Sunday, December 30, 2012

Aviation Expert Laments Dearth Of Qualified Pilots In Nigeria

From the Guardian:  Aviation Expert Laments Dearth Of Qualified Pilots In Nigeria 

THE first Nigerian female pilot and Rector of the Nigeria College of Aviation Technology, Zaria, Captain Chinyere Kalu, has expressed disappointment at the dearth of qualified pilots in Nigeria, saying it threatens the future and growth of the aviation industry.
Speaking on Friday at the Women in Science and Technology (WISE) mentorship programme at the African University of Science and Technology (AUST), Abuja, Kalu said the significant gap created when embargo was placed on employment in the aviation sector did not augur well with the sector, as younger pilots who would have fitted into the transition after the retirement of aged pilots were not there.
“Nigeria does not have enough pilots. Most of the pilots in Nigeria are aged and the embargo on employment in rhe aviation sector for seven years created a lot of gap; there are no sufficient younger pilots to replace them,” she said.
Kalu said that ensuring safety in the aviation sector is a process and not a destination, noting that with the reforms by the Minister of Aviation to ensure that no “flying casket” is operating in Nigeria, sanity would be restored in the sector.


Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Aviation watches for women

This is from General Aviation News:  The time of her life

Type “women’s pilot watch” into an Internet search engine. Chances are high that the first — and possibly only — company name that pops up will be The Abingdon Co. And that’s just fine with 28-year-old Chelsea Abingdon Welch, the company’s founder.
    Welch3“I knew from about the age of 14 that I wanted a career in aviation,” Welch recalled, but admits that she didn’t plan to go into manufacturing timepieces for pilots.
According to Welch, the idea for the company got its start in 2006 when she was pursuing her private pilot ticket and discovered that no one made aviator watches sized or styled for women.
“You could buy a man’s watch, but it was bulky and black or brown, and you know a MAN’S watch,” she said.
Welch reasoned she wasn’t the only woman pilot who wanted the functionality an aviator watch that didn’t feel like a boat anchor on her wrist.
“A bunch of women got together and we did the first two designs, which were the Jackie model and the Amelia model,” she recalled, noting that they felt it only fitting to name the first two models after Jackie Cochrane and Amelia Earhart, two of the most famous female aviators. “The watches have Zulu time on them, a stop watch, and an E-6B slide rule — everything you need to make calculations in the cockpit.”
TheAbingdonCoJackieSunsetPinkAbingdon watches are finished with mother-of-pearl faces, crystals and diamonds and pastel colors. The watchbands are available in silver metal or black or white leather.
“As you can see, they are all sorts of brightness in addition to functionality,” Welch said, proudly displaying the two watches she wears, one on each wrist. “The faces are pink, or blue and green and all sorts of brightness.”
Welch’s flying career began at the same time her manufacturing career did, just after college and a stint in the Peace Corps.
“In 2006 I walked onto Santa Monica Airport to interview each of the schools. I had no job and little money. The questions I asked each of the five flight schools were, ‘Can you teach me how to fly quickly? Do you have any jobs available? And will you pay for my flight training?’ To my surprise, one school said yes to all three questions and I began a paid internship there that involved trading work for flight lessons. One year later, I left with a commercial rating and 230 hours of flight time.”
While most who desire careers in aviation become flight instructors to build experience, Welch built her hours by working as a demo pilot for Cirrus Aircraft.
“The Cirrus dealership was right next door to the flight school,” she said. “Cirrus hired me right after I passed my commercial checkride.”
For the next year or so Welch traveled around the country, showing Cirrus SR20s and SR22s to perspective clients and representing the company at various airshows and fly-ins.
The Abingdon Co. was a sideline, something Welch worked on in her spare time.
“I always kept the two separate,” she recalled. “In fact, most of the people at Cirrus never knew about The Abingdon Co. If I went to a trade show for Cirrus, then I was dedicated to Cirrus. It didn’t seem fair to try to market my company when I was on the dime of another. Only in my spare time did I work to grow The Abingdon Co.”
TheAbingdonCoAmeliaCloudWhiteSoon the watch company began to take more of her time, although she still made time to ferry airplanes around the country to aviation events, while working on getting her flight instructor certificate. The CFI ticket — and a chance encounter at last year’s AirVenture with the cast of the cable television show “Flying Wild Alaska” — opened another door for Welch. The reality television show focuses on the lives of the Tweto family and their family-run airline, Era Alaska, which services the remote Alaskan wilderness.
“I honestly didn’t have a TV so I had never seen the show,” Welch said. “I asked one of the characters, Ariel Tweto, what they flew. She said ‘oh a bunch of Cessnas. Caravans and 207s.’ I said ‘Carvans! that’s my favorite airplane!’ I told her that my idea of a good time was to get a Caravan and put it on floats and pack it full of beer and friends and disappear into a lake in Canada for a couple of weeks. She said ‘great, I need your number.’ We ended up becoming good friends.”
At the time Tweto was going to college in Southern California where Welch was living. Tweto was also working on her private pilot ticket, so she hired Welch for instruction.
“She hadn’t flown in a few months so we went up for a few lessons and I helped her get her landings back,” Welch said.
Tweto still hadn’t finished her ticket when the time came for her to return to Alaska.
“Without my knowledge she pitched it to the producers to bring me up as a flight instructor,” said Welch.
The producers said yes and Welch headed for Alaska to teach Arial to fly on television no less.
There were no Hollywood dramatics when it came to the checkride, said Welch, except for the fact that it had to be administered by an FAA representative who came out from Anchorage.
“The ride took seven hours,” said Welch, noting that is about three times the length of the average private pilot checkride, “because the FAA examiner went down through the practical test standards line by line because it had been so long since he had done a private pilot checkride. After the checkride he said that it was one of the best checkrides that he’d ever administered.”
The television show provided more exposure for The Abingdon Co. and during this year’s AirVenture the company’s booth had a steady flow of customers.
Welch2“The reception we got was amazing,” Welch said. The “we” she speaks of is a crew of six people, the men and women who make up the company. Many of the ideas for watch designs come from customers, she noted.
“We read every single email that comes to us and the messages that come to us via Facebook and Twitter to see what features people want in a watch,” she said.
As the clock ran out on 2012 Welch, who splits her time between Las Vegas and Southern California, was working on the expansion of the Abingdon product line, adding to her flight hours from the right seat, and working on giving back to aviation.
“In January we award the ‘It’s about time’ scholarship, which is designed to get more people involved in aviation,” she said. “We are also a sponsor for the Think Global Flight (an around the world flight to promote the study of science, technology, engineering and math).”
She also has plans for the company’s product line to extend outside the world of aviation, into sports like NASCAR and the like where women fans are in the minority.
When asked where she sees herself in five years, Welch replies, “I’m doing it! I’m living the dream — running my own company and ferrying airplanes around!”
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Girls Inc Group Celebrates Women in Aviation With a First for Some Local Middle Schoolers

This story is from November: 

From WDEF News 12: Girls Inc Group Celebrates Women in Aviation With a First for Some Local Middle Schoolers

A first for some local girls.
They got a chance to meet a role model who helped them reach new heights.
Girls Inc took the group from the Orchard Knob Middle after school program to the Wilson Air Center today.
It's part of their celebration of Women in Aviation month.
The girls met one of the female pilots currently flying in and out of Chattanooga.
Rebecca Gibson works for Crystal Air.
She told the group about her career, answered questions and gave them a tour of a plane.
It's the first time the girls had ever been on one.
 Rebecca Gibson, Pilot, Crystal Air, "We're just trying to put aviation on their horizon. Maybe it's something they never really thought about."
Madeleine Dougherty, Girls Inc, Chattanooga, "I also wanted them to realize as far as women have come it's still really rare to meet a woman who is a pilot and the girls were really so excited to meet a woman who's working in a male dominated field."
Girls Inc has been inspiring girls to be strong, smart and bold since 1961. 

Saturday, December 15, 2012

9 Mar 2013: Familyi Day at the IWASM!

On Saturday March 9th, 2013 IWASM will be hosting our 8th Annual Family Day! This year we will be celebrating the 50th Anniversary of Valentina Tereshkova becoming the first woman in space and the 30th Anniversary of Sally Ride becoming the first American woman in space. Join us in celebrating the life and legacy of these remarkable women with crafts, games, live performances, and more! More details to follow keep posted to for more information.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Three female Rebel pilots were discharged from ‘Return of the Jedi’

From YahooNews:  Three female Rebel pilots were discharged from ‘Return of the Jedi’

Photo: Star Wars Aficionado Magazine
The Rebel Alliance now seems a little bit less like a galactic Boys Club.
The final battle against the Death Star in "Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi" (1983) used to have a bit more of a woman's touch as it's been revealed that there were actually three female Rebel pilots taking on TIE Fighters and Star Destroyers as they waited for Han Solo and the gang to blow up the shield generator bunker on Endor (ah, old war stories!).
There were three unnamed lady pilots in "Jedi," two of which can be seen in the extras for the Blu-ray release of the original "Star Wars" trilogy. Both of them were A-Wing pilots, with one even getting a line ("Got it," which was actually dubbed by a male actor in post-production) before getting shot down by a TIE Fighter seconds later. The second pilot is, surprisingly, considerably older ... and could now indeed be the inspiration for a new wave of fan fiction (she's a retired Rebel vet who's allowed to come back for one last hurrah against the Empire after being deemed too old for duty during the Battle of Yavin in "A New Hope," perhaps?).
There was a third female pilot in the Battle of Endor as well. French actress Vivienne Chandler didn't make it into the Blu-ray extras, even though she spent three days on the "Jedi" set and had an entire line of dialogue between herself and another pilot. She also got to fly the much more iconic X-Wing, the ship of choice for her Rebel colleague, Luke Skywalker. Even though actual footage of her in full Rebel mode doesn't seem to exist, she's managed to stay a part of the "Star Wars" universe as she's now a staple on the convention circuit.
There's been no official explanation as to why these characters were cut, though fan speculation suggests that the filmmakers may have deemed the sight of ladies getting blown to smithereens to be too intense for moviegoers ... especially when one could pass for your grandmother.
We have a feeling a lot of the Rebellion's apparent gender discrimination will have dissolved in time for "Episode VII." "Star Wars" needs women, and "Star Wars" will get them if Disney has anything to say about it.


22 Feb 2013: Dinner with a slice of history

 Dinner with a Slice of History:  Bill Meixner- History of Cleveland Airport At The International Women's Air & Space Museum Burke Lakefront Airport .

Takes place: February 22, 2013 

Join us at the museum for the first of our 2013 Dinner Series. Cleveland Municipal Airport has an impressive history beginning with the fact that it was the first municipally owned airport in the country and was the home of the National Air Races. It became a model for the development of airports here and abroad. 

The number of "firsts" might surprise you. As an 8-year-old youngster, Bill Meixner was introduced to aviation at the National Air Races by an older brother at Cleveland Airport and developed a passion for flying that continues to this day. After returning from serving in the Korean War he started flying lessons at Cleveland Airport and became interested in it's history. Bill has developed programs on the History of the Airport, The Bomber Plant, The National Air Races, The 1909 Air Race in Reams France, and The MacRobertson Air Race in 1934. 

Bill, a charter member of the International Society of Air Racing Historians, serves on the executive committee and as webmaster for the Society's web site Dinner will be served at 6:30 with the program starting at 7pm. Tickets are $15, $12 for IWASM Members- Member discount will be given after registration. 

Please RSVP by Feb 17.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

The sky is the limit for Girls Inc. of Chattanooga

From the TimesFreePress:  The sky is the limit for Girls Inc. of Chattanooga

Kathleen Watkins, right, asks pilot Rebecca Gibson a question about airplanes from inside the pilot's seat Monday during a Girls Inc. of Chattanooga trip to Wilson Air Center.
Kathleen Watkins, right, asks pilot Rebecca Gibson a question about airplanes from inside the pilot's seat Monday during a Girls Inc. of Chattanooga trip to Wilson Air Center. 

Six girls who had never been on an airplane spent Monday afternoon at Wilson Air Center with a female pilot.
"I just want to get up there," said 13-year-old Angel Townsend, while standing near pilot Rebecca Gibson at the airport.
Angel linked arm and arm with other girls to walk from the lobby to the Caravan 10-seater airplane.
The girls didn't go for a ride. Gibson just gave them an inside tour of the plane.
Angel's first career choice is to be a psychologist, but if that doesn't work out, she's going to be a pilot, she said.
Girls Inc. organized the afternoon of aviation inspiration in recognition of November being National Aviation Month.
Madeleine Dougherty, Girl Inc.'s program educator, said the trip was a way to introduce the girls to another male-dominated field.
"Flying is breath taking," said Dougherty who has friends who are pilots and travels in airplanes at least three times a year.
Before visiting Gibson at Wilson Air Center, some girls in the group didn't even know what a pilot was.
"They just kept saying the plane person," Dougherty said. "This is exposing the girls to a new career that they would not have thought of."
If one girl is inspired to think about a career that she never thought of before, then my job is done, she said.
Dougherty also talked to the girls about careers in medicine and robotics.
Gibson came to the airport wearing a tan leather jacket and blue jeans. With her hair pulled back in a ponytail and wearing sunglasses she seemed like any other airport visitor until she introduced herself as an airplane pilot.
She's been flying since she was 7 years old. She's been a pilot since age 17. She's 33 now.
According to the website,, less than 6 percent of certified commercial pilots were women in 2010.
Gibson's love affair with planes started when she and her dad took a plane ride together. While waiting for the plane to take off he asked her what she wanted to be when she grew up. She rattled off a chef, a mommy and a ballerina. Then the plane started and her eyes fixated on the blue sky and white clouds she saw outside.
"I was glued to window," she said. "About that time, my dad elbowed me and said 'you know you could be a pilot'."


Monday, December 3, 2012

PR: Wicks Aircraft: New AVIATOR LIGHT PEN Sheds Light Where You Need It

When you need to write, and there is no light available, or when you don't want to lose all your night vision, or when you don't want to disturb those around you, the old solutions used to involve writing blind (and trying to decipher it later) or holding a flashlight in your "spare hand," or even in your mouth. Technology presents a better solution, and Wicks Aircraft Supply has it: a pen with a lighted tip.

This good-looking ballpoint pen, with the Wicks phone number always handy on its barrel, writes with standard black ink, right where its own light is shining, allowing you to see and write in otherwise pitch-darkness. It is also possible to use this pen without turning on the light, to save the long-life batteries for when you need them. It is also useful as a micro-flashlight.

Scott Wick, President of Wicks Aircraft, says, "This new pen has a LED light which shines from the tip directly to the surface you are writing on. It is perfect for the pilot who flies at night and needs to write down a clearance or needs to see or make a mark on their map. Now you don't have to hold a flashlight in one hand and write with the other.  Nor do you need to move your map under a cockpit light to be able to see it. I wish I had one of these years ago."

The wait is over. The Wicks part number is WF14101B, and the Aviator Light Pen is available immediately, priced at $9.99.

Australia: Scholarship to encourage more female pilots

From Australia Aviation:  Scholarship to encourage more female pilots

The federal government has announced two RAAF-sponsored scholarships to encourage the development of female pilots within the aviation community.
Available through the Australian Women Pilots Association (AWPA), the scholarships are open to female pilots between 17 and 24 years of age who have attained their private pilot licence (A) or equivalent. Two categories are being awarded: the AWPA Formation or Aerobatic Endorsement (Aeroplanes) Scholarship and the AWPA PPL(A) Navigation Component Scholarship.
This is the second year the scholarships have been launched.  An AWPA spokesperson said: “As a result of the RAAF’s support in 2012, we have two women pilots who were thrilled to achieve their aerobatics rating. With the RAAF’s ongoing support, AWPA looks forward to being able to provide further opportunities for women pilots to follow their aviation dreams.”

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Not all military women jump at chance for combat roles

Not specifically about female pilots, but of interest.

From Not all military women jump at chance for combat roles

Fewer than 1 in 5 of the women offered the chance to move into a combat-related position at Fort Carson took advantage of the opportunity, according to preliminary data from a pilot program at Fort Carson.
The rate of women who took the newly-opened jobs with Fort Carson’s 2nd Brigade Combat Team offered the first glimpse of the appetite female soldiers have for joining units that are inherently closer to combat. But opponents to the Defense Department’s 1994 ban on women holding combat positions said the figure doesn’t truly represent the number of women who want to serve closer to the front lines.
“I think maybe initially, there’s just a general hesitation to jump in with both feet into uncharted territory, which is sort of basic human nature,” said Greg Jacob, the policy director at Service Women’s Action Network, a New York-based organization aimed at equal rights for women in the military.
The six-month pilot program was winding up as four women — three reservists and a Marine set to move from active duty to reserve this week — filed a lawsuit Tuesday challenging the ban, the second such suit this year.
Plaintiffs said the ban, which barred women from 238,000 positions across the Armed Forces, blocked them from promotions and other advancements open to men in combat.
Defense Department officials and litigants alike acknowledged that combat lines began to blur in Iraq and Afghanistan, where men and women fought side-by-side and often faced the same suicide bombers. More than 144 female troops have been killed and 860 have been wounded in the two wars, according to Pentagon statistics.
But while litigants seek immediate change, Defense Department officials say they want to make sure lifting gender-based barriers would not disrupt the cohesion of the smaller combat ground units and military operations.
Fort Carson’s program began May 14. Women could request a transfer into four jobs previously off-limits to women, including tank, artillery and Bradley Armored Fighting Vehicle maintenance. A fourth job allowed women to be radar operators responsible for tracking where enemy fire originated while coordinating counter attacks.
In addition, some brigade-level jobs — such as chaplain and field surgeon — were made available at the battalion level, which often serves closer to the front lines.
Of the 343 soldiers who were eligible to move into the new positions at Fort Carson, 59 asked to do so, said Maj. Earl Brown, a Fort Carson spokesman. Forty were ultimately assigned to those posts.
While Fort Carson did not provide a breakdown of those new positions, Brown said many of the 59 soldiers generally did a similar job in the past. For example, mechanics might have moved into a new speciality, such as tank maintenance, he said.
Five other Army installations took part in the pilot program, which was part of a Defense Department-wide push to open up about 14,300 jobs to women.
The Army — which accounted for nearly 97 percent of those positions — is reviewing how the transition went.
Brown declined to comment on the post’s figures until the review is complete. The new jobs are “the beginning, not the end, of a process,” said Eileen Lainez, a Defense Secretary spokeswoman, in an email.
The new positions mean little to many women who want to serve in infantry units, a career field that accounts for many jobs still off-limits to women, said Ariela Migdal, an American Civil Liberties Union attorney representing the women suing the Defense Department.
“What they’re doing in a lot of cases is opening up positions for women in jobs that women are already allowed to do,” Migdal said
“Our argument… is not that necessarily that every woman in the military wants to do every single one of those jobs,” she added. “Combat’s not for everybody. There’s a lot of men who can’t and don’t want to do those combat arms jobs or who would flunk out of training for it.
“What our plaintiffs are seeking is the opportunity to compete.”

The fewer, prouder: women pilots fly alongside men

From DVID:  The fewer, prouder: women pilots fly alongside men
MARINE CORPS AIR STATION MIRAMAR, Calif. – When an economics major in her freshman year stepped into class and saw a video of a plane hitting the World Trade Centers the feeling of helplessness overwhelmed her. She knew then she had to do something to make a difference.

She decided when hearing about the possibilities of being a pilot in the Marine Corps, that she would use that to aid her country in a time of need. This person, now a Marine pilot with Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 462, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, is Capt. Charlene Wyman.

After seven years in the Marine Corps, spending her entire career as a CH-53E Super Stallion pilot, she doesn’t look at her job as work, she sees it as fun.

“As a woman, I wanted to be in direct support of the troops on the ground,” said Wyman, a Denver, Colo., native. “I wanted to be as close to the action as possible.”

On her first deployment where she spent three months in Iraq and three months in Afghanistan, she was one of four female pilots, which was an anomaly, she explained.

Upon returning, there was only one other female pilot in her squadron.

“In older generations it may have been a bigger deal,” said Wyman. “But, nowadays women are seen in many different jobs that they wouldn’t have been in before and it doesn’t faze anyone.”

The friendships made in the Marine Corps are tighter than those possibly made in a civilian job. As a pilot, the opportunities to work closely with officers and enlisted closely help to pass knowledge and make the team as a whole stronger, explained Wyman.

She is very personable and it is easy to ask her questions because she is knowledgeable and can explain things in a manner that is easy to understand, added Capt. John Dextor, a pilot and operations officer with HMM-462, 3rd MAW and a Norfolk, Va., native.

As a pilot with qualifications to instruct others in training and weapons and tactics, she thoroughly passes her knowledge to anyone who can benefit from it, explained Dextor.

“She is very attention-to-detail oriented,” said Dextor. “Working as operations officers together, she coordinates about 40 pilots and matches what they need with classes, students and instructors to get the schedule finished.”

Wyman is proud to be in a squadron that grows and works as a team. She benefits from others as well as passes her knowledge to colleagues. Without them, she would not have gotten the opportunity to fly with Headquarters Marine Corps Squadron 1 in the future.

“She is going to be a pilot with HMX-1.” said Dextor. “That is a testament to her skill level and potential for the future,” said Dextor. “It is very competitive and a very selective process.”

As a pilot with many opportunities, Wyman would not change it.

“I didn’t plan on staying in for this long.” said Wyman. “However, I didn’t know it was going to be this much fun. I know I’ll be in HMX-1 for four years, so if I still love it, I will keep doing this. I don’t honestly know what I’d be doing if I wasn’t here.”