Friday, December 31, 2010

Favorite Flying Moments of 2010

God gave us memories that we might have roses in December.  ~ John M. Barrie

As the year closes you are bound to here someone say, "where has the year gone?"  Heck, I said it to my coworker yesterday!  This year consisted of large peaks of positive moments and also the ultimate lows.    These peaks were all a right of passage that have brought me to a new town and a new career, with priceless life lessons learned.  These are my favorite flying moments of 2010.  I look forward to many more in 2011!

Not really my favorite memory, maybe on the way there and my tour through the Chanute AFB Museum.  The 52 knot ground speed on the return trip is memorable to say the least.
June 6~ OC Airshow:
Now a tradition, the Hilton beachfront suite and enjoying the club seats for this amazing airshow never gets old.
June 27~ Put-in-Bay:
I NEEDED a break, I needed a care free party weekend.  The best way to do that?  Fly in to Put-in-Bay Island in Lake Erie.  It was pirate weekend, too!
Passing along the excitement of aviation to my little brother.  He's a typical teenager, always has to act cool, barely bonds with his big sis.  But we did in the air!  On the way to this flight I hooked the interview for the job I hold now!
I finally got to be in the left seat with my favorite flying buddy.  Funny it took so long, but it never worked out until then.  Nothing like a sunset flight to say goodbye before he headed back home.
All the flight schools I had attended in the past had a "no grass" policy; all of my soft fields had been safely simulated on a 5,000+ asphalt runway.   I had a blast doing practice landings on my first real soft field and can't wait to do some back country flying now!
Most fun in an airplane ever!!!  I was thrown into almost every maneuver you can do in aerobatics and accomplished many maneuvers myself.  I will cherish and miss this experience always. 
No amount of money or airplanes could ever compare to the power of friendship.  When I thought I may be losing my gift of flight, my friends decorated my room not only to surprise and cheer me up, but to encourage me.
Two family members 1,001 feet above the lake, steeply turning around the rest of the family members waving below; some on the dock drinking and sharing fun stories, the rest on the blue paddle boat fishing.
My newest and very supportive mentor, Karlene, featured me in her weekly edition of "Friday's Fabulous Flyer."  Words cannot explain how great it felt to be written about alongside other pilots who are simply inspirational. 
I don't mind getting down and dirty, especially when airplane's are involved.  The great conversation with new friends and the chocolate covered strawberries weren't too shabby, either!
It was a day of fun flights including a trip to York, PA for lunch, then Smoketown, PA to visit family.  My favorite moment from those flights was helping my cousin, Sarah, into the right seat of Bob's plane and later watching her jump up and down for joy as we took off.  I'll be flying back in the spring with a flight lesson waiting for her.
A delish and romantic Italian meal with the boyfriend and an excellent view of the runway.  Best $100 hamburger yet.
Dec 22~ OMG OMG OMG!
It has taken me so long and I worked so hard and got so close to becoming a commercial pilot.  It was put on hold again in October.  I didn't know when I'd ever be able to finish.  But I do now!  I got a grant.  I will become a commercial rated pilot in 2011!

Wow! What a year it has been and that's not the half of it!  What are your favorite aviation memories of 2010?  Have a safe and happy New Year!!!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Rotten Eggs and Aerobatic Aviatrixes

What do those have in common? Not much, but it does pretty much describe my day so far. Since Bob spent Christmas with my family, this morning we packed up the Glasair with gifts (wrapped in sectional paper of course) to spend New Years weekend with his. We shut the hangar and hopped in the plane only to be greeted by by a dead battery. The next step was to hop out and unload half of our luggage and gifts to reach the battery to charge it. After a short while a rather potent smell of rotten eggs filled the air. The battery was not in good shape and we would be driving to Pennsylvania.

I love my Droid, in the past I had the opinion that smart phones were too "connected" to the world and an unnecessary extra expense. Over the past year it has proved its worth in solving arguments at restaurants, sending assignments in at work and now coordinating with amazing people for the Women Fly it Forward event.  My Droid was very loyal to me for the three hour drive ahead of us.

While on the road, I connected with two inspirational women aerobatic pilots, Julie Clark and Patty Wagstaff. They both are committed to be performing at airshows the day of the event but were quick to offer to send me giveaways for the female participants, to include Patty Wagstaff's DVD we will have playing in the registration room.

Patty was quick to spread the news to her flying friends including directed me to a local aerobatic aviatrix and wing walker, Jane Wicker, who has volunteered to talk with our potential new pilots. She will bring her Stearman to display and will be talking with participants after they go for their airplane ride.

Also in the works is a possible USAF aircraft on display along with female USAF pilots to chat with. We now have eight airplanes and pilots signed up and more coming! Five ground volunteers are committed to the event and about 15 girls have preregistered to take flight! Let's keep these numbers rising and the exciting news coming!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010


IMPORTANT DATE CHANGE: Woman Fly it Forward is now on Saturday, March 12 to celebrate on Women in Aviation week.  This way our participants will be eligible for prizes through the Centennial of Women Pilots.  This will also bring more pilots and planes in as it will not conflict with popular the Sun N Fun Fly-In. Sorry for any inconvenience!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

WFIF Update

Women Fly it Forward aka WFIF sounds like a radio station.  Thanks for tuning in to WFIF after this commercial, "What to do when you encouter inadvertent icing with guest speaker...."

I am obviously in a good and goofy mood.  Good news keeps coming on our WFIF event.  Today another pilot with a plane has volunteered so we will have a Decathlon in our pattern as well!  I've done some aerobatics in a Super D before and know what a fun airplane it is and what an exciting pick for an introduction into aviation!  If each airplane we currently have participating can fill to capacity we can have 14 women in the air at a time!  Those are great odds!  In addition, Pilots Journey Podcast has graciously offered to feature our event in one of their podcasts to get the word out and AOPA will be discussing their involvement in this cause at their outreach meeting in January!

I would like to extent me deepest gratitude, as I will continue as the day gets closer and forever after it, to all those who have been bombarding me with enthusiasm and help.  I love to organize events, especially when it is something as meaningful as this; but I have never had the amount of support as I do now.  So thanks to you all for making a difference and keep it coming!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Women will fly it forward on March 26th! ---DATE CHANGE TO MARCH 12!

We will make history in FDK on March 26th, it's still three months away but the enthusiasm on getting as many women in the air in a day as possible has been overwhelming!  So far on the roster I have pilots to fly two Cessna 172s, a Bulldog, an RV-6, a Cirrus, a Glasair and possible an LSA!  I'm very excited about the variety of aircraft that we will be introducing women young and old to.  I have made the offer that any pilot traveling from out of state to help make this event possible will be treated to a celebratory dinner that night, but that was just the icing on the cake for them and the volunteers were more than happy to fly without free grub.

I have had phone calls and countless emails from enthusiastic volunteers full of suggestions and ideas, to include a chief flight instructor of a very women friendly light sport flight training center and the director of an unofficial FAA aviation club.  Due to the help of these great people we may have some special women themed items for sale as well as a guest speaker from air traffic control!

I have secured a location for our event, at my company's hangar to board your ride.  Securing accommodations for registration and seminars are in the process.  Invites have been posted on local aviation clubs on and through my personal Facebook.  Please befriend me or join these groups to invite others to this great event!

Please keep checking back for updates through my Women Fly it Forward tab where I will copy updates as I post them!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Another type of flying...

Michigan rarely sees the sun in the winter.  We all end up looking vampireish and run from the sun when it first makes its appearance!  So what do we do when the clouds are low and icing conditions exist on Christmas Eve?  Fly R/C!  I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas!  My visit home was way too short and it's back to reality for a few days until New Years.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas!

Now enough seriousness and have a laugh! :0)
I wish you safe travels and hefty tailwinds for your holiday season!  Regardless of your beliefs, please take a moment to think of those who go without this year, the sick, and the lonely.  Remember those who are serving our country and the loved ones who are looking down above us today.  Merry Christmas!

"Now approaching lunar sunrise. And for all the people back on Earth, the crew of Apollo eight has a message that we would like to send to you. 'In the Beginning god created the Heaven and the Earth. And the Earth was without form and void. And darkness was upon the face of the Deep. . . And God saw that it was Good.' And from the crew of Apollo 8, we close with good night, good luck, and a Merry Christmas. And God bless all of you, all of you on the good Earth."
~ flight crew of Apollo 8, Christmas Eve, 1968.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010


Please read my post below and the new tab: Women Fly it Forward, because that's more important.  BUT at the moment I have the BEST news to share!  This past year I was enrolled in Michigan's No Worker Left Behind program to fund my flight training.  I used almost all of it up and had heard through the grapevine that they would not be giving out our second batch of funds the next year as promised.  I also assumed I was disqualified now for moving out of state for work.  I was wrong!  As of January 1st I will have enough funds to finish my commercial rating and move forward to my CFI!!! I'm thinking I will take off a week here and there to visit Michigan and complete this training (it must be done at my old flight school).  What great news to receive before Christmas!  Thank you, Lord!  I was ready to cry at work on the phone when the lady called me.  It's taking all my effort not to jump up and down in this seat!

A New Tab & A GREAT Opportunity to Make a Difference!

Click here to see how you can join in on a friendly competition to see who is the "Most Female Friendly Airport" in the world!  Please check back often using the new tab on the top right of this blog to see how the event is progressing as Women Fly it Forward!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Fill in the blank:

I would give anything to fly ___(location)___.

I was going to say bush flying in Alaska, but I'm frozen to the bone in any weather under 65 degrees. So I'm voting for the Australian outback just like this.

Comment on your dream skies!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Saved a tree

We saved a tree this year from the pain of being chopped down and the humiliation of being decorated and lit up for all to gawk at.  Just kidding, I love Christmas trees, I love getting them and smelling the fresh evergreen scent that fills the room.  Heck, I even like the fake ones and the struggle of putting them together each year.  A beautifully lit tree just puts me in a great mood for the holiday season.  We are just too busy this year to do a tree and will also be gone too much to care fore it.  So, I lit up some plants (including our new palm tree looking one bought at Lowe's today)!  Here is our airplane themed Christmas plant:

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Baby, it's cold outside!

A South Korean fighter jet after deep-freeze tests.  Brr!
Home sweet home 
Frederick, MD: 
KFDK 161659Z AUTO 12003KT 1/2SM SN OVC005 M06/M07 A2986

The coldest place on Earth today
Yukutsk, Russia:
UEEE 161630Z 34001MPS 0300 R23L/0800D FG BKN200 M43/M47 Q1004

The warmest place on Earth today
Abuja, Nigeria:    
DNAA 161500Z 12004KT CAVOK 35/01 Q1007

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Born to Fly

I don’t believe I had a choice but to love airplanes as a child, it was either that or to attempt to block out all of the animated aviation talk around me.  The most important men in my life are aviators.  I’m glad the passion for flight is in my blood; it has brought me so many places, connected me with unforgettable people and has taught me life lessons that are simply irreplaceable.

My mother’s side had some inspirational flyers and romantic ones at that!  On Thanksgiving of 1949, my grandfather, Bill, took my grandmother on a memorable first date.  He flew her over her farm and over a family member’s home in Canada in a Stinson.  The years flew by to include many flights to Mackinac Island and all around Michigan.  She recalls that day as if it were yesterday, filled with excitement, smiling even though he couldn’t see it in the tandem aircraft, “it was cold as all get out!” she told me.  He had a share with two other gentlemen in the Stinson, based in Detroit City.  They eventually added another airplane to the mix as well.

Great Uncle Jack
Bill was part of a Navy flying program that was discontinued as the end of the war grew closer.  He ended up serving his time on a Navy subchaser.  Once out of the service he went back to pursue his pilot certificate at Kalamazoo College (now Western Michigan University) in Kalamazoo, MI. 

One of his four daughters, Amanda, recalls him pulling “stunts” such as steep turns and dives that would always make her sick.  When my grandmother came home with one of their newborn children, he even took the babysitter for a quick flight who was there for a few weeks to help out; she loved it.  Money became tight and the flying club fizzled, but not before he successfully passed on the flying bug on to one of his children, Bill Jr.  They spent many days flying around together and Bill Jr. continued flying for some years after. 

My grandfather would have been unable to serve as a pilot in the war, for the Sullivan Law had been passed and his brother Jack was serving in the Marine Corps.  Jack was in a program training combat pilots before Pearl Harbor.  When America entered the war, Jack became an Ace flying in the Pacific theater.  He had three victories in the F4F Wildcat and two and a half in the F4U Corsair.  He received three Distinguished Flying Cross medals, a Bronze Star and several single mission medals. He even knew the famous Pappy Boyington of the Black Sheep Squadron.  Upon retirement, he managed the KEZF, Shannon Airport in Virginia then became the Executive Director of the Marine Corps Aviation Association in Quantico.  He had four children, including a daughter that is a pilot who happened to marry one as well!

Switching over to my father’s side is my other grandfather, Harlan.  When he was “young and daring” he flew a Piper Cub under a fellow engineer’s instruction regularly between Madison, WI and Milwaukee, WI while working on an advanced servo project.  He recalls, “I landed several times without breaking a thing!”  He later joined a flying club to keep the passion going, training in a stripped down T-6.  He ended up only logging around eight hours, “I was lucky I didn’t kill myself,” he remembers.  Harlan gave up flying when his career “became more interesting.”

Harlan: Center bottom
When I was a child, my room had two unique decorations hanging from the ceiling.  One was an airplane and when you turned it on it will fly around in circles, I believe that to be my father’s influence.  On the opposite end of the room was an inflatable astronaut, where that ‘becoming an astronaut’ dream was brought on completely by my grandfather.  Harlan’s work became more interesting because it brought him straight to the ultimate flying machines at NASA.  He headed the engineering group in mission control for all of the Apollo missions as well as Skylab, the first manned space station launched by the United States.

“We had designed and manufactured G&C equipment in partnership with M.I.T Cambridge Mass. We were responsible for the guidance and navigation equipment (GNC) on both the LEM and the Command module,” my grandfather tells me, “whenever we heard G & C from mission control; my group had better get it right!”

His most tense moments in the program were when trouble began on the Apollo 13 mission. “We had to shut off the power because the explosion wiped out the fuel cell. By shutting this elegant guidance system off, we weren’t certain what it would do because they required such a delicate balance.  However, we didn’t have a choice but to shut it off because they were running out of power. We were worried about what would happen with trying to turn back on these systems.  All our science told us it was unlikely. 

What we didn’t know was that the spacecraft was kept in a BBQ mode; it rotated really slowly, exposing its surfaces to the sun. It turned out there was enough heat convection from having done these rotations that this compartment the gyros and accelerometers were in was kept warm enough to get started again. 

As we approached the earth we had one shot at turning everything on and finding out that the instruments would reactivate and work properly.  When they fired it all up it again, everything came up right on the money.  Upon reentry the spacecraft was surrounded by a plume of fire from the disintegrating heat shield that disrupted communication entirely.  So for ten minutes we didn’t hear anything and then eleven and twelve and it finally came on.  There were several moments there that we were all pretty shook up. That took all the luck I ever had,” he retold me emotionally.

Harlan now enjoys visiting local schools and flying clubs to share his exciting experiences during such a historical time for NASA. He continues to indulge in aviation through building and flying the R/C aircraft I remember filling his entire basement when I was younger.  He is very involved in a local R/C flying club and has served as the president.

Harlan's Basement
Although I always wanted to be a pilot, the dream seemed out of reach. I have my father to thank for seeing that it was possible. Before I even had my driver’s license, he signed me up for ground school and we took it together. I always looked forward to those weeknights; I was a young teenager, in a room full of grown men learning about airplanes with my father.    Upon completion of the ground school course, my father hopped in the back seat as I took the controls for my discovery flight.  He recalls my steep ascent; all I recall is the exhilaration of flying an aircraft on my own and how I kept accidentally bumping the very attractive instructor’s knee.

I am my father’s daughter, through and through.  I am his female clone.  I recall walking into the FBO where he helped out with the computer system from time to time and the receptionist exclaimed, “You must be Paul’s girl!”  That was the day of my first “official” flight lesson.  Even when I didn’t have a lesson and he had to work on their computers, I would join him and hang out in the pilot’s lounge with large sweeping windows that provided an amazing view of the runway. 

My father completed his private pilot’s certificate at the very same FBO in the 1980’s.  He started flight lessons because he knew that, “Flying offers a freedom like no other,” but insists that, “real flying is flying a hang glider or ultralight.”  He has done both!

He still remembers the tail number of the first plane he flew, a Cessna 172, N5310D, which had previously crashed and the wing was remounted on crooked.   He had quite an “exciting” first solo experience.  

“While doing touch and goes during training, my instructor said I was ready to continue touch and goes on my own. I reluctantly went along with the idea. He departed the plane and I started to do additional touch and goes while he was lighting fire crackers along the runway. I saw him doing this while flying by. On one landing, I forgot to raise the flaps and powered up the aircraft to full power to take off again. The plane became unstable and started to veer off the runway and head for a pylon. To avoid the pylon, I turned off the runway in-between 27L and 27R and was running in the grass at about 60mph. So, I turned back to 27R and over corrected and went off the other side. Then I corrected back to the runway and went off the left side again of 27R. I did this a couple of times until I got the plane under control and taxied back to the instructor. He hopped in and said, ‘let’s try some more.’”

My father’s solo cross country offered him some lessons as well.  “I went to Mackinac Island; however, there were a few problems. I got confused where I was in the Lake Higgins area because the two airports along the way have very similar names and their runway numbers were transposed, like runway 21 and 12. Also, my altitude was creeping higher and a twin engine plane flew right over me at about 100ft or less. On approach to Mackinac, I thought my approach was going fine until the runway jumped up at me. Apparently the first 100 feet or so go up a hill. So I did a go around and was ready for that next time. Then I forgot to check in at the facility at Mackinac and close my flight plan. But it was fun!”

Despite all these flying incidents, N5310D is still in the air today.  I’d love to see my dad fly it again!  Even when he stopped flying due to financial constraints, he kept aviation in my life with ultralight lessons and many trips to airshows including Oshkosh several times.  We have several videos of him asking me what kind of plane I was in front of.  I never knew, I usually said something silly like, “a red one!”  My dad enjoys flying smaller aircraft now, the radio controlled kind, alongside his father.  “It’s a lot safer and it is just as fun watching a plane fly as it is flying one.”

The stories my flying relatives have told me make me smile tremendously, for I have been touched by that joy of flight myself.  I thank these excellent role models for getting me where I am today.  Here is the proof that flying is in my blood. Even if I didn’t have this excellent and inspiring background, I know deep within my heart that I would have found my path to aviation some other way.

A video created by my dad during training

Saturday, December 11, 2010

A Change of Plans at FDK Today

Today I headed out to the airport with the intention of joining our friend, Paul, in his Bulldog to drop of gifts in Chesterville, VA.  The event was sponsored by the 99s and pilots would be flying in from many airports to deliver gifts that would be going to veterans and children in need.  I love giving back and airplanes, so I was so excited.  Paul's airplane was built with the optional jump seat so I brought my friend, Andrea, along as well.  I had been promising her since the day we met to take her up flying and our schedules had never seemed to work out until today. 

Paul had me plan the flight using VORs which turned out to be a fun little challenge due the airspace between us and Chesterfield and trying to find the shortest route possible.  Flight plan in hand and ready to fly we pulled up to Paul's hangar and saw the cowling was off the Bulldog.  "Not a good sign, I thought to myself not wanting to scare Andrea on her first GA flight."

Paul had discovered he had an exhaust leak and called over his A&P friend Carlo to see if it was something that could be fixed in a short matter of time.  He promised to take us flying as long as it was safe.  The culprit was a seal between the exhaust stack and a pipe that would have to be replaced and we were grounded for the day.  Andrea and I were actually relieved, both of us were recovering from major sinus infections and it was below freezing outside.  So, I gave her a little tour of KFDK and brought her over to "invade" Bob's hangar.  We sat in the Glasair and I gave her a mini lesson on what all the knobs and instruments do.  She turned out to be a very interested student and wasn't just humoring me.  At first she was turned off at how small the cockpit was but when it was time to leave, found it way too cozy.  

We tucked the airplane in for the day and concluded our visit to the airport for breakfast at the Airways Inn with Paul and Carlo.  It turns out that I had gathered quotes for Carlo's aircraft just the other day at work and had actually talked to him on the phone several times and had exchanged emails regarding the Bushy Mustang he was building.  He also owns a share in an Air Cam that I can't wait to go for a ride in, it looks like the ultimate low and slow vehicle!  The conversation never stopped about airplanes and my "future pilot" friend kept up with it great.  Actually, I was the one feeling a little left out!  Amongst my companions I was the only American, with Andrea being from Germany, Paul from Turkey and Carlo from South Africa.  It was an eclectic group with the love and excitement of aviation in common.  Even if we didn't fly, we sure had a fun time at the airport!

Friday, December 10, 2010

The Sky is Full of Flurries

You'll be bothered from time to time by storms, fog, snow. When you are, think of those who went through it before you, and say to yourself, 'What they could do, I can do.'
~Antoine de Saint Exupéry, 'Wind, Sand, and Stars,' 1939.

KFDK 101617Z AUTO 19006KT 3/4SM -SN OVC006 M02/M03 A3035

KFDK 101556Z AUTO 19007KT 1 1/4SM -SN SCT008 OVC013 M02/M04 A3036
KFDK 101535Z AUTO 20013KT 7SM -SN BKN024 OVC029 M01/M07 A3037

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Sing-a-Long Eyes

One of the consequences of having bad eyes is that you have to deal with floaters.  These are little dots that seem like little specks of dust "floating" around in your vision.  You try to catch them, but you can't; they are in your eye, not in the air.  Right now I have a pesky floater bopping up and down across my vision like those sing-a-long videos.  He better be instructing a catchy tune otherwise this is just not worth it!

I grew up having floaters and was always able to ignore them, but now after having a retinal detachment they tend to get me on edge.  A rush of floaters or more than usual are clues to another or pending detachment.  My sight has been great despite my detachment and small blind spot.  At my last appointment the doctor said I should not fear a future detachment and that I am healing quite well.  Just the same, I look forward (although with the usual anxiety these appointments bring) to my check-up in January.  The upside is if this appointment brings good news, I don't have to walk into a retinal specialist for another six months, then a year after that (in addition to my yearly field vision test for my flight medical-yuck).

The reason I may be noticing these floaters now and also the reason for me not posting often lately is I am just darn tuckered out!  I have been repainting and redecorating the main floor of the house and I had no idea the amount of work I was in for.  To make matters worse, I gave myself a deadline and got very sick.  Except for a bit of tidying up, the place is finally finished. I can now relax and devote time to my aviation related ventures.  An upcoming post has me very excited, I have been delving into my family history of aviation and through this research I hope to learn more about my family and connect with distant relatives as well.  I look forward to sharing stories of a WWII Ace, a romantic first date to Mackinac Island and one of how an instructor kept himself busy while his student soloed.

Keep your heart in the air and your eyes on this blog for further reading :0)

Friday, December 3, 2010

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Rain rain go away!

I'm afraid in my skinny state that I may blow away if I step outside.  There's been someone sitting in their car for the past ten minutes waiting for it to die down.  As nice as it would be to stay home today and get some more painting done (so far it's been 24 1/2 hours devoted to this task) there are airplanes waiting for me to renew their insurance!  I would have to step outside eventually anyway, to head to Lowe's for the upteenth time.  I can still look on the bright side because I am not in the blue, but my family is! *Insert Nelson "haha"ing here*

KFDK 011303Z AUTO 28029G39KT 14/11 I don't know why it didn't record the rain, so here's a +RA for good measure.

The wind died down just enough for me to make a mad dash to my car and not be pelted by the hard rain.  Walking to work was another story, feeling like an aggressive Mary Poppins trying to hold on to my umbrella.

KFDK 011325Z AUTO 27008G16KT 250V310 10SM +RA SCT023 BKN031 OVC042 09/08