Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Curtain of Rain

This is a picture taken on the ramp at West Palm Beach, FL. There were numerous cells all over the area (as usual), but in particular, the rain seem to be making a curtain on either side of the final approach course to Runway 9L.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Encouraging anyone to be a pilot...

This is an entertaining, realistic, somewhat cynical view of life as an airplane. Even given all of this, I still love being a pilot!

Flying the Unfriendly Skies with an Airline Crew: Tales from an Aluminum Tube http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/364996/flying_the_unfriendly_skies_with_an.html

In the movies, they always seem to swagger a bit. A hat cocked slightly to the side, shoes polished to a high shine. They move at a steady pace, never looking rushed, always relaxed and followed by a well dressed gaggle of flight attendants, all walking through a brightly lit, impeccably clean airline terminal somewhere. A hushed reverence silences the gate area when they show up, doling out a nod and a smile to the small children who point up at them, maybe a wink for the pretty girl stealing glances at them. And then as suddenly as they appeared, they are gone, disappearing down that long dark jet way. That was your flight crew, ladies and gentlemen, and that old stereotype, like Elvis, has just left the building....

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Patterns: Tales of flying... and of life

Patterns: Tales of flying... and of life was written by a Girls With Wings role model, Bette Bach Fineman. Written in a casual story telling style, this chronicle of a woman's journey toward finding herself is very inspiring. Broadsided by her husband's betrayal (can you guess who he was?), she chose to exceed everyone's expectations of what a woman with aviation on her brain can accomplish. Mind you, she did this as a single mom of six kids! This is a very pleasant read of a woman who didn't let her circumstances keep her down. She doesn't dwell on how difficult it must have been to keep her family fed, just on her willingness to take advantage of opportunities that came her way, from mechanic to ferry pilot, flight instructor to artist. If the stories of the amazing flying adventures don't get you, the tales of the kindness of strangers and friends will.

Please visit Bette's website: http://www.bettebachfineman.com/

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Shuttle Launch Today!

We flew over the shuttle launch pad today NINE minutes too early! In case you weren't aware, the Discovery shuttle launched today with a woman commander.

NASA Hails Smooth Launch
NASA officials and launch managers were pleased Tuesday following a clean countdown and flawless launch of space shuttle Discovery from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Launch Director Mike Leinbach said the launch team at NASA's Kennedy Space Center was able to study a potential problem of ice buildup without jeopardizing the shuttle while still launching on time."It was one of the cleanest countdowns we've had since I've been launch director," Leinbach said. Discovery and its seven astronauts have a tight schedule that calls for placing the new Harmony segment to the International Space Station, moving a tower of solar arrays already in space to a new location and overseeing the station crew rotation that will see Discovery astronaut Dan Tani and station resident Clayton Anderson switch places."(There is) just a tremendous set of challenges in front of us," said Bill Gerstenmaier, NASA's associate administrator for Space Operations.There won't be much time to savor the liftoff, though, because preparations are already under way to get Atlantis over to the launch pad for a Dec. 6 launch. "This is exactly what the (launch) teams have trained multiple years for," Gerstenmaier said. http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/shuttle/main/index.html
STS-120 is the 23rd shuttle mission to the International Space Station, and will launch an Italian-built U.S. multi-port module for the station. Retired Air Force Col. Pamela A. Melroy will command the STS-120 mission to take the Node 2 connecting module to the station. Melroy, a veteran shuttle pilot, is the second woman to command a shuttle. Marine Corps Col. George D. Zamka will serve as pilot. The flight's mission specialists will be Scott E. Parazynski, Army Col. Douglas H. Wheelock, Stephanie D. Wilson and Paolo A. Nespoli, a European Space Agency astronaut from Italy. Zamka, Wheelock and Nespoli will be making their first spaceflight. Expedition 15/16 Flight Engineer Clayton Anderson will return to Earth from the space station aboard shuttle mission STS-120. That flight will carry his replacement, Daniel Tani, to the station. Tani will return on shuttle mission STS-122.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Attention Aviatrices!!

I am still reeling from something I witnessed yesterday. It was my first day on the road this tour, and my co-pilot and I were holding short of the runway awaiting our takeoff clearance from an airport.

Another airplane was inbound to the airport and we heard it made a radio call announcing that it was intending to land there. First, a little background: There are two sets of regulations underwhich pilots can fly. You can either be under IFR (Instrument Flight Rules) or VFR (Visual Flight Rules). Pilots first learn to fly under VFR - think good weather. With time, pilots get their instrument ratings so they can fly in "not so good" weather (ie clouds). Flying under instruments means you have to use all those navigation radios and instruments in the cockpit (and these days usually a GPS) to follow routing given to you by Air Traffic Controllers. There are a lot more rules to know and abide by. It takes a little longer to fly around like this - it's like driving via asphalt roads, via taking short cuts off road.

So, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has dictated what the dividing line is between allowing people to go VFR and IFR - in the interest of safety. You can fly your entire career under VFR, lots of people do. But many pilots have gotten themselves into trouble by thinking they can stay "visual" but get confused in cloudy conditions (pilots must trust their instruments -which is hard for people that rely on seeing the horizon to stay greasy side down) -- think JFK, Jr. These pilots that find themselves in this situation can "declare an emergency" and receive special treatment from ATC -- trained to assist them to safely land.

All right, so this pilot calling into the tower controller at the airport is coming in VFR for whatever reason (it's not a very nice day), but the tower calls her back to say that the airport is no longer VFR. I've talked about ATIS before (the prerecorded weather information pilots listen to on their way into an airport) and the ATIS said she could stay visual (or under the clouds). But the tower said that he was updating the weather, the clouds were lower than the ATIS stated, and they were now IFR. This pilot, in other words, was operating illegally (there was no longer enough room for her to operate under the clouds). She had a few options. The easiest would have been to acknowledge the new weather report and ask to be vectored onto an instrument approach (if she was instrument pilot). If not, she could have asked for a Special VFR (but honestly I don't know if this was an option to operate under reduced weather rules). She also could have declared an emergency. A lot of people are reluctant to declare an emergency, but it is always an option if a pilot is in trouble. You get a little leeway on the rules - you have to file some paperwork to explain yourself to the FAA, but she could have given herself a "pass" to come in and land.

But she didn't. When she told the controller that the weather was reported VFR on the ATIS, the tower told her again that he was "overriding" the ATIS with his updating information (warning #2). So here's where my copilot and I started cringing: She says, on the radio, "I really need to get in there" still looking for the tower to clear her to land visually. And warning #3, the tower repeats the weather and asks her what her intentions are. And here's the WORST part: She says, "I won't tell if you won't tell." It was like watching a train wreck!

Folks, ALL ATC radio transmissions are recorded!! Everyone has access to these recordings, including the FAA which is well within their rights - and obligation - to site this pilot for unsafe operation and confiscate her license. Additionally, the tower controller is obligated to REPORT her actions, and she was asking this guy to risk his license which he did by clearing her to land. If I (or anyone else witnessing this whole mess) were so inclined, they could get her tail number and report her, as well.

When she appeared to us on short final, she turned out to be the pilot for a commuter airline. Which meant she had to have her instrument rating and could have come into the airport on an instrument approach. No problem. Instead, she risked her license, the tower controller's license, a violation for her employer, the safety of her passengers, AND made an embarrassment of herself on the radio!

Now, I am not saying that she is the ONLY one to have ever done something like this. I'm sure a lot of people do this stuff all the time and get away with it. And I'm sure she was under a lot of pressure from her company to "get the job done." But she obviously knew she was wrong. If she loses her license over this, she'll have no one to blame but herself. Was it worth saving the ten minutes not having to shoot an instrument approach?? Was anyone's life in danger because of her actions? Probably not. Clearly she could see the airport and considered herself in a safe position to land. But accepting the role of pilot means sometimes we have to stand up under the pressures from the people (usually employers) standing on the ground safely or passengers who really want to get somewhere who may not understand or care about the inherent risks, reponsibilities and rights of operating an aircraft. Know the rules and abide by them at all times no matter who is watching or listening (and declare an emergency if necessary). Your license to fly and lives depend on it!

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Local Lakewood OH Article

My neighbor, Steve FitzGerald, started up a hugely successful community news site. I met him first because his small dog got loose a couple of years ago and kept me company while I planted some flowers. In return, he arranged for me to meet one of his writers last summer for an interview, and this is the result. To read the entire story, please click the link (this way you'll get the benefit of better format and pictures).


Lakewood's Lynda Meeks Loves Her Job
Her Second 'Job' is Helping More Girls' Dreams Take Flight!
By Sarah Valek, LakewoodBuzz.com Reporter
Lynda Meeks is one of those rare people who loves her job. She doesn't speak about her career. She gushes! When asked what she loves best about her job, Meeks is quick to answer in four words...
“Small office, great view!”
She doesn't work in some cubicle overlooking downtown Lakewood or Cleveland - her "office" overlooks mountains, lakes, skyscrapers and forests.
Lynda Meeks, 38, is a pilot with a private airline. She works an eight days-on and seven days-off schedule, flying around the country as a self-proclaimed “glorified limo service.”
“It's funny, when people find out I'm a pilot, they're like 'Oh really, how long have you been flying?' as if it's a completely new thing.”
Meeks has been flying for 14 years.
“There are so many things to love about being a pilot,” she says. “Sometimes we have to wake up way before the sun comes up, but that only means that in the windows of our airplane we get to watch the sun rise.”
She hopes her enthusiasm for aviation will catch on, especially with young girls. That's why she created "Girls With Wings... Dreams Take Flight."

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Lost Nation Airport Airshow

I received some pictures from the Lost Nation Airshow from last summer from a fellow 99 that attended. I know I talked about the airshow before, but I thought you might get a kick out of seeing what a typical outdoor booth for GWW looks like (although this is a bit bigger of a booth - the organizers were very generous).

You can see my friend, Carol, helping me out this day at the show. She is a HUGE supporter of GWW.

Nice reminder of summer, isn't it?

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Pilot of the Year

Thank you to my local Ninety Nines, Lake Erie Chapter, for bestowing this title. This annual award recognizes the achievements of a member by honoring her as Woman Pilot of the Year. I am flattered, since I don't seem to make many of their meetings because of traveling for work, but they said since I work as a pilot, they'll let it slide...

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Small General Airport in Maine

Here is an airport in Maine we flew to last tour, just as the leaves started changing. What a beautiful day to fly!

I've labeled all of the main (ha, no pun intended) parts of the airport ramp. This is a pretty typical setup at your smaller general aviation airports.

Click on the picture to see it better.

For example, the airport or aerodrome beacon. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:

An aerodrome beacon is a beacon installed at an airport or aerodrome to indicate its location to aircraft pilots at night.

An aerodrome beacon is mounted on top of a towering structure, often a control tower, above other buildings of the airport. It produces flashes not unlike that of a lighthouse.
Airport and heliport beacons are designed in such a way to make them most effective from one to ten degrees above the horizon; however, they can be seen well above and below this peak spread. The beacon may be an omnidirectional flashing xenon strobe, or it may rotate at a constant speed which produces the visual effect of flashes at regular intervals. Flashes may be of just a single color, or of two alternating colors.

During VFR weather conditions, the beacon operates dusk to dawn, but during IFR conditions, the beacon stays on constantly regardless of light conditions.

In the United States, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has established the following rules for airport beacons:
Flashing rates
24 to 30 per minute for beacons marking airports, landmarks, and points on Federal airways
30 to 45 per minute for beacons marking heliports
Color combinations
White and Green — Lighted land airport
Green alone* — Lighted land airport
White and Yellow — Lighted water airport
Yellow alone* — Lighted water airport
Green, Yellow, and White — Lighted heliport
White, White, Green* — Military Airport
*Green alone or yellow alone is used only in connection with a white-and-green or white-and-yellow beacon display, respectively.
Military airport beacons flash alternately white and green, but are differentiated from civil beacons by two quick white flashes between the green flashes.
In Class B, Class C, Class D and Class E surface areas, operation of the airport beacon during the hours of daylight often indicates that the ground visibility is less than 3 miles and/or the ceiling is less than 1,000 feet. Regardless of the weather conditions, the FAA has no regulation that requires airports to turn the beacon on during the day.
At some locations with operating control towers, Air Traffic Control (ATC) personnel turn the beacon on or off with controls in the tower. At many airports the airport beacon is turned on by a photoelectric cell or time clocks and, ATC personnel cannot control them. [1]

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Here comes Winter!

Last tour we landed in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, and although it wasn't yet snowing there yet, it is starting to get cold! As I am writing this entry, the METAR is KJAC 101255Z AUTO 36006KT 10SM CLR M02/M04 A3013 RMK AO1. This METAR, courtesy of the National Weather Service translates into:

KJAC (JACKSON, WY, US) observed 1255 UTC (the time) 10 October 2007 (today)Weather: automated observation with no human augmentation;there may or may not be significant weather present at this time. Winds: from the N (360 degrees) at 7 MPH (6 knots; 3.1 m/s) Visibility: 10 or more miles (16+ km) Ceiling: at least 12,000 feet AGL Clouds: sky clear below 12,000 feet AGL Temperature: -2.0°C (28°F) Dewpoint: -4.0°C (25°F) [RH = 86%] Pressure (altimeter): 30.13 inches Hg (1020.4 mb).

What is a METAR? METAR is the international standard code format for hourly surface weather observations which is analogous to the SA coding currently used in the US. The acronym roughly translates from French as Aviation Routine Weather Report. SPECI is merely the code name given to METAR formatted products which are issued on a special non-routine basis as dictated by changing meteorological conditions. The SPECI acronym roughly translates as Aviation Selected Special Weather Report.

We did see snow along the way.... Which means fall will soon be over! I thought I would include some interesting tidbits about the snow.

15 Things You Never Thought YouNeeded to Know About ... Snowby http://www.sixwise.com/

  1. Snow is one of nature's most amazing, and breathtaking, feats. Few other weather systems are capable of causing such fury -- grounded planes, traffic jams, closed schools -- and such beauty -- snow-covered ski slopes, fields blanketed in fresh white powder and, of course, snowflakes falling on Christmas morning -- as snow. Snowstorms hit the United States an average of 105 times a year. Snow is also very interesting, more interesting than you may have thought, and the following facts are a perfect conversation piece to keep close with you during this winter season.
    1. There are an average of 105 snow-producing storms in the continental United States each year.
    2. Skiers have their own "snow language," which was created back in the 1900s to describe different snow conditions. Some of the earlier terms included "fluffy snow," "powder snow" and "sticky snow." Later terms include "champagne powder," "corduroy," and "mashed potatoes."
    3. Hundreds of people die from snow-related causes in the United States each year. Top causes include traffic accidents, overexertion, exposure and avalanches.
    4. The snowiest large city in the United States is Rochester, New York, with an average 94 inches of snow each year.
    5. About 70 percent of the annual snowfall in the United States falls during December, January and February. (Near the eastern Rocky Mountains, however, the snowiest months are often March and April.)
    6. Snow can either muffle or amplify sounds, depending on its surface.
    7. The saying that "10 inches of snow contains one inch of water" is mostly a myth. Ten inches of snow can actually contain anywhere from 0.10 inches to four inches of water.
    8. Snow appears white because snow crystals absorb visible sunlight (which is white) and reflect it from countless tiny surfaces.
    9. Most snowflakes are less than one-half inch across, but they can reach up to two inches across.
    10. It's never too cold to snow, but most heavy snowfalls occur when it's 15°F or warmer (the air can hold more water vapor when it's warmer).
    11. Snow is an incredibly good insulator. Why? Fresh snow typically contains 90 percent to 95 percent trapped air that can barely move around, meaning heat transfer is greatly reduced.
    12. Icicles are more likely to form on the south side of buildings. This happens because snow that is facing south is able to melt during the day, then freeze again at night. (North-facing snow often does not melt because it doesn't get as much sunlight during the day).
    13. Avalanches are most likely to run from December to April.
    14. It's possible, though rare, to have thunder and lightening during a snowstorm (and it's more likely to occur near the coast). A "Nor'easter" is a cyclonic storm that occurs off the east coast of North America. They're known for producing heavy snow, rain and huge waves.
    15. A thick layer of fresh, fluffy snow will absorb sound waves, making sounds less audible. However, as snow ages the surface can become smooth and hard. In this state, the surface will reflect sound waves, making sounds clearer and able to travel farther distances.
    Avalanches are most likely to "run" (slide down a slope) from December to April, but avalanche fatalities have occurred during every month of the year.

Get ready!

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Help Wanted

Astronaut Candidate
Read all at http://jobsearch.usajobs.opm.gov/getjob.asp?JobID=62398554&brd=3876&AVSDM=2007%2D09%2D18+00%3A00%3A04&q=astronaut&sort=rv&vw=d&Logo=0&ss=0&customapplicant=15513%2C15514%2C15515%2C15669%2C15523%2C15512%2C15516%2C45575&TabNum=1&rc=5

SALARY RANGE: 59,493.00 - 130,257.00 USD per year
OPEN PERIOD: Tuesday, September 18, 2007to Tuesday, July 01, 2008
SERIES & GRADE: GS-0801-11/14
POSITION INFORMATION: Full-Time Permanent appointment
DUTY LOCATIONS: Few vacancies - Houston
This announcement is open to all qualified U.S citizens.

NASA, the world's leader in space and aeronautics is always seeking outstanding scientists, engineers, and other talented professionals to carry forward the great discovery process that its mission demands. Creativity. Ambition. Teamwork. A sense of daring. And a probing mind. That's what it takes to join NASA, one of the best places to work in the Federal Government.
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has a need for Astronaut Candidates to support the International Space Station (ISS) Program.NASA uses the USAJobs resume as the basic application document. NASA limits resumes to the equivalent of about six typed pages, or approximately 22,000 characters (including spaces). You cannot complete the application process if your USAJobs resume is too long. More information about the NASA application process is also available under the "How to Apply" section of this announcement.
Position subject to pre-employment background investigation
U.S. citizenship is required
This is a drug-testing designated position
Frequent travel may be required
Selectee must pass a pre-employment medical examination

Additional Duty Location Info: Few vacancies - Houston


Astronauts are involved in all aspects of assembly and on-orbit operations of the ISS. This includes extravehicular activities (EVA), robotics operations using the remote manipulator system, experiment operations, and onboard maintenance tasks. Astronauts are required to have a detailed knowledge of the ISS systems, as well as detailed knowledge of the operational characteristics, mission requirements and objectives, and supporting systems and equipment for each experiment on their assigned missions. Long-duration missions aboard the ISS generally last from 3 to 6 months. Training for long duration missions is very arduous and takes approximately 2 to 3 years. This training requires extensive travel, including long periods away in other countries training with our international partners. Travel to and from the ISS will be by Space Shuttle until its retirement in 2010. Following the Shuttle retirement, all trips to and from the ISS will be aboard the Russian Soyuz vehicle. Consequently, astronauts must meet the Soyuz size requirements, as indicated below. Additional information about the position can be found at www.nasajobs.nasa.gov/astronauts.

Rain, Rain, Go Away!

Here we sit in New Jersey...
We had a maintenance problem arise when we were taxiing out to the runway with passengers on board. When we got back to the ramp, another aircraft and crew was called to take them instead, so the other pilot and I had to take the passengers' bags from our baggage compartment to the other. Needless to say, we got SOAKED! This is not usually what people think about when they imagine the life of a pilot. It's just part of what we call, "Living the Dream!"

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Volunteer Opportunity on November 4th.

Women Take Flight, Past and Present at the New England Air Museum in Windsor Locks, CT

Women Take Flight is an opportunity for girls to meet remarkable women who have pioneered careers for women in aviation and aerospace. Presentations are made throughout the day featuring the experiences and achievements of these women. Actresses take the roles of early aviation pioneers and bring history to life through theatrical presentations. All of this takes place amongst the unique collection of aircraft of the New England Air Museum. A food vendor and gift shop are on the premises. Visitors will receive a souvenir brochure with biographies of the participants. The group rate for groups registering by October 26, 2007 is $5 per person.

Presented by the New England Air Museum in collaboration with the Ninety-Nines.

Alphabetical list of participants: Patricia L. Beckman, (Navy Ret'd Commander/Flight Officer/Boeing Flight Test Navigator), Mary Burns (Captain US Air Force, flew F-15 in Iraqi Freedom), Susan Chambers (Corporate Pilot), Cindy Doane (Helicopter Test Pilot), Kinda Eastwood (Air Force Mechanic/Pratt & Whitney Field Service Engineer), Honey Fulton Parker (sister of Dorothy Johanna Fulton, an original WAF of WWII), Nathalie Hacken (Commercial Pilot), Patricia Harmon (Pratt & Whitney Engineer), Kiran Jain (Director of Marketing of Bradley International Airport), Marilyn Pearson (FAA Aviation Safety Inspector and aerobatic pilot), Tammy Richardson (Bessie Coleman Reenactor), Kim Schlichting (Skydiver), Cindy Smith (aeronaut), Sheila Thompson (C130 Navigator), Connie Tobias (Harriet Quimby Reenactor and commercial pilot), Wendy Trudeau (Skydiver), Terry VandenDolder (Air Force/Commercial Pilot), Kathy Wadsworth (Aeronaut)


10:00 Museum opens with women at their stations in the Military Hangar. Stations will be open 10:00-12:00 and 1:00-3:30.
Touch Screen Program, Women In Aviation Kiosks in exhibit halls

10:45 Reenactor Presentation Tammy Richardson as Bessie Coleman, the first African American aviatrix, and Connie Tobias as Harriet Quimby, the first licensed female pilot

12:00 Showing of the film, Blue Horizon, The Women AirForce Service Pilots of World War II - ArtReach-International Education Center

1:00 Education Center Presents

2:15 Education Center Presents Honey Parker Fulton presenting the life of her sister Dottie Fulton, an original WAF

3:30 Panel Discussion (Cindy Doane, Marilyn Pearson, Connie Tobias, Terry VandenDolder). Moderated by Commander Trish Beckman, USN (retired)

5:00 Museum Closing

Location = The New England Air Museum is located on the grounds of Bradley International Airport in Windsor Locks, CT. Please refer to the museum website for directions, http://www.neam.org./

Volunteer opportunities = Any women in aviation who would be interested in participating in this year's event can contact me directly, Caroline d'Otreppe, Director of Educational Programs, New England Air Museum, caroline@neam.org, (860) 623-3305 ext.13.

For more information = Caroline d'Otreppe Director of Educational Programs, New England Air Museum (860) 623-3305 ext.13, caroline@neam.org
Flyer and Press Release available at http://www.girlswithwings.com/Calendar.html.
Website = http://www.neam.org/

Monday, October 01, 2007

The October eZine has been published!

An interesting study was mentioned in this month's Girls With Wings eZine: http://www.publicagenda.org/importantbutnotforme/index.cfm It was included because it supports the Girls With Wings Mission: Using Aviation to Entertain while we Educate Young Girls about their Limitless Opportunities. http://www.girlswithwings.com/news.html

Important, But Not for Me: Kansas and Missouri Students and Parents Talk About Math, Science and Technology Education
Alison Kadlec and Will Friedman with Amber Ott

There is growing consensus among the nation's business, government and higher education leaders that unless schools do more to train and nurture a whole new generation of young Americans with strong skills in math, science and technology, U.S. leadership in the world economy is at risk. But our new report concludes that Kansas and Missouri parents and students didn't get the memo.

A recent study finds just 25% of Kansas/Missouri parents think their children should be studying more math and science; 70% think things "are fine as they are now." The report also explains why parents and students are so complacent in this area and what kinds of changes might be helpful in building more interest in and support for more rigorous MST courses. The report goes on to say,
While parents and students have a measure of appreciation for the role Science, Math and Technology will play in the future world of work, this appreciation remains thin, and relatively few seem to absorb the implications in a personal sense. Most parents do not see improving math, science and technology education as a top challenge facing their local schools, and most students do not come to these subjects with a strong sense of motivation and interest. There remains, in other words, a considerable "urgency gap" between leaders and experts on the one hand and parents and students on the other. Leaders need to make the cast that more advanced study in math, science and technology is now essential for all students -- not just a select few. They also need to think boldly and creatively about way to engage parents, students and teachers in increasing student interest and success in these critical subjects.

Read the full report at http://www.publicagenda.org/ImportantButNotforMe/pdfs/important_but_not_for_me.pdf