Sunday, October 28, 2012

Woman aims to hitch a ride by air to all 50 states

From the Seattle Times:  Woman aims to hitch a ride by air to all 50 states

Amber Nolan, 28, landed in Seattle last week on her trek to hitch rides on small planes to every state in the country. That is one way to travel on the cheap. Our state was No. 11 in that journey. Wednesday she arrived in Portland.

Last week, Amber Nolan landed in Seattle, this state being the 11th stop toward her goal of flying into every state in the country. Her belongings are in storage in Fort Lauderdale, her last home where she actually rented a place.
"We live in the present," she says, "but yet we are always making 'future' plans. The future is today."
Nolan, philosopher, wanderer, budding travel writer, is 28 and couch surfing. She is down to her last 100 bucks and plenty familiar with Top Ramen.
So how does she get from one place to another?
To bypass all those airfares, Nolan hitches rides with pilots of small planes, the ones who fly into places like Boeing or Paine fields.
She is remarkably successful.
One such pilot was Paul Schechter, and his wife, Dorothy. They took Nolan from their hometown of Rochester, N.Y., to Nashville. They own a six-seater Piper Lance.
"Pilots love to share. It's a brotherhood," Schechter says. "I think it's exciting that at her age, she can do that. She doesn't have any responsibilities of a husband, children."
Why wait until you're 65 and creaky? There's lot to be said for traveling young, when lugging 40 pounds in a backpack and satchel is no big deal.
Nolan says pilots who give her rides have told her, "I wish I had done what you're doing when I was younger. But I never acted on it."
She is chronicling her adventures on a website she created, You want travel stories? She's got them.
Here is Nolan, writing about arriving in Whitefish, Mont., having hitched a ride from Las Vegas on an Eclipse 500 jet.
She tells about Pam, who offered her a place to stay through
" 'Come to my house and I'll make you lunch!' she insisted ... She was in the garden picking herbs ... She gave me a big bear hug as if she'd known me for years, and then began telling me about Aaron as we walked to the kitchen ...
"When Pam spoke about him, she never said 'Aaron was' always 'Aaron is' even though he passed away last July in a snowboarding accident in Chile ... She gave me a grand tour of her home, showed me his snowboarding photos, magazine articles and all of his accomplishments.
" 'Smash life,' she explained, 'It was one of Aaron's sayings that means live every day like it's your last.' "
Nolan has been writing since she was a little girl.
At 6, growing up in Geneseo, in upstate New York, her dad a forklift driver, her mom a nurse, Nolan would write short stories and put them together in homemade books.
She'd let her parents, Dan and Eileen Nolan, check out the books from her little library, and charge them late fees for not returning the books on time. One of Nolan's big thrills came when she was 8, and her parents got her a manual typewriter at a garage sale. Later, her parents moved her up to a Brother word processor.
Making lots of money not being a big priority, Nolan got a degree in journalism from the State University of New York at Brockport. Then she went the route of going to New York City, doing unpaid internships at travel websites, working as a waitress and living with roommates in a Brooklyn apartment.
Eventually the internships turned to paying gigs and by 2009, a $52,000-a-year job with ShermansTravel Media, where she did everything from cruise reviews to helping publish a newsletter. Her bosses said it was fine if she worked out of Fort Lauderdale, where $52,000 goes lots further than in New York City.
But Nolan needed to travel, and not just for a weeklong vacation.
"When you can take a chunk of time to travel, you get to experience it at a slower pace. In the back of your mind, you're not thinking that in a week, you have to be back at work," she says.
So in 2011, she quit ShermansTravel, took her savings and spent 3-½ months in Central and South America, backpacking, going to little towns by bus. She loved it.
Her memories include a four-day sailboat ride from Panama to Colombia, at night watching the water's phosphorescent glow as giant stingrays leapt out of it, and buying and grilling fresh lobster at local villages.
Last year, back in the U.S., she began pondering how next to travel on a low budget. When she Googled, she came upon citations of small-plane pilots discussing sharing rides with other pilots.
That led to Nolan deciding to become the JetHiking Gypsy.
Now, she posts fliers at small airports seeking lifts "to — well — anywhere."
And she posts on Internet chat boards for pilots. Beechcraft owners have a forum. Cirrus pilots have their own.
"Cool adventure!" is a typical reply, and Nolan gets offers for rides.
Glenn Chong, a computer programmer from Red Deer, Alberta, read one of Nolan's postings. He, his wife and two children were flying to Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, for a convention of Aerostar plane owners.
Chong looked up Nolan's website to find out more about her.
"I thought it was an interesting project," he says. "I don't think I'd have done it at her age."
Flying with his family, Chong says that because Nolan is a female hitchhiker, he was probably less wary of potential problems. He ended up not only flying her from Montana to Idaho, but then to Seattle.
As for Nolan, whose trek began July 11 on that flight to Nashville, she says the one bad thing that has happened didn't happen on a flight.
She was mugged at a bus stop on a trip to see The Heidelberg Project outdoor art exhibit in Detroit. She suffered cuts and bruises on her face. Her camera, wallet, cellphone and computer were stolen.
At a nearby grocery, the owner let her call police, then kicked Nolan out. She says he told her crying was bothering the customers.
One of Nolan's brothers drove from New York and took her back to her parents' home.
A week later, Nolan was back traveling.
And, after a few days in Seattle, on Wednesday she caught a flight to Portland. She is thinking about waitressing for a while to save up more money, although she says a production company is interested in pitching a reality series based on her hitchhiking adventures. But that is a maybe.
Her dad says he and his wife do worry about Nolan's travels.
"We're excited for her, but nervous? Absolutely," says Dan Nolan. "We try to keep in touch with her all the time."
Travel is what Amber Nolan does.
"I've had bad days, when everything seems to go wrong. You miss a bus, you end up walking way further with a heavy pack," she says.
"Then I kick myself: 'Look, what you're doing is awesome. You're going to do something awesome.' "


Saturday, October 27, 2012

SARAH DARER LITTMAN: Women who are sick of misogyny and ‘mansplaining’

From the REgister Citizen, an opinion piece:  SARAH DARER LITTMAN: Women who are sick of misogyny and ‘mansplaining’

In case you haven’t noticed, Linda McMahon is a woman. She’s confirmed the fact in the last three debates. I would like to confirm that I, too, am a woman. Apparently, those of us of the female persuasion are now a hot demographic, targeted by campaigns in both presidential and senate races.

Here’s a secret I’d like to share with all political strategists: mere pandering just isn’t going to cut it with us. Because even though we’ve come a long way, baby, it’s the 21st century and we’re still paid less for doing the same job as a man. We’re still paying significantly more for health insurance. We’re still putting up with middle-aged men legislating medical decisions that should be between women and our doctors. And those of us who are single parents are blamed for the ills of society.

Now, election time rolls around and all of a sudden two guys are trying to hit us up for a four-year date and we’re subjected to pundits “mansplaining” how we think about the issues of the day.

Mansplaining — definition: “To delight in condescending, inaccurate explanations delivered with rock solid confidence of rightness and that slimy certainty that of course he is right, because he is the man in this conversation.”

For examples, see pretty much any dialogue between Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski on MSNBC’s Morning Joe.

A particularly egregious example was Thursday morning’s episode, when four men told Mika why she and we were “ridiculous” for taking umbrage at Mitt Romney’s “binders full of women” comment and the fact that news emerged post-debate that Romney had lied about actively seeking out said binders. The belittling was bad enough. But then, in response to a tweet from Cher complaining about the behavior, Mark Halperin, senior political analyst for Time and MSNBC, tweeted a picture of a Time cover featuring Cher in a skimpy outfit.

Halperin is Time’s senior political analyst and that’s how he chooses to respond? Clearly, I need to rethink my Time subscription.

Unfortunately, demeaning women personally seems to be the modus operandi in politics. Look at the way Congressman Joe Walsh, R-Illinois — that prince of a guy who owed his wife $100,000 in child support — has attacked his opponent, decorated Iraq War veteran Tammy Duckworth, saying “the only debate she’ll have is which outfit she’ll be wearing.”

Duckworth’s response: “Yes, I do sometimes look at the clothes I wear, but for most of my adult life, I’ve worn one color — it’s called camouflage.” Boom.

It’s not just Republicans. The Democratic House Majority PAC ran an ad against Martha McSally, who is running for a House seat in Arizona, in which they superimposed her image into a kitchen setting and criticized her “recipe cards” for Congress. McSally might well be a fine cook, but the relevant facts are that she was the first female fighter pilot to fly combat missions in U.S. history, is a distinguished graduate of the U.S. Air Force Academy, and has a Masters in Public Policy from the JFK School of Government at Harvard. Such imagery demeans her service, her accomplishments, and women in general.

Remember the 1992 “Cookiegate” brouhaha during Bill Clinton’s first campaign? Hillary Clinton was pilloried for saying, “I suppose I could have stayed home and baked cookies and had teas, but what I decided to do was to fulfill my profession which I entered before my husband was in public life.”

Here’s a woman who is smarter than most men in the room, and more, one of the few politicians in recent memory to stand up and say, “I take responsibility,” yet she was forced to hide her light under a bushel. I can only imagine how she felt:

“Seriously America? I was class president at Wellesley, graduated from Yale Law School with honors, was named one of the 100 Most Powerful Lawyers in America by the National Law Journal, and you want to judge me on my cookies?”

Listen up strategists: If you want the “women” vote, don’t demean women. Any of us. I might be a Democrat but if you demean the impressive and genuine accomplishments of a Republican woman, you demean me.

But similarly, pointing out one’s womanhood, as Mrs. McMahon does on numerous occasions, won’t ipso facto win my vote. Particularly, you won’t get my vote if you plan to overturn the Affordable Care Act, which will eliminate in 2014 the excess premium I pay merely for being female, or if you support the Blunt Amendment, which would allow employers to deny contraceptive coverage.

Policy is what affects women and we’d really love it if you stick to the issues. We’re smart enough to bother our pretty little heads about it, and make damn fine cookies without you mansplaining any of it.

Sarah Darer Littman is an award-winning columnist and novelist of books for teens. Long before the financial meltdown, she worked as a securities analyst and earned her MBA in Finance from the Stern School at NYU. 

Friday, October 26, 2012

Prudhoe teen on way to career as female airline pilot

From the Journal:  Prudhoe teen on way to career as female airline pilot

Caitlin Harm, 18, of Prudhoe who training to be a commercial airline pilot

A TEENAGER who gained a head for heights aged three is to become one of the country’s few female commercial airline pilots.

Caitlin Harm, 18, from Prudhoe, Northumberland, has landed a place at aviation college and in just a few years she will be helping to fly holidaymakers around the world.
Her bold career choice, only taken up by a handful of women, was kick-started when she flew in a plane with her dad while still at nursery.
The former Queen Elizabeth High School student said being accepted into pilot school has fulfilled a long-held ambition.
“I’ve wanted to be a pilot for as long as I can remember,” said Caitlin, who lives with her mum, dad and 15-year-old sister. “I’ve always had an interest in aviation and once I started gliding I knew it was what I wanted to do with my life. Once you try it, it’s easy to get the bug. It’s like a whole different world up there, and I find it relaxing. I get a real sense of achievement after every flight, there’s so many different skills you can learn.”
Caitlin is now training with Oxford Aviation Academy after passing A-levels in maths, physics and French and gaining over seven years’ experience with Northumbria Gliding Club at Chopwell, Gateshead.
She also rose to the rank of Flight Sergeant in the Air Training Corps which she joined aged 14 and was one of just four young cadets from the UK selected for specialist training courses in Hong Kong, China and Macau.
She is soon to move to Oxford where she will complete 14 theoretical exams before starting flight training in Arizona in the USA. After 110 hours of single- engine flight training and multi-engine training she will then sit an exam that will qualify her as a multi-engine pilot.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

U.S. training helps Afghan female pilot go solo

From AirForceTimes:  U.S. training helps Afghan female pilot go solo

After completing her first solo flight in a Cesna-182, Afghan Air Force Lt. Nilofor Rhamani walks down the flight line of Shindand Air Base, Afghanistan, on Sept. 30. Rhamani is the first Afghan female pilot to conduct all of her pilot training in Afghanistan.
Staff Sgt. Melissa K. Mekpongsatorn / Air Force After completing her first solo flight in a Cesna-182, Afghan Air Force Lt. Nilofor Rhamani walks down the flight line of Shindand Air Base, Afghanistan, on Sept. 30. Rhamani is the first Afghan female pilot to conduct all of her pilot training in Afghanistan.
The Taliban has been waging a brutal war against women, but at least one woman is trying to even the odds.
Lt. Nilofor Rhmani recently became the first female pilot in the Afghan air force’s pilot training program to fly solo, officials said. She is receiving training by both U.S. and NATO advisers.
The pilot training program at Shindand Air Base, Afghanistan, is a joint effort between NATO and the Afghan Ministry of Defense, said U.S. Air Force Maj. Jeremy Ponn, Afghanistan country director. It’s the first such program in Afghanistan in more than 30 years.
“Lt. Rhmani is the first Afghan female to participate in the new pilot training program in Afghanistan,” Ponn said in an email. “She graduated introductory flight training on 19 July and began the formal undergraduate pilot training program 28 July.
“She is one of five pilot trainees in UPT Class 12-03 — the class has months of training ahead prior to receiving their wings and will graduate next summer. She has received accolades from the Afghan public and is viewed as a positive role model for Afghan females.”
Following her first solo flight, Rhmani participated in a U.S. Air Force tradition when her American and British advisers threw her into a pool of water known as the “dunk tank.”


Friday, October 19, 2012

Spitfire WWII Fighter Planes In Myanmar Excavation Could Flood Vintage Plane Market

From HuffPost: Spitfire WWII Fighter Planes In Myanmar Excavation Could Flood Vintage Plane Market

Spitfire Wwii Fighter Plane Myanmar
YANGON, Myanmar — As many as 140 World War II Spitfire fighter planes – three to four times the number of airworthy models known to exist – are believed to be buried in near-pristine condition in Myanmar. A British-Myanmar partnership says it will begin digging them up by the end of the month.
The go-ahead for excavation came earlier this week when the Myanmar government signed an agreement with British aviation enthusiast David J. Cundall and his local partner. Cundall, a farmer and businessman, earlier this year announced he had located 20 of the planes, best known for helping the Royal Air Force win mastery of the skies during the Battle of Britain.
On Thursday, however, a retired Myanmar geology professor who has assisted in the recovery operation since 1999 said there are about 140 Spitfires buried in various places around the Southeast Asian country, which until 1948 was a British colony called Burma. He did not explain the discrepancy in estimates.
Soe Thein said the British brought crates of Spitfires to Myanmar in the closing stages of the war, but never used them when the Japanese gave up the fight in 1945. The single-seat version of the fighter plane was 9.14 meters (30 feet) long with an 11.3 meter (37 foot) wingspan.
The U.S. Army was in charge of burying the planes after British forces decided to dispose of them that way, he said, adding Cundall interviewed at least 1,000 war veterans, mostly American, to gather information about the aircraft's fate.
He said a ground search was started in 1999 using magnetometers and ground radar, but faced difficulties. Only in recent years did technology become advanced enough to be more certain of the finds, he said.
Each plane was kept in a crate about 12.2 meters (40 feet) long, 3.4 meters (11 feet) high and 2.7 meters (9 feet) wide, said Soe Thein.
The plans under a two-year contract are to recover 60 planes in the first phase: 36 planes in Mingaladon, near Yangon's current air base and international airport; 18 in Myitkyina in Kachin state in the north; and six in Meikthila in central Myanmar. Others are to be recovered in a second phase.
The Myanmar government will get one plane for display at a museum, as well as half of the remaining total. DJC, a private company headed by Cundall, will get 30 percent of the total and the Myanmar partner company, Shwe Taung Paw, 20 percent.

British Prime Minister David Cameron eased the way to an agreement when he visited Myanmar President Thein Sein in April.
Cundall has said his quest to find the planes involved 12 trips to Myanmar and cost more than 130,000 pounds ($210,000), not including the planned excavation expenses.
Spitfires in working shape are rare and popular with collectors. In 2009, a restored but airworthy Spitfire was sold by British auction house Bonhams for >1,739,500 ($2,544,130)
The excavation agreement was signed Tuesday by Civil Aviation Director-General Tin Naing Tun, Cundall on behalf of DJC, and Htoo Htoo Zaw, managing director of Shwe Taung Paw.
"It took 16 years for Mr. David Cundall to locate the planes buried in crates. We estimate that there are at least 60 Spitfires buried and they are in good condition," Htoo Htoo Zaw said Wednesday. "We want to let people see these historic fighters, and the excavation of these fighter planes will further strengthen relations between Myanmar and Britain."
The British Embassy on Wednesday described the agreement as a chance to work with Myanmar's new reformist government to restore and display the planes.
"We hope that many of them will be gracing the skies of Britain and as discussed, some will be displayed here in Burma," said an embassy spokesman, who spoke anonymously because he was not directly involved in the excavation agreement.
Myanmar from 1962 until last year was under the rule of the military, which changed the country's name from Burma in 1989. Thein Sein's reformist government has turned away from the repression of the military government and patched up relations with Western nations that had previously shunned it.
The state-owned Myanma Ahlin daily on Wednesday cited Transport Minister Nyan Tun Aung as saying the Spitfire agreement amounts to the British government's recognition of the democratic reforms.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Culture Days: Female pilot Kucki Low broke the gender barrier

Old news - from Sept 28, but still of interest

From North Shore News:  Culture Days: Female pilot Kucki Low broke the gender barrier

Deep Cove resident Kucki Low gives us some of the highlights of her journey from flying in South Africa to moving to Canada in a 10-minute talk tonight at North Vancouver City Library as part of Culture Days.

Deep Cove resident Kucki Low gives us some of the highlights of her journey from flying in South Africa to moving to Canada in a 10-minute talk tonight at North Vancouver City Library as part of Culture Days.

Photograph by: NEWS photo , Mike Wakefield

- North Shore Stories: An Evening of Community Storytelling at North Vancouver City Library tonight at 7 p.m.
IF you arrived for your scheduled flight and saw that your pilot was female, would you: A) Assume if the company had hired her she was as qualified as a male pilot, B) Be wary and prefer a male pilot or C) Refuse to fly.
"Can you imagine that today?" says Deep Cove author Kucki Low with a laugh as she recounts the story of how she was hired as the first female commercial airline pilot in South Africa.
It was the 1970s, and Low was being considered for a job as a pilot, but first the airline polled its passengers to gauge their possible reaction. For three months, the airline handed out a questionnaire with those three questions. At the end of the survey, only one male passenger had responded he would refuse to fly with a female pilot.
Despite the lone objector's comment that a woman's place was behind a stove, Low was hired by the small airline and spent more than two years as a commercial pilot.
"It was wonderful. I had fabulous experiences with it," she says.
Low will try to encapsulate the highlights of her journey from flying in South Africa to moving to Canada in a 10-minute talk at the North Shore Stories event on Sept. 28, as part of Culture Days, which runs until Sept. 30.
She notes that establishing herself in a new country was a challenge, but by that point she was no stranger to challenges.
Low's grandparents immigrated from Germany to what was then German South West Africa in 1932. Her parents moved to Namibia in 1953, but never really felt happy there, she says. They preferred Germany and spoke German at home, so Low says she always felt like she had one foot in Namibia, one foot in Germany, and never quite at home in either.
Low's given name is Irmgard, which means tall and blond in German, but, as she admits with a laugh, she is only five-foot-one so the name didn't fit. Instead, she was called Kucki (pronounced cookie) thanks to a nickname from her younger brother.
At age 15, she left school to help her father in his photography business after he had his first heart attack. By the time she was 19, both her parents had passed away. The business was sold to her uncle and Low went to Germany to attend photography school. She later returned to Namibia to help again at the family photography business.
Her first week back, Low's uncle asked her to take some aerial photographs. It was her first time flying in a small, fourseater plane.
"I was just totally blown away by flying. It was such an exhilarating feeling for me," she says. "And it completely paled in comparison to photography for me."
The experience inspired her to pursue her private pilot's licence.
"And then I said I have to figure out a way to get paid for what I love to do."
Unfortunately, having left school at 15, Low didn't have the math and science education she needed to pass the written examination for a commercial pilot's license.
"I didn't have the qualifications to pass the written exams for the pilot's licence. I was OK with the flying, but the written was a challenge," she notes.
Low was determined, however, and worked her way through a home-study course.
The first time she took the written exam she failed miserably.
But, she says, "I had such a burning desire to become a pilot."
So Low took the course again, and explains that a program that would probably take most people a few months to complete, she did in two years.
"But I did it," she reports. "Walking out of the exams the second time I just knew I passed."
She was elated and says she felt an immense sense of achievement.
"I had this incredible passion and dream for flying and I just knew with that dream I was given ability to somehow achieve it, it was just going to take a whole lot more hard work and determination."
Because she didn't have any money at that point and needed to accumulate 200 flying hours, she worked as an air hostess and a flying instructor. It was during this time she met her future husband, who was one of her students.
After she earned the flying hours she needed, and passed the airline questionnaire test, Low flew as a commercial airline pilot for more than two years.
When she became dissatisfied with the politics in South Africa, however, she and her husband began looking for a new home. In 1979, they moved to Deep Cove with their infant son. Low says she was pleased that her son would know Canada as his only home and not feel torn between two countries like she had as a child.
Unfortunately, it was too expensive for Low to re-do her licence in Canada and she hasn't sat in the pilot's seat since.
But establishing herself in a new country was a challenge, she notes, and she was busy making a new home with her husband and young son. She was also busy getting accustomed to her new surroundings, and recalls her first encounter with a raccoon that sat on a window ledge in her bedroom the first night she was home alone.
"I was terrified. I didn't know what to do," she recalls with a laugh.
Over the years, Low has dabbled in various businesses and other interests, and was eventually convinced to write down her life story in a book. Her son in particular often encouraged her to tell her amazing stories.
Low's book, This is Kucki Your Pilot Speaking, was published last year, and she found a new passion as an author and speaker.
"We have different passions in different stages in our lives," she says.
But Low's passion for flying still burns and she is considering taking the controls again soon, this time in a float plane.
Kucki Low will be speaking at North Shore Stories at North Vancouver City Library Friday, Sept. 28. Other speakers at the event include Mayor Darrell Mussatto, reporter and author


Sunday, October 14, 2012

Pilots start a local flight school

From  Pilots start a local flight school

Pilots Lacey Mayer, left, and Faith Drewry founded FL Aviation Center at Tallahassee Regional Airport to provide flight instruction, aircraft rentals, aerial photography and supplies for pilots.
Pilots Lacey Mayer, left, and Faith Drewry founded FL Aviation Center at Tallahassee Regional Airport to provide flight instruction, aircraft rentals, aerial photography and supplies for pilots. / Special to the Democrat
 It might not look like your typical school building, but classes are now in session at Hangar A at Tallahassee Regional Airport.
FL Aviation Center is Tallahassee’s new flight school for aspiring pilots, but also for anyone who is curious about flying and would like to learn more. School founders Faith Drewry and Lacey Mayer invite everyone to visit today and have lunch during a grand opening at the facility from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.
“We are both fairly new to Tallahassee and we felt as the new people, if we saw this need in town, then there was a hole or gap that could be filled,” Drewry said. That hunch appears to be correct — in the 90 or so days since the business’ launch, the center has 360 people on its mailing list.
Drewry says people are coming from as far away as Jacksonville to today’s grand opening. A class for pilots’ recurring training this morning at 10 is full to capacity.
It’s a welcomed sign after Drewry’s earlier experience. A private pilot for 13 years, she moved to Tallahassee four years ago and expected to find a thriving community of aviators.
“Every town has an aviation community,” Drewry said. It’s a way for pilots to meet, get acquainted, swap stories and enjoy their mutual interest in flying.
She only found a few, however, and Mayer’s experience was much the same. Though there was talk among some of the guys of someday offering flying lessons, the two women decided if there was going to be a flight school, it was up to them.
“She and I decided, ‘Let’s do this.’ What the heck,” Drewry said.
Their other motivation is the opportunity that aviation offers for women, who comprise only 6 percent of the pilot population in the U.S., Drewry noted.
“A lot of women are raised thinking that is not a career option for them,” she continued. The two pilots are hoping to change that way of thinking, and they have plans for an aviation curriculum at Florida High and at Tallahassee Community College.
Parked at Hangar A are a Cessna 172 and a Piper Warrior. To be added are a smaller Cessna 152 and a Decathlon, a single-engine plane made by American Champion Aircraft Corp. that will be used for more advanced training.
The recurring safety classes, a form of continuing education for pilots, will be available at no cost. “We will offer them monthly and they will be free because we believe in building a pilot community,” Drewry said.
To find Hangar A, take Capital Circle Southwest to the airport’s general aviation entrance. Turn left on the airport service road, take the first right, and center is the last building on the left before Million Air.


Saturday, October 13, 2012

Corpus Christi Army Depot Welcomes Its First Female Test Pilot

From Avionics Intelligence:  Corpus Christi Army Depot Welcomes Its First Female Test Pilot

The U.S. Army issued the following news:
For the first time in its 51 year history, Corpus Christi Army Depot welcomed a female maintenance test pilot.
CW2 Trina Moreno, a test pilot for the UH-60 Black Hawk, came to the depot in 2011 to help with crash battle damaged and recapitalized Black Hawks. She can be found in the hangar or on the flight line dressed in her ACUs performing inspections, test flights and the occasional aircraft delivery.
"I love that I get to fly every day and work on aircraft that I know will make a difference," she said.
She hopes to influence others in Army aviation by bringing her knowledge and experience to the field for the warfighters.
"When an aircraft happens to break, I can go out, troubleshoot it and get it flying again," she said. "I [can] take the experience I learned at CCAD and show the unit how to troubleshoot the aircraft to repair."
A 17-year Army aviation specialist, Moreno came to Corpus Christi Army Depot, or CCAD, from Fort Campbell, Ky., after serving a tour of duty in Afghanistan and after a devastating accident that left her husband as a quadriplegic. The U.S. Army and CCAD worked to secure a job for Moreno that would bring her and her family closer to their extended family in South Texas.
Moreno's job is to ensure helicopters remanufactured at CCAD are combat ready.
She inspects every inch and rivet of the Black Hawk with safety flight crews before the aircraft ever lifts off the ground. She ensures that the hundreds of new or remanufactured components and engines in each aircraft work properly with ground runs. After each hover and flight test, Moreno and the crew continually service the helicopter to ensure a perfect bird until it returns to the warfighters needing it the most.
"When I was a little girl my parents used to take me to air shows. I remember seeing the aviators, people in uniform and the helicopters and I knew then that [flying] is want I wanted to do," said Moreno.
"I started out as a mechanic and now I'm a pilot, which is awesome," she said. "We are starting to see a lot more females doing that, which is great."
One of Moreno's greatest achievements while working at the depot was assisting the CCAD team complete and deliver 50 recapitalized UH-60s to the warfighter, breaking the production record of CCAD Black Hawks in a given fiscal year. CCAD produces state-of-the-art UH-60 Black Hawks for the warfighter at the lowest possible cost to ensure the Army remains battle-ready and capable to maximize Army combat power.
The recap program involves the teardown of older model UH-60s to rebuild them with the best and latest technology and systems. Upon completion, each aircraft comes out equal to or better than a new UH-60L Black Hawk with a life extension of up to ten years.
"Working at CCAD is a great experience," said Moreno. "[Soldiers] are getting a great product."
Moreno is grateful for the women who have served before her, and optimistic for the women who will serve after her.
"I think it is important for women to strive in the military because women before us have strived to get us to where we are today," she said. "I'm thankful that I can pave the way for future female test pilots."
CCAD welcomed its second female maintenance test pilot in September. CW4 Tammy Stewart will assist CCAD as they replenish the OH-58 Kiowa Warrior for the Army.


Friday, October 12, 2012

When Will We See The First Female Red Bull Air Race Pilot?

Fro RedBull Race Fan:  When Will We See The First Female Red Bull Air Race Pilot?

Russian Female Aerobatics Pilot Svetlana Kapanina
2012 has marked many notable achievements in the world of aviation for women, for example Nigeria and Afghanistan both decorated their first female air force pilots. Both these stories grabbed headlines around the world, but for this reason, it shows there still is a gender divide in flying.
Today in the United States there are currently 627,588 pilots registered with the FAA, only 42,218 are women (6.73%). The progression of women in this heavily male orientated industry is also not growing particularly fast, in the last 16 years the number of women pilots has increased by less than 7,000.
So we have to ask ourselves a difficult question, what is the chances of seeing the first female Red Bull Air Race pilot in 2014? Surprisingly I think it is quite high.
The Case For
Women in aviation, overall, have never particularly lagged behind men. In 1903 the Wright Brothers performed the first sustained flight, yet in 1906 E. Lillian Todd became the first woman to design and build an aircraft. In 1908 the first woman piloted an aircraft, and in 1910 woman received a pilot license. Everyone remembers Frenchman Louis BlĂ©riot crossing the English Channel in 1909, but in 1911 Harriet Quimby became the first U.S. woman to earn a pilot certificate and to cross the English Channel.
But what about in aerobatics? In 1915,  Katherine Stinson became the first female aerobatics pilot and in 1929 Louise Thaden won the first ever female air race. (You can learn more about female flight milestones here). So it is undeniable fact that female pilots are not disadvantaged by history in the development of aviation sports.
Furthermore outside of the civilian world, women pilots are now common place in the most elite air forces in the world. In 1974 the US Navy and USAF accepted women into pilot training and in 1991 Congress lifted the ban on women flying in combat aircraft.  Elsewhere in Britain in 1992, Jo Salter became the first fast jet female pilot in the RAF.
Not only do women have experience of both the high demands of civilian and military flying which is essential for the Red Bull Air Race they also feature prominently in the finest aerobatic teams in the world. In the RAF Red Arrows, the USN Blue Angels, the USAF Thunderbirds, Pakistani Sherdil and Canadian Snowbirds.
The Case Against
The pool of  female pilots is a lot smaller than that of their male counterparts. Females currently only make up around 4% of the USAF pilots and worldwide there are only 450 female airline captains according to International Society of Women Airline Pilots. Red Bull Air Race rules stipulate that every pilot must have at least 1,000 flight hours as the pilot in command.
Sadly Red Bull rules mean that even if female pilots pass this first test, they need to have in one of three international aerobatics competitions finishing in the top half, in the past five years. Currently only 118 women hold a sport license in the US capable of competing in these competitions. In the last five years less then twenty female pilots entered all three of the competitions.
Overall female pilots do have a long and successful history as pilots and although progress is slow women do have a foothold in the aviation world. Yet in our own little niche sector of the Red Bull Air Race the pool of availability seems to be down to less then twenty names. However I strongly believe that their the 2014 season will include a female pilot. Below are my top tips for the first female pilots of the Red Bull Air Race:
Svetlana Kapanina:
Nationality: Russian
Job: Aerobatic Pilot
Awards: FAI WAC: 1996, 1998, 2001, 2003, 2005 (female catergory winner) – 1997 and 2001 winner overall
Red Bull Connection: Flew alongside Sergey Rakhmanin for the Russian team numerous times
Kathel Boulanger:
Nationality: French
Job: Air France 777 Pilot
Awards: European Aerobatics Championship: won the women’s silver medal in an Extreme catergory 2012. 2008 Al Ain Aerobatics show $20,000 winner.
Red Bull Connection: Often appears at airshows alongside Nicolas Ivanoff
Aude Lemordant:
Nationality: French
Job: Air France 777 Pilot
Awards: European Aerobatics Championship: crowned European freestyle champion in a CAP332. Aude is the world vice-champion and the French aerobatics champion
Elena Klimovich: 
Nationality: Russian
Job: Aerobatics Pilot
Awards: FAI WAC: 2009 Women’s World Champion and 1st place overall finish in 2012 European Championships


Thursday, October 11, 2012

n a first, IAF puts women pilots in attack mode

From DefensePakistan: In a first, IAF puts women pilots in attack mode

BANGALORE: Another male bastion, this time in the air, has gone to women. For the first time ever, the Indian Air Force is preparing two of its women pilots for combat roles.

Flight Lieutenants Alka Shukla and M P Shumathi were trained at the Yelahanka station in flying twin-engine Mi-8, a utility and medium-size assault helicopter. Both pilots are at their operational units where they will continue with their armament and special heli-operations training.

Women pilots were only asked to operate single-engine helicopters such as Cheetah and Chethak, used only on non-combat missions. For Alka, this opportunity came her way after she spent over three years in a Chetak helicopter unit in West Bengal, performing casualty evacuation operations in Sikkim and Bhutan. "When I was at Bagdogra station, my senior told me that I have to go to Bangalore. Initially, it didn't click. By the time I realized the magnitude of the offer, I had all my colleagues congratulating me," she said.

Alka is thrilled by the new combat manoeuvres that she is flying. "I'm being trained in hovering above to enable troops slither down the ropes. This manoeuvre was similar to the ones carried out during the 26/11 strikes in Mumbai," she said. "The two women officers had the same curriculum and training as their male counterparts and they performed very well," said Wing Commander N D Mahajan, chief flying instructor of the unit.

They will be trained in bombing, rocket attack, combat search and rescue, and special heli-borne operations. Deepak Kumar Vats, commanding officer of Alka's 112 helicopter unit, said his unit has twin roles: training pilots who are switching over from single-engine helicopters to twin-engine ones, and an operational role. "As of now, our operations have more to do with civilian aid such as flood-relief operations. But in case of a contingency, our units could be moved to the northwest where Alka may be part of the operations," he said.


Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Press Release: MGL Avionics Integrates Sandia Mode-C Transponder

10/8/2012, Torrance, California - MGL Avionics is proud to announce integration of the Sandia Aerospace STX 165R Remote Mode-C transponder with the following EFIS systems for Experimental and Light-Sport Aircraft: 

Sandia STX 165R

  • MGL Avionics XTreme EFIS
  • MGL Avionics Odyssey EFIS
  • MGL Avionics Voyager EFIS
  • MGL Avionics iEFIS Touchscreen EFIS

The STX 165R is a low weight, low cost, 200 Watt remote mount Mode-C transponder. Through just 2 data wires, the MGL Avionics EFIS is able to display transponder status, send encoded altitude to the STX 165R, control its mode (OFF/STBY/ON/ALT), adjust Squawk code and Ident.

MGL Avionics believes in this elegant and affordable way of meeting the FAA transponder requirements in the US, where only Mode-C is required for recreational Part 91 flight. And, the ability to mount the transponder closer to its antenna and further away from other avionics in the aircraft is also an advantage for homebuilders trying to lay out a clean and interference-free panel.

The STX 165R retails for approximately $1,550, making it a lower cost option than many transponders. It weighs 1.16 lbs, uses 200mA of power and has a small size: 3.5"H x 1.8"W x 6.9"L. 

The XTreme EFIS / STX 165R integration is shown as an example below: 

To control the Sandia Mode-C transponder, simply press the knob in once and select the Transponder function. Transponder Mode and Squawk are displayed on the screen on the left side at all times.
XTreme Sandia Transponder Control
Once the Transponder function is selected, the user can change modes, select squawk code, select preset VFR code and Ident.
XTreme Sandia Transponder Squawk

For more information on the XTreme EFIS:
For more information on the Sandia STX 165R Transponder:

About MGL Avionics: 
MGL Avionics' mission is to provide top-performing flight instrumentation at all levels at affordable prices for the Experimental and LSA markets, with the express aim of helping to lower the overall cost of aircraft ownership and private flight. MGL Avionics have sold tens of thousands of instruments since 2001. The current product line includes large and small screen EFISs, the first Touchscreen EFIS in the Experimental world, a full range of both 2 1/4" and 3 1/8" digital flight and engine instruments, autopilots and aviation VHF radios.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Bahamasair female pilots to be honoured at final Beauties @ Brunch event set for Nassau

From the Bahama Weekly: Bahamasair female pilots to be honoured at final Beauties @ Brunch event set for Nassau

Nassau, Bahamas - The year's final segment of Cia Monet's Beauties @ Brunch will take place in Nassau on October 14th at the Sheraton Nassau Beach Resort. Cocktails are at 3pm and the show kicks off at 5pm. This 4th event in a 4-part series to celebrate 50 years of Women’s Suffrage Movement in the Bahamas and to Recognize and pay tribute to Great Women of The Bahamas! This time we honour the three female captains (Gail Saunders, Frances Smith, and Gwendolyn Ritchie) of Bahamasair.

Part proceeds will once again go to the Bahamas Crisis Center. Previous installments were held in Abaco and Grand Bahama after the initial event was held in Nassau. The October 14th Brunch will be under the patronage of Debbie Bartlett, CEO GEMS Radio, Television and Production and will also have two youth honourees: Syngular Journee (Little Miss Petite Bahamas 2011) and Lauryn Rolle (Brownies Captain of the year 2011).

Recording artist Julien Believe will be performing his new single, Caribbean Slide, along with a performance from former Miss Bahamas. Richa Sands. There will also be numbers by the Yodephy School of Dance and a solo dance performance by Sanovia Williams Dance Mogul. Of course it would not be a Cia Monet event without a HAUTE COUTURE fashion show! After all, the hallmark of the Organization is its celebration of fashion, beauty, sophistication, nation building, professionalism and poise showcased at premium venues with food and wine.

There will be heavily discounted pricing on all items worn in the fashion show as well as SILENT auction items to support the Crisis Center.

Cia Monet wishes to publicly thank their sponsors:  Summers Eve, Fujon Media,, Black Opal, Eye Candy Makeup, Eblast Express, Gems Media and Apex Awards.
More about each of our Honourees:


Captain Gail C. Saunders

It seems like flying chose me rather than my choosing flying, because from the day I was born it was as if I was destined to fly the skies. I was born the third daughter to Willard and Alice Martinborough on February 7th,  1963 in Nassau and was christened Gail Christine Martinborough. As a toddler my interests were never baby dolls and all the other things little girls my age found fascinating instead I preferred toy planes, boats, trains and all the other toys girls did not like.  My Sundays were not complete if our family didn’t take a drive to the airport to see the airplanes take off and land at the then Nassau International Airport.

My summers were spent in Long Island with my grandparents Felix and Arimina Carroll. I was the dare devil of my sisters, and much to the horror of my grandparents, my Uncle Ricky and I (we are almost the same age) ran away almost every day to go fishing and swimming by the seaside. The beatings were worth it because doggie-paddling in the fast currents were a lot more appealing than plaiting at home. Whenever we were grounded and forbidden to go swimming we would work on bicycles and anything mechanical that we could get our hands on.  Today I am an airline Captain and my Uncle is a boat Captain – figure that.

My family are devout Anglicans so my early education began at St. Mathew’s Primary School and I went on to complete High School at St John’s College.  As a child we attended St. George’s Anglican Church and today are members of Christ Church Cathedral.

Unable to afford flight school, I was forced to find work after high school and for several years I worked day and night to save money towards my goal.  Upon accepted to the Kitty Hawk Flight School in Ft. Lauderdale I sold my car and went off to get my Private Pilot License.  Upon completion, I went to Freeport, and worked several jobs while accumulating flying hours. This is where I met my guardian angel Mr. John Moore, who allowed me to fly his private plane as well as sponsoring my Commercial Multi Instrument License at Pelican Airways.  Even after obtaining these licences, when I returned home, the only job I was able to find was as a flight attendant on a DC-3 with the promise that I would be able to fly after the first officer was either promoted or moved on, but that never happen.

My big break came when Capt. Paul Aranha hired me at Trans Island Airways (T.I.A.) where I was awarded my command to fly the Britain Norman Islander and the Piper Aztec.  Captain Aranha was a great mentor and not only gave me an opportunity to thrive in a male dominated industry but showed me the in’s and out’s of airplane mechanics which has proven invaluable throughout my career. It was during my time at T.I.A. that I met my husband Walter Saunders who lived in Great Harbour Cay where I flew in and out of almost every day. It was a story book romance and we were married in 1992 the same year T.I.A. closed. Our marriage has been blessed with one child Alexis and he is by far my greatest inspiration and biggest cheerleader.

It was not until 1997 that I was finally employed by Bahamasair to train as a First Officer on the Shorts 360. My tenure at Bahamasair has allowed me to grow professionally and gain immense experience flying on the Shorts 360, the Dash 8 for seven years as a First Officer and the Boeing 737 also as a First Officer for seven years.

I have flown to many destinations including Mexico City, Oklahoma City, Lexington Kentucky, Philadelphia, Trinidad and Tobago. However, the most interesting by far has been the repatriation flights to Haiti.  Although, prior to working for Bahamasair I did a flight to Haiti that can be considered my most frightening because the Haitian authorities held the aircraft papers, I was stranded with my family having no knowledge of my whereabouts - this was before cell phones.  I have also flown some famous people both local and foreign. I was honored to have been the pilot to fly the late Sir Henry Taylor to his final resting place on the great Island of Long Island. Others include Jacques Cousteau, Sir Orville Turnquest, Arthur Haley, Dustin Hoffman, Prince and Princess Guirey and Chevy Chase, just to name a few.

I have achieved my lifelong dream to be one of the first three females at Bahamasair to make the distinguished position of Captain on the Dash-8.  I would like to thank a few people both living and departed who without their help this journey would have been impossible: my father Willard Martinborough and my adopted father Mr. John Moore both of whom have passed on, my mother Alice who is my confidante and the person who has taught me important life lessons about not giving up, as well as my siblings Carol, Sharon and David, my husband Walter and son Alexis, Captain Paul Aranha, my aunts, uncles and cousins.


Captain Gwendolyn Ritchie

I  was born on the 24th of November in Duncan Town Ragged Island.I was the last of ten children , and was christened into the Holy Innocent Anglican Church.

I attended the Ragged Island All Age School, and having done well in B.J.Cs, I was awarded a Scholarship to The Government High School in New Providence.I Graduated in 1985.

I had an early fascination with Airplanes, so naturally  becoming a Pilot was my career of choice.

I had chosen a career, but had no way of funding it. So I went to work.

I spent a few years working at K.F.C. and then at Fedex.and finally, with the support of my family

I completed all licences and ratings required to work in the field of aviation

I began my career with Sky Unlimited, under the guidance of Heuter Rolle, working to meet the requirements for employment at the National Flag Carrier.

I was called to Bahamasair in March of 1995.

Over the past years I have learnt that, with the proper guidance and determination, no job is too difficult to accomplish.

In 2006 I married my best friend Roger Ritchie, and we are the proud parents of five year old Hannah.

I enjoy reading, carpentry, and most sporting activities.

I am a member of St. Ambrose Anglican Church. I have a great commitment for the Lord and for the well being of my Family.


Captain Frances Smith

I was born in Deadman’s Cay, Long Island to Neville and Vera Burrows.  As the youngest of fourteen children I experienced first-hand what it is like to make sacrifices.  I attended Lower Deadman’s Cay Primary School and graduated from NGM Major High in 1980.

In search of employment I moved to Freeport, Grand Bahama and joined Kelly’s Lumber Yard which provided the means to pay for flying lessons.  Six years later I was finally able to obtain my single and multi-engine aircraft ratings.  One year later I took a leave of absence in order to complete my Instrument Commercial rating at American Flyers which is located at Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport.

In 1991 I relocated to Nassau to work as a Dispatcher with Congo Air.  Having completed the required hours I was checked-out as Pilot in Command of the Piper Aztec.  1995 was the year I joined Bahmasair flying as First Officer on the Shorts 360, Dash 8 and B737-200 aircraft.

I married Captain Eulys Smith in 2002 and later became the proud mother of a beautiful daughter named Celine.  Ten years later I was elevated to the rank of Captain on the Dash 8. I would like to publicly express my gratitude to my husband for his continued love and support throughout my intense training and transition to Captain.  This journey has been a wonderful experience for me and I would also like to thank my First Officers who made my early days as Captain easier.

I am constantly asked “How do you balance your life as a wife, mother and professional?” My response is simply “Teamwork is the key.”

In closing I would like to say how much I appreciate the attention our all-female crew is receiving for this historic achievement in Bahamian Aviation.  It is my pleasure to serve as a role model to the many young ladies who aspire not just to become pilots but professionals in any vocation that has been traditionally male-dominated.