Sunday, August 28, 2011

Walking on Air: THe Aerial Adventures of Phoebe Omlie

Just discovered this book at Amazon today. Will do a review of it shortly, but for now:

Aviation pioneer Phoebe Fairgrave Omlie (1902-1975) was once one of the most famous women in America. In the 1930s, her words and photographs were splashed across the front pages of newspapers across the nation. The press labeled her "second only to Amelia Earhart among America's women pilots," and First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt named her among the "eleven women whose achievements make it safe to say that the world is progressing."

Omlie began her career in the early 1920s when aviation was unregulated and open to those daring enough to take it on, male or female. She earned the first commercial pilot's license issued to a woman and became a successful air racer. During the New Deal, she became the first woman to hold an executive position in federal aeronautics.

In Walking on Air, author Janann Sherman presents a thorough and entertaining biography of Omlie. In 1920, the Des Moines, Iowa, native bought herself a Curtiss JN-4D airplane and began learning how to fly and perform stunts with her future husband, pilot Vernon Omlie. She danced the Charleston on the top wing, hung by her teeth below the plane, and performed parachute jumps in the Phoebe Fairgrave Flying Circus.

Using interviews, contemporary newspaper articles, archived radio transcripts, and other archival materials, Sherman creates a complex portrait of a daring aviator struggling for recognition in the early days of flight and a detailed examination of how American flying changed over the twentieth century.

Friday, August 26, 2011

1952 Powder Puff Derby Program

Giving you a preview of what's in store for you. I've got a 1952 Powder Puff Derby program, and I'll be scanning it and sharing it here.

Here's the cover.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Aviation High soars into the future, landing next to Boeing Field

The Seattle Times: Aviation High soars into the future, landing next to Boeing Field
Some gravel, some dirt, a lot of weeds and, in one corner, a portable toilet. That's about all that's been sitting in this vacant lot north of the Museum of Flight along East Marginal Way South.

To imagine this as the site of a cutting-edge educational facility that will help produce tomorrow's engineers, scientists, pilots, technicians and entrepreneurs takes vision.

Fortunately, vision is the common denominator among those who will gather Tuesday for the groundbreaking of the $43.5 million Raisbeck Aviation High School.

Donors and dreamers, educators and museum professionals, industry and government leaders, architects, planners and builders, even students have their stamp on the three-story school building due to open in 2013.

"We want to inspire the generation that's going to write the story of the second century of flight," said Douglas King, Museum of Flight CEO.

King said the museum — long before he came on board early this year — decided its goal wasn't just to collect and preserve aviation history but to help shape it.

Aviation High School, a public school that's part of the Highline School District, actually opened in 2004. It operated for its first few years at South Seattle Community College and, more recently, on the campus of a Des Moines middle school.

"We've been nomads," said Reba Gilman, principal since the school opened.

From the school's inception, the museum has been envisioned as its eventual home, Gilman said. Not only will it provide ready access to the museum's resources, it will put the school at the doorstep of some 200 flight-related businesses operating out of the Boeing Field area.

"Our goal is that every student is connected with a mentor in the aviation/aerospace industry," Gilman said. "We want them [the mentors] to come for lunch with students, share their education and career pathways, and be a true member of our learning community."

Every aspect of the building will reinforce its mission, Gilman said, including project labs in which students can build robots, rockets, model airplanes — even a small airplane.

Instead of athletics, the school will field "sports of the mind" teams, on which students use science, technology, engineering and communication skills to tackle real-world projects.

The building, designed by Bassetti Architects and being built by Porter Brothers Construction, will have a high-tech computer lab as well as meeting spaces where small groups can collaborate. A balcony looks out toward Boeing Field, where some 300,000 takeoffs and landings a year reinforce the nature of the school's curriculum.

The museum also will benefit from the juxtaposition, King said, by tapping the energy and vitality of high-school students to help with exhibits and programs at the museum.

When the school moves to its new quarters, its new name will honor the commitment of James and Sherry Raisbeck of Seattle, who have donated $3 million toward the school's construction. James Raisbeck heads Raisbeck Engineering and Raisbeck Commercial Air Group, innovators in aviation design.

Boeing has contributed $4 million. Jim Albaugh, Boeing Commercial Airplanes CEO, said the school could be an important part of producing the company's future workforce, noting that half of Boeing's engineers are expected to retire over the next five years.

Gilman said the school is looking for students "who are inspired by aviation and aerospace" and ready to pursue a rigorous education in "STEM" subjects: science, technology, engineering and math. The school intends to stay small to focus effectively on individual students. This fall's freshman class of 115 was drawn from a pool of some 275 applicants, Gilman said.

Half of the school's 425 students come from the Highline School District; the others are drawn from a wide area around Puget Sound. Of 330 students who graduated in the school's first four classes, 95 percent have gone on to college.

Some of those graduates will participate in a ceremonial fly-in at Tuesday's event.

Among them will be Joey Marco, 21, of Des Moines, who's wanted to be a pilot since he was a toddler. He recalls cross-country flights to see relatives or go on vacation, "And it was always the trip I looked forward to, not the destination."

Marco was in Aviation High School's initial graduating class, 2008 — the same year he got his pilot's license. This year, he graduated from Florida's Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, completing four years of curriculum in three.

He soon will head to basic training in the Air Force, where he hopes to become an officer and fighter pilot. The value of his experience at Aviation High School, which included learning directly from pilots and aviation engineers, was evident at Embry-Riddle.

"We had students from all over," Marco said, "and I felt I was better prepared than most."

Monday, August 22, 2011

South Africa: EC Transport Produces its First Female Pilot

From the Eastern Cape site (South Africa): EC Transport Produces its First Female Pilot
While the nation celebrates Women’s Month, the Eastern Cape Department of Transport bursary scheme produced its first female pilot Oyama Matomela, who qualified as a commercial pilot with an instrument rating.

This comes after the 19 year old girl completed her studies and obtained her pilots license with the internationally acclaimed 43 Air school in Port Alfred.

“We salute this young woman, who worked very hard in a male dominated environment and made full use of the opportunity she was offered by the Department through our bursary scheme,” says MEC Marawu.

Matomela, who hails from Port Elizabeth, began her studies at 43 Air school in January 2010 and is fortunate enough that her qualification comes with an immediate job offer from the SAPS Air Wing.

She is the fourth student to be awarded a pilot bursary by the Department and first female to do so

“We as the Department are so proud of her and we truly believe that her achievement could serve as an inspiration to other young girls in the province,” added Marawu.

US Navy News: First All-Female Arresting Gear Crew Supports OEF

Okay, they're not pilots, but they are in the aviation field...

From First All-Female Arresting Gear Crew Supports OEF
ARABIAN SEA -- Seven female Sailors assigned to USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77) Air Department formed the first all-female arresting gear crew in Navy history, Aug. 15.

Five Aviation Boatswain's Mates (Equipment) from George H.W. Bush and two temporarily assigned duty Sailors from USS Nimitz (CVN 68) and USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) worked in the seven positions necessary to operate and maintain the arresting gear wires on the flight deck.

"This is a deployment of many firsts," said Chief Aviation Boatswain's Mate (Equipment) (AW/SW) Antonio A. Blanco, leading chief petty officer for George H.W. Bush Air Department V-2 Division's Arresting Gear workcenter. "We have the personnel to do it and we might as well be the first to have an all-female arresting gear crew."

Topside Petty Officer Aviation Boatswain's Mate (Equipment) 3rd Class (AW/SW) Beatrice A. Williamson was a leading force in making the all-female crew a reality after nearly four years aboard the ship.

The positions of the crew include the deck edge operator who retracts the arresting wire remotely; the hook runner who signals the operator; two push bar personnel who physically move the arresting wire away from starboard side of the flight deck; two deck checkers, one who inspects the wire and the other who acts as a spotter; and the topside petty officer who oversees the operation.

"I kept saying to myself that when I get topside, I am going to have an all-female crew before the end of deployment," Williamson said. "Chief Blanco made it happen by helping everyone to get qualified."

For Williamson, making history was just as important as showing the abilities of the female Sailors who wear the Aviation Boatwain's Mate (Equipment) green shirt. Air Department's V-2 Division has 161 male and 43 female Sailors. Only 10 female Sailors are assigned to the arresting gear workcenter.

"Nobody has ever done it and we wanted to be the first," she said. "It means a lot."

Shortly after 9 a.m. (local time), the seven Sailors helped recover their first aircraft of the day - an F/A-18E Super Hornet from Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 31. Aviation Boatswain's Mate (Equipment) Airman Kapri D. Ragin, a temporarily assigned duty Sailor from USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71), discovered broken strands in the one of the three arresting wires during her post-landing inspection and rushed to fix it until a replacement could be installed.

Following the first round of successful landings, the arresting gear crew quickly replaced the affected wire in an operation that required all seven Sailors to work in unison to switch out the 125-pound arresting wire.

After a long 14-hour day, the all-female crew helped successfully recover 70 aircraft.

"They are a great group of young woman and I have all the confidence in the world in them," said Blanco. "This is something memorable for them and they deserve it."

Additional members of the first all-female arresting gear crew were Aviation Boatswain's Mate (Equipment) 3rd Class Alison R. Pint, Aviation Boatswain's Mate (Equipment) Airman (AW) Aquia A. Lunsford, Aviation Boatswain's Mate (Equipment) Airman Carissa M. Smith, and Aviation Boatswain's Mate (Equipment) Airman Megan E. Walker, who is temporarily assigned duty from USS Nimitz (CVN 68).

George H.W. Bush is deployed to the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility on its first operational deployment conducting maritime security operations and support missions as part of Operations Enduring Freedom and New Dawn.

Air Show News: Female pilot flies the massive Hercules

Fom Ria Novosti - a Russian English-language blog: Female pilot flies the massive Hercules
The U.S. delegation presented a large exposition of aircraft at the tenth International Aviation and Space Show, MAKS-2011, in Zhukovsky in the Moscow Region.

The U.S. Air Force and Navy brought 12 combat aircraft to MAKS-2011, including the F-15E and F-16C fighter jets, the Boeing B-52 Stratofortress, the C-130J Hercules Tactical Transport Aircraft and the Boeing KC-135 Stratotanker aerial refueling military aircraft.

U.S. Air Force Lieutenant Katie Suhrhoff has been piloting the C-130J Hercules aircraft for six months.

Suhrhoff is serving at the MAKS-2011 show as a guide and consultant. She told RIA Novosti that she only has around 500 flight hours, including training courses. Nevertheless, she feels completely confident in the cockpit. According to the lieutenant, a woman piloting an airplane is perfectly common in the U.S. Air Force.

You'd think it'd be common in the Russian air force, too!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Cadets earn their wings

From Medicine Hat News, from Aug 19, 2011: Cadets earn their wings
It's a proud moment for any pilot, to finally get their wings after hours of training and testing.

But the moment is perhaps even more special when you're a teenaged girl — and one of only nine female air cadets on the Prairies to receive a pilots' license through a prestigious scholarship program.

"Ever since I've been in cadets, it's what I've been looking forward to," said 17-year-old Leah Gajecki from Claresholm, Alberta.

Gajecki was one of nine young women honoured Friday at a special graduation ceremony at Medicine Hat's Super T Aviation. The local flight school was contracted this summer to host the seven-week Royal Canadian Air Cadets Power Pilot Camp, an extremely competitive program which gives scholarship winners the chance to get their pilots' license for free. It is the first time a Medicine Hat flight school has hosted the camp, which is the only one of its kind for girls in all of Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba.

"It's been great to have the girls here," said Super T owner and chief flying instructor Terri Super. "They're a great bunch of girls, very focused, very mature. It's really something to see kids of that age group be so focused and driven to get this work done."

They had to be driven, because the intensive course allowed little time for relaxation. Days consisted of studying, exams, briefings, flying time, debriefings, ground school, studying, and more studying.

"Basically, you eat, sleep, and breathe aviation while you're here," said Monica Spence of Fort McMurray, who took the award for top marks at the end of the seven weeks. "We slept at the hangar, we ate at the airport — it's been all aviation."

"You're stressed about tests, and then you have to fly, and flying when you're not stressed is hard enough," said 17-year-old Torri Davidson of Regina with a laugh.

Many of the girls are now looking forward to pursuing their commercial pilots' license or a military flying career. Those are careers where women are still in the minority, but these girls are already trailblazers just by coming as far as they have. In fact, girls currently make up only about in five of the Royal Canadian Air Cadets who choose to pursue their private pilot's license.

"Even in the cadet program in general, you see it (gender imbalance)," Spence said. "It's nice to see a lot of other females getting up in the air and getting their licenses, and hopefully we'll see a lot more even balance in the years to come."

The visiting inspecting officer Friday was Lieutenant-Colonel Scott Greenough, a fighter pilot with the Canadian forces who is married to Lieutenant-Colonel Maryse Carmichael, Canada's first female Snowbird pilot. Greenough told the nine cadets that his wife passes on her congratulations to them, and her encouragement.

"She said there needs to be a next female Snowbird pilot, because there hasn't been one since her," Greenough said. "That gives you something to aspire to."

Air Show News: Bryan Jensen Receives Tribute

From 9 Air Show Holds Tribute To Bryan Jensen
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The Kansas City Air Show reopened on Sunday and included a tribute to pilot Bryan Jensen, who was killed when his biplane crashed on Saturday.

The tribute featured a moment of silence, Taps and a flyover in missing man formation.

"It gives me goose bumps," said Michael Bidnick, who brought his children to the show. "It shows what goes on in our military on a regular basis. Seeing a tribute like that takes part of you away."

Liberty resident Ron Zimmer is a Vietnam veteran and the father of a Marine and a Navy SEAL. He found the tribute touching.

"It's not something I would enjoy watching, but it's the right thing to do. It's a sad thing at the same time," he said.

He said he understands why the other pilots thought Jensen would want the show to continue.

"I'm surprised they are still having it. I'm glad they are. It's pretty noble," he said.

Friends and fellow pilots said that they would dedicate the show to Jensen, who died doing what he loved.

Air Show News: Stunt pilot dies in US air show crash at Kansas City Airshow

From 9 News on Saturday, Aug 20: Stunt pilot dies in US air show crash
A stunt pilot - Bryan Jensen - has died in a fiery crash during an air show after his plane appeared unable to pull out of a downward spiral and nosedived into an airfield, authorities say.

Missouri Department of Aviation spokesman Joe McBride said the pilot couldn't pull out of a manoeuvre and crashed the biplane into the grass at a downtown airfield on Saturday.

No spectators were injured.

McBride said it was the first fatal crash at the annual Kansas City Aviation Expo Air Show.

Event officials identified the pilot as Bryan Jensen but no other information was released.

Witnesses told the Kansas City Star that the red Horzon Hobbit plane was performing loops, then couldn't pull up from a downward spiral. They said the crowd fell silent when the plane hit the ground and burst into flames.

"It was right in front of the crowd," said City Council member Jan Marcason, who was watching the aerial acrobatics when the plane crashed around 1:45 p.m.

Others said it appeared that the pilot was going to gain control of the plane and that the manoeuvre initially looked scripted.

"It was looking cool at first, like he knew what he was doing," Jason Cook, of Blue Springs, told the newspaper.

Spectators were asked to leave Wheeler Downtown Airport after the crash, though the show was expected to resume on Sunday. The Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board are investigating.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Video: Powder Puff Derby 1947 - 1977

Here is a video I've put together of the Powder Puff Derby, held from 1947 yo 1977,

(For my Kindle readers, you'll have to go via your computer to YouTube to watch it.

Although the Derby started small in 1947 - only 2 planes and 3 pilots, by the end of its 30 year run they were averaging 70 planes and over 150 pilots. (The race ended in 1977, only to be replaced in 1978 by the Air Race Classic, another all woman transcontinental air race, which has been going non-stop ever since. How long it will continue, of course, depends on just how concerted an effort the government is going to mount to destroy general aviation in the future!)

Most pilots will be known only to the pilots among you - Fran Bera, Margaret Ringenberg, Pauline Glasson and so on. One pilot, in 1970, was an actress, Susan Oliver (most famous today as the Orion slave girl in the Star Trek episode, "The Cage." Oliver had started flying in 1966, flew the Atlantic solo in 1967, and wrote a book about her adventures.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Abu Dhabi: The Middle East's first general aviation exhibition

Press Release: Abu Dhabi: The Middle East's first general aviation exhibition March 6, 7, 8, 2012
Al Bateen Executive Airport and Adone Events Organisation announced the launch of the only general aviation exhibition in the Middle East.

Located in the heart of the capital of the United Arab Emirates, Abu Dhabi Air Expo will be the first important aviation trade show of the year. Indeed, mild temperatures and excellent weather in early March will enable many pilots and aircraft owners to discover what's new in general aviation.

From ultralights to transcontinental jets, including an array of services such as flight schools, equipment, and financing; players in the sector will gather each year to share their latest innovations.

With an increase in overall aircraft sales of more than 35% in only two years for all segments (Piston aircraft, Turboprops, Jets), and a nearly 10% share of the global market, the Middle East is the only region experiencing such strong growth.

"Al Bateen Airport experienced a 40% increase in jet traffic over the first 6 months of this year compared to last year. With more and more requests from aircraft operators to establish their businesses here, it is logical for us to respond to this demand by creating a major international general aviation event," said Stephen K. Jones, General Manager at Al Bateen Executive Airport.

"Our expertise in aviation exhibitions and communications enables us to propose an event that is affordable for manufacturers and interesting for visitors. Effectively, over the last six years with the Cannes Airshow we have created a unique event where all of the exhibitors are gathered on the static display alongside their aircraft. The largest manufacturers in general aviation put their trust in us each year in Cannes to attract a large audience of potential buyers; without a doubt Abu Dhabi Air Expo will bring the most dynamic companies together each year!" asserted Didier MARY, CEO of Adone Events Organisation.

Nearly 70,000 m² of exhibition space with over 150 aircraft on static display and nearly 300 brands and distributors will offer their products and services to an expected 15,000 visitors from throughout the region including the United Arab Emirates as well as Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Oman, Kuwait, Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, Sudan, South Sudan, Morocco, Yemen, Tunisia and Algeria without forgetting India, Japan, China, South Africa, Russia and Turkey; a wider array of choices than has ever been presented to date.

Abu Dhabi Air Expo is a gathering that should not be missed! March 6, 7, 8, 2012.

About Al Bateen Executive Airport
Al Bateen Executive Airport is a dedicated business jet airport, the first of its kind in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region; conveniently located only a five kilometres from the central business district of Abu Dhabi, the UAE capital.
The downtown location of Al Bateen Executive Airport makes it ideal for users of business jets, whose time is valuable and who have a high-regard for the convenience that personalised jet travel can bring.

· Only dedicated private aviation airport in the region
· Fast & efficient turnarounds
· Ideal location in the city centre close to central business district
· Over 90 parking/maintenance spaces in hangars for different aircraft sizes + 20 apron parking stands
· Business Campus – full business traveller facilities and stand-alone offices
· One-stop-shop Business Jet Specialists
o Fuel, handling, and other FBO services
o Air Taxis
o Vendor/Original equipment manufacturer (OEM) access
o Related aviation business access
o Aviation education and training

Thursday, August 4, 2011

F-16s intercept plane during Obama's Chicago visit

From Yahoo News: F-16s intercept plane during Obama's Chicago visit
SOUTH BARRINGTON, Ill. (AP) — Two F-16 fighter jets intercepted a plane flown by a 75-year-old woman after it entered restricted airspace during President Barack Obama's recent visit to Chicago, federal officials said Thursday.

The North American Aerospace Defense Command told The Daily Herald ( that the jets were summoned when air traffic controllers couldn't contact the pilot Wednesday afternoon. The president was in Chicago for a fundraiser celebrating his 50th birthday.

The jets intercepted the Kitfox Model 2, a kit airplane, piloted by Myrtle Rose of South Barrington, a Chicago suburb. Rose turned the plane around and returned to Mill Rose Farm Airport, NORAD spokesman Lt. Michael Humphreys said.

Rose's plane didn't have a radio, which forced NORAD to use the jets to identify and intercept the plane, Humphreys said.

With such temporary flight restrictions, "there are no lines drawn in the air. It's sometimes a little hard to tell where you're at," NORAD spokeswoman Stacey Knott told the newspaper. "Typically, it's just a mistake."

The pilot met with local authorities, Knott said. The Federal Aviation Administration is investigating.

Rose didn't appear shaken after the incident, South Barrington Deputy Police Chief Ray Cordell said. "She was unaware that she had entered restricted air space," Cordell said. "Surprised was probably the right term."

Calls to a listing for Rose in South Barrington rang unanswered Thursday. The town, home to about 4,500 residents, is about 30 miles northwest of Chicago.

"We do not have fighter jets flying over the village very often," Cordell said

'The sky is my office': Aviators in Destin mark 100 years in female flight history

From NWF Daily 'The sky is my office': Aviators in Destin mark 100 years in female flight history
(From July 31, 2011)
DESTIN — Christa Strang and Buffy Stevenson might seem like your average working wives and mothers, but when they take off for a day on the job, they use the runway at the Destin Airport.

“The sky is my office,” said Stevenson, a pilot tour guide for Panhandle Helicopter.

One hundred years ago today, Harriet Quimby became the first woman in the United States to receive her pilot’s license, forging the way for other pilots such as Amelia Earhart and Sally Ride, the first woman in space.

“They opened the doors for women who want to make flying a profession or a hobby,” Strang said. “Even as I was growing up, it was a very male-dominated field and it still is.”

Becoming a pilot seemed like nothing more than a dream for the Crestview resident.

“I had to pay for college myself, so I always thought I would end up doing something else,” Strang said.

While studying pre-law at college in Long Beach, Calif., a few friends bought her an introductory flight as a present.

“That was all it took,” she said.

At 18 years old, Strang set out to earn her wings, flying whenever she could afford it. After four years, she received her private pilot’s license and moved to Destin to become the first woman flight instructor at Miracle Strip Aviation.

Later, she also became the first female chief flight instructor at Peter Prince Airport in Milton before working as a first officer for Regional Jets.

While working for the airlines, “you’re stuck wearing a man’s uniform with the tie and the hat and the jacket. You kind of feel like you’re being put into a mold that’s made for men,” Strang said.

Before starting her own flight management and pilot services company, Centerline Flight Services, she also worked for the Sterling Companies as head of the flight department, in which she flew a Beechjet 400 and a King Air 90.

Nowadays, the entrepreneur and mother of twin 3-year-old girls, flies a Piper Meridian for her client, Allied Global Ventures.

Whether you’re a man or a woman, “becoming a pilot is definitely a fulfilling and rewarding endeavor,” Strang said. “It’s amazingly beautiful up there and it’s always a challenge.”

Buffy Stevenson, a grandmother and the owner of HeliGirl Aviation, had been working in the hospitality industry for 25 years when she decided it was time for a career change.

“It wasn’t like I set out to be a helicopter pilot. It was just one of those things I fell into,” said the Panama City Beach resident. “I’ve always been fascinated with flying. When I was younger, my dad got his private pilot’s license and took me up for the first time in a Cessna.”

The experience stuck with her into adulthood. Stevenson took her first demo flight in a helicopter in 2008 and was “totally hooked.”

“I just knew right when I went up for that flight that it was what I was going to do,” she said.

Although her mother was a little nervous and scared, Stevenson began her pilot training at Airwork LLC in Las Vegas. Less than two years later, she earned her rotorcraft rating and various other certifications and moved to Destin.

Flying helicopter tours with Panhandle Helicopter is her first break into the aviation industry.

In the air “everyone is in a great mood and having fun. I fly tours up and down the beach. I can’t really get people to feel sorry me,” she said.

HAI's Successful HELI-CENTER™ Wraps Up at EAA AirVenture

From Helicopter Association International (posted on their site a few days ago):

HAI's Successful HELI-CENTER™ Wraps Up at EAA AirVenture
HAI President Matt Zuccaro, his wife Doreen, and the female staff of HAI attending EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh Wis. joined the highly energized Women in Aviation International (WAI) AirVenture annual breakfast.

Led by Dr. Peggy Chabrian, WAI is a unique subset of the pilot community. From an amazing woman like Marty Wyall who served as a WASP (Women Airforce Service Pilot) during WWII, to a young flight instructor from Guyana bringing the dream to other young women in her country for the first time, or NTSB Chairman Debbie Hersman, almost 300 women pilots and aviation enthusiasts of all ages, and a few men too, were present. Hersman commented to the group that the goal is to fly safely, and that everyone should "reach out and teach someone else to fly safely."

Chabrian introduced Zuccaro and they both shared plans for collaboration at HELI-EXPO 2012 in Feb. and the WAI conference in March 2012 - both in Dallas. After sharing complimentary copies of ROTOR® magazine featuring a woman pilot on the front cover, and HAI’s newly produced Spotlight on Women in Helicopter Aviation DVD for everyone at the breakfast, Zuccaro announced that an HAI HELI-CENTER™ will be coming to the WAI conference and will feature a panel of women from the helicopter world. He concluded by inviting all the WAI members to stop by the HAI HELI-CENTER™ to watch the Oshkosh Airshow.

The HAI HELI-CENTER™ proved to be the ideal venue to introduce visitors to the Helicopter Foundation International (HFI). Marty Pociask, vice president and curator of HFI, spoke about the Foundation’s many projects, including its mentoring program, the scholarships the Foundation supports as part of its mission, and plans for a virtual history of the helicopter museum. In turn, AirVenture staff allowed him the opportunity to peek behind the scenes and share ideas at the EAA museum, learning a little more about how they cover the helicopter side of flight.

Friday and Saturday were very active days for HAI. Attendees arrived at the HELI-CENTER™ in droves. Matt Zuccaro was interviewed by Craig Fuller, the CEO of AOPA, for their AOPA Live online broadcast on Fuller said that many helicopter pilot members were happy to finally see a significant helicopter presence at the show. And, as was the HAI staff, they were hearing from fixed-wing pilots who had an interest in gaining a helicopter rating. Zuccaro said that the issues facing the fixed-wing community are, in many cases, the same as those facing the helicopter industry. They discussed the important collaboration on the Hudson River corridor accident and the important outcome regarding procedures and practices. Other topics ranged from helicopter use of ADS-B in the Gulf of Mexico, and the advancement in helicopter design.

Later the same day, Zuccaro interviewed Fuller and spoke about the status of the user fee issue. Fuller and NBAA CEO Ed Bolen met with Senator Mitch McConnell Thurs. morning. McConnell told them there was no user fee language in the budget package “at that point.” Fuller also stressed the need for modernization of the ATC system, the need to expand the pilot population, and the importance of safety education. They concluded with Zuccaro and Jason Cammisa from Hillsboro Aviation in Oregon talking with Fuller about how fixed-wing pilots can transition to a helicopter rating.

Advanced helicopter cockpit technology could be found throughout the exhibitors—from the Chelton Flight Systems Electronic Flight Instrument System (EFIS) featured in an Enstrom helicopter outside the HELI-CENTER™, to the new Aspen glass panel and new Garmin G500H. Karen Gebhart, HAI’s vice president of Business Development & Expositions, met with Garmin representatives Scott Frye and Joe Stewart who demonstrated the new features of the dual-screen electronic flight display. It is exciting to see these new technologies and advancements, including HTAWS and Synthetic Vision, coming into the lower to mid end of the helicopter market.

Other drop by visitors at the HELI-CENTER™ included John and Martha King of King Schools, Inc. Both hold helicopter CFI ratings and discussed the transition from fixed-wing to helicopter flight. John told Matt Zuccaro that, “if I had to choose one way to fly of all the ways to fly, helicopters would be my choice.”

The daily drawing winner for July 28 was fixed-wing pilot Bob Graff from Boise Idaho. Bob is considering gaining a helicopter rating and HAI staff provided him with information on the transition.

Friday evening, HAI members visiting the HELI-CENTER™ took advantage of the great seating on the upper deck to watch the spectacular night Airshow and fireworks. Special guests included members of the U.S. military from the Coast Guard Air Station out of Traverse Mich. and Customs and Border Protection Air and Marine out of North Dakota and Maine.

On July 30, Matt Zuccaro was interviewed on EAA radio. He spoke about the work HAI does for its members, the diversity of the helicopter industry, the HELI-CENTER™, HELI-EXPO®, transition from fixed-wing flight, and new technologies in helicopter design. He also highlighted the work of HFI.

Throughout the show, HAI staff members Beth Burt, Annette Duplinsky, Derek McGuire, Marty Pociask, Stan Rose, and Dave York and assisted HAI members; took new member applications; entertained families; and provided information on safety, training and the work HAI does on behalf of its members. Lisa Henderson, HAI’s manager of Advertising & Exhibit Sales, did a wonderful job in ensuring the HELI-CENTER™ operations ran smoothly throughout the entire show, and Doreen Zuccaro was the inspiration behind the Kids Copter Corner, which was a huge hit.

Staff at the HAI gift store had fun talking to members and offering new shirts and other items to purchase.

As Matt Zuccaro reflected on the first time appearance of the HELI-CENTER™ at AirVenture, it was very much as EAA President Rod Hightower had summed it up at the Sunday press conference. Regarding HAI’s new presence, he had heard “all positive feedback from EAA members and attendees.” He commented that “HAI had a great presence and location, and fun things to do—including for children.” Many attendees wanted to know how to get up to the HELI-CENTER™ second level to view the Airshow, which was an exclusive area for HAI members and guests.

A special thank you goes to David Osborne, HAI videographer, who provided all the photos from the show; and David Riddy, HAI’s Public Relations assistant, who produced the daily HELI-CENTER™ news as featured in RotorNews®.

An extra mention should also be made of the HAI staff members that did not travel to Oshkosh but did, nevertheless, provide invaluable behind-the-scenes support—in particlular Kristin Lord Anderson, HAI's executive assistant.

Until the next show, blue skies and safe flights!

Karen Gebhart, HAI’s vice president of Business Development & Expositions, has been reporting for RotorNews® daily for the duration of EAA AirVenture.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Thanks, Harriet

From AOPA Pilot blog: Thanks, Harriet
Like me, Harriet Quimby worked in newspapers for awhile and became intrigued by aviation through the pages of a magazine. That’s pretty much where our similiarities end.

Quimby was writing for something called Leslie’s Illustrated Weekly in 1910 when the magazine published an article promoting an upcoming international “air meet” at Belmont Park in New York. She went, watched the pilots, decided that flying didn’t look too difficult, and started taking lessons. On Aug. 1, 1911, she became the first U.S. licensed female pilot.

It sounds so cut and dried, but I find myself thinking about what she must have experienced to earn that title. Start with the clothes. She couldn’t wear pants, nor would she wear “harem-style” skirts that French female pilots favored. According to Eileen F. Lebow’s excellent book, Before Amelia, Quimby designed her own flying costume: a plum-colored wool suit that converted from knickerbockers that could be tucked into boots to a full skirt by undoing some buttons. If I had to design a completely new type of clothing for something I wanted to do, I’d probably take up knitting instead.

Some things Quimby experienced will sound very familiar to today’s aviators. Interviewed by the New York newspapers when she earned her ticket, she was asked about “the months of predawn rising, the inconvenience of weather, the expense”–was it worth it? Apparently so. She later became the first woman to fly across the English Channel, and would have been the first woman to participate in air mail delivery had she not died in an airplane accident 11 months after she earned her license.

I didn’t know a lot about Quimby before writing this blog. My own aviation role models are the women who ferried military aircraft during World War II–the WASP. Whenever I struggled with a concept or worried that I wasn’t up to the flying task at hand, I pictured those women in their flight suits, climbing into B-26s, and B-29s, and drew inspiration from their strength. Now I wonder who their aviation heroines were. Could one of them have been a petite woman in a plum-colored wool flying suit?

NY: Aviation Club Secures a Home on Park Avenue, in a Space With Significance

From the New York Times: Aviation Club Secures a Home on Park Avenue, in a Space With Significance
In the 1950s, when commercial aviation was growing and space travel captured the American imagination, the Wings Club of New York settled into a first-class home. Over the next several decades, it was a congenial gathering spot for aviators, celebrities and even presidents.

Candles glowed on birthday cakes sometimes delivered by beautiful flight attendants. Drinks were served in the club bar. Late-evening songfests were held around the piano.

But as air travel changed in the last decade, so did the Wings Club. In 2002, high rent and an economic downturn forced the club from its deluxe Manhattan home and left it without a place to call its own.

So the club — which is part social, part professional and part dedicated to aviation education and related charities — was happy that it found a new meeting place this summer. And it was doubly pleased that the new address is in the MetLife Building on Park Avenue — one of the most famous aviation landmarks in the city, from its days as the headquarters of Pan Am.

“This is a place to actually plant the flag,” said David McKay, the club’s president, “a place that is a symbol, a place for the board to meet, because I think it represents permanence and that’s something we want to foster.”

When the club was founded in 1942, it was a tenant at the Yale Club on Vanderbilt Avenue. World War II pilots used the place as a hangout and sometimes as a hotel.

In the 1950s, the club moved into the luxury Biltmore Hotel near Grand Central Terminal.

“In the early years, it was very prestigious to be a member,” said Harris Herman, general manager of the club and, in the 1990s, one of the committee of 12 that scrutinized each membership application. “It has always been something that people wanted to be part of.”

By the ’70s, the Wings Club had a membership of 1,500, including its first female members, as well as celebrity honorary members like Jimmy Doolittle, Arthur Godfrey and Curtis LeMay. Executives of Pan Am, TWA, Eastern and American — airlines that were, at that time, based in New York — were also members.

When the Biltmore Hotel was demolished in 1981, the club moved into equally deluxe accommodations at 52 Vanderbilt Avenue. In the dining room, white linen draped the tables and steak was served on china. In the library, members could order a drink while talking about flying.

The terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, changed much about aviation, and the Wings Club, whose budget comes from dues and corporate donations, was no exception. In 2002, the club closed the doors on its spacious 18th-floor haven and spent the longest time since its founding without a place to call home.

Reopening in the former headquarters of Pan Am is special for the club, which now has a membership of 1,200.

“There’s this wonderful connective tissue that just runs through the entire place,” said Mr. McKay, who is the president of United States Aviation Underwriters, the insurance firm.

The Pan Am Building was once under consideration to be the home of the club, in 1963. Pan Am’s most famous executive, Juan Trippe, was a club member, and Mr. Trippe’s personal pilot, Albert Ueltschi, founded the aviation training company Flight Safety International. The chief executive of that company, Bruce Whitman, will lead the Wings Club in 2012.

The new club, however, much like the state of contemporary aviation, is a stripped-down version of its former self. Gone are the plush library, the dining room, the wood-paneled bar. With more than a nod to how airlines have eliminated meals and free checked bags, the 2011 Wings Club consists of a boardroom, a kitchen and a workspace for visiting members’ use.

Still, some gracious touches remain. On the walls hangs a collection of aviation art by John T. McCoy, Clayton Knight and the famed painter of clouds Eric Sloane. The collection has been appraised at more than $500,000. Framed photos of events at the club are also on display.

John Kent, now retired, lunched regularly at the Biltmore and Vanderbilt Avenue sites when he was an airline pilot based in New York and flying 747s for United Airlines. In the spring of 1987, he arranged a party at the club to celebrate the birthday of the World War I flying ace George Vaughn. Attendees reminisced about Charles Lindbergh, whom some knew personally.

In the new club, photos of Presidents Dwight D. Eisenhower and George Bush and the pioneering 1930s-era pilot Jacqueline Cochran hang on the walls. They were honored guests, as were the actors James Stewart and Cliff Robertson. Attendees at annual galas have included the astronauts John Glenn and Kathryn Sullivan.

Performing was another part of the club culture, according to a written history that recounts some late-night songfests. For a members’ dinner in 1996, Robert Crandall, then the head of American Airlines, appeared in a video playing the piano and singing a satirical version of the song “My Way” dedicated to Herb Kelleher, founder of Southwest Airlines.

The club’s monthly lunches are still held at the Yale Club, where members have dining and hotel privileges that supplement the limited offerings at the new clubhouse.

“It’s not glitzy like it was 30 years ago,” Mr. Herman said. “I never thought we’d open this club. In the dark days, when we had to close and move, I thought it would just be too expensive, because I was thinking, dining room, kitchen, bar, library.”

“I don’t think it requires a fancy, jazzy thing,” Mr. McKay rushed to add.

Access to the movers and shakers in the industry is what the club has always been about, Mr. McKay said. “Being in the roster with Bob Crandall and Herb Kelleher has some value to some people,” he said. “If I wanted to pick up the phone and dial Richard Branson, I could. And he would probably pick up the phone. I think that’s remarkable. Quite frankly, that’s enough.”