Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Barriers that stop women from learning to fly and how to break them

Bob sent me a survey the other day which included the top ten reasons why women do not complete their flying.  I agree with most of these as reason why women (including myself) have thought that they are not cut out for the aviation world.  However truthful these barriers may be, they are what anyone can experience in any field, male or female.  I think it is our job as female aviators to not use these as excuses, but as reasons to push ourselves more.  Below please see the top ten list . In italics are my actions to counteract these barriers.

The Top 10 Barriers That Stop Women From Learning to Fly:

The authors of Influencer: The Power to Change Anything explain in order to get anyone to do
anything, such as a woman learning to fly, she must see the “benefit” and, she must be convinced
she has the means and ability to learn to fly. Here are the barriers identified in the Wolf Aviation
Fund Teaching Women to Fly Research Project.
  • Lack of money for General Aviation flight training.
    • This I couldn't agree with more, it has been my main barrier since I started to fly at 16.  I started on this road very seriously in 2004, though, and there are a few things I would have done differently.  Save.  Save.  Save.  It's much easier to have all the money up front.  That means there are no unnecessary breaks amidst your training that causes you to be rusty and waste money relearning things you already know.  Consistency is the key.  I have spent many a dollar trying to brush up my skills that I had already learned after an extensive break.  You must keep flying!
    • Scholarships.  Free money is always great, however, there are many people competing for it.  I have applied to at least five scholarships for the past five years and have yet to get one...but I also have yet to give up.  Always keep at it.  Money2Fly is a great resource for scholarships and links to many from the Ninety Nines and Women in Aviation International as well.  Both of these organizations require memberships; I have found WAI to be the most beneficial for me.
    • Buy an airplane.  After you KNOW aviation is right for you and what you want to do, buy an old Cessna 150 for your training. It will really cut back on the rental costs.  I had to opportunity to do this a long time ago and wish I had. Now I am too far in debt to pay for my own aircraft.  There are also other great benefits to owning your own aircraft, such as learning how to upkeep them and in turn more about aircraft systems and mechanics.
    • Loans.  These are hard to find now as Sallie Mae does not offer them through flight schools anymore.  There were two in Florida last time I looked, but that was it.  This is how I was able to finish up my private certificate and complete my instrument training.  Pilot Financing, Inc. is a company I have looked into in the past.  At the time they only offered funding for part time training, but that could have changed since.  Note that these are private loans, not student loans.  You have monthly payments on these loans throughout your training.
    • Going to a university is the way to get student loans for your training, there are many universities out there that offer aviation degrees and flight training.  I have been told that in the end you spend more and the training is slower than through an FBO, but that depends on your own situation.
    • The military is also another option.  I don't know much about this, but many have achieved their goals either flying for the military or using the money provided for their service towards earning their pilot certificates.
  • Instructor-student communication incompatibility (Mars vs. Venus).
    • Men and women do think, react and speak differently.  This has been a frustration in my past, but not a barrier.  In fact I started my flight instruction with a female CFII and she was actually the worst instructor I have had.  Not all instructors are the same, male or female.  It's about finding who is the right fit for you, it's OK to shop around.  
  • Instructor Interuptus- Instructors leave flight instructing to take airline or charter service jobs often requiring the student to start over with another instructor. This is time consuming, expensive and discouraging to many female students.
    • Ahh instructor interuptus how you have plagued me.  I've had one instructor leave for the airlines, another for corporate and one who was a doctor that became so important he had to stop instructing.  Fun story: I had an instructor who I could tell after our fifth landing in the pattern that he was dreaming about the future and just waiting for his instructing days to be over.  His arms were crossed and he looked out the window.  My landings had been great, so he was no longer ahead of the airplane.  We were in the flare, his arms were still crossed, legs relaxed, looking at the view when I slammed into the ground and bounced a few times.  That woke him up.  
    • After three cases of "instructor insteruptus" I interviewed my instructor, I was direct, stated what I wanted and made sure that he would be there for the remaining of my training.  He answered his goals in aviation honestly and said that he would be there to see me through and he did...until I moved lol
  • Lack of female mentors and support systems to encourage the female student.
    • True.  For years had no female pilots to talk with.  The Ninety-Nines group I had joined was quite a hike and not very active.  I signed up for a mentor in my area but it didn't get beyond two email conversations.  I was pretty much alone.  I had yet to discover the world of blogging and online discussion groups.  These are where I got my encouragement from.  First, was MySpace, now very inactive but a few years ago it is where I got all my aviation support and training questions answered.  There are some on Facebook as well, but they weren't as great.  Many pilot forums are springing up online and I highly recommend joining a few as it is a great way to connect with other aviators.  
    • As I mentioned before, MyTransponder is another great way to connect with aviators, male and female, around the country.  There are many forums to join on here as well.  I have found this group of pilots to be very supportive in the ups and downs of my training, especially when it came to the fact that I may lose my medical.
    • Follow blogs of fellow aviators, comment on their posts and befriend them through their social networking.  One aviator I connected with through blogging and who convinced me to join Twitter where I befriended many more pilots was Karlen Petite from Flight to Success.  I have yet to meet her in person, but she has become an amazing mentor for me.
  • Personal lack of confidence in their ability and a “fear of flying,” especially stalling the airplane too early in the training process.
    • I admit I am not full of confidence as I once was. Once you've been grounded so many times, it is hard to gather the strength to attempt flight again.   I never had a fear of flying, just the fear that I was not cut out for it, which was hard because I had never wanted anything more.  When you feel that fear creeping up inside you and you have the urge to cancel your lesson that's when you have to get in the air more than ever. Push through it, fly often.  It will become easier and soon your confidence will soar.
  • Lack of experience with and knowledge of mechanical systems.
    • To me this is just an excuse. Yes, I don't know that many women who are engineers and I have no idea how my car works, only knowing that it can get me where I need to go is all I need.  That does not work the same in the air. You cannot pull over.  You will be on your own.  If something happens, that extra mechanical experience could be the difference between life and death.  
    • There is a plethora of information available online, in magazines and at your own airport.  There is no excuse to not find a way to brush up on these things.  AOPA is a brilliant aviation magazine and there is always something to be read about systems whether they are discussing a new airplane or it's one of those "Never Again" articles.  In the Flight Training magazine there is always a small section of things to look out for on your aircraft, for example hydraulic oil leaks.
    • Go to the airport.  Look in the hangars. You are bound to find one that shelters an aircraft with the cowling off and an engine to peer at.  If there is an A&P around and not to busy, they may show you what is going on.  I have helped on Bob's annual for his aircraft the past two years and seeing hands on what goes on inside the aircraft and actually participating in the work helped me learn more than if I were sitting at home reading a magazine article.  For me, the best way to learn is to find a way to get in there and do it.
  • Lack of map reading experience & orienteering skill sets.
    • Ok, well then get them.  That's what training is all about.  So look over the sectional chart before a flight. Familiarize yourself with the area. Try looking at a satellite view of the same area, compare what you see in the satellite view to what's on the chart.  Go in the air, find those points you saw on the chart and via satellite. The only way to conquer this barrier is by trying to.  So practice, study and learn.
  • Flight schools perceived as indifferent to female students.
    •  I was treated the same as my male counterparts at all of my flight schools.  I wasn't treated like the weaker sex, nor was I treated better.  I was thankful for that. I don't want special attention and I want to be put to the same standards as men.  I do feel that flight schools need to find a way to reach out to the female population to help them stay in their training. Forming a female pilot support group for example.  Most men I know would have no problem continuing training without one, however, women are a social bunch and rely on relationships for support and encouragement.  This need for relationships could make or break a women pilot's training success.
  • Famous female pilots largely unknown as role models to non-aviator women.
    • Books to read: West with the Night by Beryl Markham, very inspirational aviator.  Major page turner.  Who can forget Amelia Earhart.  I read the biography East to Dawn about her, extremely detailed, but very good.  I find it funny how both these women are flying a different direction to different times of day :p  Jean Batten, a New Zealand pilot breaking barriers in the 1930's you can read more about her in a previous post here.  Anne Lindbergh, famed Charles Lindbergh's wife flew around the world with Charles creating some of the first charts for pilots.  There is a good number of inspirational flying couples that you can read in another post of mine here.
    • History is full of inspirational women aviators, but the present day is too!  Patty Wagstaff is one of the most celebrated female aviators of our time.  She became a member of the US Aerobatics team just five years after becoming a pilot and has been thrilling crowds with her low level extreme aerobatics ever since.  Then there is Jessica Cox  who became a pilot at 25 years old. Jessica \was born without arms but that hasn't stopped her getting a hold of the yoke, she just uses her feet instead.  Jessica now runs Rightfooted.com and travels around as a motivational speaker.  An female aviator does not have to be seen by thousands or have no arms to be inspirational, we are surrounded by inspirational women pilots every day.  Check out Karlene's blog for her regular posts on Friday's Fabulous Flyer.  Those everyday people are extraordinarily inspirational. 
  • Lack of emotional support from family & friends, who perceive flying as “too dangerous”
    • I've had amazing support from my family and friends, they never discouraged me from flying.  They had worries, but that was understandable.  The best thing to do is help them to understand the passion of flight and know that with proper training one can be a safe pilot.  Show them the Aviation Flight Safety courses that area available to improve on skills needed to keep a pilot safe.  Finally, if you can, get them in the cockpit, that can make them understand.
If these barriers erode or destroy the female student’s perception of the “benefit” of or her “confidence” to achieve the goal of pilot certification, then she either never begins flight training or drops out.

I could make a list that would take an eternity to write on the benefits of aviation.  Never give up, there is a whole sky up there waiting for you.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Toriafly learns about the Spartan 7W and gap seals

All day at work I look at a variety of at aircraft and I've been been expanding my knowledge of each aircraft slowly one by one.  Each time I come across one that I have not heard of or am not quite sure what it is, I do a quick Google search to check out the pictures and performance facts.  An aircraft I looked up a few weeks ago was the Spartan Executive 7W.  I just love the radial engine in the front giving it a nice round, almost gentle look.  Far from gentle, this airplane took 5th place in the Bendix Air Races of 1939 (I really enjoy the history of air racing and if there is enough interest can post a research paper I did on the topic.  I got a 4.0 woot!)  Built not long after the Great Depression with the wealthy pilot in mind, the all-metal Spartan cruised at 186 knots and had a range of 870NM.  Howard Hughes owned one, that has to say something about this plane!

Another portion of our insurance applications that cause me to do some extracurricular research is the additional equipment installed section.  "Gap Seals" had caught my attention several times and it was about time to determine what that was all about.  Feel free to call me naive because the design and idea is so simple.  However, I found it interesting and had not knowingly seen them on an aircraft before.  Judging by the name, I knew they had to seal a gap, but where?  I asked a co-worker as he walked by and he told me it sealed the flaps, making the airflow more smooth.  He assumed on top, but wasn't 100% sure.  Further research told us they were installed under the wing.

Without gap seals, air flows from under the wing and up between the gap between the wing and the flap, then over the top of the wing.  This airflow creates excess drag.  Installation of gap seals reduce that flow of air, therefore decreasing drag and adding speed to the aircraft.  Knots 2U which creates gap seals for Cessnas claims they can add an 4 mph to the airspeed and an additional 50-100 feet per minute in climb.

So there is your (well, mine too) mini aerodynamics lesson for the day.  I think Howard Hughes would like gap seals, too! :o)

In Memory of Leslie Nielsen

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Flying Home & Hats

The flight home after Thanksgiving turned out to be a pretty good one.  The cold front hurdled in, pushing away all the bad weather.  It was quite a view seeing cloudy and gray skies off to our east and a clear, almost rainbow colored sky to the west.  The sun was hidden behind the cloud layer for most of the trip, but when it made it's debut we both scrambled for our sunglasses and could feel the heat radiate immediately within the plane.  We had a powerful headwind and it was a bit choppy, but was nothing that left us tired or with bumps on our heads.  I took the opportunity to take pictures to show off Bob's new tail number hat (see post A Piper and a Hat Disaster) for a hilarious story on his first one.  I also had crocheted one for me, bummed that I don't have my own tail number to advertise, but showing off that I ♥ 2 FLY just the same!  These hats are for sale ($40 each incl. shipping within the US) if you are interested in having your own tail number displayed, your love to fly or anything else within that category.  I hope to get an Etsy store up and running and linked here soon so you can order your own personalized hat in one click.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Cost, lack of support cited as barriers to women in aviation

By AOPA Publications staff


A two-year study shows that the low numbers of women pilots may be attributable not only to the cost of learning to fly, but also to factors that are more gender specific.

The majority of women who participated in the study cited the cost of training as a barrier to success. But they also mentioned lack of female mentors, instructors who didn’t communicate effectively—a “Mars/Venus” scenario—and a lack of confidence in their ability to handle an airplane. They were more likely to cite a “fear” of flying if their instructor demonstrated a stall recovery too early in their training.

Colorado pilot and AOPA Airport Support Network volunteer Penny Hamilton obtained in-depth interviews or surveys from 296 respondents, including 157 women pilots, 54 women student pilots, and 85 flight instructors regarding their flight training experiences. She identified a lack of support—from mentors, flight schools, and nonflying family and friends—as among the barriers cited by women. 

“Most of them mentioned the importance of feeling comfortable with the pilot groups on the airport and their reaching out and being friendly,” she said in an interview with AOPA, adding that few airports have local chapters of The Ninety-Nines or Women in Aviation, International. She said community is important for women, who tend to be more social than men and have different communication styles.

Some women also encountered a lack of emotional support from family and friends who perceive of flying as “too dangerous,” the study suggests. Other factors include interruptions in training from an instructor leaving, lack of experience with mechanical systems or orienteering, and that famous female pilot role models are largely unknown to nonpilot women. 

Hamilton, who has a Ph.D. in communications, said the findings suggest not only barriers that prevent women from being successful, but also specific steps that flight schools and others should take to help draw women to flying and help them achieve their pilot certificates. The FAA has said that women comprise about 6 percent of the pilot population.

“I don’t just want to find out about the problems. I want to find out what we can do,” she said.

Hamilton created a “Top 10” list of ways to encourage women to become involved in aviation and to succeed at their flight training. The first two items suggest creation of a low-interest revolving loan for flight training that is not connected with community college or university programs, and expansion of GA scholarships, grants, or low-interest loans. Other ideas include:
  • Develop and promote a free, readily available database of female mentors for female GA student pilots;
  • Create a free online “Keep Flying” support community for female student pilots;
  • Develop “female friendly” flight training with more simulator time and increase women’s confidence level by building on what they already know, instead of by going strictly by the FAA curriculum.
Hamilton, who is the wife of AOPA Central Regional Representative Bill Hamilton, said she started flight training because she was involved in her husband’s work and often spoke to AOPA members. She had a positive flight training experience and support from her husband, and the two now fly a Piper Turbo Arrow. When she heard AOPA President Craig Fuller urge pilots to take action to help increase the pilot population, she applied for a grant from the Alfred L. and Constance C. Wolf Aviation Fund, which partially funded the study. In 2011, she wants to promote positive stories about women in aviation and work with other groups to implement her recommendations. She has set a goal of a 1-percent increase in women pilots in 2011, urging women pilots to take one specific action during the year to mentor and encourage other women.

“If we only need that few a number and you got one, do you realize how important your action was?” she said.

The complete results and recommendations are available online. Prospective pilots can find resources about flying on the Let’s Go Flying website, and student pilots can learn more on the Flight Training website.

For more information on AOPA's recent flight training research project, watch the "The Future of Flight Training" AOPA Live video from the AOPA Aviation Summit Nov. 10 keynote presentation.

East Coast WX

Well, it's supposed to clear up today, but I have one word for the radar that I'm staring at: yucky.  I'm glad I'm by a warm cozy fire in Philly with some light rain, whereas my parents visiting my family in the Upper Peninsula in Michigan are enjoying freezing fog and -4°F.  No thank you :)  Comparing radar from multiple sources, however, gives us some conflicting conclusions.  AccuWeather provides a more gloomy look whereas AviationWeather depicts the rain as if it's less intense and will dissipate.  TAFS along our route support AviationWeather's conclusion.  We expect to depart later this afternoon but the wind will still be gusty and turbulence is already along the East coast. 

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving

This Thanksgiving, I am thankful for the gift of flight and how it connects us with the ones we love and those  that we have yet to meet.  Be thankful for the aviators of the past who have cleared the road for us to fly today.  Happy Thanksgiving and safe travels over the holidays!!!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Why Do You Fly?

Pilots are an eclectic group of individuals and many are surprisingly poetic when it comes to talking about the gift of flight.  Over the past few days I have asked pilots to answer the question "why do you fly" in just one sentence.  They were all more than delighted to share a sentence to multiple paragraphs.  Please contribute to our list by sharing "Why do you fly?" in a comment below!
  • Toriafly: Because nothing else has felt more right in my life.
  • Daniel: ...because I left my heart up there...
  • Jeff: Flying is breathing to me. I am home in the air.
  • Clay: For the thrill, the passion, and the brilliance of it.
  • Bob: Because it's freedom, all things that bother me on the ground go away.
  • Sean: I'm not really sure why, there's just no better feeling than being at the controls of a helicopter for me. 
  • Don: Fun, freedom and fulfillment.   
  • Ed: I enjoy the technical aspects such as navigation, weight and balance, fuel management, etc.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Thank you, FAA

I got a rather bulky letter in the mail on Friday from the FAA.  That usually is not a good thing.  I quickly opened the envelope and my heart stopped for several moments as I read the first paragraph:
I have reviewed the information submitted by you in support of your request for an airman medical certification.  The medical evidence reveals a history of bilateral retinal detachments.  You are ineligible for a medical certification under Title.....
Oh those are words I have dreaded to hear.  Why now?  Everything was fine!  They had sent me my second-class medical in August.  Why are they taking it away from me now!?
I have determined, however, that you may be granted Authorization for special issuance of second-class airmen medical certificate under Title....
Ok, that sounds more like it.  Don't scare me like that!  I am qualified for special issuance for my medical.  There is still hope...
This AUTHORIZATION supersedes any previously issued AUTHORIZATION.  The certificate issued by Dr. ----- expires August 31, 2011, and supersedes any previously issued certificate.  This authorization expires: August 31, 2012.
Oh thank the Lord! So I still have a medical.  Great job making it sound like you did me a favor and thanks for almost giving me a heart attack a second ago...NOT!  Now what's with these two different dates?  Three more paragraphs later that needed three separate translators (my boyfriend, my boss and myself) to understand it has been determined that:
1. I can fly under a second class medical until August 31, 2011.  It's only current for a year anyway, so no difference there.
2. I can fly under a third class medical until August 31, 2012.  Usually a third class medical for an individual under 40 years of age is current for five years, with my condition, however, I guess mine is only for two.  Prior to the expiration of my third class medical I must receive a detailed eye exam along with another field vision test (the required forms accompanied the letter, hence the thickness of the envelope).  Knowing the FAA medical division and the time it took to receive this letter from the time I received my medical, I must do this several months in advance to avoid a lapse. 
The final paragraph stated the following in bold:
This Authorization must be carried at all times while exercising the privileges of your pilot's license, either on your person or readily available in the aircraft.
First of all, I always have to laugh when I see the words "on your person" it just sounds weird.  Like I own a person and that's where I keep my things.  What is the pain with this is my medical I always keep in my wallet, it's a nice, thin piece of 3"x3" paper.  This authorization (I also enjoy how sometimes it's all caps, sometimes just the A is capitalized and sometimes it is just boring old "authorization") is printed on paper of a thicker variety and consists of two 8 1/2x11" sheets.

I calmed down after thoroughly reading the letter.  Minor inconvenience, but nothing I can't handle.  It was touch and go in the first paragraph there for a moment, my aviatrix life was flashing before my eyes!  The FAA really needs to work on their writing skills; thank you FAA, you are truly gifted at FREAKING ME OUT!

**UPDATE** Please see comments below for the correct translation of this authorization letter (thank goodness for social media). Seriously, how many people does it take to translate a letter?! 

Sunday, November 21, 2010

"The Best Little Airport in East"

Today's $100 hamburger was N40 in Pittstown, NJ - Sky Manor Airport.  According to their website, "on November 24, 2008 a group of pilots and hangar tenants completed the acquisition of Sky Manor Airport from its former owner. It is their desire to see the airport grow and prosper while maintaining the “country club” atmosphere for which Sky Manor is famous." One petite runway surrounded by small rolling mountains, Sky Manor brought in quite a crowd for a late lunch.  The pattern was bustling as was the taxiways with Bonanzas, RVs and a Piper Cub flew in to grab a hamburger that claimed to be "the best on this side of the Rockies".  Outside the on-field Sky Manor Restaurant were six or seven picnic tables as well as at least twenty chairs lining the sidewalk, providing a comfortable view for airplane spotters. 

The restaurant interior had a quaint and small town feel, with a wide window providing a great view of the runway.  Various pictures of airplanes and hangar tenants deck the restaurant walls. The menu had a large selection of salads, burgers, sandwiches and wraps, some boasting aviation themed names.  There was the Pilot, the Co-Pilot, the King Air, and the Bonanza Burger.  I ordered a messy yet tasty, honey mustard chicken wrap with onion rings, a pickle spear and some cole slaw on the side. Bob had the Glasair III (I told him he had no choice but to eat his type of airplane) burger.  A pickle, cole slaw and fries came with that at well. The food was good and the service friendly and quick.  A great little $100 hamburger gem.  On departure we watched the NJ Ballooning company start to inflate a colorful yellow and red flame hot air balloon.  We proceeded to circle the airport and Bob did a fast and low approach to which a pilot who was getting ready to line up and wait responded, "that was cool!"

This yummy meal was followed by a $0 hamburger stopping by Bob's parents' at KDYL afterwords for a quick visit and dinner.  I am presently sitting by their nice warm fire as I type this.  It will be hard to hop back outside and into the plane again.  The heat will be on full blast for a short trip home :)

My Recent Aviatrix Aerogram Article

Aviators Connect on myTransponder

“myTransponder makes aviation more social.  Join the community and connect with fellow pilots, aircrews, maintainers, controllers, instructors, owners, and enthusiasts."

Like Facebook for pilots, myTransponder is helping pilots make connections with other aviators from around the world every day. From a captain of a 747, to one restoring a vintage plane, to students or just aviation enthusiasts, myTransponder is an eclectic and worldly community all with one thing in common: a love for aviation. The work of self-titled “geek” and aviation enthusiast Rod Rakic, myTransponder has grown from a small and humble community to one that is creating lasting friendships. Learning to fly through the Civil Air Patrol when he was 16 and eventually earning his private certificate while working as a lineman at a local FBO, Rod is enthusiastic about connecting aviators through myTransponder. “We see an opportunity in this space because while aviators are naturally a social bunch, we didn't see social media tools like this that catered directly to their needs.” 

myTransponder is also determined to support the female pilot population: “Women are a small component of the pilot population overall and we're all for anything we can do to help more women engage with aviation. The can find each other on myTransponder and connect here based on where they fly, what they fly, and experiences they've shared.”

The Director of Operations is Mike Miley, a CFI who has been flying since 1988. He loves cultivating relationships within aviation. “Many of our members are already pilots and they share some of the best stories. Quite a few members are looking to be pilots and it's interesting to see them connect with fellow student pilots, existing pilots, and instructors,” said Miley, “I think about when I got my license and how the only person I ever talked with was my instructor.” 

Much like Facebook and Twitter, each enrolled member can befriend, comment and message other users. They create profiles including flying history, airplanes of interest and home base to help them better connect with similar aviators. A pilot can log recent flights and post favorite photos from their aerial trips, as well as create events, polls and keep a blog. myTransponder registered users are also entitled to create and attend events and group discussion forums. Some forums cover serious topics, such as “Aircraft emergencies and crashes,” while others are dedicated to specific airports and flying clubs. Some promote flight-related equipment, podcasts, or have fun topics such as “You know you are a pilot if…”  It is very easy to keep updated with recent status and flight updates from the myTransponder community with the “What’s New” section listing new members and current member activity.

myTransponder is a personal mission for Rod and Mike to ensure that each new member feels welcome. I couldn’t imagine being part of a better community of people whom I have never actually met.  In August, I had a scare with my eyes and was told I would be unable to retain my aviation medical.  I expressed my concern on myTransponder and the responses of support I received were overwhelming. One of those responses came from Sergey, who currently works and flies in Canada.  He has sight in only one eye and helped me “see” that I could overcome this struggle. Sergey, along with many others, supported and encouraged me every step of the way through my recovery.

Mike had a similar experience in his early days working at myTransponder, “How has myTransponder aected my flying? It's a simple answer... it has kept me in the aviation world. I've had some medical issues that posed some challenges to my ability to continue to fly. Without the support of this community, I'm quite certain I would have stepped out of the aviation world altogether,” he said. “The realities of our regulatory environment are such that it's sometimes simpler to step out of aviation than to try and jump over the increasingly dicult hurdles. For me, I've been inspired by a number of the people I've met on myTransponder who have spurred me on to staying a part of this world and sharing my experience.” 

Then there is Shauna, also from Canada, a student pilot and only in high school. I came home from a flight one day, angry at how far I had to go and how much it will cost, but after signing on to myTransponder Shauna unintentionally and promptly cheered me up. She had updated her status, stating that she had just accomplished her first solo and a turkey had run out in front of her on one of her landings. She was just fine, as was the turkey, and we ended up having a good chuckle about it. A simple interaction like this helped me to recall the euphoria of my first solo and why I got into aviation in the first place.

One of the biggest issues with social networking these days is privacy. myTransponder has taken the appropriate measures to ensure that you can control how much or how little of your information can be seen by non-members, members and friends.  “We demand a secure environment from our partners to the point we have backed o of several new features until we knew if they fit within a secure environment. Additionally, we realize that some of the very features we want in a social environment might be used by some as a platform for spam,” said Mike. “We work very hard to engage with our members to try and minimize the possibility new members are actually there for nefarious reasons.”

For those involved in multiple forms of social networking, myTransponder has it set up so that you can simultaneously update your Facebook and myTransponder statuses. The option to be notified by email for various updates is also available.  How does myTransponder compare to other social networking sites? According to Mike, “latest research shows our site as smaller than the association sites, but more active than any other. This means that our members are connected to and talking with other members more actively than other sites.”

myTransponder presently sports 2,595 users with thirty to forty thousand page views each month. Rod expects this number to continue to grow and create aviation-centered friendships. “The community keeps finding value in what we're doing. Pilots are finding jobs, students are connecting with instructors, and operators are sharing expertise. Since 9/11, the airport fences got a lot higher, and our tools are helping folks connect with the aviation community in new ways. It's the value that people are finding in these tools that keeps us going.”

If you would like to be involved in the Aviatrix Aerogram or would like to subscribe. Please see my contact information under "connect" and I will forward your request.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

3 things to remember when flying with your boss...

The AIR Pros aerial vehicle
1. Good landings won't get you a raise.
2. Bad landings don't mean a pay cut.
3. You're out of the office and in the sky...enjoy it!

P.S. I met Dave Hirschman (Senior editor of AOPA) and am in love with his dog.  Met Bob at his hangar after.  He was flying when I was too, it was neat to hear each other over the radio :)

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Nifty N Numbers

Now that I'm on my N number kick, Bob suggest I share with you some of the more creative and interesting tail numbers that we have been able to find: 
  • N1KE: Nike Jet
  • N0MG: A Cessna 340 (0ooooh Myyyy Gawwwd)
  • N1CE: A Bonanza (a fellow KFDKer!)
  • N3AR: King Air - the better to get N3AR you with!
  • N3AT: C172 - not very N3AT but a good way to get something to 3AT!
  • N5EX: Piper J3 Cub - 5EXy!
  • N1NE: King Air - I can't think of anything fun to go with this, but it spells 9!
  • N3XT: Another Bonanza, what's N3XT?
  • N155AN: Nissan's jet
  • N328KF: 328k feet for Space Ship One
  • N750WL: belonging to none other than Hooters
  • N0TE: yet another King Air.  Did the teacher send its parents a note?  Or did it just enjoy music?
  • N867 (C172) and N5309 (Jenny Replica-cool!) - Jenny, Jenny who can I turn to? 867-5309!!!
  • N666: a Beechcraft Mentor, now aren't you just asking for trouble with this one?
  • N1CK: Seriously, what's with all the Bonanzas?  I give this guy props (haha) though, his name is Nick.
  • N3CK: This Cessna's latest flight was between Key West and Venice Beach, FL.  Oh what a pain in the N3CK...not!
  • N1LL: Another King Air!  Your money is N1LL after buying three!
  • N1TE: Registered to a Mustang II and one of my favorite times of day to fly (excuse me while I daydream I am in a peaceful night sky)
  • N0EL: A Cherokee that should not be hangared on Christmas Eve.
  • N0GG: The drink of choice on Christmas (a Cessna Centurion)
  • N0AF: Poor Cessna, I hope you do not have an 0AF piloting you....
  • N3RA: Another Cessna 340 this one is heading from Key West to Venice as well.  I really wanted this to be a classic plane and joke about the end of an 3RA....oh well.
  • N1200: what you would squak flying VFR is a C182
  • N7600: what you would squak with radios out is a Beechjet
  • N7500: (hijacking) and N7700 (emergency) are both reserved
  • N694ME: You know a male came up with this one.  Registered to a Pioneer II glider.  I thought it was going to be some pompous rich guy with a jet.
  • N694U: Let's not be selfish here, here's 694U, another glider, a Schweizer II.
  • N694AL: Is your name Al?  Want some?  Here's the N number for you-it's not taken yet!
  • N694ED: This airplane is an Extra.  That guys bound to get lucky.  His name isn't Ed though :(
  • N6943: Ok, I'm done with the dirty N numbers here.  It is funny that this N number belongs to a Teenie Two though.  Different little airplane, look it up.
That's enough for now.  Feel free to leave a comment with any you can think of....what country's aircraft should we devour next?

    Wednesday, November 17, 2010

    A Tail Number Race

    I see so many fun or just random tail numbers throughout the day at work I started daydreaming up my other fun combinations (note: Firefox says combinations is not a word but combination is.  I will keep this word that is not really a word because it best describes that I am coming up with multiple, not just one combination in my head.  Thank you for your time).  

    What prompted this post is my daydream of having a racing plane and since in my daydreams I am always in first place, the appropriate N number for my racing plane would be 1ST.  Disappointment filled me when I found out that N1ST is registered to a Cirrus SR20.  Not fitting enough! 

    Childishness (crazy that childishness is a word and combinations is not) overtook me and I figured oh well, 1ST is the worst and 2ND is the best!  Not so much, it's a PA-28 Piper Cherokee.  

    3RD is a nerd?  Well bigger, but not better.  N3RD is a Cessna 210 Centurion.  

    Back to a Cherokee we are with 4TH.

    Finally to our first jet, a Westwind cruising at 469 knots with the tail number of 5TH.  

    6TH happens to be a client of ours, in a Bonanza, so I won't make fun of them here ;)  

    7TH goes to a Cessna 172 (let me know when a Cessna gets 7th in any race).

    Yet another Cherokee with 8TH place (what's with that? 2ND, 4TH and 8TH?).  

    9TH place in this winged race is awarded to the Cessna Super Skymaster.  If you have ever seen this aircraft, it is not your normal Cessna.  It has a twin tail boom and a push/pull propeller.  There have been turbo charged and pressurized versions, but I have yet to hear of them winning any races.    

    I will give 10TH some credit, it's a homebuilt aircraft, a Vans RV-4.  I'm a fan.  I will approve.

    Unfortunately my imaginary tail number race has been overwhelmed with Cherokees and had only one true competitor, the Westwind Jet.  It would definitely make for an eclectic, albeit short race, but one I would enjoy never-the-less.  While most of us pilots will be more than satisfied to forever kiss the sky in any aircraft, I believe we will always have an obsession with the wonderful gift they bestow upon us: speed.

    Hey Ridley, that Machometer is acting screwy. It just went off the scale on me.

    — General Charles 'Chuck' Yeager, first radio transmission after going supersonic for the first time, a coded message indicating success, 1947.

    Tuesday, November 16, 2010

    Stop & Go

    My dear aviation blogging community, it has been awhile since I have posted here.  I long for the days when I had something new and exciting in aviation to post each day.  Not that life hasn't been exciting, I've been enjoying my job in aviation insurance during the week and my weekends have been full of events.  This weekend in particular was almost perfect.  My boyfriend and I along with another couple, rented a two bedroom cabin on the Shenandoah River for the weekend and enjoyed time in its six person hot tub as well as hiking, horseback riding and some scrumptious meals.  The only thing that would have made it completely perfect would have been the scenic flight there, however, we drove.  Those scrumptious meals I  mentioned along with our luggage were so heavy that we would have needed to rent a C-130 to lug it all down there (ok I'm over exaggerating a bit here, but you get the point).

    As for charging towards my commercial rating, I am at a slow (actually dead) pace these days.  Moving, taking a pay cut to get a job in my field and my surgery expenses have all put a burden on my finances and has in turn effected my flying.  Stop and go, green light, red light, such is my flying life!  I wish I was stopping and going at many airports in many different planes, however it's my flying at all that has been this stop and go, stop and go.  Like I light switch, things are going great the light is on and my flying future is bright. Then suddenly stop, the light is off and I'm stumbling around in the dark again.  But the sun is always there, even in the darkness.  My passion and persistence in aviation will always prevail.  I've said it here many times before and it never is anything but the truth. 

    I am proud to be in the 20% of individuals who have completed their initial pilot certification.  It is astonishing but understandable to as why 80% of student pilots never complete their pilot certificate.  I have faced the many challenges that cause this 80% to drop out, the main reason (in my opinion) are due to  funding and lack of support/professionalism of the flight school.  I think it is great that the AOPA Foundation has created the Flight Training Student Initiative to determine why the drop out percentage is so high and just how we can reduce that rate.  I am really interested in the future of this initiative and as to how it can bring up some positive change.  Click here to read a summary of the initiative's findings announced at the AOPA summit just last week.

    Things have been busy at work so I have been unable to finish my checkout of the Cessna, although it should happen soon in the coming days.  I am really looking forward to that.  In addition, keep an eye out for some future reviews on $100 hamburgers, I found some seemingly good picks, all within 150NM of KFDK to try over the coming weekends.  I've also been trying to stay involved in the publication of future Aviatrix Aerograms.

    So there is a quick update for my devoted readers.  Please check back often, I hope to keep you on your toes for amazing posts in the coming weeks :o)

    Perseverance is not a long race; it is many short races one after the other ~Walter Elliot

    Monday, November 8, 2010


    My favorite FlightAware picture this week:

    FlightAware Photo
    Photo Courtesy of FlightAware.com

    Sunday, November 7, 2010

    $100 Hamburger - Primo Barone's

    The $100 hamburger of choice today was not a hamburger, but a absolutely delicious Italian meal. 160 miles from KFDK sits Venango Regional Airport (KFKL) in Franklin, PA. The airport features two crossing runways on a hill over looking the small population below. The on-airport restaurant Primo Barone's has airplanes hanging from the ceiling and wide windows with a view of the runway. Bob and I sat on the same side of the table to judge the take offs and landings we saw while enjoying basil and cheese bread, stuffed chicken, pasta primavera and pumpkin and caramel rolls (To.Die.For.) This restaurant must be very popular in the area for it was the busiest and best airport restaurant I have visited yet. 

    This weekend was so busy yet so fun! Before the beautiful flight and yummy dinner in PA today, we spent Saturday on a 14 mile hike and then a double date having dinner at a friends. See a few pictures of the hike below-too pretty not to share :)