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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, February 29, 2012

Change of Hats

Pilot hat off. Grandma Hat on. My youngest grandson waited for me to get home from my trip before he made his entry into the world. Taxing in at SeaTac ... "mom's in labor!" Timing has always been perfect and I've made it in time for all (6) of their births.

This time my duty was to babysit the big sisters.


"I'm a week old now"

Weighing in at 6 lbs, 11 oz, and 18 inches long, he has room to grow... and grow he must if he's to fight off his sisters dressing him in doll clothes and painting his nails. Another pilot in the making? Perhaps.

Kalimar and Dylan (mom and dad) Kadence (4 in April) Kohyn (17 months)
Anthony... 1 day.

This little guy is healthy, content, and so far a good sleeper. And his big sister Kadence has been waiting a long time to hold her baby, "Amphony." She's going to be a great big sister. Kohyn... we might have to keep an eye on her for awhile.

Kadence loving her baby

And these feet... they will carry him far...

Enjoy the journey!

XOX Karlene

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Women Celebrating Flight

More than 100 aircraft piloted by pilots from 8 countries are getting ready to celebrate the centennial of Harriet Quimby's crossing of the English Channel by flying over the English Channel between England's Headcorn Aerodrome and France's Le Touquet Airport.

March 10, 2012

Girls and women will discover flying in small aircraft celebrating this occasion.

We are calling all pilots worldwide to join the flying excitement, and introduce a woman to aviation. Make sure you register at Women Of Aviation Week, then return to the site to submit your reports before March 14, 2012, to make your female intro flights count.

Women Of Aviation Worldwide Week—

March 5-11, 2012.

I am going to be in Dallas Texas at the Women in Aviation Conference during this time, inspiring and supporting women to take their flying to the next level. I have the most incredible job in the world, and it's an honor to be a mentor and a role model to other young ladies who want to follow down this flight path.

I’ll also be interviewing for scholarship recipients for ISA, International Society of Women Airline Pilots. Professional women airline pilots coming together to support and celebrate our future pilots.

March 5-11, we can all support women. From taking that first flight, to promoting education and enabling dreams by helping others achieve their potential and success.

Then more excitement.

Renton Fly It Forward Event

will be March 24th

Email to register. Just leave a message that you want to fly and directions will come your way. Jenny Gao, Aviation High School Senior is hosting the event for her senior project. She has got an incredible day planned!

What can you do during the Women Of Aviation Worldwide Week—March 5-11, 2012?

Enjoy the Journey!

XOX Karlene

Monday, February 27, 2012

Monday Motivation: Today

Live in the moment and know that today is perfect.
You will meet people, visit new destinations, and be given doors to open.
It's up to you to say hello, take the journey, and walk through boldly.

Today is another flight on the wing of life. Embrace every moment.
Live Today!

The excitement never ends. I just got in from Tokyo and the text message says ... daughter is in labor! Grandson Anthony is on his way. Another grandchild (number 6) waits for grandma to get home. Hopefully baby pictures tomorrow. :)

Enjoy the Journey!
XOX Karlene

Friday, February 24, 2012

Ian Weaver

Friday's Fabulous Flyer

Ian Weaver

and his story of Survival

In The Beginning

Ian’s interest in flying began early thanks to his father who was an engineer in the RAF—they were always around aircraft. That didn’t change in school when he joined the CCF, Combined Cadet Force. He also had a great deal of interest in water, swimming, board diving, and sailing, so he decided to combine his two passions and applied to the Royal Navy as a pilot.

Ian's dad with grandkids

Ian tells me during the aptitude tests he learned that he didn’t have the hand/eye coordination to become a military pilot. He didn’t give up his dream; instead he joined as an observer and ended up flying Anti-Submarine (ASW) Sea King helicopters in both the ASW and SAR (Search and Rescue) roles.

When I asked Ian what his greatest flying challenge was, he’d said, My initial training in the Royal Navy was fairly difficult but I hung in and once qualified I established myself quickly and grew into the life fairly easily. After watching Topgun (yes really) in the eighties, flying fast jets became my dream. The RN had no jets with back-seaters so I had only one option. My biggest challenge therefore came when I decided to transfer to the RAF and onto the Tornado F3 fighter. I now found myself in at the deep-end competing with other course members, only a little over half my age. The flying was very intense with a very steep learning curve, but I enjoyed it and was good at it so I felt it was the right decision.” But the flying would not be Ian’s greatest challenge.

January 10, 1996, Ian Weaver’s day started like every other. As a Navigator Instructor he was to be number two, of a three aircraft formation, on an air-combat mission. They briefed prior to the flight and planned to reach 15,000 feet. They had just begun an exercise where one jet was to be the enemy and tried to shoot down the other two, and they transitioned to the exercise area. Airborne and contact with the ‘bounce’ aircraft made, the engagement commenced. But due to an error in judgment, Ian’s jet and the enemy aircraft collided.

Wing to wing, almost head-on.

1000 mph closure rate.

This was the day that changed Ian’s flight plan called life.

Ian’s crashed changed his world, but he survived. At the end of this post, I’ll share a link to the details of Ian’s accident, and his amazing recovery. But what went on in the mind, heart and soul of someone who faced death, or being a quadriplegic on a ventilator for the rest of his life, is the story I’m sharing today.

The Next Challenge

Karlene: "Did you have any conscious memories at the moment of impact, or during the ejection?"

Ian: "None at all - I was probably knocked unconscious as the canopy jettisoned and thanks to the brain injury I have never recovered any of those memories. All the accounts I have given of the ejection are from third party reports combined with what I know from the accident investigation."

Karlene: "When you awoke you had said you thought you'd died. When you realized that this was a living hell what did you think and feel?"

Ian: "My first memories were of a young boy’s head stuck on a tray and traveling above me on rails. Everything else was bright white. The head would appear; the boy would stare at me with big blue eyes and laugh. Then he would disappear again. I couldn’t move in any way. I was paralyzed from the neck down and had a huge weight hanging from a cradle screwed into my skull to immobilize and extend my neck. At this time the pain hadn’t registered.

I couldn’t make any sense of it, had no recollection of the accident and had no idea where I was. That’s why I thought I must be dead. I was in and out of consciousness at this point and the hallucination of the boy on the tray was a combination of head injury and morphine, or so I’m told. The pain hit me when I woke up fully. I can’t describe it really, but it’s like the worst pain you can imagine magnified ten fold. And it was constant. The only pain relief I was on was morphine, but as the pain was neurological; caused by the damage to the spinal cord and the brain it had little or no effect. Again I could not convey this to anyone as I couldn’t speak.

The pain wasn’t addressed for about 2 weeks. I also became aware of people and was told I was in hospital. I was intubated so couldn’t talk, and I had no idea why I was in hospital. I assumed I’d had a car crash and then worried about my family; had they been involved, were they injured or worse. This is despite the fact that my wife (now ex-wife) was beside me at the time. It was about 24 hours later that I was told it had been an aircraft accident, and was told that no-one else was badly injured."

Ian's Mum and Dad

Karlene: "Did you know you were going to make it, and did you dread the possibility of being paralyzed?"

Ian: "Did I worry about being paralyzed? This may seem strange but the thought never really entered my head. I knew I couldn’t move but had no idea of the prognosis (which wasn’t good) and the pain was such that I thought of little else. I was also ‘away with the fairies’ most of the time and did not really think about the future. As an aside, about 2 weeks prior to the accident my wife and I were watching a program on TV about quadriplegia and had glibly said that if it happened to either of us the other should smother him/her with a pillow. Thankfully she didn’t :) By the time I was putting rational thoughts together I was slowly on the mend and had recovered the use of my right leg, so being paralyzed never really worried me."

Karlene: "Did you ever think you would survive, and or recover?"

Ian: "I did think that I would never make as good a recovery as I have. Again, because I was getting better, the thought of dying was never really a factor. When my brother kissed my forehead in the early days I thought he was saying his goodbyes and that worried me a little. Speaking to him since, I think he probably was. I seemed to be the only person that didn’t think I was going to die. Another time was when they removed my breathing tube and I couldn’t breath. I blacked out and as my vision dimmed I thought I was dying.

Another small episode that worried me was when I got some feeling back to my throat after about 3 weeks. I was off the ventilator by this time but could feel an obstruction very deep in my neck. I thought my vertebrae had shifted and I could feel the ‘kink’ in my neck. This caused quite a lot of panic, and they had to remove the feeding tube that passed up my nose and down my throat. Once it was out I could accept that the tube was what I could feel and not my bones! They then had to re-insert the tube, which wasn’t pleasant - serves me right for making such a fuss!!

Did I want to die? Well yes, but only because of the pain. I used to beg to be ‘put down’ or put back into a coma until I was better. As time went on and I recovered use of three limbs the pain focused into the right arm and shoulder. I was never expected to get any movement back to it so I repeatedly asked to have it amputated to take the pain away. Apparently it would have made no difference; the pain being similar to phantom limb pain."

Karlene: "What were the feelings when your family came to visit you? How did they react to this new life ahead of you?"

Ian: "I remembered my wife and close family being around ever since I woke up. There was always at least one of them around whenever I was awake, for about 3 weeks. They were always very positive, though I did used to get a little irritated when they praised every improvement, for example “Ah look, he’s feeding himself with a spoon” Of course I didn’t realize at the time that this was their way of dealing with things. At the time it probably made me appear ungrateful for all the time and encouragement they gave me but they do now know just how much it all meant to me.

I didn’t see my kids (Jenni 10 and Chris 8) for about 3 weeks. It wasn’t felt they should see me until I’d made some improvement. It was quite difficult as I couldn’t hold or hug them and they just wanted to climb onto the bed with me. It was lovely though and I was on my best behavior; I was still having some weird moments at that stage and could say some pretty outrageous things! As far as my new life was concerned ... it wasn’t something we discussed. I think everyone saw it for what it was and every little improvement was ‘better than they expected’ so everything was a bonus having accepted that the accident had happened. Privately I’m sure my family must have had some terrible moments wondering as to the future, but it was never something they burdened me with."

Jenni, partner Abbey and Grandkids

Son Chris and Grandkids

Karlene: "What was the initial prognosis?"

Ian: "I was not aware of the initial prognosis, which is probably a good thing. On the first night my wife was told, and I quote from my medical records of which I have a copy, “He will either die in the next 24 hours from the head injury or he will be quadriplegic and on a ventilator for the rest of his life.” As it was I left ICU on my own two feet. Okay I was being held up by 5 nurses and they shuffled my feet along between them, but it was a small victory. After I started to make “a miraculous recovery” I was expected to be okay, though I was told I would probably never have use of my left arm, and that I would be crippled with neck pain after a few years. Believe it or not my only thought was to prove them wrong."

Ian's Brother Paul

Ian, Sister Karen and Brother Paul

Karlene: "Determination to prove someone wrong can move mountains, and you’ve proven that. Where are you now physically?"

Ian: "Physically I’m in pretty good shape. I can walk, talk, play golf, run (sort of), and lead pretty much a normal life. I still can’t play the piano though!! To look at me or listen to my voice you would probably never guess it had happened. My left arm is probably working at about 50% and has a lot of muscle wastage due to the nerve damage in the shoulder. I still have a lot of pain in the upper arm and shoulder and nothing in the way of pain killers helps. Consequently I am on no drugs at all. I have permanent pins and needles in three fingers of my left hand. All these things get worse when it’s cold or I’m tired. They are all manageable.

The worst thing I suffer from is a constant burning sensation over my body. It’s mainly my feet, lower legs and backs of my hands, but can spread as high up as my kidney area and lower back. In those areas the skins temperature sensing seems to have reversed. For example, cold water feels burning hot so swimming, going out in the rain etc is a little traumatic. Again this gets worse if I’m cold or tired and is probably the only thing that wears me down. It cannot be addresses with drugs, so just something to live with. I’m 1.5 inches shorter that before the accident. I get just about zero neck pain. My lower back goes into spasm a couple of times a year (fairly common with any ejection) though touch wood, it hasn’t happened for quite a while now. I have pain in my pelvis periodically; from the site bone was removed for a graft into my neck. That’s about it physically. Mentally I’m good to go, with the only adverse effect being very poor short-term memory. No post-traumatic stress or flash-backs etc. Oh, I don’t like flying much these days!!"

Karlene: "I am sorry you are still in such pain. But it’s so amazing how far you’ve come. What do you attribute your success to?"

Ian: "Easy - sheer bloody-mindedness and a massive stubborn streak inherited from my mum. From the moment I ‘was aware’, I have been getting better. As I said earlier I wanted to prove them wrong. Whenever anyone said “you’ll never be able to do that” or “you shouldn’t try that” it was like a red rag to a bull. It started with walking and eating and has progressed to running, golf, weight training, work (instructing in a Tornado simulator, now retired) etc., etc. I even went para-gliding on my first holiday out of hospital. I was also told I wouldn’t be able to learn new things ... so I went and enrolled for an Open University degree in computer programming and passed the two years that I did with flying colors. I might even finish it one day if I have time. Of course I can’t claim all the glory. There were some brilliant surgeons involved and the level of care and support I’ve received since day one has been nothing short of outstanding."

Karlene: "Gratitude is wonderful. But you need to take this credit. Those fabulous doctors were doing their jobs, but your attitude and determination made a miracle happen. And your family's support. I'm sure there were many dark hours, how did you get through them?"

Ian: "The most difficult thing was and still is the pain and sometimes it gets me down, but at those times it is the love and support of my family that gets me through."

Karlene: "You mentioned an ex-wife earlier. Are you married now, or do you have a girlfriend?"

Ian: "I was married at the time but divorced 4 years after the accident. I think it changed us both. I re-married eight years ago to the most wonderful and beautiful lady, Fran, and now have three step-children to add to the two of my own. I also have two grandchildren courtesy of my daughter Jenni."

Fran and Ian

And step-daughter Georgie

Karlene: "Congratulations on your growing family. What would you say to the readers about surviving with so much pain and adversity?"

Ian: "In my experience the accident only ever brought out the good side of people (except on the London underground - see my accident story). The support I’ve had from my family and friends, medical staff and the Royal Air Force has been fantastic.

All I can say is ‘believe in yourself.’ If it’s physical adversity then do the best you can - the human body is a marvelous thing and the power of healing comes from your own inner self. I truly believe that if I had just accepted what the surgeons and doctors told me then I would be in a wheelchair today. Instead I set out to prove everything they said wrong and so far it’ has worked. If it’s something that can’t be overcome, in my case pain, then be strong and learn to deal with it. I know that sounds harsh and easy to say, but if you bow down to it then I believe it will only get worse.

Talk about it with your loved ones harvest their support. If you just get grumpy about it and complain all the time then you will only alienate them. In the 16 years since my accident I don’t think I’ve ever felt sorry for myself and I will not let it influence the way I live my life. Foolhardy at times some might say but I believe if I didn’t feel this way that it would be a ‘slap in the face’ to all those that gave so much to save my life and make my life worth living."

Karlene: "Ian you are an inspiration to all. The kind of pain you live with daily and your ability to still smile and move forward without complaining is amazing. Thank you so much for sharing your story with us. We will all look forward to reading the book."

For now, everyone take a moment to read about Ian’s accident, recovery, and the people who found him, and help along the way (and the underground).

The story is amazing: Ian’s accident

Enjoy the Journey!

XOX Karlene

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Aircraft Automation... A Good Thing. Right?

Our planes are becoming increasingly more advanced, and with this advancement, comes precision, efficiency and economies like none other. And because of this automation, training and checking events focus on managing the computers. Training footprints are becoming shorter because of the high reliability. In addition, due to the high reliability of these systems, pilots don’t need to be tested on performance when items break, they just have to have “seen it” once. These planes are safer. But…

Does the future threat to aviation include advanced technology? What happens when the technology breaks? Will the pilots of the future know what to do if they are faced with flying their planes manually? There will be a time, and we’re getting closer day by day, that pilots will grow up in these automated planes and not have experience to manually fly a plane.

Twenty years ago, during my 757 Type-rating, I flew the entire checkride on the autopilot. And today a captain can take his or her checkride and never "touch" the controls, and still pass. He or she is the manager of the flight. Where are we headed to next?

Automation is great. It’s essential. It reduces fatigue, and enhances safety. But what if it breaks?

What can pilots do to maintain their flying skills in preparation for when systems fail? What can they do to maintain their flying skills when they don’t fly?

Where is the industry going? What can we do to help make it safer?

Enjoy the Journey!
XOX Karlene

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Should I Go to College?

I've been receiving numerous emails with the question, "Should I go to College or Fly?" In a perfect world I say, "Go to school and get your degree if you want to work for the airlines." But I also know that we don't live in a perfect world. What if you're offered your dream job to fly?

"How do I pass up this opportunity?"
"I need hours!"
"What shall I do? Fly? College?" "Help!"

Maybe the answer for you is to attend college part time while flying. I earned two masters degrees while working a full-time job. It's doable. There is a lot of down time while building flight hours, or on the road. This could be excellent study time.

There are also many accredited colleges to choose from. You could keep both dreams alive. I chose Capella University to earn my degrees. They were flexible for the professional, working student. I also had many students in my classes from Boeing. Learning was never so rewarding as it was attending classes with students from all over the world. Diversity of thought per region made this experience valuable. Time spent was spent on research verses commuting to and from school.

You don't have to give up on college to fly, you can attend a on-line college while flying. Earn your credits to graduate, one class at a time. The opportunities are many with the flexibility with an on-line college.

My friend Daniel Sallee is attending Embry Riddle, on line, while he flies his 757 around the world for Omni. He's six months away from graduation, and he will have his degree while building excellent experience.

What are the downfalls of attending college part-time? The article: The Hazards of Attending College Part Time says that college students attending part time are far less likely to graduate. Perhaps, but I wish they took stats on the pilots attending school part time. I suspect the graduation rates are higher. Pilots are dedicated, committed people who know what it takes to make their dreams happen. They are very task oriented.

You do not have to give up your dreams of wanting to fly, to attend college. It doesn't have to be a choice. You can do both.

Enjoy the Journey!
XOX Karlene
(Photos... compliments of Daniel's adventures)

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Pilot Job Search

Recently I connected with two pilots who are both looking for jobs in the Seattle area. Well, one is looking for a normal earthbound job so he can spend his money flying, and playing in the sky. the other is looking for a flying job, and has been, for about five months. I’ve met numerous people on LinkedIn after I posted a comment that I worked for 8 airlines and was supporting people following their dreams. The response was amazing.

Who said there was a pilot shortage?

Maybe not at the moment, but there will be.

Fact finding mission showed there are a lot of pilots with low time. Recommendation—get your instructors license and build time. That may not be as easy as it sounds, but if you have an instructors license, and a multi-engine rating, there are always people out there that need a safety pilot and you can build multi-engine time.

The challenge is in the corporate world. The first thing that goes when the economy is down is the airplane. Conference calls, cheap flights with the airlines, etc.,— times like this it’s hard to justify the corporate plane. I suspect those will be the most difficult jobs to find these days. But they also require more hours than the airliners for insurance reasons.

Jobs like Net Jets, are actually being snatched up by retired captains. Why not? Insurance premiums are much lower with higher experienced pilots, and those guys know the worldwide system.

So with this said, what can you do?


LinkedIn people—get on Twitter. I have made fantastic friends and connections via Twitter. Twitter provides access directly to the information you want and need in your field, and the people working within your industry. Connections are essential. Pilots hear first when there is a job available in their company. There are some great people out there in Twitterland, you need to reach out and connect with those pilots working.

Who is hiring?

US Airways

Virgin America


Skywest America

Skywest Australia: ATR 72-500's—600's on order—and are looking for pilots who have a full ATPL for full-time employment. Min is 1500 hrs total with 250 ATR for FO and 2500 hrs total with 500 ATR P1. This is a tie in for Virgin Australia. Email

From what I hear, most of the commuters are hiring.

Who else?


This is a typical job I've seen come across my email:

ERJ 170/175, 190/195 Captains

Earn up to $15,000 USD/month + overtime based on 80 hours per month. Earn an additional $187.50 USD per every hour flown over 80 hours. VOR Holdings will also pay you $8,000 USD at the end of your 1st year, $12,000 USD at the end of your 2nd year, and $15,000 USD at the end of your 3rd year.

Your total compensation for three years is $575,000 USD.

After completing your three-year contract, you will be given the opportunity to upgrade to the A320 aircraft at the airline's expense and then from the A320 to the A330 also at the airline's expense.

You have the option of working:

4 weeks ON, 4 weeks OFF
6 weeks ON, 3 weeks OFF
6 weeks ON, 2 weeks OFF + 24 additional days OFF per year

Interviews will be held in Orlando, Florida during the first week of March 2012.

Requirements will are 300 hours in type and under 56 at the start of assignment. For those who think they are too old… perhaps not. If you are interested, send Peggy an email to

Peggy at VOR Holdings says, "The hottest aircraft in China is the A320, but we have opportunities for the B747-400, B747 Classic, B777, B767, B757, B737NG, B737 Classic, A340, A330, A320, EMB190 and ERJ145.

The maximum age to fly in China is 60. That is the reason that most airline want Captains less than 57. They want Captains that can work a minimum of three years."

Go to and select jobs, you'll be surprised at the number of flying positions.

There are many overseas jobs. PPRuNe is a great place to hit the message board to get a feel of what’s going on out there: PPRuNe Professional Pilots Rumor Network


For everyone on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, or any of the social media venues... Believe that your future employer will google your name.

Everything you say on line will be there for employers to read.

In the previous week I have read numerous comments with pilots complaining about their previous employers on LinkedIn. I've seen defeatist attitudes. I've read comments of anger and resentment for their struggles. Do you think that is the type of person a company wants to employ when they have a fleet to choose from? I don't. If nothing else, clean up the talk for your image. The side benefits will be many... but that is for another post.

So here’s the deal—Builds hours. Connect with other pilots. Get a type-rating to increase your chances. Keep that blue side up! What about going back to school to enhance that resume? More on education tomorrow.

Good luck, and Enjoy the Journey!

XOX Karlene

Monday, February 20, 2012

Give Your Dreams Wings to Fly

Pull your dreams into the daylight,
And give them wings to fly.
Get on that runway called life.
Then takeoff toward the sky.
The future of success is waiting.
This is “your” life, live it.

Everyone dreams. But it’s those that pull their dreams into their waking hours, who will turn them into goals. A goal—your waking dream—is a sacred thing. It can give your life motivation, inspiration and direction, or it can be the weight that hangs around your neck as you say, “someday.”

Goals shouldn’t be feared, but they shouldn’t be taken lightly either. They are your dreams that are sitting on the runway headed toward success. And all pilots know that the only reason we taxi onto the runway is if we’re ready to takeoff. Sitting on an active runway telling the tower we’re going to depart— and never do— is a dangerous place to be.

If we all dream, then why can’t we all achieve our goals? The answer is—we can. But some people think, “I can’t possibly because....” Others say, “someday I will,” but someday never comes. And there are those who tell everyone, “I’m going to…,” but never take action towards their goal because life gets in the way.

Here is the secret of the week. Life will always get in the way of your dreams. Something will always come up. Someone will always need you. Work. Family. Friends. Commitments. So what makes some people achieve success while others say they want to, and never do?

They decide, and then they take action.

Tony Robbins said, “don’t ever make a goal without taking some action toward it.” This is a powerful step, and essential if you plan on making your dreams come true. Have you scheduled your training? Signed up for school? Joined a gym? Set your alarm to wake up at 3:30 to write your novel? What do you want in your life, and what is one thing you can do toward it at this moment to move toward it?

The choice is yours. What are you waiting for?

Friday, February 17, 2012

Owen Zupp

Friday's Fabulous Flyer:

What do you get when you cross a commercial pilot who’d flown 200 fighter missions during the Korean War, with a woman who’d been a WWII radar operator?

Owen Zupp

“I was always ‘most likely’ to end up in a cockpit some where. If I wasn’t at school, I was at the local airport filling in as my father’s shadow and crawling over all and sundry airplanes.”

Owen Zupp.

Owen is a published author, journalist and commercial airline pilot. He’s got over 16,000 hours of experience, and has flown around the world and back again, and currently lives down-under in Australia.

17 years old, and he soloed. After graduation he spent years as a Paramedic. But his desire and passion to fly never wavered, as he poured his hard earned wages into renting aircraft at the local airport. His gratitude is heart-felt for a father who sat by his side, and provided instruction. “I still abide by the critical lessons he imparted in those early days and his ‘old school’ adherence to airmanship.”

Jabiru and RAAF FA-18

Owen broke into the industry he loved, and then he spent the next seven years flying anything he could while working toward his dreams. Chief Pilot, Chief Flight Instructor, Licensed Examiner, Charter operator, and Ferry Pilot. He even flew the remote islands of the Pacific.

One of Owens’ favorite memories:

“A cherished time in that early career was flying in the remote Kimberley region of northwest Australia. Living in a caravan, there was little else to do but fly and I couldn’t have been happier. I learnt so much in this time to the beautiful setting of the great Australian outback.”

Tiger at Sunset

Pilot. Author. Speaker.
Journalist. Husband. Father.

Owen is a man of many hats, and his story is one of success, adventure, hard work and joy. As a writer, I’m learning the power of first person. Please enjoy the readers-digest version of an incredible man, from his POV, and the success he’s achieved. It's hard to crunch a life into a few paragraphs, but we'll try.

“In 1994 I had to grow up and I joined a domestic airline, Ansett Australia, flying Boeing 737-300s. As was once said, “It was a great airline, but a lousy business.” So when the airline collapsed in 2001, just after 9/11, I spent a short period unemployed before joining another carrier. I spent a few years on the B747-400 on international operations, but now I’m back on the B737-800 and happy to be there.

Over the years there have been so many memorable moments aloft. I’ve been fortunate to fly a range of airplanes as I often review new types for magazines. Amongst the list of aircraft, the highlights would be flying my Tiger Moth biplane at dawn on a still morning and tearing up the skies in a dual control P-51 Mustang with a friend of mine. Obviously that first solo flight was special, but there’s something about the first solo ‘cross country’ trip that really made me think that this was all very amazing. From the flight levels I’ve seen a rocket launch out of Vandenberg that lit up the sky, just as dawn was breaking, while nature turned on its own light show as the ‘Southern Lights’ on the way back from Johannesburg. In 2010 I circumnavigated Australia in a light aircraft, a Jabiru, for charity. Over 18 days I saw the very best scenery and the most wonderful people Australia could offer.

Route Map 5th May

I’ve had a few in-flight ‘events’ over the years, but the most significant was probably when I was conducting a student pilot’s flight test in a single-engined light aircraft and the engine decided to go quiet. We were over rather inhospitable terrain known as ‘The Great Dividing Range’, but fortunately I was able to put the airplane down in a small clearing, although we had to catch a rescue helicopter home that night. Equally significant was that this near miss gave me the courage to ask out a certain young lady; now we’ve been married 15 years and have four great children.

OZ Tiger Moth

I cherish every moment that the earth has fallen away from the wheels. I enjoy the challenge of pursuing a skill that I’ll never perfect, but get a kick out of on the odd occasion I get close. Away from the cockpit I’ve completed a Masters Degree in Aviation Management and written a few hundred articles and one book. I’m a very lucky guy on so many levels and along with family; aviation has been a central theme.” Owen Zupp

Bourkey and Zuppie Temora

My shelves are filling with Aviation books, and Owen’s will have to be added.

His book Down to Earth —The story of a fighter pilot’s experiences of surviving Dunkirk, the Battle of Britain, Dieppe and D-Day, has received much praise.


“Kenneth MGlashan entered the Royal Air Force as a cadet in 1939, training in aircraft such as Tiger Moths and the elegant silver biplane variants of the Hawker Hart. Flying a Hawker Hurricane fighter over the Dunkirk evacuation, he got shot down, the victim of a German Messerschmitt Bf 109; this was neither the first nor the last time he brushed against death. McGlashan carries us in the cockpit through night fighter sorties, wartime airline operations, and missions in his obvious favorite: the twin-engine de Havilland Mosquito. It is our good fortune that the flier returns from war, darkness, abysmal weather, and engine failure, and that the writer Owen Zupp listens patiently and captures McGlashan’s voice in a well-written narrative.”

The Smithsonian. Air & Space Magazine.

Please take a moment to drop by Owen Zupp’s website . You could spend hours in this fantastic aviation site, from speaking engagements to his writings, and everything in between… a must see. The photos are great too!

I’m leaving everyone with a gift, compliments of Owen Zupp. Take five minutes of your day to enjoy the video of Owen’s journey as he flew around Australia during his charity work with the Royal Flying Doctor Service.

Owen, thank you for sharing your life with all of us, for all you do… and for your charity work too. I'm glad I had the opportunity to meet you. One day in person.

Enjoy the Journey!

XOX Karlene

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Flying Fatigued:

Threat and Error Thursday:

The FAA Pilot Fatigue rule has been splashed around the world. The government has taken a serious look at the impact of our fatigued pilots. The FACT sheet explains the changes. Unfortunately they are starting in two years, not now, and for some reason the freight operators don’t seem to count.

Will these rules solve the problem?

A few questions for you:

  • Is it ever possible for pilots to be rested on international flights, flying the backside of the clock and sleeping on the plane?
  • The FAA’s pending regulation change includes enabling pilots to be on duty for 17 hours with four crewmembers. Two of theses pilots take their rest at the beginning of their trip... quite often, just hours after they awoke from a good night sleep. Therefore, they will not sleep during their break, and often not resting on the entire flight. Will these rules impact the fact that half the crew won't sleep during their break due to the timing?
  • 17 hours awake is equivalent to an alcohol level of .05. How many pilots are flying drunk from fatigue?
  • Is it possible to schedule international flight crews in a way to not be fatigued?

One of my many airlines had called me at midnight on a day off and sent me on an International trip. All pilots were called at the same hour. None of us were rested. Why did we take the trip? Kids in college. Mortgages due. Pay cuts, and unable to make ends meet. Being good company people. A multitude of reasons, take a pick. It's very hard for a pilot to say, "I can't." At that hour we have coffee, wake up, and we're good to go. But at the other end of the trip, what seemed like a good idea at the beginning, turns out to not be such a good idea.

As I read the new regulations, I wonder, “Will this prohibit those midnight calls to crew members off duty?”

While the regulation states that the crew-members have the right to say they’re fatigued, there are airlines out there that “fatigue” is called the other F-word. What sounds good on paper, isn't reality in the workplace. Besides, the corporations have a fiduciary responsibility to the stockholders. Right?

I was recently asked about commuting pilots and how we did this to ourselves. The problem is that airlines open bases, pilots move there, put their kids in schools and close the base. How often can a pilot uproot his/her family chasing the job? Then the housing crisis... who can sell their home to move anyway? Companies merge, seniority changes, positions are lost. Sometimes the commute is do to not wanting to disrupt our families any more than we have to. Sometimes it's pure financial infeasibility to move. So we commute.

I’m not sure what the answer is. What are your thoughts? How can we be the best we can be while working within the system? How would you fix this dilemma? Is it a problem?

Maybe we must realize that regulation can't fix this problem due to massive contingencies. Perhaps this should be a self monitored event. And yet, how do you turn down a trip when times are tough? A challenge.

General aviation needs to be aware of the power of fatigue as well, and not push themselves to fly in their not physically ready to.

Thanks for your thoughts!

Enjoy the Journey.

XOX Karlene

If you haven't had a chance yet, pick up a copy of Flight For Control. This question and more lurk through the pages.

NOTE: If you can't see where to comment, click on the reply on the last posted comment. Then the comment link will open below. You can click on that link, and comment box is there. Blogger. What can I say?