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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, May 30, 2014

Marc Epner

 Friday's Fabulous Flyer

 Marc Epner

Last week in Chicago I had the exciting opportunity to meet a couple of great guys at Aviation Universe. Marc Epner and Al Waterloo, the superstars of Simplflight Aviation Radio. Well, there is no way you would want to miss this team. Today, please meet Marc Epner. The smile is real. The laughter sincere. His generosity abundant. He's also working on a project for Flight To Success, the book. 


"As tough as it is for me to remember what happened yesterday, remembering the start of my love affair with aviation, is no problem at all. Like most of us, the start of my rise to becoming an avgeek, happened at an early age. While there was no connection to aviation in my family, the desire to look skyward was strong.

Before I was 10, I wrote a note to Cessna requesting information about their airplanes (this was long before the internet and email). When the brochure arrived, I opened it to find my first centerfold – the instrument panel. With gauges filling both pages, I remember resting my chin in my hands, with both elbows on the bed, and imagined sitting behind the controls and in control of this very special vehicle. My passion for aviation was ignited.

The dream was put on hold until my college years, where I picked up a job as a lineman at the local airport. Secretly funneling my college money (as well as my first loan) to flying lessons, I managed to fly most days, if only for minutes at a time.

I was a bit horrified to find my lessons were resulting in motion sickness, but thanks to my instructor, who suggested we fly in the calm of early morning, my body adjusted and within two weeks, I was well on my way to achieving my goal. After earning my ticket, I made a deal with the local salesperson to wash airplanes in exchange for ferry time when a plane needed to be delivered or taken to maintenance (I suspect he knew I would wash them even without the deal).

For the next three years, flying became a personal and satisfying part of my life. However, an unfortunate loss of my medical, combined with financial considerations, took the dream away, and my focus and passion shifted to family. I did not look back.

Fast forward 25 years to 2004.

A colleague asked me if I wanted to go flying in his 70’s vintage Skyhawk. With an unexpected uncertainty and yes, even a tinge of fear, I accepted and took my place in the right seat. The panel reminded me of the Cessna brochure and the fantasy trips I had flown so many years before. As the plane rotated off the runway, with my eyes shifting from the panel to the landscape, I remember turning to the pilot and saying, “I forgot how much I love this!” The spark was reignited.

Within days, the medical was renewed, a flight school selected and I started down the road to currency. Soon thereafter, I earned my instrument ticket, bought a share in a SR-22, helped start the well-regarded Leading Edge Flying Club in the Chicagoland area (currently serving as its president), and became a co-host on SimpleFlight Live Aviation radio.

Even that didn’t satisfy my aviation ADD, so I joined with 3 flying buddies to start an organization (Ground Effect Advisors) that is committed to building general aviation by providing an annual scholarship and consulting expertise to people wanting to start a flying club. We were the first, and I believe currently the only organization to provide such a scholarship.

I round out my “spare time” by flying Young Eagle & charitable flights, conducting webinars and speaking to groups about the value and excitement of aviation. All of this is totally separate from my Monday through Friday job of selling software.

Not surprisingly, people (especially those not connected to aviation) usually ask me two questions…. Why & How? The answer is as clear as a CAVU day. My flying in the 70’s was very personal. I was feeding my passion for aviation. When I got back into it in 2004, my thoughts were more outwardly focused. I saw a declining industry and a visible separation from those that were in the community and those that were not.

Have you ever noticed the word Community is made up of two root words; COMMON & UNITY? It’s that which binds us together. Yet in aviation, walls were put up separating the community into those that were “inside the fence” and those that found themselves on the outside, looking in. I saw people giving up on their dream of flight. It was sad. Plus there were self-inflicted wounds from aviation businesses with poor customer service, and with more of a focus on grabbing their competitor’s piece of the pie, rather than delivering real value.


I felt compelled to help tear down those walls and bring the community together, which would “make the pie bigger”, so everyone could win. It was then I became focused on making it fun, making it visible, and providing access. The activities I do in aviation, move me towards those goals, while leveraging my skills as a communicator. As long as my passion and energy for aviation remains contagious, I think I can be successful. Regardless, it’s a blast!”

“What I’ve learned is there are “plane” people and “non-plane” people. Talking to people or sharing a flight is not going to ignite the passion in non-plane people. You either have the spark or do not. It may go dormant at some point in your life, but it is always there, waiting to be rekindled. Those that have it are members of a very special community. Some have it and some do not. I am one of the lucky ones!”

What can we do to support General Aviation?  
Share our love with the world like Marc does.

Connect with the one and only ME!


twitter is:


Ground Effect Advisors:

Leading Edge Flying Club:

Simpleflight Aviation Radio:

Enjoy the Journey!
XO Karlene

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Ice Fishing...

To all my friends in Minnesota who love to Ice Fish...

..... and finally getting all the necessary tools together, she made for the ice.

After positioning her comfy camping stool, she started to make a circular cut in the ice.

Suddenly, from the sky, a voice boomed,


Startled, the blonde moved further down the ice, poured a cup of cappuccino from her thermos and began to cut yet another hole.
Again from the heavens the voice bellowed,


The blonde, now worried, moved away, clear down to the opposite end of the ice.
She set up her stool once more and tried again to cut her hole.

The voice came once more,


She stopped, looked skyward! and said,


The voice replied,


Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Shelf Project

In Loving Memory of Dr. Maya Angelou
Poet, Author, Educator, Activist

"If you don't like something, change it. 
If you can't change it, change your attitude."  
Dr. Maya Angelou
Dr. Angelou's books sit on the shelves below. Read often and cherished. Today was to show off the shelves I built in my office. Two hands, 6 boards, 12 brackets, many screws, and a can of stain and varnish... and there you have it.

And this morning I heard the sad news. Inspired by an incredible woman who passed today, we must take a moment to honor her. What a better way than with books and carrying on her journey to change the world for the better.

There is only one thing to do when your books are overflowing and stacked high on your desk, tables and counters... you build more shelves! Below is the completion of my latest project... the bookshelves over the windows in my office.

This is one of the few moments my desk is organized

"A clean desk is the sign of a sick mind"

 And when you build them... more books will come. 
Don't you just love reading!

Thank you Dr. Angelou for being.

Enjoy the Journey!
XO Karlene

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Aviation Students

Invite YOU!

Raisbeck Aviation High School Freshmen 
invite you to their second annual 
Space Exploration Fair

The Space Exploration Fair is the culminating project for the freshmen Aviation English course. After reading Homer Hickam's space adventure, Crater, students researched a self-chosen topic about space exploration, conducted extensive research using a variety of sources, and then synthesized their findings into a research paper, annotated bibliography, and the final presentation. Similar to a science fair, each student will display his or her work which also includes various graphics, 3-D visual aids, and much more.

Wednesday, June 11

Period 1—9:05 a.m. to 10:35 a.m.

Period 3—10:05 a.m. to 12:20 p.m.

Thursday, June 12

Period 2—9:05 a.m. to 10:35 a.m.

Period 4—10:05 a.m. to 12:20 p.m.

The Museum of Flight’s 
Charles Simonyi Space Gallery 
9404 East Marginal Way S., 
Seattle, WA 98108

Come join the ninth graders as they share their projects in a fair-type setting. You will mingle amongst the 24-32 displays of research and creativity featuring topics such as space tourism, asteroid mining, astronomy, space junk, living on the moon or Mars, and much more.

The Fair is split into four sections to accommodate the four class periods of ninth grade Aviation English courses. Feel free to come for one, two, or more of the sections.

For more information and to R.S.V.P. (not necessary but helps to give us an idea of how many guests to expect), email instructor Mary Ciccone-Cook at

*Although The Museum of Flight does not open until 10 a.m., the Space Gallery will open early for our invited guests.

NOTE: Please park in the Museum’s west parking lot behind the Space Gallery or at RAHS next door.

Then Best Thing about Being on Reserve this month is
The museum is only 15 minutes from SeaTac Airport. 

I will be here scheduling permitting. 
Hope to see you too! 

Enjoy the Journey!
XOX Karlene

Monday, May 26, 2014


From my family to yours... 

Happy Memorial Day!

Enjoy the Journey!
XOX Karlene

Friday, May 23, 2014

Walt Disney

Friday's Fabulous Flyer

Walt Disney

Disney lives on and his legacy is stronger than ever. July 18th another breakout blockbuster movie will be released: Planes Fire and Rescue. The amazing thing about this movie is the technical accuracy. Technical accuracy when planes talk?

Okay... for those who think planes don't talk, just ask Syd Blue. She and I will both confirm that our planes do talk!

They did their research!

Not until I watched this technically accurate movie did I fully comprehend what our aerial fire fighters go through daily. Yes, daily. While we only see the big fires, there are fires almost every day. And as I watched our heroes fight the California and Arizona fires, I got chills as I now understand what they are up against. And so does Disney.

Disney interviewed and visited the fire fighters themselves. On location they watched, listened and learned. This was an important aspect of the film, as they wanted to create something to honor our heroes. And they did just that.

And they invited the world renowned Chuck Aaron for the technical aspects of flying a helicopter. Which I have to shout about again, because he is an awesome instructor and it's no wonder he was able to convey how the helicopter flew to the animation team. Talent beyond belief.

Why should you see Disney's Planes Fire and Rescue? 

First—it’s just plane fun. Second—there is nothing more inspirational than to see a hero hit bottom, lose everything and find that inner drive to not only survive, but put others ahead of themselves.

This movie is about second chances. And anyone who has been faced with tragedy, an accident, or struggling with a physical life challenge will leave the theater knowing nothing is impossible when you follow a dream. Change happens and life may be different, but it can be better! 

Yes, I’m talking about an animated plane in a great movie. This is a wounded heroes journey, and you can't help but to cheer for Dusty. Besides, as one who believes there is "better than new"... I know that I'm not alone. It's great to know I think like Disney.

There is another inspiring detail. The jokes will keep you in stitches. But what you'll notice is the timing. The producers, writers and all involved made sure there was laugh-out-loud humor while on the ground and off duty. But while fighting fires, they were serious and mission driven. Kind of like Darby. And definitely like pilots. We all focus on the job but definitely know how to laugh. And so will the kids.

While I loved the first Planes, I think I like this movie is just a little bit better. And I think the kids will too. From a child's perspective...and yes, I have one... there is a greater variety of activity beyond the race. Something new, exciting, and challenging happening in each scene that will keep the kids on the edge of their chairs.

The animation was phenomenal and the special effects amazing. For all of you who will sit back and appreciate the realism of forest fire, you cannot believe the technology, time and talent that went into making that fire real. Never again will I take animation for granted.

While Today was to honor Walt Disney, 
We must honor those keeping his legacy alive. 

To the people behind Disney's
Planes: Fire and Rescue, 
Thank you!

"We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we're curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths."  Walt Disney

May all your dreams come true! 

The question of the year... 
How do we bring Aviation back to life?

I say... inspire the kids. 
What do you think? 

Enjoy the Journey!
XO Karlene

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Live Radio Show and Podcasting

With SimpleFlight.Net

 Last Sunday we all had a blast at Aviation Universe came into creation when "Al Waterloo's aviation A.D.D. got the best of him" and launched in Spring of 2012. Marc flew in shortly thereafter, and this team cannot be beat.  SimpleFlightNet is a place to get exactly what you want out of aviation~ Fun! Laughter! And lots of Aviation! My face hurt the next day from smiling for two hours!

A fun online community is building behind the and the SimpleFlight Aviation Radio Show and last Sunday, after the pizza, we had a great live show at Aviation Universe. The audience was awesome and Al and Marc hysterical.

Why Listen to SimpleFlight Aviation Radio!? 

"For the same reason you'd want to watch NASCAR, for the crashes! Okay, just kidding but the show is live and people have a GREAT time interacting with us while we are live!

Our guests are fantastic too. You'll quickly realize that aviation has a great future because every single one of guests are doing amazing things in aviation. Its important to connect you with our guests. Aviation is an awesome industry and its becoming, well, more awesome!"

SimpleFlight Aviation Radio has connected listeners with guests and other #Avgeeks. Together they have gotten aviation related jobs, addressed aviation safety concerns, started companies, and our their favorite mission.... to help each other achieve their aviation dreams!

The best way to reach out to SimpleFlight.Net 
while on the air is:

1) Tweet Us @SimpleFlightNet
2) Post on our Facebook Page
3) Text a video or voice recorded question to us at 708.224.5021
4) Send an email to

Are you ready for some fun?

Listen to my live interview from May 18th!

Learn what went on behind the scenes with my novels
How I got started flying
My plans for the future
And why I'm so passionate about Aviation 
And a little bit more...

Click HERE
if you can handle the excitement!

Enjoy the Journey!
XO Karlene

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

The Pilot Factor

Taking CRM to the next level:

"Was I daring? – or simply doing my job?… I pondered as I waited for the hangar door to open. I accepted the trip based on our company’s SOPs and my own comfort level, knowing full well that although the ride would be rough, it would none-the-less be safe.

I quickly found out that not everybody felt the same way. One of the paramedics, pulling me aside, pointed a finger at the winter storm blowing outside the open hangar door. “Just so you know” he stated boldly, “I do not feel comfortable going flying in this weather”. And with this he stormed past me mumbling to himself, visibly upset by his apparently impending doom. What was I to do?"

About the Author: Jean Denis Marcellin

Professional pilot by career, but a traveler by heart. Outside of work, Jean dedicates his free time to promoting Aviation and, more particularly, specializes in CRM through the proper understanding of the Human Factor and Leadership in the cockpit. He is also the founder and President of Plane&Simple Solutions. (

Jean's book, The Pilot Factor, is a must read for all professional pilots and for those who want to become one too. If you're not a pilot and interested in leadership skills... you will learn a great deal from this entertaining look at crew resource management. A must for your bookshelf in any case.

You can find The Pilot Factor in 
paperback on Amazon or Kindle

My review on Amazon: 
As an International airline pilot, with an MBA, who has spent thousands of hours flying around the world, and in simulators training other pilots, I can speak with an extensive background in aviation and leadership. JD takes a serious look at leadership, communication styles and personality types... then applies the realities of each to the flight deck. What type are you? Where are your strengths? Should pilots be leaders or managers and is there a difference? This quick and fun read on an important subject is very well written, with real life events that will keep you on the edge of your seat. If you want to be a pilot, are a pilot, or interested in the next level of leadership... this book is for you.

Enjoy the Journey!
XOX Karlene

Tuesday, May 20, 2014


Cleared For Takeoff! 

"And they want to take YOU with them"

Last weekend I was in Chicago at Aviation Universe for the big anniversary party and met a great guy. Well I met a lot of great guys, but Jerry said I could win a ride in a WarBird! How much fun would that be!?!

 Jerry... supporting Aviation History

"EAA Warbirds of America Squadron 4 is dedicated to the appreciation of military aviation, it's people and it's history. EAA Warbirds of America Squadron 4 fosters an environment that celebrates all past and present members of the U.S. Armed Services."

Let me ask you this...

Which plane

do you

want to


I bought 5 raffle tickets. (Stuffing the box) in my favor.  The money is going to a great cause. You can also join their club, buy merchandise and become part of history. Let's help preserve Aviation History.

Seriously... which plane is your favorite? I think the Stearman is might be my favorite.

Enjoy the Journey...
And if you're might be in a War Bird!
XOX Karlene