Nestled in the foothills of the Sierra Mountains in California is Columbia Airport [O22]. I am just back from attending the 51st annual Father’s Day Fly-In. This two-day event is really a model of community involvement, fun interactive aviation activities, aircraft displays, and opportunities to fly in historic airplanes.
I have had a Mooney Ambassador display and volunteered at the fly-in for many many years. Columbia is one of the few “camping” trips I go on. They have a fly-in campground that has lovely hot showers and power! But more than that is the welcoming down-home feeling of this little gem of an airport. I am always amazed at the turnout of young and old at the event.
Here is a rundown on the half-century event; maybe it will spark an idea for your home base or local fly-in. The weekend started with the Friday night Volunteer Engine Company dinner supporting the local fire department. Both Saturday and Sunday mornings began with the Boy Scout Troop Pancake Breakfast in the campground. On the ramp were a variety of vendors and displays.
Airplane Rides in the white Stearman named Snowball or a 172 were available from Springfield Flying Service, who has a super cool domain name: http://letsgofly.com
The afternoon both days featured aerial demonstrations that thrilled the audience. The Tiger Squadron started the airshow with a formation fly-over at the end of the singing of the national anthem. Nine members flew military airplanes including the Chinese Nanchang CJ-6A, Russian Yak 52, Yak 50, and the Yak 18T.
The Baybombers mass formation military display team delighted us with precision, speed, and sound: A shiny Beech 18 was hopping rides and provided some fly-bys. There’s nothing like the sound of radial engine to get your attention.
During the heat of the day, we were treated to several drag races featuring muscle cars. There were several Airplane vs. Car Races, but my favorite was the Stearman vs. Model A “Race.” Two pieces of history battling it out for top honors. My Moo Pool was a hit again this year. Probably the best $10 I have spent a few years ago was a kiddie swimming pool. It became a gathering place to cool down and we had a birds-eye view of the airshow. Later in the day on Saturday, we were treated to watching pilots test their skills with the Flour Bombing & Spot Landing Contest.
A slice of history, Executive Sweet [B25J] attended, offering rides to those who wanted to go back in time. The American Aeronautical Foundation located in Camarillo, CA, owns the B25 Mitchell Bomber. They are a 501c3 non-profit dedicated to helping preserve the aviation legacy of World War II Veterans and the aircraft they flew. I actually met a couple of the crew when they were admiring my airplane and the shiny paint job. I mentioned that I have a small oil leak that was making me crazy. One of the pilots, Alex Nurse, said if I wanted to see oil to come over to the B25. I took him up on the offer and got a tour of the mighty airplane. Looking up at the airplane I was just mesmerized by the history it has seen. Standing under the bomb bay doors was sort of eerie; it was almost like I could feel the hopes and dreams of the men who flew her oh so many years ago. Climbing in to the cockpit was quite a feat and really gave me an appreciation for the airmen who scrambled around in challenging flying conditions. Alex described his passion for the AAF and his commitment, as a volunteer pilot, to sharing the history of Executive Sweet with the community. He talked about getting older veterans in the airplane [some who even flew in a B25] who walk slowly to the B25 and how once in the plane they are able to move around nimbly and their eyes light up.
I suppose young or old the goal of these community airport days is to have your eyes light up. I applaud the Airport Manager Ben Stuth and Kalah Beckman [whose real title is Administrative Assistant, but I think she should be Fly-In Organizational Queen] for their hard work and commitment to both safety and enjoyment. I worked side-by-side with a team of volunteers for the weekend. Many times the Fly-In is the only time we see each other. There were many volunteers from the communities of Columbia, Sonora, and Twain Harte that didn’t have a connection to aviation, but shared the love of flight. One young volunteer asked me if I loved having my pilots license and being able to go in the sky. As I packed up the airplane in the 100-degree weather, I smiled, looked up, and said, “Yes.”
I wanted to focus this month’s column on how with small moves, we can connect and inspire through our love for General Aviation. I would like you to meet Tom Sullivan a soft spoken and self-effacing pilot, volunteer and business owner. Through history, an unexpected medical emergency, and dedication, Tom gave some Wisconsin kids the thrill of a lifetime.
I will begin with a little history. Tom received his private pilot license in 1994 then went on to his IFR rating in 1996. He purchased his first Mooney in 1996 an F-model that he flew for 1300 hours. In 2001, he moved into the Mooney Rocket. Tom now has about 3500 total hours. He is based at Ford Airport [Iron Mountain, KIMT] Michigan, which was built by Henry Ford. Tom is also the President of Northwoods Air Lifeline. Northwoods Air Lifeline is a non-profit organization of volunteer pilots from Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and Northeast Wisconsin who donate their time and aircraft to help patients and their families with urgent medical needs for services not found locally. They have flown 2000 flights since 1999 and fly 100-150 trips per year [http://www.northwoodsairlifeline.org/]
If that weren’t enough, he is the local chapter President of EAA 439, Iron Mountain. They are currently planning their 16th annual Ford Airport Day, September 16th, 2017. This year will feature rides in the Ford Tri-Motor. The Friday before airport day, they join forces with a local a POW/MIA ceremony. They have music and all veterans come to have a free lunch, last year serving 500 veterans.
Way back in 1998, Tom bought Lancair kit. In 1999, he drove with a buddy from Michigan, to the Lancair factory located in Redmond Oregon for a fast-build training. On the drive back [non-stop 35 hours], he developed health problems. His arm started to swell up developed a blood clot in his shoulder. He was whisked away to Greenbay for tests and a procedure to open clot up. The procedure didn’t work so he received a blood transfusion and life-saving surgery. According to Tom, this brush with death lead him to “focus on family not things.” He put off the Lancair kit until February 1999 and worked on it about 200 hours per year. Once his kids went off to college in 2012 and he started working more on the airplane. At present, he has about 100 flight hours on the plane.
A few weeks ago, Tom needed some machining done on his Lancair’s AC system. He was given name of Mennonite man who could do the work in Medford Wisconsin, near Athens. As the two men got to know each other, the man developed a keen interest in the airplane. Apparently, he shared his interest with his children who were fascinated by airplane. The children had ever seen a small plane. Tom offered to give the kids a ride in his Mooney when he came to pick up the parts. When the parts were done, Tom flew the Mooney 35-minutes in to Athens, Wisconsin. As he taxied up, he saw quite a welcoming committee waiting for him. The kids and grown-ups were all on ramp with big happy smiles on their faces. Tom did a five-minute ground school/walk around the plane. He took oldest boy and two younger girls first on the 20-minute flight. He was surprised that older boy had researched flying online and was very interested in the aircraft systems. Tom even let him fly plane for a while.
In the second group, the oldest girl asked a lot of great questions about the plane “Why are we taxing down runway and going other way to take off? “ Before the flight, Dad asked because she was the oldest, “Do you want to ride in the front?” “No, no.” she said. But she suggested they fly over their little town. They flew over town and over their homes. A younger boy was upfront taking the controls. The girl in the back exclaimed, “Now I wish I would have gotten in the front seat to fly!” As dusk fell, Tom offered to take Mom and Dad for a ride, yet they declined, they were concerned about impending darkness and Tom’s night flight home. A couple of the children presented Tom with a paper plate of brownies covered in saran wrap with a note “for our pilot.”
Tom says that at the end of the time with the families, it “felt like such an emotional experience. We are all advocates of GA. It was humbling, and they were so appreciative.” A humbling and rewarding experience, what a lovely way to look at sharing our passion. “Sharing with people reminds us how fortunate we are” Tom reflects. His experience is a gentle reminder how special GA is, how lucky we are to be able to fly. As Tom and I talked we touched upon the fact that flying has a deeply spiritual component. As he flew home with the setting sun to his left wing, he felt connected to his passion, family and new friends.
Last week I attended my first Sun n Fun convention in Lakeland Florida. I have annually attended Oshkosh AirVenture for the past decade, but had not yet made it to Florida. Although I had work duties with AOPA and Mooney, I also was keenly aware that my deadline for this column would fall within my time at Sun n Fun. Attending the media briefing on Wednesday April 5th, I was intrigued to hear Katie McEntire Wiatt speak about her documentary project Fly Like a Girl. Later that day I was in the SNF announcer’s stand waiting for my interview. I saw a gentleman sporting a Fly Like a Girl shirt headed down the stairs. I quickly exclaimed, “Fly Like a Girl man, can I talk to you?” Come to find out the man I shouted to was the film’s producer Andy McEntire. We exchanged information and set up an interview with Katie later that day.
Katie and her crew met me at the Mooney Pavilion and we quickly started talking about this important and thoughtful documentary. According to Katie, “Fly Like a Girl explores the courageous history of women in aviation which reveals the contributions women have made to aviation and brings to light the many women who are doing extraordinary work in aviation and STEM today.” Fly Like a Girl also examines why many young girls don’t see themselves in STEM related fields and how society can begin to change this perception. Katie is a former elementary teacher. It was during her time as a primary school teacher that she first developed the idea for Fly Like a Girl. She saw first hand the gap in confidence young female students felt in the classroom, especially in relation to STEM subjects. “I remember one student in particular, she was struggling with a math problem. She said,“Ms. Wiatt, girls just aren’t good at math. The hope is that Fly Like a Girl will inspire girls and women who no longer want to be passengers.” Katie mentioned a recent study in Science Magazine found that young girls are less likely to think their own gender is smart. In order to change this narrative, it is crucial that girls and women see people like themselves, achieving great things in their fields. Three interviews have been completed and more are being scheduled for the remainder of 2017.
Patty Wagstaff-Three-time US National Aerobatic Champion, Enshrinee National Aviation Hall of Fame
“I think I have heard it all. In the early days people would treat you like a cute little girl instead of a competent pilot. Even today, if I don’t get recognized and I am taxiing in an airplane and there is a guy in the right seat and I am in the left seat. They always ask the man in the plane for the fuel order. I hear this from women all the time.”
Bernice “Bee” Haydu-World War II Women’s Air Service Patrol (WASP)
“A documentary like this is important because it educates people and it enlightens people as to one of the careers they could be doing that maybe they had not yet considered.”
Fly Like a Girl has been self-funded and crowd-funded. To support their Indiegogo fund click here . Check out their video trailer here. For more information on this grass-roots project please head to their website: http://www.flylikeagirl.film
What I experienced at Sun n Fun is an example of how aviation folks are the best folks. I never met a stranger, always greeted with a smile and a helping hand. We had every season weather-wise from 94 degrees to rain and wind. Through it all, I saw dear old friends, made some new ones, and found inspiration in projects like Fly Like a Girl. Count me in for #SNF18.
Last weekend I flew from Santa Maria, CA to Prescott, AZ for the final AOPA Regional fly-in of 2016. Through my service club, the Mooney Ambassadors, I am able to display an airplane, and have a booth with children’s activities etc. There were over 6000 attendees at the event and I had the opportunity to meet pilots, wanna be pilots, and families of each. One of the folks standing by my airplane was Gillian Blumer. I asked if she would like to come inside my Mooney and we had a nice chat.
Gillian, from Corvalis Oregon, is a freshman at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. She developed the passion for flight in a 7th grade science class when they had a mechanics of flight lecture. Gillian is working on her pilot’s license, and she has a passion for aeronautical engineering. If all goes according to plan, she will graduate with an aeronautical engineering degree with a minor in computer science.
When I asked her what she wants to do with her engineering degree, I was completely impressed with her answer. “I want to incorporate aviation into society. A lot of people see airplanes as transportation for long distances or goods and materials. But I believe with future technology, we can create airplanes for every day life, that can get us from point A to point B in wonderful fun. These airplanes have to fit key aspects: be relatively small [size of car] and able to take off in short fields or through vertical lift. Currently vertical lift airplanes are not efficient because the propulsion it takes is inefficient. I would like to work on making vertical lift planes more efficient. I feel that we could do a lot to advance aviation if we re-designed aircraft engines. I have applied for the Human-Powered Project on campus, which seeks to design a human powered aircraft,” she says.
Her comments about bringing the fun and wonder back to aviation made me think about my friend Brian Terwilliger and his movie Living in the Age of Airplanes. Following its premiere at the Smithsonian National Air & Space Museum in Washington, DC, the film continued its successful run on giant screen, digital, IMAX® and museum cinemas worldwide in 2015 and 2016.
I was lucky enough to see a press screening in Oshkosh and it is set for a Blu-Ray/DVD release October 25th. The movie is simply stunning. As many of you know Brian was the filmmaker who brought us the aviation classic, One Six Right about historic Van Nuys airport.
To dramatize the remarkably fluid global traffic enabled by contemporary air travel, Terwilliger traveled with his crew to 95 locations in 18 countries searching for some of the most exotic spots on earth. Living in the Age of Airplanes is directed by Brian J. Terwilliger (One Six Right) and produced by Terwilliger and Bryan H. Carroll. Director of Photography is Andrew Waruszewski. Music is by James Horner (Avatar, Titanic) and the Editor is Brad Besser.
“Since we were all born into a world with airplanes, it’s hard to imagine that jet travel itself is only 60 years old, just a tick on the timeline of human history,” said Brian. “But our perception of crossing continents and oceans at 500 mph has turned from fascination to frustration. I want to reignite people’s wonder for one of the most extraordinary aspects of the modern world.”
Terwilliger recruited Harrison Ford, one of the world’s biggest movie stars and an expert pilot, to narrate Living in the Age of Airplanes. “It was important to me that the narrator truly owned the story and had a passion for the subject,” says Terwilliger. “I didn’t want to have a celebrity simply ‘lend’ their voice, because this project is very personal to me, and the narrator plays such an important role. With a documentary like this, there are the visuals, the music and the narrator—and that’s it. I wanted the delivery to come from someone with passion. Harrison was very committed to telling the story and getting it right.”
To create the music for Living in the Age of Airplanes Terwilliger collaborated with another private pilot and kindred spirit, composer James Horner, who scored such Hollywood blockbusters as Avatar, Titanic, and Braveheart. Take a listen to the beautiful SCORE .
Terwilliger hopes Living in the Age of the Airplanes restores a sense of wonder for aviation during an era when many people take air travel for granted. “Flying has become more accessible to more people than at any time in history,” he says. “It’s no longer just for the elite as it was 60 years ago.” But now that mankind has realized its dream of flying after 200,000 years of earthbound evolution, air travel has lost some of its luster. “It’s become such a commonplace experience that it doesn’t seem to kindle people’s interest anymore,” Terwilliger says. “You have a lot of disgruntled passengers where their focus is on the inconvenience and the delays. My hope with this film is that it inspires audiences to see aviation with a new sense of appreciation and awe. If somebody sees Living in the Age of Airplanes and comes away thinking ‘I’ll never think about flying the same way again,’ then it worked.”
For those who would like to check out the trailers for Living in the Age of Airplanes or perhaps pre-order a DVD/Blu-Ray for holiday gift giving, follow this link:
We all need to continue to think outside the box. Young people like Gillian will push aviation forward through design and engineering. Creative visionaries like Brian Terwilliger will illustrate the awesome wonder of our world and the ability to live life in three dimensions. What will be your contribution?
Three generations of General Aviation and American business ingenuity from the Stinis family
I had the pleasure of interviewing and flying with Greg and Stephen Stinis and the rest of the West Coast Skytypers crew at Chino airport in California. Within minutes of landing, I had a call from Greg Stinis asking about my plans for dinner. After meeting them, and realizing that they are a Greek family, I knew I was in for a ripping good time. We headed out for Mexican food and felt like I had known them for ten years instead of ten minutes. Skytypers is a great General Aviation based business that not only supports their local airport and highlights aviation, but it inspires the love of flight to those on the ground looking skyward. The team feels like a family, and they all have a lot of fun. Skytypers have both and East and West Coast presence flying with their patented system using multiple on-board computers.
According to Greg, his father Andy Stinis’ history is rich in innovation and aviation. From 1931 to 1953, Andy Stinis performed skywriting for Pepsi-Cola, “Across the US during those years, skywriting with smoke was a premier form of advertising. The original 1929 TravelAir Pepsi Skywriter my Dad flew hangs in the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum,” says Greg.
Always an entrepreneur in 1946, Andy developed a method of “skytyping” using multiple aircraft to create complex sky displays and messages. His patented skytyping method provided a high-quality message that was more clearly readable at large distances and stayed intact longer. The patent for computer-controlled skytyping between multiple aircraft was awarded to Andy in 1964. Andy flew west at age 83 after having amassed over 30,000 flying hours.
Greg says that aviation was always a central part of his life. When his father would “babysit” him, they would go to the airport and hit the skies. He learned to fly in an AT-6 and has been a sky writer since he was 18 years old. In 1979, Greg formed Skytypers, Inc. holding the patents and continuing his father’s business legacy.
The Stinis family: a study of commitment to a General Aviation business, innovation, perseverance and fun.
Having both the East and West coast bases, the Skytypers have worked for a variety of clients. Among them Anheuser–Busch, Miller Brewing Company, Coors, Pepsi-Cola, Universal Pictures, Toyota Motors, Disneyland, Coppertone, Solarcaine, Miller Brewing Company, Ford, General Foods, and Geico.
As well they have brought their own type of magic to a variety of prestigious and historic events: The 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles, California, Superbowl games, Macy’s parades and 4th of July celebrations in New York and over the White House. While a successful business, with world-famous clients, I can’t help but wonder about the countless people that they have touched and lit a spark for aviation. All the pilots I talked to said that they get a lot of questions and comments from airshow attendees and the like. The way that the typed letters magically appear in the sky is a head-turner for sure.
In 1989, Greg took the California business to Japan becoming the first US WWII civilian aircraft team to fly and tour Japan. Since then, Skytypers has created several joint ventures throughout the world: South Africa, France, Spain, UAE and the United Kingdom.
Stephen Stinis began formal participation in company operations in 1996, thus making Skytypers an enterprise spanning three generations. In 2004, Stephen and his cousin Curtiss Stinis developed and patented a new digital Skytyping system using multiple computers on a wireless network. The system has the capability to type messages in color, in different languages and some graphics/logos. Stephen received his pilot’s license when he was seventeen years old while working for Skytypers. According to Stephen, “The goals of Skytypers are to help private and public organizations inform and educate people about product and service offerings as well as charity projects and public service measures.”
General Aviation businesses such as Skytypers are a true economic engine for our airports. They have a squadron of AT6 in New York and previous to Chino the West Coast unit was based in Long Beach for thirty-seven years. Not do only aviation businesses pay rent, but they increase tourism, purchase fuel, and are ambassadors for the airport.
The flight of five Grumman Tigers departed Chino on a clear Saturday afternoon. Greg and Stephen Stinis were in Skytyper #1. I flew right seat in #2 with longtime professional pilot Torrey Ward. The other members of the squad were #3 Jim Wilkins, #4 Zackary Bryson, and #5 Tom Sather. I was impressed; start to finish with the pre-flight briefing, pre-flight, run up, communications and in-flight formation from these gentlemen. I had never flown in an airplane with a clear canopy the visibility was awesome. I decided to use my Lightspeed Tango wireless headset and was impressed by its capabilities once again.
We climbed to 11,000 feet and the Skytypers began their work. Our mission took us over downtown San Diego, Sea World, and Coronado. Returning to Orange County we flew up the coast to Huntington Beach over Long Beach, Orange County Airport and back to Chino. The mission lasted a little over two and a half hours. I was thrilled to be able to fly some of the formation from the right seat. Each letter created by the five airplanes is 1250 feet tall, meaning that people in a twenty-mile radius viewed the skywriting. It is amazing to consider upwards of two million people saw the skytyping.
After a fun formation landing we climbed out of the Tigers and de-briefed. A quick scan of Instagram and Twitter yielded not only photos but also video of the Skytypers at work. It is easy to see now that the ideas that Andy Stinis had in the early 40s were brilliant. Add to that the technology available now makes the flights safer and adds greater choices.
From master on to master off the Skytypers acted like professional pilots, yet the amount of fun they had was infectious. It is clear that they have found the golden ticket; their passion is in line with their vocation. The result is art, sky art.
On a personal note I would like to thank the Stinis family and all the Skytypers for the hospitality. I really very much enjoyed being able to fly some of the formation from the right seat. That taste has inspired me to begin my formation training with the Mooney Caravan and will flying the mass arrival to Oshkosh in a few weeks.
Each of the Skytypers asked me what I thought about flying the mission. My answer was the same. “My face hurts from smiling for two and a half hours straight!” Business innovation, ingenuity, perseverance through challenging economic times, inspiring the love of flight, and generating awe with puffs of smoke, the sky is only the beginning for the Skytypers.
Jean Moule last wrote for the Flight Training blog about flying in Hawaii. She is an emerita faculty member of Oregon State University, and a published writer and artist. Visit her website.—Ed.
A big, big milestone birthday approaches. My two-year goal to solo on or near it was dashed by family medical problems that led me to be a caregiver instead of a flight-taker. (My practical daughter suggested that perhaps I should not fly because her father needed me, and what if something happened? I suggested that, well, I could just take him up with me. “That works,” she said.) My husband came in the airplane with me a few times, but he would rather stay at home, as riding in small airplanes makes him airsick.
Weeks passed. Months passed. I have forgotten half of what I learned.
Got…to…get…up in the air…in a small airplane.
My most recent flight instructor agreed to take me up a couple of weeks ago. It was a constant speed propeller plane, one that had extra items to attend to. It had been eight months since I had flown, and it showed. He did most of the work that day. We did do go-arounds to practice landings at a nearby airfield.
Now, a week later, my birthday loomed, and I had to take to the air. Jerry agreed to take me up again.
With the review the week before, some basics had began to come back to me. I certainly feel more comfortable in the left seat of any airplane with a trusty CFI by my side.
My birthday is near Halloween, so scary stuff comes out all the time anyway. Scary it was to have to review so much when I was getting so close to solo nearly two years ago.
Taking a deep breath on a clear, blue morning at our house, I head to the airfield. Only as I get close do I see fog hanging about. Jerry calls. Farther west the fog is so thick he is sure that it is not a flyable day. He wants to know how long I am willing to wait it out for the top of the nearby butte to be visible for the needed ceiling.
It is my birthday; not only do I have all day, but I have arranged for a very special gift from my husband.
You see, we live in a clearing in a forest on a ridge. Eighteen months ago we had 17 100-foot Douglas fir trees cut down. In the winter we now have sun in some windows. Yet there was one tree at the end of a row near our pond that I thought needed to be removed to enhance our view.
“Honey, how about if you cut down that fir tree for my birthday gift while I fly over it?” He rolls his eyes. He agrees.
Earlier in the morning that I am headed to the Lebanon airport for my flight, he had already finished the undercut and started the backside cut. This tree had to come down this day on purpose before the wind came up and it came down on its own. Yes, I would wait until too dark for that fog to clear for my flight over our house.
We wait out the fog. It lifts, and no one was scheduled for that Cessna 172 anyway. We take off and head over to my property. Since it was my special day, I asked Jerry to do as little as possible and just tell me what to do. And we were flying the older, simpler (and cheaper) airplane.
As the airplane approaches our property, my husband cuts the last bit of trunk and sure enough, I see the tree fall while in the air. Certainly a unique event for a seventieth birthday.
I breathe a sigh of relief. I can see that the fallen tree missed the greenhouse and the llama. As we fly away from the property and over the fields, my smartphone lens is now put away and my hands again on the yoke. We take a look at a private grass airstrip and contemplate the steps necessary to land there. Thoughts only, but a future goal, as I already have permission to use that field. Then off through the skies toward the pattern and onto the airfield, keeping that little airplane a foot off the runway as long as possible for my training. Lesson and fun event in the same hour.—Jean Moule
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Do you hear your flight instructor’s voice in your head when you fly? I still hear my CFI John telling me to “look for traffic on the 45,” even though it has been 14 years since John and I flew together, and three years since my airport got a control tower.
It turns out most of us still hear our CFI’s voice when we fly, and our CFIs say a lot. I’ve collected some of the best from the Flight Training Facebook page. Don’t forget to share your CFI’s sayings in the comments.
Takeoffs and landings:
“Watch the runway, your airspeed, the runway, your airspeed, the runway, your airspeed…”—Sergio Rodriguez
“Keep your hand on the throttle during takeoff! And more left (or right) rudder.”—Jeremy Mendoza
“On final, ‘keep the nose down, keep it down, hold it, hold it, don’t flare too early.'”—Daniel Thompson
“Don’t let it touch, don’t let it touch, don’t let it touch”—Janis Horn
“Hold it, hold it”—Nancy Rice
“‘Hold it off, hold it off!’ when landing. And of course, ‘More right rudder!'”—Regina Coker
“More right rudder”—William Fence
“Watch your airspeed, watch your airspeed, watch your airspeed!”—Hicks Dunlap
“Watch your airspeed”—David E. Rowland
“He’s hollering, ‘MORE LEFT RUDDER!’ in a big crosswind landing. Me: IT’S ALL THE WAY TO THE FLOOR! Him: ‘OK THEN THAT’S ENOUGH.'”—Brian McDaniel
“I still hear ‘WATCH YOUR SPEEDS’ every landing.”—Gary Veduccio
“Fly the aircraft to the ground. Keep flying ’til the wheels touch.”—M. James O’Connor
“Hold it off, hold it off, hold it off! (While rounding out over the runway)”—Donnie Beene
“Don’t get flat! Don’t get flat!”—JP Wing
“The right airspeed determines where you land; the wrong airspeed determines where you crash.”—Doug Heun
“Flare!”—Gustavo E. Navarrete
“Don’t let it touch, keep it off, keep it off”—Johnny Ramm
“More back-pressure on the controls during landing”—Nichole Jesse Dyer
“Dance on those rudder pedals!”—Nichole Stacey
“Breathe, please! Did you know you stop breathing between calling finals and landing?”—Anne Hughes
“‘On final, numbers one-third up the windshield and on speed.’ Hasn’t let me down yet.”—Lindsay Petre
“‘Bad horsey, bad horsey’ on final approach and a reminder to keep my feet on the rudder pedals fighting crosswinds.”—Joshua Carroll
“Go arounds are free”—Lisa Osantowski
“Fly every approach expecting to go around. Actually landing should be an unexpected bonus.”—Jay Beckman
“No gorilla grip.”—Nichole Stacey
“Keep a light touch on the yoke, not a death grip!”—Wayne Stiles
“Keep your feet on the pedals, or I’ll start calling you a Piper driver!”—Michael Owens
“Heading, attitude, airspeed, ball in the middle! I teach my students that as well.”—Ron Johnson II
“LOOK OUTSIDE THE AIRPLANE!”—Jason John
“Pretend you don’t have GPS and find your way home.”—Liam Wilson
“Clear right, clear left.”—Jay Phillip
“See that tower? DON’T HIT IT”—Steve Kittel
“Your mind needs to be five minutes ahead of your aircraft; whatever is behind you has already passed.”—Terry Barton
“Keep your head on a swivel.”—Jay Scheick
“When practicing stalls on my own he told me to “just rip that Band-Aid off,” and now I do stalls simply for the thrill of it.”—Tommy Cheman
“Practicing power-on stalls while hanging on the prop with the stall warning horn screaming, ‘Don’t you stall this airplane.'”—Darren Nishimura
“Aviate, navigate, communicate (in that order).”—Scott Jeanes
“Scan for traffic. Then, scan for traffic, and finally, scan for traffic.”—Victor Huerta
“Stay coordinated.”—Karen Atkins
“Keep the ball in the middle.”—Duncan Malloch
“Pull back, houses get smaller.”-–Chad Obenski
“Cram, climb, clean (just a little at a time), communicate.”—Pamela M. Swanson
“Trim it to stay there” and “See, nothing to it!”—Scott Woodland
“Airspeed and attitude are your friends.”—David A. Brown
“When the defecation hits the rotation, fly the plane, fly the plane, fly the plane!”—Ace Adair
“My instructor used to cut power at 6,000 feet and say, ‘Where are you going to land now?'”—Lloyd Stowe
“Multiengine instruction: ‘If you mess it up in an emergency, turn it into a glider.’ Maintain positive control.”—Windtee Aviation Art
“You fly the aircraft; the aircraft doesn’t fly you.”—Norbert Saemann
“It doesn’t fly you, you fly it.”—Nick Reed
“Always be aware of possible emergency landing places in a single engine plane at low altitudes.”—Jarkko Harju
“If you damage my airplane I’m coming after you.”—Frank Mierau, who said he left that instructor shortly thereafter, and we don’t blame him
“Small corrections”—Chris Olin
“Small, soft, constant corrections.”—Guillaume Cholette
“I can still hear [his] voice. ‘Oye mi Yason, what are you doing?’ I say it to myself every ILS. Twice on a CAT II.”—Jason Bullard
“Turn, time, twist, throttle, talk.”—Mike Merill
“There are two types of pilots: one that gets to 400 feet and wonders why the engine stopped; the other pilot gets to 400 feet and wonders why the engine didn’t stop.”—Bradley Lange
“It is better being on the ground wishing you were in the air than being in the air wishing you were on the ground.”—Adrian Pilot
“Airspeed is life, attitude is life insurance.”—Brady Patrick Nicholson
“Never give up.”—Marina Zompanaki
“From my father, who flew in World War II: ‘Always give yourself an out.'”—Tom Harnish
“Little chickens grow up to be old buzzards”—Rob Wahmann
“The three most useless things in aviation: the runway behind you; the altitude above you; the fuel not in the tanks.”—LRod Peterson
“The airplane is the body; the pilot is its soul.”—Ammar Aljabali
“Any landing you can walk away from is a good one. A great one is one in which you can use the airplane again afterwards.”—Doug Heun; Ben-Thomas Cairns;
“Never run out of airspeed, attitude, or ideas”—Bryn Fowd
“It is better being on the ground wishing you were in the air than being in the air wishing you were on the ground.”—Adrian Pilot
“The only time you can have too much fuel is when you’re on fire or overweight.”—Rodney Tuggle
“I actually asked my instructor for some deep, meaningful advice, to which he replied, ‘Uh…don’t die?'”—Ryan Nelson
Thanks to all flight instructors for drilling good practices into your students.—Jill W. Tallman
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My first real aviation boss, who also became one of my instructors as I added ratings, and later a friend with whom I argued feverishly at times. One former girlfriend (and her mother). Two of my students. A small number of my first officers, and only two of the captains I flew with at my first airline, and so far, none at my current one. Only a few of the pilots in my current base, out of a total of nearly 200.
And that pretty much sums up the majority of women I’ve known in aviation. There just haven’t been that many of them. Supposedly, the FAA register of pilots is made up of around 600,000 pilots, depending on how you do the math. Of those, only 30,000 or so—a measly 5 percent—are women. Five percent! That’s an abomination. It’s also a huge marketing opportunity for general aviation, flight schools, et cetera. The ratio at major aviation colleges often isn’t much better.
I have two daughters, and they have grown up with me being a pilot. They have traveled with me (and because of me), and they’ve seen the benefits of aviation, both in the practical sense and as a means of making a living. If I had to buy all the seats we’ve used, my bill would be triple the national debt. They’ve sat in my cockpits and ridden on my flights for fun, out of convenience, and out of necessity. They have both at times talked of following in my footsteps—maybe not to fly for a career, but to take advantage of the opportunities that being able to fly offers. They often don’t understand why more people don’t fly more often.
They’ve also asked me why more women don’t fly. It’s rare enough that they definitely notice when they have a female crew member. When they recently rode on a 747 with a female captain, they thought it was the “coolest thing ever”—but it also made them mad that there aren’t more of women commanding 747s and 380s.
It bothers me, too. The female pilots I’ve flown with have been among the best I’ve flown with, male or female. One of them, who is one of my best friends and can fly circles around most other pilots, is on the short list (four or five) of people I’d like to have in my airplane in the direst of emergencies.
We need women in aviation. It’s hard enough to be involved in an activity of any sort when it is as expensive and time-consuming as flying. If you don’t have the support of the people in your life, it becomes a dream that can quickly die on the vine. For many of us, those people include or spouses, mothers, daughters, and girlfriends. That alone should be reason enough to involve them.
But it’s more than that. Women are more frequently earning more money, and they need a place to spend it, and they need goals to pursue. Why are we not doing more to entice them to learning to fly? They don’t all need to be on the track to be airline pilots or G-V pilots for a Fortune 500 company. They can fly sport planes, or ultralights, or a Cirrus to visit Mom and Dad. We just need to get them to the airport and introduce them to what we already know, and then let them fully embrace it on their own terms.
Two of the best aerobatic pilots in the world are women. One you’ve heard of: Patty Wagstaff, who can do things with a, airplane that would make most of us sick. The other is Katie Higgins, the first woman to fly with the Blue Angels. Women have commanded the space shuttle and spent months on the space station. At small airports, however, too many are relegated to working at the counter, and not enough are flying or working on the airplanes. Oh, I should mention: Two of the best mechanics at my first airline were ladies.
Women I’ve spoken to have told me that they have a few reasons for not flying: If the airlines are the issue, they are conflicted by the schedules and time away from the kids they want to raise. If it’s general aviation, they are often afraid that they will be treated the same way they often are when they need to get their car fixed (ripped off, played for dumb, sexually harassed, and assumed to be out of their element); and they often don’t have a mentor to guide them. Their perceptions may not be accurate, so it’s up to us to prove that those perceptions are wrong, and make them feel welcome.
We can all do more, and we need to. If we had as many female pilots as male pilots, the pilot population would more than double. Think about the opportunity that presents. Think about opportunity, period. As a group, let’s find a way to provide it to the women in our lives that might enjoy aviation, and let’s do it the same way we want it done for ourselves: honestly, respectfully, and with open arms.—Chip Wright