Contract Airline Services

"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.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Chetwyn Clarke

 Friday's Fabulous Flyer 

 Chetwyn Clarke

Chet Clarke's story is one of dedication and commitment, and he is a pilot to keep an eye on. He is giving back to the industry in the pursuit of safety. As first officer on the Dash 8 for LIAT, Chetwyn Clarke lives in Barbados and commutes to his base in Antigua.
While Chetwyn did his undergrad and primary flight training at Florida Tech, he interned with JetBlue's training department. I suspect this is where that passion for safety began. He tells me they like him enough they invited him back for the 1-year work experience opportunity on his student visa. 

Chet said, "It was a great opportunity, and I absolutely loved working within the American airline system. It is truly admirable: I love the access to information, the emphasis on education, the opportunity to further your education with courses and advanced degrees, the passion that persons in the industry have. I'm now working online with Embry-Riddle towards my master's, with specializations in Safety and Human Factors."

This is pretty exciting. I'm headed to ERAU myself and hope that Chet and I can do some important work together. But for now, please enjoy a great interview with a captain of the future!

Karlene:  How did you get interested in flying?
Chet: In Barbados, one of the pastimes on Sunday afternoons is to take your kids, park next to the fence at the end of the runway, and watch aircraft land.
When I was younger my mum would take me there, and I found it so fascinating watching plane after plane land, and that's where my interest in flying began. I had a friend whose Dad was an air traffic controller and after a few trips to the radar facility and the tower, I knew I wanted to be involved in the industry in some manner.

After having the opportunity to interact with pilots, and hearing about their experiences and, generally, the fun they had, I knew the flight deck was where I wanted to end up.

Since then, it's been an amazing journey.

Lisa and Chet

Karlene: Flying is all about safety... but what drew you to this aspect of aviation? Most pilots just want to fly. You're going that extra mile.

Chet:  During my undergrad we did a course on Aviation Safety, and we read through a fair amount of NTSB reports. Two things stood out: (a) it's amazing how accident investigators are able to work backwards from a mess of fragments on the ground and figure out what happened; and (b) there tended to be some common themes coming out of the reports. 

I don't know if the accidents we reviewed were purposely chosen by the professor because of that, but I started wondering: why is it that, even though we have access to all this information and past examples, we keep making the same mistakes. Why is that, and what can we do about it? I figured getting involved in safety would hopefully help me find some answers.

I'm trying to get my feet wet in safety, and right now I'm the liaison between the union and the company for the development of our FDM/FOQA program. Once that is up and running, it looks like I'll be one of the reps on the steering committee.

Karlene: So tell me about your FOQA involvement and flight development with that. How did it come about? Are you instrumental in bringing to the airline? Why?
Chet: FOQA/FDM was an initiative introduced by our safety department. The safety manager approached the pilots association about it, and asked for our input. I was appointed liaison for the union and developed a draft working agreement that was accepted by the Safety Department as well as the airline's management. 

We're just waiting on final approval by the union, and then we should be able to start analyzing data. Understandably, there is some concern amongst pilots on how the data will be used, but I think if both the union and the company work together, and trust each other, the program can be extremely beneficial. 

Karlene: One of the most asked questions today is..."Where do you see the future of Aviation?"

Chet: That's a tough question. I think the push for productivity has meant that the industry probably gets more out of pilots than in the past, but what I am afraid of is that we go to the extreme and push our flight crew too far, resulting in the degradation of quality of life and health. I think that's also pushed persons away from the industry, which isn't good for long term prospects. I think we need to get back to a point where the industry is one that is seen to be enjoyable, and worth getting involved in.

Karlene:  Is there hope for new pilots?

Chet: Speaking from my experience here in the Caribbean, it's difficult because we don't have many options if you want to fly professionally. We only have a handful of airlines, and they aren't currently expanding so new pilots find it very difficult to even get a start. I think if you are passionate about flying, and willing to put up with some tough patches, then there is hope.
It also helps to be surrounded by supportive people, especially your spouse and family. On the other hand, I think flying will continue to become more difficult on crews' personal lives, and once that continues, then it will be difficult to inspire future generations.

Karlene: Do you have any advice for our inspiring pilots?
Chet: The profession can be rewarding, and I think it's mostly what you make of it. Keep learning, and constantly seek to improve yourself. 

Chet...There is no Better Advice!!! Thank you for sharing your story. 

Please join me in encouraging Chet Clarke 
on a future of success. 

Enjoy the Journey!
XOX Karlene

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Why Aritistry And Flying

T.H.ursdays with Tom Hill

A couple weeks ago I introduced the idea flying can be artistic: Artistry in Flying. The comments on that article were fantastic. One included a reference to Jonathan Livingston Seagull, a great little story/philosophy book. One of the tenants of that story is working towards perfection. In the story's case, it meant seeking perfection through performing the act of flying at a higher and higher level. The book introduces the possibility this pursuit of perfection leads to a whole new level of being through flying. The concept of artistry and flying are directly related to this. 

Why am I talking about this? Because I want to make it as clear as possible that flying includes so much more than a simple act. The activity of flying is so much more involved than simply making houses bigger when you push the stick forward or making them smaller when you pull the stick back. There is opportunity with this activity to encounter new and different levels of ability, of capability. To the luckiest of us, there is a vision, a clarity, that only becomes apparent when we reach the highest skill level of aviation.

This might be hard to follow. Let me put this in a different way that is easier to understand and in a broader context. Regardless of the activity, I think we can all agree that people who operate at a higher skill level have an understanding that's well beyond those who operate at lower skill levels. That understanding leads to clarity that couldn't exist at the lower level. 
I'll explain through photography since I know a few things about that art form. It is one thing to be able to point the camera in a direction and fire off a couple of images. Compare the point and shooter to the artist who encounters a location, seeks a vision that works, then solves the technical problems to bring that vision to life. The result is a work of art compared to something less. The artist photographer is able to see things and realize a result the other person simply couldn't because the artist photographer is operating at a higher level. This clarity, this opportunity to see things, is available in aviation if you consider its artistic nature. 

Why is this clarity important? First, striving for perfection is always an admirable trait. Seeking to do things better, constantly pushing oneself to be better on the next approach than the previous one. Putting that demand on yourself to always be better and not take things for granted is the only way to ensure you're not getting worse without knowing it.

The second reason why this is important is that without that clarity we cannot see solutions to complex nuanced problems. This concept works for any set of challenges, whether it's the new way to do a rejoin with other aircraft, shooting an approach, entering into a pattern, avoiding terrain, dealing with weather, tackling any number of emergencies. All of this is important when attempting to solve the major hurdle to improved aviation safety: eliminating pilot related mistakes.

I won't get into details on problems or solutions here. I will assert that if you aren't operating at a high level in flying already, if you aren't constantly solving difficult flying challenges, and you aren't considering the artistic nature of flying, you will not be able to properly identify the problems or find effective solutions. You will not have that clarity. On top of that, even if you are operating at a high level and can see solutions clear as day, you may not be able to explain it to those that don't operate at your level. Such is the problem when working with people that do not have your vision.

Let's try to remember how we got here. A couple weeks ago I introduced the idea of artistry and flying. Next, we talked about the pursuit of perfection with flying and how when you are at that level you can have a clarity that didn't exist before. I used the analogy of the point and shooter photographer compared to the artist photographer and how they're different and how solutions are envisioned. 
I showed how the artist photographer was able to have a vision for the scene, solve the technical challenges and create art. Next, I asserted that without that clarity that comes from operating at that high level you will never see the challenges for what they are, or their proper solutions. Lastly, I surmised that even if you have that clarity and could see the problems and the appropriate solutions, it may be difficult to explain all that to someone who doesn't have your vision.

I'm going somewhere with all this discussion. My goal is to introduce some concepts that are "out of the box" compared to the usual way we consider flying. I want to do this because I know if we always think of flying the same way, we will never resolve problems that constantly vex us no matter how much energy we put into it. By seeking a higher level of flying we will have the opportunity solve challenges in ways we never thought possible. We will be able to transform flying into something we never considered before."

More on this subject. A lot more.


Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Deadstick Dawn

Sharon Menear

''How My Pilot Career Ended 
and My Author Career Began"

"I was the sort of person who enjoyed high-adrenaline sports and high-speed cars, motorcycles, boats, and airplanes. All those rushes of adrenaline may have caused the rare eye disease I developed, Central Serous Retinopathy (CSR). The exciting activities and stress caused eye damage and advanced the disease.

I was warned to take an early retirement from my airline pilot career and avoid stress and high-adrenaline activities or I would soon be blind. My early retirement from USAirways was effective in December of 1998, but my last airline flight had been in March of 1993 before I went on medical leave, not knowing at the time I’d never be back. I missed the final flight fanfare and retirement party.

Before my eye disease, flying had been my whole life. My retirement in 1998 coincided with a divorce and a move to another state. I felt lost. It took a while for me to accept that my aviation days were over. My life had no direction. That’s when my mother stepped in and encouraged me to write a novel. She said I had always been a good story teller. But telling and writing are quite different. I had never taken any writing courses and knew nothing about how to write a novel. I loved reading action thrillers and decided to study the way they were written.

Dreaming up stories in my head was never a problem for me, so I sat down in front of my computer and started typing the plot that was in my head. Writing became my passion. I joined a weekly critique group and learned I was making every mistake a new writer could make. The criticism stung. I had gone from being a well respected captain at the top of my profession to a know-nothing new writer. The members were ruthless in their critiques of my work, but I swallowed my pride and attended the meetings every week for two years. Slowly and steadily, my writing improved as I rewrote every chapter no less than fifty times. Another two years were spent tweaking the plot and prose.

When my novel was as good as I could make it, I hired a professional editor to give it a final polish. Then I entered my book in the Royal Palm Literary Competition and won the award for Best Unpublished Thriller in 2011. The next step was finding a literary agent. All the agents I met at writers’ conferences were fresh-out-of-college and looking for hot young authors in their twenties and thirties. The publishers’ representatives were polite but not interested.

After two years of rejections, I was almost ready to give up and self-publish. A dear friend I had helped with her book, Angel Heat, convinced her publisher, Suspense Publishing, to look at my action thriller with a female airline pilot as the main character. Author Leslie A. Borghini compared reading fast-paced Deadstick Dawn to flying at Mach 2 with your hair on fire. Her publisher loved my book, gave me a contract, and released the book August 13, 2013.

I used the gender-neutral author name S.L. Menear, instead of Sharon Menear, in the hope that men will buy the book, too. All my test readers, including men, loved it. Deadstick Dawn will be available online at Amazon, B&N, and in select bookstores.

DEADSTICK DAWN: The Belfast Agreement is about to be shattered by Operation Blue Blood. One young American stands in the way, airline pilot Samantha Starr. She is catapulted into a deadly chess match with police, assassins, and British Special Forces, all who want her dead. The fate of nine noble bloodlines depends on Samantha and a boy whose hero is a wizard. Stranded in Scotland where she is accused of kidnapping and murder, where can she run? When a US Navy fighter pilot and a SEAL join the hunt and every choice can get her killed and start a bloody war in Northern Ireland, on whom should she rely? The line between trust and betrayal is razor sharp, and it is cut at Deadstick Dawn.

Now I’m busy writing Book Two in the Samantha Starr Series. It is rare when a person is given the privilege of enjoying two careers in one lifetime. I am thrilled beyond belief."

Sharon, Thank you for sharing your story.

We may not have control of what happens to us in our life, but we do have control of how we deal with those events. We can either feel sorry for ourselves, or reinvent another version.

I have yet to read Sharon's novel, but felt compelled to share her journey. Please join me in wishing her the greatest success in her new career.

Enjoy the Journey!
XOX Karlene

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

First Flight Lesson

What It Felt Like To Be In Control... 

I've been corresponding with a future pilot, about the A330 and flying. Then one day last week he sent me an email and said....

"So today I had my first lesson where we learned climbs, descents, attitude, turns, idle descents, powered descents, and constant pitch! It was sooo much fun!"


I was so excited to hear more of that first flight, and his first lesson, that I asked him to send me an email to tell us more.

Here you go:

"Hey there! I'm Brandon from Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, and I just took my first introductory flight along with my first lesson the other day! It was really, really, really fun, it's an amazing feeling being in the controls of an aircraft and actually flying the airplane! 

It was as easy as I thought it was going to be, not hard at all. Being up there and seeing the land below zooming by is quite the sight, being 4,000 feet up and seeing everything. It's really empowering being up in the sky knowing you've done what man dreamed of doing hundreds of years ago, you've defied everything like gravity etc. I'm 21 going on 22 and I wish I had done this years ago but I'm only looking forward to the rest of my flying career!"

Looks like we have another pilot in the making! Brandon, I'm looking forward to flying with you one day. Welcome aboard the journey to a great career. And thank you for the photos. Anyone have some advice for a new pilot, or just want to say hello and wish him luck... leave a comment!

Brandon comes from an aviation background, so it's no wonder he is headed to the sky. Sometimes, it's all about the history. Pop on over to From Private To Professional Pilot, to read more about this young man and his family. Brandon, Thank you for sharing your experience!

Enjoy the journey!
XO Karlene 

Monday, August 26, 2013

Monday Motivation: Inner Peace

If you can start the day without caffeine,

If you can always be cheerful...
ignoring aches and pains,

If you can resist complaining 
and boring people with your troubles,

If you can eat the same food every day 
and be grateful for it,

If you can understand when your loved ones
are too busy to give you any time,

If you can take criticism and 
blame without resentment,

If you can conquer tension without medical help,

If you can relax without alcohol,

If you can sleep without the aid of drugs,

Then You Are Probably....

The Family Dog!

Handle every stressful situation like a dog.
If you can't eat it or play with it then
pee on it and walk away. 

How do you handle stress?

This week I'm de-stressing with my writer friends in Lake Chelan, Washington. We're on a writer's retreat. 

Enjoy the Journey!
XO Karlene

Friday, August 23, 2013

Sharon Menear

Friday's Fabulous Flyer

Sharon Menear

From Flight Attendant to 
Airline Pilot to Award-Winning Author

"Once again it brings me the greatest joy for authors to share their stories. Why? They write themselves. Today we are meeting a wonderful lady, who 

My love affair with airplanes started when I was fifteen. My brother took me flying in a Piper Pacer before he shipped out on a US aircraft carrier. I was hooked but couldn’t afford lessons.

After college, I began a career as a Pan Am flight attendant. I earned enough money as a Pan Am flight attendant to afford lessons in the Pan Am Flying Club at New Tamiami Airport near Miami (1973). It only cost $50 to join the flying club. Pan Am crew schedulers scheduled the flying lessons, Pan Am pilots were the flight instructors, and Pan Am mechanics performed all the maintenance on the Cessna 150s and Cessna 172s. The airplane cost to students was $5/hr. for the C-150s and $7/hr. for the C-172s, and the flight instructors were $5/hr. You could never get a deal like that now.

I was based at JFK Airport in New York and flew to eighty-eight countries spanning the globe. Those were the glory days of the airline industry. Pan Am stewardesses were treated like movie stars—when I was in uniform, people stopped me on the street and asked for my autograph—no idea why. 

Airline pilots were revered as sky gods. Gourmet food was cooked to order in first class, and baked Alaska was served flaming. Hollywood legends and international tycoons were frequent passengers.

In the early 1970s, I transferred to Miami and joined the Pan Am Flying Club. Three months later, I earned my private pilot license. The Pan Am sky gods were kind to me. They let me hand fly a Boeing 707 for two hours over South America on a flight with few passengers and good weather. I also enjoyed flying a Boeing 747 en route from JFK to Frankfurt, Germany. The jumbo jet felt as steady as flying a big house. That was my light-bulb moment. I wanted to fly jet airliners.

When I began my quest, there were no female pilots with major airlines. I spent the next few years earning an instrument rating, commercial pilot license, multi-engine rating, and flight and ground instructor certificates, and logging flight time instructing and flying charter flights. After enough flight experience and a perfect score on the Airline Transport Pilot written test, I was the first woman hired by a small regional airline that was part of the Allegheny Commuter Network.

With no budget for flight simulators or flight training, the chief pilot employed the sink-or-swim method. I received a half-day ground school for each airplane type and one hour of flight training followed immediately by the flight test with an FAA examiner breathing down my neck. While I waited to takeoff for my checkride, an airplane crashed right in front of us, but no one was injured. The fed onboard was also an accident investigator. My chief pilot suggested we drop him off so he could investigate. The fed said the wreck would still be there when we finished. He didn’t want to miss a chance to put me through the ringer.

I loved my job as a commuter airline pilot flying Shorts 330s and 360s and STOL Twin Otter prop jets. On a typical day, I flew several round trips in the Shorts and then switched to the Twin Otter for a late trip to JFK or PHL. The Twin Otter was the most fun because it could takeoff and land in short distances and cruise at decent speed. My copilot job included plenty of experience flying in bad weather, hundreds of instrument approaches, and lots of landings. I was well prepared when the time came to apply to USAir a year later.

Thanks to good recommendations from my old boss at Pan Am and my chief pilot, I was granted an interview with USAir right before their big hiring wave in 1980. My first hurdle was a flight check in a DC-9 simulator. I’d never flown a jet airliner or simulator. After I passed the flight test, they told me I had flown well.


Next, I was taken to a conference room and grilled by six senior captains who asked me lots of questions that would be illegal in today’s world. I managed to convince them they could count on me to do a good job and not be a “pain-in-the-ass whiny broad like the first one they hired, who quit when her husband complained she was gone too much.” I told them if my husband disapproved of my pilot career, I’d find a new husband, which would be far easier than getting a pilot job with a major airline. They laughed. I won them over and then endured six hours of the strangest written tests I’ve ever taken. They saved the flight physical for last.

I was the only woman in the first new-hire class. We were all trained to be BAC 1-11 copilots, which involved some exciting late-night training in the actual airplane because the simulator was a primitive machine with visuals from a camera on a track over what looked like a toy train board with model towns, rivers, hills, and an airport. My training partner had been a Navy fighter pilot, and our instructor had been an Air Force fighter pilot—absolutely fearless, until we practiced the stalls.

We were at 15,000 ft., and his voice filled with tension as he reminded me our jet would lose 15,000 ft. in the first turn if it entered a spin. Translation: “If you screw this up, Sharon, we’re all gonna die!” Everyone survived.

After some time in the British airliner, I moved to copilot on the B727, the queen of the fleet. Pilots received one week of ground school followed by written and oral exams, then six days of flight-simulator training followed by the flight check. Back then, we also got some fun late-night training in the real aircraft because the simulator wasn’t approved for everything. Later, I flew copilot on the DC-9 and B737. After seven years as copilot, I earned my fourth stripe and flew as captain on the BAC 1-11, DC-9, and B737.

During my career, I also flew many antique and exotic experimental aircraft on my days off. I helped my husband restore antique airplanes and build experimental aircraft. My flight favorites were the fully aerobatic Bücker Jungmann biplane, Italian SIAI Marchetti SF260, Glassair III, Swearingen SX300, Russian Yak 52, and my Piper Cub Special, which played a role in my thriller novel, Deadstick Dawn, but that’s a story for the next blog..." 

Sharon's flying career was taken from her without warning. But her love of flight and passion for aviation continues on. Join me next Wednesday to see what this flying angel is up to after life clipped her wings.

Enjoy the Journey!
XO Karlene

Thursday, August 22, 2013

The Last Flight

T.H.ursday with Tom Hill

There's a tradition practiced by the USAF called the Fini Fight. It's a ceremony marking the end of an aviator's time in a unit and a celebration of a sort. Usually bad $2 champagne is involved. A fire hose is absolutely necessary. And, an epic memorable flight is always appreciated. I had mine last Friday and it had all these ingredients and more.

I'm in the process of moving from New Mexico back to Edwards AFB. I'm leaving this wonderful job for different horizons at the Test Pilot School. As is my unit's tradition, they put together a pretty awesome Fini Fight for me. Since I was due my annual evaluation in the T-38, we scheduled it now instead of passing it on to the next guys at TPS. Why not have an eval and a hosing down party all on the same mission? It certainly would be memorable.

I'm not one to make a big deal about anything I do. If I had my way, I'd just fade into the sunset and move onto what's next. But I realize, having worked in the military many years, these events are more about those remaining than the person who is leaving. There are traditions that need to be exercised to maintain cultural integrity. I didn't invent the Fini Fight so I certainly was not the guy to say, "It's not applicable to me."

The day started typically enough. The only unusual thing I did was bring a spare set of clothes as there would be much water and hosing down later in the day. I took precautions to hide my extra gear at the risk of the younger guys finding it and sticking it into the freezer while I was out flying. This sounds mean, but it's all meant in good fun.

When I walked through the hanger before flying, I shook hands with members of our maintenance team. A few words here and there, a couple of hugs, all normal things for someone about ready to move away. I'm not normally an emotional guy, but I had to hold back tears when I talked to Karl, one of our crew-chiefs who I've known for more than 20 years. I climbed the ladder and got strapped into my T-38 and thought how I might never see Karl again--he's 66 and about ready to retire himself and move onto greener pastures.

Ground ops and departure were uneventful. I gave the lead to my evaluator to watch him conduct a couple of simulated weapons deliveries--part of my evaluation was to instruct him through the maneuvers. I got the lead back and put the evaluator in a chase position so he could watch my approaches out at Roswell. We returned VFR just past Sierra Blanca, a beautiful 12,000 foot mountain north of our home--a memorable sight. A couple more approaches back at Holloman, then the mission was done.

My backseater, a young Fight Test Engineer called Bias, hadn't flown with me in the T-38 even though he'd been in our unit for over a year and a half. He told me, "It's almost personal you hadn't flown with me." Finally, the stars aligned to put us in the same jet. As is my habit with all of our backseaters, I tasked him with manipulating the aircraft avionics to keep him involved with the mission. Even though I could easily do all the button pushing myself, I involve my backseaters as they learn something, which is pretty much the point, always.

The mission ended without fanfare. I taxied to the squadron where 20 or so people had gathered. A fire hose waited, manned by one of our lieutenants. Our commander even brought his kids out to see the festivities, squirt guns and all. I taxied in and stopped. The chocks were put in and the engines shut down. I was ready to jump out of the jet but the crew chief didn't setup my boarding ladder. He was giving Bias a chance to escape the impending hose-down by letting him off the plane first.

Off the plane, the hosing started. I half-heartedly charged right into the stream to try to gain control of the hose. I failed, which was perfectly fine. The hosing stopped, allowing the kids to get in their licks. One of our enlisted guys poured the two dollar champagne on top of my head. Everything was just perfect.

A couple of words of appreciation by me. A few handshakes and photos later, then it was all done. I was done flying at Holloman AFB. Just like that...

I'll be here in New Mexico for another week out-processing. Everything will be about getting ready for what's next, to move on to the next chapter in my career.


Tom, This last flight is a huge deal. It doesn't matter if someone retires, graduates after years of arduous effort, ends a marriage, or changes jobs after many years in service, or takes their last flight... the act of closing one door and moving on to the next, with a life changing event, is huge.

It does something to the psyche. You might feel a bit off, like something is missing. Embrace the move, the new job, and focus on the future. Congratulations!!! 
Please take a moment to congratulate Tom! 
Enjoy the Journey
XO Karlene 

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Favorite Aviation Geek

VOTE for your Favorite AVGEEK. 

Rumor has it I am on the list!

To vote, just click HERE to go to the voting site. Then click on Tweet to @routesonline. Then add a name where it says @twitterhandle. (Feel free to add @KarlenePetitt)

Or... you can cut and paste the message below and tweet it.
@routesonline I nominate @KarlenePetitt for the #avgeek100 most influential #aviation #blogger

We only have until 12:00 GMT on Friday, August 23rd, then voting shuts down. Winners announced on Monday August 26th.

Enjoy the Journey!
XO Karlen

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Airways Magazine...

And Captain Mark L. Berry ... THANK YOU!

"Gratitude makes sense of our past, 
brings peace for today, 
and creates a vision for tomorrow."

Mark reviewed my novel, Flight For Control, in September's issue of Airways Magazine. This is an honor for so many reasons. First, mine is the first work of fiction he's been approved to review, and now we'll see many more to come. Second... Mark is not only an airline captain, but he is a talented writer, and has numerous articles published in a dozen different journals and magazines. Third, he wrote an awesome review.

"No story revolving around NTSB investigations would be complete without graphic details of grim remains, grief for those lost souls, and at least one heartbreaking scene with a charred survivor. Karlene Petitt does this with compassion, not shock value, and then balances it with buoyant characters such as Darby- a female Boeing 757 Captain..." Mark L Berry

I was honored to have him to read my novel, and overwhelmed that he enjoyed it. Yes... first time novels are a challenge, and to have one to breakout with such overwhelming success is exciting beyond belief. I have to thank you, my readers, and friends. Without your support and encouragement, I would not be where I am today. And a huge thank you for sharing your comments and opinions too. The good... and the helpful.

The world of writing is a challenge. For those who think giving birth, attending graduate school while working a full time job, and raising teenage daughters, or flying heavy jets is tough... write a novel. Then read and edit it 32+ times. You breathe life into it, and it sometimes sucks the life from you. You see 0300 many times during the years. Sometimes at the beginning of your day, and other times at the end. But never a day goes by that you are not working, thinking, plotting, and learning. 

Writers must have thick skins. We must thank those who are willing to tell us the problems they see, so we can get better. We must push the hurt feelings aside when someone critiques our baby. If we are willing to listen, we can learn.

One of the first things I learned during my writing journey was to be teachable. But of course. I thought we all wanted to learn to get better. But that's not always the case. Sometimes pride and ego step in the way. For me, I love to learn. I want to get better. So when the teacher arrives, I'm all ears.

Mark has done more for me than write a great review in the September Issue of Airways Magazine. He is taking his time to guide, coach and give his opinion on the sequel, Flight For Safety. Opinions are an interesting thing... we all have them. But when they resonate... they are golden. When they come from a talent like Mark L Berry... you've won the lottery. I know I have.

Mark, thank for your valued opinion on
and the future of Flight For Safety

And for all those who have supported me during this journey, read my novel, left a comment, and patiently await for book two... I cannot thank you enough! We are closing in on a publication date. 

For today... 
You have created a vision for my future. 
Thank You!

Enjoy the Journey!
XO Karlene

Monday, August 19, 2013

A Day to Celebrate...

Celebrate by taking someone you love to see the movie Planes! Go flying. Look to the sky and dream big. Make today special... and know that whatever you do, the sky is not the limit.

Enjoy the Journey!
XO Karlene

Friday, August 16, 2013

Bill Palmer

Friday's Fabulous Flyer

 Captain Bill Palmer

Bill started flying lessons when he was fifteen years old in a Cessna 150 on a small grass strip in central New Jersey, and soloed on his sixteenth birthday. He earned his pilots license when he was seventeen. His mother actually drove him to the airport because he did not have a drivers license.

He received his commercial, instrument, multi-engine, cfi and CF-II, while attending Embry Riddle in Daytona Beach. During the summer of his junior year he instructed at that grass field where it all started. 

Bill graduated from ERAU with a BS Aeronautical Science in 1979, and went to work for a Beech dealer in Pontiac Michigan where he earned his milti-engine instructor certificate. He put that ticket to work... but also flew charters in Barons, and was an FO on King Air.


He also flew cancelled checks around at night, single pilot, single and multi-engine. He says it was a great experience, and at one point flew eight hours a night, four nights a week in an Aerostar. Talk about building time and experience.

In 1982, he found himself flying BE-99's for Air Kentucky airlines, an Allegheny commuter (the USAir regional at the time). More than flying, he wrote a computer program for processing the airline’s tickets, and created a passenger information brochure. When the first printing could not be used because of copyrighted art of the airplane for the cover, he made a pen & ink drawing of the airplane himself.

Then in February of 1984, he was hired by Northwest, and his career took off. He started as a B727 second officer, then second officer OE instructor, and first officer. And so it went...

He was a 757 first officer instructor, classroom instructor, fixed base simulator instructor, and wrote training articles. He also created the ventilation schematic that remained in use for over twenty years.

A320. He was a simulator insrtuctor, flew the airplane, was an line instructor, an FAA designee, and wrote articles and made training videos. 

DC-10. He was the lead on DC-10 systems manual rewrite, and learned FrameMaker. He was an instructor, flight test pilot... delivery and autoland systems, and worked directly with engineers on a simulator rehost project.

A330. Development team, lead on systems manual, taught FrameMaker. Was a simulator and OE instructor, and a FAA designee. He authored various training materials, an created an ACARS simulator. He also flew formation with a lear jet for the photo flight against the rocky mountains. Most importantly, he was my simulator instructor on the A330!

787 development team, he was the lead on systems manual creation and development tasks. He was also type rated in the 777 while working on a 787 project. And then during the merger he worked on joint training projects between airlines.

As if all this wasn't enough... In 1991 he began flying gliders in Minnesota, and earned his commercial certification in 1992. He stopped flying gliders in 1995, but picked it up again in 2012 and now flies out of Warner Springs CA. He developed and programmed an on-line store for his glider instructor. Check out (Where I bought my books.)

He also created a written-test preparation program that was sold for glider & airplane FAA tests, the glider bronze badge written test, and as a study guide for DC9, 727, 757 and A320.

Bill is a webmaster and video producer DIYplumbingAdvice, and several other web projects. He is a house corporation trustee for his college Fraternity’s house corporation (ΣX) and developed and programmed his chapter’s website and on line database. He is the developer and programmer of, a soaring classified ad website.

Bill and his lovely wife Mary, live on a small horse farm in rural southern California where he drives a tractor, taught himself how to torch weld, and likes playing the drums.  He's got two horses, 3 dogs, 2 cats, 2 parrots, 3 chickens & feeding about 200 hummingbirds.

As if you thought I was busy~ So what is Bill up to now? 

He just wrote a book, Understanding Air France 447.  The title speaks for itself. But join us next Tuesday with an interview with Bill to hear the story behind the story. We'll learn more about this book and why it came into being. There is always a story behind the story. For now... check it out. You will not be disappointed! 

And if anyone has an technical question ask Bill. 
There nothing he doesn't know about the A330.

It's kind of funny the things that impact our lives. Bill shared something with me that was interesting, and definitely impacted his. He said, "When I sent one of my first primary students for his check ride, and I went to meet the examiner (so this is 1978) he told me that if I gave my students limits (e.g., 100 ' 10°) they'll exceed them, but if I demand perfection, I'll get it.

What words of wisdom have impacted your life? 

You can follow him on Twitter @wfpalmer 
And follow his blog at TrendVector

Enjoy the journey!
XO Karlene

Thursday, August 15, 2013


T.H.ursdays with Tom Hill

I struggled a little bit this week figuring out what to write about. I keep a list on my iPhone of ideas for subjects. When I think of a possibility, I write it into my phone for review later. Mostly, my ideas for what to write about simply come as I start putting "pen to paper." Today is no different. I wanted to write something about every pilot being exposed to acrobatics and other dynamic maneuvering. As I started to type I thought, "Let's talk more about the basics of why such training is important." That led me to think about today's topic, which is how flying is artistic.

I had a supervisor, the Commandant of the USAF Test Pilot School, say something about flying that was very insightful. He was an engineer, the only engineer to hold that distinguished position. Being the supremely intelligent man that he is, he would ask basic questions about the nature of flying that we pilots mostly took for granted. On this day he asked for my thoughts about whether I thought flying, specifically piloting, was by its nature artistic. I hadn't thought of that before but immediately made the connection.

I believe it is. As many controls, regulations, rules, and automation we might put into flying, at its core, piloting aircraft is artistic to the same degree as painting, playing an instrument, or being a photographer. Each of those vocations can easily be regimented--e.g. paint by numbers--but we rarely discount their connection to being artistic. Piloting, on the other hand, is not commonly connected to an artistic nature.

All of us have been to airshows and watched the headline demonstration team show off their skills. As much as I ooo'd and ahhh'd at their shows as a kid, I developed a new level of appreciation when I learned to fly at pilot training. After I learned the basics of aviation, a new window to the details of flying such demos opened up. The dozens and dozens of considerations, analyses, and decisions that go on every moment during such a demo are mind-boggling. Something as routine as quickly rejoining far flung aircraft involves amazing numbers of considerations and aircraft parameters to be worked through. Yet, these teams do these things so expertly as to make it look simple to the casual observer. We pilots know differently. With so many variables at play, it takes a good dose of "seeing" the solution to make these things happen. "Seeing" is a pretty necessary skill for any artist.

When I was the Edwards AFB F-15 demo pilot, the flight profile I flew was very scripted. Everything about it had parameters that had to be met to ensure proper safety margins were always in-play. To the outside uninformed observer, the long list of airspeeds, altitudes, and aircraft conditions were totally transparent. Yet, as pre-defined the profile was, it took a level of "expertise" to tackle the profile expertly. Even with all the pre-planning weather conditions would creep in requiring adjustments to the parameters to keep the profile as perfect for the viewer as possible. It was always the little things that made one demo flight better than the next. It's the same as a virtuoso playing a classic arrangement many others played before. Artistry is at work.

Some people out there may not understand how I can connect flying to artistry. Some of them might think flying as simply a matter of procedure. They may think flying is simply a matter of making planes idiot proof, training only a matter of learning perfect procedure, and discipline merely doing the right cookbook procedure at the right time. This might make sense in some situations but if you never understand the limits of such a perspective you're doomed to be surprised when things don't go right. If you know and understand that flying is more than simple procedures, there's a hope you might "see" solutions for unexpected situations. Artistry like flying is about developing great skill.

Artistry is a funny thing. It's so difficult to put a finger on what art is. Like anything that's based on subjectivity, it's hard to define quantitatively. But, just because something is hard to define quantitatively and is difficult for actuaries and accountants to accept, it does not mean it's not important. In fact, artistry might be the most important thing of all.

Thank you Tom! This could not be a better week for this post. Monday we had the art of soaring, Tuesday is the art of giving back. Wednesday Aviation Art. And today... your beautiful piece on the Art of flying. Tomorrow another pilots makes art of another kind.

I can totally see how you can connect art to flying. I've flown with artists who paint the sky, and have flown with those who operate mechanically. There is a difference. 

Enjoy the journey!
XOX Karlene