Wednesday, April 29, 2009

May events for Girls With Wings

I've been trying to keep up with all the goings-on with GWW on the calendar, so I spent some time posting some of the upcoming events. I am very excited about our first training session/club formation in Minneapolis this month (to be followed soon by Cleveland, NYC, and DC, maybe even Atlanta?). I just can't keep up with everything anymore so I am enlisting others to help! It's great to know there is such support for Girls With Wings' mission. The eZine will be out in a few days so if you'd like to sign up to receive it, please visit this page.

May 26th, 2009 9 am-4 pm
Title: Minneapolis Training Session and First GWW Club
Location: Minneapolis, MN
Description: The Girls With Wings mission is to use women in aviation to
inspire girls to achieve their full potential. The GWW organization is growing by
leaps and bounds and is far exceeding our current capabilities.
Volunteers: We need women aviation enthusiasts (either professionals or
hobbyists) who would be interested in learning the GWW branded
presentation and making themselves available for future outreach
opportunities in their area.
Contact: Lynda Meeks, 216.577.6131 or
Website: See this page for more info.

May 23-24, 2009 8 AM-2PM
Title: "World's Smallest" Air Show
Location: Llano, CA
Description: The 15th annual “World’s Smallest” Air Show will be held
Saturday 23 & Sunday May 24, 2009 from 8 AM until 2 PM. There will be
ultralight, light sport, & general aviation flying & static displays, RC airplanes,
sky divers, & other events. Food & memorabilia will be available. There will be
activities for kids. Fly-ins are welcome. Admission & parking are free. Check
website for fly-in or driving directions. For more information, email or call (661) 261-3216.
Location: Brian Ranch Airport is located in the High Desert north of Los
Angeles. We are midway between Palmdale & Victorville off Pearblossom Hwy
(Hwy 138) Detailed driving directions are available on our website
Volunteers: We are looking for volunteers to help with a variety of tasks,
including supervising the Kids Art Contest & helping with the flight booth.
Other: We are looking for displays & demonstrations, so let us know if you
have anything that might be of interest.
Contact: Felice Apodaca, (661) 261-3216, or

May 18th, 2009 Time to be announced
Location: Fitch Elementary School, Cleveland area
Description: Girls With Wings will give a fun, interactive lesson on how to fly
a plane and reach for the stars. Founder Lynda Meeks will use aviation to
entertain and educate girls about their limitless opportunities for personal
growth. Adult women in aviation volunteers needed.
Contact: Lynda Meeks, 216.577.6131 or


Date: May 9th from 2-4pm.
Girls With Wings will give a fun, interactive lesson on how to fly
a plane and reach for the stars. Founder Lynda Meeks will use aviation to
entertain and educate girls about their limitless opportunities for personal
growth. This event is for girls from first through sixth grade. There is no
charge for the presentation. Adult women in aviation volunteers needed.

Lakewood Library, 15425 Detroit Avenue, Lakewood, OH.
For more information: Please RSVP to Lynda Meeks, (216) 221-0577 or

May 9, 2009
Title: Women in War
Location: Camarillo, CA
Description: The Commemorative Air Force, So Cal Wing, will honor women
who participated in the war effort during World War II. About 25 local women,
including pilots, "Rosie the Riveters", WAVEs, nurses, aircraft mechanics, and
others, will be honored guests. Vintage aircraft and cars on display, special
exhibits, ride opportunities, docent led tours, movies. 1:00 Honored women
and guests introduced, followed by presentation of "Women in War" and their
role in World War II, closing with Cmdr. Valerie Overstreet, VAW-117 Hawkeye
Squadron, who will tie the past to the present. About 2:30 commemorative
flyover recognizing all who gave their lives during all wars.
Location: Commemorative Air Force So Cal Wing Air Museum
455 Aviation Drive, Camarillo Airport (101 Fwy. to Las Posas Rd. offramp,
south to Pleasant Valley Rd., right to Eubanks St. to Aviation Drive. Museum
parking lot is at that corner. (805) 482-0064
Contact: Ceci Stratford, (805) 630-3696,

May 2nd from 12-6pm.
Girl Scouts of North East Ohio Astronomy/Aerospace Day
Join us for an out of this world celebration of the International
Year of Astronomy and Women in Aerospace. The day includes speakers and
hands-on activities and Starlab, the portable planetarium. There will be
evening stargazing, weather permitting at 8:00pm.
Location: Camp Timberlane, 13408 Green Road Wakeman, Ohio 44889.
For more information:
Women in aviation volunteers needed to help with
the Girls With Wings Presentation. Please RSVP to Lynda Meeks, (216) 221-
0577 or

Monday, April 27, 2009

Some more inspiration

There are some stories out there that just make you wonder what the heck you've been doing with your life. Here's another...

I was sent a link to a YouTube video of a girl who had built her own airplane. We'll pause here so you can read that again. Built HER OWN airplane. For her dad, no less. So her parents could fly to see her when she attends MIT and learns to design... Spacecraft. *sigh* And whenI say "girl" I mean girl, as in a teenager. She started building her aircraft in March, 2006, when she was just 13. She documents the process on her website.

Construction of N5886Q commenced on March 10, 2006. It was certified as an E-LSA on January 11, 2008 and has been flying and flying well since January 15, 2008.
It took her about a year (363 days) before she could do her first runup. On an engine she had modified, gotten approval from the FAA, and named the Sabrina O2A model. And I'm telling you, looking at this girl working out in the garage all bundled up in the winter shows such an extreme level of dedication!

Oh, and did I mention that she drafted a proposal to Homeland Security with her plan to equip airplanes with geiger counters (to detect radiation from possible terrorism)? All this and never missed a day of school. There's more, but I think I'm going to go crawl back under the covers.

What are YOU going to do today?

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Sun n Fun and Arty's trip home

Just as all good things must come to an end, I had to return from Sun n Fun on friday to get home in time to go to work on saturday. *sigh*

The picture to the right is a couple of my twitter friends helping to set up tents. Mine is the one in the front. My cocoon, that is. I just bought it for SnF, and made the mistake of crawling into it headfirst. I got my legs swung around, but then I was stuck folded in half. There was not enough clearance for me to get my head back toward the opening. Luckily the designers had built in a zipper vent in the top of it so I could get the additional room to lay myself out again! You can see Arty's ultralight to the right (more on that in a bit).

My new found twitter friend, Jo, to the right in the photo, is an aviation photographer and I had a great time following her around watching her take pictures of airplanes. Though not a pilot, Jo knew every airplane on that field and patiently gave me an education. Some of her pictures. To the left is Julie.

The first person we met there was DaveFlys, also not a pilot, but a huge aviation enthusiast. He helped out with Sun n Fun radio the whole week and in turn had an awesome time. He was kind enough to do a Pilot's Flight Podcast with yours truly, too! Dave is to the left and Will is to the right (not the best picture of me, truly, but I wanted to show you Dave and Will). Will is half of Wilco Films, which is producing the documentary, along with Rico, A Pilot's Story:
"Filmed in hangars and homes, at restaurants and on ramps, A Pilot's Story tells the story of flight in the words of pilots themselves. What it means to fly an airplane all alone for the first time. What it means to fly an airplane for the last time. The easy rapport one can have with a person who is a complete stranger but for the shared experience of flying."
You can't see him in this picture, but this is where I met Jack Hodgson, who writes about the people and places of aviation in his column "Around the Field", and he is the producer & host of the popular aviation podcast "Uncontrolled Airspace". I also met with Marty, of Cleveland, TN (not OH, like me). There was four year old Ella, daughter of StephenForce, of the Airspeed Podcast. I gave Ella some Girls With Wings tattoos, which she shared with another girl. I also got her hooked on the GWW game online (sorry, Dad).

Let's see. I also met myTransponder's founder, Rod, who has developed an online community for pilots. He and ForeFlight, creator of aviation tools for the iPhone & iPod, actually sponsored a "Tweetup" thursday night, where I met AirPigz, who holds great caption contests on his site, among other things. I know there were more, so if you'd like to add your website to this entry, please enter it as a comment below.

I also finally got to meet with Arty! Her Ultimate Adventure is really picking up new momentum with new interviews, sponsors, etc. Here are a few of the links to articles.

Flying with Hawks Sandy woman makes extraordinary flight to Florida

She also got picked up by AOPA for their push to pick up new pilots. Here is an article and this is the AOPA "Let's Go Flying" site (Arty gets credit if you sign up on this site). They had her doing a series of seminars at Sun n Fun.

Also, read this AvWeb story on her and see a video!

And here is her route home. Can you come out to meet her? It'll make the THREE week trip go that much faster. She would love to meet you, too!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Arty arrives at Sun n Fun!

I just have to post about Arty's Ultimate Adventure, even though it is before 5am and I am supposed to be getting ready for my flight to Sun n Fun, an enormous annual airshow in Lakeland, FL. I am so psyched to go, since it is my first time at this fly-in. I've gone to Oshkosh many years in a row, but I always have a booth for Girls With Wings and rarely get out to meet people and enjoy the airshow! So,I have my tent and sleeping bag already in my pack, just wrapping up a few loose ends around the house. I will be camping under the wing of Arty's Ultralight, and I can't wait to finally meet her! "Wait," you're thinking, "Camping under the wing of a what?" Let me explain...

Arty is a Girl With Wings who got in touch with me a few months ago to show her support for our mission, to inspire girls with aviation. She also mentioned casually that she would be taking a cross country flight from her home in Oregon to Florida for the Sun n Fun Fly-in starting at the end of March and taking approximately SEVEN weeks. If you draw a line between these two states by the way, you're going over the highest elevations of the Rockies, which is not recommended if you're flying a modified ultralight like Arty. This is an open aircraft - no pressurization and no protection from the elements. So she has to go straight south and then veer east, making the round trip about 7500 mi. From Arty's website:

For those of you who aren't familiar with ultralights, my 1984 Maxair Drifter* is sometimes referred to as an irrigation pipe with a plastic seat, wings and an engine. And that pretty much describes it. It weighs 320 lbs. empty, and is powered by a Rotax 503 snowmobile-type engine. I can be in the air for about 2.5 hrs. before I need to land and refuel. How many miles I can cover in that amount of time is completely dependent on the weather. I cruise at about 55-60 miles per hour – if there's no wind. With a strong headwind my speed can drop as low as 25-30 mph!
*(Technically, her Drifter is an ultralight-type registered Experimental Light Sport Aircraft.)

She said she had hoped to publicize the GWW mission by getting women and girls out to meet her along her route which would help with the Penelope Pilot Project, getting more girls to take an active interest in aviation. This is truly an endeavor with which to inspire anyone and everyone! I have been reading her daily blog with amazement, jealousy and pride. I freely admit to being a chicken, like during those loops and rolls discussed in the last blog entry. Could you imagine sitting in a "chair," being able to look right past your feet, straight down a mile or more? Ok, so you could be looking at the mesas in the southwest US, or the lush landscape in the southeast, but still...

I won't give away all of the trials and tribulations of her flight thus far, you'll have to read her blog for yourself. But I'm happy to report that Arty has arrived at Sun n Fun and has received so much moral and logistic support thus far, mostly from the LSA (Light Sport Aircraft)/Ultralight community. She has received positive press along the way, and has been sponsored by AOPA's Let's Go Flying project. I especially love that there are classrooms across the country following her flight and turning it into an educational experience. Doesn't this picture of kids wearing their aviation gear and displaying a "Hi Arty" banner just warm your heart? This is what being an aviation enthusiast is all about! As Arty proclaims:

I KNOW that we all can achieve our dreams, even if others tell us it's impossible. As a 65 year old woman, I've been told throughout my life that certain goals weren't possible for me, due to my gender—and later, due to my age. I've listened, and continued on with my plans. With determination, perseverance, and preparation, I know we can spread our wings and fly higher and further than we ever thought possible.

I'd say she is achieving her dream! If you're going to Sun n Fun, please come by the Ultralight campground and say hi. Please follow her blog and her up to the minute route map back home after the Sun n Fun event (Apr 21-26). And although Arty would have done this trip anyway, she would LOVE, more than anything (you would know this if you talked with her), to meet people at every stop on her trip back to Oregon and to spread her message to schools and youth groups, to women of every age, and to the general public via tv, newspapers and other media.

Although Arty is blogging every day, email is a bit more difficult. You can post feedback to her blog with any suggestions, requests and offers of help. And, sorry to tell you: this is a one seat aircraft, so no hitching rides!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Now THIS is flying!

Throughout this blog I have posted pictures of my airplane, the Citation X, and the flying I do in it. I also have talked somewhat about my start flying Huey Helicopters in the Army many (many) years ago. It may come as a surprise to people that my transition from helicopters to multi-engine turboprop airplanes was accomplished in only 30 some hours of flying. Since then, I have mostly flown more "complex" airplanes like King Airs and BE1900s and jets.

I put "simple" and "complex" in quotations for the following reason: Some would think that my Citation X is very complex, but put me in a single engine airplane and watch out! It's just not what I'm used to. The airplane flies differently (and much slower). I am used to crossing the runway threshold in my X at 110 or more knots. In a Cessna 172, one is 1/2 that speed... yet at not quite a hover. Flying under VFR (or visual flight rules) is different than IFR (instrument flight rules). I am under positive ATC control (talking to someone) the entire flight. A VFR pilot doesn't need to talk to a controller for a good portion of a flight unless they wish to do so (for "flight following" - see this article from AvWeb for more info). The "parts" are different. There are more control surfaces and the systems are different. I had even forgotten during a recent presentation that on a 172 you PUSH the throttle for more fuel delivery, but someone was quick to remind me (thank you, Captain Ron!).

So each time I rent an airplane, which is not very often, I take a lesson first from a flight instructor for two reasons. 1. The insurance for the airplane requires a "check out." and 2. My peace of mind. I need to dust off that knowledge. And invariably, the CFI (certified flight instructor) checking me out will make fun of my reluctance to fly the airplane using visual references. I am used to referring to the flight instruments because I am so often inside the clouds or above them and have nothing outside to reference. A pilot flying in VMC (visual meteorological conditions) more often will keep the airplane "straight and level" by looking at the horizon. Climb or descend by lifting or dropping the nose slightly. Turn by making the horizon at an angle. I use the flight instruments, such as the attitude indicator, to accomplish the same thing (or let the autopilot do it!).

So, it is a real THRILL to me to be able to fly under VMC... or more accurately, to get a ride from someone who is a proficient VFR pilot (I get all of the bennies and none of the stress). Since I was in Columbus, OH, last week I was able to meet up with Girl with Wings Egg and her dad, Dave, who happens to own an RV-6. To me, this is flying. I mean, just look at that tailwheel, which, by the way, is a whole 'nother can of worms. Learning to fly a tailwheel is a lot different than a tricycle gear airplane. Just look at the angle at which the airplane sits. Often the pilot cannot see in front while taxiing, and must S turn back and forth to ensure a clear path. See this article for more FAQs about tailwheels answered.

So usually in my job I take off, climb like a banshee, level off, fly for an hour or two or five, and then descend and land. What a thrill for someone to be able to fly wherever and whenever they want! For example, Dave gets to fly right over his house (and his neighbors' houses, so he has to be judicious about this), which is just at the end of the forward wingtip in this photo. A good way to let your family know when you're nearly home, no?

And once we had gotten far enough away from the airport, the sky was (mostly) ours to do with as we wished. Dave let me fly for a bit, the first time since Hueys that I had flown using a "stick" instead of a yoke. Again, it was a struggle for me not to lean over and look at his instruments. It flashed back in my head to look outside and refer to the point at which the horizon met the windshield. When we had reached our desired altitude, I knew to let the horizon drop slightly so we would stop climbing. And we were flying west, so I picked out the property lines that matched our direction of flight, so I would know if I drifted off course. (When new land was being settled way back when, the surveyors made east-west and north-south grids for accuracy.)

Then, I gave the controls back to Dave. It was really a beautiful day for flying. Blue skies, no winds, smooth. And then Dave had to start talking about what "this baby could do" (no, he didn't use those exact words). I figured this might come up. Aerobatics. Sigh. I've only had to do spins once in my life, during that 30 hours in the transition to airplanes. Wikipedia defines spins as "an aggravated stall resulting in rotation about the center of gravity wherein the aircraft follows a downward corkscrew path." I call it a rollercoaster ride with no track. First time back in 1993, I screamed the whole way til the instructor recovered the airplane. And then we did more spins til I was able to enter and recover on my own. We need to learn them because "a specific and often counterintuitive set of actions may be needed to effect recovery. If the aircraft exceeds published limitations regarding spins, or is loaded improperly, or if the pilot uses incorrect technique to recover, the spin can lead to a fatal crash." I don't look forward to doing one again. Intentionally or not.

So when Dave suggested we do loops and rolls, I was less than enthusiastic. Then he said his 15 year old daughter loves to do rolls. Could do them all day. Did I mention I was competitive? So, there we went. I could not even tell you what the airplane did. All I felt was the Gs and my stomach going end over end. But, huh, not too bad. Ok, let's try one of those loop things. This one, a little stronger Gs. And although I could see a little blue and brown flashing through the little space between the brim of Egg's Girls With Wings cap and the top of the panel, again, no clue of what we just did. I kept my head down, but did NOT keep my eyes closed! Mostly because I knew THAT would be worse.

But I felt like I was ok, and so I asked Dave to explain the maneuver again, while I fooled myself into thinking I'd be able to keep up (happens awfully quick). So one more roll followed by one more loop. And then I reached up and opened that air vent full blast on my face. I had had enough. Dave saw this, and knew why. Was he laughing at me?

I spent the rest of the way back trying to not to move my head from side to side or up and down, which was really a shame because the flight back was just as amazing. See the Columbus skyline? As we get closer to the airport, I call out "traffic" to Dave. He looks, and doesn't see it. Why? Because he wasn't looking far out enough. I'm used to airplanes traveling at high speeds. At the speed we and the other aircraft were going, it would have taken quite a while for our paths to meet. Ahh, the joys of flying at .92 mach!

So we drew closer to the airport, and Dave called the tower to let them know we were inbound and getting ready to land (Dave had already let his wife know we were on our way back by buzzing the house again). As you can see in this picture, there is an aircraft holding short of the runway waiting for us to land. Dave put down the flaps for our approach (you can see the space in the inboard portion of the wing). Flaps are usually fully extended for landing to give the aircraft a slower stalling speed so the approach to landing can be flown more slowly, allowing the aircraft to land in a shorter distance.

Dave turned final, and we picked up those PAPIs that I discussed in an earlier blog post. Smooth final and landing, in my ignorant opinion. He, like all pilots, is critical of his landing, as you can read about in HIS version of events on his own blog! The worst thing about the landing, from my point of view, was that the airflow from the vent abruptly ceased. I was glad for the taxi back to the hangar in front of the onsite restaurant at Bolton Field, or KTZR. One day I'll have to go back for JP's Barbeque Ribs and Chicken. But all I could think about was getting that canopy open and some more fresh air.

Soon though, we were back in front of the hangar, the airplane was shut down, the logbook filled out and Dave pushed the airplane into his space. And voila! We were done. The whole trip from driving to and from the airport, getting the airplane in and out of the hangar, starting up and shutting down, taxiing in and out, and a 1/2 hour flight took about an hour. Wow! It takes my Citation X co-pilot and I at least an hour to prep the airplane for the first flight of a tour. I am so jealous that Dave, and Egg, of course, have the ability and opportunity to be able to enjoy flying like this. I am also extremely grateful that Dave was willing to share it with me!

p.s. Dave's family and I then went to dinner at a Mexican restaurant. I wasn't sure I tasted much of my food and I was awfully glad to get home and sleep off the queasiness. Until next time!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Aviation Humor

Previously I posted a blog entry about a crew's incomplete postflight that resulted an airplane being grounded on the next morning's preflight. I've been trying to find some kind of regulation stating what a pilot's responsibility for the pre/post-flight, without success. Even the airplane checklist, which is a quick reference step by step listing for tasks pilots have to accomplish for every phase of the aircraft operation, is pretty vague. Some literally say, "Aircraft Condition: Check." The more complete Operating Manual or the owning company or airline might specify other "high failure rate items" to check (like my employer), but the Federal Aviation Regulations pretty much hold the pilot responsible for everything. The vagueness of this wording allows for an all inclusive legal responsibility to which to hold the pilot.

Airplanes are assigned maintenance logbooks, like this one at left, to help keep records of entire aircraft in order: inspections, tests, repairs, alterations, Airworthiness Directives, service bulletins, and equipment additions, removals or exchanges. This is a small book, by the way, for a "small" or simple airplane. Some company operations allow for pilots to enter "write-ups," a way for the pilot to communicate with a mechanic who may not be available when the pilot lands, which also allows an ongoing record of any ongoing problems with the aircraft, for example: pilot seat broken. This may be something the mechanic wouldn't notice on a regular inspection, or perhaps the seat (or other item) broke during the flight! A large, complex airplane will have a binder (or two) and records backed up at the home office.

There has been an email circulating with some humorous writeups that might make more sense to any non-pilots now. If not, please ask. Enjoy!

After every flight, UPS pilots fill out a form, called a 'gripe sheet,' which tells mechanics about problems with the aircraft. The mechanics corrects the problems, document their repairs on the form, and then pilots review the gripe sheets before the next flight.

Never let it be said that ground crews lack a sense of humor. Here are some actual maintenance complaints submitted by UPS pilots (marked with a P) and the solutions recorded (marked with an S) by maintenance engineers.

P: Left inside main tire almost needs replacement.
S: Almost replaced left inside main tire.
P: Test flight OK, except auto-land very rough.
S: Auto-land not installed on this aircraft.
P: Something loose in cockpit
S: Something tightened in cockpit
P: Dead bugs on windshield.
S: Live bugs on back-order.
P: Autopilot in altitude-hold mode produces a 200 feet per minute descent
S: Cannot reproduce problem on ground.
P: Evidence of leak on right main landing gear.
S: Evidence removed.
P: DME volume unbelievably loud.
S: DME volume set to more believable level.
P: Friction locks cause throttle levers to stick.
S: That's what friction locks are for.
P: IFF inoperative in OFF mode.
S: IFF always inoperative in OFF mode..
P: Suspected crack in windshield.
S: Suspect you’re right.
P: Number 3 engine missing.
S: Engine found on right wing after brief search
P: Aircraft handles funny.
S: Aircraft warned to straighten up, fly right and be serious.
P: Target radar hums.
S: Reprogrammed target radar with lyrics.
P: Mouse in cockpit.
S: Cat installed.
P: Noise coming from under instrument panel. Sounds like a midget pounding on something with a hammer.
S: Took hammer away from the midget.

Monday, April 06, 2009

First Woman Army Pilot Recognized

A fellow former army pilot sent me a link to this press release, which has special significance to me because of my history of learning to fly in the Army in 1993 (that's me to the left). Although I felt like a trailblazer even then, the first woman army pilot graduated 20 years earlier.

Army Honors 1(st) Female Aviator in Recognition of Women's History Month; Sally Murphy Receives Freedom Team Salute Commendation.

"Thirty-five years ago, 2nd Lieutenant Sally Murphy walked across a stage at Fort Rucker, Alabama and stepped into U.S. Army history. It was 1974 and Murphy became the first woman to graduate from the Army Aviation School. She was the Army’s first female helicopter and fixed wing pilot. She retired as a Colonel in 1999.

Murphy joined the Army’s Women Army Corps (WAC) program in 1972 and entered the Aviation School when the Army opened its ranks to women. She had previously attended the Military Intelligence School at Fort Huachuca, Arizona. After graduating from Aviation School, she served with the 330th Army Security Agency Company (Guardrail II) flying RU-21 airplanes as an intelligence officer along the border between Germany and the Soviet Union. Later she flew Huey helicopters and commanded a Company for the 1st infantry Division at Fort Riley, Kansas and went on to command the 62nd Aviation Company in Germany and the 78th Aviation Battalion (Provisional) in Japan."

I also went to Germany after graduating from flight school (me again on the left) and attended the Military Intelligence Advanced Course at Fort Huachuca, after getting a fixed wing transition. Even 20 years after COL Murphy's experience, I can agree with her assessment of her time as a pilot in the army:

“I was the only woman in Army Aviation School in the early 70s and if I told you I did not have problems with a few people, I would not be truthful,” said Murphy. “But things were changing and with the Vietnam War winding down, the Army needed to fill some voids. There were some tough times but it made me stronger. The Army is a family and there was always someone giving me encouragement and ready to assist me anytime I needed help.”

I was not the only woman in flight school but was, and am often, the only woman in my flight training classes (as a civilian, too). I might have been a groundbreaker as well, as women started to be accepted into combat helicopters right when I was finishing up with my Huey training. Rather than choose a "follow on" helicopter like the Apache, for example, I decided to stay in the Huey. I'm glad I did, because it allowed me to be available for the later fixed wing transition and related assignments in order to become the professional pilot I am today. My grandpa and I in the picture to the right.

Everything I've been able to accomplish is because other women have paved the way, to include the Women Air Force Pilots of WWII and COL Murphy. “Colonel (Ret.) Sally Murphy is an Army Aviation legend,” said Colonel David Griffith, Director of the Army’s Freedom Team Salute Program. “It is not often we have the opportunity to honor someone with a commendation who was a trailblazer. Sally Murphy has paved the way for hundreds of women to follow her footsteps and become Army Aviators. She is truly living history.” Read full article.

How about the current female Army Pilots out there? Do you think times and treatment have changed significantly? Leave your comments below.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Dad to Dad and Girl to Girl and Adult to Youth

At left is a picture of the lately often referred to future Girl With Wings, Madeleine, who was in March and April's GWW eZines. Dad had written me an email to say:

"Her brother and I have a Dad/Son bond with flying, and she seems to think she can't do it because she is a girl. I am signing her up (Flight Crew Membership) to show her that girls can fly and have fun too... that it's not just a boy pastime. This club will be her first chance of something special she can be a part of that her brother cannot, and I hope she will be more active as she gets older."

Madeleine has become an instant celebrity around here at GWW HQ, as has another young lady named Erika, shown at right when still just a baby, about 15 years ago. Madeleine's had dad asked Erika's dad (on Twitter) how he kept his daughter interested in flying. Egg's dad sent these pictures of Erika's development (Egg is Erika's call sign - shown on Dad's airplane at left).

So first, let me get the interesting story of Egg's call sign out of the way, because it's a good one. Dad wrote:

Erika received the nickname 'Egg' in the sixth grade when some of the kids in her class noticed that her initials, E. G., looked almost like the word 'egg.' That was right around the time that I was planning on selling our Tampico in favor of the RV-6. Egg had always enjoyed the Tampico, and I had even created an Instant Messenger name for her:Tampico Copilot. She was very upset (she cried!) that I wanted to sell the Tampico because we had done a lot of flying in it together. She used to like to do steep banks and those low-G rollercoaster pushovers - she referred to them as 'Wagstaffs' in honor of Patty Wagstaff.

I had my heart set on the RV-6, though, so I had to find a way to get her excited about the change and dry up those tears that are so devastating to a father. I ended up using Photoshop to put her name on the side of the canopy and promised her that I would do it for real when we got the RV.She thought a Top Gun style call sign would be even cooler, so that is why the passenger side canopy of the RV says 'Co-Pilot: Erika "Egg" Gamble.'

You can read all of Erika's Tips and Tricks on her Girls With Wings page, but she offered this specific advice to Madeleine's Dad: "Egg says Madeleine will be a lot more comfortable if she has

headsets so she can hear Dad better, gum to help pop her ears, and to bring a comfort toy with her if she is nervous."

Both Madeleine and Egg have been reached out to by other Girls With Wings. As a result of Erika's mention in the April eZine, she received this email from GWW Jean, an MCFI.

"Thank you for sharing your story. As an instructor, I can tell you that you are well on your way to earning a pilot's license. You are a good candidate to solo at 16 and have a license at 17. If I were close enough to you, it would be a joy to be your instructor. Keep studying and flying with Dad. You are a fortunate teen and I am sure that your Dad is very proud of you."

It is continuously amazing to me how much potential is there in our youth and how many adults are willing to encourage them. Thank you for your support of Girls With Wings. The organization, of course, and the actual girls!