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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.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Aviation Inspiration, Motivation, and Change...

Yesterday was all about the Journey to Redmond/Bend Oregon. Today... is what happened when I missed my flight and diverted through Portland.

I forgot to bring a book. So I watched the crowd. First thing I noticed everyone, less four people, were playing with their electronics. Two commuting pilots: One Alaska pilot was reading. Another Delta pilot was writing notes with actual paper and pen, no less. And then there was a Horizon Captain walking through the terminal, who grinned broadly as he hugged a man. Then they grabbed a coffee and talked in the waiting area.

Hmmm. Good friends? Worked together? I wondered. 

I took my seat and soon the man, recipient of the hug, sat beside me. What are the odds?

I said, "Do you work for the airline?" 

He said, "Yes." 

"What do you do for them?" I asked. 

"I'm the President of Horizon Airlines." 

I handed him one of my cards, and said, "Then you need to read my book Flight For Control."  What else do you say to a President of an airline? I also warned him to not be terribly afraid of what goes on in my mind after reading my book.

The reality is, he is very like minded with inspiration and positive attitude and working toward the same goals: Inspiring the future aviators, and safety. His pilots hug him. That speaks volumes. I have yet to see that happen at any of my eight airlines.

I had a great flight and enjoyed our conversation immensely. What an accomplished man. He was the VP of finance at Horizon, Senior VP of customer service at Alaska, VP of finance and treasurer of Alaska, Executive VP Airports, Maintenance and Engineering, Executive VP finance and CFO at Alaska, and now the President at Alaska/Horizon. Experience is a good thing. 

More than all this, he is yet another Alaska/Horizon executive giving back to the community. He has been visiting colleges and universities looking to address the pilot shortage. He is inspiring the students. I'm telling you, the executives at Alaska give back tenfold. Remember what Bill Ayer did in March?

We discussed many things, and of course the crash in San Fransisco and why it happened. He mentioned how their pilots hand fly visual approaches, such as SFO, many times a day, honing their skills. I have also noticed the Airbus pilots who also fly general aviation are the best. They disconnect everything and can fly. This is the greatest challenge, maintaining skills with automation.

Then we discussed how pilots would earn their flight hours, expense being one of the major issues, in combination with the increased hour requirement. What are we going to do in the future?

Inspiration hit! 

Thanks to a conversation with an inspiring individual... Glenn Johnson... I know what I am going to do with my Ph.D. And... I now know what my thesis will be. 

This means... 

I am enrolling in Embry Riddle's
Aviation Ph.D. Program in Fall of 2014! 

What I intend on doing is implementing an idea that will change the world of Aviation as we know it. This means changing the FARs.

I have figured out how to lower the new pilots' expense in building their flight hours, while solving the pending problem with the future of aviation: Pilots deteriorating skills, and the inability to fly their planes when they lose, and/or disconnect their automation.

Flight For Safety will be released in August. That means I have one year to get Flight For Survival, Flight To Success, and my children's books done. And at least one of my movies on the big screen to fund the adventures.

Sounds like I might be headed for a busy year. But good things to come. When the trilogy is complete, we are headed for pure motivation, inspiration and creating change.

Thank you Glen for being the inspiration to the dream, and for all you do for the future of aviation.

What am I going to pursue with my degree? 

Can you guess how I plan to reduce the expense for new pilots building their flight hours, while making the industry safer so accidents like AF447 and Asia 214 won't happen in the future?

I will write about it next Tuesday.
Enjoy the Journey!
XO Karlene


  1. Bingo! There is was, waiting for you.

  2. Karlene, this sounds excellent. I can't wait to see what you'll come up with! If I choose to go to Embry Riddle in 2015, we'd technically be in school together haha!

    That sounds like a great conversation. You really do meet the best of aviation during your adventures! I like the idea of that... saving future pilots money while making them more proficient + safe. Loving it!

    Can't wait for the post on Tuesday, have a great week!
    -Swayne Martin

    1. I would love to go to school with you. :) I'll still be there. Sometimes I wonder why paths cross as they do. But then I think there is a reason for everything. Yes... Tuesdays plan. :)

  3. Karlene sounds like you have a flight plan through the connections you've made. And I'm excited for ERAU 2014¡!¡! You never know what will happen when you go to the airport. I also can't wait for FFS It's going to be my second travel buddy ;)


    1. Yes. You meet the greatest people there. And looking forward to creating your new travel buddy. Won't be long now. :)

  4. You are going to pursue what our industry needs. You have literally everything to make history. You were born for this. You are the Iron Lady of Aviation.

    PhD will be your key to what you need, to what I need, and to what everybody needs.

    Meeting a Vice-President of an airline clearly is a message. Not from only what he said, but just for the fact you were able to meet him in a surprising way.

    Listen, nothing happens in vain, it can be materially or in an abstract way. If you look in the past and connect every point, you will see everything makes sense, and if doesn't make sense, then sure there's a lesson yet to be learned.

    Karlene, go to Embry-Riddle, get your PhD, then go out and shine!

    I love this post, it brings me a lot of great memories! ;)


    1. Thank you Alex! Yes... I'll go back to school and be a student again and you can help me study. :) Thank you for the great comment. You keep shining in Brazil!

  5. Wow, small world!

    I don't know what your idea is, but I hope it involves getting them in the GA for the long haul. My theory is that when the GA community is thriving, the other market segments do as well. But maybe I'm biased. :)

    Can't wait to read more about your thesis!


    1. Ron, So true. I think this might get more people interested in flying and it all starts in GA. The foundation, and the fun. I'm on it! And, was talked into getting a single engine too. So may go that route.

  6. I already know (but I won't spoil your fun)!

  7. Isn't it more of a social work, Karlene? Sounds interesting and I'd say unusual!!!

    1. Excellent thought. But this is all about regulation change and how we view flight hours.

  8. Great job enrolling in the PhD! Best of luck once you get rolling. I can't wait to see where you are going with this! If it gets more GA involved, I think that's a great idea. Stripping down and getting back to the basics is a step in the right direction; plus it's a lot of fun!

    Looking forward to reading more about your plans.


    1. Thank you so much Chet.'s going to be a journey, but one that will help everyone! Except maybe the fuel companies. But.. I'm thinking and will look forward to your thoughts on Tuesday.
      Thank you so much for your comment!

  9. Dang,

    He was my fourth guess.

    Way to go, I love how a chance meeting can lead to something great. Im pulling for you, cant wait to read all the books, see the movie, watch you transform the aviation industry, blah, blah, blah.

    You are an amazing woman. I am glad to know you.

    1. Lol... you had me at Blah, Blah, Blah. You sound like Darby!
      More to come for sure!

  10. I love sitting next to strangers on airports and airplanes! It makes for some very interesting conversations (if the other person wants that, of course) Faith wanted it for you to sit next to the President of Horizon! Awesome!

    I am so happy for you that you will get your PhD at ERAU! I can't wait to hear about your thesis!

    1. I'm thinking that this was fate too! Make sure you come back and look... I think we can make this a reality for Europe too? We'll see.

  11. Can't wait to hear your ideas next Tuesday, Karlene.

  12. I hope you do your thesis about the Next Gen Global airports:

    Why should your industry, you company, your city, your county and your airport[s] community know about and support Global Airports? 

    1. A Global airport is designed for and promotes the arrivals and departures of ALL AIRCRAFT from all airports. This is not true for MIA, ORL,TPA… due to the limited number of runway slots at peak for example. 
    They own, for example, surrounding airports as reliever airports. 

    2. Aircraft with paying passengers and air cargo arrive 24/7 at the Globals which are designed for all levels of air service including the most critical … non-stop VLA service to all continents.

    3. Note that every airport public and private in your County becomes a Global Gateway airport to the Global marketplace via Global airports. 
    This increases the value of your airport and surrounding properties [tax base], at no cost to your county.

    4. Gateway airports that serve the Global airports will increase, personal air mobility, and city, county, state ,national and international commerce and tourism. 

    5. The USA will need a minimum of ten Global airports: New England, NY/NJ York Metro, Mid Atlantic, Florida-Caribbean, North Central, Mid Continent,
    Texas, Southwest, Northwest, Great Plains. All major nations will need Globals...
    We ask you to review these statements, get clarification if necessary and then share it with your local business County Commissioners , your airport authority and/or Board of Directors. 

    Q&A Neil at : 

  13. Awesome Karlene! You are perfect for a program like that! I know you'll do great and excellent things will come from it! Can't wait for Tuesday!

    1. I hope so!! I'm thinking one step at a time toward innovation. But sometimes we have to take a step back. :)


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