Thursday, February 17, 2011

Career advice from a Snowbirds pilot to local birds

Career advice from a Snowbirds pilot to local birds

My interview with L.Col. Maryse Carmichael ( "Top Snowbirds pilot brings success story to Vancouver", Jan. 25) struck a cord with many readers here on the West Coast.

Carmichael, 39, is the remarkable pilot and officer in the Canadian Armed Forces who, in 2000, became the first woman to fly with the elite Canadian Snowbirds military aerobatics team. She is now commanding officer of the Snowbirds, based in Moose Jaw, Sask. - the first woman to lead the squadron in its 40-year history.

And if that wasn't enough, she's also mom to two little girls, age four and 20-months.

We spoke by phone last Friday in advance of her arrival in Vancouver where she is scheduled to speak at a series of private engagements this weekend on the topic of leadership.

She is certainly well-qualified to speak on the subject, and is, of course, a particularly great role-model for young women considering a similar career in what remains a heavily male-dominated profession.

Indeed, things have changed little since Carmichael joined the Canadian Armed Forces in 1990. She was, at the time, the 39th woman to join the Canadian Armed Forces as a pilot and only one of two female students in a class of 140 in flight school.

Twenty years ago, about 1.5 per cent of CAF pilots were women. These days, the percentage has only risen slightly to just above two or three per cent, according to Carmichael.

The statistics are similar in the private aviation world, she said, though "there are more and more (women flying) all the time."

"I was away from flying with two pregnancies and when I came back, I really noticed a difference. I hear a lot more ladies on the radio now," she said.

Some of those women are right here in Metro Vancouver. Following Carmichael's story in Tuesday's Vancouver Sun, I heard from quite a few local parents whose daughters are interesting in pursuing a career in the air.

One proud dad, Gary Peare, told me via email that both his daughters are interested in becoming professional pilots. His youngest daughter, 17-year-old Jessica, just successfully completed her first solo flight out at Boundary Bay this weekend and is "working on getting her license as we speak." Older sister Allison will get her pilot's licence this year, he said.

I asked Peare why the numbers of women pilots remain so low in the industry and this is what he had to say:

"I think in the aviation field it is not just women who are not becoming pilots but many of our young folks, both girls and boys. We will eventually have a lack of pilots here in North America. There is no reason in particular as to why there are so few women in aviation today. In fact some of the most famous pilots are indeed women in the past as in the present, names like Amelia Earhart, Patty Wagstaff and all the WASP pilots of WW2 just to name a few.

"Both my daughters have, of course, been hanging around me all their lives,with that they have been flying and messing around with mechanical and electronic things. So really it was not a big stretch for one of them - so far - to become a pilot, and an engineer. No surprise to me of course..."

For anyone considering a career in flying, and in particular thinking of trying for a spot in the highly competitive military flight world, Carmichael had this to say in the way of advice:

"My very first idea is to have that passion of flying. I think it is valid for any other profession. If you love what you do you will put in the hours and you will be dedicated to being the best you can be."

As always, I'm interested in hearing what you think on this or any other workplace topic

Thursday, February 10, 2011

PR: New Book about Pre-WWII Aircraft Mechanics

Pioneer Mechanics in Aviation, by Giacinta Bradley Koontz

Aurora, Colorado: On March 1, we’ll finally have a book devoted exclusively to the heretofore anonymous American mechanics of early aviation. That’s when Giacinta Bradley Koontz releases her latest book, Pioneer Mechanics in Aviation, which chronicles the exploits of airplane mechanics up to the start of World War II.

Each of the book’s 24 chapters tells of the fascinating stories of the men and women (yes, women!) who kept Wright Flyers, BlĂ©riots, Curtiss Pushers, and other wood-and-fabric aircraft flying. Beginning with the Wright brothers’ mechanic, Charles Taylor, Koontz reveals the life stories and contributions of these unsung heroes of aviation.

“This book captured my interest because it includes women pilots, like Katherine Stinson and Willa Brown, who were also good mechanics,” says Sue Hughes, owner of Powder Puff Pilot, a Denver-based web retailer that specializes in gear and accessories for women pilots. “Men have always outnumbered women pilots, but before World War II, a woman who knew how to use a wrench was especially rare.” Powder Puff Pilot retails the new release, along with many other books and DVDs by and about women pilots.

Koontz has written aviation history columns for several aviation magazines since 2006. (In 1995, Giacinta became Director of the Portal of the Folded Wings Shrine to Aviation and Museum in North Hollywood, California, where the Wright Brother’s mechanic, Charles Taylor, and other aviation pioneers are buried. Although the small Portal museum officially closed in 2001, Giacinta assisted in writing the first state resolution honoring Taylor with Aviation Maintenance Technician Day in California in 2002.

In 2006, Giacinta started a column featuring the untold stories of aviation mechanics for Aircraft Maintenance Technology Magazine. This column laid the foundation for her book, Pioneer Mechanics in Aviation, published in 2011.)

Although neither a pilot nor a mechanic, one of her editors wrote, “Her passion is aviation history and her gift is writing.” Koontz’s scholarly contributions to preserving aviation history have been recognized by the Daughters of the American Revolution and professional maintenance technician associations, among others. Her first book was a biography of America’s first female licensed pilot, Harriet Quimby.

Pioneer Mechanics in Aviation: Softcover, 150pp. Dozens of vintage photographs and illustrations; references; an index of aircraft, engines, and people. Foreword by former NTSB Board Member, Hon. John Goglia. Price: $34.95. Now available for purchase at

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Bessie Coleman trained in Paris to become first female African American pilot

Chicago Sun Tims: Bessie Coleman trained in Paris to become first female African American pilot

In 1920, Bessie Coleman (1892-1926) became the first African-American woman to earn a pilot’s license, after traveling to Europe to attend flight school.

Born in Atlanta, Texas, Coleman moved to Chicago in 1915, and here she discovered her passion for aviation. However, as a black woman she wasn’t allowed to train as an airplane pilot in the United States.

Robert Abbot, publisher for the African-American newspaper the Chicago Defender, urged Coleman to learn French and enroll in France’s Caudron School of Aviation.

Coleman received her international pilot’s license and toured the U.S. as a barnstormer, with the Chicago Defender as her sponsor. Coleman, who gave lectures and flight lessons, became known as “Queen Bess” and “the world’s greatest woman flyer” as her celebrity grew.

Her first Chicago area exhibition was Oct. 15, 1922, at the Checkerboard Field, in what is now Miller Meadow Forest Preserve in Maywood. More than 2,000 people attended.

She died in a plane crash in Florida in 1926 and is buried in Lincoln Cemetery, at Kedzie and 123rd in Alsip.

Sources: Encyclopedia of Chicago and Smithsonian Institution Archives

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Save the day: February 24-26, 2011
Here's the text from the front page of their website:
22nd Annual International Women in Aviation Conference
February 24-26, 2011
Grand Sierra Resort
Reno, Nevada

Are you an air traffic controller, pilot, mechanic, engineer, flight attendant, astronaut, dispatcher, school science or math teacher, aviation historian or just plain airplane enthusiast? In the military? Work for an air carrier? Move freight or passengers by air as your daily routine? Come join us, women and men from all walks of aviation and aerospace, as we gather to network, share our collective wisdom, and celebrate the contributions of women in the aviation industry.

You won’t find a better conference for price versus value. Our Conference sponsors help keep registration fees low, and there are terrific savings for registering early!

Participants in the 2011 WAI Conference will be immersed in the tactics and strategies necessary for successful aviation careers. More than 3,000 women and men from all segments of the aviation industry are expected to attend.

For more information about the Conference, contact WAI at 3647 State Route 503 South, West Alexandria, OH 45381, Phone (937) 839-4647. Hope to see you there!

The 2011 Conference is approved as training for FAA employees. Managers may approve attendance and funding for the entire Conference. As with all training, approval is at the manager’s discretion and subject to operational demands, organizational priorities, and resource availability.

Registration Options
Full Registration includes all meetings, meals, exhibits and social events.

One Day Registration includes meetings, meal (luncheon or banquet) and exhibits for that day.

Student Registration includes all meetings, exhibits, Friday luncheon and social events (excludes Saturday banquet).

Miscellaneous Tickets are available for the opening reception, luncheon and banquet for registrants requiring additional tickets.

Military Rate available for active duty, reserve and guard members. Includes all meetings, meals, exhibits and social events.

Child Rate available for children of attendees age 6-12 (excludes all food and social events).

Student Sponsorship
Each year there are college students who need financial help to attend the Conference. Please sponsor a student for $175. Check the box on your registration and send in your donation with your registration fee.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

PR: Daher-Socata Renews its Partnership with the Cannes AirShow

Cannes, February 3, 2011 - The French firm, Daher-Socata, will once again be the official partner of the Cannes International Exhibition of General Aviation (Cannes Airshow), which runs from June 9 through 11, 2011 at Cannes LFMD airport, France.

For more information: www.daher.comand

Daher-Socata exhibits its production range at the show every year, and will present, for this 5th edition, the TBM 850 and the G500 avionics for the TB aircraft range.

The Daher Socata exhibit will also feature a retrospective of the Morane-Saulnier and Socata productions, as the French aircraft manufacturer is celebrating the centennial of its activity in 2011.

“We look forward to participating in the 5th edition of the exhibition in Cannes, now called the Cannes AirShow, whose geographical location and audience make it a must-attend event for those involved in general aviation,” said Nicolas Chabbert, Director of the Aircraft Division at Daher-Socata. “The 2011 edition allows us to present the 2011 model of the TBM 850, which will offer new exclusive benefits. Among these is a new maintenance program that should further reduce operating costs,” he added.

The TBM 850 is the fastest single-engine production turboprop in the world, with a maximum cruise speed of 320 KTAS (593 km/h) at 26 000 ft (7 940m). An 850hp version of the TBM 700 business aircraft, known for its reliability, the TBM 850 combines the cruising speed and flying times typical of light jets with operating costs, low environmental signature, excellent range and payload of turboprop aircraft.

About Daher-Socata
Daher-Socata, Daher’s aerospace division, is developing an original “industry and services” global offer for top manufacturers and suppliers, with proven expertise in four complementary activities: the manufacture of aircraft under 8.6 t, aerostructures, services, and technological specialties.

In 2011, Daher-Socata celebrates the 100th anniversary of its activity as manufacturer, started in 1911 under the brand Morane-Saulnier.

For more information: www.daher.comand