Sunday, October 26, 2008

Aviation Scholarships

I get so many emails from people asking me for money so they can become a pilot. It is very expensive to get a private pilot's license (anywhere from $7000 to $10,000, depending on where you live and what you will be flying). So, becoming a pilot has to be in your blood. It's not usually something someone does just on a whim. People can work and save, take out a loan (which I don't usually recommend), and/or look for assistance in coming up with the cash.

Besides the incredible Girls With Wings scholarship (deadline November 1), there are so many scholarships out there - and those providing them are usually begging for qualified applicants!

One of the best sites I have found is: (thanks to Dorothy!)

About (from the website):
While pursuing my pilot certificates and ratings, I looked for and began to keep a listing of scholarships that I could apply for to help fund my flight training. Over time it grew and grew so I created a site and posted them on the internet to try and help others find money to fly too. Being female, I placed a special focus on cataloging grants for women. As such, much of my list contains awards for females only but there are some that are open to men as well.

Each scholarship has its own application deadline

Amounts may vary from year to year

Some awards may not be given every year

Contact the issuer for application or more info

The scholarships listed on this site are mostly one time awards of $250-$3,000 to help defray the cost of flight training for a pilot certificate or rating. The awards on this page are not restricted to collegiate aviation students only, hence are a resource for those pilot who cannot tap into all the money available to such students. This type of list was the goal of my scholarships website which I began to compile as I flight trained towards my goal of becoming an airline pilot.

Friday, October 24, 2008

A and P

Girls With Wings is a site for women in ALL areas of aviation, but it's predominately pilots now. We need more A&Ps represented on the website!! They have a support network of their own already. Here's a couple of examples.

Wait, what's an A&P, you ask? It's an aircraft maintenance technician:

A person who fulfills the necessary requirements is issued a Mechanic certificate with either an Airframe or Powerplant rating, or both. It is these ratings which together account for the common practice of referring to mechanics as "A&P's." Until 1952, instead of the Powerplant rating, an Engine rating was issued, so the abbreviation "A&E" may appear in older documents.

There is a better description at

There are organizations specific to women who do these jobs.

One has a mentoring program: "Jet Ahead, women mentoring women, is a mentor program for women A&P students around the country. Our main goal in this program is to bring the students together with a mentor who has been out in the field and can answer questions and help alleviate concerns. This is a program designed to be flexible in meeting the needs of A&P schools as well as their students. This is a great networking tool for your school, and yourself. So if you are interested in this program, whether you are a student, a mentor or a school, please let us know."

Another has a scholarship (deadline November 21):
Association for Women in Aviation Maintenance
"We are a nonprofit organization formed for the purpose of championing women's professional growth and enrichment in the aviation maintenance fields by providing opportunities for sharing information and networking, education, fostering a sense of community and increasing public awareness of women in the industry."

Medical Deficiencies

I'm back on the road again, after taking three sick days at the beginning of a tour. I do not like being sick. 1. Only have a limited number of sick days (what if I really get sick?) 2. I don't like admitting I'm sick ("I'll be fine, really!"). Ultimately, the FAA says that I have a responsibility NOT to go to work if I have a medical deficiency:

Am I prohibited from exercising the privileges of my pilot certificate during medical deficiency?
Yes. You are prohibited from acting as pilot-in-command or as a required pilot flight crewmember during any medical deficiency that would be disqualifying or may interfere with the safe operation of an aircraft.
A simple problem such as a cold, a broken arm, or an abscessed tooth may require nothing more than the appropriate treatment and a little time before you can safely return to the skies. A more complicated problem or the development or change of a chronic illness may necessitate consultation with an AME or the FAA before resuming flying. New medical conditions do not need to be reported to the FAA until you wish to return to flying.
The actual regulation that I must abide by:
e-CFR Data is current as of October 22, 2008
§ 61.53 Prohibition on operations during medical deficiency.
(a) Operations that require a medical certificate. Except as provided for in paragraph (b) of this section, a person who holds a current medical certificate issued under part 67 of this chapter shall not act as pilot in command, or in any other capacity as a required pilot flight crewmember, while that person:
(1) Knows or has reason to know of any medical condition that would make the person unable to meet the requirements for the medical certificate necessary for the pilot operation; or
(2) Is taking medication or receiving other treatment for a medical condition that results in the person being unable to meet the requirements for the medical certificate necessary for the pilot operation.
So, an extra three days at home. Just wish I could have enjoyed them...

Friday, October 17, 2008

Presidential Decisions

I have advocated membership in AOPA: Airplane Owners and Pilots Association for all general aviation pilots. They have published a great overview of how the presidential candidates stand on the issues important to GA.

You know where they stand on the war in Iraq, taxes, and healthcare. But do you know where Sens. Barack Obama and John McCain stand on general aviation issues?

“With all of the excitement surrounding this year’s presidential election, AOPA members have been asking me, ’Who should I vote for president?’” said AOPA President Phil Boyer. “Rather than endorsing a candidate, we asked the campaigns where they stand on GA.”

Each campaign was given the same eight questions that touched on FAA funding, air traffic control, GA security, and the environment. AOPA’s intent is to help you become more informed on where these candidates stand on GA before you head to the polls.

Two days after the Nov. 4 election, AOPA will host a hard-hitting discussion among several Washington, D.C., aviation insiders about what the results mean for GA. You can be a part of the discussion at AOPA Expo in San Jose, Calif., during the Nov. 6 general session. AOPA encourages members who will be traveling to Expo on Election Day to request an absentee ballot in advance.

Most of the national attention centers on the race for the White House, however, the congressional races will have a crucial impact on issues of interest for general aviation. Congress is important because this group of 535 elected officials must approve the policy legislation that sets the course for the government.

To learn more about General aviation’s allies in the 2008 election click here.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Need some inspiration?

Being born without arms didn't keep Jessica Cox of Tucson, AZ from meeting the challenge of earning a Sport Pilot certificate. The Able Flight Scholarship winner passed her checkride Friday October 10th after several months of training with instructor Parrish Traweek in his Ercoupe 415C. With its unique control system, the Ercoupe proved to be the right airplane for her to fly using only her feet (she does not use prosthetic arms).

Jessica's path to becoming the first person born without arms to be certified as a pilot began in Florida when Glen Davis provided her first hours of instruction in his Ercoupe. But since his was not an LSA version, she would have to wait until a suitable LSA model could be located. Enter Parrish Traweek of PC Aircraft Maintenance/Flight Services in the little town of San Manuel to the north of Tucson.

Of her experience in becoming a pilot, Jessica said, "I highly encourage people with disabilities to consider flying. It not only empowers you but also helps others realize that people with disabilities are adept at attaining privileges that a small percentage of society takes part in. It helps reverse the stereotype that people with disabilities are powerless into the belief that they are powerful and capable of setting high goals and achieving them. What is most incredible about Able Flight is the relentless faith and support not only from the board but also from the other pilots who have succeeded in the program. The camaraderie is exceptional. Thank you Able Flight for helping me make history as the first licensed pilot to fly with only her feet!" To learn more about Jessica, visit

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Rocky Mountain High

Look closely at this picture. Do you see, right down there, an airport? You can pick out the runway if you look...

The name of the airport is Telluride Regional Airport, and it is well known to pilots who fly business jets (which people also fly, obviously, for pleasure). At an elevation of 9,078 feet (2767 m) above sea level, it is the highest commercial airport in North America. We go into a lot of airports near ski resorts; Aspen, Vail, Tahoe, etc.

These mountainous airports can be quite tricky. Some employers make their pilots go through special training to be "checked out" for mountainous operations. Jeppessen, the makers of the airport charts and diagrams, have special full color pages dedicated to operating in and around these airports. Why? Well, first of all, the higher altitude makes takeoff and landing operations different that what we're used to closer to field elevation. The airplane, for example, takes longer to slow down. So any extra speed being carried on final may not be removable on landing, carrying the airplane farther down the runway, toward/past (!) the departure end...

Telluride Regional Airport has one runway designated 9/27 which measures 6,870 by 100 feet (2,094 by 30 m). Located on a plateau, the airport's single runway literally dips slightly in the center. The runway can be a very challenging approach for pilots, particularly those operating commuter aircraft or business jets. During winter months, approximately 20% of the scheduled commuter airline flights end up having to divert to other nearby airports because of abruptly adverse landing conditions. Pilots must contend with high terrain exceeding 14,000 feet at all quadrants, as well as the airport's location on a plateau where 3 sides (including both ends of the runway) plunge about 1,000 ft to the San Miguel River below.

Pilots must exercise great caution whenever southerly winds exceed 15 knots (some say as little as 8 knots), and be aware of rotors, strong turbulence and down-drafts associated with the plateau cliffs during the approach. Most approaches into Telluride come from the west onto Runway 9, from the direction of Placerville and Sawpit. Pilots must stay on the right side of the valley on approach, to avoid potential traffic conflicts. In addition to all this, touch and go landings are prohibited at TEX, and the minimum traffic pattern altitude for the Telluride area is 10,500 ft MSL (1,500 ft AGL). Residential areas located to the east of the airport are generally avoided by arriving and departing aircraft, for both safety and noise abatement purposes.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008


I had to run on the "dread"mill this morning. *sigh* I was so excited when I checked into this hotel and asked for a running route. They handed me a premade card with a 7 mile route on it along the river! Yea! Got up this morning and it was cold, wet, and rainy. I didn't have any gear for this weather and didn't really want to carry wet shoes around either. Oh, and didn't want to catch a cold. I went down to the fitness center in the morning and I couldn't believe it! Every cardio machine had a person on it (well, except for a stationary bike - I love bike riding, but a stationary bike to me seems like the epitome of futility; I never feel like I've worked out).
Luckily the treadmills were awesome, nice cushy platforms and there were TVs in the consoles. Very cool. I was watching CNN and they talked about the California Wildfires. This was quite a coincidence because I had taken pictures there on the second day of my tour. Obviously they have gotten worse. As we flew into Van Nuys, it was pretty clear, but as we got closer to the airport, we could see the smoke coming off the hills. It wasn't on the approach side of the airport, so it didn't affect our ability to get in. On the ground, you could smell the smoke, kind of like a campfire. And you can see how thick the smoke is over the hangars. As we departed, I took pictures (after we were above 10,000feet!). Here is the whole CNN story:

Monday, October 13, 2008

Home Suite Home

I am pretty lucky in that I am not a picky sleeper. I can usually sleep anywhere. I find it very easy to doze off when I'm a passenger in a car or airplane (I said passenger!), and I can catch a power nap in the crew lounge of the FBOs by curling up in a la-z-boy. I can have my batteries almost fully recharged with 10 minutes of shuteye. The only time I can't do this is if I have a list of things to do and number 3 is take a nap. I keep thinking of tasks 4,5, and 6, and so on. After a few minutes of that, I'll just get up and keep moving.

A lot of people can't sleep in hotels because they are accustomed to their bed. Although I have a great bed at home, I find almost any bed comfortable enough to sleep in, unless it's so soft it's suffocating. It is a bit annoying to get into a hotel bed that is dipped so low on one side (usually the side with the alarm clock) that it takes no effort to get out of the bed because you can just slide on down to the floor. This is why mattresses need flipping and rotating! I don't mind all of the pillows that hotels have, as long as they're not the ones filled with little squares of foam. I like having them all piled up. I especially like that Hampton Inns include a lap tray in their rooms. And MOST hotels have nice enough sheets, too, not scratchy or thin - but I don't like when they don't have a fitted sheet, so that the bottom flat sheet comes untucked from the mattress, and wrinkles up under me. Luckily, my employer puts us up in high enough quality hotels so these items are usually standard. Some of the rooms are suites, which means there are two rooms, one "living room" off the hallway, and the bedroom, which you get to by going through a hallway - farther away from the interior of the hotel and usually quieter.

I try to ask for the top floor, so I don't have Big Foot pounding on my ceiling. I also prefer rooms away from the elevator, because most people continue their conversations coming out of the elevator and quiet down as they get to their room. Oh, and the ice machine can get pretty noisy, too. Some people listen to their tvs amazingly loud. Earplugs block out most of these sounds, as does turning on the room fan. Every once in a while I need to call the front desk and ask if they can have some one come up to request that the guest can tone it down.

Well, sometimes there's little that anyone can do, especially this tour when I stayed at a Palm Springs hotel right next to their Bike Week festivities. These are pictures taken from my hotel room balcony. There's not much hope for blocking out the vibrations from a loud set of pipes on a Harley. Add to it the entertainment of loud music and a stunt biker riding in a metal sphere, and you're pretty much up the whole night.

You can see the hills, mountains, ?, in the background. I went looking for a place to run in the evening and was told there was a hiking trail I could run on. Unfortunately, this trail was pretty much vertical and had much sand and loose rocks. It was too dangerous to run, so I walked, but the trails started to get less obvious. I'm not found of my bones being found out in the desert, so I turned around and ran on the streets instead.

So I was pretty tired by the time I had to turn in. The noise hardly bothered me at all and I was well awake by the time the alarm went off at 4am. Ok, I am used to eastern time zone which is three hours ahead, but you get the point...

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Park it!

Definition of Hanger: A clothes hanger, or coat hanger, is a device in the shape of human shoulders designed to facilitate the hanging of a coat, jacket, sweater, shirt, blouse or dress in a manner that prevents wrinkles, with a lower bar for the hanging of trousers or skirts.

Let us distinguish that from Hangar (commonly misspelled as above): an enclosed structure to hold aircraft in protective storage. Most hangars are built of metal, but wood and concrete are other materials used. The word hangar comes from a northern French dialect, and means "cattle pen." Hangars protect aircraft from weather and ultraviolet light. Hangars may be used as an enclosed repair shop or, in some cases, an assembly area. Additionally, hangars keep secret aircraft hidden from satellites or spyplanes.

Usually my company will get "hangar space" for us overnight if there is a storm on the way. High winds and hail may damage the aircraft, but we also get a hangar (rented from the FBO where we are staying), in order to prevent the aircraft from being subject to the elements during the winter. It is more desirable to have the airplane in a warm hangar overnight to avoid the airplane getting snowed on, or worse, icing over. We may negate the need for getting deiced in the morning - which is costly - and we may also prevent the soda cans from freezing and exploding! Plus, the aircraft batteries may need to be removed and kept warm. All in all, we'd rather park it inside.

But hangars are used for other than their intended purpose. The above picture shows a hangar we are parked in front of with a truck offering aircraft cleaning services. If you look inside the partially closed hangar door, though, you can see what all is parked inside of this particular facility. Hey, the cars need protection from the elements too! Given that this was southern California, I'm not so sure this was so critical...

Wednesday, October 08, 2008


I traveled home last night and got a "pop quiz" from a fellow passenger getting ready to board my airline flight. There was an advertising poster hung on the jetway featuring a picture of an airplane. The passenger pointed to the winglets and asked me 1. what they were. I haven't flown an airplane with winglets for years and was happy that I still remembered! 2. And were they on airplanes from every manufacturer? The airplane pictures I found on the website didn't have any winglets, which leads me to believe they are, as the passenger asked, and at least for this airline, 3. a "new thing."

So here are the answers:

1. Winglets, or wingtip devices, are usually intended to improve the efficiency of fixed-wing aircraft.[1] There are several types of devices, and though they function in different manners, the intended effect is to reduce the aircraft's drag by altering the flow near the wingtips. Wingtip devices can also improve aircraft handling characteristics, and enhance safety for following aircraft. Such devices increase the effective aspect ratio of a wing, with less added wingspan. An extension of span would lower lift-induced drag, but would increase parasitic drag, and would require boosting the strength and weight of the wing. At some point there is no net benefit from further increased span. There may also be operational considerations that limit the allowable wingspan.

The wingtip devices increase the lift generated at the wingtip, and reduce the lift-induced drag caused by wingtip vortices, improving lift-to-drag ratio. This increases fuel efficiency in powered aircraft, and cross-country speed in gliders, in both cases increasing range.[1]

2. Wing fences, are a winglet variant with surfaces extending both upward and downward from the wingtip. Both surfaces are shorter than or equivalent to a winglet possessing similar aerodynamic benefits.
Wingtip fences are the preferred wingtip device of Airbus, employed on all their airliners except for the A330 and A340 families. The Airbus A350 will also make use of winglets rather than wingtip fences.

3. Blended winglets

A blended winglet is intended to reduce interference drag at the wing/winglet junction. A sharp interior angle in this region can interact with the boundary layer flow causing a drag inducing vortex, negating some of the benefit of the winglet. The blended winglet is used on business jets and sailplanes, where individual buyer preference is an important marketing aspect.
Blended winglets have been offered as an aftermarket retrofit for Boeing 737,[1] 757 and Raytheon Hawker 800 with winglets series aircraft by Aviation Partners Inc., and the 737 version is now standard on the Boeing Business Jet derivative.

Many operators have retrofitted their fleets with these for the fuel cost savings. Aviation Partners has also developed winglets for the 767-300ER with American Airlines being the first customer. Airbus tested similar blended winglets designed by Winglet Technology for the A320 series,[12] but determined that their benefits did not warrant further development.

The Citation X I am flying now doesn't have wingtips. But [w]inglets are also applied to many other business jets to reduce take-off distance, enabling operation out of smaller secondary airports, or allowing higher cruise altitudes for overflying bad weather, valuable operational benefits for corporate travel. In addition to factory installed winglets on new aircraft, aftermarket vendors developed retrofit kits for popular jets and turboprops, to improve both aerodynamics and appearance.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Mysterious Fuel

I have talked before about the fuel trucks used to refuel aircraft, but some people may be asking themselves, "How come I never see these trucks when I'm on a commercial flight?" Could you imagine a fleet of fuel trucks trying to fuel all of those commercial airlines at a major airport? It would be a logistical nightmare - and also pretty dangerous. We would not want a collision between a full airplane and a full fuel truck.
I decided to take this picture to the left as my flight to Los Angeles pulled into the gate. The line personnel were already ready to get the plane unloaded, fueled and turned. I thought I would explain that weird contraption under the wing.

Well, here I find again that Wikipedia has beaten me to the punch: At some airports, underground fuel pipes allow refuelling without the need for tank trucks. Trucks (or just a cart) just carry the necessary hoses and pressure apparatus, but no fuel.

Next time you fly into a commercial terminal, look for the covers that designate where the large underground fuel tanks. You can also see similar covers at your local gas station. Of course you know that all the fuel coming out of the pump isn't stored right in the box with the pump handle, it has to be stored underground. It's a pretty good idea, huh? No trucks maneuvering around taxiing aircraft, and no need for the trucks to have to continuously refill themselves. The pumps on the carts are portable, to allow for the different configurations of the airplanes.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

One of five shocking paychecks

As I sit down to look at my email today, Yahoo has a picture of an aviation mechanic featured on the front page with a link to "Jobs with Surprising Pay!"

Number 5 is Aviation Mechanic:

A vocational school training program can land you a solid living as an aircraft mechanic. The $40,000 to $80,000 earnings range reflects the specialized training required to perform avionics repair and maintenance. Aircraft mechanics inspect landing gear, instruments, cabin pressurizing systems, aviation electronics, and more.

The Lowdown: The FAA certifies 170 trade schools to train aircraft mechanics in the craft. Most programs take 19 to 24 months to complete, although some schools offer 2- and 4-year degrees in avionics or aviation technology. Average Salary: $49,670
(BLS, 2007)

Not bad - and it's a great way to get your start in aviation. Plus, having all of this knowledge if you continue on to be a pilot comes in real handy!