Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Virtual Museum: Women in Aviation on stamps and First day covers

I've got a collection of women pilots on First Day Covers and Cachets, and I share it at this website here:

The exhibits include:
1929 Women's National Air Derby
1930 Women's National Air Derby
1948 All Woman Transcontinental Air Race (otherwise known as the Powder Puff Derby)
1966 Powder Puff Derby
1977 Powder Puff Derby
Angel Derby (International All Women's Race) 1972
1993 Air Race Classic
Amelia Earhart contemporary covers to new commemorations
Jacqueline Cochran
Louise Thaden
Katherine and Marjorie Stinson
Bessie Coleman
Harriet Quimby
Jacqueline Auriol
various other pilots

If you're in to aviation history as told on stamps and first day covers, please check out my virtual museum!

There's also a few entries in all aviation - the Smithsonian Milestones of Flight series, for example.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Flying high! Ayesha Aziz set to become first Kashmiri woman pilot

From India Today:

A 17-year-old Kashmiri girl studying in a Mumbai school is all set to become a commercial pilot. She alward has a student pilot licence by Bombay Flying Club.

Ayesha Aziz, whose parents are from Khawaja Bagh in Baramulla, said she always dreamt of flying an airplane.

"As a child I used to think whether one day I will be able to do that. I am glad that I am a pilot now. My dream is gradually turning into a reality," she said.

She said she was working hard to bag the commercial pilot licence. "This year, I will be 18 and will clear the criteria."

Ayesha has also earned a Flight Radio Telephone Operator's Licence and is a member of Indian Women Pilots Association.

While she was in Class 12 at Christ Church School in Mumbai, a NASA team visited the school and selected her along with two boys, for a space training programme.

"NASA was an awesome experience. It was a once in a lifetime opportunity. It felt great....I do not have words to describe my feeling," she said.

"We're proud of our daughter," Ayesha's father said.

Ayesha said Kashmir played a significant role in her life and she was emotionally attached to it.

She also told girls in Kashmir not to be bothered by politics and to follow their heart.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Moore Co. Woman 1 Of 2 Pilots Killed In Alabama UPS Plane Crash (August)

This tragedy happened in August and I'm a bit late sharing the news on it.

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP/NewsChannel 5) - A Moore County woman was one of two pilots killed when a UPS cargo plane crashed and burned Wednesday morning on the outskirts of an Alabama airport.

The Moore County News reported that Shanda Carney Fanning, 37, of Lynchburg, was one of the pilots killed, although UPS has yet to release the names of the two pilots. The paper said she was married to Bret Fanning, an employee at Jack Daniel Distillery.

Fanning worked at the Shelbyville Municipal Airport from 1999 to 2002. She worked for Hank Williamson at the airport. He said she loved aviation and was very responsible.

"She was not accident prone. She was not clumsy. She was very deliberate in everything that she did. She was an excellent employee. I trusted her without question," said Williamson.

The pilot and co-pilot were both killed, said Birmingham Fire Chief Ivor Brooks. The two were the only people on the plane. The crash site burned before the blaze was extinguished, Brooks said.

The plane crashed in an open field on the outskirts of Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport, said Toni Herrera-Bast, a spokeswoman for the city's airport authority. The crash had not affected airport operations, but it knocked power lines down in the area and appeared to have toppled at least one tree and utility pole.

Investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board arrived on the scene around 11 a.m. They said the A300-600F aircraft was coming from Louisville and crashed on approach to the runway. The plane went through some trees before hitting the bottom of a hill.

The plane broke into several pieces before coming to rest about 200 yards from the initial ground impact. The fuselage landed near the runway. Officials said it was heavily damaged by fire.

As of Wednesday evening, the tail section was still smoldering and officials were unable to get the flight data recorder to look for clues into what happened.

"The plane is in several sections," said Birmingham Mayor William Bell, who was briefed on the situation by the city's fire chief. "There were two to three small explosions, but we think that was related to the aviation fuel."

NTSB investigators were still making an overall assessment to begin planning the next stages of their investigation. They expected most of their work to occur Thursday and hoped to have a better indication of what caused the crash.

Any witnesses who saw what happened have been asked to come forward and shed light on what they saw.

At 7 a.m. Wednesday, conditions in the area were rainy with low clouds but it was unknown if weather was a factor in the crash.

Initial information indicated there were no distress calls made by the pilots.

UPS spokesman Jeff Wafford said the plane was carrying a variety of cargo, but he did not elaborate. The names and hometowns of the crewmembers have not been released.

Chunks of riveted metal that appeared to be from the plane landed in the yard of Cornelius and Barbara Benson, who live in a two-story, split-foyer house just a short walk from the crash site.

Barbara Benson, age 72, said she and her husband, Cornelius, age 75, were awakened from sleep at the time of the crash by "this big sonic boom."

"I saw a big red flash through my bedroom window," she said.

As it got light, the two were able to see that the tops of trees around their property had been knocked onto the ground and that they were missing a piece of their back deck.

Cornelius Benson said planes routinely fly so low over his house that a few years ago, the airport authority sent crews to remove the tops from trees around his house.

"The planes come so close sometimes I've been able to wave at the captains as they pass," Barbara Benson said.

"It was just a matter of time before something happened," Cornelius Benson said.

Sharon Wilson, who also lives near the airport, said she was in bed before dawn when she heard what sounded like engines sputtering as the plane went over her house.

"It sounded like an airplane had given out of fuel. We thought it was trying to make it to the airport. But a few minutes later we heard a loud `Boom!'" she said.

Another resident, Jerome Sanders, lives directly across from the runway. He said he heard a plane just before dawn and could see flames seconds before it crashed. "It was on fire before it hit," Sanders said.

Residents of a home about a half-mile away from the crash site called police to report that a piece of the plane had fallen on their rooftop, Birmingham Fire Battalion Chief C.W. Mardis said. Police were dispatched to investigate that report, one of two in a neighborhood known as Airport Hills, Mardis said.

James Giles, who lives just off the airport's property, said the plane missed his home by a couple hundred yards, judging from the tree damage and debris. He was away at work at the time, but said it was clear from the scene that the plane was attempting to land on the north-south runway that is typically used by much smaller aircraft. Large planes such as the A300 typically use the bigger east-west runway to land in Birmingham, he said.

"They were just trying to get to a landing spot, anywhere," he said.

Atlanta-based UPS said in a statement that "as we work through this difficult situation, we ask for your patience, and that you keep those involved in your thoughts and prayers."

Previously, a UPS cargo plane crashed on Sept. 3, 2010, in the United Arab Emirates, just outside Dubai. Both pilots were killed. Authorities there blamed the crash on its load of between 80,000 to 90,000 lithium batteries, which are sensitive to temperature. Investigators found that a fire on board likely began in the cargo containing the batteries.

The Airbus A300 that had taken off from Louisville, Ky., crashed around 5 a.m. CDT about a half-mile from the runway, said Federal Aviation Administration spokeswoman Kathleen Bergen said.

Airbus said in a news release that the plane was built in 2003 and had logged about 11,000 flight hours over 6,800 flights.

The A300 was Airbus' first plane, and the type first flew in 1972. American Airlines retired its last A300 in 2009, and no U.S. passenger airlines have flown it since then. Airbus quit building them in 2007 after making a total of 816 A300 and A310s.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Pakistan's only female fighter pilot becomes role model for millions of girls

From the UK Telegraph: She has already made history by becoming the first woman assigned to one of Pakistan's front line dogfighting squadrons. Now at the age of 26 Flight Lieutenant Farooq says she is ready for the ultimate test. "If war breaks out, I will be flying on my senior's wing as his wingman, well, wingwoman," she said in an interview with The Daily Telegraph at the headquarters of the Pakistan Air Force in Islamabad. India and Pakistan remain locked in a stand-off over the disputed territory of Kashmir. It has twice since partition been the cause of all-out wars and the dispute is flaring once again. Both sides have claimed they have been attacked with artillery and small arms. Last month, India accused Pakistani forces of killing five of its soldiers, stoking anger among Hindu nationalists of the BJP, although the killings were denied by Islamabad For Fl Lt Farooq, it would provide the ultimate chance to prove that women were every bit the equal of men in the cockpit. "When I get orders I will go and fight. I want to prove myself, to show that I'm doing something for my country." Earlier this year she completed her training to become Pakistan's first war-ready female fighter pilot, flying the F7-PG, a Chinese version of the MiG 21 jet. Not only does that bring the responsibility of helping guard the border with India, she has also become a role model for millions of girls who dream of following in her footsteps in a country where many are denied an education and forced to stay at home. Pakistan remains a patriarchal society. In swathes of the north-west, women are seen rarely unless it is beneath the billowing folds of a burka. It has not been easy. At every test of strength and endurance she has had to match the men – and sometimes do it without lavatories. When she was posted to 20 Air Superiority Squadron, at Rafiqui base in Punjab, about 100 miles from the Indian border, there were scant facilities for female officers. "They had to build them for me," she said with a smile. But for all the broken glass ceilings and new lavatory blocks, Fl Lt Farooq remains a traditional Pakistani woman in some ways. Three weeks ago she was married to her cousin, in a match arranged for her by the two families. "We played together when we were children so I think he always knew I would not be a traditional woman," she said. Things are changing gradually for women in Pakistan. There are about 4,000 in the country's armed forces. Some 19 women have become pilots in the past decade, but most fly transporters. Of the six fighter pilots, Fl Lt Farooq is the only one to have qualified for combat and to fly regular sorties along a border where two nuclear-armed nations face off. She said there had never been any doubt that she would pilot a fast jet. Her father, a doctor, died when she was three – an experience she said had steeled her to overcome challenges as she grew up in Bahawalpur. "I was always the man of my family," she said. "In my early childhood I developed some protective skills toward my younger sister and my mother. I was a young soldier." She signed up when she was 17 and since then has survived years of near constant testing that saw her 40 classmates whittled down by half. None of the three other women made it to fighter training. Now she flies one of the PAF's front line planes, an olive green headscarf tucked beneath her helmet. Her small frame, she said, meant she had to work harder in the gym to ensure she had the strength to control her multimillion pound jet. Every day she receives dozens of telephone calls from girls hoping to follow in her footsteps. "It's not a job that people here associate with ladies so as well as doing a job for my country I'm changing the thoughts of people," she said. "It's a big responsibility but one I enjoy." Her fellow pilots treat her as an equal, she said, often forgetting who they are flying alongside. "Sometimes they are asked, what is it like to fly with a lady," said Fl Lt Farooq. "They say: what lady?"