Thursday, March 31, 2011



I just receieved this AV Web alert.

Damage at Lakeland, Florida's Sun 'n Fun air show may be in the millions after a storm blew through late Thursday morning, damaging aircraft and structures on the ground. Everyone has been accounted for on-site, and there are no reports of serious injuries. Initial reports on cable news channels indicated that 70 people were trapped under a collapsed roof, but those reports appear to have been unfounded. Lakeland Police Department's Terri Smith, whom AVweb spoke with on-site, informs us that no building have collapsed. (Some outlets are reporting that a tent collapse had temporarily trapped those inside.) Storms were still moving through the area after the initial onslaught.

If you follow the link you can see photos and videos of this terrible tragedy. Yes, no lives were lost - but people had been looking forward to this event for so long...and one split second...destruction.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

PR: Dynamic Merger of Aviation Insurance Agencies


BIRMINGHAM, AL, March 9, 2011 —Henley Insurance Unlimited, LLC, Birmingham, AL, and Aviation Unlimited Agency, Inc. (AUA), Greensboro, NC, have finalized a merger, combining their operations under one organizational structure- AUA, Inc.
The new company, with 19 associates, offers pilots and aviation professionals nationwide one of the most experienced aviation insurance teams in the country. Plus, the combined resources and personnel, coupled with a wide array of aviation insurance products, set a new standard of excellence for the aviation community.
About AUA, Inc.

Specializing in aviation insurance since 1986, AUA, Inc. is steeped in the tradition of aviation insurance excellence. Its leaders have more than 100 years of combined experience in the aviation and insurance industries. Its focus in the areas of commercial and personal aviation include: Experimental Aircraft, War Birds, Antique/ Classic Aircraft, Aerobatics, Air Shows, Charter Service, Corporate Fleet Aviation, Airport liability, FBO management/ ownership, Flight Training and certification, and more. AUA, Inc. formed an Insurance program for the EAA Vintage Association Members in 1991, and is officially endorsed by the Vintage Aircraft Association as their exclusive broker. AUA, Inc. has excellent relationships with the most respected, financially stable insurance carriers available to the aviation industry. An independent insurance broker, AUA is able to give its customers options and guidance. Relationships with 20+ aviation-specific insurance carriers, delivers competitive rates, without the hassle of "shopping around" for the best deal. AUA’s unique ability to understand its customers’ needs, and communicate those needs with underwriters, helps to deliver exactly what the customers want- a value-based solution.

With 19 representatives in offices in Alabama and North Carolina, AUA delivers its portfolio of solutions to customers in 48 states- from multi-million dollar corporate fleets, to single-engine general aviation and ultra-lights.
At a recent Wounded Warrior Project Fly-in, based in Punta Gorda, FL and sponsored exclusively by AUA, Corey Maxwell, National Sales Director said, “Our purpose is to make our Customers a part of the AUA family, by offering great service and great rates. We will accomplish this mission by continuing our commitment to excellence, integrity, courtesy and professionalism. We know that our customer is our business.”

More information regarding AUA, Inc. services and history may be found at

Sun 'n Fun has begun in Lakeland, Florida

And here are a few pre-show releases that I just received today!

Airguide Publications, Inc., publishers of Flight Guide iEFB iPad App, announces release of Geo-Referenced Instrument Approaches & Airport Diagrams
Long Beach, California March 2011- Airguide Publications, Inc. offers new Data Plans for Flight Guide iEFB featuring Seattle Avionics ChartData™ Geo-Referenced Instrument Approaches and Flight Guide’s nearly 5,000 Airport Diagrams, as geo-referenced by Seattle Avionics. “With the recent release of our Flight Guide FLY-Wi WAAS GPS, we are now able to offer a reliable way to depict aircraft position on IAPs and our Flight Guide Diagrams for a fraction of the cost of traditional avionics systems”, said Brenda Garcia, Publisher, Airguide Publications. “We currently are the only source for a dependable aviation grade WAAS GPS that works exclusively with the iPad. Furthermore, we research and draw each airport diagram ourselves, depicting all taxiways, right hand traffic patterns and businesses on field for all of our nearly 5000 airports. Others use the FAA’s limited database of approximately 700 airport diagrams that are less detailed.”

The VFR Plus Data Plan for Flight Guide iEFB includes the high quality Flight Guide Airport & Supplementary info, METAR/ TAF, Winds, WACs, Sectionals, TACs and geo-referenced Fight Guide Airport Diagrams for the lower 48 states. The IFR Plus Data Plan contains everything the VFR Data Plus Plan provides with the addition of geo-referenced IAPs and geo-referenced IFR Low Enroute charts. The PRO Plus Data Plan includes everything the IFR Data Plan provides, plus geo-referenced IFR High Enroute charts for all 50 states & the Caribbean.

Flight Guide iEFB is available for FREE through the Apple App Store. Monthly Data can be purchased through the Flight Guide iEFB App itself and range from $9.95 - $29.95 per month. Annual data plans are purchased through the website and range from $109 - $319 annually.

Airguide Publications, Inc., publishers of Flight Guide, has provided fifty years of excellence in airport and supplementary information to general aviation pilots. In addition to our printed manuals, Airguide Publications, Inc. offers several digital solutions for in flight and planning purposes. These products provide airport, chart, weather, flight planning & enroute data that can be used on the Apple iPad (Flight Guide iEFB), via the internet (Flight Guide Online), on lap top or tablet computers (Flight Guide Viewer) or through digital electronic Sony & Kindle DX book readers (Flight Guide eBook). Furthermore, Flight Guide airport and supplementary data can be found in leading EFB Flight Systems by: Bendix/King by Honeywell, FlightPrep and Seattle Avionics. Flight Guide provides the solution active pilots need for quality airport data in today’s complex aviation environment. For more information visit or call (800) 359-3591.

Come visit us at Sun’n Fun from March 29 – April 4 in Lakeland, Florida, Hanger C booth 98, for a demonstration of our new Plus Data Plans for the Apple iPad and the Flight Guide FLY-Wi GPS.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Cannes, March 21st, 2011 - To mark their arrival at the 2011 Cannes Air Show exhibition, Jacques Callies and Gilles Khaïat will attempt to set a new record: New York to Cannes in under 24 hours, in a Mooney Ovation2 GX -- without supplemental fuel equipment.

Departure is scheduled from Bridgeport New York, on Wednesday, June 8th at 05:00 am, with (considering the least favorable scenario) a stop in Greenland, for an arrival prior to the Cannes Air Show’s opening at 10:00 am on Thursday June 9th.

The Mooney Ovation 2 GX is a modern and powerful (280 HP) single engine aircraft equipped with de-icing and oxygen, two essential items for flights over Greenland and in case of icing conditions. If favorable winds help the aviators, two stops will be sufficient: at Goose Bay, Newfoundland, and Reykjavik, Iceland. The crossing would then be possible in less than 24 hours: a truly memorable performance!

Jacques Callies, pilot, editor of Aviation & Pilote Magazine and Gilles Khaïat, attorney at law in Paris, already set a world record: last year, after the Cannes Air Show exhibition, they departed Cannes and flew to Tel Aviv non-stop in 9 hours and 58 minutes, in a Mooney M20J.

This 5th edition of Cannes AirShow will take place at the airport of Cannes LFMD, over three days from June 9 to 11.

About the Cannes AirShow
The only General Aviation Exhibition in France, the Cannes AirShow brings together the leading protagonists in general and business aviation to allow a demanding clientèle discovery the latest developments and industry innovations in a geographically logical and appealing setting.

This professional exhibition is designed for owners and pilots, whether passionate fans or professionals, in general and business aviation throughout Europe, Africa and Russia, offering visitors a large and representative palette of the aeronautics industry.

The Cannes AirShow is southern Europe’s leading exhibition in general and business aviation.

PR: Trisoft: New Padded Panel System Protects Horizontal Surfaces

Trisoft Covers Inc.

Building on the success of its foam edge covers, Trisoft Covers Inc. has introduced a companion product. Trisoft Panels interlock to cover wings and horizontal stabilizers, protecting them from dropped tools, flashlights, spray cans, and all the other hazards that can fall onto thin metal and painted surfaces.

The XLPE foam is resistant to sunlight, heat, and cold; and its closed-cell structure is chemical resistant and will not absorb water. Sized in two foot squares and packed four to a case, the squares have a natural resistance to sliding on the surface.

Joe Garland, President of Trisoft, said the pads are a natural extension of the product line. “I want to help MRO facilities protect both their employees and their customers’ aircraft. The foam edge covers protect those parts and prevent worker injuries; the new pads go a step farther in protecting large areas of the aircraft where the work is being done.”

And the patented-design edge covers? Though wear and continued fit are always problems with makeshift covers, Trisoft’s eye-catching foam, protects people and trailing edges, flaps and ailerons, gear doors, and prop tips; and it is durable while retaining its shape. Jake Schwager, the Quality Assurance Manager at the Milwaukee Citation Service Center, says, “I think the Trisoft Covers are the best because of the durability and high visibility. We have been using them for two years and they show no real signs of wear.”

Mr. Martin Sisk, Service Manager for Cutter Aviation Dallas-McKinney, says, “Trisoft covers work well for our needs, and best of all, they stay on throughout the entire maintenance job until we are ready to remove them. They are great added protection for our customer aircraft and add an extra level of safety for our technicians. Our customers certainly appreciate their use while we service their aircraft as well – it’s an extra step to show we care -- and Trisoft makes it easy.”

A case of (4) Trisoft Interlocking Pads is priced at $76.95.

PR: Illinois Pilot Shop Offers Wide Range of Feminine-Friendly Pilot Gear

J.A. Air Center Partners with Powder Puff Pilot
Illinois Pilot Shop Offers Wide Range of Feminine-Friendly Pilot Gear
Aurora, Colorado: March 24, 2011 – Powder Puff Pilot, a Denver-based designer and web retailer of gear and accessories for women pilots, announced its partnership with the J.A. Air Center Pilot Shop, located at the Aurora Municipal Airport (KARR) about 40 miles west of Chicago. The pilot shop now offers a wide range of Powder Puff Pilot products in its web retail store, including pink aviation headsets, pink pilot logbooks, patches, buttons, and aviation picture books for kids.

“J.A. Air Center has been a retailer of selected Powder Puff Products for over a year,” said Sue Hughes, who founded Powder Puff Pilot in 2008, “so I was thrilled when they approached me about offering all our products online. I’m excited that this partnership will reach people who wouldn’t otherwise be exposed to our products.”

Powder Puff Pilot was recently distinguished as a Woman-Friendly Aviation Business. Certified by Women of Aviation Worldwide, Powder Puff Pilot was recognized for its support of community outreach programs toward girls and women, and for actively promoting aviation to women. It recently sponsored Women of Aviation Worldwide Week, offering prizes for pilots and ground volunteers who helped introduce thousands of females to aviation with free flights from March 7 to 13.

About J.A. Air Center Pilot Shop

The J.A. Air Center Pilot Shop, specializing in used avionics sales, carries thousands of aviation products including sectional charts, headsets, the full line of Garmin handheld GPSs, avionics, flight bags, jackets, and much more.
They can be reached at 800-323-5966 or

About Powder Puff Pilot

Powder Puff Pilot was founded in November 2008 by Sue Hughes of Aurora, Colorado. Powder Puff Pilot products are sold online and at over 60 retailers, including aviation museums, pilot shops, and bookstores. For more information or to order Powder Puff Pilot products, visit or call toll free at 888-801-6628.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Monday book: Girls Cant Be Pilots, by Margaret J. Ringenberg

Girls Can't Be Pilots, by Margaret J. Ringenberg with Jane L. Roth
Daedalus Press, 1998
299 pages, plus Appendix and Index. A few b&w photos scattered throughout the book.

From the day that she recieved the call to serve her country as a Woman's Air Force Pilot, Maggie Ray was off and flying and she hasn't stopped yet!

Margaret J. Rosenberg's dream took flight in the Women's Flying Training Detachment in 1943. More than fifty years later she is still living her dream. Readers will relate to her down-to-earth style as she shares her unique perspective on life as a female aviator. As a World War II ferry pilot, flight instructor, corporate pilot, and air racer, Mrs. Ringenberg has not only made history, set records, and won trophies; she has changed lives. All while doing what she loves-flying.

Margaret Ringenberg is an active pilot iwth more than 40,000 hours flying time. She holds both single-engine and multi-engine ratings. She began air racing in 1957, flying the last twenty Powder Puff Derbies and every Air Race Classic since 1977. In 1999 she fulfilled her dream of flying around the world. She is a native born Hoosier who is proud of the fact that except for her time in the military, she has never lived outside of Allen County, Indiana.

Table of Contents
Part 1: Learning to Fly
1. Girld can't be pilots. CAn they?
2. What if the pilot has a heart attack?
3. I just want to fly
4. Things I never told my mother
5. Impossible Dream
Part II: Flying for my country
6. The WASP
7. Silver Wings, Silver Screen
8. A Near Washout
9. Wilmington
10. I fell off the roof
11. I'll not be home for Christmas
12. I'm coming straight in
13. Women need not apply
Part III. Mixing Flying and Family
14. After the WASP, what?
15. WASP stings timberwolf
17. What does your mommy do?
18. Let me tell you about the time
Part IV: Flying for the fun of it
19. Racing 101
20. Why aren't you flying
21. Get to the finish line first
22. Race with the sun
23. The Yellow-tired Champ
24. Winning isn't everything
25. But neither is losing
26. Number two is number one
27. North to Alaska
Part V: Flying for Hire
28. Adventure in Old Mexico
29. The Honky-tonk Blues
30. All work and no play? Hardly!
Part VI: Flying around the World
31. Opportunity Knocks
32. The Land down under
33. Weeds in the Garden of life
34. On our last
35. And so on...

Appendix A - List of abbreviations
Appendix B - list of races
Appendix C - list of planes

Friday, March 18, 2011

Frederick Airport, MD, sets a new “one day, one location” aviation record

Women of Aviation week's blog has a nice article, they set a record at Frederick Airport over the weekend, 185 girls and women had their first flights!

Frederick Airport, MD, sets a new “one day, one location” aviation record
“I used to think that I had to get all my ratings and become a successful professional pilot before I could make a difference in aviation. I have recently learned, however, that I can make an impact regardless of my piloting title,” writes Victoria, Frederick’s event organizer, in her blog.

And what an impact she made!

Because of her and her leadership, 185 girls and women as young as 6 months and as old as 70 years went on their first smaller aircraft flight in Frederick, MD, on Saturday March 12 allowing the Frederick Airport aviation community to set a new aviation record for most girls and women introduced to flying in one day and one location.

21 pilots assisted by 30 ground volunteers spent five hours offering 20-minute flights to female residents of DC, MD, and VA. But there was much more to this event.

After their flight the participants went over to the education center where the EAA provided them time to see what the engine of an aircraft looks like and how to perform a preflight.

Norma Ely, an Air Traffic Manager from Andrews Air Force Base, the Andrews Air Force Base 1st Helicopter Squadron commanded by Lt Col Julie Grundahl, Jennifer Reineck, a First Officer from Air Wisconsin Airlines, Jane Wicker of Jane Wicker Airshows and the Sugarloaf Ninety-Nines happily answered participants’ questions.

The helicopter squadron flew a Huey in for display at the event and the MD State Police got to bring theirs over last minute as well!

Congratulations Victoria and the entire Frederick Airport aviation community for putting together such an amazing event!

For the latest information about the event, visit Victoria’s blog. (

News: Why Aren't More Women Airline Pilots?

I just published a news article from 2008 about UK pilot Lynn Barton, in the text of which it was said that only 175 of the UK's 10,000 airline pilots were women.

CNN Travel had an article about that today...with a photo of Angela Masson, a pilot for American Airlines for 31 years, who released a record called FlyLady, and whom Winged Victory (the official website of this blog, interviewed a year or so ago. You can read our interview with her here.

CNN Travel: Why aren't more women airline pilots?
CNN) -- It's a familiar ritual of flying -- that moment when you're buckled into your seat and the cabin's loudspeakers come to life with a voice that says, "Hello, this is your captain speaking. Welcome aboard."

But how many times in your travels has that voice belonged to a woman?

For most fliers, the answer is never or very few.

While there are plenty of women working in the airline industry around the world -- from gate agents and flight attendants to the corporate rank and file -- men still dominate when it comes to finding a career in the cockpit.

Why that's happening almost 80 years after Helen Richey became the first woman to pilot a commercial airliner is a complex answer that involves money, training, job realities, girls' awareness about career options, and also a bit of mystery.

"Getting more women involved in all aspects of aviation is a nut that everyone in the industry would like to crack but that no one, to date, has," said Chris Dancy, a spokesman for the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association.

First, the statistics.

Women make up about 5% of the 53,000 members of the Air Line Pilots Association, which represents pilots at major and regional carriers in the United States and Canada.

job were just concerned with flying, there would be a lot more women. But the job isn't just flying.

--Angela Masson, retired captain
Only about 450 women worldwide are airline captains -- pilots in command who supervise all the other crew members on a flight, according to the International Society of Women Airline Pilots.

Angela Masson, a retired American Airlines captain who heads the group, said it shouldn't be very surprising that women don't flock to a stressful male-dominated job that requires lots of expensive and continuous training, takes them away from home for large chunks of time and makes it difficult to raise a family.

"I suppose if the job were just concerned with flying, there would be a lot more women," Masson said.

"But the job isn't just flying, it's wrapped up in a whole lot of other unappealing circumstances, unappealing especially to women who may not have the drive, ambition, financial means or the family/network support to pursue flying as a career.

"Flying has to be something that you really, really want, because even gender issues aside, it's a very challenging and demanding career."

The money obstacle

But very few women even view it as a job option in the first place, said the female pilots interviewed for this article.

Victoria Dunbar, who teaches in the aviation program at the Florida Institute of Technology, says about 10% of the students in her classes are women. She finds that most of them have something in common: a family member who flew and showed them it was possible at an early age.

"It just seems like the women, if they didn't have it around them as a young child, then it's not something they considered," Dunbar said.

"My experience is that female pilots are excellent. It's not like there's a particular skill or knowledge that guys are better at. I think a lot of women just don't think about it ... as a career field."

When they do decide to pursue flying, one of the biggest obstacles to getting a job at a carrier is money. When going the civilian route, it can cost up to $100,000 in training to become an airline pilot, said Amy Laboda, a pilot and editor in chief of Aviation for Women magazine.

An aspiring aviator can skip the big costs by learning how to fly in the military, and many pilots who take this route traditionally go on to work for commercial airlines. But there are still few female pilots in military ranks.

Women make up less than 5% of the more than 14,000 pilots currently in the U.S. Air Force, for example, according to the Air Force Personnel Center.

One reason is that some women simply don't find the military route appealing.

Jill Schilmoeller had wanted to be a pilot since she was 8 years old, but she wasn't interested in joining the military, so she got a college degree in aeronautical studies and then worked as a flight instructor for two years to build up flight hours and experience.

Like many pilots, she began her airline career with a regional carrier, where the starting salary can be less than $20,000 a year for a first officer, according to, a pilot career information service.

"You have to love flying, because you start off getting paid horribly and you are gone a lot, and I don't know if that's desirable to a lot of women," said Schilmoeller, 35.

Her parents helped put her through flight school, while a scholarship from the International Society of Women Airline Pilots also defrayed some of the costs.

Schilmoeller's goal was to fly for a major airline, but when she had enough experience to apply for a job at a legacy carrier in 2003, there weren't any openings. So she went to work as a pilot for FedEx instead.

'Dinosaurs are gone'

Such airline hiring dry spells are another reason you may see few women in the cockpit.

The industry slumped after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, and then again during the recent economic crisis. Many airlines have been furloughing pilots, rather than hiring them. So women coming up through the ranks, like Schilmoeller, have faced tough job prospects and stiff competition in a profession where seniority is everything.

On a more positive note, the women who do fly these days said that they didn't have a sense of anyone in the industry being unwelcoming or holding them back.

"I can tell you that [female airline pilots] have made tremendous progress, and the reason ... is because most of the dinosaurs are gone," Laboda said. "The men who didn't want women in the cockpit have mostly retired."

Masson, who was hired by American Airlines in 1976 and flew for the carrier for 31 years, said she worked with a couple of male captains who made it clear they weren't thrilled to be flying with her. But she never had a problem when she herself became a captain, she said.

Passengers also reacted warmly when they realized their pilot was a woman, offering a lot of "hearty handshakes" and compliments, Masson, 60, said. But there was one memorable exception.

Schilmoeller remembers getting some double takes from passengers when she flew for a regional carrier in the early 2000s, but said most of her male colleagues weren't at all surprised to be working alongside a woman.

Dunbar also said she never had the feeling that male pilots wanted to keep their female counterparts out of the cockpit.

Meanwhile, women who did choose flying as a career said they couldn't image doing anything else.

"An airline pilot has a first-class-seat, window-with-a-view chance to see the world. An airline pilot gets to maneuver the throttles of a fast, faster, fastest machine, zoom down runways with only the future in the way, lift into the sky to play with the clouds, watch heaven's light dance, count the stars in the blackest nights," Masson said.

Whether the number of women who get to experience the same thrills will rise anytime soon remains to be seen.

RetroNews 2008: BA's first female pilot at controls for historic T5 flight

Daily Mail Online: BA's first female pilot at controls for historic T5 flight (March 25, 2008)

This is Captain Lynn Barton, who will make aviation history by piloting the first flight into Heathrow Terminal 5 when it opens for business on Thursday.
Her Boeing 747 - flight number BA026 - carrying 350 passengers, will arrive at the £4.3billion terminal from Hong Kong at 4.50am.

Captain Barton, 51, who became British Airways' first female pilot in 1987, is 'absolutely thrilled' at being chosen for the job.

She applied to operate the inaugural T5 flight last month while she was on holiday in Barbados.

'It was my husband's idea to bid for the flight but the timing meant I had to tear myself off the beach to find a computer so that I could apply for the airline's flight-bidding system,' she said. 'I never thought I'd be in with a chance of actually getting the flight.'

She had to wait, however, until she returned to Britain to find she had won it.
'I was absolutely thrilled,' said Captain Barton. 'T5 has been the focus of the airline's future for several years now and to operate the first flight is a huge honour. I can't wait.'
Aviation also dominates the family home in Alton, Hants. Captain Barton's husband Mike, who has a private pilot's licence, is building a two-seater aircraft in the garage.
She said: 'I don't have a private licence any more so poor Mike has a very knowledgeable but nagging copilot-when we fly together.'

Eight years before joining BA's Boeing fleet Captain Barton was the first woman to be sponsored by the airline for her commercial pilot's training.

The airline now has 175 women among its 3,200 pilots - significantly higher than the national average.

She says she never considered any other career: 'I had my first flying lesson at the age of 16. I was incredibly proud to have been BA's first ever woman pilot and now I have another first to my name.'

Now Captain Barton is planning her passenger announcements for the historic flight.
She said: 'I want to make sure that I mark the occasion so that every one of my passengers can be part of history too.'

RetroNews: Marines’ First Black Female Pilot To Speak for Military Women’s Luncheon

I'm going to present a steady diet of news from 2008 to the present...just cuz. The article below was published in Feb 2011, the event took place on March 5, 2011.

New Journal & Guide: Marines’ First Black Female Pilot To Speak for Military Women’s Luncheon
The Greater Hampton Roads Virginia Chapter of the National Association of Black Military Women will present its 3rd Annual “Nothing More To Prove” luncheon on March 5, 2011. The event will be held at the Marriott Chesapeake at 11 a.m. and celebrates Women’s History Month.

Vernice Armour, the Marine Corps’ first African American female combat pilot, will be the guest speaker. Armour was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in 1998 and began her journey to flight school. When she earned her wings in 2001, she ranked No. 1 out of her class of 12.

In the beginning of the Iraqi war in 2003, Armour was one of 1,500 female Marines in the Persian Gulf who fought to dismantle the regime of Saddam Hussein. During Operation Iraqi Freedom, she flew above the deserts of Iraq in her missile-equipped attack helicopter. She completed two combat tours of duty in the Gulf.

Armour departed the Marine Corps in 2007, and currently writes and speaks to professional organizations, businesses, and schools.

WTKR-TV personality Bianca Martinez will serve as the mistress of ceremony.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

RetroNews: Diamandis Rallies WAI Crowd Around Private Spaceflight, 19 Mar 2008: Diamandis Rallies WAI Crowd Around Private Spaceflight
Hopes To Grow Zero-G Program Significantly
by ANN Correspondent Aleta Vinas
The Women in Aviation International Conference always has top speakers in the aviation field, and the messages these speakers impart to the audience have no time limit. So, even though the WAI conference is over for this year (start making plans for Atlanta (GA) February 26 - 28 2009) the speakers' words are worth repeating.

Dr. Peter Diamandis was born in the Bronx, and while other kids played stickball, Diamandis was designing rockets. In 8th grade he took 1st Prize in the Estes rocket design contest. Since age 9 becoming an astronaut was his passion. He attended Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and received an undergraduate degree in Molecular Genetics and graduate degree in Aerospace Engineering. Harvard Medical School was next, and Diamandis added M.D. to his name.

Realizing his chances were "1 in 1,000" of becoming a NASA astronaut, Diamandis set out to find a way to travel into space another way. "I made a commitment to do it privately," Diamandis told his audience at WAI last week.

While reading The Spirit of St. Louis, Diamandis latched onto the fact Charles Lindbergh flew his solo flight for the $25,000 Ortieg Prize. "With that in mind I put together a prize," Diamandis said. "I wanted a new generation of private spaceships that I can fly and that you can fly."

He wanted private enterprise, not governments to come in and win. The $10 Million purse was enough to attract private interest in the challenge. A three person spaceship would allow for a pilot and two paying passengers, and the altitude requirement was lowered from 100 miles to 100 kilometers -- "knowing full well most Americans wouldn't know the difference between the two anyway, unfortunately," joked Diamandis.

Two flights in two weeks was the goal. Twenty six teams competed... and as we know, Scaled Composites took home the inaugural X-Prize in 2004.

"We started making headlines" Diamandis noted "And we decided afterwards to take the X Prize concept forward" Planning has started on $300 - $500 billion in prizes in the next five years in areas such as space, underwater, life sciences (including cancer), energy and the environment.

The Google X Prize was announced last September. "A $30 million private race to the moon," Diamandis called it. Competitors must build a robot, land it on the moon, send back video and photos, travel 500 meters and send more videos and images back to Earth. Over 650 registration requests from 60 countries have been received within these short six months. Coupled with the Google X Prize and the future X Prize's will be an educational component. Students can follow the team's progress via the internet and get involved.

"Hopefully we'll be launching competitions in parallel at the high school and junior high school level," Diamandis said. "To get the kids excited."

To those who believe the money could be better spent on Earth, Diamandis has a few words. "As we move into space we'll be developing technologies and be able to gain access to resources. Frankly if we're able to mine asteroids in deep space instead of strip mining the Earth, I think the net benefit will be much better to Earth. Everything we hold of value on Earth, metals, minerals, energy, real estate are in infinite quantities in space. I think space represents vast resources that can help humanity move off the planet and live higher standards of living. I think it's not only necessary but inevitable and will be a net benefit to the environment."

While watching the Apollo missions on television Diamandis "always wondered growing up as a kid where this zero gravity room was." In 1993, Diamandis partnered with astronaut Dr. Byron K. Lichtenberg and NASA engineer Ray Cronise. Convinced that the public would gravitate to the opportunity to experience Zero-G, they took their idea to the FAA.

According to Diamandis, after the presentation the FAA response was "You want to do what?" Finally, after 11 years of meeting with lawyers, Zero-G took off. "Make sure you are doing what is absolutely, passionately in your heart," Diamandis said "I guarantee you if Zero-G was not passionately in my heart it would not have happened." Zero-G recently won a contract to provide NASA with zero gravity services, as the space agency's official commercial provider.

Education is currently Zero-G's single largest market, flying students and teachers. In 2005, Zero-G initiated a program to fly the top math and science teachers. Diamandis is "hoping to grow that program significantly."

"There's a complete shortage of people in math, science and technology." Diamandis acknowledges. With the teachers in Zero G program (coupled with Northrop Grumman) Diamandis is "giving the teachers a chance to become heroes in the classroom, with their flightsuits and videos." It gives the student a first hand look at the aerospace field and ignite a passion for it when they see their teacher and hear the experiences.

Diamandis notes today's roll models are people like Britney Spears and Paris Hilton. These are the stories in the media. Diamandis imagines our engineers and scientists being shown as the heroes instead.

At WAI, Diamandis announced his intent to create a program to fly the top 500 female high school or junior high school students. Diamandis envisions the local congressmen and senators meeting the flight (with an all female crew) afterwards and having media present and being broadcast around the globe. With the right sponsorship, Diamandis hopes to announce the program at a future Women in Aviation Conference. "Women can go into space and lead this arena as well," Diamandis stated.

Not being satisfied with sending rockets into space, Diamandis also talked about the fledgling Rocket Racing League (RRL). "We are defining a brand new sport," said Diamandis. Somewhat bored by the standard Indy car race, Diamandis envisioned a new kind of motor sport. "For me, putting a rocket engine on anything seems like a very natural thing to do."

Partnering with a friend, Diamandis gave an overview of the RRL. "We're developing a new set of vehicles called X-Racers." The X Racers will be rocket powered, delta wing, canard, single pilot vehicles. Ten racers will compete a mile up, with the course about two miles by half a mile right in front of the spectators.

The engines have been developed and are being tested. "We're hoping this Spring, early Summer to have our first public flight." Diamandis revealed. "Then we'll be rapidly starting to build vehicles so by the time X Prize Cup hits next Fall/Winter we can have the first competitions." Diamandis admits being behind schedule, but "we need to make sure it's safe".

While Diamandis has not yet gone into space, as co-founder and managing director of Space Adventures he has helped five civilians experience space travel. Space Adventures work with the Russians, using the Soyuz spacecraft. A sixth civilian is currently in training.

Diamandis has also had a hand in some lesser known ventures which also cover aviation/aerospace. Angel Technologies Corporation, Students for the Exploration and Development of Space (SEDS), and Space Generation Foundation to name a few. The International Space University may be one of the better known "lesser" ideas.

Diamandis has earned a "few" awards along the way as well. In 2003 there was the World Technology Award for Space. In 2006, Diamandis snagged the Heinlein Award (inaugural year), The Lindbergh Award, the Wired RAVE award and the Neil Armstrong Award for Aerospace Achievement and Leadership. He has twice received the Aviation & Space Technology laurel.

"I live in the space business" says Diamandis. Speaking to the primarily female audience at WAI, Diamandis appealed to the women to give a space career a try. "I can tell when I'm in a space meeting because it's all guys," Diamandis said, "and that sucks."

On a happier note, Diamandis adds "It is an exciting time right now. We can do now with small groups what only nations could do before. With that capability comes the chance to really do incredible and amazing things."

With his personal motto of "The best way to predict the future is to create it yourself!" Diamandis has made his words a reality... and hopes the rest of us will follow suit, most especially the ladies

RetroNews: Pilot inducted into women's aviation hall of fame

March 19, 2008, Air Force website: Pilot inducted into women's aviation hall of fame
by Staff Sgt. Jeremy Larlee
Air Force News Agency

3/19/2008 - SAN DIEGO (AFPN) -- In the months since her last flight as the Thunderbirds No. 3 right wing pilot, Maj. Nicole Malachowski has had a hard time putting her accomplishment of being the first woman to fly on a U.S. military flight demonstration team into a proper perspective.

At the San Diego Air & Space Museum March 14, she was blindsided by an emotional moment that placed her achievements into focus.

The visit to the museum was part of the 19th Annual International Women in Aviation Conference held here March 12 through 15. The conference was attended by more than 3,200 people.

The conference included an exhibit hall, speeches by numerous aviation legends, professional development classes and ended with the induction of Major Malachowski and into the Women in Aviation International's Pioneer Hall of Fame. Nancy Love, Geraldine Mock, Margaret Ringenberg and the Women's Section of the Air Transport Auxilary were inducted as well.

Earlier in the year, Major Malachowski donated one of her show suits to the museum, which had turned it into a display in time for the conference. The major said she got kind of misty eyed and had what she called a "nonfighter pilot moment" and had to excuse herself for a few minutes to get composed.

"I'm 33 years old and looking at something that I wore in so many airshows displayed in a museum," she said. "People were just looking at it and taking photos and standing there. I realized the significance of what I have done and how I could inspire others."

She said it was an honor to attend the conference and she enjoyed being in the ranks of historic female aviators.

"Women have been involved in aviation since the time of hot air balloons," Major Malachowski said. "It's only normal to me that women are going to add their strength and skills to the effort of pushing aviation forward."

The major said one of the highlights for her in the conference was interacting with members of the Women Airforce Service Pilots, which was an organization essential in freeing up male pilots for combat service and duties in World War II. The women would transport aircraft throughout the U.S. and Canada. They also assisted in training pilots. Thirty-eight women died while performing these duties.

"We have to honor the accomplishments and courage of the Women Airforce Service Pilots," Major Malachowski said. "People think it is great that these women were flying fighter aircraft 60 years ago. It is not remarkable because they were women. It is remarkable because they were there in defense of the free world and helped bring our country and allies to victory. I know I had the Thunderbirds experience and I'm standing here today in this wonderful uniform because of the contributions and sacrifices of people like them."

The conference was also attended by more than 250 military people. In her duties as a security forces member, Senior Airman Tara Currah has spent a lot of time guarding aircraft while stationed at McChord Air Force Base, Wash. She said she really enjoyed the professional development courses in the conference.

"It has been inspiring to see so many powerful women," she said. "It makes you feel like you can accomplish anything if you put your mind to it."

The Airman also had a chance to speak with Major Malachowski.

The major said her mantra has always been that actions speak louder than words.

"I wanted to show through my actions that women are capable of anything," she said. "I did my best and I hope I represented our Air Force with the respect it deserves."

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Pilot aims to get more women in the air

Frederick News Post: Pilot aims to get more women in the air
By Ike Wilson
News-Post Staff

Pilot Lin Caywood's plane is nicknamed “Freakin’ Awesome” in reference to the letters FA in its call sign. Caywood participated in Women Fly it Forward on Saturday at Frederick Municipal Airport, an event that offered free flights to women of all ages.

Though women are flying airplanes in any number of situations, including the military, aviation is still seen as a man's profession, Lin Caywood said.
Caywood, of Frederick, is aiming to change that perception. She is working toward a commercial pilot license.

"My eventual goal is to become a certified flight instructor and to be able to teach," Caywood said.

Worldwide, only 6 percent of all pilots are women, and 14 percent are certified in the U.S., Caywood said.

Caywood has always been interested in flying, but a float-plane ride she took in 2000 that landed on water influenced her toward her own pilot's license.

"I thought it was the neatest thing," she said.

Caywood began a companion flying course, learning to talk on radio, read air charts and understand the instrument panel. After eight hours of ground school taught by the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, Caywood's teacher recommended flying with an instructor.

"You should be flying the plane, not sitting on the right side," the teacher told her.

She flew solo in 2003, got a private certificate in 2004, an instrument rating in 2005 and a sea plane license in 2010. In November, Caywood said she came full circle with her sea plane rating from the time she experienced her first water landing.

Caywood is a member of the Sugarloaf chapter of the Ninety-Nines, an organization formed in 1929 to support and advance aviation, originally composed of 99 female pilots. In June, she raced for the first time in the 34th annual Air Race Classic that ended in Frederick, which the Ninety-Nines helped organize.

Caywood and co-pilot Carolyn Van Newkirk took 13th place out of the 47 teams that were scored in the 2,400-mile race.

Cayward said there is still a long way to go to achieve the same level of involvement and equality of women in aviation as men. But the trend is moving upward, she said.

Plans are already under way for the 2011 air race and Caywood and her partner, Susan Beall, will compete, she said.

"I'm very excited about it," Caywood said.

Caywood said she tries to fly every weekend, depending on the weather, and she noted that having a fianc?e who is a pilot and a mechanic helps a lot.

"I've learned a lot from him. He made me understand the mechanics of the airplane," she said.

Aviation can be expensive, but there are ways to minimize costs, such as building your own plane, buying an older model or investing in a portion of a plane with someone else, Caywood said.

"The great things about the aviation world are the pilots. I think they are the most friendly group of people who always want to share their love of aviation and the air, and show off their plane," she said.

RetroNews: EAA To Recognize Female Aviators At 'WomenVenture 2008' EAA To Recognize Female Aviators At 'WomenVenture 2008'
EAA To Recognize Female Aviators At 'WomenVenture 2008'
Sat, 15 Mar '08

Joins Forces With Women In Aviation, International To "Elevate Your Life"
What could easily be the largest gathering of women pilots in history is just one of the highlights of the inaugural "WomenVenture 2008" activities taking place at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2008. The 56th annual edition of the EAA fly-in convention will take place July 28-August 3 at Wittman Regional Airport in Oshkosh.

WomenVenture 2008 was developed through a partnership between EAA and Women in Aviation, International, and was officially announced at the WAI convention in San Diego, CA Friday morning under the theme "Elevate Your Life." The program is designed to recognize and encourage women aviators, who are less than 10 percent of the nation's pilot population. There will be programs and activities throughout the week for longtime women pilots, those women interested in learning to fly and encouraging girls to explore the worlds of flight and the sciences.

"It is important to recognize the accomplishments of women in ways that challenge and motivate others. Women can reach for the sky and elevate their lives," said Elissa Lines, EAA's vice president of commercial and donor relations, and a pilot. "We want to celebrate what women have achieved."

The grand finale of the weeklong WomenVenture 2008 activities will be the largest assemblage of women pilots in history when they are invited to gather at AeroShell Square on Friday, August 1. Prior to that record-setting event, however, WomenVenture will also feature:

Women Soar/You Soar event on July 27-28, designed for high school-age girls and featuring women who have volunteered to share their aviation career knowledge and direction as mentors;
Numerous workshops, forums and evening programs featuring women aviators;
WomenVenture representatives in EAA Member Village welcoming all women pilots, current and non-current;
The annual Women in Aviation, International celebrity breakfast on Friday morning on the EAA AirVenture grounds.
"It's exciting to have the opportunity to work with EAA to give visibility to the thousands of women who share a passion for aviation with the hundreds of thousands of men throughout the country," said Dr. Peggy Chabrian, WAI president. "Women work in all aspects of aviation and at every level, but the growth potential for women in aviation is astounding."


RetroNews: All-female crew completes inflight refueling over Iraq

3/18/2008, US AIr Force website: All-female crew completes inflight refueling over Iraq
by Senior Airman Carolyn Viss
379th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs

3/18/2008 - SOUTHWEST ASIA (AFPN) -- An all-female crew of three women deployed to Southwest Asia flew an in-flight refueling mission together in a KC-135 Stratotanker in honor of National Women's History Month March 18 over Iraq.

Maj. Leslie Picht, the aircraft commander; 1st Lt. Cindy Dawson, the co-pilot; and Senior Airman Killian Lange, the boom operator refueled an A-6 and two Navy F-18 Hornets supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom.

They are all deployed to the 340th Expeditionary Air Refueling Squadron in Southwest Asia.

Maj. Adrian Byers, the 340th EARS director of operations, said he enjoys scheduling crew members to fly together in conjunction with heritage months because it reminds the unit -- and, hopefully, the world -- of the progress that's been made by the people who came before us.

"I have noticed a change in operations for women in theater," Major Picht said. "Five years ago, when I was a co-pilot deployed to Saudia Arabia, female pilots or boom operators sometimes could not get controllers to acknowledge them on the radios. I would intentionally lower my voice for radio calls to prevent any problems. All-female crews were intentionally avoided to prevent problems with support for diverting aircraft. These things have definitely changed in the last few years. It's nice to see our progress in racial and gender equality is not just a national progression, but we are now changing the norms internationally by our presence."

Perhaps proof of that change, the two more junior-ranking women said their experiences as female pilots haven't been difficult or fraught with gender-based obstacles to overcome. The military has come a long way since the 1950s when women were taught how to wear makeup in boot camp.

And the fact that they're female fliers isn't too surprising to most people today either.

"Most people, especially civilians, assume when you say 'Air Force' that you fly planes anyway, so it's not really shocking to them," Airman Lange said. This is her third deployment in the three years she's served. "I never thought I'd be in the military, but once I became interested in joining, I knew I wanted to do a flying job."

She said she doesn't really think of what she does as "something amazing" until she sees Air Force recruiting commercials and talks to her friends and family about her job. Then, "getting other people's input makes me realize how cool it is."

RetroNews:Women in Aviation Hall of Fame Spotlight - Margaret Ringenberg, 16 Mar 2008: Women in Aviation Hall of Fame Spotlight - Margaret Ringenberg

Who Wants to Ride with a Girl Pilot?
By ANN Correspondent Aleta Vinas
The 2008 WAI Hall of Fame has four inductees this time out; Nancy Harkness Love, Major Nicole Malachowski, Geraldine "Jerrie" Mock, Margaret Ringenberg and one group - The Women's Section of the Air Transport Auxiliary.

This article will spotlight Margaret Ringenberg. Ringenberg was introduced to the lure of aviation at an early age. At age seven, she took a flight with a barnstormer, and by 1940, she had her pilot license in hand. She went on to serve as a WASP (Women's AirForce Service Pilots), flying BT-13's, AT-6's, PT-19's and UC-78's.

She co-piloted B-24's and C-54's.

"There was a job to be done and they had asked me to do it," Ringenberg says. "What an honor to be able to serve my country and to fly."

Looking back now, the realization hits ther hat the WASP's paved the way for other female aviators to follow. Ringenberg, back then, certainly had no idea how important the WASP contribution would become to female aviators. She never thought beyond doing her job for her country.

"I'm just absolutely overwhelmed by all this attention."

Ringenberg grew up on a farm, and had never dreamed of the life she led with the WASP's. "I was devastated when we got the orders as of Dec 20, 1944 that 'you're no longer needed.'" explains Ringenberg. When many of the WASP's went back to being housewives, Ringenberg continued with flying. She returned home and went down to the field where she had originally learned to fly.

She received her Flight Instructor certificate in March 1945 and promptly had no students.

"Who wants to ride with a girl pilot?" noted Ringenberg. While she waited for students, she would mow the lawn, repair Cub fabric, answer the phones, and even send letters. "I was at the airport and I was happy to do it," says Ringenberg. "Eventually I started picking up students, and pretty soon my schedule got full."

"It is a great honor," Ringenberg says about being elected into the WAI Pioneer Hall of Fame. "My family is very, very happy about it." Ringenberg was nominated by one of her local area 99's, which thrilled her, since it was a friend.

Ringenberg has a chapter of her own in Tom Brokaw's book The Greatest Generation. When a phone call came, saying Tom Brokaw wanted to use her story in a book, she thought it was some local friends playing a trick. Ringenberg decided to play along. Even after an hour-long phone interview, she was still convinced it was her friends. An in-person interview was planned and when the interviewers didn't materialize at the appointed time, Ringenberg was glad she hadn't told anyone. But, then a strange car drove up with Brokaw's lead man.

Ringenberg was surprised.

Ringenberg spoke to Brokaw, even giving him a flight lesson, which was taped and ended up as a news clip. Ringenberg remembers the experience, by noting that, "I got three minutes on the Nightly News - unbelievable!"

Still active in flying, including air racing and speaking, Rinenberg advises her listeners to "Go for your dreams." Rinenberg noted that most of her dreams that have come true, have started with a simple phone call, so for her next adventure, she says "I'm going to wait on the phone to ring"


Monday, March 14, 2011

Monday Book: Daughter of the Air, by Rob Simbeck

Daughter of the Air: The Brief Soaring Life of Cornelia Fort, by Rob Simbeck
Atlantic Monthly Press, 1999
239 pages plus Acknowledgments and Notes, Sources and Bibliography, and Index. 8 pages of b&w photos

Cornelia Fort's (1919-1943) career as one of America's first demale army pilots took her far from home-to Hawaii and later to Delaware and California as a member of the WAFS, the first women's flight squadron. In a remarkable coincidence of fate, she was in the air at Pearl Harbor when the Japanese attacked. Throughout her short, extraordinary life she recorded her experiences in eloquent letters.

When Cornelia Fort fell in love with flying, she was forced to defy her family-one of Nashville's oldest and most prominent-and social pressure in order to become an aviator. But from the moment she first set foot in a plane, she found a consuming passion and a mission in life. With a love of flying and a lust for life, Cornelia Fort, like Beryl Markham and Amelia Earhart, came to personify the female pilot.

In Daughter of the Air, author Rob Simbeck interweaves Cornelia Fort's own eloquent letters and diaries with historical documents and interviews of those who knew and flew with her to create a vivid portrait of this courageous woman. Daughter of the Air tells both Cornelia's remarkable story - a life shaped by bravery, intelligence and charm-and the political and social atmosphere of the day.

The Table of contents does not have named chapters.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Ruth Law - a storyteller's story

The storyteller is Nancy Marie Payne (
For those who can't see the embedded video, here's a bit of info about Ruth Law:
Ruth Bancroft Law (1887 - 1970) was a pioneer aviatrix during the 1910s. She received her pilot's license in November 1912. Her brother was the famous parachutist & pioneer movie stuntman Rodman Law (1885-1919).

In 1915 she gave a demonstration of aerobatics at Daytona Beach before a large crowd. She announced that she was going to "loop the loop" for the first time, and proceeded to do so, not once but twice, to the consternation of her husband Charles Oliver.

In spring 1916 she took part in an altitude competition, twice narrowly coming second to male fliers. She was furious, determined to set a record that would stand against men as well as women.

Her greatest feat took place on 19 November 1916, when she smashed the existing cross-country distance flying record of 452 miles set by Victor Carlstrom by flying non-stop from Chicago to New York State, a distance of 590 miles. The next day she flew on to New York City with an Army lieutenant named Henry "Hap" Arnold as a passenger. Flying over Manhattan, her fuel cut out, but she coolly glided to a safe landing on Governors Island.

She was the toast of the city, President Woodrow Wilson attended a dinner held in her honour on 2 December 1916.

When the USA entered World War I in 1917, she campaigned unsuccessfully for women to be allowed to fly military aircraft. Stung by her rejection, she wrote an article entitled "Let Women Fly!" in the magazine Air Travel, where she argued that success in aviation should prove a woman's fitness for work in that field.

Sunday book: West to the Sunrise, by Grace Harris

West to the Sunrise, by Grace Harris
Iowa State University Press, 1980
209 pages, no index. A few b&w photos scattered throughout the book

Grace Harris is one of those rare people who made her dreams become a reality. Ever since her first exposure to airplanes - a ride with a barnstorming pilot in a World WAr I "Jenny"-the thrill of flight has never left her. That initial flight was only the start of an adventurous life and illustrious career not only in aviation, but also ballooning, motor racing, and business. Her experiences, as told in West to the Sunrise, provides fascinating reading and present a first-hand story of aviation from Pear Harbor to the present.

Harris recalls all the tension and drama of airplane racing. She describes her feelings after winning the Kendall trophy at the 1948 National Air Races for women in Cleveland and then repeating her victory in 1949. She also introduces the reader to such aviation notables as Jimmy Doolittle, Jacqurline Cochran and Arlene Davis.

Joining the Sports Car Club in 1955, Harris drove an English Elva MKII and an Italian Maserati 200 S to the championship of the women's division Midwest Region in 1958, 1959 and 1960. Another part of her life was spent amidst the smoke and noise of competitive auto racing in such places as England, the French Riviera, and Monte Carlo.

Also, Harris was the first F.A.A.-licensed balloonist in the United States. Anyone who has ever risen in a hot-air balloon or wished they could will enjoy her vivid portrayal.

West to The Sunrise is a true-to-life adventure story as told by a champion woman pilot and racing car driver. Aviation and auto racing buffs of all ages will enjoy her captivating tales that span an era of rapid development of our flying and driving machines.

Table of Contents
Foreword by Major Brooke E. Allen, retired
1. Takeoff
2. The War Years
3. Wet WAter - Dry Desert
4. Pylon Polishing
5. Wreaths of Victory and Sorrow
6. The Glamourous World of Motor Racing
7. Federation Aeronautique Internbationale
8. Water, Water Everywhere
9. The Silent World
10. Spaghetti and Swiss Chocolate
11. Mexico City and Tel Aviv
12. Oktoberfest in Munich
13. Behind the Iron Curtain
14. Holding Pattern

Amelia Earhart, by Kathleen C. Winters

Amelia Earhart: The Turbulent Life of an American Icon, by Kathleen C. Winters
Palgrave Macmillan, 2010
216 pages plus references, bibliography and index
Library: B EARHA,A

When Amelia Earhart vanished over the Pacific Ocean in 1937 during an attempted around-the-world flight, she was at the height of her fame: Adored by the public, she counted celebrities and politicians among her many friends and was idolized by women across the globe. She remains a fondly remembered object of fascination today, as her mysterious disappearance continues to inspire fevered speculation and regular attempts to locate her crash site.

This nuanced and often surprising biography by acclaimed aviation historian Kathleen C. winters moves beyong the caricature of the spunky, preternaturally gifted pilot to give us a more complex portrait of Earhart.

Drawing on a wealth of interviews, flight records, and other extensive new evidence, this book traces Amelia's unconventional childhood as the daughter of a spendthrift railroad lawyer and recounts her growing passion for aviation, her rocky first flights, and the remarkable series of events that transformed her into a household name almost overnight.

It shows us a spirited adventuress and flawed heroine who was frequently reckless and lacked basic navigation skills, but who was also a canny manipulator of mass media. Even as other spectacular pilots went unnoticed by the public, Earhart and her husband - the publisher and impresario George Putnam-worked to establish her as an international celebrity, devising ever-more daring stants that culminated in her infamous last flight. Sympathetic yet unsentimental, and filled with gripping accounts of Earhart's exploits, this biography helps us to see a global icon with fresh eyes.

Friday, March 11, 2011

1st Black Woman Coast Guard Pilot LTjg La’Shanda Holmes

This is from the US Coast Guard bloLg,, way back in May 2010
Tjg La’Shanda Holmes
Post written by Jay Cope, NAS Whiting Field Public Affairs

Perseverance, dedication, grit, a desire to excel – these are all traits desired in a student aviator. Training in the aviation program for the maritime services is intentionally difficult to stress and push the students beyond their comfort zones so they can meet the hardships their service will entail. However, when that prospective pilot is slated to become a barrier breaker as well, those traits are not just desired, but necessary.

That Lt. j.g. La’Shanda Holmes had those traits was never in doubt. The humble, soft-spoken young woman had faced trials growing up in North Carolina that tested and tempered her desire to excel. When she walked across the stage April 9th to receive her wings as the first African-American female helicopter pilot in the U.S. Coast Guard, it was simply the next chapter of a proud story.

All Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard initial helicopter pilot training is performed at Naval Air Station Whiting Field through one of six squadrons attached to Training Air Wing FIVE. Holmes was attached to Helicopter Training Squadron EIGHTEEN for the final portion of her nearly two-year aviation training pipeline. She knew at the outset that she was the first black female to begin the training. While she admits to some periodic concerns about completing the program, there were really never any doubts harbored by the squadron commanding officer, Commander Mark Murray.

“I knew she would be successful. She had already overcome far greater challenges than flight school. I had the opportunity to do a familiarization flight with her, and where most folks might get a little frustrated, she drank it all in. She was eager to improve and I had no doubts she would do well,” he said.

Given her childhood, that might not normally be a safe assumption, but for Holmes, the hurdles she faced growing up drove her to try all that much harder.

“I was used to people telling me what I couldn’t do. We moved around a lot, and I think it fueled my ambition to live better and work harder. It just gave me more motivation to succeed,” she said.

Her trials started young. Holmes was just two when her mother committed suicide. She was adopted a short time later, but after her adoptive mother remarried, she states that she and her younger brother were placed in foster care due to abuse and were separated. She went through several homes until she landed with Linda and Edward Brown at 17. She still calls them her parents and they provided some necessary stability for her life.

Her hard work paid off even then graduating magna cum laude from high school and earning admission to Spelman College. Two years into her education there, she was assisting with a community service booth during a career day. Directly across from her was a Coast Guard recruiting booth. She wandered over after the event to speak with him conversation with Senior Chief Dexter Lindsey who inspired her to think about serving.

She applied for and was accepted into the College Student Pre-commissioning Initiative which financially enabled her to finish school. Prior to attending Officer Candidate School, she served on a Coast Guard cutter as an officer candidate and while near the bridge stuck up a conversation with the operations officer who advised her to consider aviation. It was then that she learned the Coast Guard had only one other black, female pilot, Lt. Jeanine Menze.

“It sounded challenging, but something I was up for,” Holmes said.

At that time, Menze was stationed at Coast Guard Air Station Clearwater flying the C-130 Hercules. Holmes was granted an opportunity to be temporarily stationed at Clearwater to learn about the aviation program, but it wasn’t until she was in the back seat of an SH-60 helicopter being flown by George Menze, Lt. Menze’s husband, that her future intentions kicked into place.

“We did hovering and flying low over the water. I was like a little kid. It was like nothing I had ever done or seen before. It was awesome,” she said. “Everyone in the aviation community was so close. There was a real sense of camaraderie that I wanted to be a part of. ”

That camaraderie certainly extends to the friendship between Menze and Holmes. They both share the same exuberant joy in flying and a similar appreciation for service in the Coast Guard. Menze called joining the Coast Guard the best decision she ever made, and sees a kindred spirit in Holmes.

“She’s so motivated to do well,” she said. “You put a thought into her head and she just runs with it. You tell her to work hard and study hard, and she goes and does it….I really expect big things from her.”

Menze is still a mentor to Holmes. She encouraged her through the process, gave her pep talks and let her know what to expect through flight training. The relationship is so close that Holmes asked Menze to present her pin during the winging ceremony.

She agreed and even presented Holmes with the first set of wings she received in 2005, following the ceremony. Menze thought of it as a memento to let her see that “dreams do come true.”

Photo courtesy of the Holmes family.
The winging ceremony was the culmination of nearly two years of hard work, and a lifetime of overcoming obstacles. For Holmes, having Menze there to share the occasion meant a great deal.

“It was a really emotional experience. Both of our eyes were watering and she asked me ‘Are you ready for this?’ I can’t think of a more awesome moment in my life.”

Holmes says things haven’t really hit home with her yet. For that day, she was just one of 18 new aviators. At her next duty station, she wants to be just another rookie pilot. She knows she is breaking a barrier, but doesn’t seem to think it really says anything special about her. She is transferring to Coast Guard Air Station Los Angeles and wants the same things any young officer wants.

“I know I’m the first, but nothing has sunk in yet. People may have expectations, but for me, mainly, it is about taking on responsibility and knowing I have something to prove [as a pilot]. I just want to keep flying well and working hard to make my community, family and sisters proud of me.”

Monday, March 7, 2011

12 March in Cleveland, OH at the International Women's Air and Space Museum

The International Women's Air and Space Museum is easily accessible in Cleveland, right on the main drag as you come into town.
The Museum is located in the terminal building at Burke Lakefront Airport right on Lake Erie in downtown Cleveland, Ohio. We are located near the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, as well as the Great Lakes Science Center, the Steamship William G. Mather, and the U.S.S. Cod Submarine.

From their website:

Family Day: This Saturday, March 12
10:00 am - 4:00 pm

We'll be celebrating the life & legacy of Bessie Coleman this Saturday through a variety of hands-on activities including:

*Bessie's Childhood Home - Explore a mini sharecroppers house & learn about Bessie's childhood.

*Learn French Station - Kids can decipher a code from Bessie written in French.

*Pilot License Photos - Find yourself in a pilot's license photo just like the one Bessie would have received.

*Barnstorming - Make & fly paper airplanes.

*Bessie Remembered - Make tissue paper flowers to remember Bessie.

And More!

We'll also be joined by the following organizations:
Bessie Coleman Foundation
Cleveland Public Library
Women in History
Karamu House
Read on to learn about some

We'll also be joined by the following organizations:

Bessie Coleman Foundation
Cleveland Public Library
Women in History
Karamu House

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Girls and WomenL: Go up for a plane ride - free! on March 12 in Maryland!

This event is taking place in Maryland:

In 1910 the first woman pilot, Raymonde de Laroche, earned her pilot’s license. At that time, 3% of all pilots were women. Today, 101 years later, only 6% of all pilots are women. We're inviting all non-pilot women --young and old-- for a FREE FLIGHT to see all the amazing opportunities aviation has to offer!

Frederick Flight Center
330 Aviation Way
Frederick, MD 21701

Racing Aces Getting Set for 2011 Air Race Classic

And read about the pilots at:

The Racing Aces are proudly racing the 2011 Air Race Classic for the nonprofit Girls With Wings, Inc [A 501(c)(3) public charity]. As female pilots, we are well aware of the obstacles that each of us has had to overcome and we are all working to encourage more girls with what has come to be a passion of ours: aviation! According to the Federal Aviation Administration, females comprise a mere six percent of all pilots, a percentage that has not increased in nearly a century of licensing pilots. This troubling statistic is one that we are going to personally combat during this race as we promote the Girls With Wings organization to the general public along our race route.

Girls With Wings founder, Lynda Meeks is in urgent need of funding to make dreams take flight and we could not be more proud to help. Single handedly, Lynda has been staying “in the air” with speaking engagements, community outreach and making her message that “Girls need Flight Plans, not Fairy Tales!”™ available to any young girl with an eye on the sky. Along with the volunteer female pilots she has trained to do her interactive presentation to girls groups, she has added a network of avid aviatrixes that are working to make sure the public is aware there are plenty of opportunities for girls in aviation. Take a moment and look at what she has accomplished on her site:

As you follow along with our journey in this Women’s historic race, once known as the Powder Puff Derby, think of what it would mean to one child if you could promote women in aviation as role models to inspire her to reach her full potential. We have set up a donation site that can take your contribution, which may be tax exempt, and help Girls With Wings take flight to a higher level. Feel free to pay securely with PayPal in a single payment or do a per nautical mile in the race. Each mile we cover brings us closer to bringing the dream to many girls.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Pioneer World War II pilot Betty Wood forgotten in Auburn

Auburn Journal: Pioneer World War II pilot Betty Wood forgotten in Auburn
(This article from Feb 4)
From time to time, this reporter would bump into a sun-splashed photo of Betty Wood and her story – or at least the partial one that was available at the time.

It’s in a bound copy of Journals from 1943.

The page on which her photo reposes is burnished orange at its edges now. But the story of her death remains compelling. It was published on the front of the Sept. 30, 1943 edition of the Auburn Journal.

Under the headline “Air Crash Fatal to Local Girl,” the story detailed how Betty Louise Taylor Wood – a Ferry Command pilot – had died the week before in a plane crash at a North Carolina air base.

“Details of the accident are not known here other than the fact that she was killed as she came in to land her plane and something went wrong,” the report stated.

It went on to say Wood was an Auburn girl who graduated from Placer High School and Sierra Junior College. In the parlance of the day, it added that she was a “popular member of the student body at both schools.”

Wood first learned to fly as a member of the Civilian Pilot Training program at the junior college – whose buildings now make up part of Placer High. She was described by another trainee who went on to earn a Silver Star in the air war against Japan – Capt. Don Graham – as the most natural pilot enrolled in the class.

Rest of story
Looking through subsequent editions of the Journal, there appears to have been no follow-up on the reasons behind the crash. But the continued interest in women’s history over the ensuing 68 years had shed new and disturbing light on the circumstances that led to Wood’s death.

Perhaps Media Life can fill in the broad holes in a story left half-finished so long ago – and maybe give a brave woman her belated due in what was her home town.

“Free a man to fight” was the reason behind establishing the Women Airforce Service Pilots in 1942. They would be better-known as the WASPs.

Wood was one of 25,000 women who applied for a chance to train and was one of 1,830 accepted. A total of 1,074 woman pilots received their wings. Wood became one of the 38 American women who sacrificed their lives in the air in support of World War II.

As others who served as WASPs have since recounted, women pilots ran into heavy opposition – particularly at Camp Davis, N.C. That’s where Wood found herself in September 1943, flying targets in a beat-up A-24 that had been deemed no longer fit for combat. She had earned her wings in early August and married WASP instructor “Shorty” Wood the day of her graduation

Dangerous work
Up in the sky, anti-aircraft trainees shooting at the targets were using live ammunition at Camp Davis. The word when Wood reached camp was that the planes were expendable and so were the pilots.

On the ground, resistance was strong from male pilots. WASP Marion Hanrahan described in a 1990s interview how the Camp Davis commander advised female pilots to “go home and knit socks for the troops.”

Male pilots resented the intrusion because if women replaced them, they would be transferred to combat duty. But they would go as ground troops because they weren’t qualified for aerial combat, Hanrahan recalled.

Wood, 22, died while trying to land and the circumstances surrounding what was officially ruled an accident attributed to pilot error remain couched in mystery.

Sugar in tank?
But some clues have come out in the accident report now in Texas Woman’s University files that preserve the WASP war effort papers. According to one researcher, the report includes the statement that sugar was found in the fuel tank. But it was also discovered that not much was left of the report after it was heavily blacked out and censored.

Another possible explanation revolves around the airworthiness of the A-24. Wood went in for a landing with a male chaplain aboard but aborted and gave the plane full throttle to make another pass. The plane rolled and went to the ground. Wood and the chaplain were crushed between the canopy and the plane.

Some surmise the throttle stuck and that caused the plane to roll when Wood pulled up on the stick to gain altitude.

Adding to the danger, replacement parts were hard to come by for A-24s and the gas being used was lower in octane than required.

Questions remain
A careless mechanic? Wornout parts? Pilot error? Or the unthinkable – a practical joke gone awry or even sabotage by another pilot or crewmember?

Nearly 70 years later, Betty Wood’s death remains clouded but hopefully now a little clearer in the town she grew up in.

Oddly enough, while she made the supreme sacrifice, Wood’s name doesn’t appear on the memorial honoring local war dead at the Auburn Cemetery. There are 42 dead from World War II enshrined on the wall to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice. But no women. And, in particular, no Betty Wood.

Friday, March 4, 2011

All female pilot group encourages women to take to the sky

KTRE ABC Ch 9: All female pilot group encourages women to take to the sky
(This story is from Feb 12, 2011)

By Whitney Grunder - bio | email

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - In 1929 men told them they could never be pilots.

With the help of pioneers like Amelia Earhart, women from around the world formed their own group- the Ninety-Nines, Inc. Their mission is to mentor other female pilots. They hope high flying inspires more women to take to the sky.

Elizabeth Frankowski is a retired architect. Linda Street- Ely is a paralegal for an engineering firm. They share a special bond. Both are licensed pilots.

"I love to do cool tricks in the sky, the flips, the loops," said Street-Ely.

And both are members of the Houston Ninety-Nines Chapter.

"We hope that our organization can be a part of mentoring and supporting those women who are interested in pursuing aviation careers and pilot careers," said Frankowski, Chapter Chairman.

Their goal is to provide scholarships to other women pilots. Street-Ely received one for aerobatic training. She participates in the annual air race classic.

"That is a four day air race across the country, women only," she explained.

In 1929 this race was for men only.

"The men wouldn't allow the women to participate so at that time 20 chick pilots got together and said we'll have our own air race and we'll land in Cleveland," said Street-Ely.

The times have changed, as there are a number of growing opportunities for women in aviation.

"More and more women are becoming pilots, flying for the military and our armed services and this was all because of some of the pioneering women like Amelia Earhart, and the WASPs during World War II that have paved the way," said Frankowski.

Still, they say there is a need for more female pilots.

"There are about 598,000 U.S. licensed pilots and six percent of that is women," said Street-Ely. "Women seem intimidated maybe like well I can't do that. Well yeah you can. I'm a grandmother of five. I can do it."

They say all it takes is confidence and the willingness to learn.

The Houston Chapter consists of about 56 members. Saturday, they ended their annual treasure hunt at the Angelina County Airport, after a five stop competition that began in Liberty. The big prize was a free flight in a B-17 bomber plane.

Following the treasure hunt, the East Texas Chapter of the Experimental Aircraft Association hosted lunch and gave free plane rides to kids to educate them about aviation.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

State’s first female pilot the focus of Journey play

Rapid City Journal State’s first female pilot the focus of Journey play
(This story is from Feb 11, 2011)

Playwright Kristi Thielen explores the life of South Dakota’s first female pilot, Nellie Zabel Willhite, in “Nellie Takes to the Skies!” The play, which opens today at The Journey Museum, was written to augment the current exhibit in the Adelstein Gallery, “South Dakota’s First Century of Flight,” which will be open before and after each performance.

Thielen created the script based on Willhite’s life and the history of the times.

“Scenes from her early childhood I obviously had to take a certain amount of dramatic license, because although she was interviewed many times in her life, all of the questions were the same thing over and over again, primarily about her flying,” Thielen said. “The overall contours of where she went and what she did and what her relationship was with those people, those things are all based on history.”

Thielen said the play came about last year when she met with Norma J. Kramer, the woman who curated the flight exhibit.

“She mentioned that one of the hallmarks of her exhibit was going to be photographs of Nellie Zabel Willhite and Nellie’s plane. And I said, ‘Who’s Nellie?’ And she said she was the first female pilot in South Dakota and not only that, she had to conquer a hearing impairment to do that, and I said, ‘There’s my show.’ It just hit me immediately and I realized, ‘What an inspirational story,’” Thielen said. “It’s something that connects to South Dakota and something that connects to this exhibit.”

The group of actors in “Nellie Takes to the Skies!” had much to learn regarding the history of the early 20th century, which included everything from historical events to music, Thielen said.

“We’ve got some songs from the era that we’ll play as background music, and the kids got to come up and hear them, so now I’ve got kids who laugh and sing the words to ‘Lucky Lady,’” she said.

The cast also learned what it was like to be deaf during a time when the hearing impaired were taught to read lips, rather than sign, which was seen in a negative light.

“One of the most interesting acting challenges was that Nellie was deaf, but learned to lip-read … the idea of the time was that signing was inappropriate because it immediately marked you as somebody who was hearing impaired. So what they taught people was to lip-read. They could move through society and people wouldn’t even realize that they’ve got an impairment,” Thielen said.

As a group of actors, this meant they had to be certain to always face Nellie, played by Eden Sauley during the early portion of the play, and by Heather Biehl in the adult portion.

For Heather, who has performed in 11 of Thielen’s 13 plays at the Journey, playing the role was a learning experience she enjoyed.

“I like having the opportunity to grow and learn in every play. With Nellie, since she was the first female pilot in South Dakota and overcame so many obstacles to get where she got, it’s very inspiring to play her. She overcame her deafness and the death of her mother — so many hardships. And she persevered and she made history,” Heather said.

The seventh-grader said that as one of the veteran actors of The Journey Museum theater, she is interested in continuing to act as she gets older, but her passion is in following Thielen’s footsteps.

“She is such a wonderful writer and a wonderful director; it’s just a joy to work with her,” Heather said. “She probably doesn’t know it, but she’s my mentor.”

Thielen recently gave a workshop on playwriting, and of those who came during a snowstorm were 11 adults — and Heather.

“She is very interested in going on to become an actor and she is really hard-working. She has something like 89 lines in this show, and for a one-hour show, that’s a lot. So she has worked diligently,” Thielen said of the 13-year-old.