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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.

Friday, November 15, 2013

In Memory Of...

The pilots...

A pilot friend wrote to me with a broken heart about an accident that occurred too close to home. He said,

A Bearskin Airline crashed last night killing 5 people including both pilots. I didn't know anyone but the captain was a grad from my school and had 3 kids :(  Ever since last night it's been affecting me more than I expected. And it's made me think of two flights I've felt most uncomfortable being in an airplane.

It also made me think of a post I once wrote:

The Sky Is Not Our home

And I read this on that someone posted it and it really hit me and even made me tear up.

"...I don't know anyone on board the flight. I don't know anyone at the Bear actually. But I do know that these people went before their time. I recognized, sitting in the cockpit today, the fragility of our jobs, our lives. The effort we put in, and the sacrifices that sometimes, unfortunately, come out. It's with that, that I feel so deeply for the pilots, the passengers, the two that survived as well. 

I couldn't imagine living with such memories, nightmares rather. Its things like this that made this morning go a little slower, made me look at the checklist a little closer, and to fly a little better. I can't really describe through a keyboard, but in my heart, I know I feel something. Something for everyone involved...."

My company flew a couple of reporters to the crash site today because it's only an hour flight away from here. And I've flown to that airport many times."


On Sunday four died in a plane crash in the Bahamas.  And last month a plane crashed in Nairobi equally impacting those involved. November 17, a 737 crashed in Russia.


Today is in memory of all the pilots that have passed before their time... We know there are risks, but today let's all go a little slower and pay a little more attention to details.

Enjoy the Journey!
XO Karlene 


  1. Flying, at least on a US airline, is about the safest thing you can do. It's safer than driving to or from an airport, it's safer than taking a shower of a bath, safer than cooking a meal, and safer than skiing, biking or eating a burger. Thanks to CRM, GPWS, TCAS and EFIS (and maybe other acronyms I missed), commercial flying has become almost accident free.

    Personal flying (under FAR part 91) still has a way to go, balancing the need for consistent high performance against freedom of access for most people. We're getting a trickle-down of airline technology into our glass cockpits, but the pilots are the weak link.

    No-one is guaranteed any particular number of sunrises or sunsets in their lives. We can spend them wrapped in bubble-wrap and doing nothing, and we will still die at some point from chocking or illness or age. Pilots of any type don't do that - we go out and slay dragons, and sometimes they slay you. Be careful out there!

    1. D.B. This is so well said. Thank you. We have no guarantees in life, and we must remember to live.

      Flying is safer than driving. Statistics prove that.

      I think when our new pilots, who are on the beginning end of their flying careers with nerves and inexperience, see someone with experience crash... It sends a tremor of fear.

      But if we can shift that fear to awareness so they become better and learn ... that's all we can do.

      Whenever someone passes, the event highlights our own mortality. Something I'm glad they feel free to share and discuss, instead of holding it inside in attempt at being stoic.

      I vote to live the best we can. Do the best we can.

      Thank you so much for the great comment!

  2. Ugh. When I flew up in Alaska, I remember a plane crashed in the state about once a month. Given the incredible amount of flying that goes on daily up there, it's actually no surprise--and still vastly safer than driving. But we all heard about it, all got a little more spooked as we approached our bird the next time.

    I'm glad you made a post honoring the pilots. We not only have to acknowledge and honor them, we must not turn a blind eye in denial that, indeed, the sky is NOT our home, nor ever will be.

    We must respectfully acknowledge that Mother Nature is always in control.

    1. Thanks for the comment Eric. You have the answer... don't turn the blind eye. And yes, the Mother is always in control. We must always remember.

  3. Karlene, I've gotten weary of writing posts on N631S's blog about folks who have Gone West. It's undeniable that this is part and parcel with this Thing we choose to do.

    May I share with you something that I wrote as a comment on Capt. Cockrell's blog, when he spoke eloquently of his sadness over the loss of Keavy Nenninger...

    "There is no way to make sense of it. No fairness, no justice, no rightness to it. This thing we do just gets closer to the lines drawn by the Fates, than do most other Earthly activities.

    Ernie had it right, about Fate being the hunter. Reach for the stars, go upon laughter-silvered wings, take what is offered, prepare to meet Fate (hey, maybe you can cheat!). Raise a glass, for those Gone West.

    Keavy and Emily crammed so much life into their too brief years. We grieve not for them, but for ourselves."

    For Keavy and Emily and Carroll LeFon and Jimmy Leeward and Shannon Beebe and Liz Pignatello and Mike Nerandzic and Amanda Franklin and Paul Valois, and all of the others...a glass raised toward the West..."Arriba! Siempre Arriba!" What more is there to say?


    1. Thank you for the great comment Frank. I will join you in raising that glass! May you always cheat that hunter!

  4. Great post Karlene. And we lost another group of pilots today in Russia, with the latest 737 crash.

    "Better to be on the ground wishing you were in the sky vs. being in the sky wishing you were on the ground."


    1. Oh... this is so sad. I had not heard. Thank you for sharing. And yes... I love that quote!


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