Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Female IAF pilots cleared to fly while pregnant

From the Times of Israel:
A decade and a half after the first woman graduated from the Israel Air Force’s prestigious flight school, the IAF has, after years of deliberation, opened the skies to pregnant pilots and navigators, the air force quarterly magazine reported.
“In 1995 the first female cadets arrived at the flight school and since then the IAF has gone quite a ways toward integrating women,” said Lt. Col. Dr. Yifat Ehrlich, the commander of the IAF’s flight medical unit. “There are combat airwomen now and their needs must be addressed.” 

The first woman to fly in the IAF was Zahara Levitov, a Palmach fighter who moved to the US during the British Mandate period, studied medicine at Columbia University and trained as a pilot in California. When the War of Independence broke out, she returned to Israel and flew combat missions during the conflict until a fatal plane crash in August 1948.
Two years later, Yael Rom became the first woman pilot to graduate from the newly founded IAF Flight School. In 1956, during the Suez War, she co-piloted the lead plane that dropped the Paratroops at the mouth of the Mitla Pass, deep in the Sinai Desert.

But at around the same time, while the IAF was establishing itself as a true air force, it stopped accepting female cadets. Only in 1994 did Alice Miller, a trained civilian pilot and an officer in the IAF, appeal to the High Court of Justice to break the gender discrimination.

In 1995, against the wishes of Maj. Gen. Herzl Bodinger, the commander of the IAF at the time, the Court ruled that the IAF could not bar candidates on the basis of gender alone.

Miller was found unfit to enroll in the highly competitive course. But others quickly followed in her footsteps. In December 1998 Sari Rahat of Raanana, an F-16 navigator, became the first woman to graduate from the course. In 2001, Roni Zuckerman, the granddaughter of two of the leaders of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, Antek Zuckerman and Zvia Lubetkin, became the first woman to graduate as a fighter pilot. She nearly took top honors in the course and was picked to fly in an elite F-16 squadron.

Roughly 35 female pilots have finished the course since it began re-accepting women. The IAF would not release numbers of active female pilots but noted that two more graduated the course in December.

In the past all female pilots were grounded for the duration of their pregnancies. Starting in 2014, transport plane pilots will be allowed to fly until the 25th week of pregnancy, the IAF quarterly reported, with a limit of four hours of air time per day, at or below 8,000 feet and with an additional airman or woman in the cockpit.

The pregnant pilots will have to be examined by a physician before each flight and have their eyesight checked once every month.

Dr. Ehrlich, the commander of the IAF’s flight medical unit, told the IAF quarterly that, “today, it has been proven yet again, that if women want it, they can do it.”

WWII Female Air Force Pilots Still Flying High

This is from NPR's All Things Considered.

You can listen to it at this link:


It's ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR West. I'm Arun Rath.
During World War II, a group of women took a bold step in aviation. While male pilots were sent overseas, the Women Air Force Service Pilots took up the war effort on the home front. From 1943 to 1944, they logged over 60 million miles across the U.S., flying 77 types of military aircraft to haul supplies and conduct training exercises.
This week, the women pilots were honored at the Rose Parade in Pasadena, California. NPR's Daniel Hajek caught up with some veteran members before the parade.
DANIEL HAJEK, BYLINE: Van Nuys Airport, an hour north of L.A., a group of 10 elderly women dressed in blue uniforms walk onto an airstrip where they're greeted by a small crowd and four World War II-era AT-6 Texans, two-seater propeller planes that bring back some memories.
FLORA BELLE REECE: Pratt & Whitney engine, 650 horsepower and is a beautiful airplane. It will just do whatever you ask it to when you use the controls correctly.
HAJEK: That's 89-year-old Flora Belle Reece from Lancaster, California. She flew these planes 70 years ago when she volunteered for the Women Air Force Service Pilots or WASP. She was inspired to fly as a kid in Oklahoma watching the birds as she helped her dad farm.
REECE: In my life, my priorities are God first, family second, and then flying.
HAJEK: And her priorities were straight when she became one of 1,100 women who earned silver wings in the WASP originally stationed in Sweetwater, Texas. The women pilots transported soldiers, test-flew planes and conducted training exercises as seen in this WASP training film courtesy of Texas Women's University.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Nobody should ever tell a WASP that flying's not a woman's job. They wouldn't believe it any more than if it were said a girl can't be a good flier and a woman.
HAJEK: One of their most dangerous missions, towing targets for anti-aircraft training, where guys on the ground would shoot live ammunition. Ask 94-year-old Elizabeth Strohfus if she was ever scared.
ELIZABETH STROHFUS: Oh, no. Not a bit. I loved every minute of it.
HAJEK: Today, these women get to play co-pilots as members of the Condor Squadron at Van Nuys, take four of them up in these old planes they've restored. On the ground, a line of active duty female pilots salute as the planes pass in formation.
HAJEK: Lieutenant Colonel Samantha Weeks says the WASP inspired her to become a pilot. She flies F-15 and F-16 fighter jets in the United States Air Force.
LT. COL. SAMANTHA WEEKS: To have the opportunity to be around them and sit with them and listen to their stories and hear how they paved the road that allows me to walk the walk that I do in the Air Force today is just amazing.
HAJEK: Yet even today, the aviation culture is largely male dominated. The FAA estimates that women make up just 7 percent of certified pilots in the U.S. These women are trailblazers.
HAJEK: The AT-6s land and sputter back to the hanger. Elizabeth Strohfus carefully climbs out of the cockpit. She's all smiles.
STROHFUS: Good memories. It was a beautiful flight. I used to do a lot of formation flying. Course, they always said I flew too close. I said, I thought that's what you're supposed to do.
HAJEK: Like the other WASPs, flying is in her blood. When Strohfus was 72, she hitched a ride in an F-16 fighter jet. Midway through her flight, she says the pilot gave her the controls. So you took control.
HAJEK: And what did you do?
STROHFUS: Well, I didn't mean to make too steep a turn, but I got a 6G turn.
WEEKS: 6G turn.
STROHFUS: 6Gs, yeah. And he said: Hey, take it easy. I don't have the (unintelligible). I said: Honey, you can have mine because I don't need it.
HAJEK: They've come a long way since the WASP was disbanded in 1944. These women were finally recognized as veterans in 1977, and they received the Congressional Gold Medal in 2010. Earlier this week, their own float at the Rose Parade. Members of the Women Air Force Service Pilots are like celebrities in the aviation world. They live for the thrill of flying. Daniel Hajek, NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR,

Friday, January 10, 2014

Columbus woman notches rare achievement: female pilot

From Ledger Enquirer:

She now flies like an Eagle.

While her husband trained to obtain his pilot's license this year, Andrea Eagle took the so-called pinch-hitter lessons to understand the basics, in case Chris somehow was incapacitated while the family flew in their four-seat airplane.

Andrea enjoyed the experience so much, she decided to pursue her own pilot's license. And on Oct. 12, when she passed her test, Andrea notched a rare achievement: Only 6.65 percent of U.S. civilian pilots in 2012 were female (40,621 out of 610,576), according to the most recent data from the Federal Aviation Administration.

"Most of my female friends think I'm crazy," said Andrea, a Columbus Regional Health pharmacist at the Family Practice Center. "I tell them, 'You can do it, too. I've got a full-time job, I've got two kids, and a lot of times as a mom, your identity is so wrapped up in your kids and your family and everything. I just think it's really important to have something you do for yourself, that you really enjoy, and that's what this is for me."

As she recalled the first time she flew solo, Andrea seemed like she was about to soar without wings: "When you actually take the plane up by yourself and you get it on the ground, you're like, 'Holy crap! I just did that all by myself!'"

Chris, director of facilities at Midtown Medical Center (formerly the Medical Center), laughed and said, "There was a time when it went from 'my plane' to 'our plane.' But I encouraged her to go do it.
"There certainly is an added measure of safety having two pilots in the front. There's also a tremendous added convenience of having a pilot next to you that can help you do things like navigate and knows things you're supposed to do and actually operate the aircraft. She's my autopilot now."
A minimum of 40 hours of flight training is required before being allowed to take the pilot's license test. David Hall, an independent certified flight instructor who taught Andrea, said it takes an average of 75 hours of training for folks to pass the test but Andrea needed only 65 hours.

"She is probably in the top one-third of pilots by earning her license much before the national average time," said Hall, who has been a pilot for 16 years.

Hall estimated 70 percent to 80 percent of those who start flight training give up before getting their pilot's license. He listed Andrea's intelligence and determination as the key factors to her success.
"We tap into points most people don't even access," he said.

Andrea praised Hall for his instruction. She insisted the toughest part of passing the test was the anticipation.

"Once I got up there and started doing it -- I'd done it so much, especially the week before, when I flew every day -- it had gotten to where it was just a lot of muscle memory," she said. "I was confident that I knew how to do it."

Andrea also thanked Chris and her mother, Shirley Exum, for taking care of daughter, Annalise, a fourth-grader at St. Luke School, and son, Drew, a seventh-grader at St. Luke, while she trained.

"I didn't have any idea I would like it as much as I did until I got in there and started doing it," Andrea said. "I'd been around small planes before. My first job out of high school was working for a crop duster in south Georgia, but I never even thought about flying until this year."

Now, she can't remember being afraid at any time she has been the pilot.

"The first couple of times I flew by myself, it was kind of nerve-racking," she said, "but I never really was scared or fearful that something was going to go wrong."

The Eagles' plane, a Piper Cherokee 180, can go as fast as 140 mph, as high as 12,000 feet and as far as 500 nautical miles on one tank of gas. Asked where they have flown since becoming a two-pilot family, Chris cracked, "We haven't been hardly anywhere because she's been hogging up the plane."
Andrea smiled and added, "We have big plans to go to the beach a lot." They have a house in Panama City, Fla., so instead of a four-hour car ride, it's now a flight of 1 hour and 20 minutes.
"And flying is safer than car travel," Chris said.

Beyond the convenience and safety, Andrea revels in the joy of piloting a plane.

"It's the idea of being able to do something that not a lot of people can say they've done," she said. "I just love being up in the air. The world's a whole lot more beautiful from the sky."

Chris gestured toward Annalise and Drew and noted the family's window of opportunity for such trips is closing all too fast.

"I wanted us to do this now," he said, "so as they got to this age, old enough to be in the plane, we could fly to places and do more stuff as a family."

Then he pointed to Annalise and added, "The other reason I'm really glad Andrea did this is my daughter made the comment one time, about a year ago, when we were talking about going somewhere, and she was talking about being the co-pilot and Drew being the pilot, and I was like, 'Why do you got to be the co-pilot?' She said, 'It's because I'm the girl.' So I was really glad that Andrea did this."

Andrea offered further perspective.

"I was an only child, and my daddy always told me I could do whatever I wanted," she said. "Deer hunting, driving a tractor, it didn't matter that I was a girl. I want her to know that she can do that too."

As for Drew, he likes the novelty of the situation.

"I honestly don't know anybody else whose mom is a pilot," he said, "especially at my school."

Andrea's eyes widened as she asked, "So are you trying to say I'm cool?"

Drew shook his head: "Uh-uh."

"I think you're cool," Annalise interjected.

Andrea replied, "Ahhh, thanks, babe."

Read more here:

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Thursday, January 9, 2014

From 'women in the squadron' to team players

From NWF Daily News:

HURLBURT FIELD — Two decades ago, a young woman walked into an Air Force hangar braced for battle.

In April 1993, the Air Force removed its restrictions on allowing women to join air crews flying combat missions. The door of an AC-130 gunship was opened to women and Airman Kristen Kelley walked through.

The Defense Department wouldn’t lift its ban on women serving in combat until earlier this year.

As the first woman to join a special operations combat flight crew, Kelley was training to become a loadmaster when she arrived at Hurlburt Field that fall.

At the time, that job — and all combat flying — was reserved for men.

Today, more than 930 women in the Air Force have combat flying hours on all types of aircraft, from gunships to bombers to fighter jets, according to the Air Force Personnel Center.

Of the 300 people in the AC-130’s 4th Special Operations Squadron at Hurlburt where Kelley was the sole woman 20 years ago, the number of women now fluctuates between 15 and 30, said Lt. Col. Meghan Ripple, the squadron’s operations director. In two decades, women have gone from zero to about 10 percent of the squadron.

AC-130 gunships provide close air support to troops on the ground during combat. Women have taken on every role in the 13-person gunship crew, including loading 55-pound munitions into guns for attack and firing the weapons.

Most notably, though, women are no longer looked at as the “women in the squadron,” but simply as other team players, said the 37-year-old Ripple, who became the first gunship pilot in the United States when she arrived at the squadron in 2000.

At that time, there were only two women, a fact of which everyone was keenly aware. In contrast, for this story, Ripple said they had to stop and actually count the number of women.

“I kind of forget what a minority we are,” said Capt. Krista Miller, a 26-year-old AC-130 pilot who arrived at Hurlburt almost two years ago.

“People can normally recognize our voice on the radio if we’re all talking at once, but besides that nothing really makes us stand out,” she said.

Regardless of their gender, the crew members have one goal — to serve the mission, said Capt. Sarah Eaghon, a 29-year-old navigator.

“Our sole job is getting guys home. We’re making sure they are going to be able to see their families again,” Eaghon said. “We’re just as good as any of the guys here. We’re capable of doing that job well.”

Miller and Eaghon said their friends and family weren’t surprised when they wanted to fly in combat. Eaghon’s grandmother got her pilot’s license before her driver’s license, and had always encouraged her granddaughter to push boundaries to accomplish anything she wanted.

The rest of the military seems to be catching up with the Air Force, but the first women on gunship crews were the real pioneers, Eaghon said.

 “They left us big shoes to fill.”

Unfortunately, Kelley passed away last year, Ripple said.

 “She certainly left us a great legacy,” she said.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Learn about the 1929 Powder Puff Derby on FEb 28 at the IWASM in Cleveland

Feb 28- Dinner with a Slice of History- Amelia Earhart and the 1929 Air Derby
Local historian Bill Meixner will be giving his presentation on the first all-woman cross-country air race and Amelia's role in it. Nineteen women set off from Santa Monica, CA headed for the finish line at Cleveland, OH. Taking 9 days to complete and full of adventure, grueling weather and tragedy, the race tested the courage of these women and put to rest the doubts of critics! Dinner will be served at 6:30 pm with the presentation to follow. 

Tickets are $15 non-members, $13 members. Please RSVP soon- seats are limited!

Burke Lakefront Airport, 
Rm 165 Cleveland, Ohio 44114

phone: 216-623-1111

PR: iLevil Sport: Back-up GPS, Attitude Indicator can display Certified GPS and ADS-B on mobile devices

The new iLevil Sport provides an affordable and portable stand-alone AHRS and GPS backup that can link to the recently-certified NavWorX ADS-B receiver, thus allowing pilots to meet the 2020 mandate for ADS-B out.

The iLevil Sport has the latest WiFi technology, and is compatible with both Android and iOS operating systems. It is capable of driving Synthetic Vision applications with professionally calibrated gyros that far exceed the leveling capabilities of any tablet’s internal gyros or similar systems.

Unlike the recently-released iLevil SW, the iLevil Sport does not have an on-board ADS-B receiver. The company says the Sport aims to supply the demand of pilots that already have an ADS-B IN solution (such as the NavWorX ADS600-B) or who don’t need ADS-B hardware at all because their country does not support this system.

“There is a big portion of GA pilots trying to decide what ADS-B solution is right for them, how to minimize costs and how to incorporate it into their mobile devices,” says Ananda Leon, General Manager at Levil Technology. “The NavWorX ADS600-B combined with the iLevil Sport satisfies the need for an ADS-B out solution and a portable backup for standard avionics.”

There is no calibration or permanent installation required from the user, making it the ideal backup solution for General Aviation aircraft. The internal battery lasts up to 8 hours when fully charged. When flying on a sunny day, the integrated solar panels will significantly extend the life of the battery and even recharge it when the device is not in use. The iLevil Sport can also be recharged through the standard USB plug using the accessory (cigarette lighter) receptacle. When used in combination with the NavWorx transceiver, the iLevil Sport can be automatically powered ON/OFF though the serial interface.

The iLevil Sport will be given its first public viewing at the Sebring Sport Aviation Expo (January 16-19), and is available factory-direct starting January 10th 2013, through, for $799.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Female drivers (of planes): men don't trust them...but women passengers are even more wary

From Herald Scotaand:

Male prejudice against women drivers appears to extend into plane cockpits as well, according to a survey.

And in another blow for equality, the poll showed women were even more wary of female pilots than men.

Overall, 51% of people admitted they were less likely to trust a woman pilot than a male one, the survey by travel agent Sunshine revealed.

In addition, 26% said the sex of the pilot did not matter, while 14% said they were less likely to trust a male pilot.

Of those less than keen to have a woman at the controls, 32% felt "male pilots were more skilled", while 28% reckoned female pilots would be no good under pressure.

A total of 10% said they would be less likely to trust a female pilot as their previous cockpit crews had been all-male and they did not know what to expect.

Of those not happy with a man flying the plane, 44% said they believed male pilots would be "too hot-headed in a crisis" while 23% thought male pilots might be "too easily distracted".

Sunshine managing director Chris Clarkson said: "To see that more than half would be less likely to trust a female pilot was absolutely astounding.

"Clearly, many Britons have stereotypes that they need to get rid of.

"If pilots become fully qualified and are given their licence, they are perfectly capable of flying a plane and getting you to your destination safely, regardless of whether they are male or female."

A total of 2,367 Britons (1,195 men and 1,172 women) were surveyed. All had been on a holiday abroad in the last 12 months which involved taking a flight.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

PR: Tactical Hearing brings technology to Sebring Light Sport Expo

Do you know how many times someone has asked you why you don’t get something done about your hearing? Well, if your hearing isn’t perfect, you don’t – you’ve missed someone.

Hearing loss is insidious, like the proverbial “boiling a frog,” where the losses are generally very slight, and over a long period of time. Hearing loss is cumulative, and one day, we wake up and realize that other people hear what we can’t.

Maybe it’s just a little annoying, to us. But it’s a lot annoying to others; and in the air, it can be downright dangerous. No one who needs glasses would willingly leave home without them, but people who need hearing help go for years, missing out on, and misconstruing, all sorts of communication.
Hearing technology has improved exponentially over the past decade or so, since custom-tuned multi-band digital devices have proliferated. Light and almost invisible in the ear canal, these digital hearing devices (no one calls them “hearing aids” any more) can boost sound in the frequency bands where the ear is lacking, or where the hearing has been damaged.

Better yet, the new “Tactical” devices also operate as effective hearing protectors. When a too-loud sound is detected, a tactical hearing device shuts down, blocking rather than amplifying the sound – it acts like a custom-fit earplug, to save your hearing!

Learn about what good hearing can be, and learn how much prices have come down, since you first heard about multi-band digital devices. And learn how Tactical Hearing can fit you with comfortable, effective hearing enhancement that also preserves your hearing, through its active attenuation of too-loud noises, be they from shooting, race car exhaust… or flying.

You can get fitted and tested right there at many airshows, starting with Sebring’s Sport Aviation Expo, January 16-19.

For more information: 

Pioneer female aviator was from Berks

From the Reading Eagle: (Nov 7, 2013)

In 1948, the Jacqueline Cochran All-Woman Transcontinental Air Race marked the formal beginning of the All-Woman Transcontinental Air Race, or AWTAR.

Women pilots in Los Angeles drafted the first set of rules and regulations for air racing and developed an official timekeeping system, the old system being honor based.

The AWTAR became affectionately known as the "Powder Puff Derby," based on comedian Will Rogers' reference to the 1929 Women's Air Derby.

Frances W. Nolde, a Berks County aviator, won the 2,540-mile cross-country race from Palm Springs, Calif., to Miami.

Nolde flew her crimson Ryan Navion, a civilian version of the P-51 Mustang fighter plane, cross-country in 17 hours, 10 minutes, landing on Amelia Earhart Field on June 4, 1948. Her plane, purchased by Aviation Consultants of Reading, was temporarily grounded in Waco, Texas, with engine trouble.

At age 46, Reading's Bicentennial "Sky Queen" completed the impressive feat flying without a co-pilot.

During the race, Nolde carried U.S. mail bearing the Amelia Earhart memorial stamp seal. The seals were sold to collectors to raise money for the Amelia Earhart Memorial Foundation for Women Pilots. Cochran, a pioneer woman aviator who sponsored the race, met Nolde to offer congratulations when she landed.

In 1949, Nolde finished third in a Powder Puff Derby from Canada to Florida.

Nolde, wife of Reading hosiery manufacturer Hans W. Nolde, had a brilliant career in aviation.

In World War II, she held the rank of colonel, the highest available to a woman at the time, as commander of the Civil Air Patrol courier base, flying cargo and personnel to war industries. She was the first national director of CAP's Women in Aviation.

In 1949, she became the first woman to sit on the Reading Airport Commission and worked to have the airport named for Gen. Carl A. Spaatz of Boyertown, the first commandant of the U.S. Air Force Academy.

"She made unique contributions to the field of aviation as a pilot, Civil Air Patrol leader in World War II, visionary and achiever," the Congressional Record said in a tribute on her death in 1995 at age 93.

Over her career, Nolde logged 10,000 hours of flying time and held a commercial pilot's license.

She served as vice president of the National Aeronautics Association, was a governor of the International Association of Women Pilots and was a member of the President's Women's Advisory Committee on Aviation.

A talented musician and actress, she was in the cast of "Lady Be Good" on Broadway, starring Fred Astaire, and acted in a radio soap opera under the name Gloria Gay.

Active in civic affairs in Reading, Nolde was a board member of the Junior League and founded The New School, a country day school.