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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.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Lessons Learned

Monday Motivation

"I cannot acknowledge
that which I am unwilling
- to accept from within."

We all learn in unique ways. Most often the best lessons learned are those that we live through. They give us an awakening that we are not infallible. We make mistakes. The goal is to learn from those errors, share them, and make sure that they will never happen again.

The way I see it. We have two choices... Learn only from our mistakes. Or learn from our errors combined with those errors of others. I choose to share in the learning moments of all. But before we can do that, we must acknowledge and accept that we are human, and are willing to learn.


Blogging information week continues with....

My Most Instructional Moment.

Brent Owens shares his story with an awesome lesson... 

"I was chief instructor, lineman, and all around gofer. I was young, single, and stuffing my logbook one hour at a time.

On this particularly nice day, a friend showed up at the airport. She was adorable and I had been hoping she would take me up on my repeated promises for an airplane ride...

The weather was beautifully clear and being that it was late afternoon this should prove to be a perfect local site seeing flight.... 

Like all good stories when everything is perfect, you have to ask, "what could possibly go wrong?" When that question is asked in the movies, we know what is about to happen. In real life what follows are valuable lessons.

What lesson have you learned through experience?

After you answer that question, and want to know what happened when Brent took his cute friend flying on a beautiful evening... drop on over to his Instructional Moment at the iFlyBlog to read the entire story. Well worth the read!

Enjoy the Journey!
XO Karlene

Blogging information schedule for the week...

Sun 29th: House of Rapp - Ron Rapp
Mon 30th: iFLYblog - Brent Owens
Tues Oct 1: Adventures of Cap’n Aux - Eric Auxier
Wed Oct 2: Flight to Success - Karlene Petitt
Thu Oct 3: Smart Flight Training - Andrew Hartley
Fri Oct 4: Airplanista - Dan Pimentel

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Instructors Or Students...

Who Is Responsible for the Outcome of YOUR Training?

Blogging information is back, and this week is all about....

"My Best Instructional Moments"

Is it the instructor or the student that creates the successful outcome of learning how to fly? This is a great question. And not everyone connects in the same way, one of the most important things when learning to fly is finding a person who is a good fit. How will you know? You just will. It feels right. 

But just as important, you the student, need to take responsibility for your learning.

Today Ron Rapp asks a great question...  "What makes a good flight student?"

Ron says,

"One of the things I learned after years going through private, instrument, commercial, tailwheel, multi-engine, formation, aerobatic, turboprop, sea plane, glider, and jet type rating courses was that I needed to take charge of my own progress. And I did! A student has tremendous power to mold their learning experience into something that works for them, right down to changing instructors if necessary. Remember, they're not just learners, but "customers" as well...

Learning to fly is much like being a medical patient. There are those who simply put themselves at the mercy of their physician and take whatever they're told at face value, never questioning, researching, or double checking anything. That little voice in the back of your head that says something is wrong? Ignore it -- the doctor said it's nothing. Right?"

I'm not sure about you... but I don't take anything for granted. One thing life has taught me is to not be afraid to question something that does not feel right, or query your instructor if you just don't get it. Your success, and more importantly... your life can depend upon it.
What do you think? 
Who is more responsible for learning...
the student or the teacher?
After you answer that question take a moment to read more on the subject at the The House of Rapp. Ron has an excellent post on this subject you won't want to miss.

Enjoy the Journey!
XO Karlene

Blogging information schedule for the week!

Sun 29th: House of Rapp - Ron Rapp
Mon 30th: iFLYblog - Brent Owens
Tues Oct 1: Adventures of Cap’n Aux - Eric Auxier
Wed Oct 2: Flight to Success - Karlene Petitt
Thu Oct 3: Smart Flight Training - Andrew Hartley
Fri Oct 4: Airplanista - Dan Pimentel

Friday, September 27, 2013

Mother Nature...

Friday's Fabulous Flyer... 

Mother Nature... 

She is always full of surprises... 

Sometimes you have to stop and appreciate her power, beauty, and the gifts she spreads across the world... or the oceans as the case may be.

 Indian Ocean at FL410


 My office seriously has the best view in the world!

Enjoy the Journey!
XO Karlene  

Thursday, September 26, 2013

The Train Called "Your Life"

T.H.ursdays with Tom Hill

Sometimes “perspective” is all one needs to get that epiphany, to get that “ah ha” moment. You might hear words that gets you thinking. Your mind wanders. You think of one thing which takes you to another thing that eventually leads to the “ah ha." I was on that path when someone suggested the poem “Stations.” 
Stations is all about looking at life like a series of stations you encounter on a train trip. If you read Stations you’ll see the author says it's about the path between the stations that's important vs actually getting to one of the stations. I took that concept and came up with this article, your life like a train on a track with stations coming at you. Let me explain.

Marfa Tx
Imagine you're on a train, the train of life. It's on a track that fades to the rear so it shows your past, where you've been. As you speed forward, stations whip by - events in your life. You see them. You experience them. You wonder about them as they recede into the past. In the distance, towards the back, they get smaller. They're harder to see yet they are part of you, part of your memory.

Then, you turn. Looking forward into the future, along the track, in the direction the train is going, you see a thick, gray fog. The tracks in front of the train fade into the fog of the future. Even though the train's light is bright, it doesn't break the fog. The fog is too thick. The future is obscured. You can't see the stations until they’re almost on you. They speed out of the mist like a surprise, then whip backwards into the past.

The stations are coming too quickly, so you "will" the train to slow down. (You are the conductor of your life after all.) The train seems to slow but it's hard to tell looking forward. The fog is too thick to gauge speed. Still, the stations arrive unannounced just as before. It’s still hard to anticipate the stations. Going slow doesn't make you more prepared for the future. You can't see any better into the future. The fog is still there.

"That didn't work," you say. "I'll go to the back of the train to look where the train has been. I will look backwards and predict where the tracks are going based on where the train has traveled before."

As you're on the caboose of your life looking backwards, satisfied with your new approach, you see stations whip by. Your happiness is brief. The stations go by but they aren't quite what you expected. You predict a green station but a red one flies by. You anticipate a large station but the next station is too small. 
What you foretell looking backwards from the caboose doesn't align with what's happening. The stations don’t match your predictions. There's something wrong. Thoughts form in your head. "What if the future can't be predicted? What if you can't see the future by looking backwards? Why am I on the caboose of my life looking backwards when life is going by? Why am I looking backwards hoping my future is different when I could be looking forwards from the front like the train conductor should?" 

You turn around and get to the front of the train and peer into the fog. You think, "This is a good train and it's on a good track. I will love this train and where it is on the track because it is all I know. Since this is all I know, I shall choose to love it. After all, what other choice is there?"

A "y" in the track comes into view. You choose the course using your best feelings and intelligence. Even though you still can't predict where the track will ultimately lead, you are happy with your decision. After all, you're still on the train you love and where it is on the track called “your life."


Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Flying Around The World

But there is no place like home!

Last weekend we had all the girls home and had fair day with the kids and grandkids. The weather cooperated. The kids were on their best behavior besides being exhausted from traveling. And then scheduling called. They cut my time short with my family and sent me on a trip around the world.

Day one... I deadheaded from Seattle to Tokyo on a B777. My first time on the plane. I got to take a peek into the crew bunks, which are awesome. And I'm on the way to bring back into service one of our A330s that just had our crew bunk removed.

Day two was a Deadhead on JAL to Singapore.

And I got to have my first flight on the B787! 

She is so beautiful and the wings just goes on forever.  


Tomorrow I'm flying to Mumbai to deliver a bunkless Airbus into service, and will pick up another to bring it back to Singapore for its bunkdectomy. And then I deadhead home... Just in time to fly to Atlanta, Amsterdam and back to Mumbai. Literally... I'm flying around the world.

Enjoy the Journey!
XO Karlene 

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Aviation History...

"Howard Hughes’s H-4 Hercules is the largest flying boat ever built, and has the largest wingspan of any aircraft in history. Due to wartime restrictions on using aluminum, the aircraft was built out of wood, earning it the nickname “Spruce Goose” (even though it was actually made out of birch). It had 8 engines, each producing 3000 horsepower. It only flew one time, for about a mile and at about 70 feet above the water, on November 2, 1947."

How well do you remember 1947? 

Enjoy the Journey!
XO Karlene

Remember... these are the good ole days!

Monday, September 23, 2013

Aviation Fingerprints

"Aviation professionals come and go. But few leave their finger prints and continue to make a significant difference to keep this second to none world a unique one.

To all the aviators who are flight instructing, motivating future pilots, keeping general aviation alive, and fighting for safety, please take a moment to pat yourself on the back. As Jalal spoke so beautifully, this world is second to none. Each one of us can do something to make it better. Every life we touch, will touch another.

Aviation is our future. It connects the world. We owe it to the generations to follow, to make it the safest possible. And now... I am off to Tokyo today. Beginning of an eight day trip: NRT. SIN. BOM. SIN. NRT. SEA.

Enjoy the Journey!
XO Karlene

Friday, September 20, 2013

Captain George Nolly

Friday's Fabulous Flyer

  Captain George Nolly

Where does an aviation career begin?

"When I was 2 years old, my father had a J-3, and took me up numerous times. I really enjoyed flying when I was a young kid, and when I was 8 or 9 I saw Bridges At Toko-Ri and The High and the Mighty. From that time on, I wanted to be a fighter pilot and an airline pilot. And I fulfilled my dream! Dad sold the plane when I was about 4, and didn’t fly very much after I was about 10. It was lack of money."   
George Nolly

But lack of money did not keep George from his dream. He followed in his father's footsteps and connected his life to aviation. He was an Air Force pilot for 11 years until 1978 when he left to fly for United Airlines. But after a short two years of living the airline dream he was furloughed. At that time George returned to the Air Force and stayed another five years, contributing 16 years active duty to our country.

George Nolly flew 315 combat missions on two successive tours of duty in Vietnam, flying O-2A and F-4 aircraft. He flew as a FAC out of DaNang in the first tour and fighters out of Thailand his second tour.

He returned to United Airlines and retired from his position as a B-777 Captain in 2005 due to mandatory age-60 retirement. George has Master of Science Degrees in Systems Management and Education, and a Doctor of Business Administration Degree in Homeland Security. He now flight instructs in the B777 and B787. And more than that...


"I have been involved in aviation for over 50 years, and it has shaped my perceptions and my attitudes about pretty much everything. And my experiences in Vietnam were the most intense of my aviation life. Everyone’s Vietnam experience is different, and in a way it’s also the same. I stay in contact with a lot of other vets, and it’s the same for everyone: Vietnam is always with you. "

George Nolly is not only instructing, but he is writing too. He sent me three of his novels. In a brief summation on my opinion...

His first novel, Hamfist Over The Trail, was outstanding and Hamfist Down was even better. I am now half way through Hamfist over Hanoi and he has kept the pace. Talk about an adventure, living in another world, and learning really cool things about airplanes I've never flown. My kind of read.

Thank you for my books George!

Karlene:  George, your books are so much fun to read. I'm sure everyone wonders how a story that carries you through a war can be fun... but your art of story telling is amazing. And it almost reads like a memoir. Tell me what brought you to writing the Hamfist series?

George:  This book has been running around in my head for over 40 years. I’ve been writing non-fiction for over 30 years, but never tried fiction, because I was terrified of dialog. But then a friend, Bill Myers, wrote a novel Mango Bob. It was a fun read, and I decided I could write a novel, too. It was the kick in the ass I needed.

I just started writing, and the characters started doing things on their own. The dialog just magically appeared, and the characters went rogue on me and made the story work out!

Karlene: Mango Bob is on my list, but back to yours. Your dialogue is great. The story is wonderful. And while I was too young for the Vietnam era, my husband was running around the ground while you were flying overhead. I found everything in your story fascinating, but then I am a pilot. Can you imagine book clubs members reading your books too?

George: I think readers, especially voracious readers like book club members, will appreciate getting a peek into what life was like for pilots in Vietnam. Although there have been a lot of books about the role of fighter pilots, very few have given Forward Air Controllers – FACs – their due. I’ve heard from a lot of Vietnam vets that have really appreciated my shining a spotlight on their experiences.

Karlene: I agree. Especially the real life touch with emotion, love, loss of life, and hope. Your writing style takes us into the life of Hamfist. I felt like I was in the jungle with you. So... I have to ask how much of your stories are true?

George: Pretty much everything in the novel is based on actual events, most of them my own experiences, but I threw in a few from my squadron-mates. All my buddies who got killed are on the plaque at the USAFA Southeast Asia Pavillion.

My father was killed when I was 15 – the story in Hamfist Down is exactly how it transpired, except it was my uncle who broke the news to my brother and me. After he died, I gravitated toward flying because it was a link to him. I read every aviation book I could from that time on, and started taking flying lessons at age 17. The story about my cousin is true, too.

Karlene: George, the death of your father brought tears to my eyes. I think that the reality of your story is what helps bring out the passion in your writing. Whatever it is, I am really enjoying your stories. What authors have inspired you?

George: My favorite authors are Ernest K. Gann and James Michener. Gann, a pilot himself, wrote a lot about aviation. Michener’s The Bridges of Toko-Ri was, for me, a great book. It really captured the essence of fighting a war in a faraway place while the entire population was totally oblivious to the sacrifices of the troops. To be honest, I went through a long fiction-reading dry spell right after I retired from United, because I was reading non-fiction all the time as I spent the next six years getting my doctorate. I’m back reading fiction again, and right now I’m partial to Mark Berent and Stephen Coonts.

Karlene:  There is nothing like great fiction and I am sure enjoying yours. Also, I think I coined a new genre... True Fiction. I think your books are right up there.

For anyone who wants a great read for the winter... check out George's Hamfist series. Not only will you have a great read, but you will have fun sneaking inside another world, learning a lot of interesting secret handshakes, and for those who were there, you will have a chance to relive a huge part of your life.

Follow George on Twitter @Gnolly And please leave him a comment. And most definitely check out his books. Very fun and all are a very fast read! Oh...and my husband read the first last night and is on the second tonight. I better hurry and finish the third before he steals it! Yes... he's enjoying them too.

Enjoy the Journey!
XO Karlene

Thursday, September 19, 2013

What Would You Do If... If You Knew You Could Not Fail...

T.H.ursdays with Tom Hill

"I like watching TED Talks because the presentations make me think about things. Sometimes the presenters put words to ideas I've been thinking but haven't gotten to articulate properly. One subject I routinely revisit is the power of creativity, which is addressed in many videos on the TED Talk website. I believe creativity, the application of creativity--i.e., innovation--will be the only way to stay ahead of the future complexities of the modern world. 
Without creativity, we'll be stuck doing things the same old way, which I don't think helps move society forward. One of the speed bumps to innovation is fear because of the risk of failure when innovating. In the midst of successful careers, we may not be willing to innovate, to stick our necks out there, at the risk of failing. This brings up the question, "What would you do if you could not fail?"

Regina Dugan, former head of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), asks that precise question in TED Talk, Regina Dugan: From mach-20 glider to humming bird drone.

She asks us to consider: if you removed the fear of failure element, what could you accomplish? She shows off exciting technology feats accomplished by small teams on sometimes shoe-string budgets. The examples are impressive. 

Sure there are failures. In fact, some of them could be epic. Still, the DARPA model believes there is big pay-off innovating like this, even when there’s failure.

I'm a big believer in this concept, the harder road the better. The path that takes us to the "sure thing" rarely leads to anything substantial. As Sir Ken Robison, an educator and speaker, aptly put it, "Unless you are willing to fail you will never create anything truly original." The possibility of failure is precisely the ingredient that's associated with amazing things. 
I think unless the possibility of failure exists, 
 you'll likely not encounter anything unique or notable.

Why do I think this? Because the nature of shooting for the edges of the "envelope" means sometimes the envelope is exceeded, which might lead to a type of failure. If you're always playing it safe, you will never stretch the envelope. Just to be clear I am not suggesting people exceed their aircraft limits in the false hope of achieving something great. I’m talking about self-imposed or metaphorical limits.

Here's the funny thing about failure when you're shooting for the edges: When you fail, you'll learn something you probably didn't know before. In fact, you'll likely learn something totally unexpected. I've read many of our medical discoveries trace their origins to supposed failures. 
Scientists were looking for something, conducted an experiment, and experienced unexpected results -- i.e., a failure. But, upon further analysis, the something they weren't expecting that revealed itself led to studies in different directions. There was success out of the failure by way of something unexpected. The medical community isn't the only discipline in which this type of thing happens. It can happen in our own aviation community.

Let's talk about something we're all familiar with. Unless you were born with your hands on a yoke, taking the leap to begin flight training is precisely that, a leap. Learning to fly is a long term, expensive commitment that would never pass a common sense test. 
If you were weighing the pros and cons of starting the path to a pilot’s license like as if you were using a gigantic balance, you’d probably never have that balance fall to the “yes, it’s a good idea” side. Yet, people start aviation careers everyday by taking that leap. They start despite the numbers, despite suffering the possibility of failure. There is something intangible, un-measurable, that makes people believe it’ll all work out. We have example after example among our readers who wouldn't be stopped. They leapt and succeeded.

Here's the funny thing: we didn't always have this fear of failure. I'm sure you can remember as a kid when you leapt before looking. You just did. You just did and discovered what there was to discover. Addressing failure wasn't an issue. Somewhere along the way, as we all got older, we embraced the comfort of the safer path. We considered "what if this doesn't work out," as if it were the key litmus test before doing anything. The fear of what might happen took over.

I'm not suggesting a course where realities are disregarded - realities as in tangible risks. I am not suggesting people step off real cliffs without looking. There will always be risks out there that need to be addressed. Addressing them is absolutely the right action. But, there are plenty of risks or perceived possibilities for failure that aren't based in reality and aren't connected to tangible evidence. Those are the ones that can be cast aside.

Life is complicated enough with real risks without adding false ones as well, which is precisely the point of this article."
What would YOU do 
if you could not fail?


Tom left us with an excellent question, and one that I ask daily. I challenge you to leave a comment below by answering this question.... "What would you do if you could not fail?"

I do not fear failure. Do you?

When you have 25 minutes... please go listen to TED Talk, Regina Dugan: From mach-20 glider to humming bird drone.

Enjoy the journey!
XO Karlene