Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Mediator of 9/11 fund to administer $77 million compensation fund for Nevada air race victims

From Daily Journal: Mediator of 9/11 fund to administer $77 million compensation fund for Nevada air race victims

RENO, Nev. — Organizers of the Reno National Championship Air Races have established a $77 million fund to be distributed to those who suffered injuries or lost family members in last year's mass-casualty crash in Nevada. Kenneth Feinberg, who oversaw a federal compensation fund for victims of the 9/11 terror attacks, will be the new fund's administrator. According to the Reno Air Racing Association Accident Compensation Fund's website, the program is designed to provide claimants prompt compensation while avoiding the costs and delays associated with lawsuits. Compensation will be based on categories of injuries, including $15,000 for bruises and cuts, $45,000 for moderate injuries such as broken bones and torn tendons and $75,000 for major injuries that involved surgery or third-degree burns, the Reno Gazette-Journal reported (http://on.rgj.com/Sx08TN ). Feinberg said the compensation system was based on the one used for 9/11 victims. "I am confident that the overwhelming number of eligible death or injury claims will participate in the program," he said. A modified World War II P-51 Mustang crashed in front of VIP boxes last September at the air races, killing 11 people and injuring about 70 others. The air racing association admits no liability with its creation of the fund, according to a statement on the website. Claimants who receive compensation money give up all rights to sue the association. Mike Houghton, president of the air racing association, said there has not been an "overwhelming desire to litigate" by victims and the fund is a good resolution to the need for compensation. "There is a desire to resolve the issues of compensation — that's the core desire," he told the Gazette-Journal. "I believe everyone has been moving ahead to reach an equitable position so they can avoid litigation."

Linda Elvin, of Overland Park, Kan., who was seriously injured along with her husband, Brian, in the crash, told The Associated Press that she had not heard of the new fund and would not comment on it.

All four lawsuits filed against the air racing association to date have been put on hold while the parties discuss a settlement. Lawyers have said that hundreds of other victims were considering claims but have not yet filed.

Attorneys Tony Buzbee of Houston and David Casey of San Diego, both of whom represent victims in lawsuits, did not respond to requests for comment Friday.

Reno lawyer Bill Bradley, who represents a number of victims who have not yet filed claims, said the fund was a unique way to resolve claims.

"The fund is the product of a joint effort by lawyers representing victims and the Reno Air Racing Association to create an efficient and prompt resolution of their claims," he said. "This fund was created through a lot of cooperation."

Pilot Jimmy Leeward, 74, of Ocala, Fla., was traveling at 530 mph when his plane took an upward pitch, then nose-dived into the ground, blasting out a 3-foot-deep, 8-foot-wide crater in a hail of debris. The crash killed him and 10 spectators.

Federal safety regulators are focusing on loose screws in the tail of the plane as a likely cause of the crash.

The National Transportation Safety Board has completed its investigation into the crash, and will determine the probable cause at a meeting Monday in Washington.

Feinberg has been tapped previously to administer other high profile funds, including the compensation fund for 9/11 victims and the $20 billion fund set up to pay victims of the April 20, 2010, BP Gulf of Mexico oil well blowout.

While he was lauded for his work with 9/11 victims, the oil spill efforts proved a daunting task for the Washington lawyer as thousands of claimants from fishermen to oyster shuckers, business owners and hotel operators complained payments were just coming too slowly or not at all.

Feinberg tweaked the program repeatedly to speed up the process, but insisted throughout it was working well. The fund paid out more than $6 billion of BP money to 225,000 claimants during the 18 months Feinberg administered the program.

Although the subject of much criticism from some local officials and unhappy claimants, it received generally high marks for fairness and efficiency from auditors hired by the U.S. Justice Department to review its performance.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Breeanne Howe: Women Pilots in Afghanist Up in The Air Thanks to Embraer Debacle

From PJ Media: Breeanne Howe: Women Pilots in Afghanist Up in The Air Thanks to Embraer Debacle

While tens of thousands in the country have joined the Afghan police and army, the air force only had 5,600 personnel as of June. Ads in newspapers last year attracted female recruits to the air force, in an effort to overcome a history of oppressing women that, according to Afghan President Harmid Karzai, still persists today. For the new female pilots, breaking into the male-dominated military comes with technical challenges as well.

One of those challenges is purely physical. According to British Royal Air Force Group Capt. Adrian Hill, deputy commander of the NATO Air Training Command-Afghanistan, stated that “quite a few” Afghan women would not be able to reach the switches in the cockpit due to their height and arm lengths. New air craft are being considered but some present similar challenges.

For instance, the Brazilian Super Tacano aircraft, which has a bid in for a contract to create crafts for the Afghan Air Force, would exclude 81% of women pilots, according to the standards the U.S. Air Force currently employs for height and weight. For example, a female pilot standing 5’3 and weighing 125 pounds would be unable to pilot the aircraft.

Not only does the Super Tacano severely limit the expansion of the Afghan air force, but working with the Brazilian company has potential security issues as well. Included in Embraer’s by laws is a provision called the “Golden Share”. According to Embraer:

The Golden Share provision empowers the Brazilian government with veto rights over: “Creation and/or alteration of military programs, whether or not involving the Federative Republic of Brazil;” “Development of third parties´ skills in technology for military programs;” and “Interruption of the supply of maintenance and replacement parts for military aircraft,” among other things.

In other words, the Brazilian government can control Embraer, which is troubling enough on it’s own and double so when considering their relationship with Iran.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Wicks PR: Aircraft Supply Announces: 4130 Shortage is Over

Quality chrome-moly tubing suppliers are getting scarce; to help solve this problem, Wicks now stocks more chrome-moly tubing and sheet than ever. 4130 chrome-moly tubing, the traditional foundation of tube-and fabric aircraft, and a substantial component in landing gear, engine mounts, and roll structures, is again available in quantity from Wicks Aircraft Supply. Strong and lightweight, with excellent and consistent malleability, weld-ability, and machinability, 4130 is the basis for classic and modern designs in both aviation and auto racing, where its prominence is long-earned and still affirmed today. Wicks 4130 chrome moly tubing is seamless, rather than welded, and is sold by the foot, or by full lengths (usually 18-24 feet, depending on diameter). Special-order lengths (and DOM tubing) are also available. Wicks 4130 seamless tubing is smooth inside and out, and resists rust and scaling. Huge selection: Wicks has nearly 200 ways to supply 4130 – sheets, bars, strap, rod; and round, square, rectangular, and streamline tubing. Wicks also carries 4130 TIG filler and other welding supplies to help with fabrication and finishing. Wicks’ central-USA location (in Highland Illinois, a few miles east of St. Louis) assures quick shipping to anywhere. Special price on popular size: To celebrate the renewed availability, Wicks is offering a special price on one of the most-popular sizes. Instead of the regular $3.79 per foot price on 1- 5/8” OD, .083” wall tubing, Wicks has a temporary price reduction to just $2.99 per foot. The Wicks part number for this size special pricing is R1-5/8x083-41. Visit www.wicksaircraft.com and search on “4130” for a complete array of materials and supplies.

Face of Defense: Apache Pilot Fulfills Lifelong Dream

From US Department of Defense: Face of Defense: Apache Pilot Fulfills Lifelong Dream

FORT RILEY, Kan., Aug. 22, 2012 – Although Chief Warrant Officer 2 Laura Tanski first “slipped the surly bonds of Earth” as an Army aviator two years ago, she has been living in the clouds for most of her life.

“For as long as I can remember, my room was filled with airplanes and helicopters,” Tanski, an Apache helicopter pilot with the 1st Infantry Division’s 1st Combat Aviation Brigade, said recently. “I have always loved aviation, and I knew since I was a kid that I was going to fly.”

Tanski’s route to the skies began in her hometown of Dearborn Heights, Mich., long before she was even old enough to ride a bike, much less fly a helicopter.

“We were always attending air shows or visiting the air museum,” said Patricia Tanski, the Apache pilot’s mother. “Her passion for flying just grew and grew.”

While in high school, Tanski got her first taste of flight during flying lessons at a local airport. That quick taste, which included a rather harrowing solo flight in a snowstorm, left the young pilot hooked.

“I am fascinated by the fact that a huge machine like a plane or a helicopter can actually fly,” she said. “I wanted to be a part of that.”

After a short tour with the Air Force and a deployment to Iraq with the 25th Infantry Division as an Army air traffic controller, Tanski decided that it was time that she stopped managing aircraft from the ground. She put in her paperwork to attend flight school and was selected in early 2008.

“The day I got selected for flight school was the best day of my life,” she said. “I just kept looking at that selection list on the computer – I had to double and triple check it to make sure I was seeing things right.”

Tanski spent two years learning how to fly at Fort Rucker, Ala. The young aviator said the flying part came easy in the early days of flight school – she was, in fact, one of the first students in her class to fly solo. When the time came to select her advanced aircraft, she said, she had her heart set on one, and only one, airframe: the AH-64 Apache, one of the Army’s most lethal pieces of equipment.

“My intent has always been to get as close into the battle as possible, and I knew that the Apache was always right there in every mission.”

Her mother was not surprised that Tanski selected the Apache; she said she would have been more surprised if her daughter hadn’t selected the high-tech aircraft.

“Laura has always welcomed a challenge, so it was no surprise that she would choose the most challenging and complex helicopter,” she said.

When she began the Apache helicopter block of instruction, Tanski was the only woman in her class. Today, she is one of just four Apache pilots in her battalion, and one of fewer than 20 female helicopter pilots who call the 1st Combat Aviation Brigade home.

Being a member of such a small group has never made much of a difference to her, Tanski said. There is no difference between the soldiers to her left and right and the big brother who tore up and down the roads of Dearborn playing street hockey with his little sister, she explained.

“Having an older brother really prepared me for life in this unit and in the Army,” she said. “All the soldiers here are just like brothers to me. We play jokes on each other and have a good time, but we work hard, too. Our company is very close. It really is like a family down here.”

Now edging toward 300 total flight hours, including 80 combat hours, Tanski said she is looking forward to her future in Army aviation.

“I want to become an instructor pilot I had some fantastic instructors while I was at Fort Rucker, and I want to be able to teach others just like those great IPs taught me.”

She also has a few things to teach women who are blazing their own Army paths in fields typically dominated by men.

“Never give up, no matter who says you can’t do it,” she said. “If you want it, if this is your dream, go for it.”

Her daughter’s dedication to excellence and never ending pursuit of her dream has made the pilot’s mother quite proud of a little girl who used to save her allowance so she could buy rocket kits and host launch parties in the backyard.

“I feel my daughter is not only a role model for her family, especially her nieces, but for every woman who has a goal that she is working to accomplish,” she said. “Even I continue to be inspired by my daughter every day.”

Thursday, August 23, 2012

South Africa: Dimbaza Women to Receive Attention From Eastern Cape Government

From AllAfrica:  South Africa: Dimbaza Women to Receive Attention From Eastern Cape Government

press release
Plans are afoot to economically improve the lives of women of Dimbaza in addition to the programmes that Eastern Cape (EC) Government is currently implementing.

This was revealed by EC Premier Noxolo Kiviet on her interview with SABC radio during the commemoration of this year's Women's Month held in Dimbaza on Friday, 17 August 2012. "Social Development and Special Programmes is already funding three projects in this area, using the old factories that were once closed. Our aim is to open a big market that will create u huge number of jobs for women of this area (Dimbaza), using these firms. We are soon going to visit three oversees countries to go and learn best practices that we can replicate hear in Dimbaza for women development, although it is still too early to mention them," Premier Kiviet revealed.

Earlier on the day of the commemoration, the Provincial executive council, led by Premier Kiviet, visited the projects that are funded by the Social Development and Special Programmes. The two projects that were visited, Dimbaza Household and Uyehova Uthembekile, are trading on cleaning chemicals and sewing respectively. The aim of the visit was primarily to identify areas of improvement. "We need more women to initiate projects of this nature and get funding from government to kick start their projects," Premier Kiviet said.

For this financial year, the Department of Social Development and Special Programmes has allocated an amount of R22.7 million targeting to fund 55 women initiatives in order to combat poverty and promote income generation ventures set to benefit 825 households in the province.

The theme for this year focused on addressing poverty, unemployment and inequality on women. "Addressing unemployment, poverty and inequality: Together contributing towards the progressive future for women", says the theme.

In her address, Premier Kiviet conceded that the national report indicates that in the country's public service, women hold 35% of all senior managerial positions. "In our own province we must be proud of the fact that out of 140 515 public service employees 98280 of those are women, which amounts to 69.9 %," she said.
However, Premier Kiviet is concerned about the percentage of women representation in senior management level. "I am concerned at the slow progress that the provincial administration is making to achieve 50/50 women representation at Senior Management level. Currently we have 847 Senior Managers in the administration and only 283 of those are women (33.4 %)," she added.

She added that she has instructed her team to speedily approve employment equity strategy. "In 2014 we want to see a completely different picture in this regard."

She expressed her anger and disappointment over the abuse of children by their own mothers, alluding to an incident of a woman from Mdantsane who left her kids unattended for days. "I commend the swift action taken by MEC (for Social Development and Special Programmes) Pemmy Majodina to ensure that the affected children are saved from their unfit mother," she said. "I urge our communities and especially woman to report incidences of child neglect to social workers, so that they can receive help before they become further abused by opportunistic criminals."

To overcome poverty, unemployment and inequality, Premier said, we need a strong education system. "One of the most important tools that will assist us to achieve economic emancipation is education. I watched with admiration reports in the media about two young women from our province, who are literally making waves in their chosen careers," said Premier Kiviet.

The two women are Xoliswa Bekiswa from Zimbane Village in Mthatha who is one of few marine pilots in the country and Oyama Matomela, who is the first female pilot produced through the Department of Transport's bursary scheme. "I mention the wonderful stories of these two young women because through education they have achieved their dreams."


Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Increase drug and drink tests for pilots

From News.com.au:  Increase drug and drink tests for pilots

AIRLINES should test their own pilots and crews for drugs and alcohol more often, an analyst said yesterday, after the Civil Aviation Safety Authority said it "can't be everywhere at once". 
CASA figures show 45 airline crew members have tested positive over the past four years, with the latest being a female senior Qantas pilot who was taken off her plane last week when her co-pilot noticed her unsteady appearance while the plane was readying for take-off.

But CASA said yesterday it didn't have the capacity to test every airline employee before every flight.
Spokesman Peter Gibson said the authority conducted thousands of tests every year but "the numbers of positive tests are very, very small".

"You're down to around 45 positive tests from 54,000, so around 0.08 per cent, which provides no real indication that there's a widespread problem," he said.

"While the tests we conduct are very stringent, obviously we can't ensure that all pilots are tested before each flight."

On August 30, cabin crew aboard a noon Qantas flight from Sydney to Brisbane noticed the female pilot was unsteady. The crew notified Qantas operations, who told the flight to return. A replacement pilot was found.
It is believed the captain was breathalysed and is now withheld from duties on full pay while the event is investigated.

While pilots are intermittently tested by CASA, the authority said it relied on airlines to conduct their own drug and alcohol tests when possible. It is believed the standard blood-alcohol limit for pilots is 0.02 per cent.
A senior aviation analyst who declined to be named said CASA should be more transparent regarding the type of aviation employees who had tested positive. "These pilots are very well paid and hold the lives of hundreds of passengers in their hands," they said.


Monday, August 20, 2012

Amelia Earhart: New Documentary Searches Underwater for Pilot and Her Plane

From the Daily Beast:  Amelia Earhart: New Documentary Searches Underwater for Pilot and Her Plane

“The deeper you go the more desolate it becomes.” This is what Rick Gillespie told me about the underwater environment in which he went searching this summer for evidence of Amelia Earhart’s plane off an atoll in the Pacific. The same could be said of the aviation pioneer herself: the deeper you go into her story, the more mysterious and singular she becomes.

Gillespie’s adventure at sea--filmed by a Discovery Channel crew—is the subject of a new documentary, “Finding Amelia Earhart: Mystery Solved?” that airs on Sunday, August 19. (I was interviewed for the film but have not yet seen it.) What happened to Earhart when she disappeared while attempting to circumnavigate the globe in 1937? There are rumors, theories, clues, and an intriguing amount of circumstantial evidence that she landed on a desert island. But with each tantalizing find—a campsite, bones, a piece of a shoe, a jar of face cream—-the more the woman herself eludes detection. It’s as if she were determined to escape the world’s prying eyes. After so many years of being chased, she is still unfound.
By 1937 Amelia Earhart was the most famous aviatrix in the world, a modern female icon. But all she really wanted to do was fly. She said she flew “for the fun of it” and for the challenge. She was beloved not only for her daring exploits, brilliant style, and record-breaking skills, but also because she followed her dream. She knew it was dangerous and she did it anyway, always accepting “the hazards.” This combination of action and accountability makes her a worthy inspiration for us all. Yet in order to pursue her dream she had to contend with the business of fame and fundraising, marketing and the commercial machine. Perhaps in the end what she most wanted was an experience of pure flight, to abandon everything and everyone. And maybe this is one of the reasons we still care so much about what happened to her: because her enduring mystery makes it appear as if she orchestrated her own disappearance, as if she both wants and doesn’t want us to find her.
Rick Gillespie is determined to be the man who does. An airline investigator who has made a life’s work of searching for Earhart, his expedition this summer to the Pacific island of Nikumaroro was his ninth. I first became aware of Gillespie’s search and of his organization, The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery (TIGHAR), when I read an article in the mid-90’s that mentioned he might have found a piece of Earhart’s plane, and possibly a piece of her shoe, on an atoll in the Pacific. The idea of Earhart surviving on a desert island sparked my imagination and I wrote a novel about it, a fictional account of her disappearance that attempted to unravel the mystery without solving it, using it as way of talking about myth and history and one woman’s bold, intrepid journey.
Years after the book was published, the search for Earhart continues with more intensity than ever. Gillespie and his team have just returned from Nikumororo, where—prompted by a new analysis of an old photograph that appeared to show the landing gear of an Electra, Earhart’s plane, sticking out of the water near the island—they searched with the most advanced technology and technicians to seek out evidence for the first time underwater.
Gillespie’s team set off on a 223-foot University of Hawaii ship with the Phoenix Group, the people who found the Air France Flight 447 black box at the bottom on the Atlantic. TIGHAR brought an autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV), a $2 million piece of equipment that takes side-scan sonar, and a remote-operated vehicle (ROV) with cameras. The trip from Honolulu to Nikumaroro takes eight days and the island itself is harsh, dehydrating, unforgiving. On previous journeys the team searched for Earhart’s remains on land, but this time they stayed on the ship while the equipment explored under the sea. Specifically, they were looking at the enormous coral reef that extends out from Nikumaroro’s shore for evidence of the Electra.

The plan was for the AUV to find “areas of interest” and for the ROV to follow up with pictures. According to Gillespie this was easier envisioned than done. The underwater environment was “very difficult,” he told me. A series of vertical cliffs, 25 miles offshore and almost four miles deep, the reef face was unstable and there were “frequent landslides.” The AUV got stuck in the pockmarked and jagged terrain often, and at one point, the robot submarine had to be rescued by the ROV from a cave. The machinery even set off a landslide of its own, which the team watched from the darkened cockpit on video screens. While the rig started to head for the bottom of the ocean, the viewers had the illusion that they were aboard the vehicle itself, going down. What did they find? The team was not able to view the high-definition images on board the ship. These are now being studied by forensic imaging specialists to see if there’s anything “interesting.” The jury, Gillespie says, “is still very much out.”

What struck me most about the search was the astounding natural landscape in which it took place. The coral reef off of Nikumaroro is in pristine condition, colorful and teeming with fish at scuba-dive depth As you go deeper, desolation replaces the sea life and there is a constant snowfall of debris. This builds up on the reef-slope surface and looks like several inches of snow. Gillespie described the view as “like driving along a mountain hillside in winter, in a snowstorm, at night.” I asked him if there was any color at the bottom. “All you see,” he said, “are shades of blue.”
Perhaps Earhart, or her plane, lurks in this spooky atmosphere. It certainly sounds otherworldly.  It also sounds like a fantastic place to hide. It could take many return trips to find her, if she is ever found at all. In the meantime, Earhart seems to have become more than a heroine, a myth, or even a mystery. A shade of blue, a snowstorm, a mountain in winter, she has become perhaps what she truly dreamt of becoming: a pure force of nature.


Sunday, August 19, 2012

Ottawa pilot sets her sights on Webster Trophy and title of Canada’s top amateur pilot

From Ottawa Citizen:  Ottawa pilot sets her sights on Webster Trophy and title of Canada’s top amateur pilot

OTTAWA — Andrea Marrocco has a poor memory, and so doesn’t recall her creation story — that particular moment when she looked at an airplane flying high overhead, perhaps, and decided she needed to be up there at the controls.

She enjoyed watching planes as she grew up, though, and repeatedly told her parents that she wanted one day to fly.

And as she takes a Cessna 150 through its pre-flight checklist on the tarmac at the Rockcliffe Flying Club, making sure there’s no water mixed in with the gas, that the windshield is cleaned of dead bugs and that there are enough screws and bolts holding everything together, she says her experience flying — she received her licence in 2009 — bore out her youthful excitement.

She loves the speed, especially at low altitudes where the landscape passing hurriedly below makes it seem all that much faster. She gets the biggest rush, she says, from steep turns and landings.

“It’s supposedly where the most accidents occur,” she remarks of the latter, “but I love being in the circuit, just going up, flying around and coming in to land. The sensation of coming down and touching down gently on the wheels and doing everything right is just fun.

“When you’re landing,” she adds, “you can see everything. Taking off, you only see sky. I much prefer to have my nose pointed down than up.”

For the past week, the 29-year-old Peterborough native and student at Algonquin College’s aviation management program has been undergoing a series of interviews and tests — written exams on flight theory and meteorology; flights in simulators; and actual turns, stalls, forced approaches and precision landings in the tiny cockpit of the two-seater that as often as she can she likes to call home.

At stake is the Webster Memorial trophy, awarded annually for most of the past 80 years to Canada’s top amateur pilot, and a prize package that includes a trip for two to anywhere Air Canada flies and a “media day” with the RCAF’s 431 Air Demonstration Squadron — the Snowbirds — which in the past has included a ride-along inside one of their CT-114 Tutors. Just the idea makes Marrocco’s eyes light up like a child’s on Christmas morning.

Already deemed the top amateur flyer in Eastern Ontario based on her flight test scores two months ago, all that stands now between Marrocco and the national title, to be awarded Saturday evening at a dinner at the Canada Aviation and Space Museum, are the eight men who represent different regions in the rest of the country — Montreal’s Louis Rousseau, for example, a 24-year-old who was inspired to flight when, at the age of 11, read author and aviator Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s memoir Terre des Hommes. By coincidence, he notes, his first flight at the controls was out of the Aéroclub Bastia Saint-Exupéry in Corsica.

“I saw that was my path,” he says. “Saint-Exupéry’s books are about more than aviation. It’s an adventure, it’s the story of life, of living.”

Ottawa-born Matt Caouette, meanwhile, just 20 years old and living in Red Deer, AB, represents the third generation of pilots in his family. He remembers as a four-year-old flying with his grandfather, a crop-duster, aboard a 1946 Erco Ercoupe. His father, too, was a pilot, and Caouette hopes to become a fighter pilot. “The skies,” he says, “are where I find the most joy in life.”

The competition began in 1932, when Dr. John Clarence Webster of Shediac, N.B., established the trophy — a stunning bronze bust of a winged pilot created by former Almonte son and sculptor R. Tait McKenzie — to honour Webster’s son, John C. Webster Jr., who died in a plane crash in August 1931, at the age of 30, while practising for the Trans-Canada Air Pageant aerobatic competition in St. Hubert, Que.

According to assistant judge Wayne Foy, the competition helps young pilots move closer to careers in aviation — he estimates that 90 per cent of participants hope to fly professionally. Throughout the week, he says, they meet numerous senior aviation executives, including those from Air Canada, Jazz and Air Transat.
“A lot of companies tell us that they give Webster competitors — not even just finalists — more weight on their applications. Because here’s a person who’s willing to go out on a limb to challenge themselves. These are Class-A personalities, and that’s who they’re looking for to become leaders and skilled captains.”

It was a gruelling week, says Marrocco, and if there was any truth to Foy’s assertion that being the hometown favourite — she flies out of the Ottawa and Rockcliffe Flying clubs — and knowing the region’s topography better than the other finalists might have given her a slight edge, she feels that was cancelled out by the barrage of media interviews she faced as the host city’s representative. Additionally, she found that all the encouragement she received from club members and others in the area only added to her anxiety.
“I know they were just being supportive, but as the week progressed, I felt more and more pressure to not disappoint them.”

Her hour-long flight test — originally scheduled for Friday morning but bumped up to Wednesday as organizers took advantage of clear skies, didn’t go as well as she’d hoped.

“I did really well on some things, and really bad on others,” she admits. “I’m a bit of a perfectionist, and I’m not great at putting my nerves aside.”

Like Marrocco, most of the nine finalists fell in love with aviation at a young age. Nova Scotian Rob Forrest, at 33 the oldest of the group, recalls sitting at his desk in primary school, his six-year-old arms stretched out as his sides as if in flight. In later years, he was drawn to TV shows and movies that featured planes.

That kind of fervour is often passed down through family members. Regina’s Shane Lanouette, 20, says the first photograph he ever saw of himself was as a five-year-old standing at an air show in front of a B-17 Flying Fortress. Years later, his father, who flew Sea King helicopters for the Canadian Forces, pulled Shane out of Grade 8 one day to see another B-17.

“I knew I wanted to do this from the day I first saw that B-17,” he says. “Just pick the worst day — rainy, windy, grey — but you take off and get through the clouds, and above is just blue skies and sun.”
Twenty-three-year-old Winnipegger Peter Heron, meanwhile, used to joke with his sister, a fashion designer, that they were breaking the family tradition by not becoming pilots.

“Most of my family is in the aviation industry,” he says. “My father flies Boeing 767s for Air Canada. I have lots of family in Central Mountain Air, Air Canada and Canadian North.”

He studied Business at Red River College and worked at a restaurant, and it was while out skydiving with friends two years ago that he was bitten by the flying bug.

“For some reason that I can’t explain,” he says, “after jumping out of that plane I really wanted to become a pilot.

“It makes no sense. But I love the freedom I have as a pilot to explore the world.”

Marrocco is the only woman competing this year, but that is not a card she plays, or even thinks about. She’s elated to have made it to the finals, but she’s not looking to win one for the girls’ team. “Of course I want to win,” she admits. “That’d be super cool. But just going through the whole thing and meeting and talking to people is big.”

And as she prepared for her final written exam Friday morning — followed by a field trip in the evening to Bombardier in Montreal and the closing dinner Saturday night — she reflects on the week that was and the one that might have been. She feels she didn’t show the judges her best — “Sometimes you have bad days,” she says — and doesn’t expect she’ll win.

If that’s the case, there’s always next year — only this year’s winner is disqualified from entering again — but she doesn’t see that as a likelihood.

“You can only enter again if you haven’t worked as a pilot,” she explains, “and that would mean I couldn’t work for a year.

“That wouldn’t be worth it.”


Saturday, August 18, 2012

Female Pilots Inspire at Oshkosh

From Women in Aviation:  Female Pilots Inspire at Oshkosh

EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh, Wisconsin is not always about the aircraft, it’s about the pilots and aviation enthusiasts who attend and about making new friendships and rekindling old ones. Thursday morning, especially, was about the ladies! This was the morning of the Ninety-Nines breakfast as well as the presentation of the Award of Inspiration to Mireille Goyer, founder of Women of Aviation Week.

After a warm introduction from the previous Ninety-Nines president, Mireille began a speech telling the remarkable story of how her non-pilot mother’s love of flying had encouraged four of her six children- two of which are now female pilots- to enter the aviation industry. Mireille then shared how WOAW came to be and how important it is to the aviation community. Later, she introduced to the group the team leaders for the United States and Canada for the next Women of Aviation Week.

The breakfast was about socializing with fellow female pilots, encouraging the growth of women into aviation, but most importantly, it was about inspiring each other. Nowhere else in the world can so many women pilots from completely different walks of life come into the same room and bond so quickly. Nowhere else can a plethora of unique stories be shared and smiles exchanged. This experience is something that needs to be shared and can no longer be kept secret from future woman pilots.

Last year in the United States during Women of Aviation Week 392 girls and women in 5 states received their first small aircraft flights. The Frederick Municipal Airport in Maryland event earned the most Female Pilot Friendly Airport in the United States award and was runner up worldwide. With an event planned in Frederick, MD once again and interest peaking in nearby states, could the Women of Aviation Week Worldwide title be brought back to the States? Can you imagine the impact of having an event in each state?


Thursday, August 16, 2012

PR: Zenith Aircraft Company celebrates 20th Anniversary

Zenith Aircraft Company celebrates 20th Anniversary

“Over the past 20 years kit and experimental aircraft have evolved," said Sebastien Heintz, president of Zenith Aircraft Company. "However, the aircraft kits and the industry have changed drastically.” Maturity, as many have indeed realized in the past 20 years, can be a good thing: “In terms of kit quality, precision, parts availability, and especially flyability, virtually everything has improved.” He added, “And when you’re talking about building your own airplane, all those advantages come together even better, when you realize how much more advanced the kit manufacturing equipment, processes, and documentation have become, thanks in large part to technology [such as CNC manufacturing and CAD engineering]. It’s easier today than it ever has been to build your own great-flying airplane.”
 All these improvements are cause for celebration at Zenith Aircraft Co., which twenty years ago, in 1992, opened at its present facility in Missouri, centrally located in the United States. Though  Sebastien Heintz’s father, famed CH-series aeronautical engineer Chris Heintz, had been developing and selling plans and kit aircraft since 1974 (and later, certified and LSA), the move to Missouri marked a huge milestone for the company and the whole Heintz family. Today, with several thousand kit-built aircraft in the air, and several more thousand under construction, the attention to customer service and factory support and involvement are apparent at hundreds of airports across America and around the world.
 “When you look at the kit manufacturers then,” Heintz reflected, “and see who is still producing today, you have a small handful of dedicated producers. We have evolved together, making a better experience for builders and pilots; and we have survived because we did that.”
 One of the hallmarks of the Heintz designs has been a readiness to allow flexibility in design features that customers want. “We are not locked into any particular engine for our airplane designs,” Sebastien noted. “Though the vast majority choose to fly the standard configuration, we see Lycoming, Continental, Corvair, VW and Honda auto conversion, 4 and 6 cylinder Jabiru engines, and increasingly, the UL Power series being picked by our builders. This flexibility means that people can more-readily tailor their aircraft to their exact tastes, and be assured of factory cooperation and support, while having access to an engine that meets their budget.”
 “We at Zenith applaud all the companies that have been our friends and competition for all these years, and we look forward to many more years of improvements, innovations, and helping dreams take flight,” stated Sebastien Heintz.
 More News – Big Celebration Event:
The 20th anniversary celebration will take place at the annual Zenith Aircraft Open Hangar Day and Fly-In gathering at the factory in Mexico, Missouri in September.  A Zenith banquet will be held on Friday evening, September 21, with the Open Hangar day activities the following day, on September 22 at the Mexico Memorial Airport.  Kit suppliers Dynon, Aircraft Spruce & Specialty, Matco wheels, Wicks, Garmin, Corvair, UL Power, Jabiru engines, and others will attend for the celebration and to meet with Zenith builders and pilots. It’s not a trade show, but an excellent opportunity to interface with builders, owners and pilots of Zenith kit planes.  Educational seminars, workshops and demonstrations will take place on both Friday and Saturday, September 21 & 22, 2012.  Dozens of Zenith customer-built airplanes will fly in for the activities, and many builders and owners (some of whom have been flying Zenith / Zenair designs since the 1970s) will swap stories and tips with first-time builders in this annual celebration of flight.

PR: Wicks Aircraft Supply Introduces Dynon D1 Pocket Panel

Wicks Aircraft Supply Introduces Dynon D1 Pocket Panel

Low-Cost, Portable EFIS for all: Experimental, LSA, and Certified
Dynon has just introduced a portable true attitude indicator that can be used by all pilots. The D1 utilizes familiar Dynon MEMS-based AHRS technology in a true artificial horizon instrument; the D1 can quickly display accurate pitch and roll, even if it’s turned on in flight, and it maintains the horizon accurately during extended turns. The AHRS sensors also drive a turn rate indicator and slip/skid ball.
At only 3½” wide, 3¼” high, and 1” thick, the D1 packs a lithium-ion battery that lasts four hours on a charge, and the unit comes with two portable mounting options, a RAM® suction cup mount and a 3⅛” portable “pinch” mount.
The D1 has an internal GPS receiver and displays GPS ground speed, altitude, vertical speed, and ground track. Accessories include an AC power adapter, a DC vehicle power adaptor, internal Li-Ion battery, external GPS antenna, and the mounts.
Scott Wick, President of Wicks Aircraft Supply, brought out the new EFIS last month. He said, “Wicks introduced this new item at Oshkosh. It was received well and immediately by the attendees -- we sold a bunch of them! It is made with the same high quality and great functionality that you expect from Dynon.”
Robert Hamilton, Dynon Marketing Manager, said, “The number one question we receive at airshows is ‘Can I put Dynon avionics in my airplane?’ If they flew a type certificated plane our answer was always ‘no.’ But now for the first time we can say ‘yes.’”
The new D1 Pocket Panel can be used by all GA pilots. The Wicks part number is 101386-000, and the unit is priced at $1,425.

Wicks Aircraft Supply
410 Pine Street
Highland, IL 62249

Orders: 1-800-221-9425
Help Line: 618-654-7447
Toll-Free Fax: 888-440-5727

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

19 Aug: Celebrate National Aviation Day With Famed Chickasaw Female Pilot

From the Chickasaw Nation website: Celebrate National Aviation Day With Famed Chickasaw Female Pilot

Ada, OK - On Aug. 19, Americans will recognize the trailblazers of flight on National Aviation Day, a day to celebrate the history and development of aviation. It coincides with the birthday of Orville Wright who, together with his brother Wilbur, made significant contributions to powered flight.
Among those early courageous pilots was a Chickasaw woman named Pearl Carter Scott. She earned her pilot's license at the tender age of 13 in 1928. By 14, she was flying her father to business appointments and wowing air show audiences with her aerobatic maneuvers all over Oklahoma.

The film "Pearl" produced by The Chickasaw Nation, chronicles those early years in her life. It has garnered many accolades from audiences and film industry insiders. "Pearl" was named the best overall film and best Native American film at the 2010 Trail Dance Film Festival, and was named a "Heartland Film Festival" official selection.

The Dove Foundation awarded "Pearl" four "Doves," giving the film its "Family-Approved Seal" for all ages.
The movie was filmed in Oklahoma City, El Reno, and several locations around historic Guthrie.
"Pearl" features several Chickasaw cast members including: Paden Brown, a Byng (Okla.) High School student, who plays Arnetta, Pearl's little sister; Pauline Brown, Chickasaw elder and culture preservationist, who portrays Widow Harjo; and Paulina Gee, daughter of Chickasaw Nation Deputy Attorney General Debra Gee.
In honor of National Aviation Day, The Chickasaw Nation is offering the DVD for $12 and blu-ray at $16 - both 20% off regular purchase price from Aug. 17-24.
For more information on the film and to order a copy of "Pearl" on DVD or Blu Ray, visit www.PearlTheMovie.net and click on the "Purchase Pearl DVD" button. Copies also are available at  the Chickasaw Outpost located at 132 W. Main inside the McSwain Theater in Ada.

Monday, August 13, 2012

South Africa: Wonder-Women in Aviation Initiative to Encourage Women Into Aviation

From All-Africa:  South Africa: Wonder-Women in Aviation Initiative to Encourage Women Into Aviation

1time Airline will be embarking on an initiative in August 2012, called Wonder-Women in Aviation, which involves 30 female students from Sizwe Secondary School in Elandsfontein, receiving first-hand exposure to the airline's operations by shadowing its female employees on their daily work routine.

The students, who range from grades 10 to 12, will see how many women manage to build notable careers in aviation, the corporate world and technical positions. Students will discover the wonder of flight, as they will accompany cabin crew on their flights to Cape Town and Durban.

Others will shadow women in executive and managerial positions, in the various departments at the head office in Isando, Johannesburg.

"Furthering personal and economic development"

Some students will shadow women, such as Lorato Moroeng and Tumi Hlokwa, who work as craft technicians specialising in avionics for the airline's maintenance company, Jetworx.

1time CEO, Blacky Komani, says that initiatives such as this are crucial in furthering the empowerment of South African women. "The company recognises that the current statistics relating to females and youth unemployment in South Africa requires urgent attention in the pursuit of furthering personal and economic development amongst these two groups.


Sunday, August 12, 2012

60 is the new 40

On August 10, 2012, the Cheyenne chapter of the AARP hosted a seminar called Gray Matters - which was free and provided a free lunch - unfortunately fish and cheesecake, blech - from 4 to 6 was a reception for all travelers who had come in for the AARP National Spelling Bee to be held on the 11th.

I attended that and it was a lot of fun. The emcee introduced a few folks, we talked about words, there was a "mock" spelling bee (which only consisted of about 20 people getting up and being questioned on one word...) and so on. And there were finger foods there - Chinese food to be precise. Don't know where they got it from or if they cooked it on site (Little America is a hotel and resort where people come to play golf among other things) but it was delish.

The spelling bee started at the ungodly hour of 8:30 am (Well...8:30 is not so ungodly but I had to get up at the ungodly hour of 6:30 to get there in time for registration, etc.) It started with 4 rounds of 25 words each - which was a Written Test.

The first 25 words were extremely easy. They asked words like "Greetings" and "Navel" and "Mince." I suppose a few might have been considered difficult... "Animus" and "Lacuna."

The second 25 words were equally easy, but I did miss MUGWUMP.

I assume they did this just to help everyone settle the nerves and get new people used to what was going on. People had trouble hearing some of the words (hey, they were all over 50 and most over 60) and the Pronouncer  would come down and tell them the word face to face and have them say it back, etc. Indeed, the Pronouncer did an excellent job.

Third round was where they started asking the difficult words.

I missed:

The fourth round was the real killer. I only got 12 out of 25 right. I missed:


I then stayed for the Oral rounds and was joined by one of my friends from my Scrabble Club. (I think an audience could have assembled for the Written rounds, too. There were chairs there and family were in them...but I think most people only wanted to come see the Oral rounds where you actually saw the speller's faces as opposed to their backs, etc.)

Two of the people I met last night at the reception made it to the Orals. One of them it was his first trip to the Bee and he was successful his first time out. Made it through about 10 rounds. (In the Orals, you miss two words and you're out.) Another one was an elderly woman from Minnesota who also got through about 10 rounds before being knocked out.

There were three sisters and a brother who had come as a sort of family reunion. The eldest sister made it to the Oral rounds but was bounced after only two rounds. This was too bad and it was because she was a bit unlucky - she got two 6-syllable words in a row while some of the others were getting much easier ones (but still, not ones I could have spelled). But she was disqualified along with several other people in the same round, so hopefully she didn't feel too bad.

The words in the Oral Rounds were extremely difficult. Several times more difficult than the toughest words in the final round of the Written.

But, had I studied for a year, I think I could have handled them.

And it is my intention to study for a year and  get into the Orals next year.

So, why is the title of this blog entry 60 is thenew 40?

Because it is.

People are living longer. You don't want to outlive your money and more importantly you don't want to outlive your sense of enjoyment of life. And learning new things every day is enjoyment and keeps the mind active.

The AARP Spelling Bee is held every year, and it gives you an excellent reason to travel to Cheyenne and see The Cowboy State. You'll meet lots of interesting people.

You do have to study.

I studied very desultorily for about a month...combine all the time I studied and it was about 10 hours. Not nearly enough, but then, I'm a good speller so the Written Rounds were relatively easy - except for that killer last round.

Why learn words that you'll never, ever say in real life?Well, because they're interesting. And the concepts of what you'll learn, you can apply in other areas. So it's a win win.

So start planning to live a long, healthy, active, intellectual life, and do it now, however old you might be!

Friday, August 10, 2012

Qantas Airways pilot suspended due to suspected alcoholic impairment

It is the one thing that should be unforgiven - a pilot flying after having consumed alcohol or mind-altering drugs. Every pilot knows it is not allowed.

From Examiner: Qantas Airways pilot suspended due to suspected alcoholic impairment

The female captain of a Qantas Airways (QF) Boeing 767-300 twin-engine jet was removed from the cockpit of the plane shortly before she was scheduled to takeoff on a domestic flight from Sydney to Brisbane, Australia, according to reports published on Monday, August 6, 2012 by the Daily Mail, The Straits Times, Channel NewsAsia (CNA), and other global news outlets.

The airline has suspended the senior crew member, 1 of about 100 female pilots out of a total 2,200 flight crew members employed by the Australian carrier, after she tested positive for alcohol.

Qantas has a policy of zero tolerance for alcohol use by active duty staff members, regardless of the blood levels detected. Flight attendants had apparently suspected that the pilot was impaired, and reported the situation to the carrier's operation center just after the plane was pushed back from the gate and was taxiing toward departure.

It is believed that as many as 254 passengers were aboard the crowded aircraft for the 453 mile trip to the Gold Coast city in Queensland.

After the jet returned to the gate at Kingsford-Smith Airport (SYD), a substitute pilot was assigned to replace the suspended flight officer, who remains docked from operational duties on full pay. The airline has informed the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) of the incident, which is conducting a full investigation that is expected to take about a month to complete.

There is no information if the copilot was involved in reporting the incident.

Testing of the captain was done internally by the airline under its drug and alcohol management plan, and any possible disciplinary action will rest entirely with the carrier. In the event that the situation was unique first offense, it is likely that the pilot will undergo counselling followed by a subsequent medical assessment to determine her fitness to fly again.

Qantas has restricted its comments on the sensitive situation because it involves personnel matter, saying only that "A Qantas captain was withheld from service for administrative reasons. The matter is being investigated and it would be inappropriate to comment further." The CASA has also released a general statement, saying, "Anyone found to be affected by alcohol or drugs while performing, or when they are available to perform, safety-sensitive aviation activities will automatically be suspended from duties."

All commercial carriers have policies dealing with impaired flight crew members. Pilots for Air India, United Airlines, and Delta Air Lines have all been suspended because of various incidents in which they were found to be under the influence of alcohol while preparing to command a scheduled flight.

It is a rare situation, but one which can sadly end an aviator's career

Thursday, August 9, 2012

#1: Most difficult airports to land at: Mangalore Airport, India

A couple of years ago I "inaugerated' this feature...and unfortunately showed a photo of Mangalore Airport in Australia rather than in India. (A reader posted a comment correcting me, but I never saw the comment.)

Below is the actual photo of Mangalore AIrport, India, with the ravines along the runway. A couple of years ago, a plane crashed into one of those ravines, killing 148 people.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Proflight celebrates Amelia Earhart

From Zambia Daily Mail:  Proflight celebrates Amelia Earhart

Proflight Zambia’s all female crew. From left, Captain Melinda Taylor, cabin attendant Ashley Muma and first officer, Catherine Willis.

PROFLIGHT Zambia celebrated the anniversary of the pioneering female aviator Amelia Earhart last Tuesday by appreciating the success of its own female crew with an all-woman crewed flight to Mfuwe.
Proflight Zambia commercial director Keira Irwin confirmed that the company witnessed the first flight crewed by an all-woman team with Captain Melinda Taylor at the controls, along with first officer Catherine Willis and cabin attendant Ashely Muma.
“The flight PO802 from Lusaka to Mfuwe was particularly significant coming close to (the) July 24 anniversary of the birth of Amelia Earhart, who in 1932 became the first woman pilot to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean, for which she received the US Distinguished Flying Cross,” Ms Irwin said.
Ms Irwin said Earhart is a role model for women aviators and all women the world over.
“Proflight thought it was only fitting to honour this amazing woman and we are proud to be continuing in her flight path with our team of dedicated and professional female crew members and their male colleagues. We hope this will inspire more women to follow a career in aviation,” she said.
Ms Irwin said Capt Taylor, who flew the plane from Lusaka to Mfuwe, has been flying with Proflight for more than two years.
She started flying with the Beechcraft Baron, which carries five passengers, and is now a Captain on the Jetstream 32, having completed simulator training earlier this year in the Netherlands.
 Capt Taylor is also a member of the Australian Women`s Pilot  Association and Women’s in Aviation International.
Whereas Ms Willis joined Proflight in June 2011 and is now a first officer on the Jetstream 32, having started on Jetstream 31.
Ms Muma is a cabin attendant on the Jetstream 32 aircraft and has been flying with Proflight since February 2011, and is one of the airline’s 12 and three male cabin crew.
“Proflight`s female staff follow in the footsteps of Earhart, who as well as crossing the Atlantic, set many other records; wrote best-selling books about her flying experiences and was instrumental in the formation of the Ninety-Nines, an organisation for female pilots,” she said.
Pioneer aviator Earhart was born in the United States on July 24 1897 and disappeared in 1937 during an attempt to make a circumnavigation flight on the globe.


Five including teen pilot die in plane crashes

from The Local - German News in English:  Five including teen pilot die in plane crashes

The 17-year-old girl had started from a glider airfield near Osnabrück with no problems, but then came down in Quakenbrück, clipping several houses before smashing into one seemingly head-on.

No-one on the ground was hurt, but the pilot was killed. A police officer told Die Welt newspaper, “A colleague saw the crash himself. The plane looked to be flying very low, and made irregular movements.”

Four more people died when their single-engine plane crashed on Sunday morning near Coburg, Bavaria. A police spokeswoman said the pilot was a 31-year-old woman and that her passengers were another 31-year-old woman and two men aged 28 and 44.

A police spokesman said the people in the plane had no chance of survival.

The plane started from the airfield in Steinrücken, but then crashed into woodland just 500 metres or so from the runway and caught fire.

It was also reported on Sunday that another small plane crashed on Saturday near Constance - narrowly missing a group of sky divers who were in a tent preparing their parachutes.

The plane landed just a couple of metres away from them, sending the group scattering. One man broke his leg when leaping out of the tent.

There was even an explosion in the wreckage - just after the pilot and his passenger managed to get themselves out of the burning plen. She was said to have suffered serious burns to her arms, legs and head. The pilot was only slightly hurt. 

 Sounds like equipment failure in both cases...sad stories.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Female airline pilot pulled from flight just minutes before take off after cabin crew suspect her of drinking

Sad to see this... but note how it's reported.   It's not "Quantas Pilot Pulled From Flight For Drinking" and then in the body of the article, it reveals the pilot to have been a woman. No, the fact that it's a woman pilot whose violating her sacred oath to not drink and fly is made part of the headline. (Not defending the woman, shame on her. But I just think it is interesting to see how the headline was written.)

Daily Mail:  Female airline pilot pulled from flight just minutes before take off after cabin crew suspect her of drinking

The female captain of a Qantas plane was ordered from the controls of a passenger jet last week, just minutes before it was due to take off, after cabin crew suspected she had been drinking alcohol before the flight.

The pilot was suspended and Qantas has since launched an investigation into the incident after the senior pilot recorded a positive reading for alcohol.

The captain has been withheld from operational duties on full pay, but the airline will not comment on what reading she gave or how recently before the flight she had been drinking.

The incident occurred last Monday as the Qantas aircraft was about to depart Sydney for Brisbane.
Flight attendants on the Boeing 767-300 aircraft, which can carry 254 passengers, informed the airline's flight operations managers that they suspected the captain of the plane had been drinking.
The aircraft had already been pulled back from the domestic terminal and was taxiing towards a runway for take-off when Qantas management made the decision to stand down the captain from command of the plane.

The 767 returned to the domestic terminal where the captain was taken off the plane and a replacement pilot was found to fly to Brisbane.

It is rare for pilots to be removed from flying for breaching airline procedure. Qantas has a zero tolerance to pilots recording an alcohol reading of any level.

Fewer than 100 of Qantas's 2200 pilots are women.

The investigation into the captain's alcohol reading is expected to take at least a month. Qantas has informed the air safety regulator, the Civil Aviation Safety Authority, of the incident.

However, it is considered a matter for Qantas rather than the regulator because the testing of the captain was done under the auspices of the airline's drug and alcohol management plan.

If it is determined to be a one-off incident, the pilot will be expected to undergo counselling and later a medical assessment to determine whether she is fit to fly.

But if it is a long-term problem, she will be suspended from duties.

A Qantas spokesman confirmed that a captain had been 'withheld from service for administrative reasons' last week but he declined to comment further because the matter was under investigation.

A spokesman for Civil Aviation Authority spokesman said yesterday that it would not comment on any specific testing carried out by an airline, nor on the results of any test.

'Anyone found to be affected by alcohol or drugs while performing, or when they are available to perform, safety-sensitive aviation activities will automatically be suspended from duties,' he said.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Sky is the limit – women who conquered the clouds

From the Daily Mirror (India):  Sky is the limit – women who conquered the clouds 
All she had at the beginning was a passion to conquer the skies that had until then been limited mostly to men – she was Amelia Earhart, the first woman to have piloted a plane to worldwide fame. With her 100th birth anniversary approaching, Earhart is once again in the news with a new expedition that set out in the hope of discovering what really happened to the world’s most widely known female aviator, who flew her Lockheed Electra into the Pacific and was never seen again.
‘Female’ skills 
There were women before Earhart who felt – and conquered the skies as one of the last bastions of male domination. In 1911, Harriet Quimby became the first American female licensed pilot. She also became the first woman pilot to fly at night and the first woman to pilot her own aircraft across the English Channel. These women were true pioneers and set the stage for women to become airline and combat pilots, aviators who shone alongside their male counterparts for their talent, skill and commitment.
Today, women regard flying as just another career open to them – there are many women serving in the senior and junior ranks of most international airlines. As Sri Lankans, we are proud to have women as Captains flying aircraft of the national carrier. As challenging as the skies are, women have confidently been able to develop the outstanding skills required of an aviator. Some are of the view that women specific talents such as being multi-skilled are the very set of skills airlines are in search of.
Europe’s largest pilot training organisation, The Oxford Aviation Academy is on record to say that the right mix of personality airlines want in their pilots, is to be found among today’s women. Anthony Petteford of the Academy has been quoted as saying that today’s girls are perfectly equipped to deal with the latest generation of flight decks which have different dynamics than the traditional ‘clockwork’ cockpits. The new flight decks require what they call ‘female’ skills.
Experts are of the view that women are naturally more apt at multi-tasking – one vital skill required in the cockpit of today. Team work, concentration and communication have been identified as areas in which women excel. Developing relationships, bonding and practicing listening skills, watching out for non-verbal clues and the varying degrees of emotional intelligence are also considered key areas vital for developing ‘the right stuff’, as far as successful aviator skills go.
Women aviators 
Yet, for every woman pilot today, whether she is flying commercial aircraft, captaining jumbo jets or commanding a fighter squadron, many have paved the way for her to get there by choosing to be the pioneers. Just as women everywhere who have had to conquer one bastion after another, the pioneer female aviators have had to break through obstacles and find opportunities that allowed them to show that the were truly steel under grace.
In 1913, Alys McKey Bryant became the first woman pilot in Canada, while in 1916, American Ruth Law set two records flying from Chicago to New York. She was also the first woman to fly air mail into the Philippines. Bessie Coleman was the first African American woman to earn a pilot’s license and the first African American to do so.  
Spurred on by the free spirited determination of Earhart, many women turned to flying and later went on to earn their pilots’ laurels with ease. In 1929, Amelia Earhart became the first President of the Ninety-Nines, the world’s first organisation of female pilots. Katherine Cheung was the first Chinese woman to earn her wings in 1931, followed by Ruthy Tu who became the first female pilot in the Chinese armed forces in 1932.
Also during the 30s, when women’s rights were taking centre stage like never before, Louise Thaden and Blance Noyes beat male pilots in the Bendis Trophy Race, becoming the first female aviators to win a contest open to both sexes.  
Flying legends  
It was during the 30s that Central Airlines became the first airline to hire a female pilot, a trail that set the way for many women to follow in her path. In 1938, Hanna Reitsch became the first woman helicopter pilot and one year later, Willa Brown became the first African American woman officer of the Civil Air Patrol in the USA; she was also the first African American woman to become a commercial airline pilot.
Jackie Cochran became the first female pilot to break the sound barrier in 1953 – yet it was only in 1973 that the US Navy opened its ranks in pilot training for women. One year later, Sally Murphy became the first woman to qualify as an aviator with the US Army. The International Society of Women Pilots was formed in 1978 and in 1980, Lyn Rippelmeyer emerged as the first woman to pilot a Boeing 747.
In 1994 Jackie Parker became the first woman to qualify to fly an F-16 combat plane and in 2001, Polly Vacher earned the title of being the first woman to fly around the world in a small plane - she flew from England back to England on a route that included Australia.
The sky has never been a limit for exceptional women who have always felt the call to command the skies. As mothers, wives and daughters, women have excelled since time immemorial at skills that help and empower them master whatever it is that they do – be it in being a mother and a wife to the family, a pilot who steers a jumbo jet safely across the skies, a combat pilot flying dangerous missions or the smiling stewardess who, like the Singapore Girl, has become a legend in flying.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Girls Who Fly: 1965 Angel Derby Pilots Are Told Sexism Doesn't Exist

From WNYC.org:  Girls Who Fly: 1965 Angel Derby Pilots Are Told Sexism Doesn't Exist

This Overseas Press Club conference is a reminder of the unfortunately routine institutionalized gender oppression in American industry. Featuring deft pilots in the Angel Derby, an all-female air race from New York to the Bahamas, this panel's male moderator and reporters dole out condescension and hostility, but "the girls" hold steady despite the dismissive questioning. 

The moderator introduces each woman, injecting commentary and questions about their husbands, children, engagement rings, and “stockbroker” boyfriends to lukewarm applause; while reading June Douglas’ professionally impressive bio, though, the moderator can’t help but “correct” her claim that she left NASA because there weren’t enough opportunities for women.  “I’ve been to Cape Kennedy,” he says, “and half their staff down there are female!”

Ms. Douglas, the chief spokeswoman for the group, finally takes the podium to make a plea for commercial airlines to hire female co-pilots and flight engineers. She points out that men with fewer hours logged flying and the minimum qualifications are hired and even trained on the job by the airlines. She, by contrast, has been flying for 12 years and is a flight examiner, licensing prospective pilots, yet cannot be considered for a job. Women flew B-17 bombers during the war (in noncombat situations) and there are women in air traffic control towers across the nation.

Why not have women in the cockpit? Ms. Douglas addresses a few concerns of airlines and her male counterparts, among them, a female pilot "might shock the passengers," and pilots and co-pilots share hotel rooms so housing women would increase operating costs.

During the question period one reporter asks what is "the attraction" of wanting to be a pilot. The answer, not surprisingly, is pay. British Airlines had at least one female pilot, and in Russia there were numerous women flying planes. The moderator, "cracking wise" with a number of patronizing comments, asks if they're all "good swimmers" since part of the race takes place over water. Another reporter asks if the aviatrixes would "risk a poll of female passengers" on the question of female pilots, with the supposition that they would be "jealous." Another asks if there have been studies comparing accident rates between male and female drivers as well as pilots. With barely suppressed rage, one of the women points out that in both this race and the Powder Puff Derby (a trans-continental air race for women) they have never lost a pilot.

Attempting to lighten the tone of the proceedings, the moderator asks if they fly in flats, high heels, or silk stockings? When one says she flies barefoot he ripostes, "Any other weirdies?" He concludes by remarking that they'll all, no doubt, be wearing bikinis for the last leg of the trip and wishes them good luck, "whether you're winning or swimming."

The ambitions expressed in this press conference weren't attained for another eight years. As the magazine Airport Journals reported:

A permanent place for women in the cockpit of an airliner would not occur until 1973, when a regional carrier at the time, Frontier Airlines, hired Emily Howell. Just three weeks after she was hired, American Airlines hired Bonnie Tiburzi, and the airline cockpit door was stuck in the open position for women who were qualified.
This initial hiring did not lead to a flood of female applicants, though. The field of aviation still presents peculiar obstacles to women, the two most notable of which are the culture of flying, which has its roots in the military, and its cost. In a 2011 article titled Why Aren't There More Women Pilots, A. Pawlowski of CNN Travel explained:

When they do decide to pursue flying, one of the biggest obstacles to getting a job at a carrier is money. When going the civilian route, it can cost up to $100,000 in training to become an airline pilot, said Amy Laboda, a pilot and editor in chief of Aviation for Women magazine. An aspiring aviator can skip the big costs by learning how to fly in the military, and many pilots who take this route traditionally go on to work for commercial airlines. But there are still few female pilots in military ranks. Women make up less than 5 percent of the more than 14,000 pilots currently in the U.S. Air Force, for example, according to the Air Force Personnel Center.

That alternate route, civilian training, is also one in which women seem to start at a disadvantage. As Capt. Meryl Getline recalls in an article in  USA Today:
I found out the hard way that there weren't any women airline pilots — yet. I also found out first-hand about the discrimination I and any other prospective female pilots would face, starting with the registration clerk for the Private Pilot Ground School course I wanted to sign up for. The clerk laughed at me when I announced very seriously, "I'm going to be an airline pilot and I need to find out how to go about it, please."
"Yeah, yeah, yeah," he said in complete disgust. "Everybody wants to fly 747's for Pan Am, and you think you're going to? Forget it — the airlines will never hire a woman — never."
Nevertheless, I did sign up for it and was the only female in the class.
However, progress has been made, more than could have possibly envisioned by the reporters shown to such disadvantage in this recording. Perhaps the most significant recent breakthrough was made  in 2002 by American Airlines Capt. Esther Horn, who became the first female pilot for a large-scale commercial airline …to retire.


Thursday, August 2, 2012

The poetry of aviation from a Troutdale pilot

From OregonLive:  The poetry of aviation from a Troutdale pilot

Twelve hundred feet above the Columbia River Gorge, Multnomah Falls looks like a leaky faucet.
The mountains form powerful barriers to the north and south. There’s no fade from lush Western Oregon to brown Eastern Oregon, but rather a sudden, stark change in hue.

The best times in her little, ostentatiously purple Cessna airplane, says Mary Rosenblum, are at dawn and dusk, when the landscape is bathed in a golden light, smoothing out imperfections and highlighting the magnitude of land and water. And Christmas, she adds, when colorful lights sprinkle the view.

“I’ll never get tired of it,” says Rosenblum, who has flown 600 hours since she earned her pilot’s license three years ago. “I don’t think I’ll be tired of it after 6,000 hours.”

At age 60, Rosenblum, an award-winning science fiction author — “Horizons” and “Water Rites” are her most recent — is one of the few female pilots in Oregon aviation.

Of the approximately 500 pilots in the Oregon Pilots Association, of which Rosenblum is president-elect, about 10 percent are women. “It’s part of the reason I work so hard at being a good pilot — I want to do it as good or better than (the male pilots).”

She is based at the Portland-Troutdale Airport in Troutdale, the third-busiest airport in the state, behind Portland International and Hillsboro Airport, all owned by Port of Portland, says David Langford, air traffic manager at Troutdale.

On a clear day last week, small planes circled the control tower like seagulls. Typical, Langord says. Last year Troutdale had more than 150,000 takeoffs and landings with traffic from its two flight schools and its 150 private pilots. Traffic is nearly double since 2007, when the airport recorded 98,000 takeoffs and landings.
Rosenblum contributes her share to the traffic with several flights a week to master her skills.
She is instrument trained, the highest certification for pilots, allowing her to fly in inclement weather with analog instruments as guides. She changes her airplane’s oil herself and is active in the pilot association’s events and causes.

She's fulfilling her childhood dreams of being airborne.

“A woman couldn’t be a jet pilot or an airline pilot when I was a kid,” she says. “I wanted to be an astronaut when I was in high school, but there was no way for women to get into the program.”
Rosenblum is a year younger than Sally Ride, who at 32 was the first American woman in space. Ride died last week.

After Rosenblum's two sons were grown, she pursued her longtime dream to be a pilot. At 57 , she was in a small plane cockpit with an instructor, who would send the plane into a nosedive so she could practice recovering it.

“I thought, by then (in her late 50s) it was kind of late,” she says. “But then I thought, ‘I can be as good as the younger guys.’”

On a sunny day over Eastern Oregon south of the Columbia River, she took the plane to a 45-degree angle to spin 360-degrees on an invisible axis. Land sliced diagonally across the window. Then she smoothly pulled out of the rotation.

“Flying is an ongoing physics lesson,” Rosenblum says. “These planes are beautifully made; they want to fly."

“When lift exceeds gravity you go up,” she adds, as if the words are poetry. “It’s still all like the Wright brothers — pulleys and cables.”

She knows every centimeter and operation of her plane, as do all pilots, she says. Each year planes have to be completely disassembled and reassembled for a Federal Aviation Administration safety inspection.

A full log book and a couple years later, Rosenblum is a pilot the way other people are drivers: she hops in her plane for a day trip to the coast or for a weekend of camping.

Now she’s working to fill up her second log book.

“Flying itself is really empowering,” she says. “It’s not something we’re able to do; we made ourselves able to do it.”

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Private school is ‘First in Flight’ with pilot training

From the Herald Weekly:  Private school is ‘First in Flight’ with pilot training

Students at a Catholic high school aspiring to jump into a pilot’s seat one day can see if they have what it takes before even leaving the ground.

Christ the King Catholic High School, temporarily located in Mooresville, offers a pilot ground school course during the fall and spring semesters, taught by retired U.S. Air Force pilot Lt. Col. Bill Fountain. Future pilots study the use of navigation instruments, maps and charts and scientific concepts such as drag and lift inside the classroom.

“The ground school prepares a student to become a pilot,” Fountain said. “We cover everything from understanding how weather effects the way that you fly to different aerospaces. We show how the aerospace that Charlotte has is different from the aerospace around Concord.”

Students also can put some of their time logged working with flight instruments during class toward earning a private pilot’s license, Fountain said.

Fountain broke into aviation as a senior in the Mississippi State University Air Force ROTC program in 1965. He took part in the Air Force’s “flight indoctrination program,” which culled potential pilots from the pool of future officers and earned his “wings.”

Through a two-decade career with the Air Force – which included two tours in Vietnam – Fountain flew the F-4 Phantom, the two-seater fighter-bomber jet famous for its extensive use during the Vietnam War. Upon retirement in 1985, he went to work for Northrop Grumman, a Virginia-based aerospace and defense technology company, as a programming and marketing manager for another 20 years.

He moved to the Charlotte area in 2005 when he said he felt led to teach, but didn’t have a specific subject in mind. A bachelor’s degree in math and extensive flight experience were enough to land him a spot teaching math at Charlotte-Mecklenburg School’s Military and Global Leadership Academy for six months.
During his time out of the Air Force, Fountain also became involved with the U.S. Air Force Auxiliary Civil Air Patrol. The organization, which consists of volunteers with strong backgrounds in aviation, acts as a kind of “Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts of flying,” Fountain said.

It was through the Civil Air Patrol that Fountain started teaching the same kind of grounds school to 12- to 18-year-olds that he now teaches at Christ the King Catholic High School. He also flies CAP’s  Cessna 172, a small four-seat single engine plane, with the organization.

“That spurred by interest in teaching,” Fountain, who also teaches geometry, said. “I heard a lot of stories about how schools need better math teachers to keep kids from dropping out of school because they couldn’t understand math.”

Students taking the ground course – an elective built into their regular school schedules – have been able to take many field trips thanks to Fountain’s extensive aviation connections. U.S. Airways offered the class the opportunity to fly in its Airbus flight simulator in Charlotte. A trip to the Charlotte Air National Guard Base at Charlotte/Douglas International Airport allowed students to speak one-on-one with aviation professionals.
Dan Dolan, Christ the King Catholic High School principal, said the course brings diversity to the types of classes his school can offer to students.

“This course is consistent with everything we value as a school,” Dolan said. “It engages just about every subject we offer, is hands-on, requires students to develop critical-thinking skills and gives students the chance to explore a field most of us won’t encounter in a lifetime.”