will...

Rediscover the thrill~

If flying feels more like a means to an end than a passport to adventure, it’s time to rediscover the thrill, spirit and wonder of flight you may have forgotten.

Realize your potential~

That’s our objective in each Fly Right film – to rekindle the thrill and wonder of flying – to rediscover that spirit of accomplishment – as you explore, learn and realize your potential to be the very best pilot you can be.

I am very fortunate to have met Kirby, the production coordinator, and her team. My eldest daughter told me that I collect friends. But heck, how can I not when incredible people keep showing up in my life? An interesting note, my condo in Anchorage is just a few blocks from the Fly Right Films office...We were destined to meet.

Please follow Fly Right Films on Twitter and Facebook. And check out their films, the quality is outstanding. Watch here for more detail on the videos, a sneak peek at what they're doing, and for some fabulous giveaways, too.

Question of the day:

Do you know the correlation between Sex and a Flight Test? After you watch the films you will. Did I say these films are educational and entertaining, or what?

Take a guess (keep it clean for the kids) and if you guess right (and haven't scene the films) you will win an autographed copy of my novel, Flight For Control... released soon!

Enjoy the Journey!

~ Karlene

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Loss of License

"Off the Record Q & A with a Local A.M.E."

DR. Larry

Dr. Larry,

I think one of the greatest concerns for pilots, and a major reason for their not disclosing everything they should to their AME, is their fear of loss of license.

Can you tell us what events will cause a pilot to permanently lose their medical?

On the other side of that coin, if a pilot fails an item on the test—high blood pressure, eye-site, ECG, etc.,—what happens?

Do you report the event to the FAA? Or do you enable the pilot to do what it takes to pass the medical?


Pilots are the most passionate of anyone having control of a motorized vehicle, so of course their great fear is loss of license. Commercial pilots are also at risk for loss of income. Even though far less than 1% of all medical exams result in a denial, everyone seems to have heard a story about the pilot who went in feeling fine and ended up losing their license. In reality, the majority of those who have their license denied are due to “failure to provide” requested information.

Per our Regional Flight Surgeon, most pilots are surprised that over 90% of all airman walk out of their FAA exam with their medical certificate. This is compatible with my 30 plus years of experience although more than 95% leave with certificate in hand.

While few, the medical problems which can cause loss of license are significant. Examples include a stroke with or without a significant neurologic deficit, or a diabetic requiring insulin who requests a First or Second class medical. (Third class applicants however can fly with insulin under a Special Issuance). There is also a short list of other disorders which may result in denials. Even within this group, many have the possibility for Special Issuance, such as returning to flight status following a heart attack.

A bigger issue for both pilot and examiner occurs when something presents during the exam, such as an abnormal ECG, failing of the visual exam, or a medication is listed which is not compatible with flying. At these times, the AME has some decisions to make, and these should be made in concert with the airman.

Most problems that come up typically require further explanation and perhaps a medical report from the treating physician (eg, hypertension, hypothyroidism, kidney stones, and DUI). One option open to the AME is the ability to put “on-hold” an application while the airman gathers the necessary records. The AME has only a limited number of days before they must submit the completed form; between 7 to 10 days maximum. During this time an airman is not typically grounded. If the pilot is proactive and has the reports when they come in for their exam, these health concerns can often be dealt with on the spot by a knowledgeable AME or by the AME contacting the Regional Flight Surgeon for clearance. The proactive pilot will then be in the best position for not losing any time in the air due to lack of or delay in certification.

There likely will be times in a pilot’s career when they are faced with health issues that can potentially ground them. A broken leg or gallbladder surgery are examples. The Guide for Aviation Medical Examiners holds nearly all the protocols and dispositions the AME must follow. However, a trusted and knowledgeable AME has the ability and leeway to help a pilot navigate unforeseen turbulence, especially when the airman is willing to be proactive in their approach to their medical exams. For this reason, we advise all our pilots to call or email with flight related health questions anytime and especially before presenting for their medicals.
To your good health,

Dr. Larry
Advanced Senior AME
Heart Attack and Stroke Prevention
Family and Sports Medicine

Thank you Dr. Larry!

Please continue to send me your questions. Everything you wanted to know, but were afraid to ask.

Enjoy the Journey!

~ Karlene

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Prague: my favorite city

Last week my adventure landed me in Prague for 24 hours. We napped and then hit the streets to explore one of the most gorgeous cities in the world.

But first, a funny thing happened before I arrived. The first officer I'd flown with earlier in the week said, "My cousin lives in Prague." What are the odds of that? Especially since she originally lived in Seattle.

My new friend guided us through this beautiful city, and I can't remember laughing so much. Robin and Tanya, were part of the crew that made for the perfect day. Thank you all for the smiles!

And the journey continued...

To my friends in Prague, thank you so much for the great time. It was wonderful to meet you all! And don't forget girls vacation is in the planning stages... you'll be there! For everyone else... take a trip to Prague. You won't go wrong.

Enjoy the Journey!

~ Karlene

Monday, August 22, 2011


Monday Motivation:

Never underestimate the power of resistance...

It's the force you need to take flight,

even if you're just flying a kite.

Today I'm sharing my blog with the magnificent Martin King. Martin is on a to write "100 blogs as a child" during the month of August. Please welcome Martin, and his memory of one of his favourite toys... a kite.

Nowadays there is a whole of amazing toys that young kids can have bought for them. Back in my day it was pretty simple. And one of those simple toys was known as a kite.

Whenever we would go to the seaside a child’s kite was always a welcome friend. With the wind whipping in from the sea, once you got it up, you often could it flying for hours. The beach would always be stocked with children and their kites.

Now a kite invariably consisted of a diamond shape piece of material stretched over two bits of wood and attached to a very, long piece of string. Bit with the advancement of technology, so did the progress of those magnificent flying machines.

First of all they went bigger and with more colours to choose from, even multicoloured. Then you had the box kite. It was what it says on the tin, a kit in the shape of a box. I never owned one of those, but man, did they look impressive.

But there is only so much fun you can have running up the beach pulling a piece of string and then back the other way. There was nothing else you could do with a kite. Well that is until the storm chasers came out.

These babies had not one, but two pieces of string which meant you could now actually control the kite. You could make if fly in any direction you wanted and if you were good, even dive bomb your sister and her girly friends. The only problem for was I kept getting the strings tangled together.

These blogs are all about fun and sharing. Thank you for reading a ‘#100blogfest’ blog. Please click HERE to find the next blog in the series.

Enjoy the journey! Tomorrow it's all about Prague.

~ Karlene

Friday, August 19, 2011

Regina Brooks

Friday's Fabulous Flyer

Pilot. Author. Agent. Entrepreneur.

The first weekend in August I was sitting in the audience at the PNWA writers’ conference listening to a rather large panel of agents introduce themselves. I elbowed my critique sister, Linda, and said, “I like her!” That “her” happened to be Regina Brooks.

I’m not going to bore you with the lengthy details of how I ended up meeting this woman. But I will tell you there were multiple twists of fate, and the moon aligning with the north star, that lead me to her side. And to discover her agency is the “Serendipity” Literary Agency… what could be a better name?

The first thing Regina said when I told her I was a pilot was, “I’m a pilot too!” and then she pulled out her iPhone to show me the picture of her pride and joy—N2224K, her beautiful Piper she just purchased with some friends as they formed the Brooklyn Aviation flying club.

Regina Brooks, Roscindo Burnett, Alfred James, Darrell Barthobmew

An agent who’s a pilot? I knew there was a reason I liked Regina. Okay… her passion, energy, confidence, and her award-winning smile had something to do with it, too.

After the conference I met with Regina a SeaTac Airport and waited with her before her flight back to New York. Regina told me that she’s wanted to fly since she was in gymnastics as a child. Flipping and flying in the air was her passion—she couldn't get high enough. She was headed for the skies. From that childhood experience she’d decided she was going to be an astronaut. Why not?

She earned a degree in Aerospace Engineering from Ohio State, and went to work for N.A.S.A. She was on a trajectory headed to space. But to become an astronaut she needed to have a specialty. She was accepted into Howard University with plans for a Bio-medical engineering degree in aerospace medicine.

And then she became sidetracked with publishing business. A great distraction that was. Despite the fact that she’s worked in publishing for 19 years and started the Serendipity Literary Agency 11 years ago, her dreams of flying have never wavered.

Her passion for flight has brought her full circle. She’s in planes and meeting female pilots who are authors, and authors who are writing about pilots. Is there a bit of Serendipity going on here? I think yes.

Regina has held senior editorial positions at John Wiley and Sons and McGraw-Hill. She is the author of Essences Magazine’s quick pick children’s book: Never Finished! Never Done! She’s written many books for YA. She’s currently writing a book, “You (Really) Should Write a Book: Writing, Selling and Marketing Your Memoir (St. Martin’s Press). She blogs for Huffington Post, is on the faculty of the Harvard University publishing program, and has been highlighted in several national and international magazines and periodicals including Forbes, Media Bistro, Writers and Poets, Essence Magazine, Writers Digest Magazine, The writer, and Sitster2Sister Magazine.

Left Brain meets Right Brain...

Regina is one of those kindred spirits that lives in both sides of her head. She is a Left and Right brain person. Creativity meets Productivity—A person whose right brain flows with ideas, and then left brain takes over with the "know-how" to bring those ideas to market. Be it writing books, forming a company… or creating a flying club.

Regina, I am sure we were not a just a chance meeting. I’m suspecting you will be having a flying event all your own in New York next March… or attending mine in Seattle. Our paths crossed for a reason, and we’ll take that reason to new heights!

Regina and Serendipity just started a new Facebook Page. "Like" them at You can speak directly to them and trust me, they love hearing from you. Please drop by Twitter @Serendipitylit# and say hello to this superstar.

Enjoy the Journey!

~ Karlene

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Non-stop JFK to Prague

The sun had long since dipped beyond the horizon and dusk was slowly being swallowed by the night. Cleared to taxi, passengers patiently awaited our departure as we crept along the tarmac towards the runway.

We climbed to 37,000 feet, and did a little slopping over the Atlantic.

To SLOP has nothing to do with feeding your pigs, and everything to do with navigation.

Strategic Lateral Offset Procedure

Did you know that our Navigation is so accurate that we intentionally take ourselves off track, 1-2 miles to the right of course so we're all not flying over the top of each other? Tis true.

And then we arrived in Prague. Beautiful country... but I was sitting in the seat and unable to capture the Kodak moment. Perhaps tomorrow.

The first officer, from my last crew, has a cousin who lives here and she is meeting us tonight to take us on a walking tour and out to dinner. Which means... time to nap. Play time later.
Until then....

Enjoy the Journey!

~ Karlene

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Trust and your A.M.E.

"Off the Record Q & A with a Local A.M.E."

DR. Larry

Dr. Larry,

One of the pilots’ greatest concerns is the loss of their medical by their FAA physician finding something that will disqualify them. Thus the pilots don’t openly discuss issues, or potential concerns with their AME.

Can you please explain the requirement, if any, that you must report something that a pilot brings to your attention outside the actual FAA exam?

For example—I have just received my First Class physical from you. Then one month later I come to you with concerns of high blood pressure. I come to you as my physician, not my AME. Are you required by some “FAA law” to report my high blood pressure and pull my medical? Or, do you have the flexibility to work with me so in six months I will be able to pass the next exam?

Is there anything that a pilot may bring to you that you will have to ground them?


Many FAA Medical Examiners (AMEs) wear two hats. One hat is worn while functioning as a contracted designee for the FAA. The other hat is worn as a primary care physician (PCP).

As a pilot’s PCP, the physician has no obligation to report any particular health issue. The responsibility and liability for reporting to the FAA is strictly upon the shoulders of the airman.

One exception could be if the physician became aware of an illegal activity threatening safety.

A potential conflict can arise if a general physical and FAA exam are performed at the same time since withholding significant information at that time would place the examiner’s designation in jeopardy. Therefore, one could theorize it may be best to keep the two exams separate.

My basic premise is this: if something is serious enough to raise the eyebrows of the FAA and a pilot does not report it, they are putting themselves in a liability position, let alone compromising their health. Utilizing your AME to help navigate the mine fields can help minimize collateral damage, and will most likely surprise you as to the liberality of the FAA.

Is it necessary to have two different doctors?

The answer is no if:

  1. The pilot is willing to work through health issues, which come up during the wellness exam.
  2. The pilot is working with an AME/PCP they trust and who understands the system.

The FAA encourages AMEs to be user friendly, and to assist pilots when necessary even when the certification process is not straight forward. However, as in any business, some examiners are more helpful than others. Don’t be afraid to ask your AME which side of the fence they are on. Trust is a key part of any relationship, and having that trust with an AME goes a long way to having your AME be your advocate when issues do arise, as they surely will.

To your good health,

Dr. Larry

Advanced Senior AME

Heart Attack and Stroke Prevention

Family and Sports Medicine

P.S. For those of you who like me, remember how the FAA was 20 plus years ago, (obstructive, tiresome, etc.), it’s a different, friendlier attitude now, focused on keeping and returning pilots to flying status as quickly as possible, in the safest way possible.

Dr. Larry will be with us every Wednesday answering all those questions you were afraid to ask. For more on Dr. Larry click HERE

For all the pilots out there, I'm curious... is this what you thought the A.M.E. was all about?

Thank you Dr. Larry for enlightening all of us!

Enjoy the Journey.

~ Karlene

Tuesday, August 16, 2011


I have quite the life...

A couple days ago I was sipping Sangria on the beach in Barcelona, and yesterday morning I awoke in Istanbul and took a swim after spending the day exploring the city.

Then I flew to New York. Tonight my journey continues to Prague.

Enjoy your journey!

~ Karlene