Thursday, June 28, 2012

Is there equality in the cockpit?

Is there equality in the cockpit?

11 June 2012 | By Brad Cohen 
In late May, a passenger on Brazil’s Trip Airlines decided that while he was willing to live in a country run by a woman, he should not have to fly in a plane controlled by one.

Prior to takeoff, he shouted: “someone should have told me the captain was a woman. I’m not flying with a female at the controls.” The pilot agreed -- and she promptly ejected him from the plane.

In the 78 years since Helen Richey became the first female commercial airline pilot in 1934, nearly every industry in the world has seen exponential advancement in career opportunities for women. Yet it seems that females still have trouble achieving equality in the cockpit.

According to estimates from the Federal Aviation Administration, as of 2010 only 6.7% of US pilots are female.  Other organisations such as the International Society of Woman Airline Pilots (ISA) and Women in Aviation (WIA), estimate that only about 3% to 6% of the world’s 130,000 airline pilots — more than 40,000 of which are based in the US — are women. In some parts of the world, the number of female pilots borders on zero: Ghana, a country of 24 million, recently licensed its first female pilot. Comparatively, more than 80% of US flight attendants are women.

According to Jo Halverson, vice chairwoman of the ISA and an Airbus A320 first officer for United Airlines, the low numbers stem, in part, from the industry’s demanding schedule which requires a lot of time away from family. In addition, much of the world is generations behind the US and Europe in introducing maternity policies for female pilots.

Even in the US, Halverson said very little work is being done to make women comfortable in the cockpit. She called the climate at flight schools, where most students are young males, “dismissive and patronizing”, and said this is part of the reason that growth in US female pilots has been stagnant for more than a decade. In the 1960s, the number of female pilots grew from 3.6% of all pilots to 4.3%. Yet from 2002 to 2011, the number of female pilots in the US has only risen from 6.5% to 6.7%.

The 2010 Teaching Women to Fly Research Project, commissioned by the Wolf Aviation Fund, cited instructor-student communication issues and lack of female mentors among the top barriers that discourage women from learning to fly aeroplanes.

In a recent interview, Mireille Goyer, the founder of Women of Aviation Week (WAWW), agreed that little is being done to improve women’s comfort in the industry. To change that, WAWW recently began hosting events that introduce women to flying, and will list flight schools that are “perceived as women friendly” on their website. ISA and WIA offer flight-related scholarships to women and Embry Riddle Aeronautical University has started a female mentoring program.

While much of the world has a long way to go, Halverson said the current work environment in the US and Europe is good, and whatever sexism there is remains mostly under the radar.

“We’ve all experienced it,” Halverson said. “You don’t know sometimes if personality clash or if it’s because you’re a woman. But you do feel sometimes you have to be better than average just to be an average pilot.”


Monday, June 25, 2012

Flying to the Swallow Falls

Sunday morning was day two of Bob's surprise birthday trip and the day couldn't be more beautiful.  After a short walk from the Hampton Inn to Bob Evans for brunch, we took the free shuttle back to EKN.  Just a fifteen minute flight away was Garrett County Airport in western Maryland.  The ramp was bustling when we arrived but had emptied out by the time we left, many people leaving after a weekend end visit.  

For those interested in visiting this resort area it is very popular to visit Deep Creek Lake during the summer or skiing in the winter.  We opted to steer away from the major crowds and head to the Swallow Falls State Park. Once there we fallowed the trails leading four different sets of falls, our favorite being the 16 foot Upper Swallow Falls and the 53 foot Muddy Creek Falls.  We brought our new waterproof camera and had fun swimming in the cool water and getting doused by the gallons of falling water.

All good trips must come to an end, we departed back for Frederick in a clear and sunny sky.  The air was crisp and cool at altitude but when descending into Frederick we could feel the heat and moisture enter the cockpit.  This didn't stop us from doing a few laps for practice around the pattern, though, so I could find tune my Glasair landings.  See?  The trip wasn't all about Bob, I got some flying time in, too!  Now how to top next year's birthday?

Sunday, June 24, 2012

A Flight to a Telescope & Railroads

Bob turned the big 3-0 this year and I have had a surprise trip planned for him since September.   The trip would take up the weekend, and we would visit several different places where he wouldn't know where we were going until he arrived.  He was given five clues leading up to "surprise number one" and a final clue the morning of the trip.  I made sure they were very obscure so he could not figure it out, and thankfully he didn't!

Our first destination was EKN, Elkins-Randolph County Airport in Elkins, WV.  Our departure was delayed two hours due to fog obscuring the field.  Upon arrival I learned that it is extremely rare to land at this airport prior to 10am during the spring and summer months.  I also learned it is always a good idea to check the NOTAMS because we at first were lined up with runway 5/23 which was closed for repaving and new lighting.  EKN is within a valley and surrounded by steep mountains, some with windmills on top.  It's very important to keep alert when landing at this field.  We landed on runway 32 which had a 1,000'+ displaced threshold and took an 11:1 decent ratio!

Upon landing, Bob unpacked and took care of the plane while I ran in to pick up our Hertz rental.  The FBO was large, but empty.  We were the only ones around and the Hertz area was closed.  There was a number on the door to call them and the gentleman running it returned quickly.  The mid sized cars are $44/day and we saved money by dropping it off by the end of the day and using the free shuttle service to and from the airport offered by the Hampton Inn.  Other notes about the FBO: There was a large pilot's lounge and the bathrooms were in OK shape.  The ladies' room did not have a door on the stall.  Good thing there weren't many ladies waiting around to use it! 

We hopped in the car and I gave Bob a "gift" that went along with his first surprise: disposable film cameras.  After some thinking, and once I said we cannot use digital cameras where we were going, he figured it out.  We were headed to the National Radio Astronomy Observatory's Green Bank Telescope!  This telescope is 110 meters and is the largest movable object in the world!  We arrived after a scenic and winding one hour drive and visited the science center while awaiting our noon tour.  The tour started off with a video, a demonstration about interference affecting the radio waves the telescope receives.  The telescope is inside the National Radio Quiet Zone which places rules and limits on different technologies that could disrupt the telescope's work.  Once inside the telescope area all cell phones were to be turned off, only diesel powered vehicles could be driven and no digital cameras could be used. 

The tour was short, but sweet.  Apparently, on certain Thursdays once a month they have a "high tech" tour that I'd love Bob to go on.  Since he is a satellite engineer, he knew about a lot of the equipment and science they were using.  He actually taught our tour guide a thing or two!  We were starving by the time our tour was over and stopped near the Durbin Railroad for lunch about halfway bank from Greenbank.  We had some spare time, and along the same road leaving Durbin we discovered the Gaudineer area.  After a two mile drive down a gravel road was the Gaudineer Interpetive trail where we enjoyed a quick 1/2 loop hike.

A good surprise trip isn't complete without a huge meal!  I made sure to find Bob the largest meal in the area and one with a twist!  Departing out of the Elkins Depot (a 10 minute drive from the Hampton Inn) is the Mountain Explorer dinner train.  It was a special night for the dinner train, the local improv group entertained us between our four courses with some fun comedy routines.  The dinner train lasted around four hours.  Following a delicious dinner we stopped at the high falls where we were allowed to get out and explore for a half an hour.  On the way back to the depot, it was time for dessert and some more comedy.  It was such a great end to a very fun day!  

Wait!  The trip is not over yet...stay tuned for a PIREP on day two of Bob's surprise trip!  Aren't I a great fiance? ;)

Friday, June 22, 2012

Can you guess?

My man turned the big 3-0 last weekend and I've had a surprise trip planned for him since September!  I'm so done being sneaky and ready to let the secret out.  We are finally doing the trip this weekend.  I've been giving him a clue each day, can you guess the things we're going to do?

1. Fields
2. Steam
3. Film
4. Wild
5. Lens

Be on the lookout for a PIREP on two airports and some great activities!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Stuck Mic Ep#26 - Full of Memories!

Today’s show is an unusual one, more off the cuff, no topics, other than sharing a celebration of our first anniversary here at the Stuck Mic AvCast, stories of how each co-host got started in aviation, and reminiscing on our first year of podcasting, the experiences it’s afforded us and even how it’s changed our lives.  

Ready for the memories?  Click here!

Friday, June 15, 2012

Look, Ma! No doors!

Rans S7
Yesterday my friend Kyle asked if I'd like to skip a few hours of work to fly low and slow with him in the morning in his Rans S7.  My answer was "duh!"  Then I got thinking...hmm, my boss needs pictures of his Pitts from the air for our new magnets for the company...hmmm...Kyle's planes doors lift up so you can fly with your hair in the wind...hmmm....perfect photo opportunity perhaps?
Downtown Frederick


This morning the three of us met at 8am at Frederick Airport and were greeted with calm winds and and clear skies.  For a weekday morning, there was actually quite a bit of activity on the ramp. Many pilots were taking advantage of the pristine conditions.  We enjoyed the aircraft rolling by for some time and pulled out the Rans and the Pitts while discussing our plan.  Kyle would be in the front seat of the two seat tandem Rans.  I would be in the back, prepared with two DSLR cameras each with a different lens.  Jon would head up in his Pitts starting with straight and level flight, then throw some fun stuff in.  Both aircraft would rendezvous over Harpers Ferry at 4,000' msl then head to the North while shooting within the valley.

Formation tme!
The Rans is awesome for short field take offs and landings, we were in the air in no time-but the Pitts still beat us to our meeting point!  We opened the doors (brrr!) and I pulled out a camera to get shots of Jon and the Pitts and they flew up and around us.  Then after repositioning, got some great shots as Jon rolled and flew inverted.  

Once the formation flying was done, Kyle and I went back to a lower altitude and flew around Harpers Ferry to enjoy the scenery this time around.  Afterwords, it was time to head back to FDK and eventually...head to work.  I can surely say I would be a very peppy person in and outside of work if each morning started like this one!  Definately a lot of fun!

Patomac River
One final detail to mention, which left us laughing as we taxied back to the hangars:  my pants came undone.  Yep.  Tie, snap, zipper and all.  I thought things felt a little lose, it must have been from the airflow while we had the doors open.  Luckily, I noticed and had myself put all back together before we stopped.  But of course Kyle is now bragging that he, "flew the pants off of a girl" today. Oops, sorry Bob! :o)

For more pictures of this fun morning, click here!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Non-Profit Girls With Wings Soars North with Support from Alaska's Famous Female Flyers

Non-Profit Girls With Wings Soars North with Support from Alaska's Famous Female Flyers
Donated Books Penned by Group's Founder to be Delivered to Remote Alaskan Villages
Cleveland, Ohio (PRWEB) June 11, 2012 

When Ariel Tweto first heard of Girls With Wings, she immediately knew the impact the Cleveland, Ohio, based non-profit group could have on young women in her home state of Alaska.

"Girls With Wings can really break the ice to allow girls to pursue their dreams," Tweto said during a telephone interview. And by break the ice, she means it.

Tweto is an energetic student pilot featured in the upcoming third season of Discovery Channels' Flying Wild Alaska, set to debut Friday, June 8th at 10:00pm ET/PT. Tweto and Era Alaska bush pilot, Sarah Fraher, are both familiar with the treacherous terrain associated with Alaska's unforgiving landscape. Despite their fearless flying, both women embrace the importance of serving as role models for future female aviators.

”I think it’s important for women to fly,” Tweto added. “If what Sarah and I are doing can provide a little glimmer of hope to the people of these villages, that’s just really inspiring for me personally.”

The Girls With Wings organization was founded by another female pilot, Lynda Meeks, who was an Army helicopter pilot and current commercial pilot and flight instructor. The goal of Girls With Wings is to use women in aviation to inspire girls to achieve their full potential by understanding that anything is possible through hard work, commitment to education, and a tireless pursuit of personal achievement.

Fraher and her fellow Era Alaska pilots will help hand deliver 50 Penelope Pilot and her First Day as Captain books, written by Meeks, to remote villages across Alaska later this fall. The books were donated by Jones Dykstra & Associates, Inc., a digital forensics, cybercrime investigation, e-discovery, and expert witness company based in Columbia, MD.

"It is my dream that this is just the tip of the iceberg in bringing some attention and inspiration to the remote villages ERA Airlines serves," said Keith Jones, Senior Partner, Jones Dykstra & Associates, Inc. "As both a pilot and father of two daughters, I was inspired by the message Girls With Wings sent to my daughters. As a fan of the Flying Wild Alaska show, I felt it was important to get the Penelope Pilot book into the hands of future aviators. Sarah (Fraher) originally brought up the idea to me and our company was able to make the donation a reality." Jones Dykstra & Associates also donated the funds needed to deliver the books to Alaska to prep them for further distribution.

"The Penelope Pilot book is more than just a book for girls about a female pilot," said Meeks, who wrote the book to find another way to reach out to the younger generation with her message. "It's meant to show the teamwork and responsibilities involved in being a pilot. Yes, it features a female pilot, helping to show everyone that this is a job that women can do just as well as men.”

According to the Federal Aviation Administration, only 6% of all commercial pilots are female. Meeks and the Girls With Wings organization are doing everything they can to change that number.

"I know the combined efforts of Sarah, Ariel, Girls With Wings, along with the generosity of companies like Jones Dykstra & Associate and Era Alaska, can only do so much," Meeks said. "But if we can use this book to change the future prospects for even one young girl or boy, wherever they are - in Alaska or Maryland - then we're making a difference."

”Girls With Wings is wonderful at promoting women in aviation,” Sarah Fraher said in a phone interview with Girls With Wings from Los Angeles. “This organization inspires girls across the country to explore a career in a mostly male dominated industry."

About Flying Wild Alaska, Discovery Channel

Meet the unconventional family that rules Alaska's most dangerous skies. Operating their family-run airline, Era Alaska, the Tweto family battles unforgiving Alaska weather and terrain to transport life's necessities to one of the most remote and extreme regions of America. Season Three of Flying Wild Alaska debuts on Discovery Channel Friday, June 8th at 10:00pm ET/PT.

About Girls With Wings, Inc.

Girls With Wings, Inc. is a nonprofit organization using aviation to entertain and educate girls about their limitless opportunities for personal growth via an interactive website and presentations to girls groups and organizations. The scholarships are funded through private donations and is always looking for new volunteers to increase its mission

About Jones Dykstra & Associates:

Jones Dykstra & Associates (JD&A) is a consulting firm specializing in digital forensics, e-discovery, investigating computer crime (hacker and data breach remediation), expert witness testimony, and computer security training services, many of which use a simple fixed-price model. JD&A's team is comprised of industry-recognized experts with high-level technical certifications and government security clearances, and serves some of the nation’s largest law firms and Fortune 50 companies right down to the small businesses and solo practitioners. The company is based in Columbia, Maryland.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Does he like Flying Wild Alaska?

Quillson and I sat down last night to watch our favorite show, Flying Wild Alaska. What do you think he thought of the premiere?

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Why We have Girls with Wings and WOAW

Recently, I helped promote a great event called Aviation Inspiration Day by the organization Girls With Wings.  Some feedback from this event is much like some comments I have received from my work with Fly it Forward for Women of Aviation Week.  In summary, one woman commenting on the event was very upset that we were only offering such events to girls and excluding the boys.  My friend Keith who is on the board of directors of Girls With Wings offered an excellent reply this woman.  Since the subject is bound to come up again with the planning for the next Women of Aviation Week is coming closer, I wanted to share his insight below:

Thank you for your email and I can truly understand your frustration from the viewpoint that you laid out in your email below.  How you feel was exactly the feeling held when there was not an easy avenue for women to pursue aviation related past times or careers back when Girls With Wings was conceived over 10 years ago.  This is not the first time we have heard this point of view, and we do take it seriously.  In short, we have no intention of Girls With Wings to be sexist only towards girls and women.  However, what we are trying to do is provide more opportunities for women to participate in aviation because of the staggeringly low numbers of women joining the industry in either a commercial or recreational capacity.  For example, only 6% of pilots are women.  3% of pilots for the scheduled airlines are women. That means out of 100 airline pilots, 97 are men and only 3 are women. There are very few other industries you will find that consist of gender statistics like that.  What we found when we started Girls With Wings is that with the rare exception all promotional material, shirts, books, and anything else you can imagine associated with aviation was already boy oriented and girls were subtly excluded by this bias.  Trying to find a girl’s pink airplane t-shirt was virtually impossible 10 years ago.  Now, we have that through Girls With Wings.  Every day was "Boys with Wings" and girls did not have the same choices for their preferences, which many times can be different than a boy's preference.  The Blue Angels and the Thunderbirds were, for many years, only male pilots, and the public recruiting face of those military branches.  In fact, Nicole, the first female Thunderbird pilot, is a role model on our site and she by far gets the most email because she has inspired girls to think about following in her footsteps. We started Girls With Wings to help young women have an avenue when they are curious about aviation but may have been told they could not or should not do it because someone in their life may have told them "planes are a boy's thing" or they think it is too hard of a passion for which to reach.  
In addition to our many male supporters, there are two men on our Board of Directors.  In fact, I am one of the Directors and am a father of one such girl that I described above.  I have a son (8), a daughter (7), and another daughter (3).  My son loves everything about aviation and is welcomed nearly anywhere he goes that is aviation oriented (male and female events).  I am a pilot and I have been exposed to flight instructors that refuse to even teach women how to fly or were very derogatory toward women pilots to their male students.  Unfortunately, this is just a fact of life in aviation and we are trying to overcome it.  My oldest daughter once told me "I can't like planes like my older brother, it's only a boy's thing".  This seemed to me to come out of left field, since I never heard her actually told anything of the sort.  What was my response as a pilot and a Dad?  I sought out and started volunteering for Girls With Wings and now both of my daughters, who thought aviation was only a "boy's thing" before now, live and breathe aviation because they know they are just as capable as boys to participate in aviation.  In fact, I am a man who volunteers frequently for Girls With Wings and my young son joins me to support his little sisters' passions in aviation even if his sisters are not there with him.  An 8 year old boy is trying to help girls his age become interested in aviation just as much as he is - without competing with them.  That is what we try to do here at Girls With Wings:  help each other attempt to live to our fullest potential, using aviation as a theme, but all of our fullest potential in general.
If you are looking for general aviation organizations that don't have missions specifically concentrating on changing the statistics for women in aviation, may I recommend AOPA ( and EAA ( that are gender neutral and could have more men for your boys to interact with.  They have many many more events than Girls With Wings each year if you review their websites.  You could also read about and join the Young Eagles program ( which, as you will find, will have at least 94% male pilots for your boys to interact with. This is also the organization that has volunteered to offer the free flights at our Aviation Inspiration Day Lynda discussed on TV. It is important to remember that Girls with Wings promotes aviation in general.  We welcome both genders at our events.  We welcome individuals of both genders because it helps move our mission forward.  All three of the aforementioned organizations, and many more, are also very supportive of Girls With Wings because they also understand the need to interest more younger women in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) and aviation is a perfect avenue for that education. 
Although it seems you are very frustrated at what you perceive is a competition of boys versus girls and I'm confident this letter will probably not change your mind, I wanted to share where our inspiration started.  If your sons and daughters would like to attend the event, they are more than welcome to come.  In fact, bring your whole family!  As Lynda, the Founder and Executive Director of Girls With Wings, said on the TV interview, the event is meant for the whole family.  During the short TV interview she only had time to talk about the highlights of our organization and the event so hopefully this email gives you a little more background concerning Girls With Wings.  The information I shared with you in this email would have taken too long for the TV spot we were allotted.
If you have any other comments or concerns, please feel free to email me back.

PS - my mentor when I was a student pilot was a female pilot that I met through Girls With Wings and I found her listed in the "role models" section of our website.  She helped me get through some of the tough times faced when I was learning to fly.  And because of that, I believe GWW is capable of helping pilots of any gender depending on how you use the resources Girls With Wings has to offer anyone interested in the organization.

Keith Jones
Director,  Girls With Wings, Inc.
A 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.
"Girls Need Flight Plans, not Fairy Tales!"TM

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Smooth Landing

We arrived back from PA this evening with a perfectly smooth landing.  This felt so great after the escapades on Sunday afternoon.  I am very blessed to be a pilot and work where I do to have the use of an aircraft that can bring the family together in a time of need.  Rest in peace, Nicky.

Sunday, June 3, 2012


Flew into PA for a funeral. It's been about three months since I've flown the Cessna and we had a full load. The wind was 7 knots as we approached and switched to 11 knots, gusting to 17 and was a direct crosswind. It was bumpy and uncomfortable and after one go around gladly made it to the ground with one bounce. Been awhile since I've flown in that strong of a wind, whew! I actually got a "great job" from several people who had been watching on the ground.

Stuck Mic #25 is here!

Another day, another show! This episode of the Stuck Mic AvCast brings conversations of what to do when experiencing multiple aircraft system failures, including flight considerations, and adverse aircraft behaviors. We also discuss becoming disoriented with the cockpit layout of a new airplane and even some stories of co-host go arounds and much, more!  Listen now :)

Saturday, June 2, 2012

My airplane tattoo!

When I first began my flight training I knew how happy and what a great accomplishment it would be when I finally became a private pilot.  So, I made a deal with myself that when that happened I would get a new tattoo in honor of it.  Well, that never happened and I eventually pushed myself further with the goal of becoming a commercial pilot.  Well I finally became a commercial pilot last year and it has been 7 years since I first struck that tattoo deal with myself.  I mentioned in a previous post I'd be announcing my special birthday gift I would be getting and this was it!  Unfortunately, I had to wait again (I'm used to that in the aviation world) for my schedule and that of the busy tattoo parlor to match up.  Well, I finally got it and couldn't be more proud of my new ink.  It is a reminder of all that I have been through to get where I am today.  I can always look at it during the tough times and remember how many hurdles I overcame to become a commercial pilot which the tattoo stands for.  I know, by looking at it, that I can overcome anything once again.

Friday, June 1, 2012

We know how to have fun at Oshkosh!

The company I work for, Aviation Insurance Resources (AIR) has a booth at Oshkosh every year.  Now, sitting inside a hangar full of booths while there are amazing things to see flying outside can sound quite...well...dull!  Luckily, we have many great customers and friends that come visit us each and every year.  One of our favorites?  These guys!  They are so much fun and so goofy they had no problem being in our latest ad!  Will you come visit us?  Think you can top these hats? :o)