Posts Tagged ‘Julie Walker’

WAI conference–no small thing

Friday, February 27th, 2009

There are a ton of women of all ages and styles of dress (there’s a strong military presence here, so lots of uniforms) at the twentieth annual International Women in Aviation conference now taking place (Feb. 26-28) in Atlanta. If you’ve never been to a WAI conference–which, unbelievably after 10 years with AOPA as one of a handful of female editors, I never have–then you, too, would be blown away by the unbridled enthusiasm here.

These women love aviation–as a group they are the best advertisement for the future of aviation in this country that I’ve ever seen. On Thursday night, the AOPA Air Safety Foundation’s Kathleen Vasconcelos gave the seminar “Top Five Mistakes Pilots Make,”  which is humorous and sobering at the same time, and attendance was remarkable.

In addition to being an enthusiastic and participatory audience, this group practically hummed aviation. In the crowd was aerobatics pilot Julie Clark, and the seminar attendees positively twittered over the celebrity in their midst. To say that I am impressed with the women in aviation and the Women in Aviation conference is no small thing.

Flight of a lifetime

Thursday, November 6th, 2008

I flew in a Zeppelin! While Tom Haines will tell you the whole story of Airship Ventures in an online story and through video shot from the cockpit of the first American Zeppelin to fly commercial passengers in 70 years, I want to share the nonpilot version of the story. Yes, even after 10 years as an editor on AOPA Pilot staff, I still have 65 hours of flight training but no solo. I have gotten to do some amazing things in the years that I have been on staff. Oh, fly in a seaplane to Friday Harbor, Washington, fly with Haines in his Bonanza to see my son in Florida, and fly to Cape Cod, Oshkosh, and Sun ‘n Fun–the perfect illustration of how great and useful general aviation flying is. But this experience today, well, it may top them all.

I joined Haines and photographer Chris Rose on their way to do the story on Airship Ventures yet when we arrived, I was asked if I’d like to fly too. I panicked. But Haines looked at me and said, “Julie, this is a flight of a lifetime.” So I listened to the safety instructions, followed as we went two-by-two to the airship (man, is it big…gianormous!), and buckled in. Haines warned that the takeoff might be steep as in a blimp, which he has flown, but the Zeppelin felt like it simply floated off the ground. The windows are so large you have the sensation of being in a giant bubble. That was unnerving to me as I like a wall space or some aluminum between me and the sky, but the view just sucked me in…we flew along Highway 101 up to San Francisco, around the bay, and over the Golden Gate Bridge. We could unbuckle and walk around the cabin but it took me until the North Beach of San Francisco before I got up. All the time Chris Rose had the windows open (yes, open) taking photographs.

The Zeppelin cruises at 35 mph just 1,200 feet agl. With the windows open, you could hear the sound of sirens from the highway below. It was a two-hour tour and over way too soon. See Tom’s video and look at Chris’ photos. I think you’ll agree this was a flight of a lifetime.

Aviation trivia

Wednesday, September 10th, 2008

Here’s a question I just learned the answer to–who was the second person to fly solo across the Atlantic? I didn’t know the answer, do you?

Taking in the view

Saturday, June 7th, 2008

Photographer Chris Rose found welcome relief from the heat by gaining altitude–he took an aerial tour of headquarters in a Robinson R22 helicopter. You can see the massive exhibitor tent here in the foreground with the AOPA buildings behind; the aircraft display; and the rows of visiting aircraft three deep. It’s been a beautiful day in the neighborhood.

Weather report

Saturday, June 7th, 2008

When staff takes a break to rest or eat midway through a Fly-In day, the talk inevitably turns to the weather–this year’s, last year’s, and the “I-remember-when” years. Today will go down in our history as one of the hottest. It’s got to be reaching well into the 90s, if not 100 degrees out there–yes, I’m inside working on the blog. Good duty this.

But I did man the Sweepstakes Archer in the morning and it was sweltering then. I’m hoping my 84-year-old dad went home, although he loves looking at the aircraft and hoping to run into old WWII vets like him. There are less and less at the airshows these days.

But about that weather–Rod Machado just stopped by. “It’s like a terrarium out there,” he said. “Last time I was sweating like this, it was my first solo.” Aviation’s funny man is always on. We looked out my office window to observe Phil Boyer walking by. “Now why does Phil never break a sweat?” wondered Machado.

Heat, sun, rain, or any combination doesn’t seem to deter Fly-In visitors. So regardless of the temperatures, we’re having another banner day here. Wish you were here.

Death of THE director

Wednesday, May 28th, 2008

Sydney Pollack died on Sunday at the age of 73. He succumbed to a short fierce battle with cancer.

If you’re a movie buff like I am, you know he directed some of the finest–”Out of Africa,” “The Way We Were,” and “The Firm.” He also acted in many of his movies such as “Tootsie” and “Michael Clayton.” He was also an accomplished jet-rated pilot and aircraft owner. We profiled him in AOPA Pilot in 1998.

Look who’s in AOPA Pilot this month!

Wednesday, May 21st, 2008

I don’t think of myself as a celebrity hound. However I’ve gotta admit that I gushed like a teenager when I interviewed Kurt Russell last year about his mentoring of other pilots (Me: “Mr. Russell I just love your movies and have been in love with you since I was a teenager.” Him: “Well, that’s very sweet Julie (call the stalker police).”

So when the call came through to this office that Harrison Ford wanted to speak with me, well, if I’d been here, I would have needed the gush-odometer. However that ever-lucky editor of mine–Tom Haines–got to take the call. He and Harry talked flying and then set up THE interview. But no, not with me. Barry Schiff–who has already flown more aircraft than most people will ever ever get the opportunity to and who hobnobs with all those Hollywood types out there in California, well, he got the interview.

OK, it’s good stuff. Lots of pilot-to-pilot talk. But, man, why don’t I get those kind of interviews? I won’t stalk them, I really won’t. I’ll give Kurt Russell’s phone number back someday, I’ll stop obsessively looking at the photo shoot for the Ford story…really, I will, Tom, really. Look for “Ford on Flying” in the June issue of AOPA Pilot. It’ll be in your mailbox around May 22.

Oh, and there are other great stories in the issue too–the Ryan PT-22 (that darn Barry Schiff got that one too); the King Air C90GTi; “the Candy Bomber;” a trip to Anuktuvuk Pass in Alaska where they fly even when it’s 60 degrees below zero…Mr. Ford, Mr. Ford, it’s me, Julie…

The people you meet

Tuesday, April 15th, 2008

Last year AOPA Pilot launched its series highlighting America’s airports, and I was one of the lucky people who got to contribute to the story. We chose 11 airports located all over the country, and by some kismet I got my first choice, Friday Harbor Airport in the San Juan Islands of Washington state.

This was a pretty big deal for me on many levels–I’m still a student pilot with 65 hours but no solo because I still can’t shake my lack of confidence; I’m a local Frederick girl who is not widely traveled; and for the past 20 years I have been raising my two sons pretty much on my own. So to travel across the country alone and then board a seaplane to the islands was stretching my boundaries.

There were four of us on the Kenmore seaplane, and we took off in Seattle’s normal weather–rain and fat, thick clouds. (more…)

Holding down the fort

Wednesday, April 9th, 2008

Well, here I am, alone in the quiet offices at AOPA headquarters. All the editors have gone, gone to Sun ‘n Fun every one. Everyone except Associate Editor Jill Tallman and me. What, they don’t allow female editors at Sun ‘n Fun? Oh, yeah, Senior Editor Machteld Smith is there representing. You go, girl.

Actually I am Mistress of the Blog this week. It’s our inaugural foray into the medium, and as I have been reading–and editing (everyone needs an editor, you guys, which I guess begs the question about who is going to edit me…)–the entries, I am impressed. Sure, we have some of the top aviation writers in the country on staff, but who knew they could be so entertaining on the fly? Take Dave Hirschman’s observations in “Dave’s SNF Marketing Survey” and Al Marsh’s plea for the Dominican Republicans, “Someone, Anyone, Fly to the Dominican Republic.” Good stuff. And those of us at headquarters agree that Hirschman and Senior Editor Paul Richfield’s accounts of their individual trips to Lakeland (“The Easy Way vs. The Hard Way”) truly capture the value, convenience, and joy of general aviation compared to the dreaded “airlines.”

Have fun, dear editors. We are here, taking care of business. But I’m wearing my jeans and sneakers to the office tomorrow. It’s my passive-aggressive form of protest–who wouldn’t rather be in Florida in April at a great airshow?