Wednesday, August 27, 2008


It occurred to me the other day that I always talk about FBOs, but having never shown anyone what one looks like, it may be hard to visualize. Again, an FBO is a Fixed base operator (From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)

In the aviation industry, a fixed base operator (also known as fixed base of operation), or FBO, is a service center at an airport that may be a private enterprise or may be a department of the municipality that the airport serves. At a minimum, most FBOs offer aircraft fuel, oil, and parking, along with access to washrooms and telephones. Some FBOs offer additional aircraft services such as hangar (indoor) storage, maintenance, aircraft charter or rental, flight training, deicing, and ground services such as towing and baggage handling. FBOs may also offer services not directly related to the aircraft, such as rental cars, lounges, and hotel reservations. Entire article at (it's pretty interesting actually).

At my job we visit these FBOs regularly. Depending on the time of day, or how large their operation is, determines how many people are on duty. Some of the
better ones meet you at the door asking you what your tail number is and what services you need. At this particular FBO, we have asked for our airplane to be towed around so that we could prep it for the day's flight. You can see the airplane through the window in these pictures (and the sun coming up through the clouds - which is why the inside of the building appears so dark). The people at the desk ring up our bill and direct the line personnel to fuel our aircraft, get newspapers, ice (for the passengers' drinks) and coffee, and anything else we need. This particular morning we didn't have to leave for a while, so we got our breakfast and enjoyed it in the pilot lounge. When it was time to leave, the line personnel marshalled us out of our parking space and off the ramp to the taxiway!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Cloud Phenomenon?

On the first flight of this tour, we flew from the "mainland" USA to the one of the islands off the east coast. Enroute, I took a couple of pictures of clouds that had formed over the various islands we were passing over, but had not formed anywhere else over the water. I kind of assumed that it had something to do with land absorbing and staying warmer than the surrounding water...? So I typed in a search for "Cloud Formation over Islands" and found this great site, Teachers' Domain: Multimedia Resources for the Classroom and Professional Development. You can watch a video, too!

The Sun, Earth's main source of energy, continuously showers the planet with electromagnetic radiation. About 31% of this solar radiation is reflected back towards space, about 23% is absorbed by the atmosphere, and about 46% is absorbed by Earth's surface. Earth's surface re-emits some of this absorbed energy as infrared radiation, and this heat energy is then absorbed by greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Energy is also radiated from the atmosphere and warms Earth.

Air near the ground is also warmed by conduction — the direct transfer of energy between objects in contact by the collision of their molecules. However, air is not a very good conductor. A more efficient mode of energy
transfer within the atmosphere is convection — the transfer of heat through the movement of matter. As a region of surface air is warmed, the molecules move
faster and the air expands and becomes less dense. Less dense air rises through the cooler and denser air above it in the process of convection. These parcels of rising warm air, called thermals, can lead to the formation of cumulus clouds.

As air rises, it moves into an environment of lower atmospheric pressure, and as a result, it expands further and cools. When the temperature of the air drops below the dew point point, the rate at which invisible water vapor condenses onto cloud condensation nuclei — tiny particles in the air such as dust, sea spray, and industrial aerosols — exceeds the rate of evaporation of liquid water. Billions of these tiny water droplets or ice crystals may develop and collect to form a cloud. When the droplets or ice crystals grow too large to remain suspended in the air, they fall to the ground as precipitation.

Because warm air is less dense than cold air, and moist air is less dense than dry air, the warm and moist air of the tropics provides an ideal environment for convection. Along coastal locations in the tropics, convection is often easy to observe on a warm, sunny day. While cumulus clouds are found over both land and water, they tend to form over land earlier in the day than over water. This is because water has a higher heat capacity than land — it takes a lot more energy to raise the temperature of water than to raise the temperature of land. As a result, land warms more rapidly than water and is able to heat the surface air to a higher temperature.
Whether or not cumulus clouds bring about thunderstorms depends on the stability of the surrounding atmosphere. If the air around the cloud is stable, vertical air motion and cloud growth is inhibited. However, if the air around the cloud is unstable, vertical motion is enhanced and the cloud continues to grow, potentially into a

Monday, August 25, 2008

Starting a new tour

Hey All,

I am so sorry, but we've had some early mornings this tour and I am exhausted by the time I get to the hotel room. It makes it so hard to power up the computer to do a blog entry!

We started our tour in a maintenance base, so I included a picture of what one of these hangars look like. It is taken through the window of the airplane from the left seat - I have finally gotten enough hours in the X to be able to do empty legs from the left seat. Usually, as the SIC, or second in command, I sit in the right seat. When I have enough experience in the airplane I will be able to fly passenger occupied legs from the left seat.
You would be amazed at how different it is to fly from another seat. The yoke is the same, the view is pretty much the same, but the power controls are on the opposite side. I have to run the throttles, speedbrakes and thrust reversers with my right hand instead of the left. Plus, the X has pedal steering but it also has a tiller. There is a small wheel that is about the size of a drink cup lid that the pilot can turn to assist while taxiing. It is VERY sensitive, and I need a lot more work to make it smooth. I have to remind myself that you can't let it go - it centers very rapidly, which results in a jerking motion. The captain I'm flying with is pretty patient, but I wouldn't want passengers to have to suffer through this ride.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Acknowledging acknowledgements

I was going through some old emails and found this Training Tip in an AOPA Newsletter. AOPA, as I have mentioned before, is the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association. I have been a member since 1999.

The tip is timely because I was just telling me some people yesterday that a controller gave me a hard time on the radio for not responding back when he told me I had read back the clearance correctly. In other words, I had called up for my clearance, he read it to me, and I am required to read it back to make sure I had gotten it right, which I did. So he responded with my call sign and "readback correct." Should be end of story, right? Instead, he got on the radio and angrily said my call sign and "readback correct, OVER." (Over means the person on the radio is expecting a response.) So I said my call sign and "thanks?," not knowing what else he was looking for. After I told this story, a pilot took me to the side (in respect to any hurt feelings I might have, I guess) to let me know that sometimes the controllers like you to respond with your callsign so that they are reassured that you heard them.

I guess in smaller airports this would be ok. But in many larger airports, radio traffic is so crowded, they expect you to ONLY respond back with your callsign and your transponder code, unless you have questions with your clearance. Ultimately, though, pilots are supposed to be brief and to the point on the radio and avoid "unnecessary chatter." As a friend mentioned, there is nothing worse than flying toward a kind of airspace where you need specific clearance to enter, where another pilot gets on the frequency and starts telling their life story. Pilots do and have to turn around and circle til they get clearance into the airspace. Grr, huh?

So, in the end, would I have been wrong to respond to the controllers "readback correct" with yet another transmission? No. But he was wrong to growl at me on the radio demanding a unnecessary acknowledgement. All pilots and controllers need to be familiar with the publication described below so there are no (or fewer) misunderstandings!

Training Tips
'ACKNOWLEDGE!'Sometimes in busy airspace or on the ground at a bustling airport, you'll hear a controller fire off instructions followed by a command such as, "Hold short, 'acknowledge' hold." Why was "acknowledge" added to the transmission? What should the acknowledging pilot say?
The specific meaning of "acknowledge," given in the "Pilot/Controller Glossary" in the Aeronautical Information Manual (AIM), is "Let me know that you have received my message." That's always key to clear communications. So if a controller specifically requests that you "acknowledge," give an immediate, positive response.
"When talking to a controller, the general rule is that you must fully acknowledge all commands. Climbs, descents, turns, and clearances must be repeated so that the controller knows that you received the proper information. Acknowledging a descent clearance with just your call sign is not acceptable and can incur the wrath of the controllers, especially if they are busy and have to waste time getting you to do your job. Likewise, acknowledging a command without using your call sign is also a no-no, because the controller doesn't know which aircraft took the command," Chip Wright said in the May 2005 AOPA Flight Training feature "Talking the Talk." "On the ground, the most critical—but by no means the only—items to read back are hold-short commands, and it doesn't matter if the hold-short command is for a runway or a taxiway. If you don't properly read back the hold-short command, the controller is required to bug you until you do."
Acknowledging instructions is not the same as a "readback," in which you repeat the entire message to the controller, such as when receiving taxi instructions. The AIM explains:
"When taxi instructions are received from the controller, pilots should always read back:
(a) The runway assignment.(b) Any clearance to enter a specific runway.(c) Any instruction to hold short of a specific runway, or taxi into position and hold.
Controllers are required to request a readback of runway hold short assignment when it is not received from the pilot/vehicle."
These and other terms used by ATC are discussed in the "New Pilot's Guide to ATC Communications" article on AOPA Flight Training Online. Make it your mission to know how to respond.

Friday, August 22, 2008


Today I helped my local 99s chapter, The Lake Erie 99s, with their only fundraising event: scooping poo at a local dog show. Yes, you read that correctly. Believe it or not, it's very profitable, so rather than selling candy bars door to door or some such activity, this is the only fundraiser they need. Even volunteer organizations need funds to keep running, and we are no exeption.

This was my first year helping, and let me say, it reinforced my belief that I am now a resolved cat person. Then again, I didn't see the best of the dogs. Like people, they are nervous, and it shows. Some of the piles were like cowpies. Blech.

The chapter has been very supportive of my Girls With Wings activities, so I have no complaint also helping them out. They even selected me as this year's Pilot of the Year. See their website:

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Air Traffic Controllers Convention and Scholarships

FIRST COME FIRST SERVED; ONLY 100 slots remaining!!

ATCA is looking for high school seniors and juniors with a 3.0-4.0 GPA with an interest in aviation and engineering to attend a conference at the Air Traffic Controllers Convention on Wednesday November 5th from 10am-2pm at the Marriott Wardman Hotel in Washington DC. All must be US citizens. College students are also invited to attend and register through the FAA Centers of Excellence website. The $995.00 registration fee and $3500.00 exhibitor fee has been waived for students. Large and small companies will be on siteto discuss coop agreements, scholarships, tuition assistance and potential jobs. More information is attached below. Please call or email if you are interested in volunteering as a chaperone and let me know if your school is available to attend.

Thank you Belinda R. Bender

Federal Aviation Administration

SUBJECT: Air Traffic Control Association 53rd Conference - Invitation
High Schools: November 5 Marriott Wardman Hotel, Washington, DC
10:00 am – 2:00 pm Contact

University students: November 3-5 Full access to technical sessions and exhibit area.

* The Air Traffic Control Association (ATCA) has invited our FAA Centers of Excellence universities and college students to attend the upcoming conference in Washington, DC. The invitation to attend November 3 - 5 is being extended to students who are registered at COE colleges and universities or those living in the tri-state area. In an attempt to attract students who are interested in aviation-related careers, with proper student identification, ATCA is waiving the usual Conference registration fee. This opportunity includes full access to the exhibit area and technical sessions led by some of the world's most recognized aviation leaders. College students may register on the ATCA website,

* High School students must be accompanied by teachers, or parents with proper ID, and FAA personnel will be assigned to serve as chaperones through the exhibit area. High Schools may register for the ATCA exhibit tour and workshops by contacting by October 6. Space for High School students is limited; therefore, registration will be accepted on a first-come first-served basis.

Note: ATCA also has scholarship opportunities.

  • ATCA Scholarships Program
    Air Traffic Control Association (ATCA) Scholarships are awarded to help support the financial needs of those deserving students who have chosen to seek higher education in the science of air traffic control and other aviation disciplines, as well as children of air traffic control specialists. Categories are as listed below.
  • Students enrolled half- to full-time in a two- to four-year air traffic control program at an institution approved and/or licensed by the Federal Aviation Administration as directly supporting the FAA's college and training initiative.
    Students enrolled half- to full-time in a program leading to a bachelor's degree or higher in an aviation-related course of study.
  • Full-time employees enrolled in advanced study programs to improve their skills in air traffic control or an aviation discipline.
  • U.S. citizen, children of air traffic control specialists enrolled half- to full-time in a program leading to a bachelor's degree or higher.
  • Please see Terms of Reference for complete rules.
    For additional information, please contact Carrie Rowe.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Good Friends are Priceless!

Today I had a fabulous lunch at a Mexican restaurant (I love Mexican food!). Better yet, I got to have lunch with an old friend. Ken, who now lives in Phoenix, said the friends you make at the regional airlines are the good ones - once you get to the major airlines, you don't bond so much with pilots you fly with - you're always switching crews. With a major airline, like the one Ken flies for, your schedule will not be the same as the rest of the crews. So the whole crew can change from leg to leg!

But Ken and I met when we were both pilots for a regional airline flying the Beech 1900s. Ken was my First Officer for a while - the best one I would say. He is a very proficient, professional pilot and an all around great guy. He had some time in the Cleveland area, so we met for lunch, at which time he made a very generous contribution to the Girls With Wings Scholarship in memory of his flight instructor, who just passed away recently. Look for more information to be posted on the scholarship page. Many thanks to Ken, his wife Laurie (also a pilot), and their son, James, for their support.

Whenever I think of Ken, I think of a funny story. In the 1900, the FO had to do the passenger briefing while the Captain sits up front and completes the paperwork, and for one particular leg, we only had one passenger. Ken was crawling into the seat so that we could crank the engines and go, and the passenger said to Ken (referring to me), "Oh, is she just learning to fly?" As if a pilot (even on a regional carrier) would be just starting out. Ken immediately replied, "No, she's the boss." The passenger, realizing now I was the Captain, tried to recover by saying, "Well, I figured because she was sitting in the left seat, and uh, well, uh...." We let the conversation just die out and we got on our way.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Today is National Aviation Day!

Did you know that there is a National Aviation Day? Yes, National Aviation Day on August 19 of every year is a United States national observation that celebrates the development of human flight. The holiday was established by a presidential proclamation in 1939, which designated the anniversary of Orville Wright's birthday to be National Aviation Day.

Ok, so what does this mean? Should I run out and buy a card at Hallmark? Who do I send it to? Orville isn't receiving mail anymore....

Well, on the big scale, according to the United States Code, TITLE 36, Subtitle I, Part A, CHAPTER 1, § 118:
The President may issue each year a proclamation
(1) designating August 19 as National Aviation Day;
(2) calling on United States Government officials to display the flag of the United States on all Government buildings on National Aviation Day; and
(3) inviting the people of the United States to observe National Aviation Day with appropriate exercises to further stimulate interest in aviation in the United States.

So, 1 has already been done. Check. 2, if you don't have a government building, is kind of hard. But 3. you could do things to celebrate National Aviation Day. For example, you could go build your own Wright Flyer. Before breakfast. Blindfolded. No?

How about:
Sporting your own Girls With Wings License Plate Frame? This picture is courtesy of Dan Kiser, Founder of Youth Aviation Adventure and an all around great supporter of Girls With Wings.

Don't have a car? That's ok, here's some alternate instructions from


Visit The Wright Brothers National Memorial in Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina, to see where the brothers got the first plane to work in 1903. The park has exhibits and reproductions of the 1902 glider and 1903 plane. Call (252) 441-7430 for more information on hours and events.


Go to Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park in Dayton, Ohio, which hosts the Wright brothers' third airplane, as well as a restored print shop of the brothers. It holds free outdoor events for the whole family.


Read to a child. Teach your child the history of flight and the importance of the Wright brothers. Try Jane Yolen's "My Brothers' Flying Machine," or "First Flight" by George Shea.


Make crafts with family or at school. Draw images you might see out of the window of an airplane, make paper airplanes, or create collages of aviation images from magazines.


Celebrate National Aviation Day at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force--the biggest and oldest military aviation museum. It is located in Springhill Pike, Ohio, and carries a large collection of aircraft exhibits.


National Aviation Hall of Fame (official): Information, history and facts about aviation.
National Aviation Day (Rumela's Web): History and Information on the holiday.
Wright Brothers National Memorial (Nat'l Park Service): Information and schedule events on the birthplace of aviation.
Aviation History Online Museum (official): Information, pictures and history of Aviation.
The History of Aviation and Modern Rocketry (TheSpacePlace): History of aviation through modern space flight.
History of Flight (AIAA): Information and history of flight from throughout the world.
This is not a traditional gift giving holiday. However, this day could be remembered though giving gifts with an aviation theme - airplanes, helicopters, balloons, gliders, spaceships or birds in flight.


National Aviation Day Gift Ideas:
Airplane tickets to anywhere - just so you can fly
Local Hot Air Balloon or Helicopter trip
Model airplane or spaceship
Items emblazoned with things showing flight
Related Apparel
Training Books on How to Fly
Books & Magazines on Flying
Movies about flight

Monday, August 18, 2008

Flying and Alpacas

You're probably wondering what Alpacas have to do with flying. Well, first, the one of the captains I flew with last week was nice enough to let me take his picture in the cockpit up at altitude, preparing to eat his crew meal. I know I spend a lot of time talking about eating around here, so I figured I would show you how it looks to eat up in the cockpit. It's nothing fancy, that's for sure. Push your seat back as far as it'll go, open up your plastic food container, and dig in! If you're lucky, you won't get any of it on your shirt (or tie, or pants, etc.).

Gary, the captain, lives on a farm in Kentucky and raises Alpacas in his free time. His website is You'll notice he was kind enough to put up a link to Girls With Wings on his site. I fly with some pretty interesting and cool people!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Adrienne, my pilot

I flew home yesterday from Newark, NJ, on Continental Airlines. And as I'm standing against the wall, trying so hard not to doze off before my flight home (didn't get much sleep that night in Aspen apparently), who should I see walking down the concourse but GWW Adrienne! Not only was I so happy to see her (what are the odds?), but she was also the First Officer on my flight home to Cleveland. How exciting was that? Again, there is so rarely a female pilot on these major airline flights, but to actually be friends with one of the pilots on my travels to and from work? So cool. After the flight I stopped at the front of the airplane to snap a picture with her. I think the other passengers thought we might have been a little goofy, but this kinda thing doesn't happen every day...
Plus, Adrienne is featured in a new ad campaign for her employer, so her picture debuted in this month's in flight magazine. I am so proud of her. She has been working hard not only to recruit more female major airline pilots to the Girls With Wings site, but also to open up more conversations about Mommies With Wings, being more than just a pilot, because there is so little conversation about women pilots and their trials of having families, too.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

It is still August, right?

We spent the night yesterday in Colorado, where it was not a very nice evening weatherwise. The ceiling and visibility was obviously good enough to get in there, where we had some passengers (and their dogs) to drop off. We had to stick around for a while to get the airplane ready again, to include a ride in a golf cart over to the stock locker to get items for the airplane (it took a lot longer because a certain presidential candidate's security detail closed off that part of the ramp). The picture was taken on the ride back to the airplane to drop off the stock (snacks, drinks, etc.). We then packed up our bags to await a hotel assignment.

Once we were released to go to the hotel, we went to a nice resort up in the mountains at an altitude of 9000 ft. It's not often I'm looking to turn on the heat in my hotel room in August, but one of the windows in the room was stuck open! I didn't mind so much, since I like the feeling of snuggling down into the covers in a cold room. Unfortunately, I wanted to go running this morning on a nature trail the folks at the front desk had told me about. When I got up at about 5am, it was rainy and cold. I went to the beginning of the trail, which dipped down into the bushes. I had to pass, since the last thing I needed this morning was a muddy slide on my butt in the dark! Instead I just went for a walk on the streets, and believe me, going up and down a mountain road at 9000ft above sea level was enough of a workout - I was breathing pretty hard.
Once we all got ready to go to the airport in the shuttle, the skies opened up with a bunch of hail! In august! You could see everyone's breath. Brr. Just a little taste of the winter to come.
Again, another reason to love the Citation X. That Auxiliary Power Unit also puts out heat! So much better getting ready for work in a warm airplane.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Amy, another Girl With Wings

Preflight is a check, Roger mic is operational. We’re still old school so we have an in-flight service, Oreo’s and apple juice on the tarmac if you please. After a snack it’s time for a little nap, no extra charge for blankies. Who needs this pesky mic anyway, I’m am not talking to ATC. Aha…. the sugar induced coma along with the hum of Lycoming IO-360, it doesn’t get any better than this. Is that a spec of Oreo on my bottom lip? Even after landing and pushback into the hangar I am still out light a light. My daddy is such a smooth pilot. The plane is a Vans RV8A we fly out of HFY in Indianapolis, I prefer flying with daddy as apposed to riding in the minivan with mommy.

-Amy, with help from her dad, Brad.

p.s. if you would like to submit YOUR story, email us.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Educational Cab Ride

Earlier today I had to take a cab from the commercial terminal to another airport nearby where there was no commercial airline service, but where the airplane I was to fly was parked. I had the most interesting cab driver; we covered a few interesting topics on the ride over.

For example, he asked me at what altitude we flew the Citation X, and I told him 51,000 feet (though we don't usually fly that high). He was very surprised, and I told him that the commercial airliners usually fly in the upper 30,000 foot range, and at the altitudes above are a lot of business jets. Then he told me about a show he watched about an experiment in the 60s. Now, I vaguely remember a long ago experiment of a guy jumping of an insanely high altitude. But the cab driver said he thought it was like 140,000 feet and it had taken the guy 27 minutes to get down. So he was curious, if they said the guy was traveling at up to 650 miles per hour, why did it take so long to travel this distance (1 mile = 5280ft, so 140,000ft = about 26 miles)? I gave him the best answers I could, based on my limited knowledge, but I promised him (and myself) that I would look it up when I got back.

Here's the story: (Wikipedia) On August 16, 1960 Colonel Joseph Kittinger made the final jump from the Excelsior III at 102,800 feet (31,300 m). Towing a small drogue chute for stabilization, he fell for 4 minutes and 36 seconds reaching a maximum speed of 614 mph (988 km/h or 274 m/s) before opening his parachute at 18,000 feet. Pressurization for his right glove malfunctioned during the ascent, and his right hand swelled to twice its normal size.[1] He set records for highest balloon ascent, highest parachute jump, longest drogue-fall (4 min), and fastest speed by a human through the atmosphere[2].

So, the cab driver thought that the experiment was to find out more about high altitude bailouts and wondered if the special space suit was really necessary. I told him that at the very least, people needed to be protected from the cold. For example, the temperatures at the altitudes commercial airliners fly are usually around -40 degrees celsius. Brr! can you imagine how cold it was at the altitude that Kittinger jumped? Well, given that the standard atmospheric temperature lapse rate is 2 degrees celsius / 1000 ft....

Well, here's a more technical site that says: He experienced temperatures as low as minus 94 degrees Fahrenheit and a maximum speed of 714 miles per hour, exceeding the speed of sound.

We talked about a few more things, to include World's Most Powerful Particle Accelerator Set to Launch; Stretching 17 miles around, a mammoth machine that straddles the Swiss-Franco border will soon start launching the biggest experiments ever attempted in high-energy physics. The fear, he was saying, was that people were causing it a doomsday experiment, as written in this article: "Talk of the experiments triggering black holes has led to some sensational newspaper headlines about the collider leading to the end of the planet, but scientists at CERN say it's not the least bit dangerous."

Certainly the most interesting cab ride I can remember!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

A day sitting standby

Darn. No flying today - as of yet. I'm assigned standby duty at the hotel (luckily its a nice one - though no good running routes any where nearby). I thought I might tell you about my other birthday festivities; taking my four year old niece, Kate, camping. Yes, I have a wonderful sister that lets me do just about anything with her daughters (within reason obviously). I combined this camping trip with an EAA flyin at Sandusky Airport on Sunday; hence the connection to the Girls With Wings blog.

Kate and I went up to a KOA campground on saturday afternoon, setting up the tent first thing. (In case you didn't know, the first three rules for a 4 year old are: "no shoes in the tent, keep the door zipped shut, and don't touch the sides of the tent" - you'll know why in a bit.) It's not easy to set up a tent with a toddler. I found myself saying, "don't!" much more than usual. I try to limit myself to saying this only when bodily injury or equipment damage was a possible consequence, and with long tent poles and stakes - it often was. She eventually resigned herself to trying out the best place for her chair.

We went to the pool for a little swimming (this was always my favorite part of a KOA campground when I was young) and then Kate practiced her bike riding skills. She just got the training wheels off. She falls every 100 feet or so, but she's a good sport. Unfortunately, where there aren't scabs on the girl, there's a bruise. Kate is always an accident waiting to happen, but I love her bravery! Besides, campgrounds are a good place to practice bike riding. People are usually more alert looking for kids running around than they are in most neighborhoods.

After a little playtime at the campground we went back and put hot dogs over the fire. Those, with some chips and a juice box makes a wonderful meal for a girl this age; not so much for me, but I managed. Then we did a little roasting of marshmallows for s'mores. Kate does not like any brown whatsoever on her 'mallows. Good thing they're cheap. I could only eat so many of the ones that didn't meet her exacting standards and the rest were sacrificed to the campfire. I am not a good camp cook. I limit myself to things that can be cooked to any level of done-ness and still eaten safely. Gourmet dinners are not usually in my repetoire under any circumstances (ie., at home over a stove), so you don't get much better with me at a campsite. Breakfast, btw, was simply milk and cereal!

About this time we started getting ready for bed, as dark clouds started to roll in. The forecast, btw, had not called for rain. Well, about the time we finished brushing our teeth at the restrooms, the skies opened up with an impressive display, and we had to run back to the tent in the rain. I feared that Kate would be inconsolable and I'd end up driving around looking for a hotel room, but she seemed to hardly notice (except that I kept reminding her not to touch the walls of the tent). The biggest problem was trying to read her bedtime story over the noise of the storm. Until the morning, that is, when I lifted up our air mattress and found Lake Erie, Jr. Everything was soaked. I was lucky I was able to just throw everything in the car and dry it out after I got home.

After a leisurely morning getting ready at the showers (Kate didn't quite know what to make of all the people in the shower building - all the women thought she was so cute), we went off to the Fly In at Sandusky. (Wikipedia: A fly-in is an event normally held at airports where pilots are invited to fly their aircraft to the airport where it's held to put it on display for visitors and fellow pilots and to meet with other people.) Kate loves airplanes and helicopters, so she was very excited to see all of the planes flying in over the campground, knowing she was going to see them up close the next day. It was very cold, giving us a taste of the autumn right around the corner (*sigh*). Like any proficient pilot, she still accomplished a thorough preflight of her airplane.

After a huge pancake breakfast - the best darn pancakes and sausage you can get anywhere for $4 is at an EAA Fly In, it was warm enough to remove her jacket and sport her Girls With Wings tee. She is drawn mostly to the experimentals. I will save this little piece of information to tell her mom when she starts tinkering around in the garage with her first "kit." (Wikipedia: In generic use, an experimental aircraft is an aircraft that has not yet been fully proven in flight. Often, this implies that new aerospace technologies are being tested on the aircraft, though the label is more broad. Experimental aircraft is also a specific term referring to an aircraft flown with an experimental category Airworthiness Certificate. The term experimental aircraft is often erroneously used to mean homebuilt aircraft. While most homebuilt aircraft are registered as experimental category aircraft in the U.S., there are many types of experimental aircraft that are not homebuilt.)
All in all, a great weekend. I love spending time with my nieces, doing things with each of them that my sister would have a rough time doing with all three at once. I am going to take 7 year old Delaney camping and canoeing before the summer is out, and next time I will probably take Kate and 3 year old Marie out camping together for two nights. Kate, though clearly exhausted on the drive home, didn't think we had spent enough time together. She sobbed when she saw her mom, realizing it was time to go back home because she "wanted to stay with Auntie Lynda." I have to make such plans during my days off, even though nearly all of my time away from my full time job is spent on Girls With Wings and getting the volunteer organization, well, organized. Even though GWW is a labor of love for me, it does take a lot of time and energy. I don't want to sacrifice the special times with my nieces.

Monday, August 11, 2008

It's my birthday!

Hi All,

Yes, it's my birthday - the big 4-0, but that's ok (I think). My elderly neighbor told me not too long ago that it all starts going after 85. I like knowing I have another 45 years to enjoy before it all starts to go...

I had to go on the road this morning, very early, so no birthday celebrations again this year (one of the downsides of the life of a pilot). Luckily, my older sister is great about throwing parties, so when I stopped at her place on the way home from Oshkosh last week, we had some strawberry shortcake. Pictured here are my two crazy nephews, Emmett and Eli, whose birthdays are also in August (they've had a lot of cake in the last week or so!).
I look forward to telling you about my week on the road after the break I took for Oshkosh. If there are things you would like to hear about, just send me an email.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Another Girl With Wings

Thanks to Monika for sending on this picture of her daughter wearing her Girls With Wings tee (and tattoo) from Oshkosh this year. Monika debuted her documentary, Flyabout, with great success at Oshkosh. I have written previously how much I enjoyed her film (as did my 6 year old niece). Now I get to talk about it again!

Synopsis of Flyabout:

Monika Petrillo has never been a person to postpone her dreams. So at 24 she decided to get a pilot's license. A year later, her father surprised her by learning to fly as well. As the movie begins, they take off together to circumnavigate the continent of Australia.

The only woman pilot in a group of eleven people, Monika experiences the true freedom of flight above one of the most untouched places on earth. As she becomes exposed to Australian culture, she learns about the Walkabout, a spiritual journey the Aborigines have valued for tens of thousands of years. That inspires her to use this trip to take stock of her own spiritual household. The first step toward that end is to relax. But that proves much more difficult than she thought: a tight schedule, careful and constant maintenance of the aircraft, pot-holed dirt runways, mechanical failures, sudden loss of visibility and unpredictable crosswinds keep her both too busy and too uptight. But what impacts her most is the conflict that arises between her father and herself.

They had both underestimated the consequences of her father‘s limited experience as a pilot, and that quickly takes its toll—not only on the collaboration in the cockpit, but also on their relationship. Monika struggles with feelings of responsibility on the one hand versus doubts about contradicting her father, who has always been her role model, on the other.

As their plane continues its path across the outback, the young woman slowly comes to realize that personal and spiritual growth can‘t be forced. Instead of searching so hard, she starts to look out the window. And that simple action is the first step towards learning the real lesson.

Flyabout is an intimate, personal story about a pilot‘s journey around Australia. It is the story of a young woman growing into an adult and coming to grips with how generational roles change over time.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

A Contributed Post from Heather

Great Websites for Aspiring Aviators

The Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) movement that focuses on promoting these areas in education has made great strides in fostering these ideas in our nation’s classrooms. We are seeing a huge jump in the numbers of our youth getting interested in related topics such as aviation. This is a field that has always seemed to have a masculine hold over it; but through the efforts of STEM these doors are being opened up to women more and more. To help this push we’ve come up with a list of solid websites that focus on our youth getting engaged in aviation. Without further ado here’s our list:

The Youth Aviation Foundation – This site is dedicated to providing mentoring to children about aviation and helps promote strong leadership skills as well.
Violet the Pilot – This is an excellent site that allows the reader to go on fun, educational and fascinating flights with the fictitious Violet the Pilot. This is a perfect introduction to the curious child who has a serious interest in aviation.
SciJinks – This is a very interactive site that is perfect for young teenagers to learn about the different effects weather has on aviation. It also has a strong section on learning how to prepare for the different weather patterns encountered in the skies. This is hosted in part by NASA.
ProFlight Futures – This site is geared for the high school student interested in a career in aviation and is also very helpful for parents and educators. The site gives the user an insight into how you can get on the aviator career path and also supplies information about scholarships and grants to flight schools. Very insightful!
Flights of Inspiration – This is a UK-based website that aims to inspire young adults to consider a career in aviation. The site takes you through a number of fascinating trips in aviation history with looks at some of the industry’s incredible luminaries.
AvKids – This is an excellent site geared to the younger aviator as it explores the industry in terms accessible for the younger set. There are interactive games for the user to partake in and excellent photo albums dedicated to the world of aviation. This is also a great site that children and their parents can look at together.


This post was contributed by Heather Johnson, who writes on the subject of teaching certificate. She invites your feedback at heatherjohnson2323 at gmail dot com.

Would you like to contribute to the Girls With Wings blog? Please email me at with your projected topic. Thank you!

Friday, August 08, 2008

No Frills Airline

Thanks to Laura, who forwarded on this link.
This morning on NPR an airline industry expert was talking about how airline fares don't accurately reflect how much it costs us to fly. Realistically, we should be paying 25% more for each ticket (a $400 ticket really costs $500). Instead, we potential passengers pressure airlines to keep their fares down, because of every online search for "lowest fare." Each airline must keep their fares at least $1 lower than their competition, hence the $25 bag check fee, and fees for aisle, window, or "premium" seats, etc. So who IS paying for the cut rate fares?
I find it interesting that the Carol Burnett show had the answer to this dilemma; what, 30 years ago?

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Oshkosh, revisted and the new eZine

Thank you to my dad and Carol, a student pilot friend of mine from Cleveland, who went above and beyond the call of duty helping out at the booth. There were a few volunteers that didn't work out, and the two of them (pictured at left), plus a friend of mine, Rob, picked up the slack. I'm only sorry that some of the visitors to the booth didn't get the attention they deserved!

I have just now published the August newsletter, announcing the new Girls With Wings scholarship. You can read it in its entirety at

As far as the actual Oshkosh event went, EAA says, "Numbers Show Another Successful AirVenture:"

Attendance and other figures are coming in from the recently concluded EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2008, and they're reflecting what EAA President Tom Poberezny said in preliminary reports on Sunday; this year's convention was another Oshkosh success that solidified the importance of EAA AirVenture to the aviation community.

"The concern was that 2008 would be less than a banner year, because of questions and challenges in areas such as fuel prices and the economy, but it turned out to be an overwhelming week," Poberezny said. "Each day on the grounds was filled with outstanding activities that made every day at AirVenture a unique event in itself. This year's 'Oshkosh' was the shot of enthusiasm, inspiration, and economic boost that aviation needed."

Overall attendance is estimated at 540,000, which is a slight drop from last year but on par with the 2006 event. Poberezny attributed the steady figures to outstanding programs, numerous announcements for aviation innovations, and superb weather. Exhibitors reported "good to record-setting sales."

Back from Oshkosh

Wondering where the heck I've been? I just arrived home last night from Oshkosh, so I have some serious unpacking and catching up to do. I promise to post very soon about how the show went. I also owe the newsetter to everyone, so I'll be a bit busy for the next few days.
There was a lot of attention on women this year, like the picture at right courtesy of AVWeb. "Women, Airplanes, and Lots of Pink Shirts!"

We hope you like hot pink! Thursday morning saw a record gathering of female
pilots on AeroShell Square here at EAA AirVenture. The rendezvous reminded
visitors to the show that aviation isn't just for the boys' club and hopefully
encouraged women of all ages and backgrounds to pursue their interest in flying.
Among the attendees were celebrity pilots, renowned authors, acclaimed
journalists and photographers, and many recognizable movers and shakers in the

Thank you for your support,