Friday, May 31, 2013

REIL Remarks #16

A new weekly segment of my blog featuring the funny finds in aviation publications!

"Arpt CLOSED to aircraft with explosives." HHR, California

Good plan.

Have some to share?  Feel free to send them my way and I will add them to the REIL Remarks archive!

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Speaking with Students about Becoming Pilots

Last Thursday was Career Day at Greenbelt Elementary where my friend, Allison, teaches. I volunteered to talk to the students about being a pilot and spoke with two first grade classes and a fourth grade class. My favorite class was Allison's, and I'm not being bias. Ok, it's probably because one adorable boy said that he wished I could stay all day. Of course he stole my heart! All the children, even the fourth graders, were so full of awe of what it is like to fly. I would happily talk to young children over adults any time. I think the world has left many of us adults jaded with the responsibilities and costs of some careers. They don't hold the wonder that they used to.

I started each discussion about telling the children that I fly airplanes and can make it to Ocean City (a popular vacation spot around here) in under an hour in a small plane. They could not believe it! I then told the children how there are different types of pilots. Private pilots that can fly their friends and family around in good weather, instrument pilots who can fly in rain and clouds, and commercial pilots who can fly for a job. They seemed to get a decent grasp at these simple definitions. Later, when passing around sectional charts, I asked one first grade class if they could remember what kind of pilot could fly in clouds. One girl in a pink shirt at the back of the room raised her hand, so excited and confident, so I called on her.

"A musical pilot!" she replied. Both the teacher and I had to hold in a lot of laughter as to not embarrass her. I hadn't thought to explain that when I mention using instruments in the airplane, I did not mean we were strumming a guitar or playing a flute!

For the fourth grade class, I did mention that only 6% of pilots were women and they were shocked at this number. I was so happy to see this reaction out of the girls, they quickly got a determined look on their faces.

"You watch out, boys!" one girl said to the three boys at her table.

I could have spent over an hour with each class as they were full of questions, some were very good and unexpected! The most popular questions were:

1. What if you have to go to the bathroom?
2. Do you get snacks on the plane?
3. Can you fly to other countries?
4. Did you bring your plane with you?

It was such of a fun experience speaking at the school and I look forward to doing it again next year. I only had a half hour slot each class which could have easily taken an hour with all the questions and enthusiasm. Oh and we must not forget, trying on the aviation headsets! I think that was their favorite part!

Monday, May 27, 2013

We Remember

Happy Memorial Day! I hope you all are having happy and safe celebrations with the ones you love. I'm taking a moment to repost this special video in honor of all those who have fought and fighting to keep our country free. Remember to thank those in uniform today and every day!

Saturday, May 25, 2013

My first time in the right seat of a Cessna!

Believe it or not, I have never sat nor flown in the right seat of a Cessna. That's any model. I thought that was pretty funny. Well there's a first time for everything and was because of my new friend, Joe. Joe needed to get some approaches in and is going to be my instructor for my IPC and BFR so it was a great time for us to get to know each other and take my company Cessna up. It was extremely gusty, but surprisingly smooth at altitude. We did three approaches (a great refresher for me) and a quick buzz over my house to wave at Bob before it was time to come in and land. At the end I told Joe he passed as my new CFI. Funny, this will be the second Joe I have had as an instructor. I guess with how many I've had, it's about time for some duplicates!

Friday, May 24, 2013

There's a Mini Tailwinds!

Occasionally, Bob and I crew for the hot air balloons of Tailwinds Over Frederick. We missed a lot of fun last weekend while we were away in Atlanta. There is now a new mini balloon that we have not crewed for yet! Nope, you can't ride in it, it's all for remote control fun! Check out their video debut in the Baltimore Sun here!

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Leaning In in Aviation - Helping Others Take Off

In my two part blog post about Leaning In in Aviation I had mentioned that a reader, Colin, suggested I submit my story to If you haven't read these posts yet, please do. I am usually not very self promoting when it comes to what I write, however I found those posts very important. I talk about a lot of work promoting aviation to women on here and I think the posts explain why it's needed in the aviation industry and other male dominated fields.
I hope my story resonates with some as others on the website have for me. I hope it inspires other women to Lean In and reach their full potential in the working world.

The tagline on my story is: "A pilot finds that helping other women take off is better than flying herself." Do you think that is possible? Read on and let my story convince you!


Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Great New TV Show for Pilots!

If you read my blog regularly, you know I can never resist a good $100 Hamburger, I keep a running list and am always looking for an airport with food nearby. You would never know I have a sensitive stomach! Like many others, I utilize websites such as and to help me out with my planning. But, have you ever thought about having a TV show help you pick out that next lunch stop? Air Fare America is exactly that and more.
I have had the pleasure of learning more about Air Fare America while joining them on some video shoots and talking about what aviation means to me. I am really looking forward to the show because I believe it will capture the attention of a wide audience, not just the pilots. Three hosts will take you through a new airport in each episode, the foodie, the passionate pilot and the one who can't resist a good antique find. They will fly in to sample the local tastes at the airport restaurant, then explore the unique finds in hangars old in new. It's Anthony Bourdain meets American Pickers!
I wish great success for Air Fare America as it will boost the image of general aviation we are in need of in media today. It will also help generate business at airports we have grown to love and open our eyes up to new ones to add to that ever growing flying to do list! Need help with that list? Air Fare will have an interactive map on their website so you know what is along your route!
To learn more visit their website at and follow them on Facebook and Twitter!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

$100 Hamburger - 57 Alpha Cafe

Ah what a little gem! It's $100 Hamburgers like these that make me feel sorry for non-pilots who may not get to know these little places and amazing people. After leaving from our weekend birthday trip to Atlanta, we did an instrument approach into this friendly airport for food and gas.

A reliever airport for Asheville, NC, Rutherford County Airport's (KFQD) runway sits just beyond a mountain range. After our

The FBO was clean and quiet. When you first walk in the entrance there is white writing of the names of everyone who has visited on the walls. If you are new to the airport and sign the wall, you get 10% off your fuel purchase! There is no self serve fuel, it's by truck only and it's 20 cents cheaper if you pay by cash. The lineman who helped us out was really friendly and fun to talk to. On a table of the FBO was a children's book called What's a Piper Cub which I wish we had more time to flip through. It seemed really cute and was written by a local pilot.

The 57 Alpha Cafe stands just back from the FBO and is very quaint. The owner was a joy to talk to and the only person running the cafe. Menu choices included burgers, sandwiches and Mexican dishes. He said his specialty was Mexican, so we both opted for dishes from that menu. Everything tasted delicious and fresh. I had read on AirNav reviews and a Yelp review about the banana pudding. I could not pass such a dessert up. I think Bob and I argued over the last spoonful, actually, I may have growled at him and taken it all for myself. It was that good.

Be sure to check out all the neat pictures on the walls and try to make it there on a Saturday when the owners band plays. He really does it all! I would love to see this airport on a beautiful VFR weekend day.

Monday, May 20, 2013

A Birthday Flight to Atlanta

Cherokee County Airport
After a short stop in Shelby, NC for lunch, Bob and I had a smooth flight to Cherokee County Airport (KCNI) in Canton, GA. Cherokee County is a good place to land if you want to avoid ramp fees and are looking inexpensive choice just 45 minutes outside of Atlanta. We were quickly greeted after parking by a gentleman who then brought our rental car out to us. The FBO seemed new and everyone was very friendly. They had a good sized seating area with a view of the ramp, clean restrooms and a decent pilot information room.

100' Tunnel in GA Aquarium
Our first stop was to the Verizon Wireless Amphitheater in Alpharetta, GA for the Old Crow Medicine Show and The Avett Brothers concert. It was a nice little venue and the concert was a great. Note that you are assigned a lot for parking, which for many people is actually off amphitheater property and they have school buses shuttle you over. The hotel warned us that traffic could be terrible, however, the buses ran quickly and smoothly and we were in and out of the area much quicker than any other concert I have been to. Despite the rain towards the end, we had a wonderful time.

Outside CNN HQ
Saturday we had originally planned to spend the day at Six Flags, but the weather was questionable and my stomach was acting up which was not a good combination. So, we opted to go to the Georgia Aquarium instead which turned out to be a great decision! The Georgia Aquarium is the largest in the world and had some unique exhibits I hadn't seen before to include sea dragons, beluga whales and whale sharks. What was really awesome about the aquarium is how large the exhibits were. There was a 100 foot tunnel you could enjoy whale sharks and manta rays swim over you and a many tanks with huge viewing areas We stayed at one with the whale shark for half an hour! There was a dolphin show which amazed me at what these dolphins were capable of learning, they also had special effects and turned it into a Disney-like show which I thought was kind of corny.
Departing CNI

If you are ever in the Atlanta area, I highly recommend visiting the aquarium. The Coca-Cola museum is nearby, as well as Centennial Park which had a concert going on at the time. We sat by the fountains and enjoyed the concert from a distance for free. We also went into the CNN building for a quick drink and look  around.

It was storming when we headed to the airport to go home. A Cessna 414 was also there waiting for the worst of the storm to pass and departed just before us when there was a gap in the cells. We took off and once to 7,000 feet were above the clouds and it felt like we had entered a whole new sunny world. We took advantage of that time to take fun pictures with Lollipop, the GA Aquarium mascot we had purchased.

Heart Cloud at 9,000'
We made our lunch stop in Rutherfordton, NC and it was an amazing place (more on that tomorrow). It was in a valley just past the mountains and did an instrument approach that involved many step downs. After lunch we departed into the soup again but it was soon clear on top. Closer to Frederick we were back in the clouds and I got some IFR practice in the right seat. I usually complain about how difficult it is dealing with the angle of the instruments and how I always seem to get disoriented, but it was not a problem this time. I did excellent so that made the flight even more fun for me.
Our New Penguin Friend

We received instructions to go direct EMI then the instrument approach to Frederick. Unfortunately  this involves going past Frederick, go 20 miles out and then back in again. Luckily, we were able to find a hole in the clouds and cancel IFR and spiral down to land. A pilot friend watched us to this from the ground and said he got a bit dizzy watching us! We had just an hour to get Turbo before the kennel closed and got the airplane unpacked and tucked in in record time. We were exhausted and all smiles. So was Turbo when he saw us!

Sunday, May 19, 2013

$100 Hamburger - The Flying Pig

It was my birthday Friday (the big 2-8!), one that I shared with my aunt who had left the world too early recently. It felt somber, but luckily Bob and I decided it was a weekend that we should celebrate with flight and music. We had concert tickets and other fun plans in Atlanta and along the flight path were some opportunities to add another $100 Hamburger to the list.

Shelby-Cleveland County Airport (KEHO) in Shelby, NC was just 20nm off our route and 320nm SW of Frederick. We made it there in about two hours time, ready to eat! We quickly topped of the fuel tank (reasonable at $5.45 a gallon) and went inside to ask about the restaurant. The facilities were great and the gentleman at the FBO couldn't have been nicer. It would be a quick 1/2 mile walk to the restaurant, but he offered the crew car for us. It was a nice and clean Impala and we were sitting down for lunch at The Flying Pig in no time.
Bob is very particular when it comes to his BBQ so when he suggested it get 4 stars on Yelp, you know he thinks it's good. I did, too! It was a fun friendly little place and I loved the flying pig logo and the little pigs they had where you pay when you are all finished. 

With full bellies, we headed back to the airport to continue our journey to Atlanta with a new $100 hamburger and probably a few extra pounds under our belts!

Friday, May 17, 2013

Leaning In in Aviation - Part 2

My previous post Leaning In in Aviation Part 1, introduced readers to a book I recently devoured, Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg. Through my work with Women Of Aviation Worldwide and the thoughts compiled throughout Lean In, I felt compelled to share my thoughts here.

Becoming More Female Friendly

I don't have any answers. Lean In doesn't claim to either, just suggestions and observances.  It will take the work and cooperation of both males and females to make a drastic change. It's funny how often I now notice in certain professions how few women there are. My husband sent me a photo of a conference he was doing a live feed for. Everyone was looking goofy wearing 3D glasses, but that wasn't the first thing that caught my attention-I didn't see any women. It was a room full of surgeons. My husband explained that there were maybe three women out of almost 200 in attendance. I wonder if those women felt welcome? I wonder if the low presence of females made those few women feel anxious or afraid?

The Solution to More More Women!

We need more women in leadership roles to provide an example, encouragement and mentorship to women entering the workforce. Unfortunately, many of those roles today are filled by men. We cannot do it alone, we need help and support from our male counterparts. Over 20 men volunteer at my Women Fly it Forward event each year and my male boss has become one of my biggest allies in the cause. The Board of Directors for Women Of Aviation is 50% male and the India Women Of Aviation Week team leader is a man as well. We should applaud these men for providing an example to others in the work force. They are not weak for doing this, they are strong. They are showing that it is OK to reach out to women and in turn it shows the women that yes, we do belong. Hopefully more men in leadership roles will start following in their example.

What would you do if you weren't afraid?

Sheryl Sandberg posed this question at a graduation commencement. There are many things people would do if they were not fearful, such as skydiving or swimming with sharks or spending the night in a graveyard. This isn't the type of fear she was alluding to. She's talking about the fear that holds us back from achieving great potential. This fear can be extremely crippling and cause women to hold themselves back in the industry.

As women, we generally look to be liked and keep the peace. Out in the working world, that may not always happen. Attempting to blend in with coworkers and not taking risks or promotions is a common occurrence all to keep that "like" in balance.

Another common fear is the word "no". Something that has always helped me get through the "no's" in life was to understand that "no" is not to you as a person, it is just to the opportunity at that specific time. In her book, The World at My Feet, Meryl Getline was headed for the airlines and wanted to take advantage of a great flying opportunity that required a specific visa.  She, along with many male pilots were denied this visa.  But she decided to call the issuing office one more time and asked again.  They gave her the visa. She later asked why they changed their mind just for her. The answer? She was the only person who had called back again. She wasn't afraid to hear another no.

Erasing Stereotypes

In fact, there is no need to be afraid if we just change the way we think and act as a society: erasing the stereotypes of the female role. It starts with understanding. Understanding that we no longer live in an era where women stay home and care for the house and the kids. We have a choice now as to if that's the life we want to lead.

I got a phone call once at work, a very easy policy to handle for a pilot that I out-ranked. He did not want to talk to me because I was a woman. He asked to speak to man. I have also been told that women "don't want to waste their hottest years at FBOs". Understand that these comments come from men that believe in stereotypes and understand that they are not the mentors and support you are looking for. Shake your head and move on.

It takes active decision to help erase these stereotypes. I've actually kicked myself on several occasions at work. When a pilot wants to add another to their aircraft policy, we need that other pilot's flight times and ratings. I've often caught myself asking what "his" total time is. This is not because I think all pilots are male, it's because most are and I have given in to that. Now, I always try to ask what "their" total time is. A simple way of adjusting the way you speak is a small step towards that change. Eventually, that spoken word will change your thoughts and in turn, the words and thoughts of those around you.

What now?

All we can do is continue on our journey, as change will not happen over night. Inspire to be the best woman or man you can be, tearing down barriers and opening doors for all people to be treated as equals.

To learn more about the Lean In community or to purchase the book Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg, please visit For more on my work with Women Of Aviation Worldwide, please visit and

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Leaning In in Aviation - Part 1

When I was very young, I used to tell my friends that I did not like the color pink. That was a lie. I love pink and I look really good in it, if you don't mind my saying so. I told this lie because girls were "supposed" to like pink and I didn't want to be just any ordinary girl. I guess that's why I ended up working in an industry where only 6% are women. Girls liking pink is just one of the many stereotypes we grow up with. Others stereotypes, I've learned throughout the past few years are that women are not interested in working or participating in aviation.  I am the US Team Leader, and event organizer, and director for Women Of Aviation Worldwide. Through this volunteer work, I have witnessed these stereotypes first hand and know that they can be combated.

When Women Of Aviation Week, an week long celebration introducing girls and women to aviation, was approaching my inbox was flooded with emails and conversations about that topic. That's when my loyal blog reader, Colin, contacted me. His email came through when hundreds of others were, all about the topic of women getting involved in aviation. His, however, was recommending that I submit my aviation story to a website called

"No more writing!" I shouted in my head.

A quick thank you to Colin, requesting him to send me a reminder after Women Of Aviation Week is how I actually replied. True to his promise, Colin wrote a week after. I happened to be on vacation and unfortunately his email sat there, awaiting me to discover a great site for a week longer.

Finally, one day while on break at work I decided to explore it and completely understood why Colin had reached out to me. Regretting not looking into this earlier, I loved what I saw, I wanted to contribute and I was soon awaiting the Lean In book to arrive in the mailbox.

Sheryl Sandberg, the COO of Facebook, did a TEDTalk in 2010 about how women are held back in the workforce and how we tend to hold ourselves back as well. The reaction from this talk moved her to write the book Lean In: "Women, Work and the Will to Lead".

My Leaning Experience

When I first hosted Women Fly it Forward an event introducing girls and women to aviation in Frederick, MD people saw me as a feminist, and I did not like that. In Lean In, Sheryl explains that she hated that word, too. But now, we both are happy to be identified as feminists. I did not set out to be feminist and I wasn't aware of how behind women were in the world compared to our male counterparts until I started this journey. When I decided to participate in Women Of Aviation Week by hosting Women Fly it Forward it was just for fun because I enjoy organizing events. But now, it is a lot closer to my heart. Many women didn't know that an aviation career was a possibility for them, many did not know they were welcome. Through reading Lean In, it further substantiated the need for the efforts of organizations such as Women Of Aviation Worldwide and how it will take every one of us to make a real change.

The title of Lean In comes from the encouragement for more women to lean in, volunteer, and speak up in the workplace when sometimes we may feel (due to society standards) that we should lean back and let the opportunity pass us by. Several moments when I have leaned in and leaned back in my aviation career come to mind:

Lean Back:

1. Giving in to old fashioned gender roles: Men more inclined to mechanical things. An airplane is a mechanical thing. I cannot tell you how many times I've sat around male pilots and did not speak up during a technical discussion. I was not only afraid I may say something stupid, but that I may be wrong and mocked. But I went through the same training that they have, maybe more. So if I do speak up and I am wrong, it is an opportunity to learn.

2. In Lean In, Sheryl discusses a study that shows how men credit their success to themselves and boast of their greatness. Whereas women often contribute to outside forces, for example help from friends. Or they believe that they just worked hard and got lucky. I have found that over the years when people exclaim at how amazing it is that I am a pilot, I tend to brush it off. My husband, I know, loves to share this fact, both about him and myself. I don't have to be so modest about this accomplishment, especially when trying to sell myself for a employment position. I did not become a pilot because of luck. I came because I have ambition (which is not a bad thing) and I worked towards my goal, ignoring the obstacles.

Lean In:

1. When I moved to Maryland, I decided not to say no to any aviation opportunitiy. Well, now that has gotten me into trouble with so many yeses. But - it got me involved and opened opportunities to show others in my industry that I am capable. I did not know if selling aviation insurance would be right for me. My insurance background included just eight months on the adjusting side of things. But with persistence and honesty with my coworkers, I am on the road to a great career path. I also have had several job offers since.

2.  Sheryl encourages readers of Lean In to "sit at the table" versus sitting alone, away from executives thinking you do not have anything to contribute or that they don't care. Working for an aviation insurance broker, we have many underwriters come to visit. Early on, I did not think I would have any way to participate. However, my employer always invited and encouraged me to join in on these meetings. In doing so, I expanded my knowledge and grew in my new career. I showed my employer and these underwriters the working relationships I was able to build. A majority of women are employed by men, I hope that these men invite their women employees to the table and that they in turn say yes. I have seen the benefits.

When are some moments you regret leaning back? What would you have liked to do differently?

When was a time that you were glad you leaned in?

I invite you to think over and discuss these questions with others today. Tomorrow, I invite you to read part 2 of Leaning In in Aviation.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

I'm back on the Stuck Mic AvCast - Listen to SMAC048

Today’s show marks the triumphant return of our beloved and sassy Victoria Zajko as she fills us in on all the exciting news from her absence including the amazing statistics from 2013′s Women of Aviation Week Worldwide events. Rick’s recent flight with a CFI conducting simulated engine out procedures invokes an interesting conversation about pitching down when it may seem completely counterintuitive. And Carl wraps it up with a story and explanation about his first autolanding in the Airbus A320 on an ILS during 1,400 RVR. All that and more coming up right now!

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Mother's Day Flight in Photos

It was Mother's Day weekend, as well as Bob's mother's birthday, so Saturday evening we set off to visit DYL!

We packed the puppy up, including his emergency bag,

Made sure we didn't leave the flowers on the wing...

and took off while somebody took a nap...

We filed IFR but managed to stay VFR and had a smooth ride between two systems.

Sunday I found some great fabric for Turbo while shopping and having some Mom-in-Law bonding time.

 After dinner, said our goodbyes and departed windy DYL for FDK right before the tower closed.

Friday, May 10, 2013

"Emergency Bags" for Flying Fidos

Top Left: Drawstring Emergency Bag
Top Right: Travel Tote
Bottom: Reversible Bandanna
Middle: Turbo the Flying Dog
After Two Uncomfortable Flights it was decided that there needs to be a bag with a few supplies in it kept  in the plane just in case a not so great smelling or feeling puppy emergency arrives mid flight. I had recently made our flying Fido, Turbo, a tote bag for when we travel with him, so I took those scraps to create a simple draw string bag to carry his emergency kit. 

His kit currently contains:
1. old beach towel for cleaning up or absorbing messes
2. several plastic baggies for containing messes
3. rawhide sticks in case he gets antsy

I still had some fabric left over, so he got a reversible bandanna out of the deal, too. Good thing I love to be crafty :) 

If you are interested in making your own drawstring bag, it's quite simple. Simply take a square piece of fabric and fold the top over the about two to three inches. About an inch below the top of that fold sew it together, and then sew another line below that, giving enough space to draw the ribbon or thread through between those two stiches. This is the top of your bag. Next fold it in half the opposite way of what you just did (right sides facing each other) and sew down the side and the bottom. Leave a hole to pull the bag right side out and for the drawstring to go in and out. Voila! You've got a draw string bag.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

REIL Remarks #15

A new weekly segment of my blog featuring the funny finds in aviation publications!

"Be alert for kites flown along beach 1/2 mile west of rwy." L52, California

Aaawwww how cute :)

Have some to share?  Feel free to send them my way and I will add them to the REIL Remarks archive!

Monday, May 6, 2013

Victoria Returns to SMAC But What About Sean?

Sheeeeee’s Baaaaaaaack!
That’s right, our favorite sassy redhead returns to Stuck Mic AvCast! And no, she didn’t open an Italian restaurant… Rather after a brief hiatus to orchestrate Women Fly It Forward 2013 and kick some butt as US Team Leader for Women of Aviation Week Worldwide co-host Victoria Zajko will once again be joining us on future episodes.
What About Sean?
It was suggested that Victoria and Sean should fight to the death to see who’d be one of the coveted 4 co-hosts of our pimpin aviation podcast. But we spared the mess and instead asked Sean to remain on with us FULL TIME.
Having 5 co-hosts will actually help us with some scheduling issues since Carl and Len are always on the road so we’re proud to announce our podcast family has grown by 1!
Now Back To The Show
May 1st we release SMAC047 – LIVE From the Deck of SUN n FUN Radio 2013, an instant replay of our live podcast broadcast on 1510AM Lakeland, FL for those of you who weren’t able to join us live. So keep an eye out for that and more as the year continues to unfold.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Aerial Photos - Then and Now

I recently purchased a photo scanner that can also scan negatives and have been slowly moving many family memories into digital form. My father was a pilot in the 1980's, 20 years later I followed in his footsteps. Below is a snapshot he took in the 80's of Lake Manitou, my version is to the right. I wish they were at the same angle to tell if there are any major differences over 20 years of growth in the town of Lake Orion, however, my favorite part about these photos is the fact that my dad was in that same place in the sky many years before. If he hadn't done so, would I have been inspired to become the pilot I am today?