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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.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Flying It Forward 2015

Girls Take Flight 

This weekend at the Museum of Flight about 250 girls were gifted a memory they will never forget. But this event could not have been made possible without the help of the incredible men and women giving their time, av-gas, and love of aviation to the young ladies they flew. Photos speak louder than words... Enjoy! 











I am not sure how pilot Keith escaped a photo!  Or Grant too, who worked effortlessly on the ramp on our first day. But a huge thank you to you both! And Sandy who was the official gate master for two days and Craig who kept the ramp running smoothly on day two... And Cale for coordinating the schedule and our wonderful assistants at the table for check in! For those without pictures ... send them me one to upload!

Thank you!!



An Amazing day was had by all! 

For more photos... Check out Face Book:

Enjoy the Journey!
XO Karlene 

Friday, September 25, 2015

Kathryn, Darby and Jackie

Meet the ladies of...
Flight For Control!

Movie time! These are not the real ladies. And the photos were nabbed off the internet. However, you know when you read that perfect book and you can envision the look and personality of the characters? Well, this is how I would have the ladies cast if it were my choice.

Kathryn Jacobs!
An NTSB Investigator on the move with a single minded focus to prevent aviation accidents. Sidetracked from her career to have a family, she is now ready to go back to work as her twin daughters are growing up way too fast. Unfortunately her husband, Captain Bill Jacobs, has prohibited her from working. But when three major airline crash and nobody knows why; while her husband is busy running for the union presidency, Kathryn's boss makes a deal that she cannot refuse. it's time to take control. What she finds will shock the nation!

And then there are her best friends...

757 Captain, single, fun, flirty, airline pilot living the good life. Whether Darby is captaining her 757, or hanging out with her girlfriends playing strip poker and toasting with a bottle of tequila, you'll fall in love with Darby. She has the worst luck with men, drinks way too much coffee, but is Kathryn's right hand gal when it comes to the investigation, and so much more. But when she learns secrets that nobody should know, there is nothing that will stop her fight. Until it's too late.

And Jackie makes three...

Jackie Jameson

Jackie is a flight attendant, married to a pilot who is the perfect husband. First Officer Greg Jameson is not only Jackie's husband, but Kathryn's childhood friend. Jackie is the mother of one son, whom she would rather be home than anywhere else, but circumstances prevent that choice. But when her husband is involved in the fourth crash, her world is turned upside down in more ways than one. Jackie will have to figure out to pick up the pieces. But with best friends like Kathryn and Darby, survival is the only hope.

Action! Adventure! Romance!
Airplane Crashes
with you in the flight deck. 

A thriller that reads like a mystery,
and hits far too close to home.

Do you know who is flying your plane?

In Honor of the third book in the series, Flight For Survival, well underway, with a hard deadline of December 2015, this gift is for all who have yet to read Flight For Control, or would like a copy downloaded into their kindle for another read before the adventure continues.

5 Days only September 25-30th
Kindle Edition
is FREE! Flight for Control

My only request...
Please leave a comment on Amazon!

Thank you!

Enjoy the Journey!

XO Karlene

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Flight Lesson of Another Kind!

"Look what I'm doing! 
I'm using your book in my classes!"
Santiago, Susan, and Ignacio
"Santiago on my left and Ignacio on my right are beginning their career in aviation and they are also studying English as they know this is elementary to be able to start flying in an airline. Both their fathers are airline pilots in Argentina and so these boys want to follow their fathers' steps.

Santiago and Ignacio have just logged 200 hours. Their English is basic and what they need most right now is to gain fluency before concentrating on air communication. So what can be better than read "Flight to Success" and learn about life while improving the language? We have just read and discussed the Introduction and Chapter 1. They are fascinated and they already find that your book reflects a lot of things they or their parents have already lived.

Once again thank you for such a wonderful book and I invite foreign pilots to read your book. If they can manage on their own, without help, it means they have a good level of English to fly and communicate without problems as well as the possibility of having a good read!"

Best wishes,
Communication is the essence of safety in the aviation world... and Susan Lagier is teaching pilots to become proficient in English! 
What a great surprise to see she is using
in her classes. 
Now her students can learn tips for life success, as well as master the English language. 
Thank you Susan!!  
And best of success in your aviation careers
Santiago and Ignacio!
Enjoy the Journey!
XO Karlene  

Monday, September 21, 2015

Military Fighter Update....

A friend sent me this video last week. It's fascinating, and well worth the 8 minutes to view.

"Trillions of dollars on jet fighter programs that don't work...but the Department of Defense can't even spend money on service-member suicide prevention?!?"

Enjoy the Journey!
XO Karlene 

Who would have thought?

Friday, September 18, 2015

Martin Knife

Friday's Fabulous Flyer!

Martin Knife

Short but sweet... 

When I asked Martin why he began flying, he said...

"My father had a pilots license, and my mother is an engineer at GE working on engine flight safety. It was also really cool seeing Concorde fly over on one of its last flights."

And sometimes passion is sparked just that easy! Martin just recently earned his pilots license, and embarking on the next journey for the instrument rating. He emailed to asked what to expect.

A couple years ago he sent a question about the 1500 hour rule that sparked quite the conversation. He is an avid aviation reader, supporter and a future airline pilot. I am looking forward to flying with him one day. 

For now... any advice for the Instrument Rating will be much appreciated!

Enjoy the Journey!
XO Karlene

Thursday, September 17, 2015

1500-Hour Rule

Thought for the Day... 

Last week I wrote a post about the 1500- hour rule to get people thinking about how change is often followed by the law of unintended consequences. And while it would appear that more flight hours makes a better pilot... what appears like a great solution on the surface, may just have more problems than we expected.

Prior to the 1500-hour rule, let's say an airline needed 10 pilots and they had a 1000 pilots to choose from. They had the ability to create a selection processes the took the best applicants. Those that did not have a DUI, no failures, aptitude, motivation, dedication, and exceptional decision making skills. 

Total flight time has nothing to do with being a good pilot.

Now that airline must reduce that selection process to taking 10 warm body that meets the 1500-hour rule. Are they the best? Are they free from the DUI, had no failures, and have aptitude, motivation, dedication, and decision making skills?

Are these airlines able to select the best pilots, or are they forced to take those applicants who  meet the new rules? 

We have the ability to test pilot applicant aptitude!
We have the ability to test pilot applicants skills!

Why don't we use that as our guidance?
Why do we care about an arbitrary number in their logbook if the applicant can perform?

Enjoy the Journey!
XO Karlene

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Aviartion and Maritime...

And the 1500-hour rule! 
Captain Jim Wright, has once again commented on an Aviation post from his maritime perspective.
Following are a few observations related to your well done blog on “The 1500 hour rule” from a maritime perspective:

1) “How will the industry combat an Induced Pilot Shortage” – While most (maybe all) airlines operate on a seniority system allowing management to adjust for supply/demand anomalies, a harbor pilot once accepted into a pilot organization is pretty much there until retirement or incapacitation. Both systems have their good and bad points. The basic difference is that airline pilots enjoy relative income stability (when employed) at the expense of job stability. Harbor pilots enjoy job stability at the expense of income stability. It does seem to me that the “seniority system” works better where supply exceeds demand rather than the other way around.

2) The Big Picture -
  •  “The FAA exercises considerable control over airlines.” The US Coast Guard and State Legislatures exercise considerable control over harbor pilots’ federal (Masters) licenses, State Pilot Licenses and Regulations. In both cases government is often seen (rightly or wrongly) as an enemy rather than an ally.
  •  “Aircraft manufacturers are designing pilot-less aircraft.” Cruise ship operators are ordering vessels capable of completely automated operation. (See “Further Observations below”)
  • “Aviation labor is a huge expense.” The missing part of this statement is “relevant to what?” For example in pilotage rate negotiations we typically characterized pilotage as a discounted cost relative to the value received.

3) “How will industry combat this induced pilot shortage?” – Perhaps the question would be better stated as, “How will pilots combat this induced pilot shortage?” The wild-card here would seem to be the “pilot-less aircraft” concept and how it might change the “cost/value” equation.

Perhaps the maritime industry offers a clue as to how automation might change (or not change) the dynamics of the cost/value equation. Although maritime automation has allowed for substantial reductions in crew size (cost) the loss record for merchant vessels does not seem to reflect a substantial increase in safety (value). For example, Susan Carson’s book “The Wave” states that, “every year, on average, more than two dozen large ships sink, or otherwise go missing, taking their crews along with them.” While this data does not create a direct linkage to automation it seems clear that automation has not solved the problem. Of course ocean shipping (as opposed to aviation) operates in the shadows of human endeavor and these loses, for the most part, go unnoticed by the public.

This leads to the issue of corporate morality as it relates to the effects of automation on safety. Carol’s uncle, a mentor to me in the business arena, made the following observation many years ago... 
most businessmen will be as moral 
as they can afford to be”
Perhaps this remark provides some useful insight towards how both airline and harbor pilots can exercise the leadership necessary to solve the problem. The simple answer is to show industry how they can afford the morality necessary to use automation as a means of increasing safety. 

Final Thought

My goal as a harbor pilot was to protect and enhance the legacy of those who went before me. My challenge to those pilots attending classes at PMI is that their goal is to protect and enhance the legacy of my generation of harbor pilots...
If airline pilots have a similar philosophy perhaps a proper answer to the problem will begin to take shape.

Keep up your good work. You’re building an impressive legacy for those following you to protect and enhance.

All the best,
Another great read! 
As always your comments are much appreciated.
Thank you Jim. 
Thus... leadership just might be the answer.
 Is that a trait we are born with, 
or should we learn how to be a great leader? 
Enjoy the Journey!
XO Karlene

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Amazing Eagle Flight

On Saturday, 14th March, an eagle was fitted with a camera . . . an "Eagle-cam" and took flight from the world’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa, in Dubai. Here is the film. The eagle would have no idea where that speck of land was or what it looked like. It actually had to pick out and recognize the trainer what surprises is how smooth the flight is with no camera shake whatsoever.

The Eagle's flight from the top of the world’s tallest building to his handler below. You can see him looking, looking, looking for the trainer, invisible to a human eye, then fold his/her wings and then drop like a bullet to that trainer... very cool

Enjoy. Truly amazing !!
I'm off to Paris today ...

Enjoying the Journey! 
XO Karlene   

Monday, September 14, 2015

Best Logbook Entry

And They Expect Pilots to Work Under These Conditions?!

Enjoy the Journey!
XO Karlene

Friday, September 11, 2015

911 and Beverley Bass

Friday's Fabulous Flyer!

New hire pilot with American 1976.  Third female hired with the airline.

Beverley Bass

I am not sure there is a pilot around who does not remember where they were during 911. I was in Texas instructing in American Airline's simulators. And while this horrific event took the lives of many, and change the lives of everyone else in the world, what it also did was show that when times are the most difficult, there is a goodness in the world and human kindness will prevail. Today is the story of a Captain, her life, and what happened during that fateful time. Karlene 

How I (Beverley) Became a Pilot 
And what happened during 9/11


"I don’t really know what caused my fascination with flying, but I do know that I simply can’t remember a time when I wasn’t passionate about airplanes. I remember jumping off of the kitchen counter and wondering why I couldn’t fly across the room. Of course I always ended up in a heap on the kitchen floor."

When I was around 8 my parents went on a weekend trip to Miami and my Aunt Ginger was keeping me for the weekend. We were driving down the strip and saw a sign on the side of the road that said “airplane rides” for a penny a pound. This was it. This was my chance to go flying. all I needed to do was scrounge up 3 quarters and I was good to go. I begged and begged her to let me go, but she wouldn’t because she was responsible for me while my parents were away. It would end up being the only argument she and I would ever have.

Flying first officer on the B727, 1980

A few years later National Airlines began flying a B-727 from Tampa to Ft. Myers every night around 9pm. I would ask someone to drive me out to the local airport so I could watch the jet as it gently let down on it’s final approach and subsequent landing. 


It was such a thrill for me. I would stand right next to the chain link fence never taking my eyes off of it’s landing lights and truly believing that the guys in the cockpit without a doubt had the most exciting job in the world. I knew right then that that was what I wanted to do someday. 


When I was 16, I wanted to take flying lessons, but my parents would not agree to it. We were very busy raising, training and showing registered quarter horses and I think they were afraid that flying would interfere with the horse operation.

However, when I left for college in 1970 we sold the ranch and I took my first flying lesson after my freshman year at TCU. I came home from that lesson and told my parents I would fly for the rest of my life. Of course I didn’t know in what capacity, but I knew it would be forever. It WAS my passion!

 First female captain with American B727, 1986


My parents raised me to believe no dream was too big. I could do whatever I wanted as long as I was willing to work hard to achieve my goals. I am an only child who hunted on horseback in the Florida everglades at night with my dad, and was in fashion shows with my mom. There is no doubt they supported me every step of the way, but what they failed to tell me was there was something called gender discrimination.


I went to college during the day and spent afternoons and evenings working on my flight ratings and licenses. I applied for numerous jobs with lots of aircraft experience under my belt, but was turned down with statements such as: 
“We would love to hire you, but we just can’t have a woman flying our airplanes. I mean what would the wives of the executives think?” 

I didn’t really have an answer for that. I just wanted to fly the airplane.

New captain 1986 B727


All it takes is that one person to give you a break and for me it was a gentleman by the name of Lynn Stiles in Ft. Worth, Texas. He was a mortician who kept his “body hauling” bonanza at our flight school. One day he needed a pilot and I was the only one around. I volunteered to deliver a 19 year old girl who had died of an overdose to her family in Hope, Arkansas. I was only 21 at the time. For the next two years I flew for him logging hundreds of hours and my pay was $5.00 an hour. It was my first break AND my first flying job.

From there I went on to fly for two corporations and a night freight company out of Dallas Love Field.


In 1973 Frontier Airlines became the first airline to hire a female pilot. Her name was Emily Warner. Two months later American hired Bonnie Tiburzi who flew for 8 months and was then furloughed for 21/2 years.

 Captain B777, 2006


Even though American was one of the first airlines to employ female pilots there were concerns about our longevity. They feared we would get married, have kids and quit flying defeating the huge investment that is put into each pilot throughout their career.


I remember during my interview being quite emphatic about having no plans to get married and certainly would not be having any children and I made it very clear that I was in for the long haul. I had every intent of being a Captain on the biggest airplane in the system.

Shortly after my first child was born
his name is Taylor Stawicki, 1991


In 1976 Bonnie was recalled from being furloughed. Angela was hired in September and I was hired in October. We had nearly 4,000 pilots on the seniority list at that time so the three of us were novelties for sure. We were known by our first names only and pretty much lived in a fish bowl. Nearly every cockpit we entered had never flown with a female aviator.

When we walked through airport terminals we were stared at, whispered about and smiled at. Many passengers would take the time to speak to us. It was a very exciting time for sure.

I remember being a new flight engineer when the passengers were boarding our B-727. One lady peeked into the cockpit and saw me sitting there. She said to the flight attendant:

 “I didn’t know the captain had a secretary.”


We no doubt presented new challenges to the company. American did everything possible to not dress us up like male pilots. We had a female blouse, tie and hat. I always appreciated that when I saw female pilots with other airlines who looked as though they were dressed up in their father’s clothes.


In 1977 I met a gal who flew for Braniff. She and I actually lived in the same apartment building in New York City. We became instant friends and thought it would be fun to meet the women who were flying for the various airlines. There were approximately 30 of us in the U.S. at that time. We wrote a letter and sent it to the chief pilot of every airline that employed a female pilot.

ISA convention in Berlin 2015  all of these gals will be in Seattle
Terry Rinehart, Beverley Basss, Karen Nathan, Judy Lee


And so it was in 1978 we had our first gathering in Las Vegas. We formed a social organization called ISA+21, International Society of Women Airline Pilots. There were 21 of us at the first convention. The organization is still going strong today with several hundred members from all over the world.


It has been said by many that I had a charmed career and I would have to agree with that. I flew every airplane I wanted to, was a  Captain Check Airman (CKA) for 16 years on 4 different jets and never endured a furlough.

There have been many milestones throughout my career that spanned over 3 decades, but I have attributed many of those to “simply the seniority system” and the way it works. I had the privilege of being the first female captain for American in 1986 and only one month later had the first all female crew on the 727.


After a 2 year stint as Captain I was honored to have been asked to be a CKA. I am grateful to the chief pilots for not only approving my application, but for taking a chance with me. None of us were sure of how the senior Captains would handle getting a check ride from a relatively new Captain whose uniform hat didn’t look quite like theirs. Needless to say, they were stoic professionals and we quickly learned that it was never an issue. 

My daughter Paige stawicki 2015


Shortly after the completion of 767 training in 1990 I learned I was pregnant with my first child. I was on maternity leave exactly one day when I was offered a ground job working in flight standards, which I gladly accepted. On the last day of that job the office surprised me with a baby shower. There is nothing unusual about that except… it was given by all male pilots. Ladies, do you have any idea wheat it is like to be at a baby shower with all men? I returned to my position as CKA on the 767 flying international when my son was only 9 weeks old.

This is my son Taylor Stawicki with me in Buenos Aires around 2003.
he’s sitting in the engine of a B777. He is 24 years old today

Only a few months later I was expecting my second child. Now, if you will remember, these are the children I was never going to have with the husband I was never going to marry. This time I was offered a job as an assistant Chief Pilot working in the DFW Flight office.


One day Captain Mike Hixon came in and said he needed to get a 757 over to Alliance and would I go with him. Apparently I was the only other pilot in the office that day qualified on the airplane. I said, “Mike, look at me, I have on a dress and I’m 7 months pregnant.” He said, “That’s no problem, “I’ll bring the kitbag, just meet me at the gate.” So there I was doing a walk around in my pink dress. I figured I could talk on the radio while he flew. Oh no, he says hop in the left seat and fly us over there. Now, you can only imagine what those poor maintenance guys at Alliance thought when they walked into the cockpit and saw a pregnant pilot in a pink dress flying the airplane!

First B777 captain 1998 for an airline

1998 777 CKA

Now I’m going to fast forward to 1998. American had purchased the brand new B-777 and I was invited to be one of the original 22 Check Airmen who would be responsible for introducing the aircraft and developing the training program for the new jet. We were wined and dined by Boeing in Seattle as we awaited the delivery of our first aircraft. It truly was like waiting for the birth of a new baby. They even passed out cigars!! Those were the glory days. We were making money, buying jets and hiring pilots.


I’m sure every person in this room can recall where they were the exact moment they learned about the events of 9/11. I am no exception.

Early that morning I was on the other side of the Atlantic in Paris preparing for our 10 hour flight back to Dallas. As I recall it was a beautiful day. The co-pilot and I had just finished lunch. We were right over the middle of the North Atlantic when we heard on the radio that an aircraft had hit the world trade center. 20 minutes later we learned a second aircraft had hit the remaining tower.

We quickly learned that not only was New York’s airspace closed, but now all of the U.S. airspace was closed and every single a/c that was airborne would be planning a diversion. Our aircraft was ordered to divert to Gander, Newfoundland where we would ultimately spend the next 5 days.
Recipient of the Katherine Stinson award in Washington DC
after the 911 diversion to gander, 2002

Gander, Newfoundland


We were the 33rd out of 37 wide bodies to land, and upon touchdown at approximately 10 am we were told we would not be deplaning until sometime the next day. We spent the next 21 hours on the plane with our 156 passengers and crew.

Everything you can imagine had to be delivered to the airplanes during the night. Over 2,000 prescriptions were filled. Diapers, formula, water, nutria-grain bars and smoking patches were delivered to every airplane. All the animals in the bellies had to be cared for. 

Gander 9/11


The school bus drivers were on strike, but came off to shuttle 6500 passengers to facilities and hotels all over Newfoundland. The women of Gander stayed up all night cooking so each and every passenger was offered a buffet of food as they deplaned and were officially registered by the Red Cross.


For the next 5 days every passenger got three hot meals a day. The folks of Gander never stopped cooking and preparing food for the uninvited guests. Walmart opened their doors and allowed people to get pretty much anything they needed for free.


The Newfies treated us like distinguished guests. They took passengers hunting, fishing and cooked moose burgers for them.


I sent two plaques to the Gander Airport with our flight number and names of all the crew members to thank the people of that tiny town who spared nothing, not even their hearts to welcome us to their land.  A beautiful documentary narrated by Tom Brokaw aired two years ago during the winter Olympics. It was called Operation Yellow Ribbon and it told the story of Gander and the role they played during 9/11.


My husband and I actually returned to Gander for the 10th anniversary of 9/11. I wanted him to know where I spent those 5 days that will forever be etched in our memories.


I continued to fly for seven years after 9/11, but elected to retire early in 2008. I was in my 32nd year of the most amazing journey anyone could have asked for. I can honestly say that I was right about those pilots that I used to watch land that B-727 when I was a kid. They DID have the most exciting job in the world and I was lucky enough to live that dream." Beverly Bass. 

And then came the play... 

Come From Away is an original, rock-inspired world-premiere musical based on the true story of when the isolated town of Gander, Newfoundland played host to the world. What started as an average day in a small town turned in to an international sleepover when 38 planes were diverted to Gander on September 11, 2001. Undaunted by culture clashes and language barriers, the spirited town cheered the stranded travelers with music, an open bar and the recognition that we’re all part of a global family.

Inspired by true events

Book, music and lyrics by Irene Sankoff and David Hein

Directed by Playhouse Artistic Director Christopher Ashley

A co-production with Seattle Repertory Theater

My husband Tom Stawicki, daughter Paige
and  at the play in La Lolla

Come From Away


Enjoy the Journey! 
XO Karlene

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

1500 Hour Rule...

Inducing a Pilot Shortage?

The question about the pilot shortage is still bouncing around the industry. Yes, there is a pilot shortage and it has already begun for the Regionals. The majors, however, will continue to suck up pilots from the Regionals, so for awhile they will have a surplus. Until they don't.

My friend and I are working on an idea to help make it more affordable to fly. However, today I was asked if I believed this 1500 hour requirement has made a difference in the pilot shortage.
Yes, of course it has! 

The Regionals are already hurting. But more than that, many of the pilots I talk to within the 400-500 hour range are giving up because they cannot figure out how to get the time. And others who would have flown, expressed concern as how to get time so they are choosing different careers. 

Not to be a conspiracy theorist... 
just plotting novels that seem to ring true.


The Big Picture: 

  • The FAA was originally chartered for airline economics.
  • Boeing and Airbus are currently designing planes without pilots.
  • Labor is a huge expense.

Now imagine an FAA mandate that exacerbates a pilot shortage because they make it that much harder to become a pilot. And because of this, one day we don't have enough pilots to fly our aircraft.  Imagine if when that time comes, Boeing and Airbus state, "But you only need half the pilots (or no pilots) because we have airplanes that just need monitoring! What great fortune that our technology is here to save the day!" 

Of course the FAA must approve the single (or no) pilot operation in the name of world economics. 

Planes must fly. 

How will the industry 
combat this induced pilot shortage? 

Make planes requiring fewer (or no) pilots. And how do we create a need for that single pilot, or no pilot aircraft? Create a pilot shortage! Timing will be the key on this one... but the wave of the future has begun. And because these automated aircraft are not yet ready to fly, the FAA is softening the blow with extending the age limits. Soon to be 67.

Reality is, either the FAA did not see the ripple effect of this 1500-hour rule, or they knew exactly what they were doing.

Has this 1500 rule impacted your desire to fly?
Hang in there... there are a few people working on their doctorates to come to your assistance! If you want to fly, begin now. Build those hours. Things will change. And if you haven't read this yet, please check out what I'm doing to be your voice in the future: One Wish for Aviation.

There is no better time than today 
to become a pilot!

Enjoy the Journey!