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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.

Thursday, March 2, 2023

Sanity and Stress

Just Another Pilot Journey! 

Mayo Clinic Rochester

In February of 2016, I spent three days at the Mayo Clinic, fighting for my sanity. Not to be confused with the novel, Flight For Sanity, but my life mirrored the theme in that novel. However, the Rochester Mayo Clinic journey was actually indicative of my fight for truth. The resulting novel: Flight For Truth.

I waited in the lobby of the Mayo Clinic knowing that this visit could dictate the course of my life. I will never forget Dr. Steinkraus and his kindness as he walked into the lobby to get me, himself. He called my name. I stood and walked toward him as I introduced myself. 

He said, "It's very nice to meet you. You are quite an accomplished young lady." 

With an inquisitive look I said, "Thank you. But didn't you read Dr. Altman's 354 page report?"

He replied, "Yes, we all did. But we know a corporate political action when we see one. However, we are not here to get into a legal battle with your company, we're here to assess your mental health." And that is exactly what they did. 

For those who don't know the story, Delta paid a doctor $74,000 to give me a false mental health diagnosis for giving them a safety report. I scheduled an appointment with the Mayo Clinic in their Aviation Department, despite Dr. Riccitello from AMAS (ALPA's aeromedical department) advising me not to go to the Mayo because, "The FAA doesn't respect the Mayo Clinic like the do private practice doctors." Yes... ALPA was participatory in many ways. I never lost my medical, but I did not fly for two years. 

Mayo Clinic Scottsdale 

I never lost my first class medical during the process. At the end of the day (7 years later) Delta paid me what the judge ordered after they lost their appeal. I had believed that the seven year battle would be worth the effort for the change we would create to improve safety. Unfortunately, there was no change. 

All participants in this action are still employed, and many have been promoted. The reason no change was made, and the subsequent promotions is because the Whistleblower Law (titled AIR21) is broken. Delta has proven the ineffectiveness of this law to support employees coming forward, if the company determines to wage a war of attrition. 

After 7 years of hell, despite winning on every account, my health has suffered from the long-term ongoing stress. The month of March began with my visit to the Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale and will finish with my presence here as well.  Hopefully the end of the month will be warmer than now. 


Delta management, don't get too excited. I beat you... I can beat this. But, what I want to ensure is that nobody will ever face what I faced. We need to protect employees who are making an effort to improve safety. We need to change the law. Please, sign the petition and help to improve safety. 

AIR21 Law Change



Enjoy the Journey!
XO Karlene


  1. Keep at it Karlene. We all need you!!!

    1. Thank you Annie, I will be home Monday and we'll discuss the really serious issues.

  2. Karlene, I hope these sessions have gone well. The way you have handled all of this from the start provides powerful testimony to your integrity, your commitment to protecting the travelling public, the crews who fly them, and, indeed, staff in all sectors who need to blow the whistle on unsafe practices.

    In the UK it's our beloved National Heath Service which is not only 50 years, at least, behind global civil aviation in grasping its safety obligations, but is also the past master at attacking any staff member brave enough to blow the whistle on unsafe practices, so so nasty.

    Air 21 will be a boost for Whistleblowers and hence for safe services across the Globe.

    Keep up the good work.

  3. Thank you so much Ken!! We have a lot of work, but we can do it!


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