Sunday, June 29, 2008

Getting to know the Citation X

I have completed my first tour of IOE (Initial Operating Experience) and it was so nice to get into the real airplane. Of course, every successful flight begins with a good preflight, so here we go...
Yup, that's our airplane way out there on the ramp. This is Florida, mind you, so that walk across the ramp undoes my recently completed shower and subsequent primping.

We check the outside, and we check the insides of the outsides, and then the inside inside. There are many panels to be opened up and examined, to include one that the captain I am flying with is standing up in. His legs are to the left.
Once we are through checking out the airplane, we can get it towed closer in. This particular airplane has an inoperative APU or Auxiliary Power Unit (isn't that what I wanted the Citation X for?), so we will have to adapt. An APU usually powers up the aircraft in two ways. First, the APU is started by an electric motor, with power supplied by a battery or external power source (ground power unit). After the APU accelerates to full speed, it can provide a much larger amount of power to start the aircraft's main engines, either by turning an electrical generator or by compressing air.
APUs also have several auxiliary functions. Electrical and pneumatic power is used to run the heating, cooling, and ventilation systems prior to starting the main engines. This allows the cabin to be comfortable while the passengers are boarding without the expense, noise, and danger of running one of the aircraft's main engines. Electrical power is also used to power up systems for preflight checks.

Since we don't have our APU, we get towed closer to the hangar so we can take advantage of the GPU, or ground power unit and their Huffer cart, an external engine that creates large volumes of pressurized air used to start large gas turbine jet engines on some types of aircraft. The captain has been flying this airplane for more than ten years and has never had to use a Huffer cart. I guess this makes me a bearer of good luck. Well, anyway, at least it was good training.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

A Great Start!

I am back from my first tour with my new employer. I had a great time and am really looking forward to getting back on the road. I take it as a good sign that my first stop was Jacksonville, FL, where I airlined in and grabbed a shuttle over to the FBO. There were a lot of policemen there (no, that's not the good sign), and I over heard someone say that a certain well known someone was on his way in.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

More Motivation

Sometimes when I'm explaining the mission of Girls With Wings to people, they kind of look at me funny ("wait, you want to encourage girls to have an interest in aviation... uh, why...??"). Every once in a while, someone shows me that not only am I right on track, I may be a little behind. As in, some girls are way ahead of me here.

As evidenced in this letter I just received:

Dear Ms. Meeks,

Thank you so much for your wonderful program, website and webstore. I bought my daughter 2 shirts and a pair of airplane socks for her birthday and she LOVES them - you can tell it's Monday at our house (the day after laundry day!!) if she is wearing her airplane shirt. Needless to say it has withheld many washings. I found your site looking for an airplane shirt for a young girl and I found so much more. Thank you so much for providing this to all girls, myself included. We have just sent her name to the moon thanks to your site, I would have never have heard of that program on my own. My daughters love of planes started young, around 2, and is growing right along with her. She is currently sleeping with a playschool plastic plane filled with little planes instead of stuffed animals. Her dad and I started out not knowing a lot about aviation two years ago and have enjoyed learning with her. She wore one of your shirts on her birthday trip to Pensacola to see the Blue Angles, who were so wonderful with all of the children and signed autographs (we don't wash that shirt!). They took the time to chat with them about flying, I was impressed and would recommend both the museum and your website to anyone interested in flying!!!

Thank You!!
Warmest Regards
Kristen and Zoe of Mississippi

Friday, June 20, 2008

Hot, hot, hot

I don't know why I took this picture... but it highlights the wires that run through the windshields (how many depends on the model) on the front of the airplane. These heat producing wires run between two pieces of glass so that not only can the pilots see (they won't frost/ice over), but also to provide bird strike protection. They are usually always "on" but can be turned up to high if necessary. Just in case this ice protection fails, there is a backup: some airplanes have some anti icing fluid that will spray over the window to clear a small portion of the window for landing (this would be under the "emergency" category).

And luckily, they are not usually this obvious. You hardly notice them.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

The Plane Truth

I sat down to read my Reader's Digest and saw the Special Report: The Plane Truth. There's a lot of information in this series of articles - to include how a pilot would inform the passengers of how he really feels about security, delays and airline food. More importantly and interestingly for aviators is a story about "Pilots with Problems." It talks about pilots and fatigue, brought on by being forced to fly more hours to make up for paycuts (for those who don't know this, most pilots are paid for the hours they fly). When I worked for the regional airline, I made $1/hour when I was on the clock, but doing other duties such as preflighting, awaiting maintenance, hanging around the terminal awaiting my next leg, etc. - not exactly raking in the big bucks. Starting salaries for regional airlines are about $18,000, for major airlines, about $40,000. For a job that costs thousands to train for, the break even point comes many years down the road (this is why I usually advise student pilots not to bog themselves down with loans).

That's the bad news. The "impartial" news is that airlines are hiring pilots with fewer hours than ever, now just as few as 250-500. This means fewer years scraping by flight instructing, but less experience in the cockpit. If the captain can make up for it, great, but upgrades come faster as well. Often there are two relatively new pilots in the cockpit - but they are pilots in their prime. Pilots that have been flying a while tend to rely a lot on technology and some are a bit rusty in the basics, in my opinion.

Now here's the good news. Again, most pilots fly because they LOVE it. They love the travel, the hours, the varied schedule, etc., not because they intend to be rich. So for those of us who still intend to take to the skies, the airline industry is facing a pilot shortage. According to Air Inc., a major pilot hiring consulting company, 100,000 new pilots will need to be hired by the airlines by 2020 to keep up - and that is more than are being generated by flight schools. It will be interesting to see how the industry will make adjustments to make being a pilot more attractive and profitable!

You can visit the website to read more about problems with Air Traffic Controllers and what to do if you're stuck in the airport (the much talked about bill of rights).

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Visit GWW!

Thinking about coming to see the Girls With Wings booth at Oshkosh? I've got good news:

AirVenture Advance Purchase Discount Extended!

The opportunity to purchase AirVenture 2008 tickets online is proving to be a very popular option. In order to give EAA members additional time to make their travel plans the advance purchase discount is being extended until June 30. This gives members additional time to take advantage of savings on 2008 admissions.
While the discount will go away on June 30th, you can continue to purchase AirVenture admissions online through the last day of the event.
It's quick and easy. To purchase and save, just click here.

More Reasons to Attend Oshkosh, July 28 - August 3
Here's just a peek at what you'll see in the sky and on the ground at EAA AirVenture 2008. You've gotta be there!
Opening Day concert featuring Foreigner
Awesome F-22 Raptors
Red Bull Helicopter
Electric-powered aircraft demonstrations
Spectacular Warbird activities all week
Space Tourism Story Unfolds
Public debut of Rocket Racing League
The Goodyear Blimp
First demonstration of Practical Jet Pack
"WomenVenture" promotes involvement of Women in Aviation
Evenings Come Alive: Nightly drive-in-style movies including appearances by Harrison Ford and John Travolta, and Theatre in the Woods plays host to comedian Jeff Dunham and actor Gary Sinise's Lt. Dan Band, and more
Daily Air Shows featuring the world's top performers

Saturday, June 14, 2008



The EAA Young Eagles program was launched in 1992 to give interested young people, ages 8 - 17, an opportunity to go flying in a general aviation airplane. These flights are offered free of charge and are made possible through the generosity of EAA member volunteers. Since 1992, more than 1.3 million Young Eagles have enjoyed a flight through the program. Young Eagles have been registered in more than 90 different countries and have been flown by more than 41,000 volunteer pilots.Participation is easy. Click Here to find the closest volunteer pilot. From there, arrange a convenient time to go flying. We hope you enjoy a Young Eagles introduction to the exciting world of aviation. Make sure you come back to visit this web site after your flight to continue exploring the wonderful world of aviation!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Women in Corporate Aviation Scholarship

Women in Corporate Aviation Career Scholarship

The Women in Corporate Aviation Career Scholarship is offered by the members and sponsors of Women in Corporate Aviation to any man or woman pursuing professional development and/or career advancement in any job classification of corporate/business aviation. The award must be used toward a specific program of education.
Suggested uses include:
Flight Training
Dispatcher Training
Maintenance Career Training
Corporate Flight Attendant Training
Upgrades In Aviation Education
NBAA Professional Development Program (PDP) Courses
College Aviation Degree Courses

The award cannot be used for general business course work.Scholarship Value: $2,000 Scholarship Due Date: June 30, 2008
Click here for the WCA Scholarship Application FormClick here for the WCA Scholarship Application Instructions
For questions, contact: Michelle Powell, Scholarship Co-Chair

Monday, June 09, 2008

Congrats, Brenda!

It's always nice to get recognition from family and friends. Brenda, the 2007 scholarship winner, has been hearing about her being mentioned in AOPA Flight Training Magazine. Here's a picture of the article. The 2008 scholarship will be announced in August. Donations are always appreciated!

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

A Girl With Wings on the Radio

One of the first Girls With Wings role models is on the Diane Rehm Show (usually on your local NPR station):

Lynn Spencer: "Touching History" (Free Press)
A commercial pilot gives a detailed account of what happened over our nation's skies during the morning and afternoon of 9/11. She provides a time-line of the days events and explains how the nation could be caught so unprepared.
Lynn Spencer, pilot for ExpressJet Airlines and a certified flight instructor. See her bio: If you miss the show you can download it for later.

Can you hear me?

This is another picture that I took in the San Diego Air and Space Museum. It is a picture of a Gosport Tube. As you can see the tube goes from the mouth of the instructor to the ears of the student in the old days of open cockpits (and before avionics with mikes and headsets).

I had trouble finding information on the web about it, other than the Wikipedia definition of a speaking tube: "A speaking tube or voicepipe is a device based around two cones connected by an air pipe through which speech can be transmitted over an extended distance. While its most common use was in intra-ship communications, the principle was also used in fine homes and offices of the 19th century, as well as fine automobiles, military aircraft, and even locomotives. For most purposes, the device was outmoded by the telephone and its widespread adoption. This device was also known as a "megaphone", but that use has since become superseded."

Interestingly enough, you still see this tube in use today (or at least recently enough): "...on certain playground equipment, which employ tubing connecting soundhorns or other speaking boxes to allow voices to travel to separate points, for the amusement of the children. [1] A similar device, often used by children at play, is the tin can telephone, which consists of two tin cans open at one end connected by string tied into the closed end of each can. When the cans are pulled apart so that the string is held tight, even a softly spoken voice can be heard clearly over a considerable distance."

I did find a few sites that referred to it's use, like this memoir on, a website is dedicated to the men and women of the Gulf Coast Wing and the Tora! Tora! Tora! group who volunteer their hard work and sacrifice to keep the Confederate Air Force aircraft flying.

One incident I remember in particular. Once, before I soloed, he had me practicing landings at an auxiliary gravel field. On one trial, proceeding downwind the wind-sock changed so I would not be able to make a touch and go as we usually did. He told me over the gosport tube to go ahead and land anyway and we would have to taxi back for the other take off and landing. This field did not have runways. Explanation: The gosport tube was a funnel hooked to a tube in the front cockpit where he sat, then back to the cadet's helmet ear pads in the rear cockpit. The instructor used this method to communicate with the cadet (mostly cuss him out), but the cadet had no way of answering back. After we rolled to a stop, I began a taxi back downwind to the take off point. He said, "I got it" and raised the tail and began taxiing faster. From time to time, he turned around to tell me what I had done wrong. As we were passing a shack, whoops, here came another Stearman right in front of us. No way we could miss. We crawled right up his tail with our prop making red and white confetti out of his rudder; flipped over inverted on top of the other airplane with the leading edge of our wing cutting a big crease about 6" behind that other cadet's head.

I guess we were both 'kinda in shock, but with gas leaking all around, I had the presence of mind that I didn't need to hang around there upside down anymore. I cut the switches and, not thinking, I pulled my safety belt latch and promptly fell out on my head. I felt sorry for my instructor. That really hit him hard since he had years of flying experience, and that was the first time he had ever dinged an airplane. They took us to the hospital for a checkup, but we both checked out fine and were flying the next day.

Monday, June 02, 2008

The June Girls With Wings eZine has been published!

The Newsletter has been posted online. The lead story is below, but you can read the whole edition at

Training Complete
Let's talk checkrides! I have opened up a thread in the forum regarding my checkride (and the subsequent retraining and recheck). Yes, that's right, I failed the first time around. Head to the message board to talk with other Girls With Wings about your experiences.