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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.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

The Fog Ghost

Halloween 2018

I hear wailing.
Great ships are sailing
Into your arms; and nevermore
They port on any shore. 

Ghost of the mist,
Keep your ancient tryst!
Back to the lone lanes of the sea
Slip silently.

William H. Simpson

Happy Halloween! 

Enjoy the Journey!
XO Karlene 

Monday, October 30, 2017

Ghostly Flight 339

At the Kitchen Table Radio... 

EAL Radio Show

Don't miss tonight!

"Eastern Flight 339 departs Atlanta, GA for San Juan, PR with 318 passengers, 3 flight crew members and 7 cabin crew members. Just 50 miles east of Ormond Beach, FL the flight enters an area of suspicious reported activities known as the Bermuda Triangle. Aircraft, ships, private boats and people have been reported as missing in this area over the past several decades.

As they continue their flight towards their San Juan destination an unusual radio contact is received by the crew..."

Call in and listen...
or join the discussion!

7p.m. EDT tonight 
(July, 24, 2017)

Captain Neal Holland  ♦ Jim Hart 
*Captain Steve Thompson *Chuck Allbright Linda Fuller

*Captain George Jehn*Dorothy Gagnon*Don Gagnon
Will be your hosts!

Enjoy the Journey!
XO Karlene 

Friday, October 27, 2017

Mary Latimer Gift to Flying

Friday's Fabulous Flyer 

Mary Latimer

Mary earned her private license in 1973 and her commercial and CFI in 1974. She also attended an Airframe and Powerplant (A&P) school and earned those ratings in 1974. She became and A &P Inspector (IA) in 1977. 

Unfortunately there were no jobs for women then, so she applied to become an air traffic controller. She told me that the airlines had a height requirement of 5'6" at the time, and she is "only 5'0'" Mary was a controller for 26 years, in Lawton, Ok and Ft. Worth Meacham, and retired in 2002.  However, she was also flying corporate and teaching throughout the years as a controller. She became a Designated Pilot Examiner  (DPE) in 2009.

Mary, granddaughter Amanda, and A & P, IA daughter Tamara. All three have their CFII and MEI ratings.

Mary created the GIFT Academy in 2011.  GIFT Academy is "Girls in Flight Training," which is a non-profit that Mary began because of her passion for aviation, and the support of female flyers.  

"I wanted to figure out why the percentage of women hadn't increased since I started flying and to increase that percentage." 

Mary also wanted to develop a program to help more women achieve their goals. Mary has great insight into what she has learned over the years, through her instructing and working with the girls, and is glad to share her lessons learned. 

"Fear and lack of confidence are 
the obstacles that we bring with us 
that hold us back."

"Lack of respect, physical touching 
and other harassment are far to common."

Mary believes that "Women want (need) to know WHY and usually don't get that in their training." Sadly in the airline world, I have noticed that this need to know has come across as lack of confidence or knowledge. However, it's a learning style and a good one at that. Mary has figured our what it takes for female learners to become pilots. The truth is, I think the male counterparts could benefit from this too. 

Stephanie and Mary. 
"Stephanie was one of my greatest successes. She came to GIFT to get over her fear enough to be able to ride with her husband and not scare the kids. Imagine my pleasure and pride in issuing her a pilot certificate 14 months later."

  • Peer to peer support
  • Addressing the fear head-on
  • Non-judgmental classroom
  • Appropriately behaving CFI's 
  • Willingness to answer ANY questions in ground school. 

Mary's program has worked well, because she has realized "The all female class makes this much more open. Some questions just wouldn't be asked or addressed in a mixed class." 

How does she know it's worked well? Because, "The last two years as a DPE, more than 30% of the certificates I issued went to women. Compared to a national average of about 6%." That is huge! 

Mary administered her granddaughter's, Amanda Griffith,
instrument rating. 

Mary has many stories to go along with those ratings, plus tons of experiences that needs to be shared. You can expect a book coming soon. She also offered to let me use her stories in one of my novels. Now... wouldn't that be fun!  I'm sure we will be hearing much more from Mary Latimer in the future.

Enjoy the Journey!
XO Karlene 

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

B787 Help!

Do you know the Answers?

My Simulator AvGeek Friend, Nicolas Marsh, is flying the 787 simulator and the plane is not behaving the way he believes it should. It reminds me of the old days with the introduction of technology when we heard:

"What's it doing now?" 

So, I told Nicolas to send me his questions. Well, some of them are how does she work, others are what do you think?

787 Questions:

  • If you select a lower altitude in the MCP before TOD, will the plane automatically descend in VNAV when it Hits TOD?
  • What is the average fuel burn (in lbs)?
  • How does the EFB work?
  • Do you like the new CDU keypad location?
  • How similar is it to the 777 from a pilots perspective?
  • What are some gotchas for the 787 relative to other Boeing planes?
  • At what point (in lbs) would you normally turn of the center fuel tanks? I am under the impression that it should be when you get the EICAS message "Fuel Low Center" at witch point any remaining fuel in the center tank should flow into the left wing tank.
  • How does the envelope protection work?
  • How much do you have to oversteer on taxi? 
  • Do you like the 5 screen setup relative to the 6 screen setup of the less modern Boeings? What side of the plane do you generally put the EICAS (I like the right side).
  • Please share anything else you feel is unique about the airplane

Would you be willing to
 answer these questions on a podcast? 

Leave a message for Nicolas! 

Follow Nicolas on:

Twitter Nicolas Marsh @Nicnacjak

Enjoy the Journey!
XO Karlene 

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Alaska Airlines Wants Pilots

Is This Link for You?

Yesterday I received an email offering me an opportunity for a Flight Operations Pilot Intern position. It's kind of funny that I am being recruited, and I wonder how Johnson Jobs found my name and email address. However, they did state that if I knew of someone that would be a good fit, to please pass this on. In that I am already committed to a opportunity (otherwise I would be knocking on Alaska Airlines door) I would like to extend this invitation to all the pilots looking for employment. 

Hi Karlene (YOUR NAME)

I have an opening for a Flight Operations Pilot Intern with Alaska Airlines in Seattle, WA that I thought may interest you. If you'd like to proceed or learn more about this opportunity please follow the link below:

Alaska Airlines

  • Regular/Temporary:* Temporary * Job ID:* 31238 * Full/Part Time:* Full-Time * Location:* Seattle, WA * Job Title:* Flight Operations Pilot Intern ALASKA AIRLINES' STORY Alaska Airlines is one of the most respected names in aviation and flies throughout its namesake state and the Lower 48, as well as to Hawaii, Canada, Mexico, Costa Rica and Cuba.
  • POSITION INFORMATION Role Summary Become part of a dynamic environment that offers a hands-on internship experience.
  • We are looking for talented and enthusiastic students to contribute toward key projects that support our business, community and cultural growth.
  • Scope & Complexity We want to talk to undergraduate students in their junior year who have accomplished outstanding academic results.
  • The program is designed for a commitment of 40 hours per week for the duration of the 12-week program.

Thanks for taking your time with this. If you feel this would be a better fit for someone you know please pass this message along.


Johnson Jobs
Grosse Pointe Park, MI 48230

Good Luck With your Job Search!

Enjoy the Journey!
XO Karlene 

Monday, October 23, 2017

Eastern Airlines Lives...

At the Kitchen Table Radio... 

EAL Radio Show

What the Listeners want to know. 
Monday, October 23rd, 2017


  • MH370 Search May Not Be Over By Mary Grady
  • Nine States Will Require Passports for Domestic Flights Within the U.S. (The TSA: Always Convenient.) By Sarah Rense, Esquire
  • American Airlines Pilot Ejects Passenger By Geoff Rapoport
  • Virgin Galactic Spaceflights Expected Soon By Mary Grady, AVwebflash

Then the fun begins! 
The Eastern Airlines team respond to 
emails and calls from their listeners 
and “Aviation Experts”

Tonight they will be talking about Turbulence, Bird Strikes, Upgrading to First Class, and an interesting question: "Is SWA retiring an early model 737 due to training issues?" Someone wanted to know where do they parked old planes, and so many more questions. You can ask your own! Join a fun discussion where aviation history overlaps with present time, impacting the future of aviation. 


Please call in at at 7:00 P. M. ET

As the great Eastern Folks depart the gate,
or listen in by clicking below to take you

Enjoy the Journey!
XOX Karlene 

Friday, October 20, 2017

Harlequin Romance, 2017

Just in Time For 
Some Weekend Romance...

"He grasped me firmly, but gently, just above my elbow and guided me into a room, his room.

Then he quietly shut the door and we were alone. 

He approached me soundlessly, from behind, and spoke in a low, reassuring voice close to my ear. "Just relax."

Without warning, he reached down and I felt his strong, calloused hands start at my ankles, gently probing, and moving upward along my calves, slowly but steadily.

My breath caught in my throat.

I knew I should be afraid, but somehow I didn't care. 

His touch was so experienced, so sure. 

When his hands moved up onto my thighs, I gave a slight shudder, and partly closed my eyes.
My pulse was pounding. 

I felt his knowing fingers caress my abdomen, my rib cage. And then, as he touched my breasts, I inhaled sharply.

Probing, searching, knowing what he wanted, he brought his hands to my shoulders, slid them down my tingling spine.

Although I knew nothing about this man, I felt oddly trusting and expectant.

This is a man, I thought - A man used to taking charge. 

A man not used to taking 'No' for an answer. 

A man who would tell me what he wanted. 

A man who would look into my soul and say . . . ."

"Okay, ma'am, you can board your flight now."

Remember to smile, 
and have a Great Flight!

Enjoy the Journey!
XO Karlene 

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Designing Planes Without Pilots

Who Reaps the Rewards?

While studying the B777, I was reviewing aircraft protections. In Primary Mode there is a flap load relief system where the flaps blow up (retract) to the next level if flap speeds are exceeded with flaps in the 15-30 positions. There are Autoslats and Asymmetry protection. Secondary mode has slat load relief, and Asymmetry protection. While there is no protection in Alternate mode, the B777 also has stall protection, overspeed protection, and bank angle protection. It appears that all these protections are designed to protect the pilot if they screw up. 

Thus, it got me thinking. Can you imagine how much money aircraft manufacturers would save if they did not have to install technology to counteract pilot error? It made me think that perhaps our aircraft manufacturers also have incentive to remove the pilots from the equation. If there were no pilots, there wold be no need for these systems. 

But what they must always remember, the reason as to why we need pilots. For when the unexpected happens...

Thank Goodness There were pilots on board!

Enjoy the Journey!
XOX Karlene 

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

B777 Hight Lift Control System


The HLCS extends and retracts the leaning edge devices and trailing edge flaps. The flaps have six position: Up, 5, 15, 20 (takeoff), 25 and 30 (landing). Hydraulic or Electric motors on the PDU, turn flap torque tubes, that operate transmission assemblies, which use a ballscrew and gimbal to extend and retract the flaps. Sounds logical. 

Leading edge devices include seven slats and a Krueger flap on each wing. The Krueger flap seals the gap between the engine strut and inboard slat. The slats have three positions: Cruise (up), Takeoff (sealed, or mid), and landing (gapped, or fully extended). 

The HLCS works in three modes:
  1. Primary
  2. Secondary 
  3. Alternate
Primary is the fly-by-wire closed loop hydraulic system, where the flaps move from up to 30 with detents at the 1 and 20 positions. The Flap/Slat Electronic Units (FSEUs) we'll call the communication system, receive and transmit data and other systems add airspeed and hydraulic data through the busses for high lift protection that will help with high lift protection. 

With the primary system operating then FSEUs operate the autoslat priority valve for autoslat extension if plane gets close to a stall. 

If the FSEUs find a fault in the primary system it will automatically default to the Secondary mode. While the secondary mode is Electric, pilot control is still operated like the primary; however, electric motors on the flap and slap PDUs move the flap and slat mechanisms. 

Alternate mode is independent of the FSEUs and use electric motors. Pilots select the Alternate mode with the flaps arm switch and can extend or retract the flaps with the selector. While these switches utilize the secondary/alternate control relays for the flaps and slats in the same way as the secondary mode, the alternate mode uses flap and slat limit switches to limit the flaps to 20 degrees and the slats to the sealed position. 

Flap Slat Indications: 

Learn the difference between displays 
depending upon the flaps system used. 

Enjoy the Journey!
XOX Karlene 

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Airplane Wanted

Buying a Beechcraft. 

B777 studying continues... but yesterday I received a comment on 2013 post titled:  

Photo from

James said: 

"Maybe someone can help me with this question. I am in the process of buying an airplane (my first). My passion is the A36 of course... I found an A36tc in excellent condition with 10 hours on a new rebuilt engine good time on the prop and all current. 

My question is, when I mention the TC everybody says to stay away from the turbo (other pilots) My instructor, mechanic and other very experienced pilot love this plane. I am concerned because the TC is less expensive than the 300hp A36. I'm confused! What should I be concerned about in the comparison? Please pardon my ignorance but..... Thank you for your thoughts. James"

Beechcraft Lovers
Can you help James?

Enjoy the Journey!
XO Karlene 

Monday, October 16, 2017

Monday Motivation

"Common sense is not so common" 

Enjoy the Journey!
XOX Karlene

Friday, October 13, 2017

Empowering Women

With InTransit

Friday's Fabulous Flyers... 
Jordan and Liz! 

Jordon Saxon

Jordan Saxon and Liz Knueven met at the Savannah College of Art and Design while working their way through the writing program. Jordan is currently a college Junior, and Liz graduated last spring. I connected with Liz because she sent me this email: 

"I'm Liz and I'm an editor at In Transits magazine, a travel magazine by and for women adventurers. I came across your blog while researching women pilots, and I was instantly enamored by your story and line of work. I'm starting a new column on our site about women who have made a career out of traveling and who work in the industry, and I was wondering if you would be interested in chatting with me for a few either by Skype or phone about your job as a pilot. The main goal of my column is to inspire more women to get into this line of work, and I'm especially interested in what careers in aviation look like from a woman's point of view."

Of course I would love to talk to a anyone supporting women adventurers! Especially those empowering women to travel the world. What I learned is Liz and Jordon connected over their love for travel, books and cats. But In Transit started partly because Jordan had always wanted to travel solo, but when she started planning her trips, she realized that very few publications ever went beyond the listicles. 

Jordan recruited Liz, and the two of them now share a goal of bringing women travelers together through storytelling, and empower independent women to see the world. For both of them, In Transit has become a passion project that they hope to turn into a career. 

Pilots and passengers alike, if you have any great information, adventures, or tips to share with Liz an Jordan you can reach Liz at:  Check out what they are doing by connecting with them. 

Instagram @instransit

Enjoy the Journey!
XO Karlene 

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

B777 Roll Control

 Flight Controls Continue

Yesterday's blog provided an overview of the Primary Flight Control System (PFCS). Today is all about Roll Control. Ailerons, flaperons and the spoilers control the roll. Just like the old time aircraft there is a cable connecting the control wheels with a mechanical feel and centering mechanism. 

The control wheels each have 3 independent transducers, that send position signals to the ACEs, and then to the PFCs. There is also a for transducer in the event a pilot overrides the bank angle protection. Two trim switches supply power to the aileron trim actuators.


Aileron movement is 33 degrees up and 19 degrees down. Whereas Flaperons move 11 degrees up and 34 degrees down. Two Power control units (PCUs) operate each flaperons and aileron.  The inboard and outboard spoilers move a maximum of 60 degrees up. However, spoilers 4 and 11 only move up 45 degrees. Unlike the ailerons and flaperons the Spoilers only have one PCU. 


With flaps extended the the ailerons and flaperons droop to increase lift, yet continue to supply roll control. 


Like many other aircraft at high speed the ailerons are locked out. At low speed, they unlock. The PFCs are in charge of this process. 


The speedbrake lever has three positions (down, armed and up) and moves a multiple channel transducer, and data goes to the ACEs and then the PFCs. In flight the PFCs direct the speedbrakes to extend as a function of the speedbrake lever movement, however at high speeds some spoilers are prevented from moving. When the plane lands, the auto speedbrake actuator automatically moves the speedbrake. 

Speedbrakes auto deploy with the lever armed or not. When the lever is armed and the airplane is on the ground (sensed by no tilt) and the thrust lever moves to idle, the speedbrakes deploy. If the speedbrake lever is not armed, then the auto deploy feature occurs while on the ground (no tilt), and at least one thrust reverser is pulled into the idle detent. 

Keep studying!

Enjoy the Journey!
XOX Karlene 

B777 Flight Controls

Training Continues... 

Photo from

I spent the entire day learning the Flight Control System and realized there could be an element of confusion if someone was simply trying to memorize facts to pass a test. The Primary Flight Control System (PFCS) identifies three modes of operation: Normal, Secondary and Direct. There are also three modes of operation for the High Lift Control System (HLCS). The middle mode is secondary on both, and one could think that high lift devices would be considered part of the flight controls, in that they include flaps and slats. 

However, the reality is that there are two separate systems that control flight on the B777: The Primary Flight Control System (PFCS) and High Lift Control System (HLCS).

The B777 is a fly-by-wire aircraft. The PFCS is the electronic fly-by-wire system that controls pitch, yaw and roll, with Ailerons, Flaperons, Spoilers, Elevators, a Rudder and a Horizontal Stabilizer. The HLCS is also an electronic fly-by-wire system, however, this system controls Trailing Edge Flaps, Slats, and Krueger Flaps. The most important thing to remember is that these are two separate systems, both with multiple protections available for the pilots. 

The PFCS has flight envelope protection modes, to include: Overyaw protection, Overspeed protections, Stall protection, and Bank angle protection. The HLCS protections include flap and slat load relief, autoslat extension, flap /slat sequencing and asymmetry shutdown. The best part of this system, depending upon perspective, is the retention of mechanical control with two spoilers, and the horizontal stabilizer. 


Pilots give commands to the aircraft with the control wheels, the control column, rudder pedals, and speedbrakes. Position transducers change the commands to analog electrical signals. These signals go to the Actuator Control Electronics (ACEs)... there are four ACEs. The ACEs then change the signals to digital format and send that information to the Primary Flight Computers (3) (PFCs)....Not to be confused with the PFCS (Primary Flight Control System).  

The PFCs communicate with the airplane systems through electrical buses. The PFCs also get data from the Airplane Information Management Systems (AIMS), the Air Data Inertial Reference Unit (ADIRU), and Secondary Attitude Air Data Reference Unit (SAARU) to include airspeed, attitude, and inertial reference data. 

The PFCs calculate the flight control data and then send digital signals back to the ACEs. The ACEs change the command signals to analogue format and then send the signals to the Power Control Units (PCUs). The PCUs operate each control surface.  

The PCUs have a hydraulic actuator, electro-hydraulic servo-valve, and position feedback transducers. The servo-valve causes the hydraulic actuator to more the control surface. Then the actuator transducer sends position feedback signals to the ACEs. The ACEs convert the data to digital format and then send that signal to the PFCs. The ACEs stop the PCU command when  the signal equals the position. 

The PFCS three modes of operation: 


The above description is how the system operates in Normal Mode. Protections functions are  also available in Normal Mode. The protection functions include stall warning, overspeed, overyaw and bank angle. Normal mode is also the only mode where the autopilot works. 


If the PFCS loses important data it automatically defaults to the secondary mode, which operates essentially the same as the normal mode, but without protection functions and without the autopilot. 


If the data that caused the default to secondary mode degrades further, or there are more failures that make Normal and Secondary modes unreliable, the system will kick into direct mode. In direct mode, pilot commands go directly to the ACEs and then to the PCUs. The Primary Flight Computers (PFCs) do not operate in direct mode. 

There is also a two position PFC disconnect switch, on the P5 overhead panel. The switch is either in AUTO or DISC position. AUTO is the normal mode of operation. However, the DISC switch enables the pilot to place the PFCS into direct mode. This switch can also be cycled and moved back to AUTO with an attempt to take the system from Direct mode to the highest available, either Normal or Secondary.  An illuminated amber DISC light indicates the system is in Direct Mode. 

More to come tomorrow!

Enjoy the Journey!
XOX Karlene 

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

B777 Structure

The Power in the Airframe... 

The B777 is built with composite materials to improve resistance to damage, prevent corrosion and reduce aircraft weight. 

But what are composite materials? 

Composite materials are nothing other than layers or piles of high strength fibers in a mixture of a plastic resin. The high strength fibers are comprised of carbon and fiberglass. Basically, there are structures on the aircraft that are carbon fiber reinforced plastic. A plastic airplane is definitely lighter weight and more fuel efficient than its predecessor. 

So what is made of plastic on the B777? 
  • Elevators
  • Aileronns
  • Rudder
  • Flaperons 
  • Spoilers
  • Flaps
  • Engine cowlings
  • Strut fairings
  • Nose gear doors 
Want to win a beer question. Ask your B777 expert if they know what is made of plastic, and then can ask if they know what is made of fiberglass.  Here you go on the fiberglass components: 
  • Leading and trailing edge panels
  • Wing-to-body fairing
  • Wing and main landing gear doors
  • floor panels 
  • Radome 
The B777 is also more corrosion resistant because of improved draining features, corrosion resistant materials with better aluminum alloys, toughened carbon fibers, fiberglass floor panels, and improved finishes, with more primer and corrosion inhibiting compounds. 

Boeing has come a long way from the Aluminum B727. More to come on this adventure... 

Enjoy the Journey!
XOX Karlene 

Monday, October 9, 2017

It's All about the Boeing B777

"He that can have patience 
can have what he will."

Benjamin Franklin 

Well over a year ago I received the bid on the B777. This month I am finally scheduled to start training. I've got my training materials, and then some, and my head is in the books. On a side note, the last time I flew a Boeing, was a B747-400 in the Spring of 2008. This is also the first time I've flown a Fly-by-Wire Boeing Aircraft.

Good things come to those who wait, 
so never give up on your dreams.

While studying comes in many forms, learning comes through understanding. Learning is also enhanced when we connect what we're learning to something we know. Thank goodness I have had a life of Boeing Aircraft. I have been reading a variety of B777 sources in order to fully understand the plane.

I also study at they gym on the elliptical trainer. Motion does help the memory. As does visualization. Also, when you understand something well enough to explain it, you have a better chance of recall. Thus, I will be dedicating my blog for the next few weeks, maybe a month, to the B777, sharing lessons learned. 

Standby for everything you wanted to know about the B777, and maybe a little bit more.

Enjoy the Journey!
XOX Karlene 

Friday, October 6, 2017

Mary Ellis Flying Strong!

Fridays Fabulous Flyer

Female Spitfire pilot Mary Ellis

Mary Ellis was in a select group of female pilots who flew during World War II, called the spitfires. She just celebrated her 100th birthday by flying a plane over West Sussex. She flew with the Spitfires for more than 70 years. My mom sent me this, but the original article was written by by Sarah Oliver For The Mail On Sunday February 5, 2017.

Happy Birthday Mary Ellis!
100 Years Strong! 

Mary Ellis 
Air Transport Auxiliary pilot 
in WW2  

"Tearing through the skies above the South Coast, two Spitfires evoke powerful memories of Britain's wartime resilience. But this stirring image holds a further poignancy  for in the cockpit of the lead aircraft  sits Mary Ellis, celebrating her 100th birthday by recreating her time as one of the 'Ata-girls', the select gang of female pilots who flew Britain's fighters during the war. And over her shoulder is one of the actual Spitfires she flew during her 1,000 flights as a First Officer with the Air Transport Auxiliary.

'Wizard, this is wizard!' yelled the delighted centenarian through her intercom. Mary was handed the controls of the 275 mph twin-seater as it swooped over West Sussex. After about 15 minutes, she turned for home, and told her co-pilot Matt Jones: 'Goodwood on the nose, you have control ...' Then she settled back to enjoy the ride back to base. Earlier, Mary watched in delight as Spitfire MV154 took its place beside her in an extraordinary airborne tribute. It was a plane she had delivered to RAF Brize Norton from Southampton on September 15, 1944, and it hides a sentimental secret. For at the end of the 25-minute wartime flight, she signed the cockpit, scrawling her maiden name Wilkins and the initials ATA."

"Mary Ellis (circled) was handed the controls of the 275mph twin-seater as it swooped over West Sussex. She hoped her tag might be spotted by a handsome pilot and lead to a wartime romance. Although the impulsive act, a career one-off, didn't bag her a boyfriend. Mary, originally from Oxfordshire, had her first flying lesson in 1938, and flew for pleasure until 1941 when she heard a BBC radio appeal for women pilots to join the auxiliary service and so release male pilots for combat duty. Speaking at a surprise birthday party on Thursday, Mary said: 'The war was a challenge and one had to do something about it. I went on and on until I flew everything. I love the Spitfire, it's my favourite aircraft, it's everyone's favourite, it's the symbol of freedom.' For four years she ferried warplanes from factories to frontline squadrons. The 166 women of the ATA, about one in eight of the total have been dubbed 'The Female Few,' echoing Winston Churchill's description of the RAF airmen who fought in the Battle of Britain."

"Mrs Ellis looked back over her left shoulder and glanced at the aircraft she once flew.  Mary was usually found at the joystick of a Spitfire or a Hurricane but ultimately flew more than 50 types of aircraft, logging 1,100 hours of flight, much to the astonishment of some colleagues. As she sat on the airfield ready to deliver her first Spitfire, the mechanic standing on the wing asked how many of them she'd flown. When she said it was her first, he was so startled he fell right off. The largest aircraft she flew solo was the Wellington bomber. After landing at an East Anglian airfield, Mary was greeted by the ground crew who asked where the pilot was. 'I'm the pilot,' she said. They insisted on searching the aircraft before they believed her. It was dangerous work. Mary was sometimes ordered to move combat-damaged planes that were not officially fit to fly, but had to be taken for repairs. She crash-landed twice and was shot at once."

"Mrs Ellis toasted a glass of champagne with co-pilot Matt Jones, managing director of Boultbee Flight Academy Fourteen of her fellow ATA female flyers lost their lives, including aviation pioneer Amy Johnson Mary, who to this day needs no spectacles, nor a walking stick, was one of the last six women serving in the ATA when it disbanded after the war. She remained a private pilot and then became managing director of Sandown Airport on the Isle of Wight. She married Don Ellis, a fellow pilot, in 1961, but was widowed in 2009. Matt Jones, who flies Spitfires for Goodwood-based Boultbee Flight Academy, reunited Mary with MV154 after first meeting her in 2015. He conspired with the plane's current owner, pilot Maxi Gainza, to bring it to the UK from its base in Bremgarten, Germany.He said: 'I gave Mary control of our Spitfire. I wasn't sure where we were but Mary was very clear."

Join me in honoring a historic aviator,
compliments of Sarah Oliver!

Enjoy the Journey!
XO Karlene