Wednesday, March 28, 2007

I'm back!

Hi all,

I have successfully completed my Beechjet transition and am home for a few days before I actually get to go out on the road and fly it. A great big stack of mail and numerous emails have been awaiting my return, so I will get back to all of you as soon as I can. I am further tied up in searching for my cat who escaped during the night, unfortunately.

One of the emails sitting in my inbox was the following. I am posting it here because there is such short notice. Maybe you'd know someone interested. Email me if you have questions not answered by this paste. I will hold on to the original email just in case.

IT'S TIME!! The NASA Space Pennant Challenge has begun.

Please pass this along to any of your colleagues, Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, schools or museums that may be interested in participating. Attached are Teacher and Student Flyers, official entry template and an updated presentation on the challenge.

We would love to have museums, science centers, schools and libraries place the flyers in their venues to promote the contest and display student pennants.

Below is a press release for the Challenge, please don't hesitate to contact me if you have any questions.

NASA, AOL, Mad Science Host the Space Pennant Design Challenge

For some scientists and engineers, designing something that flies in space might be the pinnacle of a career. NASA now is offering that opportunity to grade school students. NASA, AOL's Kids Service KOL and Mad Science are teaming up for the NASA Space Pennant Design Challenge, which begins Thursday, March 15. Students will design pennants based on either the upcoming STS-118 shuttle flight or America 's long-term exploration strategy, known as the Vision for Space Exploration. The winning design will fly on the shuttle Endeavour during the STS-118 mission, targeted for launch in summer 2007.Students need more than just a creative design for their pennants. They must research their topic, apply what they learn, and write an explanation of their design and how the pennant incorporates their knowledge about STS-118 or the Vision for Space Exploration.Entries may be submitted online or through the mail. The deadline for entries is Tuesday, April 10. Ten semifinalists will be chosen in each of three age groups: 6-8, 9-10 and 11-12. Judges from NASA, KOL and Mad Science will then select two finalists from each group. On May 3, those six finalists will be announced, and one overall winner will be selected through online voting. The STS-118 mission will be the first flight of an educator astronaut and an important step in the ongoing assembly of the International Space Station. The Vision for Space Exploration is the program that will see humans return to the moon then travel to Mars and beyond. Through the process of designing a pennant, students have the opportunity to learn about the requirements of spaceflight and the science surrounding NASA's programs while gaining a lasting understanding about the importance of space exploration.The grand prize will include a trip to the STS-118 launch for the student and a parent or guardian. Each of the six finalists will receive an autographed picture of the STS-118 shuttle crew, and an online NASA game will use their pennant design. A NASA Space Day, featuring a speaker from the agency, will be held at the finalists' schools. The schools also will receive NASA education resources, including seeds that have flown in space. All students who submit entries will receive certificates of participation.Through the NASA Space Pennant Design Challenge, NASA continues its tradition of investing in the nation's education. To compete effectively for the minds, imaginations and career ambitions of America's young people, NASA is focused on engaging and retaining students in education efforts that encourage their pursuit of disciplines critical to NASA's future engineering, scientific and technical missions. For more information about the
challenge, visit:
For details on the STS-118 mission and its crew, visit:

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Where in the world is Lynda?

Hi everyone,

I'm still at school learning to fly the beechjet. We're done with ground school (an instructor teaches us about the systems) and start the simulator portion next. I'll be back soon...

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Do you need feet to fly?

I was telling my accountant the other day that I was going to have to fly in place of someone who had hurt his foot. She laughed, thinking that I was joking. When I told her I wasn't, she told me that she didn't think that people needed feet to fly.

The answer is that yes, you do! Uh, well, sometimes. More complex aircraft have an autopilot and/or yaw damper system so that you can in cruise flight take your feet off of the pedals, but everyone needs to use their rudder pedals for takeoff and landing. Helicopter pilots use their pedals (called anti-torque pedals) to counteract the torque of the main rotor. Remember Newton's Law of "For every action there is an equal but opposite reaction?" See: It would be nauseating to be spinning in the opposite direction of the rotor blades.
And, more importantly, there are also organizations, like Able Flight, that promote flying for people with disabilities. That includes not having, or not having use of, feet.

From the Centennial of Flight Website:
The rudder controls the movement of the aircraft around its vertical axis. The rudder is one of three primary flight control surfaces found on an airplane. It is a movable surface hinged to the fixed surface that is located at the rear of the aircraft called the vertical stabilizer, or fin. The rudder controls movement of the airplane about its vertical axis and causes the airplane's nose to move to the right or left and point in a different direction. This motion is called "yaw."

Control cables connect the rudder to the rudder pedals. Pushing down the right rudder pedal moves the rudder to the right and causes the plane to turn to the right. Pushing down the left rudder pedal turns the plane to the left.

That's a pretty simple explanation, especially since it can be said pilots primarily use the ailerons to turn the aircraft in most cases. Ailerons are deflected on the wing to change the amount of lift produced by one wing. Read on to learn more.

Wikipedia, as usual, says it better (But I wanted to make a pitch for the Centennial of Flight Website, they have some cool stuff).

On an aircraft, the rudder is called a "control surface" along with the rudder-like elevator (attached to horizontal tail structure) and ailerons (attached to the wings) that control pitch and roll. The rudder is usually attached to the fin (or vertical stabilizer) which allows the pilot to control yaw in the horizontal axis, ie change the horizontal direction in which the nose is pointing. The rudder's direction is manipulated with the movement of foot pedals by the pilot.

In practice, both aileron and rudder control input are used together to turn an aircraft, the ailerons imparting roll, the rudder imparting yaw, and also compensating for a phenomenon called adverse yaw. Adverse yaw is readily seen if the ailerons alone are used for a turn. The downward moving aileron acts like a flap, generating more lift for one wing, and therefore more drag. Initially, this drag yaws the aircraft in the direction opposite to the desired course. A rudder alone will turn a conventional fixed wing aircraft, but much more slowly than if ailerons are also used in conjunction.

Ailerons are the trailing-edge control surface nearest the wing tip (although on some airliners they can also be found at the wing root). On this parked Piper Cherokee the aileron has deflected downwards.

Use of rudder and ailerons together produces co-ordinated turns, in which the longitudinal axis of the aircraft is in line with the arc of the turn, neither slipping (under-ruddered), nor skidding (over-ruddered). Improperly ruddered turns at low speed can precipitate a spin which can be dangerous at low altitudes.

Sometimes pilots may intentionally operate the rudder and ailerons in opposite directions in a maneuver called a forward slip. This may be done to overcome crosswinds and keep the fuselage in line with the runway, or to more rapidly lose altitude by increasing drag, or both.

Sunday, March 04, 2007


I apologize for not writing any blog entries for the last couple of weeks. I had to recover from the Women in Aviation conference (and thanks to some behind the scenes difficulties -- am still recovering...) and had to go on the road for a few days with work. I have been sorting and counting all of the merchandise which is now on the Girls With Wings online store: If I do say so myself, I think it's a great interface and much easier to navigate than the old eBay store. Please let me know what you think by writing me at

I am also studying for my Beechjet 400A/Hawker 400XP transition class starting this week. My employer is getting rid of the Citation 560s I'm currently flying. I enjoyed that airplane and I'm sorry to see it go. But studying a new airplane really gets those synapses firing again in my dusty brain...
I am memorizing the emergency procedures and limitations for the aircraft, and one of them has to do with minimum and maximum operating temperatures, which are -65 degrees Celcius and ISA + 35. What's ISA and why don't they just say a temperature in degrees?
...International Standard Atmosphere (ISA)
The term ISA (pronounced as eyes-zha) is the abbreviation for International Standard Atmosphere. ISA was established by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) as a uniform reference for temperature and pressure. The properties of the Earth's atmosphere are constantly changing. The barometric pressure, temperature and the amount of humidity in the air are subject to annual, seasonal and diurnal variations. The pressure, temperature and humidity are also subject to altitude changes over the same geographical location. A uniform reference became a necessity not only for operational reasons but also essential for aircraft design.

The standard atmosphere was derived from the average conditions for all latitudes, seasons and altitudes. The properties of a standard day are related to sea level at latitude 45 degrees with absolutely dry air. The standard temperature is 15 degrees Celsius (59 degrees Fahrenheit) and a standard temperature lapse of 2 degrees Celsius (3.5 degrees Fahrenheit) per 1000 feet. The standard barometric pressure is 1013.25 hectoPascal (milibars) or 29.92 when expressed in inches of mercury.

Aircraft Performance Data Charts use both pressure and density altitude to determine aircraft's performances. When using these charts, the pilot must ensure the use of the appropriate units. Temperature is often expressed in terms of ISA+ or ISA - (degrees Celsius). For example, in standard atmosphere the temperature at 4000 feet is 7 degrees Celsius. However if the actual temperature at 4000 feet is 12 degrees Celsius, and can be expressed as ISA+5.