Thursday, September 22, 2011

Female military pilots

From Aviation Knowledge: Female military pilots
It is only in the last 30 years that females have been accepted into most Air Forces around the world. In the Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF), females were only allowed in from 1977. The first female pilot was Angie Dickinson, who graduated in 1988. She, along with a few others, became the first females to be in operational roles within the RNZAF, including several fighter pilots. These fighter pilots were, in essence, in a combat position. These combat positions for females were constantly under scrutiny, due to the widespread, but not complete, belief that combat positions should be filled only by males. This was world-wide, not just in New Zealand.

History of females in the military
The initial jobs available for females in the military were limited to traditional jobs, such as nursing and administration. Most Western nations followed this trend, with many not allowing females into the main military until the 1970's. The way that females were employed was through the introduction of women's forces, such as the Womens Army Corp (WAC) in the United States of America. There were also nursing corps, as well as auxilary air force arms set up across the world. The main exception to this was in the former Soviet Union, where females were allowed in the main military corps from the early 1900's.

Hofstede’s masculinity/femininity descriptions are one way of identifying the differences in military aviation culture, with the more traditional culture of military pilots being the masculine side. “Masculinity stands for a society in which social gender roles are clearly distinct: Men are supposed to be assertive, tough, and focused on material success; women are supposed to be more modest, tender, and concerned with the quality of life.”

World War Two was the first main period where females became more included into the militaries around the world, although still in limited roles. In the USA females started to be included in flight crew, however not in a pilot role or in combat aircraft. The introduction of more women's corps marked the beginning of a changing in culture in the military.

The first females to officially fly were part of the Women’s Air Force Service Pilots (WASPs) during WWII. They were restricted to ferrying flights and support roles, with no combat roles available for them.

Women in combat
Women were first included in combat by the former Soviet Union, soon after suffering huge losses during World War Two. They were included in aviation combat, in bomber and fighter regiments. There were female-only regiments, as well as combined regiments. In Western nations, there were no females in combat in World War Two.

Psychology of females in the cockpit
The psychology of females in the cockpit is one of continuing interest to many in both the military and civilian worlds. Within the civilian world, there have been similar struggles to allow them to fly with males, such as the battles of Deborah Wardley and Ansett Airlines. An example of this that highlighted the publics’ attitude at the time towards female pilots, where she was confronted by someone who was concerned about his safety simply because she was a woman pilot.

Within the military environment, the females in the RNZAF were only allowed in non-combat flying roles, as it was believed that the “introduction of females into combat units would hinder the development of close relationships that led to trust in life-or-death situations” (Collings & Laine, 2010). This is representative of the culture that is still prevalent within many militaries around the world.

There is little evidence available about the culture within the confines of a military cockpit, other than the above thoughts about trust in a life-or-death situation. However, it can be deduced from the experiences of being a female RNZAF officer that there would be very few issues within the cockpit, provided that all crew are confident and know what their role/task is. The main crux of it is to be a professional, as anecdotally there are no longer the issues of believing that females are not as capable as males when it comes to flying ability. If the crew understands their job and does it professionally, it is believed that there would be very few issues surrounding discrimination and harassment.

Currently, there are many females serving as pilots in defence forces around the world. Some countries have them restricted to non-combat flying, but the flying they do is still dangerous, entering combat zones to evacuate wounded personnel. The only difference is that they are not going up to purely fight; they are performing a vital support role. In that sense, the military has not changed hugely in that females are still doing more support roles rather than combat. It is just the means of doing the support roles have evolved more.

Practical implications of female flight crew
The main implications of female flight crew is in relation to the equipment and whether they suit the female body shape and size. The facilities provided also need to accommodate females.

Equipment is vitally important to a pilot, so the correct sizing and fitment is crucial. Specialist equipment such as G-suits for fighter pilots must fit properly; otherwise there can be serious consequences as they may not function correctly. Many female fighter pilots have said that they had to get their G-suits tailored specifically for them, as female anthropometrics are different to males. Other areas that have to be changed or adapted are the cockpit seats, and the reach available to get to the instruments and controls. Most equipment can be modified to accommodate female pilots; these are just two examples that are commonly faced.

Facilities need to be modified also, so females based in combat areas such as Afghanistan are looked after in terms of their personal needs. Generally, females will have their own quarters rather than having unisex ones. Ablutions are usually unisex, however depending on the unit and location they may need to be modified to have separate female and male ablutions.

Changing the equipment and facilities is a huge cost to the military/government funding the process, and as such, many militaries do not allow females in areas where there would be excessive changes needed to accommodate them.

Acceptance of females around the world
Many air forces around the world accept females with few restrictions. In terms of flight crew, there are still not many female fighter pilots, however there are generally no barriers to females being a fighter pilot. Generally females are accepted into military aviation, whether it be as a pilot or crew.

In India, females are not allowed in their Air Force, and there are no plans in the foreseeable future to allow them. It is said that the “Indian Air Force does not want any disruption, which he feels is inevitable when a woman pilot gets married and has children” (Parsons, 2009). The cost to train a pilot can be up to 1.7 million Euros, and up to 14 years of active service to recoup that money in India. Many militaries around the world have a similar view in relation to a return of service to recoup the money spent.

The Soviet Union allowed females to fly in combat during World War Two, the only country to do so. This decision may have come from the communist ethos, where everyone is equal and should work regardless of gender in order to get the job done.

One of the best ways to achieve acceptance is to treat all crew the same, regardless of gender. “As a pilot and member of an aircrew, we see each other as just that – a crew; there is no difference” (American Forces Press Services, 2009). This seems to fit into the military culture in general, where there are very few concessions made for the differences between males and females.

The culture within the RNZAF is one of acceptance, as long as everyone is professional in their conduct and execution of their jobs. This has transferred into the cockpit, where females are subject to the same training as their male counterparts. There have been no measures taken to help support the females specifically, rather, everyone has the same support available throughout their career.

1. American Forces Press Service. (2009). Female Soldiers Continue Footprint in Army Aviation. Retrieved from Australian Government. (2010). Aviatrices – Australian Women of the Air. Retrieved from Dawson, B. (2002). High Flyers: Celebrating the Extraordinary Women of the RNZAF 1977 – 2002. Auckland: Penguin Books.4. Feltus, P. (n.d.). Women in the Military in World War II. Retrieved from Hofstede, G.H. (2001). Hofstede: Masculinity/Femininity. Retrieved from Parsons, G. (2009). No Women Fighter Pilots for the IAF. Retrieved from

PR: Flying Musicians Perform at Airportfest: Hartford, CT, USA

Airport Fest, Hartford Brainerd Airport, Connecticut
September 22 - that'd be today! - until the 24th.

The Flying Musicians Association’s (FMA) members in the North East will be showcased daily on the Main Stage at Hartford-Brainard Airport during the Airportfest portion of the AOPA Aviation Summit. “This is our chance to showcase members in the North East,” says FMA co-founder John Zapp! Come out for lunch at the airport and enjoy truly fantastic music by truly talented Flying Musicians. FMA’s appearance is sponsored by Sennheiser.

FMA will also have booths at Airportfest as well as in the convention center, #1215. Stop by to find out how you can become involved or how FMA can provide music at your next aviation related event. “We are in the midst of establishing chapters at Colleges and Universities around the country,” says John Zapp. Find out how you can help start one at your alma mater.

FMA will give a presentation on Thursday at 3:30 in Conference room 7. All are encouraged to attend to find out more about FMA, how you can become involved: as a member, corporate member, sponsor, or volunteer. Light snacks will be provided!

FMA will also have their annual meeting at the Hartford Marriot Downtown in conference room 7 on Friday from 3:30 until 4:30pm. The meeting is open to all FMA members, to those interested in aviation and/or music, and to friends of FMA.

Performers and Schedule at Airportfest:

• Thursday (9/22)
o 11am - Jon Greene Group (Funk/Rock/Jazz/Fusion)
o 12:30pm - Max Gross (Country/Folk/Bluegrass)
• Friday (9/23)
o 11am - Ravi (Rock/Pop Singer/Songwriter)
o 11:45am - Ian Blair Fries, MD (Accordion)
o 12:15pm - Lee Ross (Classic Rock)
• Saturday (9/24)
o 11am - Jon Greene Group (Funk/Rock/Jazz/Fusion)
o 12:10pm - Nik Tarascio (Rock, Alternative Rock)

Friday, September 16, 2011

Jimmy Leeward

Jimmy Leeward (Born c. 1931 - Sept 16, 2011) was an American air racer, owner of the Leeward Air Ranch in Florida, and the pilot of the heavily modified P-51 Mustang racing aircraft "Galloping Ghost."

He competed in air races in the United States from the 1970s through his death. Leeward was killed on September 16th, 2011, when his aircraft went off course and crashed into the crowd at an air race in Reno, Nevada, killing and injuring a number of spectators.

As of this moment, Jimmy's Facebook page is still actie:

His Air Ranch website has been taken down (or is overwhelmed with traffic):

The Youtube video below is from a year ago:

Tragedy in Reno - Jimmy Leeward Crashes

Official: More than 75 injured in air race crash
..RENO, Nevada (AP) — A plane plunged into the stands Friday at an air race event in Reno in what an official described as a "mass casualty situation."

It wasn't immediately known how many people were killed, but a medical official said more than 75 people were injured.

Stephanie Kruse, a spokeswoman for the Regional Emergency Medical Service Authority, said 25 people were critically injured and another 25 people were seriously injured in the crash.

More than 25 more people were treated for minor injuries, she said.

Kruse said the critically injured were considered to have life-threatening injuries.

So far, 40 people have been taken to local hospitals by ambulance and one person has been flown to a hospital, she said.

The P-51 Mustang plunged into the crashed into the box seat area at the front of the grandstand at the National Championship Air Races at about 4:30 p.m., said Mike Draper, a spokesman for the event.

Draper identified the pilot as Jimmy Leeward.

Jeff Martinez, a KRNV weatherman, was just outside the air race grounds at the time of the crash. He said he saw the plane veer to the right and then "it just augered straight into the ground."

"You saw pieces and parts going everywhere," he said. "Everyone is in disbelief."

The National Championship Air Races draws thousands of people every year in September to watch various military and civilian planes race.

The races have attracted scrutiny in the past over safety concerns, including four pilots killed in 2007 and 2008. It was such a concern that local school officials once considered whether they should not allow student field trips at the event.

The competition is like a car race in the sky, with planes flying wingtip-to-wingtip as low as 50 feet (15.2 meters)off the sagebrush at speeds sometimes surpassing 500 mph (800 kph). Pilots follow an oval path around pylons, with distances and speeds depending on the class of aircraft.


Monday, September 12, 2011

Donation Opportunity: Statue of Jerrie Mock

Jerry Mock's Cessna 180, "Spirit of Columbus", hanging in the Smithsonian Institute.

Donations to the Jerrie Mock Aviation Pioneer Sculpture Fund may be made to the Licking County Foundation, P.O. Box 4212, Newark, OH 43058.

For more information or to schedule a presentation about Jerrie Mock, call Susan Reid at (740) 344-8425.
From Newark Advocate: href="">Ohio town raises funds to honor pioneering female pilot
NEWARK -- On April 17, 1964, Bill and Mary Kelley piled their five children into the car and drove to Port Columbus International Airport to see history being made.

The Heath family watched as Newark native Jerrie Mock successfully landed her Cessna 180 -- named The Spirit of Columbus -- making her the first woman to complete a solo flight around the world.

Bill Kelley said he never will forget the excitement he felt that day as he watched a Newark native achieve a major aviation milestone.

"We thought it was something to be really proud of," he said.

Now, Kelley is working to make sure Newark residents remember Mock and her accomplishments

Kelley, 83, has partnered with Susan Reid, Mock's younger sister, to raise money to build a bronze statue to honor Mock. They need to raise $45,000 for the statue, which they hope to have placed in the LeFevre Courtyard at The Works.

"I feel like it's past time," Kelley said. "I want to get this done while I'm still here and she's still here."

A lifelong dream
Mock's dream of flying around the world started when she took her first airplane flight at age 7.

"I remember looking at the houses and cars (from above)," Mock said. "I told my parents, 'I'm going to fly an airplane.'"

A lover of geography, Mock wanted to see faraway places.

"I told my girlfriends that I was going to fly around the world. They wanted to go to Hollywood and be movie stars. They thought I was crazy," she said.

Mock enrolled in the Aeronautical Engineering Program at Ohio State University and earned her private pilot certificate in 1958, Reid said. Mock went on to manage several airports and open a flying services company while raising three children.

In 1962, Mock was living in Bexley and looking for a new challenge when her husband suggested she try to fly around the world. After two years of planning, Mock left Columbus on March 19, 1964, to begin her flight.

Wearing a blue suit, heels and pearls, Mock circled the globe in 30 days, stopping to meet with foreign officials and explore different cultures along the way.

She struggled with engine and radio problems and ice formed on the wings of her plane, but she never gave up, Reid said.

"We knew Jerrie was very careful. We had a lot of faith in her," Reid said. "(Our family) never considered the fact she wouldn't be successful."

After completing her flight, Mock was recognized in magazines and newspaper articles across the country. She was invited to the White House, where she received the FAA Gold Medal for Exceptional Service from President Lyndon Johnson.

She continued flying and set several other records for distance and speed. As time went on, Mock's story faded away and many people forgot about her accomplishments. Even in Newark, many people don't know her story, Reid said.

"They remember Amelia Earhart because of the mystery, but Jerrie didn't disappear, except from the public eye," she said.

'Long overdue'
Ever since he saw her land in Columbus 47 years ago, Kelley hoped someone would build a statue dedicated to Mock.

Several weeks ago, he decided it was time for action.

"I kept waiting for someone else to take the initiative," he said. "But now we are living on borrowed time, and I'd like to see it done."

After partnering with Reid, Kelley contacted local sculptor Renate Burgyan-Fackler and asked her to create the statue.

Burgyan-Fackler's initial sketches and models show Mock holding a model of her Cessna or a newspaper that describes her accomplishments.

It will take about $45,000 to bring those sketches to life. Kelley and Reid will be meeting with community leaders and individuals to ask for donations.

Reid said she hopes the statue will be completed by this time next year.

"It's long overdue," she said. "This is definitely something the community needs."

'Dreams do come true'
Marcia Downes, managing director of The Works, said she is thrilled at the prospect of Mock's statue being displayed in the LeFevre Courtyard.

"People in this community don't know about Jerrie," Downes said. "I think her story needs to be told, and what a great way to do that by memorializing her."

Now a resident of Quincy, Fla., Mock said she was surprised when she heard about Kelley and Reid's plan for a statue.

"I wish them luck," she said.

A retired teacher and librarian in Heath City Schools, Reid has spent several years giving presentations about her sister's flight and accomplishments. She said she gladly will talk with any group who wants to know more about Mock or the statue project.

By learning about Mock's flight, Licking County residents, especially children, can learn an important lesson, Reid said.

"She always wanted to inspire people, especially women and children, that if you have a dream it may seem impossible, but if you work at it, dreams do come true," Reid said.

Who is Jerrie Mock:
Geraldine "Jerrie" Fredritz Mock (born November 22, 1925 in Newark, Ohio) was the first woman to fly solo around the world.[1] The trip ended April 17, 1964 and took 29 days, 21 stopovers and almost 22,860 miles.[2] She was subsequently awarded the Louis Blériot medal the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale.

The United States Air Force named a street in honor of her at Rickenbacker AFB (presently Rickenbacker International Airport) in Lockbourne, Ohio (near Columbus).

Jerrie now resides in Quincy, Florida and a plaque bearing her accomplishments can be found in the Tallahassee Regional Airport's Aviation Wall of Fame.

She is a member of Phi Mu Fraternity and the mother of three children.

Early lifeGeraldine "Jerrie" Mock was born November 22, 1925 in a suburban neighborhood of Newark, OH. She was the oldest of 3 sisters, but during her childhood she found more in common with the boys. Her interest for flying was sparked when she was 12 years old when she and her father had the opportunity to fly in the cockpit of a Ford Trimotor airplane. In high school she took an engineering course of which she was the only girl and decided flying was her passion. She graduated from Newark High School (Ohio) in 1940 and went on to attend Ohio University majoring in engineering.

Accomplishments and RecognitionsOfficial World Aviation Records Set or Taken 1964-1969(Sanctioned and accepted by the National Aeronautic Association and the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale)


Speed around the world, Class C1-c
Speed around the world, Feminine

Speed over a closed course of 500KM, Class C1-b

Distance in a straight line, Feminine

Distance in a closed course, Class C1-c
Distance in a closed course, Feminine
Speed over a recognized course

Speed over a recognized course
Significant “Firsts”First woman to fly solo around the world
First woman to fly U.S. – Africa via North Atlantic
First woman to fly the Pacific single-engine
First woman to fly the Pacific West to East
First woman to fly both the Atlantic and Pacific
First woman to fly the Pacific both directions
Awards in Recognition of Accomplishments in AviationMetals, Plaques, Trophies:

Federal Aviation Agency Gold Metal for Exceptional Service
Ohio Governor’s Award
Louis Bleriot Silver Metal(World-Wide award of Fédération Aéronautique Internationale)
American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics Special Award
Columbus Area Chamber of Commerce Award of the Year
Experimental Aircraft Association Special Award
Ohio Aviation Trades Association Sparky Award
Amelia Earhart Memorial Award, 1964
Aero Classic Aviation Progress Award, 1965
National Aviation Trades Association Pilot-of-the-Year Award, 1964
Glenn Hammond Curtiss Silver Metal, Pittsburgh OX-5 Club
Milestones in Manned Flight Trophy, Trans World Airlines
Wadsworth, Ohio, Aero Club Special Award
Kansas 99’s Special Recognition Medallion
Special Award of Bexley Civic Association
Women’s Aero Association of Wichita Award
Award of Appreciation, Licking County (Ohio) Historical Society
Columbus Transportation Club Special Award
Sports Woman of the Year, Columbus Citizen-Journal, 1969
Citation of Wichita, Kansas, Chamber of Commerce

Sunday, September 11, 2011

News: Thunder Lab produces Afghan Air Force "Best of the Best"

From Sept 1

From Defense Video & Imagery Distribution Systems: News: Thunder Lab produces Afghan Air Force "Best of the Best"
KABUL, Afghanistan - For Afghan Air Force 2nd Lt. Yar Mohmmad, it's always been a dream to serve his country in the AAF. Coming from Laghman province in eastern Afghanistan, the 25 year-old Afghan lieutenant now has that chance thanks to a program called "Thunder Lab."

Standing up in May 2010, Thunder Lab is an environment aimed at immersing select AAF lieutenants into English language training with a goal of improving their comprehension prior to pilot training, where they will eventually hope to graduate and become pilots in the Afghan Mi-17, Mi-35 or C-27 aircraft. Currently, 17 male students and eight female students live at the lab with U.S. and British mentors in an effort to supplement English skills they've learned at Kabul English and Language Training Center.

Created by former vice commander of the 438th Air Expeditionary Wing, Col. Creig Rice, Thunder Lab has three focus areas according to officials. The first area is to develop professionalism and officership which will ultimately prepare the officers for follow-on training. Second is to instill a sense of teamwork and understanding that as a group they can accomplish more than as one individual and the third is to improve English comprehension levels.

Rice initiated the program after noticing AAF lieutenants scheduled to attend U.S. pilot training had months between the time they graduated from initial English language training until they departed the U.S. for follow-on training. During this interim period, the AAF lieutenants' English language skills atrophied. According to officials, they were not engaged in speaking English and reverted back to their native languages, hence losing a great deal of the skills they had developed.

By all indications, the curriculum seems to be working as Thunder Lab instructors have seen English comprehension scores jump by 20 percent. In addition, seven out of 22 former male Thunder Lab students met the language requirements for pilot training in approximately two months as compared to the previous average of 13 to 14 months.

In October 2010, the lab fully integrated the first four Afghan female officer candidate school graduates who have recently arrived in San Antonio, Texas, to start the Defense Language Institute Program. Once they obtain the minimum score necessary to advance from DLI, the students will continue to rotary-wing pilot training at Fort Rucker, Ala., with hopes of returning to Afghanistan to support the AAF in the Mi-17 helicopter.

"When students first arrive at Thunder Lab there is an initial reluctance of males and females to mix," said Flight Lt. Luke Meldon, Royal Air Force. However, with the full-time nature of Thunder Lab, and with various team building exercises, students very quickly begin to from new friendships, regardless of gender."

'Selection Process'

Male students first begin their military training at the Afghan National Military Academy and the females attend the Afghan National Officer Candidate School. During the final phases of those courses, AAF leadership selects a pre-determined amount of students to fill positions in the Afghan Air Force. Those students are then sent to the initial Air Operations Course at Pahantoon-e-Hawayee or "Afghan Air Force Air University." After finishing courses at PeH, some students begin English immersion training at KELTC. Those identified as pilot qualified and meeting a basic English competency level are then interviewed by Thunder Lab staff for possible entrance into the program.

If lieutenants volunteer and are found to meet the standards set by the Thunder Lab staff, they are brought into the program on a volunteer basis.

"The Thunder Lab is an intense leadership and language training environment. It is a must for each student to be a volunteer for the program; this gives the program the best chance of success," said Lt. Col. Daryl Sassaman, officer in charge of the Thunder Lab. "Those that are volunteers usually will put forth as much effort as required to achieve the end goals, which are professionalizing the AAF and increasing each student's English comprehension level to a score that qualifies them for pilot training."

'Daily Routine'

A typical day for Afghan lieutenants and mentors begins at 5:00 a.m. with formal physical fitness training. Students are broken down into two groups, each performing a workout on alternating days. The groups conduct a regimented fitness program with class leaders aimed at improving their physical strength and cardiovascular fitness.

After their physical fitness session, the group forms up for breakfast providing students and staff the opportunity to discuss the upcoming day and address any areas of concern, including appointments, tests or language questions. Upon finishing breakfast, the students either attend classes at PeH or KELTC. Although the goal of KELTC is to improve English proficiency, students know they must at least achieve a score of 70 out of a possible 100 in order to continue on to more advanced language training and enter training on basic aviation math and science skills.

"As a member of the Armed Forces, it is essential that the lieutenants have a good level of fitness. This physical robustness is a necessity for all military leaders as they must be able to withstand the physical rigors of military life without losing their mental capacity, said Royal Air Force Flight Lt. Carol Walker, who is a full-time mentor at the lab. "Training with the mentors means we set an example to the lieutenants on what is expected from them physically, ensuring they have good form in all the physical fitness they partake in. We also eat breakfast with them, and that interaction is a time for the students to talk with the mentors in a less formal setting and allows a closer relationship to be built up with them, whilst improving their English."

During the afternoon, students continue to attend training before returning to the lab for their afternoon professionalism and leadership lesson aimed at increasing their officership, cultural understanding and military knowledge. This class was developed based on feedback provided by graduated Thunder Lab lieutenants, DLI instructors and AAF advisers. During this course, students learn new skills such as leadership, followership, time management, teamwork and communication.

"One of the main mission areas of the 438th AEW is to help professionalize the AAF. What a great opportunity to help shape the future of the AAF by instilling in its young leaders the sense of leadership and professionalism," explained Sassaman. "Yes, our curriculum focuses on enhancing their English language [skills], and introduction to aviation is important, but if the lieutenants can't grasp the concepts of leadership and professionalism, we [as mentors] fall short on our mission of setting the conditions for a professional, fully independent and operationally-capable AAF."

After leadership class, students form up for dinner with all members of the team and staff accompanying each other to share a meal and discuss their day. Staff members indicate this is an important time used to work on the students' conversational English in a non-classroom environment.

"Dinner is not just about learning to speak better English, but building relationships that will last a lifetime," said Maj. Anthony Graham, 438th AEW and part-time mentor. "The interaction we have with each other will help affect the future of the AAF. Learning English is secondary to building relationships. Our goal is to help build a better Afghanistan."

After dinner, students and staff meet at the lab in an effort to continue to improve their English listening comprehension skills. The students drink tea with the staff and converse in English as well as play games and watch English-speaking movies in order to hone their skills.

For many students, the time spent in the evening with the mentors is the most valuable.

"Evening activities are good," explained AAF 2nd Lt. Khan Afha Ghaznavi. "We work on our English language skills and help each other improve."

'Thunder Lab Cadre'

Currently, the lab employs three full-time mentors, including two British Royal Air Force officers and a U.S. Air Force officer in charge. In addition, there are five part-time mentors at the lab that have regular jobs throughout the Kabul International Airport compound but live at the lab and help with activities in the morning and evening. The mentor's ranks range from senior airman to lieutenant colonel and represent the U.S. Air Force, U.S. Navy and RAF. Officials say the staff brings a wide variety of experience to the lab having served in such positions as pilots, personnel experts, navigators, squadron leadership positions and public affairs.

The staff also includes two members from the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff's Afghanistan Pakistan Hand program who live and teach at the Thunder Lab. The mission of Afghan Hands is to build long-lasting, positive partnerships with Afghan entities and civilians in order to demonstrate the long-term commitment of the International Security Assistance Force in an effort to build capacity and capability within Afghanistan and deny support among the Afghan people to insurgents. These mentors are experts who speak the local language, are culturally attuned and are focused on Afghanistan for an extended period. Officials indicate these qualities have a dramatic impact in the bonding efforts between staff and students.

"The mission of the Thunder Lab and the mission of Afghan Hands, in my opinion, are synonymous. Although Thunder Lab is focused on improving the English ability of its lieutenants, no one can learn a foreign language without speaking their own," said Sassaman, who, in addition to being officer in charge of Thunder Lab, is also an AFPAK Hand graduate. "Having AFPAK Hands graduates as mentors in the Thunder Lab is a necessity, as it helps us build the bonds of trust and understanding with the students.

Each student can see the level of commitment of the coalition mentors as they demonstrate an understanding of the Dari language and the culture of Afghanistan."

He went on to explain that because each Afghan Hands has come directly from a similar program at DLI which teaches them Dari or Pashto, they understand the difficulty that the students are experiencing. This provides insight that others may not have and helps the mentors shape and design curriculum to train and professionalize the future leaders.

The lab also brings in senior-leaders guest instructors in an effort to provide a different prospective on AAF efforts. This effort aims to demonstrate to the students the commitment shared between the U.S., Great Britain and AAF.

'Thunder Lab Future'

On July 7, four Afghan female pilot candidates made history becoming the first to graduate from Thunder Lab. After graduating, they traveled outside Afghan borders for the first time in their lives to San Antonio, Texas, with a goal of finishing DLI and pilot training. This stop is another step in their journey to become pilots in the AAF. In an interview with the Associated Press after arriving stateside, one of the pioneers explained what they hope to achieve for women across Afghanistan.

"We're going to open the door for ladies in Afghanistan," 2nd Lt. Sourya Saleh said. "It's a big deal for us to open this door for the others. That these other ladies who have the dream and think they can't do it, we want to show them."

According to Thunder Lab staff, the future of the lab is bright and will soon integrate into the AAF's hub for pilot development located in Shindand, Afghanistan, with a goal of making the base the "crown jewel" of the AAF. The mission and focus of the lab won't change, but the number of students that it trains will increase. Officials maintain the desired goal of the lab is for it to become a prerequisite for all students identified as candidates for pilot training, with most of its graduates attending follow-on pilot training within Afghanistan's borders. Students identified as top performers will have a limited opportunity to train in the U.S.

Although the lab is young, students and staff see a bright future for young Afghans working toward a peaceful nation.

"In Afghanistan, I think [it's been] 32 or 33 years of war. The women of Afghanistan couldn't do anything [in] that time," said 2nd Lt. Mary Sharifzada, also among the four women training to become pilots. "Now we should show that we are strong and we can serve our country."

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Flying’s all in a day’s work for Nancy Robertson

From Snohomish County Business Journal: Flying’s all in a day’s work for Nancy Robertson
The world’s fascination with vintage World War II military aircraft has gotten John Sessions’ restored B-25, “Grumpy,” its share of YouTube videos, but Nancy Robertson of Snohomish, one of the bomber’s pilots, remembers one in particular that amuses her.

“On the video, you can hear the mother saying the plane is a B-25 World War II bomber landing at Paine Field,” she recalls. “Then you hear her young son exclaim as he spots the pilot, ‘Mom! It’s a girl!’ ”

Being a woman pilot was out of the norm when she began flying in 1987, “just for the fun of it,” but today, when many women have pilots’ licenses and airlines are hiring women pilots, it’s less common for people to be surprised.

What does surprise people is that her daily business is flying corporate jets and that her spare time flying often finds her at the controls of a B-25 Mitchell, a twin-engine bomber.

In fact, she’s one of only three women in the world rated by the Federal Aviation Administration to fly B-25s. She and her husband, Lance, earned their B-25 ratings on the same day at Paine Field. Both of them regularly fly the bomber for Sessions’ Historic Flight Foundation aviation museum and restoration center at Paine Field.

“Corporate jets are a great way to travel but flying them is just a job that pays the bills. The real fun comes from flying planes like the B-25 and the museum’s 1930s Lockheed Lodestar,” she said. The Lodestar is the type of aircraft pioneering female aviator Amelia Earhart flew on her ill-fated attempt at an around-the-world flight in 1937.

There are fewer than a dozen Lodestars in flyable condition, Robertson said, admitting she thought a lot about Earhart while she was flying it. Robertson said it’s the plane she loves to fly most, second only to “Grumpy.”

“Grumpy gets around a lot, including airshows at Abbotsford, B.C., Olympia, Boeing Field, Arlington, Spokane and Princeton, B.C., among others, such as the Heritage Flight Museum, our sister museum in Bellingham,” she said. “Everywhere we go, we offer rides in Grumpy, too, for $425 per person.”

Her love affair with flying began in 1987 when she took Everett Community College’s aviation ground-school class, which ended with students taking the FAA’s ground-school test, the first step toward getting a pilot’s license.

“I took the class with my aunt, Nona Anderson. She didn’t go on to get her license but I did,” Robertson said.

That class dramatically changed her life.

“I was a personal banker for Sea-First Bank at the time and thought I’d take a flight lesson or two just for fun,” she said. “Once I started flying I loved it so much I never looked back.”

She earned her private pilot’s license at Harvey Field in Snohomish, the town where she grew up and the area where she lives today, soloing in a single-engine Cessna 152. For many people, that would have been enough.

But for Robertson, each flight only supercharged her enthusiasm for more flying.

Her next challenge was completing instrument flying, distancing herself from fair-weather visual flight rules, followed by earning a commercial rating and then her multi-engine aircraft rating, all at Harvey Field.

Along with loving her flying lessons, she discovered she also loved her flight instructor and future husband, Lance Robertson.

“We didn’t start dating until I was halfway through my commercial license,” she said. “Now we often fly the B-25 together. We even have landing competitions in different planes to see who can make the smoothest landing or hit a predicted spot on the runway. But, with the B-25 our competition is to see who can start the engines the best. They’re temperamental.”

Lance Robertson, who is on the board of directors of the Pacific Northwest Business Aviation Association, has flown for more than 25 years, including piloting 727s, MD-80s, 757s and 767s for TWA. Today he is the chief pilot for the Nordstrom Flight Department, based at Boeing Field.

Nancy Robertson never did get back to the banking world. Instead, she began flying corporate aircraft for different clients, including a twin-engine Beechcraft Barron for Northwest Composites at Arlington Airport. In 1990, she stepped up to jets when she was hired to fly a Cessna Citation for Reuland Electric, a California firm. She’s also flown for Lakeside Industries, an Issaquah-based paving company with contracts in Washington and Oregon.

Being a female pilot during those years was a more unusual challenge than it is today. There’s no doubt Robertson was a pioneer in many areas of aviation, not only as a corporate pilot but also in the close-knit warbirds community.

“Flying corporate aircraft and warbirds has always been a good ol’ boys network,” she said. “Fortunately, when I met John Sessions, he let me fly, provided encouragement and opened some doors for me.”

She began co-piloting a Cessna Citation 500 with Sessions seven years ago and recalls sitting in the plane listening to him talk about his dream of opening the Historic Flight Foundation at Paine Field. Later she worked for him as the building was under construction and the first warbirds began coming in, providing her an opportunity to fly a T-6 Texan and then “Grumpy” after Sessions flew it from England where it had long been a favorite of air show crowds.

“Paine Field is a wonderful place for the foundation and its historic planes,” she said. “Besides the Historic Flight Foundation’s planes, you’ve got Paul Allen’s Flying Heritage Collection across the runway, the Future of Flight and Boeing tours at the north end of the field, the Me-262 project and the Museum of Flight’s restoration center. How many places can you find all of these aviation venues at the same airport?”

What does she like best about flying?

“It’s the freedom of flight and the experiences that flying offers. Like tomorrow morning, I fly a jet charter to Alaska in the morning, have lunch, then fly back home and I’m in Snohomish in time for dinner,” she said. “Also, the surprises in aviation. Who knew that flying corporate jets would lead to flying vintage military aircraft?”

Friday, September 9, 2011

Slidell skydiving is wish come true for 85-year-old birthday girl

From 2nd:
From Slidell skydiving is wish come true for 85-year-old birthday girl
Skydiving for your 85th birthday may seem a bit out of the ordinary to some. But for the friends and family of Willa Cristina of Harahan, it’s just “classic Willa.”

The very active octogenarian shared her adventure on Aug. 28 with all five of her children, her grandchildren, and several of their spouses. Each completed their jumps with the help of the Sky Dive N’Awlins staff at the Slidell Municipal Airport.

Cristina said she was inspired to attempt the feat by George Bush Sr., who did the same in celebration of his 85th birthday. “I decided I wanted to give it a try,” she said.

Although her birthday was actually Monday, she hoped to host the skydiving adventure a day early so everyone would be off of work and able to attend.

When not leaping from airplanes in extreme celebration of milestone birthdays, Cristina walks two miles twice a week and works out at the Elmwood Fitness Center twice a week. She also was a member of a 3-on-3 basketball team from Louisiana that participated in the National Senior Olympic Games this summer in Houston.

Determined to make her birthday celebration a memorable event, she took almost two years of planning to ensure everyone would be in Slidell for “jump day.” Relatives from the New Orleans metro area were joined by residents of Florida, California and North Carolina.

A crowd of about 20 supporters were waiting at the airport when Willa, smiling and wearing a neon yellow T-shirt printed with “Willa 85 Let’s Sky Dive” arrived with her extended family in tow. She also had T-shirts printed for family members and friends who jumped that day.

Exercise buddies from the fitness center, fellow parishioners from St. Paul’s United Methodist Church, and old friends were on hand to share the experience. Even the heat of the morning did not diminish the excitement.

“Willa’s just a great lady. It has been fun being here with her and sharing her excitement,” said Eric Lochburnner, a member of St. Paul’s and one of the first jumpers of the day.

After the necessary paperwork had been completed, Cristina and company were given instructions on how to leave the plane, what to expect in the air, and then practiced body positions on the floor of the hanger/office.

Granddaughter Robin Sakakini got the honor of diving with Cristina.

“She didn’t know I was coming today, so it was part of her birthday surprise,” said Sakakini, of Calabasas, Calif. “I have skydived before, so I told my cousins I should go with her.”

While the plane was gaining altitude with the birthday girl on board, Sky Dive N’Awlins owner Brenda Grafton visited with the rest of the party and helped them prepare for their jump. Grafton pointed out that although Cristina’s jump is impressive, she is not the organization’s oldest jumper. “We had a former World War II pilot here last year to jump for his 90th birthday,” Grafton said. “He even wore the flight suit he used to fly in for the jump.”

Soon, all eyes looked skyward, and the excitement grew with the sound of the plane engine throttling back, signaling the jump was starting. With the plane nearly invisible in the bright, cloudless sky, it was a few moments before two brightly colored parachutes opened and the people on the ground could follow the earthbound jumpers. A little more than a minute later, the red, white and blue parachute carrying Christina, strapped to instructor Rick Payne, touched down alongside the airport’s taxiway.

“It was great!” she said as she hugged her granddaughter and daughters, Janna Clark, Julie Johns and Nancy Kreig, the official designated family landing zone photographers and videographers.

“I didn’t especially like the jerk you feel when we left the airplane. But the best part was once the parachute opened and we were just sailing,” said Cristina, extending her arms out wide.

Her jump done and wearing a smile that lit up her face, Willa jogged back to her adoring public, who were applauding her feat and celebrating with her.

So what’s next for Willa Cristina? Answer: She has promised her grandson, Eric Johns, that she will go snowboarding with him during February in Vail, Colo. The people gathered Aug. 27 at Slidell Municipal Airport have no doubt. She will be there.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Flight Sim: Golden Age Sim Boeing Model 75 Stearman Released

From FlyAway Simulation: Golden Age Sim Boeing Model 75 Stearman Released
The Boeing Model 75 Stearman is perhaps the most widely known and recognized biplane in the USA, as it was that country's primary basic trainer throughout World War 2. This famous biplane began life as a design of the Stearman Division of United Aircraft (at that time United Aircraft also owned Boeing and United Airlines), which Boeing acquired as a wholly owned subsidiary in 1934.

At the time of the takeover, development on the X-70 training biplane was well advanced, and Stearman continued work on the type under Boeing ownership. The prototype of the Stearman Model 75, as the X70 became, flew for the first time in 1936. That year Stearman delivered the first production Model 75s, as the PT13, to the US Army Air Corps. That service immediately found the Lycoming R680 powered PT13 to be an ideal basic trainer, the airframe was rugged and forgiving; the slow turning radial engine reliable and reasonably economical.

Boeing Model 75 Stearman in FSX.
America's entry into World War 2 brought with it massive requirements for pilot training and the US Army and Navy went on to buy thousands of PT13s and Continental engined PT17s and N2Ss. During the war almost all American pilots undertook basic training on the PT13 or PT17, and the type was exported to Canada (as the Kaydet), Britain and other nations. Apart from in Canada the Kaydet name was unofficially widely adopted for the type.

Golden Age Simulations has recreated this venerable warbird for FSX. Included in the package are four distinct aircraft: the 220 hp Continental R-670 powered PT-17 and N2S-3, the A75L300 representing a post war civilian conversion powered by the 300 hp Lycoming R-680 and finally the "Super" Stearman IB75 show plane fitted with a 450 hp Pratt & Whitney Wasp Jr. and the addition of two more ailerons in the upper wing. Each version is unique and with its own flight dynamics and sound file. The models make use of the full range of FSX effects including dynamic shine, self shadowing and bump mapping. The aircraft are designed to be flown from the virtual cockpit and there is no 2D panel.

Included in the package is scenery offering, by, Stormville Airport, circa 1960. Stormville N69 officially became an airport in Oct. 1927 and although now closed was the hub of general aviation in the Hudson Valley of New York State.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Female pilots are living the dream

From Arabian Aerospace: Female pilots are living the dream
Women in the Middle East are flying high as more and more female pilots earn their wings. Liz Moscrop reports.

Alia Twal is feisty. At 24 she has earned her seat with Royal Jordanian Airlines after flying with Mideast Aviation Academy as a flight instructor.

She said: “We had a careers day at school and I knew then that I wanted to be a pilot. I finished my training in Jordan to become a chief flying instructor and became the youngest female pilot in the Middle East. I had students my age and older than me.”

Although some students were “a bit nervous” the first time they went up with her, they soon came to trust her. She explained: “Even if you are female it has nothing to do with your job. Aviation is not a male world. If we have the skills we can fly a plane. By the time students came for the second time they felt comfortable.”

Twal has just taken over the governorship of the Middle East branch of female pilots’ networking group, the 99s, from veteran pilot Yvonne Trueman. Twal said: “Living in the Middle East we are engulfed in a fast-moving culture that is yearning for change. There is an environment that is full of people who are open to change and are seeking to experience life; more so now, than ever before.”

Trueman agreed: “Women in this region are totally serious about aviation when they enter it. They go in to be professional pilots and they succeed. They are determined and feisty.”

Twal added: “This culture is rich in issues of politics, religion, gender and so much more. These issues have caused a wave of generations that are hungry to make a difference and influence this world. I am a part of that wave and that is why I wanted to play a key role in the 99s. All of these issues directly affect aviation.”

Her role as governor means that she is helping female aviators in the Middle East get exposure to ways they can grow and develop.

Twal believes that the networking gives them a voice, “to unify with those who can help them learn about who they can become”.

She continued: “Since I have become governor, I have brought eight members to the 99s and, in the process, have unified these women and empowered them in their own community. They are developing relationships and interacting for advice and assistance. We are all looking forward to a bright future of Arabian pilots and we are all hoping to open doors for the women to come.”

There are 27 members of the Arabian section of the 99s, stretching from Egypt down to Oman. The region now has more members than Austria, Brazil, UK, Far East, Finland, France, India, Nepal, New Zealand, Norway and Russia.

The new members include Captain Adelle Nahas and Deema Saber, a first officer in Royal Jordanian Airlines.

There’s also Captain Mavis Uzzaizia, the third rated female pilot in Jordan who started flying in 1993, as well as Captain Bassmah Bani Ahmad, the first female glider pilot in the Middle East who started her flying in 2005. She was only the second flight instructor in Jordan and is chief pilot for the Royal Aero Sports Club of Jordan.

Captain Carol Rabadi is also one of the new recruits. She is the second rated airline captain in Jordan and started in 1999 with Royal Jordanian Airlines.

Samar Oran, the second rated female pilot in Jordan is also now a member. She has been flying since 1976, joined Royal Jordanian in 1978 and was the first Muslim Arab pilot to cross the Atlantic.

Bahrain-based Trueman said: “As past governor, I took the mantle with just seven female pilots from Saudi, who worked with their husbands within Aramco. When they left and went back to the States, they stayed loyal to the section and, to this day, still remain members.”

Trueman recalled her earlier flying days in Bahrain. She said: “When I first arrived in the 1970s, general flying was very small and I used to hire an aircraft out of Dubai, file an international flight plan and manage to do a lot of flying, including an epic trip to Dhahran – probably one of the first for a lady pilot at that time.”

Airlines in the Middle East will no doubt eye the 99s with interest as they are hiring women in droves.

This June Etihad Airways celebrated the success of its first Emirati female to graduate from the airline’s cadet programme as a co-pilot. Salma Al Baloushi operated her first flight as a first officer on Thursday, June 9, on flight EY 091 from Abu Dhabi to Athens. Captain Richard Hill, chief operations officer said: “Salma is a leader in our expanding female Emirati community and will be an example for her colleagues to follow.”

Back in 2007 Al Baloushi joined Etihad as part of the airline’s second group of cadet pilots. She completed her initial studies at the Horizon International Flight Academy in Al Ain, followed by a further two years of training,

She and Aisha Al Mansoori were Etihad’s first two female pilots.

Al Baloushi said: “I am just stunned to be living my dream. It was such an honour to be awarded the rank of first officer. We all worked extremely hard to reach this point and my family, who have fully supported me from day one, are extremely proud of me. I can only hope my accomplishment encourages many of my Emirati sisters and brothers to push the boundaries and reach their goals.”

Etihad has five UAE national female pilots training to fly for the airline as well as a strong track record in promoting women. Last October it hired its first female captain, Sophie Blanchard from France. She joined Etihad in 2007 as a first officer, after flying for Etihad Crystal Cargo with Air Atlanta. She said: “It is a great privilege to be the first woman to take full command of a commercial flight. The company has been very supportive in my aim to become a captain.”

Two other women keen to promote female aviation in the Middle East are Kinda Sarrage, business development director for Ayla Aviation Academy in Jordan, and Carol Ronan-Heath, who established a regional branch of the International Aviation Women’s Association (IAWA) in Dubai. The branch now boasts more than 100 local members.

Sarrage is looking to promote women working in the aviation industry while, as part of the team that buys engines for Emirates, Ronan-Heath believes a local branch of IAWA will encourage other women to enter the industry and develop their careers. She said: “I started in IAWA as a junior lawyer many years ago. I was invited to one of its conferences and was blown away by the motivational effect.”

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Oct 24-26: Aviation Week Presents 2011 A&D Programs Conference and Awards

From Yahoo News: Aviation Week Presents 2011 A&D Programs Conference and Awards on Oct. 24-26 in Phoenix
NEW YORK, Sept. 1, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Aviation Week will present the on October 24-26 at the Arizona Biltmore in Phoenix, Arizona. With continuing economic pressures, falling budgets, and increasing calls for industrial investment, it is critical that government contractors and customers strategize their approaches toward performance, innovation and sourcing today. During the event, Aviation Week will also present the Program Excellence Award Winners and Innovation Challenge Finalists, the industry's preeminent awards for program managers and tiered suppliers in the A&D industry.

At the event, attendees will gain valuable business and program intelligence related to key issues, such as progress in supply chain health, DoD and NASA acquisition strategies, program performance trends, and OEM strategic sourcing efforts. Speakers will present in-depth case studies for developing and executing subcontracts, shared services models, and changes in affordability. Program leaders, such as Tom Kilkenny, general manager of IBM Global Aerospace & Defense Industry, will discuss global supply chain optimization, integration and risk mitigation. Other prestigious speakers include:

Craig Blue, Director, Office of Energy Efficiency/Renewable Energy Industrial Technologies, Oak Ridge National Laboratory
Charles Burbage, EVP/GM, F-35 Program Integration, Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Co.
Byron Callan, Director, Capital Alpha Partners
Tom Captain, Vice Chairman and Global A&D Leader, Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu
Tom Clancy, VP, Advanced Concepts, Aurora Flight Sciences
Tom Dolan, President, Hi-Rel Products
Maureen Dougherty, VP/Program Manager, Next Generation Tanker, Boeing Military Aircraft
Phil Dunford, COO, Boeing Military Aircraft
Bob Fecteau, CIO, BAE Systems Intelligence & Security
Doug Fronius, Chief Engineer, Air and Land Systems, Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems
Vivek Kamath, VP, Supply Chain Operations, Raytheon
Jason Kinder, Director, Product Management, Deltek
Lisa Kohl, Sector VP, Supply Chain, Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems
Kenneth Krieg, Founder, Stamford Global, and Former U.S. Undersecretary of Defense-AT&L
Roger Krone, President, Boeing Network and Space Systems
Zachary Lemnios, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering
Mike Madsen, President, Honeywell Defense & Space
Philip McAlister, Special Assistant to the Associate Administrator for Exploration Systems, NASA
Doug McCrosson, COO, CPI Aero
Mike Owens, VP, ISC, Americas, Honeywell Aerospace
Mark Sirangelo, Corporate VP, Sierra Nevada Corp. Space Systems
Allan Swan, VP, Supply Chain Planning and Control, Rolls-Royce N.A.
Don Theriault, President, Industrial Tool, Die & Engineering
Jeff Wilcox, VP, Engineering, Lockheed Martin Corp.

For more information or to register, visit . On Twitter, follow @avweekevents or search for #ADP11. Special rates apply before Sept. 16 and for government, military, media, alumni, and groups of three or more.

A&D Programs is produced by Aviation Week, with support from Forecast International, International Centre for Complex Project Management, and Supply Chain Council. The diamond sponsor is IBM. The emerald sponsor is Oracle. Dassault Systemes is the gold sponsor. The charter sponsor is Deloitte. Silver sponsors include Deltek, Parametric Technology Corp., and Software AG. Bronze sponsors are Constellium, Infotech, and Siemens. Program excellence sponsors are BAE Systems, Boeing, Honeywell, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, and Raytheon. Media support is provided by Aviation Week & Space Technology,, Defense Procurement News, Defense Technology International, and Military Suppliers & News.

About Aviation Week:
Aviation Week, part of The McGraw-Hill Companies, is the largest multimedia information and services provider to the global aviation, aerospace and defense industries, and includes, Aviation Week & Space Technology, Defense Technology International, Business & Commercial Aviation, Overhaul & Maintenance, ShowNews, Aviation Daily, Aerospace Daily & Defense Report, The Weekly of Business Aviation, Aviation Week Intelligence Network, and MRO Links. The group also produces major events around the world.

7 Sept, in Wichita: Founder of Women in Aviation to speak Wednesday

From Founder of Women in Aviation to speak Wednesday
Peggy Chabrian, president and founder of Women in Aviation International, will be the keynote speaker at the Wichita Aero Club luncheon Wednesday.

A local chapter is forming.

Chabrian will speak about the challenges facing women and men seeking careers in the aviation and aerospace industries.

The non-profit organization provides networking, education, mentoring and scholarship opportunities.

Chabrian is a pilot with commercial, instrument, multi-engine, helicopter and seaplane ratings and a flight instructor. She has 2,300 flight hours.

The luncheon begins at noon at the Wichita Airport Hilton.

Cost is $30.00 for members and $40.00 for non-members.

For tickets contact the Wichita Aero Club.

Aviation film producer to receive award for Breaking Through the Clouds

From Dayton Daily News: Aviation film producer to receive award

WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE — The National Aviation Hall of Fame will present an award and $20,000 cash prize to filmmaker Heather Taylor, of Columbia, Md., for her documentary about a 1929 race between female pilots flying from Santa Monica, Calif., to Cleveland, Ohio.

The aviation hall, based in the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force, said Tuesday it will present its Combs Gates Award to Taylor on Oct. 11 at the National Business Aviation Association’s annual meeting in Las Vegas, Nev. The award is given in recognition of aviation history research and preservation efforts.

Taylor’s film, “Breaking Through the Clouds: The First Women’s National Air Derby,” used actual footage of the 1929 summer air race. The competition featured pilots including Amelia Earhart. Taylor spent 13 years researching, writing and producing the film. Information about the film is available online at

Pilot Pinky brings home the big one (Marine pilot (Boats))

Not an aviation craft but a ship, but I thought it was interesting.
From Nigerian Daily News: Pilot Pinky brings home the big one

“You feel like you are one in a million, even captains give you a surprised look when you get on board a ship as a female maritime pilot,” said Pinky Zungu, who in the face of the blustery 28 knots winds safely guided the giant container vessel MSC Chicago into Durban harbour yesterday.

Zungu, a mother to a three-year-old boy, Sinothando, who does not yet understand the magnitude of his mother’s achievement of being one of only five female marine pilots in KwaZulu-Natal, said the ship was the largest she had docked.

The MSC Chicago is on her maiden voyage to South Africa.

Zungu, who learnt on Friday that she would be piloting the ship, described the two-hour task as nerve-wracking and requiring a lot of brain work.

“When I was done I felt relieved, it takes a lot of brain work and you can only breathe once the ship has pulled in,” she said.

She said she had no doubts that she could pull it off, but the nerves were still there.

“Despite the nerves I kept calm; you can’t afford to let the nerves play out because when you dock the ship you have to communicate with six people, giving them all different instructions,” she said.

Zungu said she could not have pulled off the task without the support of her family and colleagues.

“I was happy when I was asked to do this, but at the same time I knew it would be a challenge because all eyes were on me. But I believed I could do it, and I did it,” she said.

She said setting course was not hard, but the difficult part came when she had to turn the ship, because “it’s heavy and poweful”. She said this was particularly difficult because the water becomes shallower the closer you get to the harbour mouth.

The Lamontville-born pilot said she hoped the contribution she makes to the industry would inspire other women.

“I hope they can see that if one woman can do it, then they can do it as well.”

Master pilot marks 66 years of safe flying

From Argus Master pilot marks 66 years of safe flying
HARTFORD - Earle Geide is a quiet man drawn to quiet spaces. So no one's quite certain what this farmer/pilot is thinking when he's soaring through the sunlit silence in his 1946 Luscombe aircraft - with heaven above him and earth below.

Perhaps, Connie Geide says, her husband simply is admiring the patchwork of corn and soybean fields beneath his wings. Or maybe, she suggests with a smile, he just thinks he's a bird.

The 86-year-old aviator has been soaring through the firmament over South Dakota since the first weeks of peace at the end of World War II. Because he's done it so successfully, with barely a moment of panic, the Federal Aviation Administration has awarded him its Wright Brothers "Master Pilot" Award.

Only 21 South Dakotans have received the honor. Geide was the latest, in a ceremony Aug. 27 in Spearfish. It is given to pilots with 50 consecutive years of "building and maintaining the safest aviation system in the world ... through practicing and promoting safe aircraft flight operations."

In other words, in 66 years of flying, covering more than 4,000 hours, Geide never has flown recklessly enough to have his license revoked or to have caused any serious concern in the cockpit.
Or not much, anyway.

There was that one episode - the Geides say it was 30 years ago, though friends think it might have been 50 - when the couple was flying back from Mason City, Iowa. The front right landing gear had frozen and, as he neared home, Geide couldn't get it to go down.

They decided to put down at the Sioux Falls airport. Connie Geide recalled how her husband tried to "make abrupt drops up and down to try to jar it loose." It didn't work. With firetrucks standing by if needed, the plane found the runway and limped along on the left and rear wheels until it fell onto its right wing.
"I was scared that time," Connie Geide said. "And those abrupt drops ... I didn't like that part much, either."

Still, in 58 years of marriage and chasing the wind across the sky, it might be the only time Connie Geide worried in the passenger seat. As for her husband, he simply shakes his head when asked whether he's ever been afraid at the control of a plane.
(Page 2 of 3)
This is a guy who has taken off and landed innumerable times on a 2,400-foot strip no more than a quarter mile from the family farm southwest of Hartford. "I picked out the levelest piece of ground I could find on the farm," explained Geide, whose maintenance of that airstrip involves occasional mowing and filling in a gopher or badger hole every now and then.

Flying always has had a practical purpose for Geide. It was a good way to check his crops and his cattle near Lake Vermillion. In 15 minutes, he could be up in the air, survey his domain and be back on the ground.

"It became a part of his farming operation," said his friend, Bud Sittig, a retired Air National Guard general officer and Delta Air Lines pilot who now lives in Centennial, Colo. "It became a piece of equipment for him to operate, like a combine."
But it has been more than that to Geide, too, Sittig said. Even if his friend doesn't say it, there is "a spirit of freedom that any aviator feels when they strap on an airplane, and I know Earle feels that, too."

He certainly must have dreamed about that freedom when, as a farm boy growing up during the Depression west of Sioux Falls, he stood in his yard and watched planes passing overhead from horizon to horizon.
"I think you wanted to be up there," his wife said, "like a bird."

He bought his first airplane, a Navy surplus 1940 BL65 Taylorcraft, in Yankton at the end of World War II. It cost him $450, plus another $200 to recover the hail-damaged wings.

After he was married, Geide would fly his wife and two children - Orrin and Joy - to visit relatives in Indiana. Sittig's father, Harold, talked Geide into joining a group called the Flying Farmers & Ranchers, and the couple became heavily involved in that, flying to conventions or just to other members' homes for monthly gatherings. At one point, the Geides even flew to Alaska and back.
"You know, I can't honestly give you a good answer to what it is he likes about flying," said his daughter, Joy Hohn, who reportedly was the first female commercial pilot in South Dakota and, like her brother, got her passion for flight from their father.

(Page 3 of 3)

"He just loves the aspect of being up in the air," Hohn said of her dad. "If you can't talk flying or farming with my father, it's hard to talk with him."
When he does open up, Geide will tell you that he wishes there was more interest in groups such as the Flying Farmers today. Its membership is shrinking, he said, "because the young people aren't interested. They buy motorcycles so they don't have to get the physicals you need to fly."

The truth is, it's probably safer up there with the eagles than it is careening down an interstate or gravel road in a car or on a motorcycle, Sittig said. And that's why honoring people such as Earle Geide is important to the aviation industry in South Dakota, said Steve Hamilton, executive director of the S.D. Pilots Association.

He is a role model to the more than 2,000 South Dakotans who fly for pleasure or spray crops or operate helicopters and aircraft for hospitals, Hamilton said, adding, "he's one of the reasons we have a good reputation here in South Dakota for our aviation system."
How much longer he will add to that reputation is difficult to say. Geide doesn't say much about retiring, though he concedes that it's a little tougher these days to climb in and out of the cockpit, or to pay the price of airplane fuel.

"I think," he softly said, "that it's maybe getting about time to quit."
Seriously? No more sunlit silence? No more strapping on his plane to check the cattle?

Geide stared straight ahead. That was all he was going to say.

Reach reporter Steve Young at 331-2306.

This is a guy who has taken off and landed innumerable times on a 2,400-foot strip no more than a quarter mile from the family farm southwest of Hartford. "I picked out the levelest piece of ground I could find on the farm," explained Geide, whose maintenance of that airstrip involves occasional mowing and filling in a gopher or badger hole every now and then.

Flying always has had a practical purpose for Geide. It was a good way to check his crops and his cattle near Lake Vermillion. In 15 minutes, he could be up in the air, survey his domain and be back on the ground.

"It became a part of his farming operation," said his friend, Bud Sittig, a retired Air National Guard general officer and Delta Air Lines pilot who now lives in Centennial, Colo. "It became a piece of equipment for him to operate, like a combine."

But it has been more than that to Geide, too, Sittig said. Even if his friend doesn't say it, there is "a spirit of freedom that any aviator feels when they strap on an airplane, and I know Earle feels that, too."

He certainly must have dreamed about that freedom when, as a farm boy growing up during the Depression west of Sioux Falls, he stood in his yard and watched planes passing overhead from horizon to horizon.
"I think you wanted to be up there," his wife said, "like a bird."

He bought his first airplane, a Navy surplus 1940 BL65 Taylorcraft, in Yankton at the end of World War II. It cost him $450, plus another $200 to recover the hail-damaged wings.

After he was married, Geide would fly his wife and two children - Orrin and Joy - to visit relatives in Indiana. Sittig's father, Harold, talked Geide into joining a group called the Flying Farmers & Ranchers, and the couple became heavily involved in that, flying to conventions or just to other members' homes for monthly gatherings. At one point, the Geides even flew to Alaska and back.
"You know, I can't honestly give you a good answer to what it is he likes about flying," said his daughter, Joy Hohn, who reportedly was the first female commercial pilot in South Dakota and, like her brother, got her passion for flight from their father.

"He just loves the aspect of being up in the air," Hohn said of her dad. "If you can't talk flying or farming with my father, it's hard to talk with him."

When he does open up, Geide will tell you that he wishes there was more interest in groups such as the Flying Farmers today. Its membership is shrinking, he said, "because the young people aren't interested. They buy motorcycles so they don't have to get the physicals you need to fly."

The truth is, it's probably safer up there with the eagles than it is careening down an interstate or gravel road in a car or on a motorcycle, Sittig said. And that's why honoring people such as Earle Geide is important to the aviation industry in South Dakota, said Steve Hamilton, executive director of the S.D. Pilots Association.

He is a role model to the more than 2,000 South Dakotans who fly for pleasure or spray crops or operate helicopters and aircraft for hospitals, Hamilton said, adding, "he's one of the reasons we have a good reputation here in South Dakota for our aviation system."
How much longer he will add to that reputation is difficult to say. Geide doesn't say much about retiring, though he concedes that it's a little tougher these days to climb in and out of the cockpit, or to pay the price of airplane fuel.

"I think," he softly said, "that it's maybe getting about time to quit."
Seriously? No more sunlit silence? No more strapping on his plane to check the cattle?

Geide stared straight ahead. That was all he was going to say.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Red Arrows tribute at Wings & Wheels

From August 30, VIDEO: Red Arrows tribute at Wings & Wheels

A MINUTE'S silence was held at Wings & Wheels over the bank holiday weekend, in memory of Red Arrows pilot Flight Lieutenant Jon Egging, who died when his Hawk T1 aircraft crashed at a display in Dorset on August 20.

A moving poem, 'High Flight' - penned by a pilot who was killed in a mid-air collision in the Second Word War - was also read and visitors on both days of the aviation and motoring show at Dunsfold Park paid their personal respects by signing books of condolence that will be passed on to Flt Lt Egging's widow.

The Red Arrows had been due to open the first day of the event on Sunday and a large group of friends of former Cranleigh School pupil and Red Arrow pilot, Zane Sennett, were at the show.

"The tragic thing is that Zane used to instruct the pilot who died," said his former history teacher, Mike Payne.

"It was his first year flying with the Red Arrows and a third year pilot is always selected as a mentor. Zane was chosen to be his [Flt Lt Egging's] mentor and so had had a particularly close bond with him."

The Red Arrows were sadly missed at Wings & Wheels but a thrilling solo display in a Hawk T1 was provided by the RAF Hawk Display Team's first female pilot, Flt Lt Juliette 'Jules' Fleming.

Fittingly, Bank Holiday Monday was 'Women in the Air' day, held to mark the 100th anniversary of the first British woman to get a pilot's licence - it was Hilda Hewlitt, who made history just down the road at Brooklands on August 29 in 1911.

The aircraft has a special link with Dunsfold as the first Hawk flew in 1974 and its maiden flight took place at the airfield.

Wings & Wheels is now established as one of the best airshows in the UK and vistors were treated to a host of RAF legends in an action-packed, five-hour flying display on both days.

This year has marked the 60th anniversary of the Hawker Hunter fighter jet, which is still in active service, and it made history at Dunsfold in 1953 when Neville Duke achieved 727.6mph in the modified first prototype and broke the world air speed record.

Dunsfold showgoers enjoyed another 'first' with a unique display by a Royal Navy Hawker Sea Fury and the psychedelic 'Miss Demeanour' Hunter, plus some epic close-formation aerobatics by the only Hawker Hunter display group - Team Viper.

The most famous RAF aircraft of all, the Spitfire, Hurricane and Lancaster, provided a fabulous flypast for the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight, and a Second World War P-51 Mustang also performed an aerial duet with a Spitfire IX.

Sadly, the Avro Vulcan Bomber was a last-minute no-show. The only delta-wing giant still flying, which was relaunched in 2007 following the most complex restoration ever undertaken, developed a hydraulics fault en route to Dunsfold on Sunday and also missed Monday's show.

Striking a blow for the Army, The Princess of Wales' Royal Regiment Parachute Team - better known as The Tigers - made a dramatic grand entrance, dropping in at 70mph from a Royal Navy Sea Lynx, shortly after the helicopter had given an incredible display of its versatility by looping the loop and executing a 180-degree wingover.

Visitors were treated to a swift succession of mind-boggling aerial displays that all seemed to defy the laws of gravity, in which show commentator Brendan O'Brien led the way by taking time off to land his Piper J-3 Cub repeatedly on the back of a moving truck.

Women in the Air day was also memorably celebrated by the world's only formation wingwalking team - the Breitling Wingwalkers - whose two fearless 'babes in lycra' performed high kicks at speeds of up to 150mph and 'G' forces of up to 4G.
On Sunday they also had to combat a sudden shower which, the crowd was informed, would have felt like being "slashed with razors".

Help for Heroes, Brooklands Museum, Cranleigh Village Hospital Trsut and Surrey and Sussex Air Ambulance will all benefit from the success of this year's show.

Dunsfold Park chief executive Jim McAllister said: "Over the last seven years, Wings & Wheels has helped Dunsfold Aerodrome raise more than £250,000 for charitable causes.

"Each year a small team of staff and a dedicated group of volunteers work tirelessly to ensure the airshow happens and is a huge success.

"I would like to thank all these individuals and all those who have supported the show through sponsorship, donations and by purchasing tickets

Annual Fly-In and Air Show Soars into Town

Labor Day Show is of course over, but this is now on my calendar and I'll report it in good time for next year.

From Watsonville Patch: Annual Fly-In and Air Show Soars into Town
The 47th Annual Fly-In and Air Show will soar into town Friday through Labor Day Weekend at the Watsonville Municipal Airport, and there's an array of events packed into the three-day affair.

The event, established in 1964, was created to help educate the public about aviation history and to support local charities and nonprofit organizations. This year, event proceeds will go to organizations like the Pajaro Valley Historical Association, said Theo Wiedsma, executive director for the Fly-In and Air Show.

Wiedsma said this is the second time the air show has taken place over Labor Day weekend, after previously being a Memorial Day celebration.

“Last year we had it on Labor Day instead of Memorial Day weekend, and it was one of the most successful years,” Wiedsma said. “Chances for good weather are better in early September than in the end of May. We're always fighting heavy fog on Memorial Day weekend.”

With temperatures in the high 60s predicted Friday through Monday, event attendees don't need to worry about missing any of the events this weekend, which include an assortment of activities for people of all ages.

Event attendees should expect to see around 300 antique, classic and neoclassic aircrafts, as well as warbirds and military displays. Attendees can also take a helicopter or airplane ride with the sounds of DJ-style music below, along with plenty of food vendors and an antique car show on Saturday.

“We've had a car show before, but it was limited," Wiedsma said. "This time we anticipate around 200 antique cars to show up.”

With so many activities taking place, attendees might want to pick and choose their events carefully. Below is a list of a few event highlights:


•Spaghetti dinner, 5:30-7:30 p.m. at the National Guard Armory on the corner of Aviation Road and Airport Boulevard. The spaghetti sauce is made by Watsonville resident, Peter Kavacich, and is supposed to be out of this world. Tickets are $10 for adults and $8 for children from 6-12. Dinner proceeds support the Girl Scouts. Call 831-818-8967 to reserve tickets.
•The air show is 6:30-8 p.m. Planes will soar through the air above the Watsonville airport. All the pilots performing dazzling tricks can be read about here.
Saturday and Sunday:

•The Antique Car Show will be from 9 a.m to 5 p.m. Stroll along Aviation Road and view around 200 antique cars.
•The air show will be noon to 4 p.m. at the National Guard Armory. Aircraft judging will conclude at 1 p.m., and winners will be announced at the Pilot's Dinner & Awards Presentation from 6-9 p.m. There will be 20-25 categories of judging. The pilot awarded as grand champion is considered the best of the best, and the image of the pilot's plane will be featured as the event logo next year. There will also be special awards given for oldest pilot, youngest pilot, longest distance flown and best display. Tickets for the Pilot's Dinner and Award Presentation are $16 for adults and $10 for kids.
Where: Watsonville Municipal Airport, 370 Airport Blvd.
When: Labor Day Weekend

Tickets are $15 for adults, or $35 for a three-day pass; $10 for children ages 6-12 and free for kids under 6 years old. Parking is $5, and there's a shuttle available from the auto parking ticket entrance to the vendor area on airport grounds. Pets aren't allowed.

For more information call 831-763-5600

Betty Skelton, ‘fastest woman on Earth,’ dies at 85

From Sept 3

From Washington Post, Post Local: Betty Skelton, ‘fastest woman on Earth,’ dies at 85
Betty Skelton, a daredevil pilot who was a three-time national aerobatics champion and became known as the “fastest woman on Earth” when she set speed records in airplanes and automobiles, died Aug. 31 at her home in The Villages, Fla. She was 85.

She had cancer, said Dorothy S. Cochrane, a friend and the curator of general aviation at the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum.

Ms. Skelton, who made her first solo flight — illegally — at age 12, went on to become a pioneering and charismatic pilot in the days of propellers and open cockpits. She gave her first aerobatics performance when she was 19, appearing in the same show in Jacksonville, Fla., in which the Navy’s precision flight team, the Blue Angels, made its debut in 1946.

In her brightly painted Pitts Special biplane, the Little Stinker, Ms. Skelton performed awe-inspiring feats of airborne daring. She was the first woman to attempt the “inverted ribbon cut,” in which she would fly upside down only 10 feet off the ground, slicing a ribbon with her propeller.

The first time Ms. Skelton attempted the stunt, Cochrane said, her engine died. She calmly righted her plane and landed on the wheels. She then started it up and went back into the air.

“She enjoyed challenges, she enjoyed speed, she enjoyed technology,” Cochrane said.

From 1949 through 1951, when she retired from competitive flying, Ms. Skelton was the international women’s aerobatics champion. Years later, she donated her biplane to the National Air and Space Museum. Restored and repainted in its original red-and-white pattern, the Little Stinker now hangs in the entrance of the museum’s Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center near Dulles International Airport.

When she wasn’t astonishing crowds at air shows, Ms. Skelton pursued the outer limits of what airplanes — and pilots — could accomplish. She twice set light-plane altitude records, reaching a maximum height of 29,050 feet in a Piper Cub in 1951 — higher than Mount Everest.

At that altitude, the temperature outside her airplane was 53 degrees below zero.

“I usually fly bare-footed,” Ms. Skelton said in 1999 interview for a NASA oral history project, “and my feet darn near froze to death.”

She set an unofficial women’s air speed record of 421 mph in a P-51 Mustang, but the engine exploded in mid-flight, and she had to guide the plane back to the ground at an Air Force base in Florida. She did not get credit for the record because she did not land where she took off.

Nevertheless, Ms. Skelton broke so many barriers in the air and on land that she became known as the “first lady of firsts.”

In 1954, she became the first woman to be a test driver for the auto industry. She was the first female boat jumper in the United States, memorably flying a boat over a Dodge convertible in a publicity stunt in 1955.

As an advertising executive in the 1950s and 1960s, she worked on the Corvette account as a test driver and as a spokeswoman at auto shows. In 1957, driving a translucent, custom-made gold Corvette, she became the first woman to drive a pace car at the Daytona 500.