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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, June 26, 2020

PIA FLT PK8303 Accident

What Went Wrong?

What happened is can be found in

The WHY Can Be Found In:

Available On Kindle!
Order the paperback version 
on this site today!

And When We Thought 
it Couldn't get any worse....

P.I.A. ( Pakistan International Airlines) suspends 
150 pilots over fraudulent License and ratings.

"From the post report from the Karachi crash May 22, in which 91 passengers lost their lives when the pilots having gear deployed opted to retract just prior landing. Pakistan Aviation Minister- Ghulam Sarwar Khan- said more than 30% of Commercial Pilots have "false licenses and rating" and are not qualified to fly passenger planes. Within the Fraud investigation carried out for Pakistan Government, was found " wide spread  pilots paying other more qualified pilots to take exams and rating exams", out of the 860 pilots vetted, was found 265 pilots have questionable licenses."

Enjoy the Journey!
XO Karlene 

Thursday, June 25, 2020

Aero Searcher

Seven years ago, an idea got thrown around for an aviation classifieds website. Jeff Miller thought this would be a cool site that he could manage, but sought the help of one of his seasoned entrepreneur friends, Todd Hogan.

Jeff Miller 

“We didn’t know each other long before I brought up my idea for a classifieds site,” Miller said. “I wanted to do something where I could combine my passion for aviation along with an entrepreneurial spirit, and I thought Todd would be the perfect person to help make it happen.”

Todd Hogan, being a digital marketer and online publishing guru, took Jeff’s idea a step farther and mentioned the concept of starting a metasearch engine with not only aircraft for sale, but aviation jobs and products too. At the time, Jeff wasn’t ready to take on a project like this. Yet, three years later in the summer of 2016, Jeff decided it was time to dive into creating an aviation metasearch engine.

Todd Hogan 

It was a lot to think about and manage, especially since it would just be a part time side project,” Jeff said. “But I just kept coming back to the idea and wanted to make it happen. We did quite a bit of market research to figure out what this community really needed, and we just went from there.”

Todd, Jeff and a select team of developers worked on this project until late 2018 when the website launched. AeroSearcher came to life as an aviation metasearch engine, where users can search dozens of websites for aircraft for sale, aviation jobs, and products and parts.

No longer just a project, 
AeroSearcher required more time 
than either Todd or Jeff had available.

“We had to find a way to continue making this work,” Todd said. “Jeff and I both wear multiple hats when it comes to our jobs, and this wasn’t just a side project anymore.”

Ashley Skinner

Just a year after the site launched, 
Ashley Skinner was hired as 
AeroSearcher’s digital marketing manager.

“We knew we had a revolutionary concept on our hands, but we needed to hire someone who could get the message out via social media, forums, publishers and other partners,” Todd said. “We hired Ashley because of her skill set and enthusiasm. It matched exactly what we needed in terms of getting a message out that was both exciting and well articulated.” Personally, I think they made an excellent choice in Ashley. I'm also looking forward to sharing a cup of coffee with her sometime in the near future. 

Ashley and her nieces

Although fresh out of college, Ashley wasn’t lacking experience. She had been the social media manager for a start-up nonprofit in Texas, a copy writer for a digital marketing agency in Texas, and the chief marketing officer for a digital marketing start-up in Indiana. 

Although I wasn’t familiar with aviation when I took this opportunity a few months ago, I was familiar with start-ups,” Ashley said. “It’s always a challenge working with a new audience on social media, but I love a challenge.”

One of the biggest challenges for Todd and Ashley is getting the aviation community to engage with the AeroSearcher social media accounts.

Todd enjoying his passion of hiking.

I’ve worked with a lot of different markets, and typically it’s pretty easy to get feedback and engagement from them,” Todd said. “But this market doesn’t react the same on social channels. It takes a lot of strategizing and planning.”

Jeff said getting the word out to the aviation community has been one of the biggest challenges.

Jeff in Kotor, Montenegro

“You have to realize, we’ve done something that hasn’t really been done before," Jeff said. "We’re changing the way the aviation community searches and to do that, we have to change the mindset of how to search. You shouldn’t have to go to six different sites to find the jobs you want to apply for or the aircraft you want to purchase. We’ve created a comprehensive aircraft for sale, aviation jobs, and products search engine that brings it all to you in one, simple place.”

Over the last year, Jeff, Todd and Ashley have been working to build meaningful relationships on multiple platforms. Although they say this has been somewhat of a slow process, AeroSearcher hit its tipping point when there wasn’t enough bandwidth to handle everyone.

“The concept of our data is very powerful and as people are realizing it, they want to be involved,” Jeff said.

Although AeroSearcher’s site was launched just over a year ago, that wasn’t the last stop on Jeff and Todd's journey. Once they realized how much the aviation community needed AeroSearcher’s content and data, they decided to take it a step further: creating an AeroSearcher widget to partner with other aviation sites, bringing their value to as many people as possible. With this widget, AeroSearcher’s search functionality can be leveraged without a visitor leaving the partner site.

“When we started this, our sights were unknown, but we’re coming through the clouds with this concept,” Tod said. “We jumped in the cockpit a couple years ago, and we’ve had a few stops along the way, but now we’re coming over the horizon and expanding based on our new discoveries. I don’t think we’ll be making our last stop anytime soon.”

To learn more about making an account on AeroSearcher or utilizing the AeroSearcher widget for your own website, click here or you can email Ashley Skinner at

Enjoy the Journey!
XO Karlene 

Thursday, June 18, 2020

Warning to All Pilots

Avoid HIMS if you can

If you are a pilot who drinks alcohol,
you could lose your career 
by the very program that is supposed to help you!

HIMS is Human Intervention Motivation Study that began in 1973. This program patterns itself after AA, and I am certain is beneficial for many pilots similar to Lyle Prouse who flew drunk and want to return to the flight deck. If you don't have the ability to show up sober to work, HIMS would be your best option. 

For everyone else.... my opinion...
 run like hell to avoid the HIMS program at all cost. 

If you are a pilot who enjoys an occasional drink, 
you must read The HIMS Nightmare

You might find the events in this book so shocking, 
that you will find them hard to believe, 
unless you know somebody in the program. 
I know many, and this unjust control of pilots' lives 
is scarier than you can imagine! 

Do not think that the nightmare could not happen to you. I know a Captain who had a glass of wine at lunch with his wife. He was pulled over for a random traffic issue and received a DUI. But, an extremely low level. He reported this to his AME (Aviation Medical Examiner). Got his physical. And all was good. Until the following year, a doctor at AMAS (ALPA's aeromedical) incorrectly told him he need to get a psychiatric evaluation. That lead him to Dr. Altman who subjected him to HIMS program, and he ultimately retired because of the very nightmare the author writes of in The HIMS Nightmare.  Note: Dr. Altman is facing prosecution in the state of Illinois, yet they are allowing him to continue to work while the legal system drags on. 

The author's experience is authentic. I know a half dozen pilots at  multiple airlines that have had similar experiences. Some have lost their jobs because they voiced their opinion for the religious aspect, voiced violations of ADA, or reported being sexually harassed by the very people who manage the program. 

What is not in this book, but very real, is the HIMS program (at one airline at least) allows managers of the program, who are all addicts themselves, to sexually harass the women, and these women have no recourse. Because, these addict managers call everyone liars. These women have reached out to HR to no avail. This month alone, one woman was terminated two weeks after reporting gender discrimination and the other was forced into in-patient treatment because she made multiple complaints, wrote to management, and even wrote the CEO, begging to not have to work with her harassers. Nobody helped. 

If you are in HIMS, 
you are a hostage without rights. 

Pilots are forced to work with doctors of management's choice. Which, Dr. Altman on one occasion locked a female pilot in his office for six hours, alone with him, without a break, and asked questions about her expressing her milk to feed her babies. When this pilot reported his inappropriateness to ALPA, they did nothing. She was forced to return. 

The pilots I spoke to have proof that they did not drink, but that doesn't matter. They are terminated, sent back as in-patients, or forced to resign. How can management get away with this? Read the book, because it could happen to you. One pilot was told she would be there for 28 days, and they retained her for 5 months away from her children. 

How do you know a pilot didn't drink?

The alcohol test that has become the test of choice to control pilots is the Dried Blood Spot (DBS)  PEth (phosphatidylethanol) test. This test is NOT FDA approved. The doctor who invented the PEth  test advocates that this should not be used as the only source, as there is too much unreliability. Management uses it because the high rate of false positives and ability to rid itself of pilots they simply don't want. 

Why is ALPA allowing it?

Blood is drawn in strip mall by minimum wage employees that have little or no training. There are a dozens of reasons a false positive could occur from hand sanitizer, process of drawing the blood, the facility, the clerk, packaging, not drying it properly before mailing the sample to the lab and much more. Therefore the pilots who know they did not drink will obtain secondary tests, to include fingernail and hair tests. When those are negative, everyone knows the truth. Unfortunately ALPA managers of the program and airline management don't care if the test was false. The company will seek discipline regardless.

Furthermore, there is a litigation package that could assist to identify why the test was in error and determine validity of the false positive. But, the airlines own this data and they refuse to give it to the pilots. Well, some of the guys they give it to, but others they don't. 

Captain McMurphy's words are not only authentic, but this book is superbly written. And... filled with references that you might need one day. You want to read this before you get snatched in the trap. Share with everyone you know. 

If you need help, please get it.
There are other options than HIMS,
and are listed in the book. 

You'll read many HIMS slogans in the book, as they love to use them in the program. My favorite is something that could rightfully be told to ALPA and the FAA alike about the HIMS program itself. 

"The only thing you have to change is everything!"

Enjoy the Journey!
XO Karlene 

Monday, June 8, 2020

Substandard Pilot Training

In the Airline Industry

It has become too easy to blame the pilot when an accident occurs. But the truth is, in today's world where most operations are conducted on automation, pilots are only as good as the training they receive. Unfortunately airlines are cutting training to save money. Safety Culture is lacking. Manual flight is limited. Last week I received an interesting email related to my book based on my research, Normalization of Deviance, a Threat to Aviation Safety.

Below is the email with names redacted. The reality of what is happening in the aviation industry and the feelings of a pilot emerging from training and feeling unprepared, parallels the research. 

The pilot said...

"I read your book with great interest because of much it intersected with my own training and line experience at (blank). 

I never felt fully trained or confident of my own skills, 
despite passing the systems tests 
and the ATP/type rides

Some of what you wrote applied to (blank) AQP. My class was roughly 1/3 rd cadets, millennials who had been at ATP (mostly), become instructors with 1250 hrs, several ex-Army rotorwing pilots with a smattering of ex-corporate jet pilots, and a few “bucket listers” like me, people who’d always flown but incidentally to their main career, heeding the call of the airline flight deck before it was too late. I was one of the oldest.

We had 10 days of basic classroom, mostly on airline polices (SOPs) and part 121 FARs. Then we all went home and spent about a week doing on-line systems training and testing. I believe all students received “gouges”, shared amongst the class via Airdrop. The instructors (I believe) knew this but looked the other way. We also received all the answers to the oral test document in advance and drilled those. As a result all learning was at the rote level, and we all got 100%.

Then we moved to procedures training simulators, and that’s where my personal wheels started to come off. I find rote memorization very hard, I can learn things but only if I understand the principles behind them. I was actually told by one trainer to:

“Just be a trained monkey 
and press the buttons”

I started asking for extra help, but never received it, not from the company. The upgrading captain I was paired with was little help at all – other captains spent extra time with their FO trainees, mine disappeared instantly a session was done. After every session, my training book was signed by the sim instructor with “normal progress”. Eventually I created my own unofficial sessions after the school closed for the evening with an FO friend who’d completed training 6 months before and was now flying the line.

I remember crying one day after a session because I just wasn’t getting it, but I desperately wanted to. I’d never felt like that at any stage of flying training before. I said to myself that they’d have to fire me because I wasn’t quitting until I got it.

Next was a more sophisticated non-motion sim, still with touch screens now laid out like a cockpit, but without flight controls. I was still very confused, lacking understanding or confidence. I passed the oral “Systems Validation” with no problems but failed my first “Procedures Validation” – because I took too long to program my nemesis, the FMS. I got one extra training session and passed the PV on the second attempt. The whole time I was asking for extra help, but since I only actually failed one step, I didn’t get it.

Then it was off to for sim training in a level 4 sim. Finally the upgrading captain had nothing else to do, and I got some guidance from him, but it was still mostly me alone trying to hammer the procedures into my head. I was actually told not to flare on landing – we were expected to crash land the airplane so as to hit the TD zone on every approach ending on a landing. 

That’s why the CA in your book 
was having to teach new FOs how the land
– we weren’t taught that in training. 

We had six 4-hour sim sessions. I remained unable to manage the automation and learn the SOPs (ironically, my hand flying was fine). We had one LOFT session, then the Maneuvers Validation, which I failed. The problems were the SE ILS and an automated non-precision VOR approach. After the failure, the examiner had me do the 2 approaches again, this time he instructed me on a few simple tricks-of-the-trade and I did both to standard on the second attempt. I was super frustrated that no-one had told me before the tricks he taught me – too late.

After a break I got 3 or 4 extra sessions in the sim, and retook the MV and LOE, getting the xxxx type and ATP certificate. The next Monday I started IOE, supposedly fully trained and capable of flying safely.

Was I? NO. 

I certainly never felt trained, 
confident, and capable. 

I could actually make the airplane go from point A to B and back, and after a while I could get all my FO duties performed within 20 minutes, program the damned FMS and get off the gate on time. Every time I had to do a visual approach, I was nervous and delayed turning off the AP until as late as possible. That feeling of not being really competent was part of the reason I quit after flying the line for only a few months (the other reasons were the pressure and lifestyle of a regional pilot). 

I did NOT want to be the pilot featured 
in the next keynote airline accident.

The people who did best were the ATP graduates and private jet pilots. They were already trained in airline-style procedures and jet-cockpit automation. About 2/3rd of the military helicopter pilots survived the course. I was the only one of the “bucket-list” pilots to make it to the line, all the rest dropped out in training. For us, the hand flying wasn’t the problem, it was the automation – especially the FMS and guidance panel. 

I feel I was failed by the training department 
and the AQP – 

And even though I asked for extra training and help, I didn’t get it. I even wrote to the training director but was ignored.

A few months later I started type training in the CE750 Citation X at a major training company, I suspect I was picked because the flight deck is very like the xxxx – 5 Honeywell Primus DUs with an FMS almost identical to the airliner. The main difference is lack of autothrottles. 

Systems training was in person and we were given the opportunity to puzzle through failures. The sim training went well and I passed the checkrides first time with no problems, and started contract flying the real jet towards the end of last year. I proved that I could have got through (Blanks) training with fewer problems if they’d cared to try, I didn’t have to ask for additional training from xxxx. Not being under an airline’s SOP I can make decisions on the ground or in flight based on what I think is needed, not what an SOP says. There is much less schedule pressure, I have time to do what is right for safety without being dinged for a late departure. 

"The airline SAID safety came first,
but their actions said SCHEDULE was most important"

All in all, I feel proud that I finally achieved my boyhood dream of flying for an airline, I too have now walked through the terminal knowing everyone is looking at the uniform. I’ve flown around the US and into Mexico, and landed a jet at (blank) and (blank) (International Airports). I’m sorry it wasn’t a better experience however, and I’m slightly jealous of the rest of my class (at least the ones still with a job).

I blame the training"

The above email presents an experience of a pilot. The research and pilots comments within the book Normalization of Deviance, a Threat to Aviation Safety explain the why. This pilot could not be more correct.

Blame the training not the pilot. 

But who should we blame 
for inadequate training? 

 Just as the professor asked at the end of my defense, 
"What do you think they will do?"

Get your copy today 
and let me know what you think.

Enjoy the Journey!
XO Karlene