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, January 31, 2014

Leland (Chip) Shanle

Friday's Fabulous Flyer:

Leland "Chip" Shanle Jr; 
Lieutenant Commander, USN (Ret).

"I'm one of the lucky few; my occupation is my passion. A few years ago I was flying a training mission at twilight off the coast of Southern California. The Hale-Bopp comet was blazing overhead. I decided to get a better look; dumping the nose of my F-4N Phantom II, I held it at zero g as I shoved the throttles to full afterburner. With no induced drag on the aircraft, the J79-GE-8 engines very quickly pushed the jet supersonic. Leveling at 35,000, its best energy addition altitude, I let the Phantom run up to 1.5 Mach and then began a climb.

Burying the needle of the VSI above it's 6,000 feet per minute climb limit, the Phantom ascended toward the peeking stars. I should have leveled at 50,000 feet, the limit without a pressure suit, but I didn't.

Above me the stars were coming alive for the night, below me was the ocean, glistening in the pastel color of a sun just set. Glancing to the east, the coast and San Diego; the city's lights brighter than the emerging stars. To the west the curvature of the earth was accentuated by the dark ocean against back lit sky.

Finally I looked up to the moon and watched as the Hale-Bopp Comet streaked the sky, just below it. I wondered how I could share this; and some of the other amazing and horrific things I've seen in a life of aviation. I have since tried through: film, video, and mostly the written word."

"I grew up in an Aviation family: my Grandfather returned from the trenches of France after WWI and some how ended up managing Yellow Cab Airline in the 20s. It had a single city pair DSM-MSP. His two sons (Bill+Bob) flew as Aircrewman in the Korean conflict. Bob went on to pilot training and flew AC-119 Gunships in Viet Nam and commanded a B-52 squadron during the Cold War. The other side of my family was Navy; my Uncle Larry flew AD-1 Skyraiders in Viet Nam (and family legend has it he flew unmarked AD-1s in the Bay of Pigs). He returned home in 1966 and was killed in the reserves just a few weeks later, flying an S-2F Tracker. I followed him into Naval Flight training in 1982."

Chip is an accomplished and award winning writer (MWSA Gold Award for Historical Fiction 2012) in both fiction and non-fiction. He is a contributing Editor to Airways Magazine, and has published articles in other periodicals as well. Chip has also written screenplays for major motion pictures as well as television. His company Broken Wing was featured in Discovery's Curiosity Series Documentary: PLANE CRASH.

He is a member of The Society of Authors in the United Kingdom and the Military Writers Society of America (MWSA) in the United States. He has remained an active member of the Society of Experimental Test Pilots.

Project 7 Alpha, his first novel, received the GOLD AWARD in Historical Fiction 2012 from The Military Writers Society of America. 7A was published in 2008 (Kindle 2012) by Pen+Sword.


Vengeance at Midway and Guadalcanal,is the second book in the Aviator Series. And he is hard at work finishing his fourth; A Race With Infamy.

Historical fiction continues to be his passion and he pursues it further with, ENDGAME in the Pacific, his third novel in a TRILOGY set in WWII. 

Chip has also been an aviation/military technical adviser on 5 major motion pictures (Pearl Harbor, Behind Enemy Lines, xXx, The Day After Tomorrow and Stealth) and a television series pilot (not yet announced). His production company, Broken Wing LLC, is featured in Discovery's Curiosity Documentary: Plane Crash; in the USA, Channel 4 in the UK and Prosieben in Germany.

A rare author that has actually lived the passion he writes about; Chip is a retired Naval Aviator and continues to fly with American Airlines and as an active Test Pilot. He also flies for fun with his kids, in his 1967 Beech-Craft Musketeer.

Chip received his Masters from Embry Riddle Aeronautical University and also graduated from the Naval War College CCE. Studying and writing about historical battles laid the foundation for his novels.

Born and raised in St. Louis Missouri, he attended Chaminade College Prep Class of 1977. After High School he joined Naval ROTC at the University of Missouri, Columbia. Upon graduation in December of 1981, he was commissioned an Ensign in the United States Navy. A month later he married Laura L Cantrell and they set out on their Navy adventure together.

He flew 16 different naval aircraft in 10 squadrons; including the F-4 Phantom II, EA-6B Prowler and TA-4J Skyhawk. Attached to CAG (Air Wing) 5, 11 and 1 He cruised on the USS Midway, America and Lincoln. Chip flew 80 missions over the war torn skies of Bosnia, Somalia, and Iraq. An Airline Transport Pilot and Certified Flight Instructor; he has flown numerous civilian types from the Cessna 150 to the Boeing 767-300. Currently he is rated in 767, 757, 727, MD-80 and Sabreliner series aircraft.

Chip got into the flight test world in 1995 when he transferred to VX-30, Naval Weapons Test Center Point Mugu. He flew as a Project Officer on various test programs and was the Squadron Operations Officer. Chip also attended the Project Officer/Engineers and the Out of Control Flight (spin school) courses at National Test Pilot School. In 1998 he was inducted as a Full Member in the Society of Experimental Test Pilots (SETP).

Closing out his Naval Aviation career in 1998 with 600 carrier landings (200 night) on 11 different carriers; Chip, Laura and their 4 kids moved back to St. Louis. Once settled in at American Airlines, he concentrated on his writing.

I wrote my first novel for my children, who have all at one time or another expressed interest in flying. I snuck a few lessons in the story line. My two oldest sons (Leland+David) are currently in flight training, my daughter Kaitlyn has taken lessons with me and my youngest son William wants to fly fighters. Leland and David are both veterans; Leland is Army Infantry, his brother David a Crew Chief on the B-2 and currently an alternate for a pilot slot in the KC-135. They are fourth generation in the family business.

An amazing man with many great adventures. 
Time to go shopping for some Historical Fiction Novels.

You can find Chip at:  
Thank you for sharing your story Chip
I hope your current and future generations 
keep on flying strong!  

Enjoy the Journey!
XO Karlene

Thursday, January 30, 2014

The Tao of Fine

T.H.ursday's with Tom Hill

I was listening to my radio while driving from California to New Mexico last week. Just as I tuned into this one talk show, people were calling in talking about how "fine" they were. The normal content of this show is political commentary. Hearing people talk about their issues and troubles and then declare at the end of their call that they are "fine" was kind of interesting to me. I don't know why this show asked people to talk about how they were but it reminded me of a few ideas I considered a while back. 
The crux of those thoughts is: 
"Being fine is a choice."

I watched a movie this weekend with my sister. The family presented in this movie was extremely troubled. Lots of family issues of various types, issues every normal family has to deal with. The acting was awesome, which was enjoyable, but I was cringing throughout the movie because the characters were mean to each other in many ways. They were self-centered in other ways. You could see the choices the characters where making. Instead of taking a path that might've been productive or supportive, they took the fork in the road that lead to fights and more arguing. It was difficult to watch.

Interestingly, I thought of this week’s article before seeing that movie but it's a perfect demonstration of what I was thinking. In so many ways, the characters in the movie were making the decisions to head down the road that led to fights. Some of the characters were in their own situations beyond themselves, but the main characters were all about, “Woe is me!”

In my experience, despite all the bad stuff life can throw at me, I find it is my choice to be upset with my situation. Crazy as it sounds, I have been totally upset, then, someone has said a few words that completely changed my perspective and brought a tremendous smile to my face. If turning on a dime from being upset to smiling isn’t a demonstration of how our own minds can choose our feelings, I’m not sure what is. The observation for me is: as bad as things can get, I still have a choice in how I feel about it.

This isn’t easy stuff, picking the better road. It can be a struggle every single time. Even that—having a struggle—adds to the struggle. As much as I know about the power of “choice,” I do get upset with myself if I can’t “turn it around” on command. Even though I’ve experienced and used this power to choose not to be upset, I get upset when I can’t seem to make that choice—it’s a vicious circle. I guess this means making that choice is not easy stuff.

I know this sounds a bit like magic, this whole process of choosing not to be upset versus just hankering for a fight. That's the point of the title, “The Tao of Fine.” When you greet someone you haven’t seen in a while and you ask how they are, what do you think they could say? They could talk about the pain in their foot, the achy back, the issues with the kids or husband. They could even complain about the direction of the country. But, with all of that going on in their lives, their response could be, “I’m fine. Thank you for asking.” There’s a real power there.

We all have our laundry list of issues at any given moment. Every one of those issues is significant, I’m sure. But, those are just the circumstances that make up our lives. They do not really represent us. I would much rather talk about what’s making a difference in my life instead of the gigantic list of issues I deal with every single day. Also, I totally acknowledge the courage of people who are able to declare, “I’m fine,” even when the wheels might be falling off. It takes quite a person not to succumb to the lower road when it’s really tough, but instead take the stand, “All things considered, I’m fine.”


Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Hairy Tales RE: Linebacker II

"Nothing in life is so exhilarating as to be shot at without result." 
Winston Churchill

Spense Air Base Moultrie, Georgia 1959
USAF pilot training class 60 Foxtrot.

Tiger Flight’s first
by Neil Cosentino...

Night solo cross-county navigation - a mission to remember including unusual attitudes and night aerobatics…

My aviation cadet call sign was Tiger 23. The mission was our flights’ first solo night cross-country in a T-28. The weather was prefect. A recent front followed by high pressure cleared the haze and lowered the temperature leaving behind beautiful, clear, cool star filled nights, perfect for night cross-county flying. 

We all went out to our aircraft while was still daylight, pre-flighted, pre-positioning our seat parachutes, head sets, flashlight, everything set up to start engines. And in my case, Tiger 00, Tony-the Tiger would be my back seat passenger for some night time. Tony was our Tiger Flight’s little stuffed mascot. I strapped him in as tight as I could get the shoulder harness and seatbelt.


Every cadet waited in the cockpit or nearby waiting for the sun to set and the green start engines light signal from the control tower. It is a found memory, one of my best as a Spense cadet. I sat at the left wing root, just below the open cockpit, my back up against the cool aluminum fuselage with my legs stretched out toward the wing tip, warmed by the heat coming from the fuel in the wing tank below.

A light cool breeze crossed the flight line; I remember the scents of the earth, the local pine trees, mixed with the aroma of wood fires from the nearby homes.

I thought then and now that life could not be better; that flying was what my life and what my future was all about. The warm fuel, the chilled fragrances of the earth, the Southland, the surrounding pine forests and the aroma of the smoke, the excitement of the night flight are all to this day wonderful memories of my flying at Spense.

We waited and finally after the sunset, and as dusk faded there came the green light – the signal from the control tower for us to start engines and in timed sequence, taxi and takeoff. It was a good feeling to sit there watching the instructor pilots aircraft taxi by followed by each aircraft in Tiger flight and then my turn to taxi out in order to be part of this group, a part of a big mission.

I somehow knew that it was a glimpse of what combat flying was like in the past. I could not fast forward knowing that 24 years later, that I would be waiting my turn at night to start engines sitting in the cockpit of my F-4E Phantom for my first of the night Linebacker II missions. Those December 1972 night missions to Hanoi that ended that war.

For a young aviation cadet, at Spense who was getting the best flying training anywhere and getting paid to do it – life just could not get any better.

A little tension was building, as it got dark, thoughts came to me about what must have been like those World War II night combat missions. I told myself that it was not much different than now.

I dropped those thoughts and went over in my mind my plan to squeezed at least twenty minutes from the mission that night. I wanted that time for myself, for a little night aerobatics. I did not tell my roommate or anyone else my plan - knowing that if the word got out somehow - there would be big serious trouble.

Those thoughts ended with the green light from the tower. It woke up the flight line as each aircraft started engines. The taxi, takeoff, climb and level off was normal. The flight plan was a night solo round robin navigation mission using a left hand box route with four almost equal legs. They had pre-positioned our instructor pilots orbiting at each turn point to check us as we turned the corners, to keep an eye on the weather, and to stay in radio contact with the cadet pilots in case of an emergency

We were required to call in at each of the turn points, which I did at exactly the planned time. But I flew a much smaller box inside the box they were flying and at a lower altitude where I could look up and see the lights of the other aircraft in the stream. This smaller box would give me the time I needed for my first night aerobatics.

Only one instructor pilot called me at a turn point – I told him the truth that I had him in sight – that was true – I did have him in sight when I turned inside that second turn point. It worked as planned, with me arriving back at Spense twenty minutes early. I stayed at altitude and flew a short distance to the southeast away from the stream of aircraft and the airways.

My big adventure was about to begin but first a few confidence maneuvers, a few steep turns. That went well, next a few ailerons rolls. With my confidence increasing, and just enough time for one loop and one barrel. It should have looped first because the barrel roll turned out hairy. A maneuver that I can never forget, it was a clear moonless star filled night. 

I started down building up air speed for the maneuver, then slowly rolled right and pulling up toward a point of light 45 degrees on what I thought was the horizon. I passed through that point wings level climbing and kept rolling until what I thought was a ninety degree bank turn and started to look for a light to roll to, as I slowly rolled inverted and then it happened - I lost all orientation since the barn yards lights of the isolated farms below all became part of the stars, and the stars became barn yard lights.

It was my first real scare in an aircraft. A good scare, a bit of a shock realizing that I was in trouble. I tired for a moment to go on instruments to recover. That seemed hopeless all the instruments were spinning or pegged, so I slowly pulled back of the throttle, release the backpressure and look around for a cluster of lights, or a small town or the lights of Moultrie that would tell me up from down, no luck.

So I just pushed the stick forward, unloaded and waited until the aircraft started down then rolled to what I thoughts was wings level based on a light cluster and waited to feel what would happen next.

I then spotted the town of Moultrie and the nearby Spense air base. My breathing slowly returned to normally. It was scary but it was over, now to focus on how I would safely re-enter the returning stream of aircraft.

It was scatted lights of the night county-side blended in with the stars and my view of the world was all one, I could not for a few scary moments tell up from down.

Lessons learned, if you are going to do night aerobatics on a moonless night – use a big city or any light cluster or a good reference as the starting point. I still enjoy night aerobatics, no glare from the sun, the air is cool and calm, but I now pick nights with a full moon and like to takeoff when the moon is about thirty degrees above the horizon. I also ask for a block altitude and flight following.

I filled out Tony’s logbook after landing but left out the intro to night aerobatics and the recovery from unusual attitudes.


Enjoy the journey... and learn from it!
XO Karlene

Monday, January 27, 2014

Inspiring Children...

 "If you were at the end of your life, writing your memoir...what would you want it to say?"

Friday I spent the day at Nelson Middle School during impact day. I spoke to 120 kids, during four, thirty-minute sessions, and I asked them this question. I also gave each student one of Syd Blue's books... Circle. We had a great day and a fun time getting inspired for the rest of our lives.

There is nothing better than spending time with kids!  

What inspires you?

Enjoy the journey!
XO Karlene

Friday, January 24, 2014

Rob Burgon

Friday's Fabulous Flyer!

Rob Burgon

I love it when authors join me on Friday Flyer day. With my busy life, the stories write themselves. Rob is not only a pilot, an author but will be joining the blogging in formation team. Until then, welcome a new voice in the aviation industry.


"When a little kid says they are going to grow up to be fighter pilot, most parents just smile and roll their eyes. I’m sure mine were no different. My folks suffered through my incessant aviation addiction from the time I got my first airplane toy at the age of three to just before I left to college. The flying bug had bitten me and the disease it induced seemed incurable.

My first flight in something other than a commercial airliner was in the right seat of a Cessna Citation. My dad was working for an oil corporation and invited me to accompany him on a day trip one lazy summer day. I sat entranced during the hour-long flight; my eyes rapidly scanning the cockpit to take in everything I could in hopes of remembering every miniscule detail. I must admit, I still feel the same fascination of that first flight even today as I fly for a living.

Upon entering college, I decided to pursue a career in finance with the hope of earning enough money to someday earn a pilot’s license and pursue my love of aviation. It only took me about three years as a financial analyst to realize what a big mistake I had made in dismissing a flying career! I would languish in my office as I pored over spreadsheets, wishing I could be chasing the clouds that seemed to taunt me from the office windows. One day I finally had enough and made a life-changing phone call to an Air Force recruiter.

I started taking flying lessons prior to entering the Air Force and had amassed a mere 20 hours of flight time, mainly in a Cherokee Warrior, before getting picked up for a pilot slot. Before starting Undergraduate Pilot Training (UPT) in the summer of 2004, the Air Force sent me to an FBO near my UPT base where I was given 40 hours of flying time and passed my Private Pilot flight evaluation.

UPT was a welcome change in my work life – I couldn’t believe I was getting paid to take a jet airborne and practice aerobatics! I started out flying the T-37 “Tweet” and eventually transitioned to the T-38C Talon when I was selected for the fighter/bomber track of UPT. Upon graduating from the program I earned not only my wings, but also an assignment as a T-38C instructor pilot. With only a total of 150 hours of flight time, I was off to Pilot Instructor Training at Randolph Air Force Base, TX.

For three years I endured the pain associated with demonstrating landings from the backseat of the T-38 before I had an opportunity to compete for an assignment flying the F-22 Raptor. Competition for the Raptor spot didn’t end when they told me I had been selected for the Raptor Program. I still had to compete in a “fly-off” at Introduction to Fighter Fundamentals, a course designed to teach the fundamentals of dogfighting and being a fighter wingman. Upon surviving that next cut, I had to perform satisfactorily through an F-16 transition course where I would learn to air-to-air refuel and fly with night vision goggles, among other things.


It had been five years from the time I left my desk job in Boston, and I was finally in the cockpit of the F-22 Raptor! I look back now with nearly 2,000 hours of flying time, and the road to living my childhood dream doesn’t seem so long. I’ve been able to meet some remarkable people, fly some amazing aircraft, and have unique experiences almost daily in flying for the Air Force.

I know there are people out there who, under different circumstances, would have followed the same dream. There are pilots who, maybe because of an eyesight issue or some other physical limitation, were never allowed to compete for a fighter cockpit. I believe there is a fighter pilot in almost everyone, and I want to bring that out by sharing my experiences and giving others a small glimpse into the world in which I live. I’m very fortunate to be doing what I’m doing, and I want to share it with like-minded people.

It was with this desire in mind that I started in January 2013. At first it was meant to be just a blog, but it has morphed and grown into something much bigger. After several months online my co-founder and I decided we would start a line of clothing made specifically for pilots – clothing that embodied the fighter spirit while being subtle enough to integrate into our daily lives. In July 2013 we opened our online store. Around the same time, my co-founder turned business partner encountered some difficulties forcing him to leave the project.

It’s been an uphill battle, but my desire to share my love of fighter aviation hasn’t flinched. Tally One will be pushing it up in 2014! I hope to release an eBook tackling the subject of Fighter Pilot Traditions and maybe even write a children’s book on flying. Two things are certain for me this year: there will be a LOT of flying, and a LOT of writing!"

You can find Rob: 

Rob, Thank you for being a part of Flight to Success. 
You're amazing! 

Thursday, January 23, 2014


T.H.ursday's with Tom Hill

When you ask people to describe what they think a leader looks like, many would imagine a person standing out in front of a group of people. That person would be charismatic. The leader would be speaking in clear tones about subjects that would matter to the audience. 

 He probably would be saying “follow me!” Such is the stereotype of the leader. That’s not the only way to exercise leadership. In fact, the person you see out in front might not be leading you anywhere. He might be leading you nowhere but it sure feels like you’re being led. Or, he might be leading you precisely where you were heading in the first place as in he was just suggesting the obvious. There are other ways to lead and none of them involve the leader standing up in front of the group.

 I promote an idea where the leading doesn’t always happen out in front. This other leader is not the guy out in front being the center of attention. This person is out of the spot-light. He's probably a teammate, promoting the groups agenda, suggesting where the team should go, reinforcing others on the team, being the point-person when needed but rarely taking the lime-light. This leader is leading from behind.

Here’s a specific problem associated with many typical leaders—lack of imagination. These people might be working constantly on yesterday’s problems. They might be promoting incremental solutions that make little difference. They might be talking a talk about big changes that do little except to make big changes with no real impact. I know about this type of leader because I’ve been that guy or worked for those guys. But, it’s not all their fault. The “system” doesn’t support creativity because every big system “needs” to have all its parts act predictably.

You can think of these types like they're the team lead on the cog in a gigantic machine. Such leaders are constrained by the circumstances surrounding their cog. Despite what innovations this leader might be promoting, the cog pretty much does things the same, the way it’s always done things. What goes on with that cog doesn’t change much over time.

A team member who’s not out in front, that person just out of the spot-light, has the tremendous advantage of not being held to doing things as they’ve always been. Sure, there are lots rules and limitations within any organizations so those rules can be constraining. But, a good team-member that’s leading from behind can stay within those constraints and is still be able to freely think and promote ideas beyond normal bounds.

I’ve been a part of big and small organizations for all of my professional life. When I encounter people who were disappointed with the rate of progress with change/transformation I usually bring up this analogy: Imagine you’re the trim tab on the rudder of the Titanic. When you’re in the government, it’s very easy to relate to this analogy, being the Titanic. As the Titanic is slicing through the water to its destiny, imagine being able to affect its fate. “How?” you ask. As the trim tab, you can persistently move in one direction. Eventually, the trim tab moves the rudder which ultimately moves the Titanic, which affects her destiny. 

The lesson in this is all about being persistent. By being persistent, eventually the people around you adjust—the rudder starts moving—then the whole organization begins to move. It's only a matter of time.

The captain of the ship is not the trim tab. He’s steering the boat by using the rudder. But, just because he has his hands on the steering wheel (sorry, I’m not using the right nautical term here) he may not really be leading. He might not have any idea where the boat is going even though he looks the part. If he’s steering the boat the wrong way, you can still influence the course by being that trim-tab. This approach is slow. It's hard to see the change. But, the results are inevitable, such is the fate of being persistent and consistent.

“First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.”
 - Mahatma Gandhi

Who are these guys? Our histories are replete with examples of people who didn’t lead from the front. Some of them were with us for too short of time, suffering their fates for being persistent in what they believed. Obviously some were more famous than others. I am sure we all have our own examples. 

I’ve found these leaders have ideas no one else thinks of. They aren’t afraid of embracing concepts they didn’t think of—no “not invented here” problems. They’re with us when the situations get bad or when there’s too much to do. They promote us, pat us on the back with others aren’t. They appreciate their teammate’s sacrifice though too much attention on this detracts from the goodness of such sacrifice. You’d probably never know they’re at the top of their profession because such attention is a distraction to the larger group goal. They’re amazing teammates. And, despite them not being out in the lime-light, they perform flawlessly when thrust in such situations.

Being a leader is not some special gift only a select few have. I’d even say, the people you see out in front are likely performing just beyond their abilities—reference the “Peter Principal”. I’m saying all this because you might not think you’ll ever have the ability to make a difference in whatever you’re interested in. I’m suggesting this concept to open the possibility that everyday people like you or I can help guide their groups in the right direction. Truly, it’s just a door that’s waiting for you to step through if you so choose.


Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Anthony Paraschou

Anthony Paraschou, a 21-year-old, student pilot from London is one of the victims of the aviation school that took the money and ran. He sent me his story. He is just one of many.

Anthony's story:

I have had a passion for flying from a very young age. One of my earliest memories is looking at planes while at Heathrow when I was around 2 years old. My family has been lucky enough to travel regularly to many parts of the world, my Mother worked for Olympic Airways for 26 years so I was always around airlines and planes.

While at school all I ever wanted to do was fly planes, with my parents help we embarked on exploring what all the options were to have a career as an airline pilot. We attended many open days, seminars, and exhibitions and evaluated many flying schools from all over the world. 

Finally we settled on the Pilot Training College of Ireland based in Waterford. Although based in Ireland, the school would carry out most of its course in Florida specifically based at the Florida Institute of Technology, one of the most prestigious University’s in America. We would be living and studying within their campus although PTC had it own training centre, which we would also use to carry out classroom related topics.

We researched all of them and it really came down to a personal choice they all seemed as good as each other and offered the same level of education and association with airlines etc. I arrived in Florida in Nov 2011 and began my course at age 19. All seemed to be progressing well in the beginning. We occasionally, as a school, were grounded for a day or so, which was quickly passed off with some minimal excuses. We passed things like this off as minor irritations and carried on.

As my course progressed I began to realize that perhaps I was not progressing as quickly and smoothly as I should and also possibly PTC wasn’t as organized as it should be. For example we began to have “plane shortages” and “instructor shortages” which impacted on our flying time. On the other hand some of our instructors would extend our flying times so they could increase their revenue.

In April 2012 my parents visited me and had assumed that I would have by then gained my ppl as the school had assured them that within 6 weeks or 40 hrs. I would have qualified. This coupled with the “school wide groundings” made my parents seek an urgent meeting with the Schools Florida management.

The school assured my parents that the reason I had not attained my PPL was not a lack of effort or ability on my part but purely some logistical errors by the school. Specifically enrolling too many students at once therefore they did not have the resources to cope, hence the groundings. They assured my parents that this was now noted, addressed and resolved. 

In May 2012 I began my ATPL theory part of my course even though I and the majority of my classmates had not yet attained our PPL’s.

In May/June 2012 again the school was “grounded”. However this lasted longer than a day. At the time the school assured us it was a contractual issue with the Florida Institute of Tech (who were the ones that were grounding us) and would be resolved quickly. Unfortunately things spiraled out of control very quickly from there, FIT quickly informed all Student Pilots that they had irrevocably severed all links with PTC with immediate effect.

PTC’s response was completely the opposite, claiming it was still in talks with FIT to resolve the issue and that it was doing everything it could to begin our courses again at FIT. Later we found out this was completely untrue. Within days FIT had issued all PTC students with Eviction notices to vacate their living accommodation and leave the campus. On receipt of the notices the staff of PTC in Florida promptly closed the offices and left us to fend for ourselves.

In the following days we were left alone in Florida with no word from PTC. The head office in Ireland was obviously being besieged with calls from parents, sponsors and students and then they promptly stopped answering any communications.

Eventually PTC issued a press release to the media who by now had been running with the story, blaming all the issues on FIT and that PTC was seeking alternative training organization to send us all to continue our courses.

After a week or so they issued a final press release claiming that all students would be found alternative training with other providers and asked to be left alone to accomplish this.

In the meantime FIT had kindly offered all students the opportunity to remain in their accommodation at no extra cost and even gave all students free meals for the duration of their stay, as you can imagine this came as a huge relief to the students and Parents.

PTC then issued another press release stating that they had secured all the flight records of the students (which it hadn’t, the Irish Aviation Authority did this) and negotiated with CAE Oxford Aviation to take over the flight courses and all the students could go there if they wished. However, it stated that some students would have to pay some additional course fees, which reflected in the different price structures of the two companies. Oxford would contact all students in due course. Within a day or so of this press release PTC went into Administration.

That was the final nail in coffin, as you can imagine we were all distraught to begin with at our dreams being shattered. For my part it was the lowest point of my life my parents sold a property they owned to fund my dream and now all that money was gone.

When PTC closed I had not even passed my PPL even though we had paid €65,000 of our €85,000 course fee, our final payment was due the week the school had finally been grounded and my Parents stopped the payment.

My parents contacted PTC who insisted payment must still be made and claimed they had no issues with FIT. My parents prudently did not pay. To have your dreams shattered is the worst feeling in the world, at the time I thought that was the end of my dream. We began to plan to come home with the assistance of the Irish aviation Authority. 

My parents then decided that it was pointless coming home without even passing my PPL so arranged for me to stay on at FIT and paid for me to complete my PPL which I duly went on to do. I came home in Aug 2012 having spent over €70,000 or so for a PPL.

Personally I was lucky, with the assistance of my extended family we were able to find additional funding to enable me to continue my flight career. I found another school and am carrying on. Others have not been so fortunate, losing not only the money they have paid but also their dream, and in many cases they still have to pay as they have secured loans and will have nothing to show for it.

Throughout this time I must add that PTC and especially its management in Ireland behaved completely reprehensibly. They left 200 students, stranded and alone some as young as 17! They lied to everyone at the end gave people false hope only to try and buy time to cover themselves."


If you have a moment, 

Enjoy the journey!
XO Karlene

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Plight of the Pilot Trainees

As if flight training isn't expensive enough...

NEWS Flash. I didn't write, I'm just sharing

"In July 2012 the Pilot Training College (PTC) based in Waterford, but with many students training in Florida, collapsed leaving some 350 students and their sponsors, owed some €5m,stranded in the middle of their training, training funded mostly by personal borrowing,that costs close to €100,000.Some were owed close to€70,000 including a family in Dublin West.The liquidation of PTC is not expected to result in any payments to these students.

PTC was approved as a flight training organisation by the Irish Aviation Authority (IAA),a state body, as recently as Autumn 2011. Whilst the IAA says it is not a consumer protection body it is supposed to ensure that there is adequate funding to complete the required training. This it clearly failed to do including approving PTC when it's financial future was already extremely problematic"

"The response of Official Ireland has been to completely deny any responsibility for the dreadful situation faced by all these ambitious and hopeful trainee pilots. The Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Leo Varadkar paid for flights home from Florida for those stranded there then denied any further role. The IAA denied legal responsibility. The Oireachtas Committee on Transport and Communication promised a forensic enquiry but then reneged on its promise in private."

Please click here to sign the Petition if you think the Trainee Pilots should get full financial compensation for their education, which they had already paid for. Thank you.

What do you think?
Should they get their money refunded? 
 Thank you for signing! 

Enjoy the Journey!
XO Karlene

Monday, January 20, 2014

Martin Luther King

"The beauty of genuine brotherhood and peace is more precious than diamonds or silver or gold."

Martin  Luther King

Miles, my eldest grandson who will be four-years-old on February 4th, tells us all about Martin Luther King and peace. Sorry for the occasional squeal in the background, that's what sisters are for. 

"We can still celebrate his birthday!"

XO Karlene 

Friday, January 17, 2014

Seahawks Rule!

 GO Seahawks!!

What's a Seahawk?

It's a plane!

A helicopter!

A bird! 

Seahawks are...

The soon to be Superbowl 2014 champs!

Who will be there leading them into victory, besides the earth-quaking fans?

Today's Friday Flyer... 


The tremor is days away as Seattle prepares for another earthquake. Yes, the fans registered on the richter scale in Seattle during a playoff game against Saints, 41-30, where Seahawks ruled. And we're headed for another Hawk-quaking game this Sunday.


We will be playing the 49ers for a spot in the 2014 Superbowl, and Blitz will be in the heart of excitement. Knocking back those 49ers to victory.

What can I say other than...


We Hope to See YOU 
At the Superbowl! 

Who do you think we'll be playing? 

Enjoy the journey!
XO Karlene