Sunday, May 29, 2011

Smithsonian Air & Space Museum

My parents and Bob's parents are both in town for a "Meet the Parents" weekend as we call it.  We took them down to D.C yesterday to visit a few landmarks and museums to include the Air & Space Museum.  That was a must for my father and I knew that he would enjoy it.  Unfortunately it being Memorial Weekend it was extremely crowded and he did not get to have as thorough a tour as he would have desired, so, we'll just have to bring him back!  I did take the opportunity while we were there to get my picture under the "Women Pilots of America" sign because, hey! I am one!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

RIP Amanda Franklin

"If you live your life in fear that something could go wrong, you're not living your life," Amanda Franklin

Friday, May 27, 2011

Update on Amanda Franklin

Just over two months ago the couple Amanda and  Kyle Franklin were injured during a performance at an airshow.  Amanda has been in critical condition with burns to over 95% of her body and fighting constant infections.  I have been keeping a close watch on Kyle's updates on his Facebook page for Amanda and was devastated about what I read this morning.  She will now be going into comfort care, taking off the ventilator, all medication except for those that handle pain and will let her live out her last few days in comfort.  What a difficult decision that must have been for a man in so much love to make.  Two days ago I posted their YouTube video in my sidebar which provides a link to donate to their fund to go towards their medical care.  Although Amanda may not make it through this, Kyle still has a battle ahead of him.  He is in physical therapy for his injuries and will be facing a mountain of hospital bills.  If you have a spare dollar or two, please take a moment to donate to a couple who have inspired pilots and non-pilots for years.

From Kyle's Facebook:

Amanda had a really hard day. During dressing change this morning she started bleeding really bad and they had a hard time stoping it. Her body has gotten to the point that if you touch her or even look at her wrong she starts bleeding and her blood is not coagulating. Her wounds today looked more infected then the last three days and the antibiotics don't seem to be doing much. Her kidneys have almost completely shut down, her liver is starting to fail and she looks like she was still in a lot of pain. The doctors believe she wouldn't make it another two weeks in time for the EpiCels much less the procedure and I have to agree after seeing her wounds. So, I made the hardest decision of my life today and put her on Comfort Care. They have taken her off most everything with the exception of the ventilator, sedation meds and pain meds. They placed her in a more comfortable position and are doing everything to make her as comfortable as possible.

I believe at this point this is what she would want me to do. I also believe if she did pull through at this point she would kill me for it, a month ago I would have said otherwise. This is a decision I never in my life would have thought I would have to make nor ever wanted too. But, I don't want her to go through another four weeks of hell when we know it will do no good. We do not have a time table on things, most likely a day or two. I will continue to keep you all updated.

Know that she is not alone her mom, brother and his wife, my mother, myself and all of you in spirit are here with her. I feel Amanda will be very happy to see her dad, my dad and of corse Jackson again. But the hardest thing is she's leaving us all behind, till another day.

Amanda my love, I love you with all my heart, soul and everything I am. Our life together here was supposed to be seventy years not seven, but I look forward to seeing you in my dreams every night my love.

Thank you all for your love, support and help through all this.

Goodnight and God bless,


Thursday, May 26, 2011

The sky is not the limit

The sky is not the limit necklace from Bob
"The sky is not the limit...there is so much more! It's your life and you are in the pilot's seat. So aim high and embrace the challenge!"

The first time I was to be given this necklace this necklace with this inspirational message attached was for my birthday and it was stolen before I had the chance to open the wrapping. My boyfriend, being the sweetheart he is, bought me another birthday gift the day of to replace it.  However, he was determined to give me what he had originally bought as well! He quickly bought me another of the same necklace, it's from a website called and they have many cute charm necklaces with inspirational "wishes" for the people who wear them.  

His timing couldn't be better. Next week I start once again to try to complete my commercial training. I will be flying three times a day for a week to prepare for my checkride. I fear I won't want to get into an airplane for awhile after! I fear something may stop me as it has many times before, but as the necklace reminds me, I will embrace the challenge! Thanks, Bob for such a lovely reminder. XOXO.

What I was going to say...

This past weekend I was supposed to attended a Women in Aviation event in Kingston, NY and speak about my history of flying and what it means to me.  Through a chain of events I was unable to attend, here's what I had planned to say.  If you are new to reading my blog it will give you a bit of a history on how I got here and who I am.  If you've been reading for awhile, it's old news :)

When I started flying I did in pursue of a career, but now it has become much more meaningful to me.  It is a lifestyle and a mission.  I do it because I enjoy the sky and I love sharing it with others.  It's no longer for the pursuit of a career and money, it's about the connections made and the lives touched along the way.  Flying a plane gives the pilot a sense of freedom, confidence and empowerment; all things essential to becoming a successful female in society.  Through aviation I have gained all these and believe I am a better person because of it.

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. Bills brother, Jack was an Ace in the Pacific Theater of WWII.  My grandpa flew Piper Cubs to and from work for a time and then worked under guidance and control for all of the Apollo missions.  My father is a private pilot as well, and I grew up going to airshows and trying to remember all the names of the aircraft I saw.  I still can't keep track of them!

I always wanted to fly, I took the controls for the first time when I just had my driver's permit.  I would always brag to my friends that, "I can land a plane and someday I will be a pilot!"  After school I had set out on a different career and after some life changes and deep thinking I rediscovered my lost dream for flight.  I started studying for my written and soon signed up for flight lessons.  I had a rough road at first with a flight instructor switch, health problems, financing and a school change but after two years I rejoiced and recieved my private pilot certificate.  Just five months later I became instrument rated and headed straight towards my commercial certificate.  Or so I thought.  My flight school closed and when I started at a new one I ended up sitting on the sidelines for two years trying to get some sort of funding for this endeavor.

Finally my persistence prevailed and I received a grant that took me right up to being ready for my commercial checkride.  That was until I suffered a retinal detachment and told I would be unable to receive my aviation medical.  But I prevailed again and I did.  By the time I was healed and ready I had moved to a new state for a job in aviation insurance which I really enjoy.  I now have another grant and plan to complete my commercial within the coming months.

It takes a lot of dedication and determination to become a pilot.  I know I was tempted to give up hundreds of times.  But, I tell you to never give up because there is no replacement for the feeling of flight and what being involved in aviation provides.

Aviation has brought me places, Bob and I have traveled to several islands from Mackinac Island where no vehicles are around and you travel everywhere by horse and bike, to party town Key West, FL and Put in Bay in Ohio which has been dubbed the Key West of the North.  It has taken us to Asateague Island where wild horses run the sandy beaches and most recently to Jekyll Island, a relaxing place in the Golden Isles of GA which used to be the playground for the wealthy and privileged such as the Rockefellers and Goodyear.  We have entered a race, flew to airshows and done countless $100 hamburgers which is pilot speak for flying someplace to eat.

Aviation has brought me friends. I had recently moved to a new state and decided to throw and aviation event for women.  I didn't know any pilots in the area, but through this event I met plenty of pilots who gave it their all to help out.  I have thrown various charitable functions and other events in the past but never had I had the support like I did for this event.  With these pilots, I helped introduce 185 women to aviation through free flights.  One of those pilots who helped out is a balloon pilot and such a great friend that I got up before 5 am this morning to help him with an early morning balloon flight, these friends are keepers if I am getting up this early!  Then their are girls like Katja, who I am very disappointed I did not get to meet today, individuals I have yet to meet but remain to inspire me through their passion for aviation.  I hope people like Katja and my experiences inspire you to hop in the pilot's seat and start on a lifetime of adventures!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Maryland Cluster Balloon Flight - VIDEO!

Ignore my goofiness and be in awe of all the flying colors!

Water bladders away: Cluster balloon lifts off in Maryland

By Bob Knill

Seven hot air balloons gathered at the Flying H Farm in Union Bridge, Md., May 21 to accompany John Ninomiya and his cluster balloon on a short flight in calm skies.
AOPA Top Stories

Ninomiya, one of only a few people in the world flying cluster balloons regularly, is on a quest to fly his craft—a cluster of helium-filled balloons attached to a harness—in each of the 50 states. The flight allowed him to add Maryland to his list of states completed.

With help from the many volunteers who had arrived to witness the flight, Ninomiya inflated the various-sized balloons and attached them to sandbags until he was ready to strap into the harness and attach the balloons. Water bladders, used as ballast, hung from the front of his harness. To ascend, he releases water from the bladders. To descend, he bursts the balloons.

Carefully following a written checklist, Ninomiya directed his crew on attaching the balloons. Once he was ready, he stood up, took a few steps, released some water, and lifted off over the trees. One by one, the hot air balloons followed as dozens of onlookers cheered.

The Flying H Farm sits on more than 100 acres and is used primarily by John Harrison to raise and train Belgian horses. A 2,000-foot grass strip runs behind the barns and is home to several ultralights and powered parachutes. Harrison, flying from that location for more than 30 years, even keeps a Cessna 172 on site. But on this evening, the grounds proved the perfect launch point for the lighter-than-air crowd that came to support their fellow balloonist on his journey.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Women in Aviation at 20N

 Katja Jourdan is currently in her junior/senior year of high school, her last two years are condensed into one so she can graduate a year early. At her high school, she is enrolled in an aviation course where students learn the ground school material for becoming a private pilot and fly at their local airport after school hours.  Katja was working on her final project for this class when she first contacted me.  She was looking to interview pilots about their life becoming and as pilots for this project.  I obliged by posting her questions on this site and answering them as well.  Quite a few pilots responded inline and to me personally which I forwarded over to Katja. 

Now, you think that would make a good senior project and Katja would stop there, right?  Nope, Katja is an incredible young woman who likes to go above and beyond in everything she does.  She reminds me a lot of myself, she saw me posting about the Women Fly it Forward event I hosted and thought to herself, "Hey, I can do that!"  That was the same exact thing I had said when seeing Karlene Pettit post about her Fly it Forward events.  So Katja did it.  Saturday, May 21st, corresponding with International Learn to Fly Day, Katja hosted Women in Aviation, introducing the ins and outs of the aviation world to 40 young women who came out at the airport.  I'll let her tell you about this exciting day in her own words: 
Set up was great--lots of people from the airport came to help. The weather was perfect--sunny and warm all day. We started a little after noon... Randi (the airport owner) and I gave our little speeches. Public speaking is not my strong point AT ALL... so the fact that I accomplished it without crying like a little girl is amazing.

We had our first guest speaker come up, Juliette Cosh, a math teacher from one of the local high schools, and she told her story (she built her own plane!). We were able to find someone else to speak during your time.. an elderly lady and her daughter. The older woman, Gale, flew at our airport in the 50's and 60's! She had about 13,000 hours when she stopped. She instructed, she flew helicopters, she flew military planes, she did everything... and most of her flight time was done right at Kingston-Ulster Airport. It was quite an inspiration!

After the speakers, our CFI, Kevin, gave a talk about how to become a pilot and then Randi and I announced the winners of the raffle (to win an introductory lesson or scenic flight) and our winners were Gale's daughter and a junior high student from Rondout, Kayla.

I then stood up with all of my BOCES classmates and talked about the BOCES aviation program and what it entails (I wasn't AS nervous talking this time).

We let everyone then roam to see what we had to offer... literature, flight gear, simulators, food, airplanes, a helicopter, and of course the simulators! I met so many new people from the area.
It was so great and everyone was so supportive!

Congratulations, Katja on such a wonderful event!  I enjoyed our chat today, keep up the great work, can't wait to fly with you someday!

Monday, May 23, 2011

AirCam Flight

Bob got to go first.  I was jealous and mad.  I said to him, "I met Carlo first, he promised me a ride a long time ago!  I should get to go first!" 

Bob got back from his flight excited and on a high.  I said that I didn't want to hear it.  I'm going on that plane now; and that I did!  The AirCam is a multi-engine homebuilt aircraft, looking much like an ultralight.  It was originally built for National Geographic photographers for it's wide open views and very short take off and landing distances. 

We started our take off roll at the end of the runway and were off the ground before we even hit the runway numbers.  The climbout was amazing, especially when you looked behind you!  That machine has no problem climbing, Carlo demonstrated a power off stall for Bob.  It stalled at 30 knots and they were still in a 1,500 foot climb!  

For my flight, we started low and slow over the farmland below us to show how you can't beat the view!  Next, he had me take the controls and we climbed to 5,000 feet to see just how quickly you could catch a chill!  We darted around some clouds then in our decent he had me practice some engine out procedures. 

In the midst of that, Bob had decided to take up the Glasair and come find us.  We flew some formation for a short while and got some great pictures of the Glasair for Bob before heading in.  I took the controls in the pattern and led us to final where Carlo took over and landed it gracefully.  

Upon exiting the aircraft my hair was a mess, but I was all smiles!  THAT is real flying.  I had been in ultralights before so I have experienced the wind in your face feel, but this somehow had an extra punch to it :)

Check out the gallery for more photos!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Saturday's Balloon Extravaganza

WARNING: This is a long one, but worth it!  The photos are a must see as well! (link to the album at the end, AFTER you read all this. Hehe!)

Good morning.  I have a horrendous sunburn on the back of my legs which caused me to wake up at 6:00am on a Sunday morning when for once I did not have to be anywhere.  Thanks Patrick for not taking the balloon up this morning ;)  

Yesterday's original plans called for Bob and I to fly up to Kingston, NY (20N) to speak at a Women in Aviation event held by Katja Jordan.  Bob ended up getting a job that needed setup Saturday evening and with the possible storms to be around Kingston that afternoon, it would just be too risky to head that way.  I felt guilty beyond belief, but luckily, Katja's event could not have been better.  Not only did she have this wonderful event, she has her  long cross country solo today!  I wish her the best of luck on this today!  Look out for a post about this inspirational girl and her event tomorrow.  Need more reading?  I finally got a ride in a friend's AirCam. In love!  That's with the plane, not him, just FYI.  A separate post on that experience to come.

Now on to yesterday's events.  My buddy Patrick, @skyhawk8519, flies the balloon #Tailwind and I have been learning the ins and outs of being crew for it the last few weeks.  Patrick is not a smooth talker, nor does he pay us an amazing wage (just ice cream and pancakes after flights every now and then...oh and champagne!) but somehow he continues to suck me into waking up at the wee hours of the morning for him.   He even managed to get Bob up, too! Yep, we were at the airport at 5:30am Saturday heaving a heavy envelope and gondola out of a trailer in the shadows of the Goodyear blimp.
The set up and flight went without a hitch, as well as the chase despite one wrong turn.  We arrived just as Patrick was landing in a quiet neighborhood.  Soon the quiet stopped and turned into sirens.  Lots of sirens. 

"They're coming for you!" I joked to Patrick.  It turns out, I was right.

Usually people run outside to see the balloon land, then run right back in to quickly fetch a camera.  Today, someone ran back inside to call the police.  Balloons fly where the wind takes them and you can legally land anywhere that is deemed safe to the balloon and won't harm people in the landing spot of choice.  There are not many balloons floating around the state of Maryland, that some neighborhood residents found it alarming and thought he was in trouble.  Unfortunately, somewhere in the dispatch "hot air balloon in distress" turned into "aircraft crash" and several ambulances, a large fire truck, a volunteer fireman and three police showed up within minutes and many others were on their way.  If the balloon wasn't drawing a crowd already, it sure did now.

After Patrick assured them he was fine, the balloon was fine and that this was all perfectly normal and routine we took the opportunity to snap a few photos of all the madness that we would later laugh at.  As it turns out, Patrick picked an excellent landing spot for it was in the neighborhood of a fun couple who were lifetime fanatics of crewing for a balloon.  They have helped out on the Energizer Bunny hot "hare" balloon for years and were down at Preakness this week but did not get to do a launch do to weather conditions.  So, they helped us pack up and would later join us in the evening to help out again.

No, this post is not over yet.

We did not go home after this.  We celebrated at the airport with a hearty breakfast at Airways Inn then went straight on to help out at the International Learn to Fly Day sponsored by AOPA.  Bob gave some rides through the EAA and I helped out at the Ninety-Nines tent and with Patrick's display of the balloon along with his wife, Meagan.  I also do my usual socializing that I tend to be an expert yet, catching up with pilots I have met along the way as long as chilling with my boss for a few moments.  Key 103 Radio was there live, Cirrus flew in a factory display, AOPA and the EAA were offering free rides and there were many displays to check out.  There was also giant and bright orb in the sky called the "sun".  I am now in pain.

Nope.  The fun did not end there.  Neither does this post.  The excitement is only just beginning, as if it hadn't been exciting enough already!

Patrick organized a launch of eight balloons that evening over at a private grass strip called Flying H Farms.  Here we would watch a breathtaking launch of a wide array of colors, to include those of the cluster balloon!  The cluster balloon is basically a chair tied to a bunch of helium balloons piloted by John Ninomiya.  He is the only person flying  ultralight cluster balloons in North America, out of the seven who have performed such flights in the world.  He has performed 80 cluster flights to date.  

When we arrived at the strip, we were immediately put to work filling up the larger than life balloons that would hold John in the air.  A line of helium tanks filled the barn and it was so hard to hear that we had to should in order to communicate over the loud hissing of the tanks filling the balloons.  Here is my "just in case, I can't afford a lawyer" warning now: Kids (and you adults too!) do not attempt this at home!  John's balloons were sealed via masking tape and zip ties! There were two sizes of balloons and we were filled the "smaller" (still not your ordinary Party City balloons) ones.  

Each helium tank filled four of these.  You started filling with the balloon facing the ground, but as it filled you raised it up.  After filling several of these, my poor light arms became sore from fighting the balloons that were determined to do their job and go up!  I was happy that I got back on the "balloon filling horse" because my first attempt at this was traumatic.  My balloon popped (Bob would later have one do so as well, so I wasn't a complete loner). If a small balloon popping is enough to startle you, imagine the sound these gigantic balloons made.  It took me a few moments to recover from the shock :)

With several powered parachutes, paragliders and ultrialights taking to the air off of the grass strip, the crews  later returned to their usual balloons to inflate and prepare to depart.  At a little after 6:00pm, the cluster balloon was the first to depart, with the remaining seven balloons shortly on his tail.  It was a quite a sight and a stunning chase.  I'll let the remaining pictures explain for themselves.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Happy International Learn to Fly Day!

Yep, sorry I'm so late in saying this; but there was no rapture so I can still fit it in! LOL!  Anyway, I have about three blogs to post to sum up some things from this weekend, so be on the look out.  I know you're going to say, "The weekend's not even over yet, Victoria!" I know! There was just that much stuff going on.  Unfortunately, at the moment I will not reveal all.  I am at the moment too pooped to even think about sleeping. Night all.

Friday, May 20, 2011

09J to KFDK Flight

In an earlier post, I called the flight home from Jekyll Island back to Frederick "dodgy".  That's because we were dodging storms and heavy precipitation left and right.  Luckily the storms were widely scattered, but it kept our flight path interesting.  The adventure began just as we departed Jekyll Island, forest fires were in the vicinity and it is common for the smoke to drift over the island, as it did that day creating some instrument conditions for just a minute or two.  Except for those first few minutes, the clouds in flight were absolutely stunning, from the towering cumulus, seeing clouds spill over mountains and even a rainbow!  We made it back in just three and half hours, just in time for dinner and a good night's sleep.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Misleading info about women pilots makes its way in the media

I was happy someone else was shocked at reading an article in today's Aviation eBrief stating that the women pilot population is increasing, especially since I have recently hosted an event stating the exact opposite fact.  I was happy to see that Mirielle, founder of the Women of Aviation Week movement knew best how to explain the difference in these numbers.  Please take the time to read her message below.

Hello Everyone,

It started yesterday when I got a Google News notification of an article titled "Gender bias giving way as more women take off as pilots". That got my interest. As I read, the article stated that the number of women pilots had increased by 18.6% in the last decade. Given the amount of time I have spent going over the statistics in the last 2 years, that number surprised me. This morning, as AVweb and AOPA brief pick up the story, I did some research.

There is an old adage that "numbers can say anything you want".

In the tables published by the FAA for 2010, I did take notice of the big jump in the total number of women pilots from 36,808 in 2009 and to 42,218 in 2010. When I noticed that most of the increase was driven by a 74% increase of women student pilots in one year (from 8,450 in 2009 to 14,767 in 2010), I got very excited. Since March 6 2010, together, we have introduced nearly 2400 girls and women to aviation (more than 25% of the U.S. female student pilots in 2009) and through multiple articles brought awareness to many more. Could we have been that effective?

However, as one of 5,580 women pilots holding an ATP certificate in 2010 (just 3.9% of all ATP certificates), I have been well trained to always read the small notes… The small notes clearly explain that the jump in number of student pilot certificates is due to the change in duration of the student pilot certificate from 24 months to 60 months.

While the participation of women is slowing increasing in the commercial flying arena
– from 3.1% of the ATP pilot population in 2000 (4,411 out of 141,596) to 3.9% in 2010 (5,580 out of 142,198), from 4.76% of the Commercial pilot population in 2000 (5,807 out of 121,858) to 6.6% in 2010 (8,175 out of 123,705) –  let’s not lose sight that in 1980, more than 30 years ago, the female population in the U.S. total 52,902 (6.4% of the pilot population). In 2009, before the numbers were skewed by the regulation change of the student pilot certificate, women pilots total 36,808 (6.2% of the pilot population).

Some claim that women will never constitute 50% of the aviation population for various reasons. May I point out that 100 years ago, similar claims were made when only 5% of car drivers were women. Today, a little over 50% of the people holding a driver’s license are women. Together, we can make the same transformation take place in aviation.

The numbers chosen and the time period chosen certainly depict a rosy picture of the state of participation of women in aviation but they are very misleading. The reality is that the percentage of women pilots went from 3% to 6.2% in 101 years or from 6.4% to 6.2% in the last 3 decades. There is much work to be done to change that.

Just as the illusion of safety in GA recently discussed in aviation media is believed to hurt the evolution of the pilot population, I believe that the illusion of significant progress in terms of participation of women could deter the much needed efforts to encourage more women to participate.

The publication of such misleading information may have occurred as a result of the failure to read the small notes (no evil). However, I ask you to make sure to minimize its negative effect on our hard work but publishing the truth in your blogs and press releases.


Mireille Goyer

Founder and International Team Leader
Women Of Aviation Worldwide Week

A Great Event in Kingston this Saturday!

I can't wait to meet Katja, what a great gal!  This event is her final project in her aviation class in high school!  She has an A+ from me already!  Come on down, I'll be speaking!

Kingston-Ulster airport to host ‘Women in Aviation’ event

Published: Monday, May 16, 2011

Freeman staff

Randi Zinn, owner of Kingston-Ulster Airport, stands in the hangar where the “Women in Aviation” event will be held Saturday. (Freeman photo by Tania Barricklo)

TOWN OF ULSTER — Amelia Earhart flew solo across the Atlantic 74 years ago this week.

The flight took place on May 20-21, 1937, and was the second solo flight across the Atlantic and the longest nonstop flight by a woman.

But Earhart’s accomplishment as a female pilot has not translated into a bloat of women pilots taking the controls and making their way into the aviation industry.

In her own way, Randi Zinn wants to help change that.

Zinn, owner of the Kingston-Ulster Airport, along and Katja Jourdan, 17, of Kerhonkson, a licensed pilot, have put together a “Women in Aviation” event at the state Route 32 facility.

It will be held on Saturday, the date 74 years ago that Earhart completed her trip across the Atlantic. The “Women in Aviation” event will take place between noon and 2 p.m., most of it in an airport hangar.

On July 2, 1937, Earhart’s plane disappeared somewhere in the Pacific Ocean while attempting a flight around the world.

There’s much in the way of theories surrounding the disappearance of the plane. The most commonly accepted one is that she got lost, ran out of gas, and went down somewhere in the Pacific Ocean.

A couple of years ago, Zinn took over the operations of the airport. Her father, Michael Zinn, died in a plane crash in Florida in October 2005.

Zinn says females account for only six percent of those who fly aircraft.

Speculation, Zinn says, is that women may tend to perceive flying as risky or figure if they do become professional pilots it would take time away from families.

“Aviation can not only be a career, but it can be just for pleasure,” Zinn said.

Zinn said Jourdan was “disturbed” by the low number of female pilots and wanted to do something to promote flying for women. The two began working on the “Women in Aviation” event in March.

Jourdan said she became interested in flying after viewing the movie “Operation Red Flag,” a film about one man’s journey to becoming a fighter pilot.

The aviation event will include lectures by women pilots including Juliette Cosh and Victoria Neuville, who also blogs about flying.

Also on hand will be Heather Howley, who is owner of Independent Helicopters based at Stewart Airport in New Windsor. The business provides tours, flight instruction, and helicopters.

Kevin Hofelmann, who is Kingston-Ulster Airport’s manager and a certified fight instructor, will speak about what it takes to get a pilot’s license and give tours of aircraft.

Also, visitors can get a feel of what it is like to fly a plane in a flight simulator, Zinn said.

Zinn said the airport does offer flight training at the more than 150-acre facility.

Zinn said that the “Women in Aviation” event is the start of what she says will be more community-orientated events at the facility.

“My goal is to hopefully have at least quarterly events, something that brings the community together whether it’s the external community or pilot community,” Zinn said.

The event is free. Light refreshments will be served. A raffle for free scenic flights will also be held.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Jekyll Island - 09J

Bob and I departed after the shuttle launch to enjoy some time on a little island that I just couldn't get out of my head, Jekyll Island (09J) in the Golden Isles of Georgia.  It was just an hour flight from Kissimmee, FL.  It took us quite awhile to depart because traffic was very busy at KISM and once enroute the frequencies were equally as busy.  No listening to the iPod on this trip!  The air became quite chopping at 5,500 so we ascended to 7,500 and enjoyed a smooth flight all the way to Jekyll Island. 

We arrived at Jekyll Island airport just before one other plane departed, so everything was pretty quiet and low key.  The Red Bug electric vehicles are rented there (they also own Red Bug Pizza that we ate at the next day-very yummy) and serve as many visitors main transportation about the island.  They have several well behaved dogs that greet the pilots and very clean facilities, but they do not have any av-gas.

We stayed at the Hampton Inn which I highly recommend.  They promptly picked us up from the airport in their van and are more than happy enough to shuttle you to and from anywhere on the island.  The Hampton had a very nice pool area, complete with a bar, a fire pit, a large and deep hot tub and a kiddie pool. 

Behind the pool of the Hampton Inn is a beautiful boardwalk leading to the beach, shaded in large trees layered with hanging Spanish moss.  The beach itself was equally serene, there is a great difference in tide and it was very low.  We had hundreds of feet of beach to relax and it was hard, not soft, so very easy to walk great distances on.  Sand dollars and interesting shells could be found every few feet, but just watch out for the many dead jellyfish that have washed ashore! 

We enjoyed a quiet and romantic dinner at one of their upper scale restaurants, The Courtyard at Crane.  Be on the look out for my future (4 star) Yelp review on this place.  The food was amazing as was its setting.  The Courtyard at Crane is located at the Jekyll Island Club Hotel, one of the most beautiful and the largest buildings on the island.  It is a National Historic Landmark and once used to be the playgrounds for famous families such as Goodyear and the Rockefellers.  I encourage you to read further about the island's history from the civil war times to the roaring twenties, it is full of amazing stories!  After we enjoyed the delicious dinner we took a sunset walk along the pier, caught a ride home with a lovely couple from Alabama, took a dip in the hot tub and headed to bed for some much needed rest.

Tuesday morning we awoke to enjoy a continental breakfast and then rented some bikes to tour the island.   There are several paths that you can choose from; some parallel  the roads but the best take you through the maritime forest with lovely marshes, thick Spanish moss hanging from everything and almost tropical like prong plants.   We peddled along the beautiful historic district passing the Goodyear cottage and several other notable and equally beautiful cottages (more like huge houses).  We also stopped in a lovely store called "Just by Hand" that sold some beautiful and creative handmade items.  Bob bought me a necklace that I am absolutely in love with. 

Next we stopped by the Georgia Sea Turtle Center which is an absolute must.  Tickets were $6 for adults, $3 for children and free for ages three and under (if I remember correctly).  It was a small museum but full of hands on activities and videos.  Resident turtle Kathy was swimming around in the tank.  She was a young wash back, swimming in circles bored, yet completely ignoring the toys that awaited her below.  The most interesting part of the museum is behind a glass window where you get to watch the doctors and interns actually take care of injured sea turtles.  We watched as doctors drew blood from and took care of two green sea turtles that had been injured by boat propellers.  One had a problem known as "bubble butt" (yes, I giggled at the name too!) where the turtles shell injury healed in a way that air gets trapped in the shell making it float up.  They put a Velcro weight on one of the turtles to counteract this problem.  This center works very hard at making sure eggs and hatchlings on the beaches of Jekyll Island receive the best chance at life possible by patrolling the beaches daily and offering amazing medical care for those that have become injured or that are found sick.  They also tag each turtle and track them via microchips and satellite transmitters.

We continued our bike ride through so more trails and ended up having lunch at Red Bug Pizza. It was very good and the weather was perfect to eat outside.  With full stomachs we later biked over to the bay side of the island to check out the Wanderer memorial.  After slavery was abolished, people were still trying to sneak them in and the owners of Jekyll Islands were participants in this crime.  They the ship, the Wanderer in to the harbor, it had set sail from Africa with 487 slaves.  Only 407 made it to the United States alive.  It was very sad, but also quite interesting to read the history on placards around the exhibit consisted of lovely iron outlines of sails from a ship.  The memorial is a just a hundred feet from the beach, which due to being on the bay side had fewer shells but a very freaky looking (well to me) tiny crab!

It was 2:30pm when we returned our rental bikes at the hotel and gave in to the fact that it was time to leave this gorgeous island behind and head for home.  If you are looking for a scenic flight and relaxing, quiet beaches, then Jekyll Island is the place to go.  If it's within an hour or so flight it will even make a good $100 hamburger if you are interested in renting a red bug.  I will not forget it's beauty.  Go check out more of the pictures!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The Shuttle Launch

As of 2010, 518 individuals have been to space; there are over 6.8 billion people on Earth.  That is a pretty select few and I am honored to have been able to wish six individuals well; watching them depart on their journey to the International Space Station.  We arrived at the Kennedy Space Center a little after 5am, it was chilly and dark.  The moon stunning; huge and orange and the rockets on display at the center were glowing from floodlights.  The spectators at the space center all huddled together to keep warm, some in chairs, but many were laying on the ground bundled in blankets trying to catch some extra shut eye prior to the countdown.  Some people even had small tents.

Bob and I cuddled up in our extra large beach towel and napped while listening to occasional updates and facts from the announcer.  I prayed that the air would heat up as the sun rose and that it would take the cloud layer away.  I was also repeating in my head "please launch, please launch, please launch" after the last built in hold passed and I overheard an individual say that they have scrubbed them about 30 seconds prior to launch.  

Things went without a hitch, however and I excitedly joined the other spectators in counting down.  3...2...1 and...wait for it...just a bit more...ahhh there it is!  The shuttle Endeavor appeared over the tree line, glowing brilliantly!  All was silent; everyone was in awe.  Then it entered the cloud layer and a big "awwe man!" filled the crowd.  We were silenced quickly, however, when the sound finally hit us and we listened to yet another brave crew enter space.

This was an experience I will never forget, it almost brought tears to my eyes.  It is a shame that such missions will not continue from NASA.  We are hoping we can make it to the last and final launch of the shuttle Atlantis in July/August, but I'm not sure if we should because something seems to have cursed our Florida travel.

Check out the video below of the shuttle launch, it doesn't seem like much, but it was breathtaking in person!  Up next in blog posts: Celebrating my birthday on Jekyll Island and our "dodgy" flight home.


Monday, May 16, 2011

Jekyll Island = Beauty

Loving it here, had to share this. What a great way to break up our flight home. Details and review to come!


No time to write about the launch, I'll write and post the video when we're back in MD. Heading to the airport and on our way to...Jekyll Island!

At the Kennedy Space Center!

It's 4AM...

...and we're on our way to the shuttle launch!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

The bad luck continues...

The shuttle launch is still on, no worries.  But all our camera equipment and clothes were just stolen from our rental car BUT not the launch tickets!  They left that and our lovely gigantic beach towel to sit on and watch it!  So, NASA has no choice but to make us happy :)

Back again!

At good ol' KISM. Nice flight along the coast and over Disney!

En route to the shuttle launch

Found what we thought would be a great airpot to gas up, $4.99 gas, unmanned and you enter the quiet terminal building by punching in the CTAF. You know why we thought wrong? "Encountered network error!". The gas pump is not working and we can't fill up. We can make it to KISM safely, but wanted to fill up cheap (surrounding airports are $6 plus).  Let's hope the bad luck stops here. See ya 6J0!

Friday, May 13, 2011

A shout out to Bryan

Hi Bryan!  It was great helping you out with your insurance today at work.  Thanks for reading!  I look forward to roping you into volunteering for next years Fly it Forward event ;)  Please don't tell my boss I am blogging during work hours.  Thank you, please.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Shuttle Attempt #2 Flight Route

Well, we will be leaving bright and early Sunday morning to head out to KISM again.  It feels like we were just there!  We will be stopping halfway to have some packed snacks at get some cheap gas.  When I say this gas is cheap, I mean it.  6J0, or Lexington County Airport (in the middle of Nowhere, SC) av gas is only $4.95 a gallon and it keeps us almost directly on our route as well as keeps us over land.  We will spend some more time in Orlando with friends from the area and head out early in the morning towards the space coast for the launch at 8:56AM (hopefully!).  We will head back to the house for a quick rest up before departing Florida the same day.  But!  We won't go home yet!  My birthday is Tuesday and I picked a lovely birthday destination for the flight home.  Where, you ask?  You'll have to keep reading my blog to find out!  Let's hope everything goes to plan this time around!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

A Long Balloon Chase

I helped out on Patrick's balloon crew again tonight.  Winds were light and as the sun set they turned on him, making finding a decent landing spot hard.  He flew for an hour and a half while the rest of the crew and I duitifully followed him and relayed where we were.  The chase truck had quite a following, a caravan of cars trailed us wanting to see the balloon and its pilot when it landed.  In the end he ended up putting down in a friendly elderly couples' yard, with the crew taking the rope and pulling him away from the power lines.  It turned out to be a great help, for we had a whole town of people to help put the envelope away since light was fading fast.  Below are two of my favorite pictures from the night: 1. the helium balloons attacking me in the truck (they are released to judge the winds prior to launch) and 2. the community helping out.  I'm starting to get the routine down in regards to set up and tear down and looking forward to learning more of the "technical" mumbo jumbo in the future!  P.S. I'll be adding more photos from the previous two flights and tonight to the gallery at some point this week.  So stay tuned.

Endeavor Launch is Rescheduled!

It's on the day before my birthday!  I get to be in Florida and go flying on my birthday! 
"Endeavour's is scheduled to launch Monday, May 16 3 8:56 a.m. EDT on a 16-day mission to the International Space Station."
Woo! Can't wait.

Monday, May 9, 2011

I can change oil on a plane, but not a car!

So I think Bob is plotting, slowly but surely forming me into his aviation slave.  I can't blame him, he's become my slave for various aviation volunteering gigs.  The slave-work he gives me, however, is a tad dirtier.  It's ok, I'm not complaining.  I actually enjoy it.  I am pleased to announce that as of Saturday night, I know how to change the oil on the Glasair and I did it all by myself (with Bob's instruction). I am proud of myself.  Now to figure out how to do it on my car...because it is beeping at me to do so!  In other news with the airplane, we took off the cowling (that task I have conquered before) to see why the landing light is so dim and flickery.  We saw two causes: 1. the lens was dirty (simple cleaning task) and 2. the bracket that held the landing light in was slowly cutting the wires connecting the light (not so easy task).  It was cut so close to the base of the light, Bob could no solder it himself and sent it back to its manufacturer to be fixed.  We also noticed that the alternator belt was pretty lose and Bob and our friend, Carlo adjusted that the following morning.  Things should all be in order and the airplane put back together in time for the reschedule shuttle launch, which is estimated to be May 16th as of now.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Balloon Crewin'

So I got up early yesterday morning to do volunteer for helping the Girl Scouts get their aviation patch, why not get up early on my last available day to sleep in to work as crew for my friend's hot air balloon?  I woke up at 5am and thought to my self, "why??? Why???"  but I left thinking, "dang! That's was pretty darn fun!"  So what did I do?  I volunteered to do another flight at 6pm.  It's a lot fun, I learned a lot and sweat a bit.  I've always thought about getting my lighter-than-air ticket, so what a great way to get experience!  Check out the gallery for more photos.  I'm going to BED!

Saturday, May 7, 2011

The Girls Scouts Earn their Aviation Patch at W29

 I'm mad that I insisted on driving to Bay Bridge Airport today versus driving, since it turned out to be a beautiful day.  But who knows how safe of a pilot I'd be waking up that early in the morning, especially since my eyes could not stay open on the drive home!  Today Bob and I volunteered (well I volunteered and then volunteered Bob LOL) at Bay Bridge Airport (W29) on a one day session that would earn the girls their aviation patch.  

 The event had six workshops for the girls to visit and learn various items: 1. spacial disorientation 2. GPS 3. aviation careers 4. aerodynamics 5. pre-flights and 6. the group Bob, fellow pilot Dave and I ran, instrumentation. We instructed them on the basic "six pack" as well as the glass cockpit.  We aided their education with some "real life experience" using a simulator I borrowed from work.  It basically looks just like the inside of a cockpit and is great to practice instrument flying.  We had many girls go into stalls and some pretty crazy spins, but others that concentrated hard and did a real good job as well.  As part of their service requirement to earn their patch, the girls made all the volunteers lunch.  After lunch break, they would have the opportunity to go for Young Eagle flights.  I believe this was a great introduction to aviation for the Girl Scouts and those at Chesapeake Sport Flyers flight school who put it together did an amazing job.  We even had shirts so we all looked uniform, but Bob and I thought we looked like John and Martha King :p

Bob and I would depart after lunch to catch up on a long promised lunch date with another pilot, Keith, his wife Andrea and their super cute kids.  After leaving a sunny lunch in Annapolis we headed back home where we just now finished cleaning the house.  Next up, getting some Beef n' Buns in Paradise and taking off the cowling of the Glasair to check why the LED landing light has been so dim!  For more pictures of the event, check out the gallery!

Friday, May 6, 2011

Fly it Forward Awards Ceremony

Today we celebrated KFDK winning the title of "The World's Most Female Friendly Airport in the World" the way we know best, by barbecuing out at a hangar!  Aviation Insurance Resources sponsored the BBQ where over 25 individuals were in attendance enjoying a smorgasbord of food, including an airport theme cake I had made (Bob added a control tower for me, complete with "z"s coming out of the window!).  Our backdrops for the event were not only the Cessna 180 and the Pitts in the hangar, a "Most Female Friendly Airport" banner donated by AOPA decorated the walls as well.  Outside, we had an even better ambiance, storms were all around us, but only a small shower greeted us for a small period of time.  Fascinating lightening lit the skies just miles away and we were greeted by a double rainbow and some very unique mamatus clouds.  After the guests had munched for awhile I made a quick thank you announcement and awarded Lin Caywood the "Most Dedicated Female Pilot" runner up trophy and then the "Most Female Friendly Airport" trophy to airport manager Keven Daugherty and the Executive Assistant to the Mayor, Josh Russin. 

All in all, the BBQ was a great event, with great people, celebrating a great achievement.  Great!  Too see more photos from this great (did I say that already) time visit the photo gallery.  Thanks to ThePilotReport for being my paparazzi for the day!

Lunch break at AOPA & Airways

I have had the pleasure of spending time with Jill at AOPA in the past and have been keeping touch with her as well as another pilot @ThePilotReport on Twitter.  @ThePilotReport, also known as Len, thought it was about time we all left the virtual world and get together in person.  Len is new to the area and was excited to get a tour at AOPA headquarters. 

My favorite thing about the AOPA building is walking in and seeing Harrison Ford's larger than life size face on a billboard, looking very serious.  I would love it even more if he had the hat and a whip.  Yes, I am in love with Indiana Jones.  I could sit in the red comfy chairs of the lobby and stare at him all day, although the angle would hurt my neck after awhile.

Our tour guide was very knowledgeable on the history of the building, we went into several areas that control membership, the magazine and other informative services.  They even have a studio area for live press conferences.  I had been to AOPA several times before, but it was nice to see everything, including the president's posh office.  I was very tempted to go sit in his chair and have Len take a picture, but I kept myself under control :)

Later we headed over with Jill to Airways for lunch and was surprised to see several friends (and pilots) there; Lin, Carlo and Brenda.  So of course we had to pull our table up to theirs!  Fun stories and jokes quickly ensued and we were joined by yet another flying friend.  It was great everyone was welcoming and Len fit right it.  As we left I said to Len, "Frederick Airport is not very friendly is it?"  :p

Visit here to see Len's post (way better than mine) on his experience.  Be sure to watch the video and check back to his site often!

The Fly it Forward awards BBQ is tonight, the trophies are stunning and I made an airport cake.  Stay tuned for a post on that!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Renting Airplanes & Sex

Nope, I am not renting out either.  Sorry.  I just stumbled upon this cliche today that I just had to share:
"Renting airplanes is like renting sex: It's difficult to arrange on short notice on Saturday, the fun things always cost more, and someone's always looking at their watch."

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

I'll Yelp about airports now too!

I'm becoming an addicted Yelper, reviewing new places I go and visit. I started a $100 Hamburger list, but figure I would add an airport list as well too. Mostly a duplicate of what you see here, but I figured if I'm wasting time on there anyway, it might as well be about aviation. Only two are listed there now, but be look out for more later when I can focus on my duties at hand :)

Monday, May 2, 2011

No Launch and No WX Problems

Well, we are back in the good old state of Maryland.  To say that we were disappointed that the launch did not happen would be an extreme understatement.  Luckily, our tickets are still valid and hopefully we can make it when they reschedule.  Let's pray for no more APU or any other problems the next time around!  The weekend was not a total loss, however, I got to see my parents who were vacationing in Tampa as well as a close friend who lives just outside of Orlando.  Oh and we must not forget Cirque du Soleil, Disney and meeting with a fellow pilot and Twitter friend, @PilotConway, for dinner.

The flight out of Florida was uneventful, we left around 3:00pm to arrive for gas and dinner a bit after 6:00pm.  We went to North Myrtle Beach's Grand Strand Airport (KCRE) which located in the resort area, about a thirty minute drive north of the boardwalk.  There are several nice and clean courtesy cars available to go to Barefoot Landing, were there are several great places to grab a $100 Hamburger and do some shopping as well.  We chose an Italian and Greek Restaurant called Dino's.  Very pretty, the outside seating faces the lake and fountain and the decor was quite romantic.

The rest of the flight went smoothly, although was done via instruments due to flying between cloud layers at night.  My landing at Frederick was pretty decent, although I got a little too slow towards the end.  The next launch is said to take place no sooner than May 10th, pending good results with the APU.  Let's hope I'll be sharing with you a blog about all of that soon! 

The pictures are up, I'll be adding my $100 Hamburger review to Yelp soon.  Check 'em out :)

Fly it Forward FDK Video

Why hadn't I seen this earlier?  Thanks Carlo for taking a great video of the Fly it Forward event this past March!