Captain George Nolly

Ready For Takeoff - Turn Your Aviation Passion Into A Career

Turn Your Aviation Passion Into A Career
Ready For Takeoff - Turn Your Aviation Passion Into A Career


The Ready For Takeoff podcast will help you transform your aviation passion into an aviation career. Every week we bring you instruction and interviews with top aviators in their field who reveal their flight path to an exciting career in the skies.


RFT 383: Resilience With General John Borling

Apr 2, 2020 34:08


Major General John Borling shares his thoughts about resilience and dealing with adversity, based on his experiences as a Prisoner of War (POW) in North Vietnam. His views help put our current situation in perspective.

As a POW, he composed (and memorized) poems, which have now been published in his book, Taps on the Walls.

RFT 382: F-35 IP Justin "Hasard" Lee

Mar 30, 2020 22:17


Major Lee has 9 years of experience flying both the F-16 and F-35. In 2016, he was selected as the 'Top Instructor Pilot of the Year' for the Air Force's largest F-16 Combat Wing. In 2017, he returned from Afghanistan where his squadron dropped the most ordnance since the opening days of the war. He's flown 82 combat missions and has 4 Air Medals.

He also hosts a '2019 Top Podcast' called "The Professionals Playbook" where he interviews world-class experts on their keys to success.

Major Lee also speaks on human-performance, decision-making, mental-toughness, and how to debrief.

RFT 381: More Hangar Flying With General John Borling

Mar 26, 2020 09:00


Major General John Borling has flown the f-4, F-16, SR-71, U-2, B-52 and B-2. In this episode, General Borling shares another hangar flying story you're going to love!

RFT 380: Airline Interview Expert Kirsty Ferguson

Mar 23, 2020 21:17


Interview expert Kirsty Ferguson is a dynamic business writer and inspiring interview coach. She was awarded the 2005 Telstra Micro Business Award for her work in Recruitment. In 2000 Kirsty created Pinstripe Solutions solely to support job seekers. She brings a diverse business background in advertising, publishing, recruitment and in a much earlier life as a government employee. Her first client was a 23-year old pilot with zero interview experience who struggled to string a sentence together. His interview was with elite airline, Cathay Pacific. Yes, with her help he got in!  From there she became a specialist in aviation, but quickly expanded the business to support Professionals from diverse industries; Finance, School Leavers, Emergency Services, Government, ADF and Pharmacy candidates, to name a few. Her ability to build confidence, finesse communication skills, develop unforgettable CV’s and propel candidates into the employers spotlight has to be experienced to be believed.

RFT 379: Hangar Flying With General John Borling

Mar 19, 2020 23:47


Major General John Borling has flown the f-4, F-16, SR-71, U-2, B-52 and B-2. In this episode, General Borling shares a hangar flying story you're going to love!

RFT 378: Air Force/Airline Pilot Tom Carlin

Mar 16, 2020 29:38


Tom Carlin started his aviation career as an Air Force navigator, flying KC-135 airborne refueling tanker aircraft. On his own, he obtained a Private Pilot certificate and bought an airplane.


Often, his commander needed tom’s assistance with air transportation issues that oould not be accommodated with Air Force aircraft, and he quickly became the “hero” of the unit. this visibility was instrumental in his getting an assignment to Undergraduate Pilot Training (UPT).


Following UPT, he remained as an Instructor Pilot, then became an Aircraft Commander in the C-141. He had numerous missions that involved air refueling and extended crew duty times, sometimes exceeding 24 hours.


Later, he flew the RC-135, again on extended missions.


After Air Force retirement, he started his airline career with a major airline, and purchased another airplane, this time a retired Air Force T-41 Mescalero trainer. It turns out this is the EXACT airplane your humble podcast host flew as a student pilot in Air Force UPT at Laughlin Air Force Base in 1967!

RFT 377: COVID-19

Mar 12, 2020 11:13


World Health Organization designates COVID-19 a pandemic.


Stock market tanks, enters bear market territory.


Tom Hanks and wife Rita Wilson test positive for COVID-19.


A passenger on a JetBlue flight tested positive for COVID-19, and fellow travelers were not quarantined!


NBA suspends season after one player tests positive.


Schools closing.


Colleges transitioning to online only.


All travel from Europe suspended for 30 days.


Some airlines canceling new-hire classes until Summer.


Unrelated: oil prices tank.

RFT 376: YouTube Star Juan Browne

Mar 9, 2020 35:44


Juan Browne started his flying career as a teenager. He bought his first airplane when he was 15 years old, and has bought and sold dozens of airplanes since.


He earned his A&P license right after graduating high school, then attended college on a ROTC scholarship. After graduation, he was commissioned in the Air Force and attended Undergraduate Pilot Training (UPT) at Williams Air Force Base.


After UPT, Juan became a T-37 Instructor Pilot at Mather Air Force Base. His next assignment was flying the C-141, and he quickly rose to Aircraft Commander, flying all over the world, nonstop using air refueling.


He next flew C-130 aircraft with the Reno Air National Guard, and finally secured a job as an airline pilot.


Juan hosts the Blancolirio YouTube channel, with over 1000 videos uploaded.

RFT 375: B737 Trim System

Mar 5, 2020 07:08


The B737 has an interesting stabilizer trim system, which operates at four different speeds.


Main Electric Trim

   Flaps Up: .2 units per second

   Flaps Down: .4 units per second

   Autopilot Trim

   Flaps Up: .09 units per second

   Flaps Down: .27 units per second


On the -300 and later models, there is a system called Speed Trim, which provides trim inputs during low speed operations with low gross weight, and aft center of gravity. It is most frequently observed during takeoffs and go-arounds. Conditions for the system to operate are:


  Airspeed 100-300 KIAS


10 seconds after liftoff


  5 seconds following release of trim switches


  N1 above 60%


  Autopilot not on


  Sensing of trim requirement

RFT 374: F-16 Pilot Christina "Thumper" Hopper

Feb 29, 2020 22:06


Christina “Thumper” Hopper grew up in an Air Force family where both of her parents enlisted and served.  Her parents’ interracial marriage encountered harsh discrimination and Thumper experienced the demoralizing effects of racism on her first day of kindergarten. The shame and rejection she felt from this left a mark on her life that forever changed her.  She could have become bitter, depressed, and victimized, but instead through the wisdom, support and love of her parents, she developed a deep faith in God and the power of love, joy and purpose to overcome great obstacles.  

When the opportunity to fly combat fighter aircraft opened for women, Thumper was in college.  She had never considered an aviation career and didn’t think it was an option for her, but her ROTC Commander encouraged her to apply for a pilot slot.  After having a vivid dream about flying, Thumper took a step of faith and applied to pilot training where she earned an assignment to the F-16 Fighting Falcon and blazed a historic trail for women in aviation. She was among the first generation of women in fighters, one of only two black female fighter pilots in the Air Force, the first black female fighter pilot in a major war and the first black female fighter instructor pilot.  She served in combat during Operation Iraqi Freedom and earned 4 Air Medals. Her story appeared in multiple media venues including the Harry Connick Jr. Show, 700 Club, and Good Housekeeping, Glamour, and Ebony magazines. She was also featured in Family Circle magazine as one of the Top 20 Most Influential Moms of 2018.  

Sport also played a huge role in shaping Thumper’s life.  At a young age, she took up competitive swimming and developed a strong sense of self worth, drive and discipline through competition.  Her success in swimming enabled her to compete at the collegiate level and set the stage for her ongoing competitive endeavors. After having three children, Thumper took up long distance running and triathlon at age 34.  She completed the Boston marathon twice, conquered IRONMAN Kona and the half-IRONMAN World Championships, and she currently competes as part of the Air Force triathlon team.  Through sport, Thumper learned to do hard things, overcome adversity, and make “impossible” things possible. 

Today, Thumper continues to inspire the next generation of fighter pilots as a Reserve T-38 Instructor Pilot.  She also flies for a major airline and raises three beautiful children with her husband Aaron, a retired Air Force F-16 pilot and airline pilot.  Doing hard things pervades every aspect of the Hoppers lives including their efforts to balance work, life, sport and giving back to the community.  

She also volunteers for Sisters of the Skies.

RFT 373: Recline Gate

Feb 27, 2020 10:23


From CNN Travel:


A woman who's become an icon in the debate over whether it's OK to recline your airplane seat said she was "scared to death" by how a flight attendant handled her painful ordeal.Wendi Williams, who said she's a teacher in Virginia Beach, tweeted footage of a man repeatedly hitting the back of her reclined seat with his fist during an American Airlines flight in January.But what viewers saw in the video wasn't even the worst of it, Williams told CNN's "New Day.” A passenger filmed a man repeatedly pushing her reclined seat with his fist. Who's wrong here? Before she started shooting, the man behind her "started punching me in the back, hard," Williams said Tuesday."I tried to get the flight attendants' attention. They were not paying attention, so I started videoing him. That was the only thing that I could think of to get him to stop."Earlier in the flight from New Orleans to Charlotte, Williams said the man behind her asked "with an attitude" to return her seat to the upright position so he could eat from the tray table, she said.She obliged and moved her seat back up. But when the man was done eating, Williams said she reclined her seat once again.That's when he started "hammering away," she said. "He was angry that I reclined my seat and punched it about 9 times - HARD," Williams tweeted.


She also tweeted that she was injured, and that the incident caused pain."I have 1 cervical disk left that isn't fused," she wrote."I've lost time at work, had to visit a doctor, got X-rays, and have has [sic] horrible headaches for a week."After she started filming the man, "he did stop punching as hard," she told CNN. "So it did work to a certain degree."But Williams said she was stunned by what happened when she tried to get a flight attendant to help.She said she tried to alert a flight attendant as soon as the punching started. But the employee "rolled her eyes" at Williams and offered the man she accused of hitting her seat some complimentary rum, Williams tweeted.The great reclining debate: Is it OK to push your seat back?After that, the flight attendant handed her a stern form letter, titled "Passenger Disturbance Notice.""Notice: YOUR BEHAVIOR MAY BE IN VIOLATION OF FEDERAL LAW," the letter reads."You should immediately cease if you wish to avoid prosecution and your removal from this aircraft at the next point of arrival.""It was shocking," Williams told CNN."I think the more calm I remained, (the flight attendant) got angrier and more aggravated. So she said, 'I'm not talking to you anymore. I'm done with you,' or 'I'm done with this,' something to that effect, and then handed me this passenger disturbance notice."After that, the flight attendant told her, "'I will have you escorted off the plane if you say anything else. Delete the video,'" Williams said. "And I was scared to death."She said she's looking into possible legal action.In a statement to CNN, American Airlines said it was aware of the January 31 "customer dispute" aboard American Eagle flight 4392, operated by Republic Airways. "The safety and comfort of our customers and team members is our top priority, and our team is looking into the issue," American said. Airline passengers are entitled to "fly rights," outlined by the US Department of Transportation, when they buy a plane ticket. Those ensure airlines will do things like provide passengers with water when delayed on the tarmac or, if overbooked, ask passengers for volunteers before others are bumped off involuntarily.But comfort and personal space are not among those rights.Air travel dos and don'ts are wildly divisive and regularly broken. Everything from who has ownership over the armrest (etiquette experts told CNN in 2014 the passenger in the middle seat gets both) to which animals qualify as "emotional support" creatures (a new federal proposal would ban ESAs like peacocks, potbelly pigs and iguanas from flights) have ignited fierce debate.Still, there's an expectation that when you fly, you'll respect other passengers and make the best of your cramped surroundings.Punching the back of a passenger's seat is impolite, according to many of the people who responded on Williams' Twitter feed. But was Williams in the wrong, too, for encroaching on the man's already limited personal space?Lilit Marcus, CNN Travel's Hong Kong-based editor, wrote in November that reclining should be reserved for "special occasions.""Reclining is a way of asserting that your travel needs, and only yours, matter," she wrote. "People are fine with doing it, but no one likes it when it happens to them.”


Delta CEO gives advice on seat reclining. Several of them told CNN in December that reclining is rude, particularly for passengers seated in economy class who already have restricted leg room. One reader said that because of her body type, if the passenger in front of her reclines their seat, she loses the ability to use the tray table to work while flying. Even Delta Air Lines' CEO has weighed in. In April 2019, Delta retrofitted many of its jets to reduce how far the coach and first-class seats could recline. A spokeswoman told CNN it was part of the airline's "continued efforts to make the in-flight experience more enjoyable." "It's all about protecting customers' personal space and minimizing disruptions to multitasking in-flight," the spokesperson said at the time. In an appearance on CNBC, company CEO Ed Bastian said while he doesn't recline his seat in the sky, people should have the right to -- as long as they ask permission."If you're going to recline into somebody, you ask if it's OK first," Bastian said. "I never recline, because I don't think it's something as CEO I should be doing, and I never say anything if someone reclines into me."

RFT 372: B-2 Pilot Ltc. Nicky Polidor

Feb 24, 2020 24:38


From Pasadena Now:


United States Air Force Lt. Col. Nicola “Rogue” Polidor makes history in Pasadena on New Year’s Day as the first female pilot ever to fly the B2 Stealth bomber over the opening of the Rose Parade. The 8:03 a.m. B-2 flyover kicks off the Parade and Pasadena’s first day of a new decade.




Polidor told Pasadena Now she and her crew “are honored to conduct these flyovers and we will remember it for the rest of our lives.”

Her career achievements embody the theme of the 2020 Rose Parade, “Power of Hope.”

The B-2 flyover has become a 15-year annual highlight as the Rose Parade steps off. This year’s 8 a.m. “Opening Spectacular” performance featuring Latin Grammy winner Ally Brooke of Fifth Harmony, and Puerto Rican singer-songwriter Farruko, along with 19-time Grammy winner Emilio Estefan and the Chino Hills High School drumline, will be followed by the flyover.

The 509th Bomb Wing, based at Whiteman Air Force Base in Missouri, announced Polidor will be piloting the B-2 with Maj. Justin “Rocky” Spencer.



Chelsea Ecklebe, Chief of Command Information said, the B-2 takes off from Whiteman and flies over Pasadena twice today, once for the parade at 8:03 a.m. and then at 2:04 p.m. for the game.

“We will fly the B-2 for a 13-hour mission in order to conduct the two flyovers,” Ecklebe confirmed.

A California native, Polidor, who goes by the call sign “Rogue,” became an aviator in 2004 a few months after graduating from the U.S. Air Force Academy. In 2011, she became the sixth woman to pilot the B-2 bomber, the world’s most advanced aircraft.

Polidor recalled that she wanted to fly since she was a little girl. When she was 12 years old, her and her mother toured Edwards Air Force Base.

“I was captivated when I saw the SR-71. It was such a unique airplane that represented technology and speed. When the B-2 was designed it was on the cutting edge of technology. It is very exciting to be part of a team that combines that with combat capabilities at the tip of the spear.”

Polidor started taking a serious interest in flying as a teenager, and had hundreds of magazine cutouts taped all over her bedroom walls – not of boy bands or heartthrobs from popular TV shows, but of airplanes!

She had pictures of small, big, commercial, military, all types of aircraft, she recalls.

“The fast, elusive military jets really captivated me,” she said in a profile statement released by her unit.

She actually started flying lessons at 14, and was soon flying a Cessna, taking instructions from a Finnish woman who was an Alaskan bush pilot by trade.

“She had a profound influence on me,” Polidor says. “I’ll never forget being able to solo a Cessna because of her guidance. The fact that she was a female, professional pilot, especially given her generation, was an unspoken, subtle inspiration that I could do anything I wanted.”

Throughout the B-2 bomber’s 30-year history, only 498 pilots have qualified to fly the long-range stealth aircraft. Only 10 of those pilots have been female, from the first, retired Lt. Col. Jennifer “Wonder” Avery, who was the 278th pilot to qualify and the only female to have flown the stealth bomber in combat, to Capt. Lauren Kram, who graduated from Initial Qualification Training in October.

Lt. Col. Polidor is currently Commander of Detachment 5, 29th Training Systems Squadron at Whiteman AFB. Three other women who are B-2 pilots are assigned to the 393rd Bomb Squadron at Whiteman, making this the highest number of female B-2 pilots that have been assigned to Whiteman AFB at one time.

There are several ways to become a B-2 pilot, Polidor pointed out, but generally speaking, it takes about 2 years to qualify in the B-2, including Air Force pilot training, Whiteman T-38 training, and B-2 initial qualification training.

Every B-2 pilot is a graduate of a rigorous six-month training program. The Initial Qualification Training program includes 266 hours of academics, 30 exams, 46 simulator missions and 10 flights in the B-2 Spirit. After graduation, the newly minted stealth pilots continue with Mission Qualification Training, a program designed to train aviators in tactically employing the aircraft.

When she first began flying, Nicky Polidor said she just tried to fit in. Today, she is treated like any other pilot, but she is more aware of workforce dynamics and the role gender plays when it comes to policies, pay and retention.

“I am encouraged to think that society is evolving, and one day soon the reaction to me saying, ‘I fly the B2’ isn’t ‘They let women do that?!’ anymore,” Polidor said.

Aside from the B-2 bomber, Polidor has also flown the DA-20 light aircraft while training at the Air Force Academy, and later the T-37 and T-38 jets. She has also flown the B-52 Stratofortress at the time she was assigned to the 96th Bomb Squadron at Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana. Not including her cadet training time, Polidor has accumulated over 1,500 flying hours among these different aircraft types.

Looking towards the future, Polidor said, “I am personally very interested in space flight and working at JPL would be wonderful!”

In 2015, Lt. Col. Polidor was selected as an Olmsted Scholar where she earned a Master of Social Sciences in China and Asia Pacific Studies in Kaohsiung, Taiwan. In her last assignment, she served as Chief of Safety for the 509th Bomb Wing at Whiteman AFB.

When Polidor’s B-2 flies over the Rose Parade and the Rose Bowl Game, a team of officers from the Pasadena Police Department’s Air Operations Unit coordinate with the pilots and the U.S. Air Force ground crew to make sure communications are working and the airspace above the parade and the game is “de-conflicted,” meaning the space is clear from all other aircraft.

“This has been the procedure for several years,” Pasadena Police Lt. Bill Grisafe said. “Additionally, a Temporary Flight Restriction (TFR) has been put into place above both events so as to assist in securing the airspace.”

Speaking during the International Women’s Day celebration on March 8, Nicky Polidor said:

“What I would like to pass on to my daughter is that she can accomplish anything she sets her mind to, much like my mother taught me. My children see both of their parents put on flight suits every day and go to work. I want them to grow up in a world where that is normal and that they can accomplish whatever they strive for.”

RFT 371: Cost Index

Feb 21, 2020 05:09


The CI is the ratio of the time-related cost of an airplane operation and the cost of fuel. The value of the CI reflects the relative effects of fuel cost on overall trip cost as compared to time-related direct operating costs. In equation form: CI = Time cost ~ $/hr Fuel cost ~ cents/lb.. The flight crew enters the company calculated CI into the control display unit (CDU) of the FMC. The FMC then uses this number and other performance parameters to calculate economy (ECON) climb, cruise, and descent speeds. For all models, entering zero for the CI results in maximum range airspeed and minimum trip fuel. This speed schedule ignores the cost of time. Conversely, if the maximum value for CI is entered, the FMC uses a minimum time speed schedule. This speed schedule calls for maximum flight envelope speeds, and ignores the cost of fuel.


In practice, neither of the extreme CI values is used; instead, many operators use values based on their specific cost structure, modified if necessary for individual route requirements. As a result, CI will typically vary among models, and may also vary for individual routes. Clearly, a low CI should be used when fuel costs are high compared to other operating costs. The FMC calculates coordinated ECON climb, cruise, and descent speeds from the entered CI. To comply with Air Traffic Control require­ments, the airspeed used during descent tends to be the most restricted of the three flight phases. The descent may be planned at ECON Mach/Calibrated Air Speed (CAS) (based on the CI) or a manually entered Mach/CAS. Vertical Navigation (VNAV) limits the maximum target speed as follows: n 737-300/-400/-500/-600/-700/-800/-900: The maximum airspeed is velocity maximum operating/Mach maximum operating (VMO/MMO) (340 CAS/.82 Mach). The FMC-generated speed targets are limited to 330 CAS in descent to provide margins to VMO. The VMO value of 340 CAS may be entered by the pilot to eliminate this margin. n 747-400: 349 knots (VMO/MMO minus 16 knots) or a pilot-entered speed greater than 354 knots (VMO/MMO minus 11 knots). n 757: 334 knots (VMO/MMO minus 16 knots) or a pilot-entered speed greater than 339 knots (VMO/MMO minus 11 knots). n 767: 344 knots (VMO/MMO minus 16 knots) or a pilot-entered speed greater than 349 knots (VMO/MMO minus 11 knots). n 777: 314 knots (VMO/MMO minus 16 knots) or a pilot-entered speed greater than 319 knots (VMO/MMO minus 11 knots). FMCs also limit target speeds appropriately for initial buffet and limit thrust. Figure 3 illustrates the values for a typical 757 flight. Factors Affecting Cost index As stated earlier, entering a CI of zero in the FMC and flying that profile would result in a minimum fuel flight and entering a maximum CI in the FMC and flying that profile would result in a minimum time flight. However, in practice, the CI used by an operator for a particular flight falls within these two extremes. Factors affecting the CI include timerelated direct operating costs and fuel costs.


The numerator of the CI is often called time-related direct operating cost (minus the cost of fuel). Items such as flight crew wages can have an hourly cost associated with them, or they may be a fixed cost and have no variation with flying time. Engines, auxiliary power units, and airplanes can be leased by the hour or owned, and maintenance costs can be accounted for on airplanes by the hour, by the calendar, or by cycles. As a result, each of these items may have a direct hourly cost or a fixed cost over a calendar period with limited or no correlation to flying time. In the case of high direct time costs, the airline may choose to use a larger CI to minimize time and thus cost. In the case where most costs are fixed, the CI is potentially very low because the airline is primarily trying to minimize fuel cost. Pilots can easily understand minimizing fuel consumption, but it is more difficult to understand minimizing cost when something other than fuel dominates.


The cost of fuel is the denominator of the CI ratio. Although this seems straightforward, issues such as highly variable fuel prices among the operating locations, fuel tankering, and fuel hedging can make this calculation complicated. A recent evaluation at an airline yielded some very interesting results. A rigorous study was made of the optimal CI for the 737 and MD-80 fleets for this par­ticular operator. The optimal CI was determined to be 12 for all 737 models, and 22 for the MD-80. The potential annual savings to the airline of changing the CI is between US$4 million and $5 million a year with a negligible effect on schedule.


CI can be an extremely useful way to manage operating costs. Because CI is a function of both fuel and nonfuel costs, it is important to use it appropriately to gain the greatest benefit. Appro­priate use varies with each airline, and perhaps for each flight. Boeing Flight Operations Engineering assists airlines’ flight operations departments in computing an accurate CI that will enable them to minimize costs on their routes. 

RFT 370: Captain Charlie Plumb

Feb 17, 2020 43:59


Captain Charlie Plumb has lived what he believes to be the American Dream. As a farm kid from Kansas, he fantasized about airplanes, although he felt certain he would never have the opportunity to pilot one. It would be the United States Navy who afforded Plumb the opportunity to live out that dream.

After graduating from the Naval Academy, Plumb completed Navy Flight Training and reported to Miramar Naval Air Station in San Diego where he flew the first adversarial flights in the development of what would be called The Navy Fighter Weapons School, currently known as “TOP GUN.” The next year, Plumb’s squadron the Aardvarks launched on the Aircraft Carrier USS Kitty Hawk with Fighter Squadron 114 to fly the Navy’s hottest airplane, the F-4 Phantom Jet. Code named “Plumber,” Charlie Plumb flew 74 successful combat missions over North Vietnam and made over 100 carrier landings.

On his 75th mission, just five days before the end of his tour, Plumb was shot down over Hanoi, taken prisoner, tortured, and spent the next 2,103 days in an 8-by-8 foot cell as a Prisoner Of War. During his nearly six years of captivity, Plumb distinguished himself as a pro in underground communications. He was a great inspiration to all the other POWs and served as chaplain for two years.

Following his repatriation, Plumb continued his Navy flying career in Reserve Squadrons where he flew A-4 Sky Hawks, A-7 Corsairs and FA-18 Hornets. His last two commands as a Naval Reservist were on the Aircraft Carrier Corral Sea and at a Fighter Air Wing in California. He retired from the United States Navy after 28 years of service.

Since his return home, Plumb has captivated more than 5,000 audiences in almost every industry around the world with stories that parallel his POW experience with the challenges of everyday life.

To this day, Captain Plumb continues to fly left seat at every opportunity. The most treasured plane he owns and flies is a WWII PT-19 Open-Cockpit antique which is currently on loan to the Commemorative Airforce Museum in Camarillo, CA. He also owns a Rutan-designed experimental single-engine Long-Eze.

RFT 369: Fate Is (still) The Hunter

Feb 13, 2020 06:57


Be sure to listen in on my interview on the 21Five Podcast!

On two separate recent occasions, A-350 aircraft have experienced engine failures following liquid spills on the cockpit pedestal. In another case, an aircraft had to divert from an oceanic flight due to a liquid spill.

This is not a new problem. It was described in Ernest K. Gann's novel Fate Is The Hunter, and dramatized in the 1964 movie of the same name (below).

I experienced a similar situation when I was a B737-200 First Officer. The flight attendant brought up two cups of coffee on a night flight to New Orleans, and handed them to us over the pedestal. I carefully carried my cup to the cup-holder next to the sliding window. The Captain was not so lucky. As he turned to thank the flight attendant, he spilled the entire cup of coffee onto the pedestal. The flight attendant brought up some napkins, and we dried up the mess.

A few minutes later, the number one VHF navigation receiver failed. We were in instrument conditions, and fortunately the other navigation receiver continued to operate.

Back then, cockpit cups were not provided with lids. Today they are.

To avoid cockpit spills, adhere to some common-sense rules:

Instruct flight attendants to always put lids on cups.

Instruct flight attendants to never pass liquids over the pedestal or any "glass cockpit" controls.

Secure all beverages away from instruments during periods of turbulence.

RFT 368: First Female F-16 Pilot/Airline Pilot Sharon Preszler

Feb 10, 2020 34:42


Sharon “Betty” Preszler was hand-picked as one member of the initial cadre of women fighter pilots in the United Stated Air Force.  She was the first woman to fly the F-16 (a single seat, single engine fighter), the first woman to fly combat missions and instruct in the F-16.  Betty has over 1300 hours in the F-16, including over 50 combat hours in Iraq and one ejection, due to electrical failure. In her 20+ years of service in the US Air Force she was also a navigator, piloted a Lear Jet, and spent time in North American Aerospace Defense Command writing our homeland defense plans after the terrorist attacks on 9/11, plans that are still in use today.  

After retiring from the Air Force, Betty went to work for Southwest Airlines, where she has flown over 8,000 hours in a Boeing-737.  When she isn’t flying, Betty is traveling or scuba diving with her husband and son, volunteering at a local animal shelter, or hanging out at home with her two dogs.

RFT 367: Corona Virus

Feb 7, 2020 06:47


Corona Virus is affecting expat employment. Cathay Pacific airlines is asking 27,000 employees to take up to three weeks of unpaid leave.

In the mean-time, 10,000 Americans have died from influenza this season.

With Corona Virus captivating the news, it's worth taking a look at travel health.

Whether you're traveling to Asia (where most cases of Corona Virus currently are reported) or some other part of the world, including domestic, you should take reasonable precautions to safeguard your health while traveling.

Buy some alcohol wipes. You can buy a 4-pack of 80-count Lysol wipes for $15. If you want individually-packed wipes, you can buy 16-count alcohol wipe packs for $1 each at DollarTree!

When you travel, wipe down everything you touch! On the airplane, that means the seat belt buckle, the arm rests, the tray table, the air vent, the safety information card, the magazines in the seat pocket, everything!

Don't shake hands with anyone - use a "knuckle-bump" instead.

When you get to your hotel, wipe down everything in your room: the telephone, the remote control, the toilet flush handle, all surfaces, and all items you plan to hold.

RFT 366: Colonel Walter Watson

Feb 3, 2020 41:33


Colonel Walter Watson USAF (Retired) was born in Columbia, South Carolina. He is the oldest of four children of the late Walter L. Watson, Sr. and Mildred Platt Watson. He attended public schools in Richland School District One and graduated from C. A. Johnson High School and Howard University in Washington, DC. At Howard, he earned a Mechanical Engineering degree and commission as an Air Force Officer via the ROTC program. Colonel Watson is the Senior Aerospace Science Instructor (SASI) of the C. A. Johnson Preparatory ROTC unit (SC-065).

He entered the Air Force as an avionics maintenance officer. However, in 1973, he was selected for aviation training. This began a journey on a very diverse and distinguished flying career in the Air Force. He became a flight instructor, flight examiner, and flight commander in tactical fighter and strategic reconnaissance squadrons that flew F-4C/D/E, F-111D, and SR-71 aircraft. Colonel Watson’s distinctive and unique aviation accomplishment is that he was the first and only African American to qualify as a crew member in the SR-71, a super secret aircraft that set altitude and speed records that still stand today. The SR-71 routinely cruised at altitudes in excess of 80,000 feet at speeds over Mach 3 (2,100 mph).

After his flying career, he continued to impact the Air Force in officer production and training. As Commander and Professor of Aerospace Studies at North Carolina A&T State University, his leadership helped his unit to achieve the following production milestones: 1) 20% of all African American Second Lieutenant pilots, 2) 50% of all African American Second Lieutenant navigators, and 3) 25% of African American female commissionees in 1993.

These accomplishments led to assignments to a number of leadership positions at HQ Air Force Reserve Officers Training Corps (AFROTC at Maxwell AFB, AL). As the Chief of the AFROTC Scholarship branch, he supervised all scholarships for over 5,000 students across the nation with a budget exceeding $22 million annually.

While at Maxwell AFB, Colonel Watson was a key decision-maker for Air Force relations with the Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCO). He created scholarships aimed specially for HBCUs Science Instuctor (SASI). In 1999 Colonel Watson developed a student award program for the Tuskegee Airmen Inc. The Tuskegee Airmen Inc award recognizes superior student performance for AFJROTC cadets and impacts 744 AFJROTC unitsand 104,000 students aroung the globe. In 1998 Colonel Watson was selected Teacher of the Year for C. A. Johnson Preparatory Academy. Additionally he was twice designated by Headquarters Air Force JROTC as an Outstanding Instructor (1998-1999 and 2001-2002). The Columbia Housing Authority selected him for the Wall of Fame induction in April of 2003 because of his distinguished military service and sustained contributions to his community. In August 2003, the Tuskegee Airmen, Inc. awarded him their highest award, the Noel F. Parrish Award. This award recognizes outstanding endeavors to enhance access to knowledge, skills, and opportunities.

In addition to his Howard University engineering degree, Colonel Watson holds a Masters degree from Chapman College of Orange, CA, in Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management. He is married to Joice P. Middleton Watson. They have a daughter, Major (Select) Alexandria R. Watson, son, Walter III, and a grandson, Isaiah S. Watson.

Colonel Watson has received numerous awards, including the Meritorious Service Medal with two oak leaf clusters, Air Force Commendation Medal, Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal with two oak leaf clusters, Humanitarian Service Medal with one oak leaf cluster, and the Legion of Merit Medal.


Hamfist Over The Trail Sample

Jan 30, 2020 03:39


RFT 364: David Hale, Executive Director of

Jan 27, 2020 17:18


Executive Director David Hale has over 20 years of experience in aviation and aerospace medicine.  He is an exercise physiologist, commercial pilot, licensed skydiver and he has served as a member of several aviation advocacy organizations including: the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA), the Aircraft Owners and Pilots (AOPA) and the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA).

David Hale received his undergraduate degree at the University of Oklahoma and accomplished his internship with Carolina’s Medical Center in Charlotte North Carolina. He completed post-graduate studies and certification with the American College of Sports Medicine. He served as an Exercise Physiologist in the cardiology department at Cedars Sinai Medical Center in Beverly Hills, California, and as a Registered Physical Testing and Evaluation Specialist for the California Department of Justice. He has completed extensive aeromedical training including ongoing training provided by the Aerospace Medical Association, The Civil Aviation Medical Association and the FAA. He has attended several basic and advanced courses such as the HIMS Basic & Advanced training for those who evaluate, supervise or sponsor airmen who are in chemical dependency or on antidepressants.

David Hale is a corporate member of the Civil Aviation Medical Association. He is a committee member of the Aerospace Medical Association, served on the advisory board for Spartan School of Aeronautics and he is a contributing author to several publications including: Aviation, Space, and Environmental Medicine, The Federal Air Surgeons Medical Bulletin and Twin and Turbine Magazine.

RFT 363: Holding Out

Jan 23, 2020 07:26


The FAA sent a letter on December 17 warning charter broker BlackBird Air that pilots using the company’s online platform and app to fly passengers under Part 91 “are holding out and thus are engaged in common carriage.” The agency said it is planning to investigate BlackBird’s activities and possibly also pilots flying for BlackBird. In response, BlackBird has “paused” this feature of its offerings.


San Francisco-based BlackBird Air is primarily a charter broker, but also offers customers the option to hire a commercial pilot and lease an airplane to travel to a destination, all under Part 91. According to Crunchbase, BlackBird has raised $15 million in venture capital funding. BlackBird’s website homepage advertises: “Defy Gravity. Rent a plane and go anywhere. How it works: BlackBird helps you fly over traffic by connecting you with planes and pilots, bringing you true freedom of flight.”


The FAA doesn’t agree with BlackBird that this kind of operation is not a charter, and it said that the company and/or pilots must obtain a Part 119 certificate to transport people or property for hire or compensation.


According to an FAA spokesman, “We haven’t taken actions in relation to BlackBird per se, but we alerted pilots that they could be violating the regulations if they’re not operating under a certificate issued under Part 119.”


In the letter sent to BlackBird attorney Roy Goldberg, the agency’s Office of the Chief Counsel, Enforcement Division made a case that BlackBird’s pilot-hire and airplane-lease operation under Part 91 fits all the criteria that make an operation subject to requiring a Part 119 certificate and operating under Part 135 charter regulations.


For its part, BlackBird had sent a letter on June 10 to the FAA outlining its business plan, explaining that it facilitates its customers with “leasing an aircraft and…separately hiring a commercial pilot to fly the aircraft the user has leased.” Because, BlackBird wrote, it doesn’t “own, manage, or maintain the aircraft and does not employ pilots…” and the customer selects the aircraft and pilot separately, “operational control of the aircraft remains with the user at all times.” In the FAA letter, the agency wrote that “BlackBird represents that it only facilitates the agreements, processes payments, and provides customer support to all three parties (user, i.e., person leasing the aircraft and hiring the pilot; pilot; and aircraft lessee).”


According to the FAA, BlackBird, itself, outlined the agency's criteria for determining whether an operator must hold Part 119 certification. From the December 17 FAA letter: “As BlackBird noted in its [June 10] letter, to determine whether common carriage is present, the FAA assesses whether there is: (1) a holding out of a willingness to (2) transport persons or property (3) from place to place (4) for compensation.”


The FAA explained that BlackBird easily met the last three criteria, but “holding out” was subject to more discussion. The FAA letter went on: “We have little trouble concluding that the pilots listed on BlackBird’s pilot database selected by the user are transporting persons or property, from place to place, for compensation. Despite BlackBird’s assertion that the pilots are not transporting persons or property, it is clear that they are being hired for that very purpose. In addition, as BlackBird concedes, the pilots are being compensated for the flight service (whether the money comes directly from the lessee or through the BlackBird platform). That leaves only the issue of holding out.”


That BlackBird and its pilots are holding out is supported, the FAA claimed, by two legal interpretations involving aviation ride-sharing providers AirPooler and FlyteNow.


Essentially, because BlackBird’s online and app platform is available to anyone and pilots on the platform [from the FAA letter] “are available and willing to transport passengers who solicit pilot services through the platform…A pilot's participation in the BlackBird platform amounts to holding out a willingness to transport persons from place to place for compensation and requires certification under part 119 prior to conducting the operation.”


BlackBird doesn’t agree with the FAA’s interpretation. In its June 10 letter, the company had explained its operation thusly: “[u]nlike air carriers, BlackBird is not building an operation based on crews, aircraft, or routes. BlackBird is building an infrastructure that supports all of general aviation, which includes air carriers and operators." In the December 17 letter, the FAA elaborated, "BlackBird manages two databases: one for aircraft available for lease and a second one for commercial pilots (described as ‘independent person[s] with a specific skill set [pilot]).’ BlackBird uses the databases as part of a marketplace service that serves as an aggregator of information and connects third-party service providers (the pilots) with users seeking to charter an aircraft or purchase a ticket on a direct air carrier. BlackBird asserts, ‘the ultimate business goal is to create an online platform that surfaces the many options available to users; [and] NOT to provide air transportation.’”


Asked about the FAA’s warning in the December 17 letter, BlackBird founder and CEO Rudd Davis told AIN that the company is pausing its Part 91 pilot-hire, airplane-lease operations. Davis sent this statement to  AIN: “We disagree with the FAA’s interpretation and look forward to continued discussions on this topic, given that their guidance isn’t law. BlackBird is the largest digital aviation marketplace in the world and the one place travelers can find and instantly book all private flight options. [Part] 91 operations are the minority of our business and for the moment we will pause that aspect of the marketplace and continue to provide charter flights and individual seats on private [Part 135] aircraft.”


The National Air Transportation Association has focused increasingly on the illegal charter issue, and NATA COO Timothy Obitts sent this statement to AIN: “We thank the Federal Aviation Administration’s Office of General Counsel, Enforcement Division for the well thought out and articulate letter to BlackBird Air regarding non-part 135 operators' use of their platform. This letter is clear guidance from the FAA and confirms NATA’s understanding of the regulations. We hope that pilots pay heed to the FAA’s guidance. NATA, along with its Illegal Charter Task Force, will continue to work with the FAA on this very important safety issue.”


The FAA letter concluded that BlackBird pilots are holding out and “engaged in common carriage. Because these operations are subject to Part 119 certification, a pilot who holds an airline transport pilot or commercial pilot certificate must obtain and hold a certificate issued under part 135 or the pilot must be employed by a company operating the flight that is certificated under part 119. Accordingly, please expect further investigative activity into BlackBird's operations, particularly regarding its pilot database. In addition, we would be interested in learning of any action you intend to take in view of the jeopardy facing pilots who participate in BlackBird’s service.”


The BlackBird website no longer promotes the original pilot-hire, airplane-lease concept and now offers potential customers the opportunity to book flights with certified Part 135 providers, to “... fly over traffic by connecting you with charter operators.”

RFT 362: Laser Protection with Dr. George Palikaras

Jan 20, 2020 21:40


Laser attacks against aircraft are a major problem. There were over 7000 laser strikes against aircraft in the past year. Increasing the threat is the easy availability of hand-held lasers and the increased power of modern lasers.

Laser strikes have the potential to distract and blind pilots, and a solution is essential to aviation safety.

Dr. George Palikaras is a scientist who saw the need to protect pilots' eyes from laser illumination. His company, Metameterial Technologies, has developed a solution, and protection is available now.

RFT 361: One Door Closes...

Jan 16, 2020 07:30


There's a famous expression, "When one door closes, another one opens". That's certainly been my experience, although it didn't always look rosy when I was in the middle of a situation.

I was furloughed from United on April 1, 1981 (April Fool's Day). It was just after midnight, and I turned in my cockpit key, my company ID, and my flight manuals, and I was unemployed. Job prospects were miserable. The only pilots who had gotten work were the ones who were furloughed first. We had to sell our home, and moved out on our wedding anniversary. It was tough. A door had closed.

Through networking, I had gotten in touch with another furloughed pilot and heard that Lockheed was hiring. I interviewed and was hired for a job no one could tell me about until I had a security clearance. So I dutifully went into work every day and sat in a processing office waiting for my security clearance to come through. And I waited. Although I was getting paid - about the same as what I made at United - I hated the one-hour drive in California traffic, and I missed flying.

One day I came across an article in the Air Force Times about the Palace Recall Program, and I called the number listed. I told the person that I had left the Air Force almost four years earlier, and I was interested in geetting back in. He said, "You're not going to get in unless you're a fighter pilot". I said I was, and he let me apply. A total of 246 officers applied for the program, and 13 were accepted. I was one of them.

I ended up flying for the entire time I was furloughed, earned the Tactical Air Command Instructor Pilot of the Year Award, and eventually became a Squadron Commander. It was great, and it wouldn't have happened if I hadn't been furloughed. A door had opened.

I've found this "door closes-door opens" numerous times in my career.

RFT 360: Airline Pilot Guy Captain Dana

Jan 13, 2020 39:02


Hello APG fans! I am Captain Dana and would like to share a bit of my background with all of you. My first logged flight was on my seventeenth birthday in August 1987. Ever since I can remember as a child I always loved airplanes and flying. I graduated with my degree in aviation management from a small college in southeastern Massachusetts with a fairly large aviation program. While going to school I was hired by ACME JR in Boston as a customer service agent, eventually moving up to a supervisory role. Then I was offered a position with ACME and have worked in baggage service, ticketing, gates, reservations, ramp operations, supervisor, customer service operations instructor and Mad Dog systems instructor. While working full time I completed all my flight training all the way through flight instructor and started teaching on the side, bought a partnership in a PA28-161 (Piper Warrior), flew parachute jumpers and eventually became a corporate pilot earning my type rating in a Cessna Citation. I then took a position with ACME JR ATL leaving my career at ACME behind to fly the EMB120 and the CRJ200. Now I am fortunate to be back at ACME as a Mad Dawg pilot, which was my goal, since it is the aircraft I spent 3 years teaching and with the company I’ve spent most of my career. I have logged time over my flying career in 31 different civilian aircraft. I still currently hold a CFI/II and love to share my wisdom, experience and knowledge of my aviation career with anyone who listens. Thank you all for supporting Jeff, the APG crew and APG community. Fly safe.

RFT 359: Nigerian Airways Flight 2120

Jan 9, 2020 06:28


Nigeria Airways Flight 2120 was a chartered passenger flight from Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, to Sokoto, Nigeria on 11 July 1991, which caught fire shortly after takeoff from King Abdulaziz International Airport and crashed while attempting to return for an emergency landing, killing all 247 passengers and 14 crew members on board. The aircraft was a Douglas DC-8 operated by Nationair for Nigeria Airways. Flight 2120 is the deadliest accident involving a DC-8 and remains the deadliest aviation disaster involving a Canadian airline.

The aircraft departed King Abdulaziz International Airport bound for Sadiq Abubakar III International Airport in Sokoto, but problems were reported shortly after takeoff. Unknown to the crew, the aircraft had caught fire during departure, and though the fire itself was not obvious since it started in an area without fire warning systems, the effects were numerous. Pressurization failed quickly, and the crew was deluged with nonsensical warnings caused by fire-related circuit failures. In response to the pressurization failure, Allan decided to remain at 610 metres (2,000 ft), but the flight was cleared to 910 metres (2,990 ft) as a result of the controller mistaking Flight 2120 for a Saudia flight that was also reporting pressurization problems due to Captain Allan mistakenly identifying as "Nationair 2120" rather than "Nigerian 2120", a mix-up that lasted for three minutes but was ultimately found not to have had any effect on the outcome. Amidst this, First Officer Davidge, who had been flying C-GMXQ out, reported that he was losing hydraulics. The crew only became aware of the fire when a flight attendant rushed into the cockpit reporting "smoke in the back ... real bad". Shortly afterwards, Davidge reported that he had lost ailerons, forcing Allan to take control; as Allan took over, the cockpit voice recorder failed. At this moment, the air traffic controller realized that Flight 2120 was not the Saudia flight and was in trouble, and directed them towards the runway. Allan subsequently contacted air traffic control multiple times, among his pre-mortem communications being a request for emergency vehicles.

When the aircraft was about 18 kilometres (11 mi; 9.7 nmi) from the airport and at an altitude of 671 metres (2,201 ft), a point where the landing gear could conceivably have been lowered, it began to experience an inflight breakup and a number of bodies fell from it, indicating that the fire by that time had consumed, at least partially, the cabin floor. Just 2,875 metres (9,432 ft) short of the runway, the melting aircraft finally became uncontrollable and crashed, killing whatever portion of the 261 occupants on board—including 247 passengers—had not already suffocated or fallen out of the aircraft. Nine of the fourteen crew were identified, but "no attempt was made to identify the passengers".

RFT 358: Reflecting on 2019

Jan 6, 2020 07:49


Last year found me teaching at Metro State and working on my podcast and my script. It was actually a fairly fun schedule, with interviews for each Monday episode and educational information for each mid-week episode.

Whenever I interviewed someone who had written a book, I would read the book before interviewing them. Altogether, I read about 30 books in 2019.

In 2019 I started doing some speaking engagements. So far, all of the appearances have been pro bono, but I'm hoping to start expanding to paid venues. My topics are "Air Combat Lessons in Leadership and Life", "Layover Security for Travelers" and "Airline Safety Improvements From Accident Investigations". In 2019 I started writing and revising books to accompany those presentations.

Podcast guests Jason Harris and Lee Ellis have been incredibly helpful in guiding me on my journey. I met up with Jason at a local Denver meeting of the National Speakers Association, and Lee and I got together later in the year when he made a speaking appearance in Denver. Lee has been incredibly helpful in referring podcast guests to me, and his presentation left he huge audience mesmerized.

In February Nick Hinch told me that United was hiring ground instructors, and I applied. I was accepted, and started Basic Indoctrination training, along with 40 new-hire pilots, at the beginning of April. I was put on the B737 fleet, and my job is to be a Groundschool Instructor, teaching systems and procedures on the B737 NG. Although I initially had hoped to go to the B777, I am thrilled on be on the 737. I get to work with new-hire pilots and new Captains, and I get to influence these pilots for the rest of their careers.

United, it turned out, is a fantastic airline, totally changed from the toxic environment that existed in 2004. I attribute this change to the leadership under CEO Oscar Munoz, who is a breath of fresh air compared to the previous CEOs.

At United, I'm working full-time, so it's sometimes a bit of a challenge deconflicting my United schedule with my Metro teaching schedule. But I love both jobs.

In May the WGF Veterans Writing Group invited me to "pitch" my screenplay to eight Hollywood producers. The outstanding mentoring I had received throughout the previous year had really helped me refine my script to something I could be proud of. It was a fun experience, but I didn't get any nibbles at that time.

But my son Steve met another producer at the Austin Film Festival and mentioned my script, and the producer said he'd like to read it. So, hope springs eternal - Steve helped me put a final polish on the script and I sent it off shortly before Christmas. I'll be totally honest: it's not GOOD, it's GREAT!

Steve came out to Colorado in July and directed and produced the audio version of my book, Hamfist Over The Trail. He also produced the audiobook cover.

I did the narration, and it was certainly not a walk in the park! Altogether we spent five days recording, and then Steve spent a lot of time editing the file. He removed every audible breath and glitch and equalized the audio files. I think we ended up with a really great product. The audiobook is now being reviewed for release at ACX, and we hope to have it available to the public very soon.

RFT 357: Decade Retrospective

Jan 2, 2020 17:07


As we start a new decade, I'd like to share my experiences of the last decade with you.

As I've mentioned in episode 300, my employment with Jet Airways in India ended toward the end of 2009. The Indian pilots were fully up to speed, and it was time for us expat pilots to leave. So there I was, 64 years old, unemployed, and no pension.

I filed to start drawing Social Security payments and started looking for work. As so many of our podcast guests have advised, networking is the key to finding employment. In my case, I recalled reading an update from a former United pilot in our retiree newsletter. He had mentioned that he had a job performing airline audits, and I contacted him to learn more. He put me in touch with the company he worked for, ARG/US Pros. Toward the end of 2009 I visited them for an interview, and they hired me.

In January 2010 I attended Auditor Training, and then went on my first assignment, to Japan, in February. One of the reasons the company sent me to Japan for a month - four audits - was because I mentioned in the interview that I spoke Japanese.

Each audit was five days long, and our team of five auditors (plus myself) would look at every area of an airline's operations, and debrief the airline CEO at the end of each day. On the weekends between each audit our team would work on our post-audit report and prepare for the next audit. During the first audit I mostly was observing, although toward the end I performed a lot of the auditing duties. For the last audit, I was "cleared solo" and operated by myself.

The audit process is called IOSA - IATA Operational Safety Audit - and during an audit the team uses an IATA (International Air Transport Association) checklist to look at everything an airline does, to determine if the airline conforms to the ISARPs (IATA Standards and Recommended Practices). There are over 1000 ISARPs the team examines. It's hard work.

For the next two years, I performed about an audit each month, and eventually became an audit team leader. Since I had studied Russian some 40 years earlier, I led a team to Moscow for a few weeks. By the end of the visit I was able to conduct the debriefs in Russian. Leading the team entailed planning for each audit and writing a detailed audit report at the end of each audit. It was a great experience, but I wanted to get a bit closer to airplanes.

In 2012, through networking with some of my former Jet Airways pilots, I heard that Boeing was looking for instructor pilots (IPs), and I applied. I went out to Seattle and interviewed, and was hired to be an IP on the new B787. I started as a contract employee on the anniversary of my United new-hire date, October 16th. I went through the 787 course as a student, took a check ride and received another type rating: B787. Then I went back through the course again as an instructor-trainee. Since the 787 was not yet flying, Boeing didn't have any real airline students, so three of us instructors would practice our teaching on each other. Two of us would play student while the other instructor would go over the planned lesson in the simulator, then we would each trade places. Finally the 787 was cleared to fly and we started getting real airline students.

I really enjoyed being back in a cockpit environment, but wasn't crazy about always being away from home. One day, a Boeing check airman told me that Omni Air International was looking for B777 IPs, and they were using the United simulators in Denver for their training. I applied to Omni, had a telephone interview with the Chief Pilot and the Director of Training, and was hired on a contract basis. So now I had two contract jobs: Boeing and Omni.

Omni was great with scheduling, giving me work assignments a month in advance. Boeing operated a bit differently. Typically, I would get a call saying I had a work assignment in two more days. Sometimes I could accept the assignment, but often it conflicted with my Omni commitment. After I turned down several assignments, Boeing advised me I was no longer a contract employee. So I was all-in on Omni.

Unfortunately, the United Training Center in Denver was getting busy with internal training, so Omni had to look elsewhere for simulators. Eventually, all of the Omni training was conducted at the Delta Airlines training center in Atlanta or in the Boeing training facility in Miami.

In 2016, again through networking, I heard that a training company in Tennessee, ARCS Aviation, was looking for a B777 Subject Matter Expert (SME) for some software development. I contacted the owner, and he drove up to Atlanta to meet me when I had finished an Omni simulator period. We hit it off, and I started doing consulting work for ARCS.

After a few years, Omni decided to use only their line pilots as simulator instructors, so we parted ways, and I spent all of my time as an SME, first on the B777, then the B787, then the B747. It was a great job that I could do at home, on my computer. Finally, the software programs were complete, and my work for ARCS was over.

In 2016 I started the Ready For Takeoff Podcast at the urging of an Omni pilot, Phil Pagoria, and my son Steve. Phil became one of my first guests on the podcast, and will make an appearance again soon! Steve walked me through everything I needed to do to produce a podcast, and has been my go-to person every time I need help.

In 2018 I heard from a friend, Nick Hinch (former RFT guest) that Wheels Up was looking for pilots. I hadn't flown in nine years, but had stayed current in simulators, and figured this would be my last chance to be employed as a pilot again. But, of course, my medical certificate had expired. So I made an appointment with my Aviation Medical Examiner (AME).

And I did something really stupid. For over 30 years, I had gone to the same AME, and every time on my application I had listed all of my visits to healthcare professionals since my previous visit (6 months earlier). And for some reason, I don't know why, I simply did the same thing. I listed all of my doctor visits since seeing him last. This is important: the form only asks for doctor visits in the last three years. But I foolishly listed all of them, and some from five, six or seven years earlier, were no one else's business, certainly not the FAA's.

My AME said he needed to send my information to the FAA, and the FAA Medical Department wanted some tests. Expensive tests, over $10,000 worth of tests. I saw the Wheels Up job disappearing, and asked the FAA if I could change my application from First Class medical to Third Class. No can do. Once you apply for a medical certificate, it must be either Approved or Denied. After many exchanges of letters, mine was Denied. After a Denial, an airman cannot get ANY medical certificate, including the new BasicMed. So, the only solo flying I can legally perform is in a glider, which does not require a medical certificate.

One of my first jobs when I had retired from United in 2005 had been teaching at Metropolitan State College of Denver, in their Aviation Department. In 2018 I visited them, now renamed Metropolitan State University of Denver, to see if they needed a classroom instructor. My timing was perfect, and I started teaching Fundamentals of Aviation and Basic Instrument Flight, two days each week, as a contract employee. Eventually, I became a full-time employee with the title of Lecturer, and I still teach courses two days every week.

In 2018 I was accepted to the Writers Guild of America Veterans Writing Project, and started working on a screenplay adaptation of my Hamfist novel series. (That's my son Steve sitting next to me in the first picture that comes up on that website).

In the next RFT episode I'll visit the year 2019.

Have a GREAT 2020!

RFT 356: Astronaut Dr. Tom Jones

Dec 30, 2019 35:39


spacewalks to install the centerpiece of the International Space Station, the American Destiny laboratory. He has spent fifty-three days working and living in space.

After graduation from the Air Force Academy, Tom piloted B-52D strategic bombers, earned a doctorate in planetary sciences from the University of Arizona, studied asteroids for NASA, engineered intelligence-gathering systems for the CIA, and helped NASA develop advanced mission concepts to explore the solar system.

Tom is the author of several space and aviation books: Ask the Astronaut, Planetology, (written with Ellen Stofan), Hell Hawks! The Untold Story of the American Fliers Who Savaged Hitler's Wehrmacht (with Robert F. Dorr), and Sky Walking: An Astronaut's Memoir. The Wall Street Journal named Sky Walking one if its “Five Best” books on space.

Dr. Jones' awards include the NASA Distinguished Service Medal, four NASA Space Flight Medals, the NASA Exceptional Service award, the NASA Outstanding Leadership Medal, the NASA Exceptional Public Service award, Phi Beta Kappa, the Air Force Commendation Medal, and Distinguished Eagle Scout. The Main Belt asteroid 1082 TomJones is named in his honor. In 2018, Tom was inducted into the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame.

Tom served on the NASA Advisory Council and the board of the Association of Space Explorers and is a board member for the Astronauts Memorial Foundation. As an aerospace and science consultant, he focuses on the future direction of human space exploration, uses of asteroid and space resources, and planetary defense. A frequent public speaker, he appears often on TV and radio with expert commentary on science and space flight.

RFT 355: IOE

Dec 26, 2019 05:55


From AOPA:

When ground and sim training are complete, it’s finally time to fly the airplane! Back in the day, the first step was to get some landings in an actual airplane, usually conducted in the middle of the night at a small outstation under the guidance of a specially trained pilot. Those days are largely gone because of cost and safety concerns (mostly cost). Simulators are now so good that the airlines and the FAA agree that “familiarization flights” are no longer needed.

Initial operating experience (IOE) is the term used to describe your first trip of several in an airplane under the watchful eye of a check airman (sometimes called a line check airman, or LCA). IOE is an exciting yet nerve-wracking experience. You’ll go to the airport, find the crew room, and go through the entire preflight routine. It will feel like you have no time at all to get everything you need to do done, but in no time you’ll be able to do it all with time to spare.

The LCA will be talking a mile a minute, trying to teach you as much as possible in as short a time as possible. At the gate, you’ll do a supervised walk-around, and then get in the cockpit and do your routine as you’ve trained for it in the sim. However, now you’ll be bombarded by other distractions that you didn’t have before, such as flight attendants who want to say hello or need you to order something they’re missing in the cabin. Mechanics may be nosing around, and ticket agents usually come down to see if you’re ready. It doesn’t help that you still haven’t perfected the routine, and you feel as if you’re running in mud. Meanwhile, the LCA keeps talking, and he’ll take over a lot of the little stuff to try to achieve an on-time departure.

You’ll be thinking about the fact that you’ll be flying the airplane for the first time with a cabin full of passengers who have no idea that you’ve never actually flown this airplane, but you can’t dwell on it. Time will feel very compressed as you’re dealing with ATC, busy frequencies, and weather you don’t see in the sim (especially good weather). Your first night in the hotel will probably be one of the best nights of sleep you’ve ever had, thanks to the exhaustion.

IOE is a lot of fun in addition to being a steep learning curve. You’re putting all of the pieces together and realizing the culmination of your dreams. At times it’s frustrating because you don’t realize going into it how much you still have to learn, and landing the airplane is totally different than the sim. But over a few trips, with several LCAs, it starts to fall into place. And no matter how many times you go through IOE in the future, it will never be as overwhelming as the first time. Nor will it be as fun.

RFT 354: 21Five Podcast Hosts Dylan and Max

Dec 23, 2019 39:06


Hey, we’re Dylan and Max. We met at flight school many years ago and have remained friends while navigating our careers as professional pilots. If you know a pilot, then you know they love to talk about aviation (probably a little too much). We both love radio and podcasts and are huge fans of some of the real pros in the business: Howard Stern, Joe Rogan and Bill Simmons, just to name a few. We saw an opportunity to create something that professional pilots would enjoy, and we're striving to produce a show that’s interesting, informative, and doesn’t take itself too seriously.

Because we both have varied backgrounds in business aviation and the airlines (plus our days as CFIs), we offer an interesting perspective to our listeners. Whether you’re a new instructor, a line pilot at a 121 carrier, or a 135 charter road warrior, our hope is that you'll find the show engaging.

As for the name? 21.Five refers to the emergency frequency, 121.5 - a place where pilots go for assistance or lend a hand to a fellow airman in need...and of course get a laugh at the guard police and meows. Is it the best name ever? No, but here we are anyway.

RFT 353: Emotional Support Animals

Dec 19, 2019 07:29


An emotional support animal (ESA) is a type of assistance animal that alleviates a symptom or effect of a person's disability. An emotional support animal is not a pet and is generally not restricted by species.

An emotional support animal differs from a service animal. Service animals are trained to perform specific tasks (such as helping a blind person navigate), while emotional support animals receive no specific training, nor even, necessarily, any training at all. (It therefore stands that in the setting of mental illness, whether or not the animal is a "service animal" vs. an emotional support animal would hinge on whether or not it is formally trained to do something specific to mitigate the mental illness.) Any animal that provides support, well-being, comfort, or aid, to an individual through companionship, unconditional positive regard, and affection may be regarded as an emotional support animal.

In the U.S., people with emotional or mental disabilities can be exempted from certain federal housing and travel rules if they own an emotional support animal. To receive that exemption, they must meet the federal definition of disabled, and they must present a letter from a certified healthcare provider, stating that the animal provides emotional support that alleviates one or more of the symptoms or effects of the disability.

Emotional support animals are typically cats and dogs, but may be members of other animal species. In relation to whether or not an emotional support animal should be allowed in a rental property, it is thus necessary to perform an individualized assessment of the specific assistance animal to determine if it poses a direct threat of harm or would cause substantial property damage, and not to assume that an animal is excluded based upon breed or species. Although a wild or exotic animal that poses an increase risk of disease or potential attack upon other people may potentially be excluded, courts have recognized species including guinea pigs and miniature horses as emotional support animals.

Laws and regulations that allow service animals to be taken into businesses or onto aircraft may give the service provider discretion to deny admission to unusual service animals. For example, under the Air Carrier Access Act, airlines are never required to accommodate unusual animals such as ferrets, rodents, snakes and other reptiles, or spiders within the passenger cabin of an airplane.

In 2018, Delta Air Lines banned pit bulls and similar breeds of dogs from the passenger compartment of their aircraft as emotional support animals, after a pit bull traveling as an emotional support animal bit two employees.

Most airlines will allow emotional support animals, with proper documentation from a veterinarian and/or mental health counselor, and small animals such as cats and dogs can be held on the passenger's lap during the flight.

There is no requirement under federal law for emotional support animals to wear a tag, harness, or clothing of any type indicating they are emotional support animals.

Emotional support animals do not need to have any special training.

There are no training requirements for emotional support animals. Emotional support animals typically have no training beyond what would be expected for the same type of animal. Emotional support animals need not perform any tasks other than what a pet of the same species would perform, and may display unwanted behaviors, such as defecating or urinating in inappropriate places, growling and barking at people, or biting them.

Both poorly trained emotional support animals and poorly trained pets that are being fraudulently passed off as emotional support animals represent a threat to the health, safety, and function of both people and trained service animals.

To qualify for an emotional support animal in the US, its owner must have an emotional or mental disability that is certified by a mental health professional such as a psychiatrist, psychologist, or other licensed mental health care provider. These may be invisible disabilities.

The owner's mental health impairment must be substantial enough to produce disability, rather than discomfort or a desire to have a pet. Furthermore, for the provider to certify the animal, non-fraudulently, the emotional support animal's presence must provide a significant benefit, that makes the difference between the person functioning adequately and not.

An emotional support animal letter, or an ESA letter, is a document that qualifies people to be accompanied by a support animal in contexts in which pets might not be permitted, such as in rental housing or mass transportation. The letter must be issued by a psychiatrist, qualified mental health professional, or physician. The professional who issues an ESA letter need not be the recipient's primary care physician, and some doctors may refer patients who are seeking an ESA to psychologists or other professionals.

Under US Department of Transportation, rules, the doctor or mental health professional who issues the letter must be currently providing treatment to the passenger. Airlines are not obligated to accept certificates or letters that are more than one year old, and may require that the certification be provided on the letterhead of a licensed mental health professional or doctor who is specifically treating the passenger's mental or emotional disability.

ESA owners are currently permitted to have their animals with them on commercial flights in the US, with the proper papers saying they are under the care.

While there do not seem to be any cases dealing with the issue of multiple emotional support animals, the basic requirements for this accommodation would be the same. Thus, if a disabled person claimed to need multiple emotional support animals, he or she would need documentation supporting this claim from his or her psychologist or other licensed healthcare professional. The practitioner would need to provide documentation that each support animal alleviated some symptom of the disability.

As of 2018, Delta Air Lines limits free travel for emotional support animals to one animal per ticketed passenger.

The ability to avoid extra costs, such as paying damage deposits for pets in a rental apartment or extra baggage fees for taking an animal on an airplane, has resulted in some people misrepresenting their pets as ESAs. Following a 2018 incident in which a woman tried to board a flight with her peacock, airlines have tightened their requirements for flying with an ESA.

In some US states, providing a letter, registry, or certificate to a person who is not disabled is a crime. Many states have made it a criminal misdemeanor to make false claims stating that their animal is an assistance animal or to say they are a handler training an assistance animal. States that have passed laws criminalizing the misrepresentation of service and assistance animals include Alabama, Arizona,California, Colorado, Florida, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Texas, Utah, Virginia, and Washington State.

RFT 352: Master Pilot tim Donohue

Dec 16, 2019 37:10


Tim Donohue attended college on a naval ROTC scholarship and earned his ratings and worked his way through college as a CFI.

After college, he attended pilot training at Pensacola, then flew the A-4s at Miramar. Following four years in the A-4, Tim went to Pensacola as a flight instructor, this time flying T-39s.

After the Navy, Tim interviewed with several airlines and was hired by Eastern Airlines. At Eastern, he started out as a B727 Flight Engineer. It took six years for him to be promoted to Copilot.

When Eastern Airlines went out of business, Tim was hired by United Airlines, starting over as a new-hire. He became a Captain after six years, and retired in 2014.

He stayed active in aviation after retirement, and kept his CFI current. He still flies, and recently was awarded the Wright Brothers Master Pilot Award.

RFT 351: Suicide By Pilot

Dec 12, 2019 12:22


Always adhere to the IMSAFE checklist:
I - Ilness
S - Stress
A - Alcohol
F - Fatigue
E - Eating/Emotion

RFT 350.1: Remix Admiral Robert Shumaker

Dec 11, 2019 43:04


Bob Shumaker was born in New Castle, Pennsylvania in 1933.  His father was a lawyer and his mother a writer.   After graduating from public schools he attended Northwestern University for a year and then the United States Naval Academy where he was a boxer, a cross-country runner and a scholar.  After flight training he joined VF-32, a fighter squadron in Jacksonville, Florida flying F8 Crusaders.  He was a finalist in the Apollo astronaut selection, but a temporary physical ailment prevented his selection.  In 1964 he earned a masters degree in aeronautical engineering and then joined VF-154 in San Diego, California.  About this time he married Lorraine Shaw of Montreal.  In February 1965 he was shot down on a mission over North Vietnam and spent the next eight years as a POW.  After eight years of imprisonment and having suffered multiple tortures and solitary confinement, he was repatriated and returned to school to earn a doctorate degree in electrical engineering.  As a Captain he was the government project manager for tactical missiles such as HARM, HELLFIRE and MAVERICK.  In 1983 he was promoted to the rank of Commodore and became the head of the Naval Postgraduate School.  At the Pentagon, as a Real Admiral, he was responsible for coordinating the research efforts of the Navy’s air, surface, electronics and space activities.  He retired from the Navy in 1989 and became an assistant dean at the George Washington University and later served as an associate dean at the University of North Dakota.  He retired in 1991 and then built an experimental aircraft which he’s flown to Alaska and other exotic locations.

Admiral Shumaker’s military awards include the Distinguished Service Medal, two Silver Stars, four Legions of Merit, the Distinguished Flying Cross, a Bronze Star and two Purple Hearts.  In 2011 he was honored with the Distinguished Graduate Award from the United States Naval Academy.  In 2016 he was awarded the Lone Sailor Award along with Senator John Glenn.  His POW experience has been documented in a book entitled “Defiant” by Alvin Townley.  He and his wife Lorraine live in Fairfax Station, Virginia where his hobbies are golfing and flying.  

RFT 350: Admiral Robert Shumaker

Dec 9, 2019 42:45


Bob Shumaker was born in New Castle, Pennsylvania in 1933.  His father was a lawyer and his mother a writer.   After graduating from public schools he attended Northwestern University for a year and then the United States Naval Academy where he was a boxer, a cross-country runner and a scholar.  After flight training he joined VF-32, a fighter squadron in Jacksonville, Florida flying F8 Crusaders.  He was a finalist in the Apollo astronaut selection, but a temporary physical ailment prevented his selection.  In 1964 he earned a masters degree in aeronautical engineering and then joined VF-154 in San Diego, California.  About this time he married Lorraine Shaw of Montreal.  In February 1965 he was shot down on a mission over North Vietnam and spent the next eight years as a POW.  After eight years of imprisonment and having suffered multiple tortures and solitary confinement, he was repatriated and returned to school to earn a doctorate degree in electrical engineering.  As a Captain he was the government project manager for tactical missiles such as HARM, HELLFIRE and MAVERICK.  In 1983 he was promoted to the rank of Commodore and became the head of the Naval Postgraduate School.  At the Pentagon, as a Real Admiral, he was responsible for coordinating the research efforts of the Navy’s air, surface, electronics and space activities.  He retired from the Navy in 1989 and became an assistant dean at the George Washington University and later served as an associate dean at the University of North Dakota.  He retired in 1991 and then built an experimental aircraft which he’s flown to Alaska and other exotic locations.

RFT 349: De-Icing Fluid

Dec 5, 2019 08:58


From Wikipedia:

Deicing fluids come in a variety of types, and are typically composed of ethylene glycol (EG) or propylene glycol (PG), along with other ingredients such as thickening agents, surfactants (wetting agents), corrosion inhibitors, colors, and UV-sensitive dye. Propylene glycol-based fluid is more common due to the fact that it is less toxic than ethylene glycol.

Type I fluids have a low viscosity, and are considered "unthickened". They provide only short term protection because they quickly flow off surfaces after use. They are typically sprayed on hot (130–180 °F, 55–80 °C) at high pressure to remove snow, ice, and frost. Usually they are dyed orange to aid in identification and application. Type II fluids are pseudoplastic, which means they contain a polymeric thickening agent to prevent their immediate flow off aircraft surfaces. Typically the fluid film will remain in place until the aircraft attains 100 knots (190 km/h) or so, at which point the viscosity breaks down due to shear stress. The high speeds required for viscosity breakdown means that this type of fluid is useful only for larger aircraft. The use of Type II fluids is diminishing in favor of Type IV. Type II fluids are generally clear in color. Type III fluids can be thought of as a compromise between Type I and Type II fluids. They are intended for use on slower aircraft, with a rotation speed of less than 100 knots. Type III fluids are generally bright yellow in color. Type IV fluids meet the same AMS standards as Type II fluids, but they provide a longer holdover time. They are typically dyed green to aid in the application of a consistent layer of fluid.


From NASA:

There are four standard aircraft de-icing and anti-icing fluid types: Type I, II, III, and IV.

Type I fluids are the thinnest of fluids. As such, they can be used on any aircraft, as they shear/blow off even at low speeds. They also have the shortest hold-over times (HOT) or estimated times of protection in active frost or freezing precipitation.

Type II and IV fluids add thickening agents to increase viscosity. The thickeners allow fluid to remain on the aircraft longer to absorb and melt the frost or freezing precipitation. This translates to longer HOT, but it also means a higher speed is required to shear off the fluid.

Type III fluids are relatively new and have properties in between Type I and Type II/IV fluids. Type III fluids also contain thickening agents and offer longer HOTs than Type I, but are formulated to shear off at lower speeds. They are designed specifically for small commuter-type aircraft, but work as well for larger aircraft.

*Note: Holdover Times (HOT) are published in a range to account for variations in precipitation intensity: shorter time for heavier intensity, longer time for lighter intensit

Type I fluids are always applied heated and diluted. For de-icing, it is the heat and hydraulic force that accomplish the task. For anti-icing, it is primarily the heat imparted to the airframe that accomplishes the task. Caution: Type I fluids have the shortest HOT. When a Type I fluid fails, it fails suddenly.

Type II and IV fluids may be applied heated or cold, and diluted or full strength. In North America, typically Type IV fluids are applied cold, and only for anti-icing. In the UK, typically Type II or IV fluids are applied heated to accomplish de-icing as well as anti-icing.

RFT 348: World War II Gunner Richard Kolodey

Dec 2, 2019 33:38


Richard Kolodey grew up near a small airport in Dallas, Texas, and had taken numerous flights in general aviation aircraft. He signed up for the marines at age 17 as soon as he graduated high school, five months after the attacks on Pearl Harbor. He attended training in San Diego, and was one of only two recruits selected for flying.

In this podcast, he describes his training as a gunner. His actual firing from an aircraft didn't occur until he was overseas. His first combat mission occurred over Guadalcanal in August of 1943, bombing a landing strip to allow the navy CBs to repair the strips for American forces. His aircraft was escorted by F-4U aircraft. His group shot down 10 planes and sunk 35 ships.

He served on the TBM, which had a crew of three - pilot and two gunners. During his overseas tour, his aircraft took numerous hits, but he never had to bail out. His mission was to island-hop through the Solomon Islands, securing the islands for American planes to get close enough to Japan to launch missions.

After he returned from overseas, he attended flight training to become a pilot when the war ended.

RFT 347: A Sad Anniversary

Nov 28, 2019 06:03


TWA 514 crashed into terrain while attempting to land at Washington Dulles International Airport. from Wikipedia:

"The flight was being vectored for a non-precision instrument approach to runway 12 at Dulles. Air traffic controllers cleared the flight down to 7,000 feet (2,130 m) before clearing them for the approach while not on a published segment.

The jetliner began a descent to 1,800 feet (550 m), shown on the first checkpoint for the published approach. The cockpit voice recorder later indicated there was some confusion in the cockpit over whether they were still under a radar-controlled approach segment which would allow them to descend safely. After reaching 1,800 feet (550 m) there were some 100-to-200-foot (30 to 60 m) altitude deviations which the flight crew discussed as encountering heavy downdrafts and reduced visibility in snow.

The plane impacted the west slope of Mount Weather at 1,670 feet (510 m) above sea level at approximately 230 knots (265 mph; 425 km/h). The wreckage was contained within an area about 900 by 200 feet (275 by 60 m). The evidence of first impact were trees sheared off about 70 feet (20 m) above the ground; the elevation at the base of the trees was 1,650 feet (505 m).

The wreckage path was oriented along a line 118 degrees magnetic. Calculations indicated that the left wing went down about six degrees as the aircraft passed through the trees and the aircraft was descending at an angle of about one degree. After about five hundred feet (150 m) of travel through the trees, it struck a rock outcropping at an elevation of about 1,675 feet (510 m). Numerous heavy components of the aircraft were thrown forward of the outcropping, and numerous intense post-impact fires broke out which were later extinguished. The mountain's summit is at 1,754 feet (535 m) above sea level."

As a result of this accident, air traffic controllers now assign an altitude to fly until intercepting a segment of a published approach.


Northwest 6231 crashed after encountering an aerodynamic stall. From Wikipedia:

"The flight was chartered to pick up the Baltimore Colts in Buffalo after the aircraft originally earmarked to transport the team was grounded by a snowstorm in Detroit.

The Boeing 727-251, registration N274US, departed New York City's John F. Kennedy International Airport at 19:14 for a ferry flight to Buffalo. As the craft climbed past 16,000 feet (4,900 m), the overspeed warning horn sounded, followed 10 seconds later by a stick shaker stall warning. The aircraft leveled at 24,800 feet (7,600 m) until it started to descend out of control in a spin, reaching a vertical acceleration of +5g. At about 3,500 feet (1,100 m), a large portion of the aircraft's horizontal stabilizer separated due to the high G-forces, making recovery impossible. Flight 6231 struck the ground in a slightly nose down and right wing-down attitude twelve minutes after take-off, at 19:26."

The accident board determined that the pitot heat had been inadvertently turned OFF prior to takeoff, and as the aircraft climbed through clouds the pitot tubes froze, causing altimeter effect on the airspeed indicator, in which an increase in altitude will cause indicated airspeed to increase.

On many aircraft today, the pitot heat will automatically be turned ON when the aircraft is airborne.

RFT 346: Virgin Galactic Astronaut Mike Masucci

Nov 25, 2019 31:38


Mike "Sooch" Masucci has over 9000 hours in 70 different aircraft. He was accepted into the Air Force Academy, and took flying lessons while at the Academy and earned his Private Pilot certificate, and majored in Astronautics.

After graduation, he attended Undergraduate Pilot Training at Vance Air Force Base and then remained there as a T-38 instructor pilot as a First Assignment Instructor Pilot (FAIP).

After three years as a FAIP, Mike was selected to fly the U-2 high-altitude long-endurance airplane in the special duty assignment. He eventually became in an instructor in the U-2 as well as the T-38, while still being serving in deployments. His longest mission was 12 hours (13 hours in a space suit).

After 3 years he was selected to attend Test Pilot School, and then became a U-2 test pilot. After a few years as a U-2 test pilot during major aircraft upgrades, he returned to Test Pilot School, this time as an instructor. In that role he flew the T-38, the F-16, gliders and glider tow ships.

He again served in the U-2 and retired from the Air Force in that role.

He owned a 1946 Cessna 120 while in pilot training but - in Sooch's words - traded it in for an engagement ring. He now owns a 1964 Beechcraft Travel Air.

After the Air Force he flew a Citation X for several years, accumulating 750 hours every year in Part 135 operations. He did that for several years, then received a call from Virgin Galactic and was invited to apply.

He is multi-current, flying the White Knight as well as the space ship. Both aircraft have identical cockpit designs. Mike was selected to fly the second mission into space, and earned astronaut wings on February 22, 2019.

RFT 345: Runway Incursions

Nov 22, 2019 07:53


What is a Runway Incursion?

Any occurrence at an aerodrome involving the incorrect presence of an aircraft, vehicle or person on the protected area of a surface designated for the landing and take off of aircraft.

What is a Surface Incident?

A surface incident is an unauthorized or unapproved movement within the designated movement area (excluding runway incursions) or an occurrence in that same area associated with the operation of an aircraft that affects or could affect the safety of flight.

There are four categories of runway incursions:

Category A is a serious incident in which a collision was narrowly avoided.

Category B is an incident in which separation decreases and there is a significant potential for collision, which may result in a time critical corrective/evasive response to avoid a collision.

Category C is an incident characterized by ample time and/or distance to avoid a collision.

Category D is an incident that meets the definition of runway incursion such as incorrect presence of a single vehicle/person/aircraft on the protected area of a surface designated for the landing and take-off of aircraft but with no immediate safety consequences.

RFT 344: Juan Serrato

Nov 18, 2019 33:22


Juan Serrato came from an aviation family, and was immersed in flying from an early age. His father was a Vietnam era helicopter pilot, and took him flying often. Juan attended a school as a teenager where aviation was part of the academic curriculum, and earned his Private Pilot certificate.

After high school Juan attended A&P school, and then was hired servicing airplanes. He then entered an ab-initio program with Mesa Airlines, barely making the cutoff because he had 148 hours and the limit was 150 hours. While attending the program, he worked as a mechanic on aircraft.

He became a first officer on the Beech 1900 with Mesa as a US Air Express copilot. He flew as many as 13 legs per day. He flew the 1900 for a little over a year, then became a first officer in the RJ (regional jet). He flew the RJ for two years, then became an EMB 145 captain, flying his first trip on September 11, 2001. He was inflight when all aircraft were ordered to land immediately due to the national emergency. He landed at Raleigh, NC. He was stuck there for three days, until his girlfriend drove down to pick him up.

At Mesa, he became an accident investigator, on scene for a fatal accident investigation for the powerplant division. He also became a simulator instructor and line check airman.

After nine years at Mesa, he was hired by Gemini Air Cargo on the MD-11, flying all over the world. After about a year, the airline went out of business, and Juan was hired by Southern Air on the B747 as a first officer, flying freighters. He flew a lot of trips out of Ethiopia on a 20-on, 10-off schedule. After two years, he was furloughed as a pilot, but worked in their headquarters on documentation.

After five years with Southern, he was hired by Atlas Air, flying several versions of the 747, including the LCF (large cargo freighter). He was at Atlas for four years, then was hired by a legacy carrier, where he works now as a flight instructor on the B737.

RFT 343: Lithium Batteries

Nov 15, 2019 08:26


A single personal electronic device with a lithium battery that overheats and catches fire in the cargo hold could potentially down a commercial airliner.

That’s what the US Federal Aviation Administration found in its latest research.

Regulators had originally thought that the fire suppressant systems in cargo holds would be able to extinguish flames if they were to arise from an overheated lithium-battery-operated device. However, the most recent study has shown that the systems don’t actually have the power to put out the flames caused by an overheated lithium battery, commonly found in laptops, cell phones and a wide range of other devices, when combined with other flammable substances, such as gas in an aerosol can or cosmetics.

“That could then cause an issue that would compromise the aircraft,” said Duane Pfund, international program coordinator at the US Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration.

The FAA forbids passengers from checking spare (uninstalled) lithium metal batteries, requiring them to be carried on. In addition, the FAA says that “all spare lithium batteries must be removed from the bag and kept with the passenger in the aircraft cabin,” when a carry-on bag is gate checked.

Lithium batteries are a type of rechargeable battery most commonly found in cell phones and laptops. Carrying them on board and in carry-on luggage doesn’t pose the same threat as if they were to be checked in the cargo hold. In the hold, bags — and therefore the potential fire — is not reachable, however, experience has shown that they can be extinguished with water, according to Bloomberg, and therefore, they’re more safe when flying in the cabin.

Bulk shipments of rechargeable lithium batteries are banned from passenger planes. However, the FAA hasn’t imposed any new restrictions on what passengers are allowed to check in their bags. In a notice to airlines in 2017, the FAA said they should consider conducting safety checks to determine what else could be done to prevent battery fires in the cargo hold.

“One way or another, we have to deal with these hazards,” said Scott Schwartz, director of the Air Line Pilots Association’s hazardous goods program.

The last few years have seen a string of incidents with batteries exploding in aircraft or near airports — including on a Delta aircraft, in a TSA checkpoint line and China Southern flight.

RFT 342: F-105 Pilot/POW/Authors Smitty and Louise Harris

Nov 11, 2019 50:10


Smitty Harris was born in 1929 in Parkersburg, West Virginia. He enlisted in the U.S. Air Force on January 2, 1951, and made Sgt before entering the Aviation Cadet Program on August 10, 1952. Harris was commissioned a 2d Lt and awarded his pilot wings in September 1953, and then completed advanced flight training in the T-33 Shooting Star and F-84 Thunderjet. His first operational assignment was as an F-86F Sabre pilot with the 45th Day Fighter Squadron at Sidi Slimane AB, French Morocco, followed by service as an instructor pilot at Greenville AFB and then with the 3306th Pilot Training Group at Bainbridge AFB, Georgia, from January 1956 to August 1960. Capt Harris then served as Chief of the Promotions and Flying Status Branch at Headquarters Air Training Command, Randolph AFB, Texas, from August 1960 to November 1962. His next assignment was flying F-100 Super Sabres and then F-105 Thunderchiefs with the 561st Tactical Fighter Squadron at McConnell AFB, Kansas, from November 1962 to November 1964. Capt Harris transferred to the 67th Tactical Fighter Squadron at Kadena AB, Okinawa, in December 1964, and began flying combat missions in Southeast Asia in March 1965. He was forced to eject over North Vietnam while flying his 6th combat mission on April 4, 1965, and was immediately captured and taken as a Prisoner of War. After spending 2,871 days in captivity, he was released during Operation Homecoming on February 12, 1973. Col Harris was briefly hospitalized to recover from his injuries at Maxwell AFB, Alabama, and then he remained at Maxwell to attend the Air War College there from August 1973 to August 1974. He remained on the faculty as Chief of Curriculum Planning until his retirement from the Air Force on July 31, 1979. After retiring from the Air Force, Smitty completed law school and joined the Mississippi Bar in December 1981. He and his wife Louise have three children. Smitty Harris was the 3rd Air Force pilot shot down and taken as a Prisoner of War during the Vietnam War.

His 2nd Silver Star Citation reads:

For the Period March 1968: This officer distinguished himself by gallantry and intrepidity in action in connection with military operations against an opposing armed force during the above period while a Prisoner of War in North VIetnam. Ignoring international agreements on treatment of prisoners of war, the enemy resorted to mental and physical cruelties to obtain information, confessions, and propaganda materials. This individual resisted their demands by calling upon his deepest inner strengths in a manner which reflected his devotion to duty and great credit upon himself and the United States Air Force.

RFT 341: Fatigue

Nov 7, 2019 15:03


It has been estimated that 4-7% of civil aviation incidents and accidents can be attributed to fatigued pilots. "In the last 16 years, fatigue has been associated with 250 fatalities in air carrier accidents." Robert Sumwalt, NTSB vice chairman, said at an FAA symposium in July.

Symptoms associated with fatigue include slower reaction times, difficulty concentrating on tasks resulting in procedural mistakes, lapses in attention, inability to anticipate events, higher toleration for risk, forgetfulness, and reduced decision-making ability. The magnitude of these effects are correlated to the circadian rhythm and length of time awake. Performance is affected the most, when there is a combination of extended wakefulness and circadian influences.

A Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) study of 55 human-factor aviation accidents from 1978 to 1999, concluded accidents increased proportionally to the amount of time the captain had been on duty. The accident proportion relative to exposure proportion rose from 0.79 (1–3 hours on duty) to 5.62 ( more than 13 hours on duty). This means that "5.62% of human factors accidents occurred to pilots who had been on duty for 13 or more hours, where only 1% of pilot duty hours occur during that time." 

In another study by Wilson, Caldwell and Russell, participants were given three different tasks that simulated the pilot's environment. The tasks included reacting to warning lights, managing simulated cockpit scenarios, and conducting a simulated UAV mission. The subjects' performance was tested in a well-rested state and again after being sleep deprived. In the tasks that were not as complex, such as reacting to warning lights and responding to automated alerts, it was found that there was a significant decrease in performance during the sleep deprived stage. The reaction times to warning lights increased from 1.5 to 2.5 seconds, and the number of errors doubled in the cockpit. However, tasks that were engaging and required more concentration were found to not be significantly affected by sleep deprivation. The study concluded that "...fatigue effects can produce impaired performance. The degree of performance impairment seems to be a function of the numbers of hours awake and the 'engagement' value of the task." 

One United States Air Forces study found significant discrepancies regarding how fatigue affects different individuals. It tracked the performance of ten F-117 pilots on a high-fidelity flight simulator. The subjects were sleep deprived for 38 hours and their performance was monitored over the final 24 hours. After baseline correction, the systematic individual differences varied by 50% and concluded that fatigue's effect on performance varied drastically among individuals.

The first step to understanding the critical impact fatigue can have on flight safety is to quantify it within the airline environment. An airline's management often struggles to balance rest with duty periods because it strives for maximum crew productivity. However, fatigue comes as a limitation needing increasing consideration.

A study by Reis et al. investigated the prevalence of fatigue on a group of Portuguese airline pilots. 1500 active airline pilots who had all flown within the past six months received a questionnaire. Out of the population, 456 reliable responses were received. A pretest was conducted to determine the viability of the fatigue scale adopted during the test, called Fatigue Severity Scale (FSS). The purpose of the validation survey was to set a benchmark (i.e. FSS=4) on an acceptable level of fatigue for the Portuguese culture. The scale ranged from 1 meaning no fatigue to 7 being high. Participants had one month and a half to respond to the inquiry. Results on physical fatigue found that 93% of short/medium haul pilots scored higher than 4 on the FSS while 84% of long-haul pilots scored greater than 4. Mental fatigue found short/medium haul at 96% and long haul at 92%. The Questionnaire also asked: "Do you feel so tired that you shouldn’t be at the controls?". 13% of pilots said that this never happened. 51% of all participants said it happened a few times. Limitations of the study were: fatigue levels are subjective and research did not attempt to control the number of times pilots had available to respond to the questionnaires. Overall the study establishes that pilots are subject to high levels of fatigue on the job. Levels of fatigue collected were also compared with a validation test conducted on multiple sclerosis patients in Switzerland. These patients showed average fatigue levels of 4.6 while pilots in the Portuguese study scored an average of 5.3.

High prevalence of fatigue was also revealed in a study by Jackson and Earl investigating prevalence among short haul pilots. The study consisted of a questionnaire that was posted on a website, Professional Pilot’s Rumour network (PPRUNE) and was able to obtain 162 respondents. Of the 162, all being short haul pilots, 75% were classified to have experienced severe fatigue. Based on questionnaire results, the study also demonstrated that pilots who were highly concerned about their level of fatigue during the flight often scored higher on the fatigue scale and thus were likely to experience more fatigue. Not only this, operational factors, for example a change in flights, or from flight into discretionary time often cause the pilot to experience greater fatigue.

On the other hand, research by Samen, Wegmann, and Vejvoda investigated the variation of fatigue among long-haul pilots. 50 pilots all from German airlines participated in the research. As participants, pilots were subject to physiological measures pre-departure and during flight and filled out routine logs recording their times of sleep and awakening. Pilots also completed two questionnaires. The first reflecting feelings of fatigue before and after the flight, recorded before departure, 1-hour intervals during the flight and then immediately after landing. The second questionnaire was the NASA task load index.

The second questionnaire also administered during flight, assessed different dimensions including mental, physical and temporal demand as well as performance. Key findings from the study conveyed that: outgoing flights from the home base were rated as less stressful and night flights were rated as the most stressful. The physiological measures found that microsleeps recorded by the EEGs increased progressively with flight duty. Microsleeps are recordings of alpha wave activity and they occur during wakeful relaxation often resulting in loss of attention. They are considered microsleeps if they last less than thirty seconds. Microsleep cases for pilots on outgoing flights were half compared to the number on incoming flights back to the home base showing that fatigue is more prevalent on flights returning home. Pilots are more prone to microsleeps during the cruise phase of the flight while they are more alert and less likely to experience microsleeps during the take-off, approach and landing phases of the flight. Findings also show that fatigue was greater during night flights because pilots had already been awake for more than 12 hours and would begin duty by the time they were due to go to sleep.

Pilots often have to rely on self-assessment in order to decide if they are fit to fly. The IMSAFE checklist is an example of self-assessment. Another measure that a pilot can employ to more accurately determine his level of fatigue is the Samn- Perelli Seven Point Fatigue Scale (SPS). The evaluation has a scale of 1-7, 1 described as “Fully, Alert and Wide Awake” while 7 “Completely exhausted, unable to function effectively”.

All levels in between have descriptions aiding the pilot with his decision. Another example of self-assessment is simply a visual and analogue scale. The test is represented by a line with No Fatigue and Fatigue labeled on two ends. The pilot will then draw a mark where he feels to be. Advantages of self-assessment include that they are quick and easy to administer, can be added to routine checklists and being more descriptive allow pilot to make a better decision. Disadvantages include that it is easy for the pilot to cheat and are often hard to disprove.

Between 2010 and 2012, more than 6.000 European pilots have been asked to self-assess the level of fatigue they are experiencing. These surveys revealed that well over 50% of the surveyed pilots experience fatigue as impairing their ability to perform well while on flight duty. The polls show that e.g. 92% of the pilots in Germany report they have felt too tired or unfit for duty while on flight deck at least once in the past three years. Yet, fearing disciplinary actions or stigmatization by the employer or colleagues, 70-80% of fatigued pilots would not file a fatigue report or declare to be unfit to fly. Only 20-30% will report unfit for duty or file a report under such an occurrence.

Since the 1930s, airlines have been aware of the impact of fatigue on pilot's cognitive abilities and decision making. Nowadays prevalence of fatigue draws greater attention because of boom in air travel and because the problem can be addressed with new solutions and countermeasures.

Cockpit napping: A forty-minute nap after a long period of wakefulness can be extremely beneficial. As demonstrated in the Rosekind study, pilots who took a forty-minute nap were much more alert during the last 90 minutes of the flight and they also responded better on the psychomotor vigilance test (PVT) showing faster response rates and fewer lapses. The control group who had not taken a nap showed lapses during the approach and landing phases of the flight. In-seat cockpit napping is a risk-management tool for controlling fatigue. The FAA still has not adopted the cockpit napping strategy, however it is being utilized by Airlines such as British Airways, Air Canada, Emirates, Air New Zealand, Qantas. Activity breaks are another measure found to be most beneficial when a pilot is experiencing partial sleep loss or high levels of fatigue. High fatigue coincides with the circadian trough where the human body experiences its lowest body temperature. Studies demonstrated that sleepiness was significantly higher for fatigued pilots who had not taken any walking breaks. Bunk sleeping is another effective in-flight strategy. Based on the time zone pilots take-off from, they can determine which times during the flight they will feel inadvertently drowsy. Humans usually feel drowsier mid-morning and then mid-afternoon. In-flight rostering involves assigning the crew to specific tasks at specific times during the flight so that other members of the crew have time for activity breaks and bunk sleep. This allows well-rested crew members to be used during the critical phases of flight. Further research will need to show the optimal number of crew members sufficient for a well rested operating crew to operate the flight safely. Proper cockpit lighting is paramount in reducing fatigue since it inhibits the production of melatonin. Studies have shown that simply increasing lighting level to 100-200 lux improves alertness in the cockpit. 100 lux level is the same as room lighting and, therefore, would not affect a pilot’s night vision. Although pilots are often given layovers with ample time to rest, the environment itself may not be favorable to achieve full recovery. The temperature may be too warm, the place noisy or the time zone change may not facilitate biological sleep. As a result, the use of over-the-counter drugs may be effective. Zolpidem is a well tested pharmaceutical compound with a half-life of two and a half hours and the drug is fully metabolized within 10 hours. It can be used to initiate sleep to help obtain a good rest. It must not be combined with any cockpit-naps. The drug also has no side effects, improving sleep quality without causing insomnia or any detrimental effects on next-day alertness. As pilots know, they must not have any amount of a drug present in their systems at the time they begin duty. Implementation of a personal checklist to rate fatigue before a flight can aid the decision of whether a pilot feels he is fit to fly. The Samn-Perelli checklist is a good measure with a scale of 1 to 7, with 1 meaning "fully alert" and 7 meaning "completely exhausted and unable to function." Implementation of fatigue prediction models, such as the Sleep, Activity, Fatigue, and Task Effectiveness model, optimize scheduling by being able to predict pilot fatigue at any point in time. Although the mathematical model is limited by individual pilot differences it is the most accurate existing prediction because it takes into account time-zone changes, time awake, and length of previous rest. Sleep and fatigue monitoring: Using wrist-worn sleep monitors to track sleep accurately. Traditionally, sleep is tracked through personal estimation which is inaccurate. With this technology, regulators could implement operating restrictions or cautions for pilots with less than eight hours of sleep in the previous 24 hours. In early 2007, the 201 Airlift Squadron of the District of Columbia Air National Guard (ANG), successfully integrated the Fatigue Avoidance Scheduling Tool FAST into its daily scheduling operations. This integration required the full-time attention of two pilot schedulers, but yielded valuable risk mitigation data that could be used by planners and leaders to predict and adjust critical times of fatigue in the flight schedule. In August 2007, the Air National Guard Aviation Safety Division, under the direction of Lt Col Edward Vaughan, funded a project to improve the user interface of FAST, permitting daily use by pilot schedulers and integration with automated flight scheduling software. This improved, user-responsive interface, known as Flyawake (, was conceived and managed by Captain Lynn Lee and developed by Macrosystems. The project cited empirical data collected in combat and non-combat aviation operations, and challenged the U.S. government's established policies regarding fatigue as a factor in degrading human performance.

RFT 340: F/A-18 WSO Caroline "Jetgirl" Johnson

Nov 4, 2019 35:14


Caroline Johnson was born and raised in Colorado Springs, CO, with her older brother, Craig and parents Marty and Nancy. Her childhood was full of skiing, hiking, biking and an array of team sports to burn her relentless energy. In high school she caught the travel bug and studied abroad in Germany, thriving in the foreign culture and absorbing as much of the experience as she could. After graduation, she traded the mountains and her skis, for the bay and a sailboat, as she embarked on the adventure of a lifetime in the Navy.

She began her military career at the United States Naval Academy in 2005, bristling against the strict rules and regimented life but loving the challenge and the friends she met along the way. Upon graduating with a Bachelor of Science in Economics in 2009, she joined the elite Naval Aviation community and began flight school in Pensacola, FL. In 2011, she was awarded her wings of gold and designated a Naval Flight Officer, more specifically an F/A-18 Weapons Systems Officer. Finishing at the top of her class she was awarded the Paul F. Lawrence award as the #1 strike fighter graduate and also recognized as the overall Top Graduate.

Caroline flew F/A-18 Super Hornets as a member of VFA-213 the World Famous Fighting Blacklions and she embarked on the USS George H.W. Bush, deploying for 9 months in 2014. On her historic deployment, Caroline and the Blacklions flew in support of Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Inherent Resolve seeing action in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria. Her squadron employed the first weapons on ISIS in Iraq, conducted the first ever US strikes into Syria, and Caroline was the first woman to neutralize ISIS from an F/A-18. At the Blacklions, Caroline completed her SFWT level II, III, and IV qualifications, she earned her Combat Mission Commander designation, and she also graduated with honors from the University of Oklahoma with a Master of Arts in Administrative Leadership.

During her final tour on active duty, Caroline returned to the United States Naval Academy, where she taught leadership and recruited the next generation of aviators as the Aviation Operations Officer. Currently in the Navy Reserves, Caroline continues her service as an advisor and liaison officer.

RFT 339: The Halloween Hijacking

Oct 31, 2019 06:05


TWA85: 'The world's longest and most spectacular hijacking'

By Roland Hughes BBC News

At the high point of the 1960s spate of hijackings, a plane was held up on average once every six days in the United States. Fifty years ago this week, Raffaele Minichiello was responsible for the "longest and most spectacular" of them, as one report described it at the time. Could those on board ever forgive him?

21 August 1962

Under the hills of southern Italy, a little north-east of Naples, a fault ruptured and the earth began shaking. Those living on the surface, in one of the most earthquake-prone parts of Europe, were used to this. The 6.1-magnitude quake in the early evening was enough to frighten everyone, but it was the two powerful aftershocks that did the most damage.

Twenty kilometres up from the epicentre and a few hundred metres north was where the Minichiello family lived, including 12-year-old Raffaele. By the time the third earthquake had subsided, their village of Melito Irpino was uninhabitable. The Minichiello family were left with nothing, Raffaele would later recall, and no-one in authority came to help.

The damage was such that almost the entire village was evacuated, razed and rebuilt. Many families would return, but the Minichiellos decided to move to the US for a better life.

What Raffaele Minichiello found instead was war, trauma and notoriety.

01:30; 31 October 1969

Dressed in camouflage, Raffaele Minichiello stepped on to the plane, a $15.50 ticket from Los Angeles to San Francisco in his hand.

This was the last stop on Trans World Airlines flight 85's journey across the US, which had started several hours earlier in Baltimore before calling at St Louis and Kansas City.

The crew of three in the cockpit were helped by four young female flight attendants, most of whom had been in the job for only a few months. The most experienced was Charlene Delmonico, a bob-haired 23-year-old from Missouri who had been flying with the airline for three years. Delmonico had swapped shifts to fly on TWA85 as she wanted Halloween night free.

Before leaving Kansas City, captain Donald Cook, 31, had informed the flight attendants of a change in the usual practice: if they wanted to enter the cockpit, they were to ring a bell outside the door, and not knock.

The flight landed in Los Angeles late at night. Passengers disembarked and others, bleary-eyed, joined the short night flight to San Francisco. The lights were dimmed so that those who had stayed on board could continue sleeping. The flight attendants checked the passengers' tickets when they boarded quietly, but Delmonico paid particular attention to one of the new arrivals, especially his bag.

The tanned young man in camouflage, his wavy brown hair flattened, was nervous but polite as he boarded. A thin container protruded from his backpack.

Delmonico moved towards the first-class compartment, where her colleagues Tanya Novacoff and Roberta Johnson were guiding passengers to their seats. "What was that thing sticking out of the young man's backpack?" Delmonico asked them. The answer - a fishing rod - calmed her fears and she returned to the back of the plane.

The flight was far from busy. With only 40 passengers on board, there was room for everyone to spread out and seek their own row in which to sleep.

Among them were the five mop-topped members of the sunshine pop group Harpers Bizarre, exhausted after a strange concert in Pasadena that night that had been temporarily halted by a man screaming from the balcony of the auditorium. It had been two years since the band's biggest hit, an adaptation of Simon & Garfunkel's The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin' Groovy), but they would hit the peak of their fame just a few hours later.

Singer-guitarist Dick Scoppettone and drummer John Petersen settled on the left-hand side of the plane and, relaxing into their seats, they lit cigarettes. At 01:30 on Friday, 31 October 1969, TWA flight 85 left Los Angeles for San Francisco. Fifteen minutes into the flight, the hijack began.

Anyone sleeping peacefully would have had their rest disturbed on take-off. To boost the plane's thrust, the Boeing 707 injected water into the engines as it took off, earning it the industry nickname the Water Wagon. The effect inside the plane was violent and noisy, producing an ominous deep rumble.

Darkness fell inside the plane as the flight attendants turned the lights almost all the way down. As silence settled, Charlene Delmonico began tidying the galley in the back of the plane with Tracey Coleman, a 21-year-old languages graduate who had joined TWA only five months earlier.

The nervous passenger in camouflage from earlier stepped into the galley and stood alongside them. He had an M1 rifle in his hand. Delmonico, calm and professional, responded simply: "You're not supposed to have that." He responded by handing her a 7.62mm bullet to prove the rifle was loaded, and ordered her to lead him to the cockpit to show it to the crew.

Dick Scoppettone was drifting off to sleep but the movement further down the aisle roused him. Out of the corner of his eye he saw Delmonico being followed by a man who was pointing a rifle at her back. His bandmate John Petersen turned to him from a few rows in front and stared wide-eyed. "Is this really happening?"

Towards the back of the plane, one of the passengers, Jim Findlay, got up to confront Minichiello. The hijacker turned around. He shouted to Delmonico: "Halt!"

This man is a soldier, Delmonico thought.

With Findlay ordered back to his seat, Delmonico and Minichiello moved up the cabin again. She pushed the curtain aside to enter the first-class compartment, her knees buckling under the nerves, and alerted the two flight attendants ahead of her: "There's a man behind me with a gun." They both moved quickly out of the way.

Some of the passengers heard Minichiello shout at Delmonico as he became more and more agitated next to the cockpit door. For the most part he was polite, respectful and came across, in her words, as "a nice clean-cut kid", but by now paranoia was getting the better of him.

Delmonico remembered the captain's instruction: don't knock to enter, ring the bell instead. But Minichiello, afraid he was being tricked, refused to let her do this. She knocked instead, and hoped this would alert the crew. The door opened, and Delmonico told the wary crew there was a man with a gun behind her. Minichiello stepped inside and pointed the rifle at each of the three men inside the cockpit: captain Cook, first officer Wenzel Williams and flight engineer Lloyd Hollrah.

Minichiello appeared to be well trained and well armed, Williams thought. He knew what he wanted from the crew, and was determined to get it. After Delmonico had stepped out of the cockpit, Minichiello turned to the crew and said in heavily accented English: "Turn towards New York."

The unusual sight of a man walking through the plane with a gun had not gone unnoticed by those passengers who were still awake.

The members of Harpers Bizarre had all raced to sit next to one another within seconds of the gunman passing by. Their strange evening had just got stranger. They speculated how the man might have been able to sneak a rifle on to the plane. Where could they be going? Hong Kong, maybe? They'd never been to Hong Kong, that could be fun.

Nearby, Judi Provance's training kicked in. An off-duty TWA flight attendant, she was returning home to San Francisco after eight days on rota flying around Asia. Every year, she and TWA staff would undertake training in how to respond during emergencies, including hijackings. The main lesson they had been taught was to stay calm. Another was to not fall in love with the hijacker - it was easy, they had been told, for hijackers to elicit sympathy from the crew.

Provance quietly mentioned to those around her that she had seen someone walking down the aisle with a gun. She had been taught not to cause panic, and to help manage the situation calmly. Jim Findlay, the man who had previously tried to intervene, was a TWA pilot "deadheading" on board as a passenger. He found the hijacker's bags and went through them to look for clues to his identity, and to make sure no more weapons were on board. Only later did the passengers find rifle magazines full of bullets.

Captain Cook's voice came over the loudspeaker. "We have a very nervous young man up here and we are going to take him wherever he wants to go."

As the flight moved further and further from San Francisco, other messages were communicated to the passengers, or started spreading among them: they were heading to Italy, Denver, Cairo, Cuba. The crew inside the cockpit feared for their lives, but some of the passengers felt they were part of an adventure. An odd one, but an adventure nevertheless.

It was only natural that people on board TWA85 thought they might be heading to Cuba. It had long been hijackers' destination of choice.

From the early 1960s, a number of Americans disillusioned with their homeland and entranced by the promise of a communist ideal had fled to Cuba following Fidel Castro's revolution. As American planes did not normally fly to the island, hijacking gave people the means of getting there. And by accepting hijackers from the US, Castro could embarrass and annoy his enemy while demanding money to return the planes.

A three-month period in 1961 heralded the start of the hijacking phenomenon. On 1 May, Antulio Ramirez Ortiz boarded a National Airlines flight from Miami under a false name, and seized control of the plane by threatening the captain with a steak knife. He demanded to be flown to Cuba, where he wanted to warn Castro of a plot to kill him that had been wholly imagined by Ramirez.

Two more hijackings followed over the following two months, and the next 11 years saw 159 commercial flights hijacked in the United States, Brendan I Koerner writes in his book The Skies Belong To Us: Love and Terror in the Golden Age of Hijacking.

Hijackings that ended in Cuba were so common, he writes, that at one point US airline captains were given maps of the Caribbean and Spanish-language guides in case they had to unexpectedly fly to Havana. A direct phone line was set up between Florida air traffic controllers and Cuba. And there was even a suggestion that a replica of Havana's airport be built in Florida, to fool hijackers into thinking they had reached Cuba.

The hijackings were able to happen because of a lack of security at airports. There was simply no need to check passengers' luggage because no-one had ever caused any trouble, until the hijackings began. For years after that, the airline industry resisted introducing checks because they feared it would ruin the passenger experience and slow down the check-in process.

"We lived in a different world," Jon Proctor, a gate agent with TWA at Los Angeles International Airport in the 1960s, told the BBC. "People didn't blow up airliners. If anything, they might hijack an airliner and want to go to Cuba, but they didn't try to blow up an airliner."

It would later emerge that Raffaele Minichiello had disassembled his rifle and carried it on to TWA85 in a tube, before putting the gun back together in the plane's bathroom. Taking it on board would have been "very easy", Proctor says. Gate agents would only have weighed his backpack and not checked it.

By the time TWA85 was held up, there had already been 54 hijackings in the US in 1969, the Associated Press reported at the time, at a rate of one every six days. But no-one had ever hijacked a plane in the US and taken it to another continent.

The crew were getting mixed messages from their jittery passenger: he wanted to go to New York, or maybe Rome. If their destination was to be New York, that would be a problem: they had enough fuel to fly only to San Francisco, so would have to stop for more. And if they were heading for Rome, there would be an even bigger obstacle: nobody on board was qualified to fly internationally.

Eventually, captain Cook was allowed into the cabin to talk to the passengers. "If you've made any plans in San Francisco," he said, "don't plan on keeping them. Because you're going to New York."

After some negotiation, Minichiello agreed to let the captain land in Denver to take on enough fuel to reach the east coast. While over Colorado, Cook alerted air traffic control for the first time that the plane had been hijacked.

The plans soon changed: Minichiello would let the 39 other passengers get off in Denver, but he insisted that one of the flight attendants stay on board. A small debate broke out about who should stay. The hijacker's preference was Delmonico, whom he had led to the cockpit at gunpoint. Cook wanted Roberta Johnson, whom he knew best of all four attendants.

As Delmonico began writing a manifest of all passengers on board, Tracey Coleman went up to the cockpit with coffee for the crew. When she stepped back out, she insisted to Delmonico: "I'm gonna go." Coleman had a boyfriend in New York, she said, and could go and see him. But Delmonico knew New York would not be the final destination. "You're not going to stay in New York," she told Coleman. "He can't stay there, he'll be arrested if he gets out there. He's going somewhere else - I don't know where, but he's going somewhere else."

Coleman, in an interview with TWA Skyliner magazine after the hijacking, said she knew what was at stake. "It wasn't because I just wanted to go along for the ride," she said. "But it was feared that if one of the stewardesses didn't stay aboard, he may not let the passengers off in Denver."

Minichiello had demanded that the lights at Denver's Stapleton International Airport be turned off as the plane landed. He didn't want any surprises, and promised to release the passengers only if there was no trouble.

His nerves apparently calming, the hijacker proved unexpectedly accommodating. While he was exiting, Jim Findlay, the deadheading TWA pilot, realised he had left behind a Halloween outfit he had bought in Hong Kong. Findlay asked Minichiello if he could return to the back of the plane to retrieve it. He politely replied: "Sure."

As the passengers filed off the plane in cold, foggy weather with sunrise still two hours away, they were met by an unsmiling FBI agent in an overcoat. The relief among those allowed to leave was clear, and they were led down a darkened corridor through the terminal. At the end was a room swarming with FBI agents, who had rushed to the airport at short notice and were waiting to take statements from the 39 passengers and three flight attendants.

The members of Harpers Bizarre remembered what their manager had once told them: if they were ever involved in any trouble, anything at all, they were to call him first, even before they got to a police station or hospital. As soon as they reached the terminal, they did just that, even though it was the middle of the night where he lived.

The tactic paid off. When they had finished giving their statements, they stepped into another room and were greeted by the flash of camera bulbs, reporters shouting the band's name, and phones ringing as news outlets around the US hoped to hear their story. "It was the best publicity we ever had, by a mile," Dick Scoppettone told the BBC.

The assembled photographers captured tired passengers slumped against walls. Other passengers smiled, bemused, as they recounted what had happened. The three flight attendants gave statements to the FBI, and Charlene Delmonico's ran to 13 handwritten pages.

After a day of interviews, all the flight attendants got home to Kansas City late in the evening, as TV channels kept viewers updated as the unlikely hijack continued.

Delmonico settled in at home after more than a day without sleep. Late in the evening, her telephone rang. It was the FBI, could they come around to see her? They arrived at 23:00 and handed her a photo. The image of Raffaele Minichiello looked back at her. "Yes, that's him," she said.

It was a face she would encounter again almost 40 years later.

The three-hour flight from Denver passed peacefully. Minichiello, stretched out in first class with the gun at his side, had calmed down. He poured himself an unusual cocktail from two miniature bottles - Canadian Club whisky and gin. Only five people remained on board TWA85 - captain Cook, first officer Wenzel Williams, flight engineer Lloyd Hollrah, flight attendant Tracey Coleman and the hijacker himself.

The plane landed at John F Kennedy airport late in the morning, and was parked as far from the terminals as possible. The order from the cockpit, like in Denver, was for as few people as possible to approach the plane. But the FBI was ready, and keen to stop the hijacker before he set a dangerous precedent and took a domestic flight to another continent. Close to 100 agents were waiting for TWA85, many disguised as mechanics hoping to sneak on board.

Within minutes of the landing, as refuelling was about to take place, the FBI started approaching the plane. Through the cockpit window, Cook spoke to one agent who wanted a reluctant Minichiello to come closer to the window to speak to them.

"Raffaele was running up and down the aisles to make sure they weren't trying to sneak in the airplane," Wenzel Williams told the BBC 50 years on. "He felt he would be shot if he came to the window."

The captain, one eye on his passenger, warned the agents to stay away from the plane. Soon afterwards, a shot rang out.

The accepted version of events now is that Minichiello did not intend to shoot. In his agitated state, just outside the cockpit door, he is thought to have nudged the trigger of his rifle with his finger. The bullet pierced the ceiling and glanced off an oxygen tank, but did not penetrate it or the plane's fuselage. Had it damaged the fuselage, the plane would not have been able to fly on. Had it pierced the oxygen tank and caused an explosion, there might not have been a plane, or crew, left to fly.

Even though the shot had apparently been fired by accident, it sent shivers through the crew and they were reminded that their lives were at stake. Captain Cook - who was sure the rifle had been fired on purpose - shouted at the agents through the window, chastising them and telling them the plane was leaving immediately, without refuelling.

Two TWA captains of 24 years' experience who were allowed to fly internationally, Billy Williams and Richard Hastings, pushed their way through the FBI agents and onto the plane. Everyone else stayed on board.

"The FBI plan was damned near a prescription for getting the entire crew killed," Cook later told the New York Times.

"We sat with that boy for six hours and had seen him go from practically a raving maniac to a fairly complacent and intelligent young man with a sense of humour, and then these idiots... irresponsibly made up their own minds about how to handle this boy on the basis of no information, and the good faith we had built up for almost six hours was completely destroyed."

The two new pilots, who were in no mood to humour the hijacker, took charge of the plane. Minichiello ordered everyone else to stay inside the cockpit with their hands on their heads.

The plane took off quickly, with nowhere near enough fuel on board to reach its intended destination: Rome.

Twenty minutes after the plane had left New York with a bullet lodged in its roof, the tension on board had eased, thanks largely to Cook convincing Minichiello that the crew had nothing to do with the chaos at Kennedy airport.

The events there meant the plane had been unable to refuel, so within the hour, TWA85 landed in the north-eastern corner of the US in Bangor, Maine, where it took on enough fuel to cross the Atlantic. By now, in the early afternoon, the story of the hijacking and the drama in New York had gained the full attention of the American media. Photographers and reporters turned out en masse at Bangor's airport terminal.

Close to 75 police officers ensured the press stayed as far as possible from the plane in case the gunman was provoked again. Hundreds of people had driven to the airport to get a glimpse of the action, but were kept half a mile away from the terminal. From the plane, the hijacker spotted two people watching from a nearby building. Cook, eager to leave, radioed the control tower: "You had better hurry. He says he is going to start shooting at that building unless they get a move on." The two men quickly left.

On board, as the plane headed towards international airspace, a sense of solidarity had begun to develop among those who had been together for more than nine hours. But under the surface, even as they tried to keep the hijacker happy, the crew continued to fear for their lives.

With the new pilots on board, Cook went to sit with Minichiello in the first-class compartment, where they swapped stories. Cook spoke of his time as an air traffic controller with the US Air Force. The rifle rested between them, but at no point did the crew try to take it, mostly out of concern over how the hijacker might react.

Minichiello repeatedly asked Cook if he was married. He replied that he was, despite being a bachelor. "That seemed wiser," Cook told the New York Times later. He had assumed a jittery man with a gun would be less likely to harm married crew. "He asked how many kids I had and I said one. Then he asked about the other members of the crew and I said: 'Yeah, all of them are married.'" In fact, only one of the four original crew members was married.

Tracey Coleman, too, spent time chatting to Minichiello during the transatlantic trip, the first time she had left the United States or flown for longer than four hours. He taught her card games including solitaire and he was "a very easy fellow to talk to", she would later recall. He talked about his family moving to the US and, intriguingly, said he had "had a little military trouble after coming back to the States and just wanted to go home to Italy", Coleman later told an airline industry magazine.

She slept a little during the six-hour flight from Bangor to Shannon, on Ireland's west coast, where TWA85 refuelled once more in the middle of the night. Few others on board were able to sleep. "We were too keyed up for that," Wenzel Williams recalled. The only food on board was a handful of cupcakes left on the original flight from Kansas City to Los Angeles. "Food wasn't exactly much of an issue," Williams told the BBC. "Having a gun pointed at us a good bit of the time kept most other issues at bay."

As TWA85 crossed time zones on its approach to Ireland, and 31 October became 1 November, Minichiello turned 20. No-one celebrated.

Half an hour after landing in Ireland, TWA85 was off again, on the final stretch of its 6,900-mile (11,000km) journey to Rome.

TWA85 circled Rome's Fiumicino airport early in the morning. Minichiello had one more demand: the plane was to be parked far from the terminal and he was to be met by an unarmed police official. The hijack was nearing its end, 18-and-a-half hours after it had started over the skies of central California. It was, the New York Times reported at the time, "the world's longest and most spectacular hijacking".

In the last few minutes of the flight, Williams said, the hijacker offered to drive the crew to a hotel once they had landed, an offer they politely declined. Minichiello also feared the crew would be punished for not having stolen his gun when they had the opportunity. "I've given you guys an awful lot of trouble," he told Cook. "That's all right," the captain replied. "We don't take it personally."

At the airport, shortly after 05:00, a lone Alfa Romeo approached the plane. Out of it emerged Pietro Guli, a deputy customs official who had volunteered to meet the hijacker. He walked up the steps to the plane with his hands up, and Minichiello emerged to meet him.

"So long, Don," the hijacker told the captain as he left. "I'm sorry I caused you all this trouble." Minichiello noted Cook's address in Kansas City so he could later write to him and explain what had happened after they separated.

The two men walked down the steps towards the car, Minichiello still holding his rifle, and the six people on board felt "total relief", according to first officer Wenzel Williams. They were free again. But they all hoped the next stage of the hijacking would end safely, for both Minichiello and his new hostage.


After Los Angeles, Denver, New York, Bangor, Shannon and Rome, there was only one destination now. "Take me to Naples," Minichiello ordered Pietro Guli. He was heading home.

Four police cars trailed the Alfa Romeo and the officers' voices crackled over the hostage's radio. Minichiello, sitting in the back seat, switched off the radio and gave his hostage directions where to go.


In the countryside about six miles from the centre of Rome, having somehow evaded the pursuing cars, the Alfa Romeo travelled down lanes that became ever more narrow. Eventually it reached a dead end and both men stepped out of the car. Realising he had few options left, Minichiello sprinted away in panic.

Twenty-three hours after TWA85 left Los Angeles, Minichiello's journey came to an end. It did so only because of the publicity the hijacking had generated. Over five hours in the hills around Rome, hundreds of police officers, some with dogs and helicopters, led the search for the hijacker. But in the end, he was found by a priest.

Saturday, 1 November was All Saints Day, and the Sanctuary of Divine Love was full for morning Mass. Among the well-dressed congregation, the young man in his vest and undershorts stood out. Minichiello had sought shelter in the church after shedding his military clothes and stashing his gun in a barn. But his face was now famous and the vice-rector, Don Pasquale Silla, recognised him.

When the police finally surrounded Minichiello outside the church, he expressed bemusement - interpreted by reporters as the arrogance of a young criminal - that his countrymen might want to detain him. "Paisà [my people], why are you arresting me?" he asked.


He employed the same tone hours later while speaking to reporters, his hands free of cuffs, after a brief interrogation in a Rome police station. "Why did you do it?" one reporter asked. "Why did I do it?" he replied. "I don't know." When another asked him about the hijacked plane, he replied in a perplexed tone: "What plane? I don't know what you're talking about."

But in another interview, he revealed the real reasons for the hijack.


As the news of Minichiello's arrest spread around the world later that day, Otis Turner sat down for breakfast in the mess of his Marine barracks in California.

The television in the corner was relaying the details of the daring hijack and the manhunt in the Italian countryside. "Then they flashed up Raffaele's picture," Turner told the BBC. "I was just floored, absolutely floored."

The two men had served in the same platoon in Vietnam and become close friends before being separated in the US. "I was confused at first," Turner said, "but when I really got to thinking about it, I knew he had had some issues and it all came together."

When the hijacking happened, it was four-and-a-half years since US combat forces had first landed in Vietnam and the fall of Saigon was still more than five years away. The US would leave Vietnam having completely failed in its mission, leaving more than 58,000 American service personnel and millions of Vietnamese - both combatants and civilians - dead.

Opposition in the US to the war was at its peak in late 1969. An estimated two million people across the US had taken part in the Moratorium to End the War in Vietnam - reported as the biggest demonstration in American history - two weeks before the hijacking.

The lottery drafting young Americans to fight was still a month away from being enforced, but many thousands of young men had already volunteered, believing back then that the cause - to fight the communists of North Vietnam - was valid. Raffaele Minichiello was one of those who volunteered.


In May 1967, the 17 year old left his home in Seattle, to where he and his family had moved after the earthquake in their Italian homeland in 1962. He travelled to San Diego to enlist in the Marine Corps, and for those who knew him - a little stubborn, a little gung-ho - this did not come as a surprise.

Minichiello barely spoke English, and had been teased for his thick Neapolitan accent by his classmates before dropping out of school altogether. Doing so had brought an end to his ambitions of being a commercial pilot. But he was proud of his adopted country, and was willing to fight for it in the hope it would make him a naturalised American citizen.

Otis Turner arrived in Vietnam at about the same time as Minichiello, and they served in different squads in the same Marine platoon. They were "grunts" - the men dropped on to the jungle-cloaked hills of the front line for a few months at a time to take the fight to the communist forces.

"Anybody will tell you: the grunts had the toughest job in the Marine Corps," Turner, now living in Iowa, said. "We were in 120-degree (49C) weather, in monsoon season. It was terrible. We saw the worst of the worst."

In 2019, Turner looks back with some shame at what they were ordered to do, and how they complied. Their mission was brutally simple: they were to enter villages and towns and kill the enemy. "From the time we joined the Marine Corps, we were basically all about kill, kill, kill," he said. "That's all they wanted us to do. They drilled that into us from the beginning."


Of those serving on the front line, Minichiello was often the one leading the charge. Doing so brought him into firefights that killed close friends, and led him to save others who were in danger. He was awarded the Cross of Gallantry, which was given out by the government of South Vietnam to those who had displayed heroic conduct in the war.

The men had come to know only one mode - they were Marines, born to fight - and adjusting to daily life proved impossible. "There was no staging area to regroup or to get your mind and body back working as one unit," Turner told the BBC. "There was no period there just to break it all down and think about what you had just done, to see a professional.

"There were a lot of sick people, confused people. Raffaele was in some state. All of us were confused when we left Vietnam."

Turner says most members of his and Minichiello's platoon - including himself - went on to be diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The US Department of Veterans Affairs estimates that up to 30% of all those who served in Vietnam have suffered PTSD at some point in their lives - about 810,000 people.

Raffaele Minichiello would not be diagnosed until 2008.

Tracked down by reporters near Naples, Minichiello's father - who was by then suffering from terminal cancer and had returned to Italy - knew immediately what had caused his son to hijack the plane. "The war must have provoked a state of shock in his mind," Luigi Minichiello said. "Before that, he was always sane." He vowed to clip him around the ear when he next saw him.


Another reason for the hijacking soon emerged. While in Vietnam, Minichiello had been sending money to a Marines savings fund. He had collected $800, but when he returned to base in Camp Pendleton, California, he noticed there was only $600 in his account. It was not enough to pay for a visit to Italy to see his dying father.

Minichiello raised his concerns with his superiors, and insisted he be given the $200 he felt he was owed. His superiors didn't listen, and dismissed his complaint. And so Minichiello took matters into his own hands, albeit clumsily. One night, he broke into the store on the base to steal $200 of goods. Unfortunately for him, he did so after drinking eight beers and fell asleep inside the store. He was caught the next morning.

The day before he hijacked TWA85, he had been due to appear before a court martial in Camp Pendleton but, fearing prison, he went awol and travelled up to Los Angeles. With him, he took a Chinese rifle he had registered as a war trophy in Vietnam.

Against the odds, Minichiello became a folk hero in Italy, where he was portrayed not as a troubled gunman who had threatened a planeload of passengers, but as a fresh-faced Italian boy who would do anything to return to the motherland. He faced trial in Italy - the authorities there insisted on this within hours of his arrest - and would not face extradition to the US, where he could have faced the death penalty.

At his trial, his lawyer Giuseppe Sotgiu portrayed Minichiello as the poor victim - the poor Italian victim - of an unconscionable foreign war. "I am sure that Italian judges will understand and forgive an act born from a civilisation of aircraft and war violence, a civilisation which overwhelmed this uncultured peasant."


He was prosecuted in Italy only for crimes committed in Italian airspace, and sentenced to seven-and-a-half years in prison. That sentence was quickly reduced on appeal, and he was released on 1 May 1971.

Wearing a brown suit, the 21 year old stepped out of the Queen of Heaven prison near the Vatican to face crowds of photographers and cameramen. Occasionally overawed by the attention and breaking into a smile that flitted from nervousness to cockiness, he stopped to speak to reporters. "Are you sorry for what you did?" one asked. "Why should I be?" he replied, grinning.

But after that, an array of prospects came to nothing. A nude modelling career never took off, and a promise by a film producer to turn Minichiello into a Spaghetti Western star was never kept. For years, rumours swirled that the character John Rambo was based on Minichiello - after all, Rambo was a decorated but misunderstood Vietnam veteran who had lost the plot - but the man who created Rambo has since dismissed the suggestion.

In the years after prison, Minichiello settled in Rome where he worked as a bartender. He married the bar owner's daughter, Cinzia, with whom he had a son. At one point he also owned a pizza restaurant named Hijacking.


23 November 1980

The earthquake that had destroyed Raffaele Minichiello's hometown in 1962 was just a precursor. Eighteen years later, a magnitude-6.9 earthquake struck southern Italy, its epicentre barely 20 miles from the one in 1962.

This was the most powerful earthquake to strike Italy in 70 years, and it caused enormous damage across the Irpinia region. Up to 4,690 people were killed and 20,000 homes - many of them in a weakened state after the 1962 quake - were destroyed.


Soon afterwards, Italians began arriving in large groups to the region east of Naples to distribute aid. Among them was Raffaele Minichiello.

The 31 year old was still living in Rome at the time, but had felt compelled to make the 300-mile trip home three times in only two weeks to deliver aid. "I know all about earthquakes in Irpinia," he told an interviewer from People magazine in December 1980. "That is where I was born, and that is where all my troubles began."

His distrust of authority, fostered during his time in the Marines, had stayed with him. "I mistrust institutions, so I give help personally," he said. "I know all about people who don't keep their promises."

Minichiello was recognised among the snowy ruins of Irpinia, but he was not quite the minor celebrity he had been when TWA85 landed in Rome 11 years earlier. At that time, his image - slick curled hair, cigarette in his right hand, casual smirk on his face - had been on the front covers of magazines around the world.


In the post-earthquake ruins, a more repentant Minichiello began to emerge. "I'm very different now to who I was," he said. "I'm sorry for what I did to those people on the plane."

Minichiello's redemption did not come with the Irpinia earthquake. And his story could have ended very differently had his plan for another attack come to fruition, although this plan was much more poorly thought-out than his hijack.

In February 1985, Cinzia was pregnant with the couple's second child. After being admitted to hospital in labour, she and her newborn son died as a result of medical malpractice. Minichiello, feeling angry and let down by the authorities again, knew what he would do. He would target a prominent medical conference outside Rome, and draw attention to the negligence that had cost his wife and son their lives. He arranged, via an acquaintance, to acquire guns with which he would launch a violent revenge attack.

While he plotted, Minichiello struck up a friendship with a young colleague, Tony, who sensed his distress. Tony introduced him to the Bible and read him passages out loud. Minichiello listened and, over time, decided to devote his life to God. He called off his attack.


In 1999, Minichiello decided to return to the United States for the first time since the hijack.

He had learned earlier that year that there were no outstanding criminal charges against him in the US, but his decision to abscond was not entirely without consequence. Because Minichiello had fled a court martial, he was given what is known as an "other than honourable discharge" by the Marines. His former platoon comrades have been fighting to get this reduced to a general discharge, to reflect his service in Vietnam, but they remain unsuccessful to this day.

"Raffaele was a great Marine, a decorated Marine," fellow platoon member Otis Turner told the BBC. "He was always the guy right out front. He would volunteer for everything. He has saved lives. What he did for this country, his part in Vietnam... you just don't throw somebody to the side like that."

As his platoon worked to clear his name, Minichiello asked them to help with another mission: finding those who were on board TWA85, so he could apologise.


8 August 2009

By the summer of 2009, Charlene Delmonico had been retired for more than eight years after spending her whole 35-year career as a flight attendant with TWA. Within a year of her retirement in January 2001, the airline no longer existed after falling into bankruptcy and being taken over by American Airlines.

Out of the blue, Delmonico received an invitation. Would she be willing to meet the man who had once held her up at gunpoint?

The invitation had come from Otis Turner and other members of Raffaele's platoon. "I thought the idea was kind of crazy," Turner said. "But I got thinking and I thought: why not try?"

Delmonico's first reaction to the invitation was shock. The hijacking had defined her life, and reshaped it. Why should she meet the man who had once put a gun against her back? Her second reaction, as a churchgoer, was different. "I was kind of surprised," she told the BBC. "And I had a strange feeling. This was something that had happened that was very scary and nerve-wracking - it really did get to me.

"Then I thought: we are taught to forgive. But I didn't know how I would receive him."

In August 2009, Delmonico travelled the almost 150 miles south from her home to Branson, Missouri, where Minichiello and his former platoon were holding a reunion. There she met Wenzel Williams, the first officer on TWA85, who was the only other person to accept the offer to meet Minichiello. Captain Cook had refused, a gesture that hurt the one-time hijacker who believed he had developed a bond with the captain as they had sat chatting in first class.

In a side room at the Clarion Hotel, Williams and Delmonico sat at a round table with the platoon members, minus Minichiello. The former soldiers presented them with a letter, expressing what they hoped could be achieved through the meeting. Their obvious support for Minichiello convinced Delmonico that they felt this was a man worth fighting for.


After some time, Minichiello walked in and sat down. The atmosphere remained tense for a while. But as more questions flowed, and Minichiello began to explain what had happened to him, the group grew closer.

Minichiello seemed different to Williams - smaller, more softly spoken. He appeared weighed down by his guilt as he relived the hijacking. But his remorse appeared sincere.

"In a way, I got a little closure, saw a different viewpoint," Delmonico said. "I probably felt sorry for him. I thought he was very polite. But he was always polite."

Before they left, Minichiello handed them both a copy of the New Testament.

Inside, he had written:

Thank you for your time, so much.

I appreciate your forgiveness for my actions that put you in harm's way.

Please accept this book, that has changed my life.

God bless you so much, Raffaele Minichiello.

Underneath, he added the words Luke 23:34.

The passage reads: "Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing."


What happened next?

Raffaele Minichiello divides his time between Washington state and Italy, flies a home-made plane for fun and curates a YouTube feed dedicated to accordion music.

His platoon is still campaigning for his discharge to be amended to an honourable one, and in August they sent several letters to President Donald Trump asking for this to happen.

Unless his discharge is amended, he will remain ineligible for treatment for PTSD, and he will not receive any other veterans' benefits. He declined to be interviewed for this article as he has signed a provisional film deal about his life story.

According to his obituary, TWA captain Donald Cook "made his final flight up into the wild blue yonder on September 30, 2012 after a long and valiant battle with cancer".

Flight attendant Charlene Delmonico - now Charlene Delmonico Nielsen - retired from TWA on 1 January 2001 after 35 years with the company. She still lives in Missouri.

Flight attendant Tracey Coleman wrote to Minichiello while he was in prison but is believed to have left her job with TWA two years after the hijacking, despite reportedly being promised a job for life. Her whereabouts are unknown.

First officer Wenzel Williams is now retired and lives in Fort Worth, Texas.

Harpers Bizarre broke up in the mid-1970s. Dick Scoppettone now hosts a local radio show in Santa Cruz, California.

In December 1972, after hijackers demanded a ransom and threatened to fly a plane into a nuclear facility, the Nixon administration finally introduced security measures at airports, including electronic screening of all passengers. It blamed a "new breed of hijackers... unequalled in their ruthlessness".

RFT 338: Pilot/Airport Owner Moose Pier

Oct 28, 2019 25:19


Martin "Moose" Pier is a NASA flight crew member, airline instructor and airport owner. Moose started out in the Air Force and decided to take flying lessons at the base aero club. He was introduced to the club manager's daughter, and the rest was history - they are still married.

In addition to pursuing airplane flying, Moose became interested in hang gliding, and eventually bought an airport property in Colorado, intending to become active in hang-gliding. In the process, he acquired airplanes. He now owns EIGHT at last count!

Moose served in the Air Force for a full career as a flight engineer, and then became an airline flight engineer. In the process, he met the SOFIA team from NASA and was hired to fly scientific missions all over the world.

In his "free" time, Moose operates a team of two mules, "Black" and "Decker" to give rides to children.

RFT 337: Instructor Navigator Graciela Tiscareño-Sato

Oct 24, 2019 36:44


Graciela Tiscareno-Sato is a graduate of the University of California at Berkeley. She completed the Aerospace Studies program as an AFROTC (Air Force Reserve Officer Training Program) scholarship cadet while earning her degree in Architecture and Environmental Design. During her active duty career in the U.S. Air Force, she deployed to four continents and dozens of countries as aircrew member, instructor and contingency planning officer. Flying many combat sorties over Southern Iraq in the NO FLY Zone after Operation Desert Storm earned her crew the prestigious Air Medal on her first deployment. Her favorite rendezvous for aerial refueling was with the SR-71 Blackbird as it came out of its high altitude missions over the Earth at supersonic speeds. She served with a NATO Battlestaff in Vicenza, Italy, as a military liaison officer at the U.S. Embassy in Quito, Ecuador and much more. She earned a Master degree in International Management from the School of Global Commerce at Whitworth University in Spokane, Washington before leaving active service. After an international marketing management career with Siemens headquartered in Munich, Germany, she created her global marketing and publishing firm, Gracefully Global Group, LLC. In November 2010, she received Entrepreneur of the Year honors at the LATINAStyle Magazine Gala in Washington D.C. In 2014, the White House honored Graciela as a White House Champion of Change, Woman Veteran Leader for creating this book series and raising educational expectations of young Latino students. Graciela actively mentors students who need education and career roadmaps, which is a central focus of her four-time award-winning and bestselling book, "Latinnovating." As a journalist and blogger, her work has been published in the U.S. and Europe in a wide variety of media. She is a sought-after keynote speaker, workshop leader and lecturer in classrooms, business schools, corporate events and educational conferences around the nation. Graciela and her family live in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Graciela's military decorations include the Air Medal, the Aerial Achievement Medal, the Air Force Commendation Medal, the Joint Service Achievement Medal, the Air Force Achievement Medal, the Joint Meritorious Unit Award, the Air Force Outstanding Unit Award, the Combat Readiness Medal, the National defense Service Medal, the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, the Southwest Asia Service Medal, and the Armed Forces Services Medal.

RFT 336: Army/Air Force Pilot Randy Larsen

Oct 21, 2019 38:44


Randall Larsen is the CEO of Randall Larsen Presents, a company dedicated to bringing great stories in film and print to the American public. He also serves as the National Security Advisor at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.

From 1998-2012, Larsen served in a variety of executive positions in national and homeland security including:

Chairman, Department of Military Strategy and Operations at the National War College Founding Director, Institute for Homeland Security Senior Fellow at the Homeland Security Policy Institute at George Washington University Executive Director of the Congressional Commission on the Prevention of Weapons of Mass Destruction Proliferation and Terrorism CEO, The Bipartisan WMD Terrorism Research Center

Larsen is the author of Our Own Worst Enemy: Asking the Right Questions About Security to Protect You, Your Family, and America (Grand Central, 2007).  His articles have appeared in the Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and Business Week.

Colonel Larsen retired in July 2000 after serving in both the Army and Air Force for a combined total of 32 years of active duty military service. His flying career began as a 19-year old Cobra pilot in the 101st Airborne Division. He flew 400 combat missions in Vietnam. He is a command pilot with more than 4,000 hours and also served as military attaché at the US Embassy in Bangkok, the chief of legislative liaison at the US Transportation Command, and the commander of America’s fleet of VIP aircraft at Andrews AFB MD. His decorations include the Legion of Merit, Distinguished Flying Cross, Bronze Star, 17 awards of the Air Medal (3 with “V” Device for Valor), and the South Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry.

RFT 335: Pilot/Author Beth Ruggiero York

Oct 17, 2019 35:01


At thirteen years old, Beth’s heart was broken when her father died suddenly. But there was a bigger challenge ahead when doctors told her she probably had multiple sclerosis at 22 years old. Beth vowed that this new challenge would not put restrictions on her life and embarked on a lifelong dream to fly for the airlines. Starting at the small local airport, the aviation world swallowed her whole, and the next five years of her life were as turbulent as an airplane in a thunderstorm, never knowing when, how or if she would emerge. An agonizing love affair with her flight instructor, dangerous risks in the sky and flying broken airplanes for shady companies all intertwined to define her road to the airlines. She made it to her goal and was hired by Trans World Airlines in 1989. Flying Alone is told with soul-baring candor, taking readers on a suspenseful journey through the terror, romance and ultimate victory of those years.

RFT 334: Navy Pilot/LSO Brad "Brick" Conners

Oct 14, 2019 24:50


In a Career that was 99% pure exhilarating fun balanced by 1% of pure terror the lessons of leadership, survival, faith, love, perseverance, and camaraderie were plentiful, direct, and changed his life. As a Navy Strike Fighter, Brick amassed over 4500 hours and nearly 1000 arrested carrier landings during multiple combat deployments. His tours of duty include F/A-18 Hornet Squadron Command and he also provided leadership and instruction to two of the Navy’s elite air power training organizations - the Naval Strike and Air Warfare Center and to Naval Strike Force Training Pacific. In the blink of an eye it was over as he bid farewell to his beloved Navy at his final Command, Naval Base Ventura County.

From Finance to Transportation, the lessons and experience from his unique past continues to be useful to others. But if given the choice, his go to move is to Coach and Mentor young Men and Women either professionally or through his first passion – Lacrosse. And when it comes to Joy and fulfillment there is no greater force in his life then the support from, and pride in, his devoted family -  his wife Terrie and their four children Sarah, Rachel, Anna, and Bradford.

RFT 333: PRM Approach

Oct 10, 2019 08:16


Simultaneous Close Parallel Precision Runway Monitor (PRM) Approaches are independent approaches conducted to runways with centerline spacing of less than 4300 feet (1310m) but at least 3000' (915m). PRM is an acronym for the high update rate Precision Runway Monitor surveillance system which is required to monitor the No Transgression Zone (NTZ) for specific parallel runway separations used to conduct simultaneous close parallel approaches. PRM is published in the title as part of the approach name for Instrument Approach Procedures (IAP) used to conduct Simultaneous Close Parallel approaches. “PRM” also alerts pilots that specific airborne equipment, training, and procedures are applicable.
Simultaneous Close Parallel PRM Approach (Source: FAA AIM):
Note that aircraft will be separated laterally or vertically prior to the beginning of the NTZ and that the NTZ monitoring continues past the missed approach point (MAP) to ensure aircraft separation in the event of simultaneous missed approaches.
Simultaneous close parallel ILS PRM approaches are depicted on a separate Approach Procedure Chart titled ILS PRM Rwy XXX (Simultaneous Close Parallel). Note that one or both of the ILS PRM approaches in a simultaneous close parallel operation may be substituted with RNAV PRM or GLS PRM approaches. Because Simultaneous Close Parallel PRM approaches are independent, the NTZ and normal operating zone (NOZ) airspace between the final approach courses is monitored by two monitor controllers, one for each approach course. Simultaneous Close Parallel PRM approaches must meet all of the following requirements:
specific pilot training
PRM in the approach title
NTZ monitoring utilizing a final monitor aid
publication of an Attention All Users Page (AAUP) as part of the IAP
use of a secondary PRM communication frequency
One of the unique features of Simultaneous Close Parallel PRM Approaches concerns the "breakout" protocol. Because of the close proximity of aircraft on adjacent approaches, should an aircraft on approach blunder into the NTZ, it will be the aircraft on the opposite approach that will be given breakout instructions by ATC.
Pilot Training
Pilots must complete special training before accepting a clearance for a simultaneous close parallel ILS PRM, RNAV PRM, GLS PRM or LDA PRM approach. Operators must be approved for Simultaneous Close Parallel PRM Approach procedures by their National Aviation Authority (NAA). Commercial operators will detail the specific training requirements in their Company Operations Manual in accordance with their approved Operations Specification (Ops Spec) for PRM approaches. Non commercial operators must be familiar with the content of the FAA Aeronautical Information Manual (AIM) pertaining to PRM operations.
NTZ Monitoring
The final approach courses of Simultaneous Close Parallel Approaches are monitored by two monitor controllers, one for each approach course. The NTZ monitoring system consists of:
high resolution ATC radar displays
automated tracking software which provides
aircraft identification
aircraft position
a ten-second projected aircraft position
aircraft speed
visual and aural NTZ penetration alerts
Attention All Users Page (AAUP)
Multiple PRM approach charts at the same airport have a single associated AAUP. This page must be referred to in preparation for conducting the approach. Bullet points are published summarising the PRM procedures which apply to each approach and these must be briefed as part of the approach briefing. The following information may be summarized in the bullet points or published in more detail in the Expanded Procedures section of the AAUP. Briefing on the Expanded Procedures is optional. Bullet points on the AAUP include:
ATIS - When the ATIS broadcast advises ILS PRM approaches are in progress (or ILS PRM and LDA PRM approaches in the case of SOIA), pilots should brief to fly the ILS PRM or LDA PRM approach. If not qualified to flight PRM approaches, ATC must be advised.
Dual VHF Communications Required - To avoid blocked transmissions, each runway will have two frequencies, a primary and a PRM monitor frequency. The tower controller will transmit on both frequencies. The monitor controller’s transmissions, if needed, will override both frequencies. Pilots will ONLY transmit on the tower controller’s frequency, but will listen to both frequencies. The pilots should not select the PRM monitor frequency audio only until instructed by ATC to contact the tower. The volume levels should be set about the same on both radios so that the pilots will be able to hear transmissions on at least one frequency if the other is blocked. This procedure ensures that critical breakout instructions are not missed.
Breakouts - Breakouts differ from other types of abandoned approaches in that they can happen unexpectedly and at any point during the approach. A pilot that is directed by ATC to break off an approach must assume that an aircraft is blundering toward them resulting in Loss of Separation. Pilots must always initiate the breakout in response to an air traffic controller’s instruction and the breakout must be initiated immediately. The following points provide specific breakout protocols:
Execution - to expedite the manoeuvre, breakout procedures must be hand flown
ATC Instructions - directed breakouts will consist of a turn away from the NTZ to a specified heading and a climb or a descent to a specified altitude. A descending breakout will be directed only when there are no other reasonable options available, but in no case will the descent be below the minimum vectoring altitude (MVA) which provides at least 1,000 feet required obstruction clearance
Phraseology - If an aircraft enters the no transgression zone (NTZ), the controller will breakout the threatened aircraft on the adjacent approach using the phraseology "(aircraft call sign) TURN (left/right) IMMEDIATELY, HEADING (degrees), CLIMB/ DESCEND AND MAINTAIN (altitude)"
TCAS - Should a TCAS RA (resolution advisory) occur during a breakout maneuver, the pilot should react appropriately to the TCAS vertical guidance. However, in this situation, it is critical that the turn to the ATC assigned breakout heading is also executed.

RFT 332: Navy/Airline Pilot Paco Chierici

Oct 7, 2019 27:28


During his active duty career in the U.S. Navy, Francesco “Paco” Chierici flew A-6E Intruders and F-14A Tomcats, deployed to conflict zones from Somalia to Iraq and was stationed aboard carriers including the USS Ranger, Nimitz and Kitty Hawk. Throughout his military career, Paco accumulated 3,000 tactical hours, 400 carrier landings, a Southwest Asia Service Medal with Bronze Star, and three Strike/Flight Air Medals. Unable to give up dogfighting, he flew the F-5 Tiger II for a further ten years as a Bandit.


Paco is now a pilot for a major U.S. airline.

RFT 331: Helios 522

Oct 3, 2019 13:28


When the aircraft arrived from London earlier that morning, the previous flight crew had reported a frozen door seal and abnormal noises coming from the right aft service door. They requested a full inspection of the door. The inspection was carried out by a ground engineer who then performed a pressurization leak check. In order to carry out this check without requiring the aircraft's engines, the pressurization system was set to "manual". However, the engineer failed to reset it to "auto" on completion of the test.

After the aircraft was returned into service, the flight crew overlooked the pressurisation system state on three separate occasions: during the pre-flight procedure, the after-start check, and the after take-off check. During these checks, no one in the flight crew noticed the incorrect setting. The aircraft took off at 9:07 with the pressurization system still set to "manual", and the aft outflow valve partially open.

As the aircraft climbed, the pressure inside the cabin gradually decreased. As it passed through an altitude of 12,040 feet (3,670 m), the cabin altitude warning horn sounded. The warning should have prompted the crew to stop climbing, but it was misidentified by the crew as a take-off configuration warning, which signals that the aircraft is not ready for take-off, and can only sound on the ground.

In the next few minutes, several warning lights on the overhead panel in the cockpit illuminated. One or both of the equipment cooling warning lights came on to indicate low airflow through the cooling fans (a result of the decreased air density), accompanied by the master caution light. The passenger oxygen light illuminated when, at an altitude of approximately 18,000 feet (5,500 m), the oxygen masks in the passenger cabin automatically deployed.

Shortly after the cabin altitude warning sounded, the captain radioed the Helios operations centre and reported "the take-off configuration warning on" and "cooling equipment normal and alternate off line". He then spoke to the ground engineer and repeatedly stated that the "cooling ventilation fan lights were off". The engineer (the one who had conducted the pressurization leak check) asked "Can you confirm that the pressurization panel is set to AUTO?" However, the captain, already experiencing the onset of hypoxia's initial symptoms, disregarded the question and instead asked in reply, "Where are my equipment cooling circuit breakers?". This was the last communication with the aircraft.

The aircraft continued to climb until it leveled off at FL340, approximately 34,000 feet (10,000 m). Between 09:30 and 09:40, Nicosia ATC repeatedly attempted to contact the aircraft, without success. At 09:37, the aircraft passed from Cyprus Flight Information Region (FIR) into Athens FIR, without making contact with Athens ATC. Nineteen attempts to contact the aircraft between 10:12 and 10:50 also met with no response, and at 10:40 the aircraft entered the holding pattern for Athens Airport, at the KEA VHF omnidirectional range, still at FL340. It remained in the holding pattern, under control of the auto-pilot, for the next 70 minutes.

Two F-16 fighter aircraft from the Hellenic Air Force 111th Combat Wing were scrambled from Nea Anchialos Air Base to establish visual contact. They intercepted the passenger jet at 11:24 and observed that the first officer was slumped motionless at the controls and the captain's seat was empty. They also reported that oxygen masks were dangling in the passenger cabin.

At 11:49, flight attendant Andreas Prodromou entered the cockpit and sat down in the captain's seat, having remained conscious by using a portable oxygen supply. Prodromou held a UK Commercial Pilot Licence, but was not qualified to fly the Boeing 737. Crash investigators concluded that Prodromou's experience was insufficient for him to be able to gain control of the aircraft under the circumstances. Prodromou waved at the F16s very briefly, but almost as soon as he entered the cockpit, the left engine flamed out due to fuel exhaustion and the plane left the holding pattern and started to descend. Ten minutes after the loss of power from the left engine, the right engine also flamed out, and just before 12:04 the aircraft crashed into hills near Grammatiko, 40 km (25 mi; 22 nmi) from Athens, killing all 121 passengers and crew on board.

RFT 330: Airline Pilot Anna Rice

Sep 30, 2019 28:01


Anna Rice fell in love with aviation as a child, as she accompanied her flight attendant mother on trips to Europe. She attended Metro State College of Denver (now Metropolitan State University of Denver), majoring in Aviation, and was selected as an intern at American Airlines.

After graduation, she became a CFI and then a pilot for a small airline, and was on track to become a pilot with American Airlines when the attacks of September 11th crippled the U.S. airline industry. She continued to work as a CFI until another airline job became available.

THEN another career hurdle appeared, the airline pilot age limit raising from 60 to 65. That caused total stagnation in upward movement at her airline, and she was furloughed.

When she had children, she saw the furlough as a blessing, as she was able to stay home to raise them, and she bypassed her recall until the children were older.

She is now back at her airline as a B737 First Officer.

RFT 329: AQP

Sep 26, 2019 09:43


The introduction of the Advanced Qualification Program (AQP) in the early 1990s marks another stage in the evolution of error management. Under
AQP, a voluntary program, the FAA allows air carriers to develop training programs specific to their individual needs and operations. A condition for
AQP authorization is the requirement to have a CRM program that is integrated into technical training.

To accomplish this objective, air carriers began to “proceduralize” CRM by incorporating desired behaviors into operational procedures and checklists.

Although AQP is a voluntary program, the FAA Flight Standards Service encourages air carriers to participate. AQP provides for enhanced curriculum development and a data-driven approach to quality assurance along with the flexibility to target critical tasks during aircrew training. The AQP methodology directly supports the FAA’s goals for safety enhancement. The primary goal of AQP is to achieve the highest possible standard of individual and crew performance. In order to achieve this goal, AQP seeks to reduce the probability of crew-related errors by aligning training and evaluation requirements more closely with the known causes of human error. For example:

a. Crew Performance. Most accidents are attributed to crew error. Traditional training programs focus on individual training and evaluation. Under AQP, the focus is on crew and individual performance in both training and evaluation.
b. CRM. Most accidents are caused by errors of judgment, communication, and crew coordination. Traditional training programs focus primarily on flying skills and systems knowledge. Under AQP, competence in flying skills and systems knowledge are integrated with CRM skills in training and evaluation throughout the curriculum.
c. Scenario-Based Training and Evaluation. Most accidents are caused by a chain of errors that build up over the course of a flight and which, if undetected or unresolved, result in a final, fatal error. Traditional training programs, with their maneuver-based training and evaluation, artificially segment simulation events in such a way as to prevent the realistic buildup of the error chain. Under AQP, both training and evaluation are scenario-based, simulating more closely the actual flight conditions known to cause most fatal carrier accidents.
d. Additional Benefits. Added benefits that are expected for individual applicants will vary, but may include:
(1) The ability to modify training curricula, media, and intervals.
(2) Crew evaluation as well as individual assessment.
(3) Improved standardization across fleets and flight personnel.
(4) Shift from programmed hours to proficiency-based training.
(5) Access to innovative training ideas and research.
(6) Opportunity to achieve more efficient training.

RFT 328: NTSB Chairman Robert Sumwalt

Sep 23, 2019 28:39


Under Chairman Sumwalt’s leadership, the agency’s ranking in the Best Places to Work in the Federal Government has advanced 33 percent to the agency’s current position of Number 6 of 29 small federal agencies. He is a fierce advocate for improving safety in all modes of transportation, including teen driver safety, impaired driving, distractions in transportation, and several aviation and rail safety initiatives.

Before joining the NTSB, Chairman Sumwalt was a pilot for 32 years, including 24 years with Piedmont Airlines and US Airways. He accumulated over 14,000 flight hours. During his tenure at US Airways, he worked on special assignment to the flight safety department and served on the airline’s Flight Operational Quality Assurance (FOQA) monitoring team.

Following his airline career, Chairman Sumwalt managed the corporate aviation department for a Fortune 500 energy company.

In other notable accomplishments, he chaired the Air Line Pilots Association’s Human Factors and Training Group and co-founded the association’s critical incident response program. He also spent eight years as a consultant to NASA’s Aviation Safety Reporting System (ASRS) and has written extensively on aviation safety matters. He has co-authored a book on aircraft accidents and has published more than 100 articles on transportation safety and aircraft accident investigation.

Chairman Sumwalt earned an undergraduate degree from the University of South Carolina and a Master of Aeronautical Science (with Distinction) from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, with concentrations in aviation/aerospace safety systems and human factors aviation systems. In recognition of his accomplishments, he was awarded an honorary Doctor of Science degree from the University of South Carolina, and an honorary doctorate from Embry-Riddle. He is an inductee into the South Carolina Aviation Hall of Fame.

RFT 327: Go Around

Sep 19, 2019 08:44


In RFT 086 we discussed Stabilized Approaches. According to AINOnline fully 96 percent of all airline flights conclude with stabilized approaches. Of the 4 percent that are not stabilized, virtually NONE of them (3%) result in a go-around!

FAA recommends that approach stabilization start as far out as possible. Simply stated, a stable approach is a 3-degree glide path, executed on-speed and fully configured for landing. It's easy to calculate a 3-degree glide path - simply take half your groundspeed and multiply it by 10 to get the vertical speed to maintain the 3 degrees.

Since the go-around is not performed nearly as often as a normal landing, it is essential that the crew review the procedures involved in a go-around when they brief the approach.

RFT 326: Thunderbird/Author/University President Chris Stricklin

Sep 16, 2019 50:59


From LinkedIn:

Chris “Elroy” Stricklin is an award-winning leadership author, a highly sought after motivational keynote speaker and a Combat-Proven Senior Military leader retiring after 23 years which culminated with CEO-Level leadership of a 7,000-person strong, $7B worldwide organization. During this time, he was responsible for 11,383 personnel, $323M Payroll, $160M Contracts, Creation of 1,891 jobs and local economic impact of $566M.

His style combines the skills acquired as a combat-proven leader, mentor, author, speaker and coach integrating the fields of dynamic Leadership, followership, negotiations, positive change, public relations, public speaking and complex organizational change as a business strategist.

Unique experience as a U.S.A.F. Thunderbird Solo coupled with CEO-Level duties and Pentagon-level strategic management of critical Air Force resources valued at $840B, multiple N.A.T.O. assignments, White House and DARPA fellowships, and command-experience in the United States Air Force allow his unique synthesis of speaking, following, leading, management, negotiations, continuous improvement and positive change. His acclaimed keynote reveals the secret to Teamwork…The Thunderbird Way, an insight into the success principles and training methods used by The Air Force Thunderbirds to ensure precision and success each season.

A combat-decorated Fighter Pilot, Chris is also a Certified Manager with degrees in Economics, Financial Planning, Management, Real Estate, Strategic Studies and Operational Art and Science. He authored a negotiation primer subsequently published and adopted as required Air Force Pentagon new action officer orientation. He and his wife, Terri, have 4 children. 

Chris's website has more information.

RFT 325: Failure of Imagination

Sep 12, 2019 07:44


Secretary Rice: “I don't think anybody could have predicted that they would try to use an airplane as a missile” 1972: Southern Airways Flt 49 threatened to crash into Oak Ridge National Laboratory 1974: S. Byck attempted to hijack Delta DC-9 to crash it into White House 1993: Iran training pilots to fly into buildings 1994: Air France Flt 8969 1994: FedEx Flt 705 1994: Terror 2000 1995: Bojinka plot included crashing planes into Sears Tower, Transamerica Bldg, WTC, John Hancock Tower, U.S. Congress, White House 1996: Ethiopian Airlines Flt 961 1996: Chechen rebel threatened crash into Kremlin 1998: Kaplanicar (Turkish) attempt to crash airplane into tomb of Attaturk 1999: MI6 warned of suicide attack 1999: Research Div. of L.O.C warned of airplane attacks 1999: Keynote address at NDU warned of UAV attacks on buildings 2000: Security consultant warned “most serious threat to WTC was someone flying a plane into it” March, 2001: The Lone Gunmen – hijacked B-727 flown into WTC

RFT 324: Pittsburgh Aviation Animal Rescue Team CEO Jonathan Plesset

Sep 9, 2019 16:20



What began as one dog on an airplane several years ago has evolved into a team of over 100 volunteers who fly or drive animals from danger to safety. Founded in 2009 by pilots and friends Brad Childs and Jonathan Plesset, the organization become a recognized 501c(3) entity in 2012. Since then our teams have conducted a wide range of missions including hoarding cases, saving animals from dog fighting rings and natural disasters, and helping overcrowded shelters. We now have the capability to respond to a huge variety of rescue needs both near and far. During the devastating hurricanes in 2017, PAART made its first international journey, heading to the storm-ravaged island of Tortola in the British Virgin Islands to rescue not only 42 animals, but two rescuers who had found themselves stranded on the island for weeks. Our reach stretches from Texas to Florida and all the way up the East Coast to Massachusetts. We have conducted rescue missions as far inland as the Mississippi River. While Pittsburgh is in our name, it actually makes up less than 10% of the area we cover.

Our rescue partners are many, ranging in size from large organizations like The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), and North Shore Animal League America, as well as small shelters in remote areas of West Virginia, Kentucky, Virginia and beyond. One of our newer partners is St. Hubert’s Animal Welfare Center in Madison, New Jersey. With an increasing population disparity in the northern states, St. Hubert’s serves as a hub for animals heading into New England where rescue dogs are scarce but people still want to have the fulfilling opportunity to rescue a beautiful, healthy animal who otherwise would have met a devastating fate.

RFT 323: Climb Segments

Sep 5, 2019 07:18


mmonly known as “takeoff safety s

The second segment requirement is often the most difficult one to meet. Segment two begins when the gear is up and locked and the speed is V2. This segment has the steepest climb gradient: 2.4 percent. This equates to a ballpark figure of around 300 feet per minute, and for a heavy airplane on a hot day with a failed engine, this can be a challenge. Often, when the airlines announce that a flight is weight-limited on hot summer days, this is the reason (the gate agent doesn’t know this kind of detail, and nor does she care; she just knows some people aren’t going).

The magic computers we use for computing performance data figure all this out, saving us the trouble of using charts and graphs. All we know is that we can either carry the planned load or we can’t.

Second segment climb ends at 400 feet, so it could take up to a minute or more to fly this segment. Think of all the obstacles that might be in the departure path in the course of 60 seconds or more.

Third segment climb begins at 400 feet, and here the rules can vary. The climb gradient is now half of what it was before: 1.2 percent. However, we are also required to accelerate to a speed called VFS (final segment climb speed). In graphs and publications, the third segment of the climb is often depicted as being a flat line for the acceleration. In many turboprops, that’s exactly the way it’s flown. The airplane is leveled off (and the pilot is using a very tired leg to overcome the increasing yaw tendency via the rudder) and accelerated before the final climb begins.

In jets, however, there is generally enough power in the remaining engine to avoid a level-off. If the airplane can continue to accelerate during the third segment, it may continue to climb, so long as it can do so without a decrease in speed or performance. In fact, during the climb it must continue to meet the climb gradient while accelerating to VFS.

Third segment climb ends upon reaching VFS.

The fourth and “final segment” begins upon reaching VFS and completing the climb configuration process. It is now permissible (and maybe necessary) to reduce thrust to a Maximum Continuous setting. The climb gradient is again 1.2 percent, and VFS must be maintained to 1,500 feet above field elevation.


Third segment climb begins at 400 feet, and here the rules can vary. The climb gradient is now half of what it was before: 1.2 percent. However, we are also required to accelerate to a speed called VFS (final segment climb speed). In graphs and publications, the third segment of the climb is often depicted as being a flat line for the acceleration. In many turboprops, that’s exactly the way it’s flown. The airplane is leveled off (and the pilot is using a very tired leg to overcome the increasing yaw tendency via the rudder) and accelerated before the final climb begins.

In jets, however, there is generally enough power in the remaining engine to avoid a level-off. If the airplane can continue to accelerate during the third segment, it may continue to climb, so long as it can do so without a decrease in speed or performance. In fact, during the climb it must continue to meet the climb gradient while accelerating to VFS.

Third segment climb ends upon reaching VFS.

The fourth and “final segment” begins upon reaching VFS and completing the climb configuration process. It is now permissible (and maybe necessary) to reduce thrust to a Maximum Continuous setting. The climb gradient is again 1.2 percent, and VFS must be maintained to 1,500 feet above field elevation.

From d,” but in technical terms, the speed for best climb gradient.

The second segment requirement is often the most difficult one to meet. Segment two begins when the gear is up and locked and the speed is V2. This segment has the steepest climb gradient: 2.4 percent. This equates to a ballpark figure of around 300 feet per minute, and for a heavy airplane on a hot day with a failed engine, this can be a challenge. Often, when the airlines announce that a flight is weight-limited on hot summer days, this is the reason (the gate agent doesn’t know this kind of detail, and nor does she care; she just knows some people aren’t going).

The magic computers we use for computing performance data figure all this out, saving us the trouble of using charts and graphs. All we know is that we can either carry the planned load or we can’t.

Second segment climb ends at 400 feet, so it could take up to a minute or more to fly this segment. Think of all the obstacles that might be in the departure path in the course of 60 seconds or more.

Third segment climb begins at 400 feet, and here the rules can vary. The climb gradient is now half of what it was before: 1.2 percent. However, we are also required to accelerate to a speed called VFS (final segment climb speed). In graphs and publications, the third segment of the climb is often depicted as being a flat line for the acceleration. In many turboprops, that’s exactly the way it’s flown. The airplane is leveled off (and the pilot is using a very tired leg to overcome the increasing yaw tendency via the rudder) and accelerated before the final climb begins.

In jets, however, there is generally enough power in the remaining engine to avoid a level-off. If the airplane can continue to accelerate during the third segment, it may continue to climb, so long as it can do so without a decrease in speed or performance. In fact, during the climb it must continue to meet the climb gradient while accelerating to VFS.

Third segment climb ends upon reaching VFS.

The fourth and “final segment” begins upon reaching VFS and completing the climb configuration process. It is now permissible (and maybe necessary) to reduce thrust to a Maximum Continuous setting. The climb gradient is again 1.2 percent, and VFS must be maintained to 1,500 feet above field elevation.

RFT 322: Fighter Pilot Discipline

Sep 2, 2019 40:28


This week we're having a flashback to hear Brigadier General Steve Ritchie tell his story. Steve shot down five enemy aircraft in Vietnam, making him the first (and only) Air Force pilot ace of the war. Most striking is his description of almost getting a sixth MiG, and the iron discipline involved.
Before you listen to Steve Ritchie's interview, please read this passage from Hamfist Over Hanoi, based on a true story:
“Now before I tell you what I consider the most important quality of a fighter pilot, and this goes for you WSOs also, I'm going to tell you a story.”
“During Operation Rolling Thunder, an F-105 flight lead was in an extended engagement with a MiG. He was performing repeated high-speed yoyos, gaining on the MiG with each yoyo. One more yoyo and he would be in a firing position.”
The Colonel paused and looked around the room. We were all transfixed in rapt attention.
“Just as he was about to get a firing solution, his wingman called Bingo.”
Bingo meant that the fuel had reached the predetermined quantity where the flight must Return To Base. 
“What do you think Lead did?”
Colonel West made eye contact with each of us. I was hoping he wasn't expecting any of us to answer.
“Lead did what he was supposed to do,” he continued, “he disengaged by doing a quarter roll and zoom, and he RTB'd. And I'll tell you why he did it. He did it because he had flight discipline. And he had trust. He trusted that his wingman wouldn't call Bingo unless he was really at Bingo fuel. And he, the Flight Lead, had established that Bingo. He gave up his MiG because he had discipline. If he had taken one more slice, done one more yoyo, he could have had that MiG. But he would have put his wingman in jeopardy. He did the right thing. He had discipline.”
“I expect, I demand, that all my pilots exhibit discipline. I don't expect anyone to be perfect in his flying. You're going to make mistakes, and you're going to learn from your mistakes. But I do expect everyone to have perfect discipline. If anyone in the flight calls Bingo, you RTB, whether you've accomplished your training or not. If anyone calls Knock It Off, you discontinue the maneuver. And if you find yourself out of control below 10,000 feet, you eject.”
“Does anyone have any questions?”
Nobody uttered a word.

RFT 321: SOP

Aug 29, 2019 07:41


From Skybrary:

SOP is a Standard Operating Procedure.

Many industries use SOP’s as a common way of ensuring tasks or operations are completed correctly, however SOP’s are essential in aviation.

They ensure that aircraft are flown correctly in accordance with the manufacturers guidelines, but also it allows 2 pilots that have never met before who may be from different crew bases and different cultures or backgrounds to fly together as a flight crew team on the same aircraft fully understanding what the other pilot is expected to be doing for the whole flight.

Different types of SOP’s are as follows:

A memory flow of arranging switches and levers in the correct position for a particular phase of flight. For example it is normal that the PM / PNF (Pilot monitoring or Pilot not flying) will complete the before start flow and then read the before start checklist which the PF (Pilot flying) will respond to.

A call or acknowledgement of an event. For example most EASA airlines have to acknowledge an automated callout of 1000ft which would be followed by PM / PNF stating whether they are stable or not for the subsequent landing.

A procedure that requires completing with certain criteria. For example in visible moisture below 10 degrees pilots will be required to taxi and take off with engine anti-ice systems on.

SOP’s can also be developed as time goes by to incorporate improvements based on experience, accidents, near misses or innovations from other manufacturers or operators to suit the needs of a particular organization.

SOP’s should not be designed too detailed and exhaustive that the pilot does not provide any form of cognition to the process and not be too relaxed where the crew have too many options to decide between.

If a pilot is not conforming to SOP’s he/she can be expected to be challenged by the other pilot.

However there may be an occasion where it is preferably or vital to ignore or not carry out an SOP. This would normally be in an emergency situation.

An example of this would be continuing to land the aircraft below the operating minima where the pilots had not become visual with the runway as they had an uncontrollable cabin fire.

RFT 320: Pilot/Airline Executive Steve Forte

Aug 26, 2019 27:23


Steve Forte got his introduction to flying by sitting next to his father in the family airplane. After seeing The High And The Mighty, he was fully bitten by the aviation bug, and took flying lessons while still in high school.

Steve "paid his dues" in civilian aviation, working various jobs and finally becoming a pilot, with Cochise airlines. One of his jobs was collecting the airsick bags at the end of every flight! After serving as an air ambulance pilot and flying Metroliners, he was finally hired by United Airlines in 1979.

At United, he started off as a Flight Engineer on the DC-8. Like everyone else hired during that time period, he was furloughed from United in 1981, and decided to go back to school, earning a full-ride scholarship to the University of Arizona to pursue his MBA. After recall at United, he became a flight instructor at the Denver Flight Training Center, and quickly rose up the management ranks, finally becoming Senior Vice President of Flight Operations.

Steve retired from United at age 50 and became President, CEO and COO of Naverus Corporation, a pioneer in performance-based navigation technologies for air traffic management. He later became Chief Operating Officer and Director of Operations for Virgin America Airlines.

After Virgin America was acquired by Alaska Airlines, Steve worked on writing his book, Takeoff, and producing a romantic comedy, Under The Eiffel Tower.

Steve is now Vice President of JetBlue University, and he still flies trips as Captain on JetBlue's A-320 airplanes.

RFT 319: Sleep Apnea

Aug 22, 2019 06:24


What is Obstructive Sleep Apnea?
OSA affects a person’s upper airway in the area of the larynx (voice box) and the back of the throat. This area is normally held open to allow normal breathing by the surrounding muscles. When an individual is asleep, these muscles become slack, and the open area becomes smaller. In some individuals, this area becomes so small that breathing and resulting normal oxygenation of the blood is impaired. The person may actually choke. This causes some degree of arousal from normal sleep levels which the individual may or may not be aware of. These people do not get restorative sleep, and wake feeling tired.

OSA has significant safety implications because it can cause excessive daytime sleepiness, personality disturbances, cardiac dysrthythmias, myocardial infarction, stroke, sudden cardiac death, and hypertension, and cognitive impairment such as decreased memory, attention, planning, problem-solving and multi-tasking.

What is the background on the FAA’s actions on OSA?
The FAA’s has always used the special issuance medical certification process to certificate pilots with OSA. In November 2013, the FAA proposed guidance that would have required treatment for pilots with a body mass index (BMI) of 40 or more. It would have grounded those pilots until they successfully completed treatment, if required, and they obtained a Special Issuance medical certificate from the FAA. Key aviation industry stakeholders, as well as members of Congress, expressed concern about this enhanced screening. The FAA has now revised the guidance to address those concerns.

What is the new guidance? 
An AME will not use BMI alone to assess whether the pilot applicant has OSA or as a basis for deferring the medical certificates (except in cases where the OSA risk is extreme). AME’s will screen for the risk for OSA using an integrated assessment of history, symptoms, and physical/clinical findings.  OSA screening will only be done by the AME at the time of the physical examination using the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) guidance provided in the AME Guide. Pilots who are at risk for OSA will be issued a medical certificate and will then, shortly thereafter, receive a letter from the FAA’s Federal Air Surgeon requesting that an OSA evaluation be completed within 90 days. The evaluation may be done by any physician (including the AME), not just a sleep medicine specialist, following AASM guidelines. If the evaluating physician determines, using the AASM guidelines, that a laboratory sleep study or home study is warranted, it should be done at that time. The pilot may continue flying during the evaluation periodand initiation of treatment, if indicated. The airman will have 90 days (or longer under special circumstances) to accomplish this, as outlined in the Federal Air Surgeon’s letter. The FAA may consider an extension in some cases. Pilots diagnosed with OSA and undergoing treatment may send documentation of effective treatment to the FAA in order to have the FAA consider them for a special issuance medical certificate.

How is OSA treated?
Though several types of treatment are available depending on the severity of OSA, the most effective treatment involves the use of a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) or Automatic Positive Airway Pressure device that is worn while sleeping. In fact, there are currently 4,917 FAA-certificated pilots who are being treated for sleep apnea and are flying with a special issuance medical certificate.

When will the new guidance take affect?
The FAA plans to publish the new guidance in the FAA Guide for Aviation Medical Examiners on March 2, 2015.

What are the FAA’s current rules on OSA?
Untreated OSA always has been and will continue to be a generally disqualifying medical condition requiring a special issuance medical certificate. AMEs are advised by the FAA to be alert for OSA and other sleep-related disorders such as insomnia, restless legsyndrome,and neuromuscular or connective tissue disorders, because they could be signs of problems that could interfere with restorative sleep, which are needed for pilots to safely perform their duties.

Is the FAA changing the rules on OSA?
The FAA is not changing its medical standards related to OSA. The agency is revising the screening approach to help AMEs find undiagnosed and untreated OSA.

Have there been any accidents or incidents associated with OSA?
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) determined that OSA was a contributing factor in the February13, 2008 Mesa Airlines (operated as go!) Flight 1002 incident, in which both the captain and first officer fell asleep during the flight. They flew 26 miles past their island destination into open ocean, and did not respond to air traffic controllers for more than 18 minutes. After normal communication was resumed, all three crewmembers and 40 passengers onboard arrived safely at their destination.  The captain was found to have undiagnosed severe OSA. The NTSB has investigated accidents in all modes of passenger transportation involving operators with sleep disorders and believes OSA to be a significant safety risk. The NTSB database lists 34 accidents – 32 of which were fatal – where sleep apnea was mentioned in the pilot’s medical history, although sleep apnea was not listed as “causal” or “contributory” in those accidents. The database includes an additional 294 incidents where some type of sleep disorder was mentioned in the history.

RFT 318: Warbird/Airline Pilot Lorraine Morris

Aug 19, 2019 21:39


Lorraine Morris started flying as a young child in the front seat with her father in a General Aviation airplane. She earned her Private Pilot certificate during the summer between high school and college, and continued to fly, working her way through college as a CFI.

Lorraine hired on with a major legacy airline, and rose to Line Check Airman (LCA) on the B777. In addition, she started flying warbirds with the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) and is now an Aircraft Commander on the EAA's Boeing B-17.

Lorraine resides on an airpark and owns three airplanes, as well as three projects she and her husband are restoring.

RFT 317: Airline Seniority

Aug 15, 2019 09:23


From You’ve probably heard the saying, “seniority is everything.” Well, in the airline piloting business, that’s absolutely correct. Every day you’re not on the roster is another day someone else gets above you.

Surely, seniority isn’t everything, right? Yes, it pretty much is. Let’s start with pay. The sooner you get hired, the sooner you can accrue longevity pay increases. Most airlines top out at 12- to 15-year pay, and you enjoy a raise on your hire date every year until you hit the top pay rate. Although the increases aren’t staggering, they are certainly meaningful, especially as a new hire. At the same time, however, most major airlines have some sort of retirement “B fund,” which is essentially a percentage of your salary that goes into a retirement fund. This is a significant benefit. If you make $100,000 in your third year, and the retirement B fund is 15 percent, the company pumps $15,000 into your retirement for that year. The higher your pay, the more money goes toward your retirement.

In the last five years or so, major airlines have been profitable, and most have some form of profit-sharing plan in place for employees. Typically, the profit-sharing payout is a percentage of your salary. Once again, seniority plays into this because the longer you’ve been on the property, the more you will take home in profit sharing.

And the sooner you get hired, the quicker you progress through the ranks to become a captain, where pay rates increase substantially. So, not only do you make 40 percent more in hourly pay, for example, the company will then be doling out that much more in your retirement B fund and in profit sharing. See where this is going? If you get hired at a major airline at age 25 instead of 35, you will accrue millions more in pay and benefits by the end of your career.

Then there’s the quality of life issue, and it’s a biggie. In the airline business, it’s all about people getting hired behind you, and those retiring or otherwise moving on who are ahead of you. If you get hired at the beginning of a hiring wave, you will rapidly move up the seniority ladder and get decent schedules within just a few months. Those hired at the tail end of a hiring wave will likely spend years toiling at the bottom of the seniority list, where the schedule can be brutal.

With seniority, you can transfer out of the company’s smaller airplanes and move on to widebody airplanes that pay more—and have easier schedules. Or you could use your seniority to become a captain on a smaller airplane and enjoy the big raise. Vacations are also based on seniority. Want to get the Fourth of July holiday off for a family vacation? Only the senior folks in their respective seats will get that. If you’re junior, expect to only secure vacation weeks in the winter—and only during weeks that don’t have a holiday in them. For pilots with families, being gone on weekends and holidays can be a real burden on your lifestyle. In the airline world, those woes can only be solved with seniority power.

So, does seniority mean everything? As you can see, it’s more than just important. Seniority drastically affects pay, retirement benefits, quality of life, and career advancement. In fact, if you’re given an opportunity to obtain an earlier hire date, jump on it any way you possibly can.


You’ve probably heard the saying, “seniority is everything.” Well, in the airline piloting business, that’s absolutely correct. Every day you’re not on the roster is another day someone else gets above you.

Surely, seniority isn’t everything, right? Yes, it pretty much is. Let’s start with pay. The sooner you get hired, the sooner you can accrue longevity pay increases. Most airlines top out at 12- to 15-year pay, and you enjoy a raise on your hire date every year until you hit the top pay rate. Although the increases aren’t staggering, they are certainly meaningful, especially as a new hire. At the same time, however, most major airlines have some sort of retirement “B fund,” which is essentially a percentage of your salary that goes into a retirement fund. This is a significant benefit. If you make $100,000 in your third year, and the retirement B fund is 15 percent, the company pumps $15,000 into your retirement for that year. The higher your pay, the more money goes toward your retirement.

In the last five years or so, major airlines have been profitable, and most have some form of profit-sharing plan in place for employees. Typically, the profit-sharing payout is a percentage of your salary. Once again, seniority plays into this because the longer you’ve been on the property, the more you will take home in profit sharing.

And the sooner you get hired, the quicker you progress through the ranks to become a captain, where pay rates increase substantially. So, not only do you make 40 percent more in hourly pay, for example, the company will then be doling out that much more in your retirement B fund and in profit sharing. See where this is going? If you get hired at a major airline at age 25 instead of 35, you will accrue millions more in pay and benefits by the end of your career.

Then there’s the quality of life issue, and it’s a biggie. In the airline business, it’s all about people getting hired behind you, and those retiring or otherwise moving on who are ahead of you. If you get hired at the beginning of a hiring wave, you will rapidly move up the seniority ladder and get decent schedules within just a few months. Those hired at the tail end of a hiring wave will likely spend years toiling at the bottom of the seniority list, where the schedule can be brutal.

With seniority, you can transfer out of the company’s smaller airplanes and move on to widebody airplanes that pay more—and have easier schedules. Or you could use your seniority to become a captain on a smaller airplane and enjoy the big raise. Vacations are also based on seniority. Want to get the Fourth of July holiday off for a family vacation? Only the senior folks in their respective seats will get that. If you’re junior, expect to only secure vacation weeks in the winter—and only during weeks that don’t have a holiday in them. For pilots with families, being gone on weekends and holidays can be a real burden on your lifestyle. In the airline world, those woes can only be solved with seniority power.

So, does seniority mean everything? As you can see, it’s more than just important. Seniority drastically affects pay, retirement benefits, quality of life, and career advancement. In fact, if you’re given an opportunity to obtain an earlier hire date, jump on it any way you possibly can.

ward your retirement.

In the last five years or so, major airlines have been profitable, and most have some form of profit-sharing plan in place for employees. Typically, the profit-sharing payout is a percentage of your salary. Once again, seniority plays into this because the longer you’ve been on the property, the more you will take home in profit sharing.

And the sooner you get hired, the quicker you progress through the ranks to become a captain, where pay rates increase substantially. So, not only do you make 40 percent more in hourly pay, for example, the company will then be doling out that much more in your retirement B fund and in profit sharing. See where this is going? If you get hired at a major airline at age 25 instead of 35, you will accrue millions more in pay and benefits by the end of your career.

Then there’s the quality of life issue, and it’s a biggie. In the airline business, it’s all about people getting hired behind you, and those retiring or otherwise moving on who are ahead of you. If you get hired at the beginning of a hiring wave, you will rapidly move up the seniority ladder and get decent schedules within just a few months. Those hired at the tail end of a hiring wave will likely spend years toiling at the bottom of the seniority list, where the schedule can be brutal.

With seniority, you can transfer out of the company’s smaller airplanes and move on to widebody airplanes that pay more—and have easier schedules. Or you could use your seniority to become a captain on a smaller airplane and enjoy the big raise. Vacations are also based on seniority. Want to get the Fourth of July holiday off for a family vacation? Only the senior folks in their respective seats will get that. If you’re junior, expect to only secure vacation weeks in the winter—and only during weeks that don’t have a holiday in them. For pilots with families, being gone on weekends and holidays can be a real burden on your lifestyle. In the airline world, those woes can only be solved with seniority power.

So, does seniority mean everything? As you can see, it’s more than just important. Seniority drastically affects pay, retirement benefits, quality of life, and career advancement. In fact, if you’re given an opportunity to obtain an earlier hire date, jump on it any way you possibly can.

RFT 316: Air Traffic Controller Kendra Kincade

Aug 12, 2019 19:31


Kendra is the Founder and Chair of Elevate Aviation and has been an air traffic controller for 19 years at the Edmonton ACC. Her early life did not start her down a path for success. In her adult life she took control and created her own success story. She has a passion for sharing her story and motivating others to live outside of their comfort zone in order to live a meaningful and fulfilling life.

She has raised thousands of dollars for charitable causes by producing and selling calendars, and climbed Mount Kilimanjaro to raise money for charity. She was honored as a Global Woman of Vision in 2016. 

She founded Elevate Aviation to inspire men and women to pursue careers in aviation. Elevate pairs young people with mentors and career advisors in all fields of aviation

Kendra was recently selected as an Honorary RCAF Colonel.

RFT 315: The C6H12O6 Threat

Aug 8, 2019 09:51


Just this past week several aviator careers have been ruined by alcohol, so it may be time to review what the alcohol limits are for operating an airplane.

14 CFR § 91.17 states:

(a) No person may act or attempt to act as a crewmember of a civil aircraft -

(1) Within 8 hours after the consumption of any alcoholic beverage;

(2) While under the influence of alcohol;

(3) While using any drug that affects the person's faculties in any way contrary to safety; or

(4) While having an alcohol concentration of 0.04 or greater in a blood or breath specimen. Alcohol concentration means grams of alcohol per deciliter of blood or grams of alcohol per 210 liters of breath.

(b) Except in an emergency, no pilot of a civil aircraft may allow a person who appears to be intoxicated or who demonstrates by manner or physical indications that the individual is under the influence of drugs (except a medical patient under proper care) to be carried in that aircraft.

(c) A crewmember shall do the following:

(1) On request of a law enforcement officer, submit to a test to indicate the alcohol concentration in the blood or breath, when -

(i) The law enforcement officer is authorized under State or local law to conduct the test or to have the test conducted; and

(ii) The law enforcement officer is requesting submission to the test to investigate a suspected violation of State or local law governing the same or substantially similar conduct prohibited by paragraph (a)(1), (a)(2), or (a)(4) of this section.

(2) Whenever the FAA has a reasonable basis to believe that a person may have violated paragraph (a)(1), (a)(2), or (a)(4) of this section, on request of the FAA, that person must furnish to the FAA the results, or authorize any clinic, hospital, or doctor, or other person to release to the FAA, the results of each test taken within 4 hours after acting or attempting to act as a crewmember that indicates an alcohol concentration in the blood or breath specimen.

(d) Whenever the Administrator has a reasonable basis to believe that a person may have violated paragraph (a)(3) of this section, that person shall, upon request by the Administrator, furnish the Administrator, or authorize any clinic, hospital, doctor, or other person to release to the Administrator, the results of each test taken within 4 hours after acting or attempting to act as a crewmember that indicates the presence of any drugs in the body.

(e) Any test information obtained by the Administrator under paragraph (c) or (d) of this section may be evaluated in determining a person's qualifications for any airman certificate or possible violations of this chapter and may be used as evidence in any legal proceeding under section 602, 609, or 901 of the Federal Aviation Act of 1958.

RFT 314: Blue Angel/Airline Pilot Scott Kartvedt

Aug 5, 2019 28:43


DURING HIS CHILDHOOD IN EL CENTRO, CALIFORNIA, SCOTT KARTVEDT (’90) WATCHED THE BLUE ANGELS NAVY FLIGHT DEMONSTRATION SQUADRON SWIRL AROUND THE SKY AS PART OF THEIR TRAINING EXERCISES. “I saw them practice while I was riding motorcycles,” says Kartvedt, now a commanding officer in the Navy’s Strike Fighter Squadron 101.

Twenty-five years later, it was Kartvedt who was in the pilot’s seat, flying a few inches away from a neighboring aircraft at 800 mph while taking a six-plane vertical delta formation. “Anytime someone asks what goes through my head when I’m up there, I always say I’m just there in the moment,” explains Kartvedt, now the commanding officer of the Navy's first F-35 squadron, Strike Fighter Squadron ONE ZERO ONE (VFA-101). “There are times when you break away and you have that moment to fly, so you have that chance to take it all in or take in the crowd. It’s a rush!”

Among more than 90,000 Pepperdine alumni, he is the only naval officer selected as a member of the Blue Angels. Yet without Pepperdine, Kartvedt would have never even considered enlisting in the military. Passing by Chancellor Emeritus Charlie Runnels’ office one afternoon in 1990, “I saw a naval aviation poster, which caught my eye,” he recalls. “I knocked on the door, started a conversation, and struck up a friendship from that point on. We talked a lot about naval aviation and the challenges of training, but also the joys of service.” Runnels later wrote a letter of recommendation for Kartvedt’s Navy application, which propelled his decades-long career in the military.

Since then, Kartvedt has become a decorated naval commander, who has participated in 1996 Taiwanese Contingency Operations, Operations Southern Watch, and Iraqi Freedom; during Operation Enduring Freedom he commanded an F/A-18 squadron during two deployments supporting ground forces in Afghanistan. In 2010 Kartvedt assumed duties at the Pentagon as the Navy’s Joint Strike Fighter requirements officer responsible for establishing the Navy’s first stealth fighter and for training pilots and maintainers on how to operate the F-35.

Ashore, Kartvedt served with Marine Strike Fighter Squadron 101 as an F/A-18 flight instructor and landing signal officer. He has also held a post as a requirements officer of the Naval Aviation Joint Strike Fighter, where he assisted the director of air warfare in the development, programming, and budgeting of war-fighting requirements for the F-35C Strike Fighter.

Throughout his accomplished career, Kartvedt counts his wife Lisa (’90) as his most ardent supporter and someone who has enabled the family’s smooth transition throughout the 13 moves the Kartvedts have made since 2004. “We have always decided that we would move together,” he explains. “But the sweetest moment of any military career is the homecoming and homecoming embrace, because you spend six months thinking about it and when you finally reach that moment, it’s sweeter than anything you can imagine.”

RFT 313: Smoke Goggles

Aug 1, 2019 06:00


An in-flight cabin fire is one of the most serious emergencies a crew can encounter. In my blog (Open Ocean, No Comm, On Fire) several years ago I related my experience with an in-flight fire while over the ocean out of radio contact with Air Traffic Control.
In 1998, as the result of an airline accident, the FAA mandated installation of smoke goggles on air carrier aircraft.

Until fairly recently, many airline aircraft provided separate smoke goggles, stored near the crew oxygen masks. This presented a conundrum: which should be donned first, the goggles or the mask? Recently, more and more operators are upgrading their equipment to smoke goggles integral to the oxygen masks.

Obviously, oxygen masks are necessary in the event of a depressurization. But in the event of smoke or fire, goggles are essential, to allow the crew to continue to see the instruments, and to prevent exposure to toxic gasses.

In many cases of structural aircraft fires, cyanide is present in the smoke. this cyanide can be absorbed through the eyes, so it is essential to protect the eyes.

Another solution to allow crews to see the instruments is the Emergency Vision Assurance System (EVAS ).




RFT 312: World Traveler Lisa Marranzino

Jul 29, 2019 25:39


Lisa Marranzino was a therapist in Denver when she realized something was missing in her life. It might have been mid-life crisis. Whatever it was, she decided to explore the world and find what made people happy, both for herself and her patients.

That started a five-year odyssey in which she traveled to over 40 countries, spoke to scores of strangers in intimate conversations, and tried to find a common theme to what brings people happiness in all cultures.

She documented her conversations in her book, Happiness On The Blue Dot.


In this podcast, Lisa shares her experiences as a world traveler, and offers suggestions for interacting with strangers from around the world.

RFT 311: Takeoff Alternate

Jul 25, 2019 05:58


Operations Specifications (OPSPECS) are the specifications that the FAA assigns to airlines for such things as authorized routes, types of equipment, VFR and IFR operations, and alternate requirements.

OPS Spec C055 discusses the requirement for alternate airports.


One area that  is sometimes difficult for new Part 121 pilots to comprehend is the exclusivity of takeoff minimums from landing minimums. Try to picture each as completely separate from the other. Just because a particular airport is below landing minimums doesn’t (necessarily) mean you can’t depart. Instead, first attempt to consider the takeoff minimums by themselves. If the weather, airport equipment, aircraft capabilities, and FARs/Ops Specs will permit such a takeoff, nothing prevents you from departing. Only after you’ve examined the feasibility of a takeoff should you look at the landing minimums.

What if the airport is below landing mins? Then you’re required to have a takeoff alternate as outlined in 14 CFR 121.617. The exact weather mins for the takeoff alternate will be specified in the Ops Specs. In nearly all cases, your company Ops Specs will state the engine-inop, still-air distance in nautical miles (NMs); thus giving you an idea of the acceptable radius for an appropriate alternate.


121.617b says the takeoff alternate has to meet the alternate minimums in the Ops Specs. Paragraph C55 is the create your own minimums paragraph based on the available approaches. Pretty much for one approach add 400 and 1 to the mins and for 2 approaches, 200 and a half to the higher minimuns. The approaches have to be to different runways unless you're ETOPS, then they have to be to separate runways. If you're good for CAT III and the airport has dual CAT III runways you can get your alternate minimums down to 200/1800RVR. If it was down to that, I'd see about having a second alternate added to the release.

RFT 310: The Space Race

Jul 18, 2019 11:20


November 18, 1956: "We will bury you!" (Мы вас похороним!) is a phrase that was used by Soviet First Secretary Nikita Khrushchev while addressing Western ambassadors at a reception at the Polish embassy in Moscow 

Sputnik - Oct 4 1957 - beginning of space race

Sputnik II w/ dog Laika: Nov 3, 1957

NASA: Oct 1, 1958

1959: Khrushchev visits America

1961: JFK says "Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country".

On May 5, 1961, Alan Shepard piloted the Mercury-Redstone mission and became the second person, and the first American, to travel into space. He named his spacecraft, Mercury Spacecraft 7, Freedom 7. It was launched atop a Redstone rocket. According to Gene Kranz in his book Failure Is Not an Option, "When reporters asked Shepard what he thought about as he sat atop the Redstone rocket, waiting for liftoff, he had replied, 'The fact that every part of this ship was built by the lowest bidder.'".

September 12, 1962: Kennedy's speech at Rice University: deliver a man to the moon and safely return him to earth during this decade. 12 years from Sputnick to first man on moon. "But why, some say, the moon? Why choose this as our goal? And they may well ask why climb the highest mountain? Why, 35 years ago, fly the Atlantic? Why does Rice play Texas? We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard."

Nov 22, 1963: Assassination of JFK. In an interview with Theodore White of Life Magazine, Jacqueline Kennedy said “There will be great presidents again, but there will never be another Camelot” referring to the broadway musical Camelot, which was supposedly a perfect place.

Nov 28, 1963: Cape Canaveral renamed Cape Kennedy.

Mar 8, 1965: 3500 marines land at China Beach, Vietnam war escalated.

Jan 27, 1967: Apollo 1 fire kills Gus Grissom, Ed White (first American to walk in space), Roger Chaffee.

Jan 30, 1968: Tet offensive. Lunar New Year, 85,000 NVA/VC attacked south. Terrible defeat for North - 5000 NVA killed, vs. 249 Americans and 500 S. Viets. Cronkite (most trusted man in America): "mired in stalemate".

May 1968: Neil Armstrong bails out of Lunar Landing Research Vehicle.

1968: Movie 2001, A Space Odyssey

Christmas, 1968: Apollo 8 circled moon, transmitted Christmas message.

July 20, 1969: First step on moon.

RFT 309: UAL Flight 232

Jul 18, 2019 10:35


United Airlines Flight 232 was a regularly scheduled United Airlines flight from Denver to Chicago, continuing to Philadelphia. On July 19, 1989, the DC-10 (registered as N1819U) serving the flight crash-landed at Sioux City, Iowa, after suffering a catastrophic failure of its tail-mounted engine, which led to the loss of many flight controls. At the time, the aircraft was en route from Stapleton International Airport to O'Hare International Airport. Of the 296 passengers and crew on board, 111 died in the accident and 185 survived, making the crash the fifth-deadliest involving the DC-10, behind Turkish Airlines Flight 981, American Airlines Flight 191, Air New Zealand Flight 901, and UTA Flight 772. Despite the deaths, the accident is considered a prime example of successful crew resource management because of the large number of survivors and the manner in which the flight crew handled the emergency and landed the airplane without conventional control.

The airplane, a McDonnell Douglas DC-10-10 (registration N1819U), was delivered in 1973 and had been owned by United Airlines since then. Before departure on the flight from Denver on July 19, 1989, the airplane had been operated for a total of 43,401 hours and 16,997 cycles (a takeoff and subsequent landing is considered an aircraft cycle). The airplane was powered by CF6-6D high-bypass-ratio turbofan engines produced by General Electric Aircraft Engines (GEAE).

Captain Alfred Clair Haynes, 57, was hired by United Airlines in 1956. He had 29,967 hours of total flight time with United Airlines, of which 7,190 were in the DC-10.

First Officer William Roy Records, 48, was hired by National Airlines in 1969. He subsequently worked for Pan American World Airways. He estimated that he had approximately 20,000 hours of total flight time. He had 665 hours as a DC-10 first officer.

Second Officer Dudley Joseph Dvorak, 51, was hired by United Airlines in 1986. He estimated that he had approximately 15,000 hours of total flying time. He had 1,900 hours as a second officer in the Boeing 727 and 33 hours as a second officer in the DC-10.

Training Check Airman Captain Dennis Edward Fitch, 46, was hired by United Airlines in 1968. He estimated that, prior to working for United, he had accrued at least 1,400 hours of flight time with the Air National Guard, with a total flight time of approximately 23,000 hours. His total DC-10 time with United was 3,079 hours, of which 2,000 hours were accrued as a second officer, 1,000 hours as a first officer, and 79 hours as a captain. He had learned of the crash of Japan Airlines Flight 123, caused by a catastrophic loss of hydraulic control, and had wondered if it was possible to control an aircraft using throttles only. He had practiced under similar conditions on a simulator.

Flight 232 took off at 14:09 CDT from Stapleton International Airport, Denver, Colorado, bound for O'Hare International Airport in Chicago with continuing service to Philadelphia International Airport.

At 15:16, while the plane was in a shallow right turn at 37,000 feet, the fan disk of its tail-mounted General Electric CF6-6 engine explosively disintegrated. Debris penetrated the tail in numerous places, including the horizontal stabilizer, puncturing the lines of all three hydraulic systems.

The pilots felt a jolt, and the autopilot disengaged. As Records took hold of his control column, Haynes focused on the tail engine, whose instruments indicated it was malfunctioning; he found its throttle and fuel supply controls jammed. At Dvorak's suggestion, a valve cutting fuel to the tail engine was shut off. This part of the emergency took 14 seconds.

Meanwhile, Records found that the plane did not respond to his control column. Even with the control column turned all the way to the left, commanding maximum left aileron, and pulled all the way back, commanding maximum up elevator – inputs that would never be used together in normal flight – the aircraft was banking to the right with the nose dropping. Haynes attempted to level the aircraft with his own control column, then both Haynes and Records tried using their control columns together, but the aircraft still did not respond. Afraid the aircraft would roll into a completely inverted position (an unrecoverable situation), the crew reduced the left wing-mounted engine to idle and applied maximum power to the right engine. This caused the airplane to slowly level out.

The various gauges for all three hydraulic systems were registering zero. The three hydraulic systems were separate, so that failure of any one of them would leave the crew with full control, but lines for all three systems shared the same narrow passage through the tail where the engine debris had penetrated, and thus control surfaces were inoperative. The crew contacted United maintenance personnel via radio, but were told that, as a total loss of hydraulics on the DC-10 was considered "virtually impossible", there were no established procedures for such an event.

The plane was tending to pull right, and slowly oscillated vertically in a phugoid cycle – characteristic of planes in which control surface command is lost. With each iteration of the cycle, the aircraft lost approximately 1,500 feet (460 m) of altitude. On learning that Fitch, an experienced United Airlines captain and DC-10 flight instructor, was among the passengers, the crew called him into the cockpit for assistance.

Haynes asked Fitch to observe the ailerons through the passenger cabin windows to see if control inputs were having any effect. Fitch reported back that the ailerons were not moving at all. Nonetheless, the crew continued to manipulate their control columns for the remainder of the flight, hoping for at least some effect. Haynes then asked Fitch to take over control of the throttles so that Haynes could concentrate on his control column. With one throttle in each hand, Fitch was able to mitigate the phugoid cycle and make rough steering adjustments.

As the crew began to prepare for arrival at Sioux City, they questioned whether they should deploy the landing gear or belly-land the aircraft with the gear retracted. They decided that having the landing gear down would provide some shock absorption on impact.The complete hydraulic failure left the landing gear lowering mechanism inoperative. Two options were available to the flight crew. The DC-10 is designed so that if hydraulic pressure to the landing gear is lost, the gear will fall down slightly and rest on the landing gear doors. Placing the regular landing gear handle in the down position will unlock the doors mechanically, and the doors and landing gear will then fall down into place and lock due to gravity. An alternative system is also available using a lever in the cockpit floor to cause the landing gear to fall into position. This lever has the added benefit of unlocking the outboard ailerons, which are not used in high-speed flight and are locked in a neutral position. The crew hoped that there might be some trapped hydraulic fluid in the outboard ailerons and that they might regain some use of flight controls by unlocking them. They elected to extend the gear with the alternative system. Although the gear deployed successfully, there was no change in the controllability of the aircraft.

Landing was originally planned on the 9,000-foot (2,700 m) Runway 31. Difficulties in controlling the aircraft made lining up almost impossible. While dumping some of the excess fuel, the plane executed a series of mostly right-hand turns (it was easier to turn the plane in this direction) with the intention of lining up with Runway 31. When they came out they were instead lined up with the shorter (6,888 ft) and closed Runway 22, and had little capacity to maneuver. Fire trucks had been placed on Runway 22, anticipating a landing on nearby Runway 31, so all the vehicles were quickly moved out of the way before the plane touched down. Runway 22 had been permanently closed a year earlier.

ATC also advised that I-29 ran North and South just East of the airport which they could land on if they did not think they could make the runway. The pilot opted to try for the runway instead.

The plane landed askew, causing the explosion and fire seen in this still from local news station video.

Fitch continued to control the aircraft's descent by adjusting engine thrust. With the loss of all hydraulics, the flaps could not be extended and since flaps control both the minimum required forward speed and sink rate, the crew were unable to control both airspeed and sink rate. On final descent, the aircraft was going 220 knots and sinking at 1,850 feet per minute (approximately 407 km/h forward and 34 km/h downward speed), while a safe landing would require 140 knots and 300 feet per minute (approximately 260 km/h and 5 km/h respectively). Fitch needed a seat for landing; Dvorak offered up his own, as it could be moved to a position behind the throttles. Dvorak sat in the cockpit's jump seat for landing. Fitch noticed the high sink rate and that the plane started to yaw right again, and pushed the throttles to full power in an attempt to mitigate the high sink rate and level the plane.

There was not enough time for the flight crew to react. The tip of the right wing hit the runway first, spilling fuel, which ignited immediately. The tail section broke off from the force of the impact, and the rest of the aircraft bounced several times, shedding the landing gear and engine nacelles and breaking the fuselage into several main pieces. On the final impact, the right wing was shorn off and the main part of the aircraft skidded sideways, rolled over onto its back, and slid to a stop upside-down in a corn field to the right of Runway 22. Witnesses reported that the aircraft "cartwheeled" end-over-end, but the investigation did not confirm this. The reports were due to misinterpretation of the video of the crash that showed the flaming right wing tumbling end-over-end and the intact left wing, still attached to the fuselage, rolling up and over as the fuselage flipped over.

RFT 308: Military/Airline Pilot Tiffany Behr

Jul 15, 2019 28:19


Tiffany Behr comes from a long line of military aviators, and was introduced to flying at an early age when she want flying with her father.

She attended Kansas University and then entered Air Force Undergraduate Pilot training at Laughlin Air Force Base in Del Rio, Texas. Her initial flying assignment was to C-130s, where she deployed on combat missions in Afghanistan.

Her next flying assignment was in the RC-135, OC-135 and WC-135. Following that, she was selected to fly Presidential Support missions in the 89th Military Airlift Squadron.

Next, she was selected to be a speech-writer for high-ranking officers in the Middle East.

After Tiffany left active duty she was hired by a major legacy airline, where she currently flies B737 NG aircraft.

RFT 307: Tailstrikes

Jul 11, 2019 10:31


A tail strike can occur during either takeoff or landing. Many air carrier aircraft have tail skids to absorb energy from a tailstrike. On some aircraft, the tail skid is a small bump on the aft underside of the airplane, while on others it is a retractable skid that extends and retracts with the landing gear.

Most tail strikes are the result of pilot error, and in general, landing tail strikes cause more damage than takeoff tail strikes.

In 1978, Japan Airlines flight 115 experienced a tail strike during landing that caused damage to the aft pressure bulkhead. The aircraft was repaired (although the repair was faulty) and returned to service. Seven years later, the aircraft, operating as Japan Airlines Flight 123, crashed as a result of the failure of the improperly-repaired pressure bulkhead.

This Boeing document is an excellent analysis of tailstrikes. A portion of the document is reproduced below:

Takeoff Risk Factors
Any one of these four takeoff risk factors may precede a tail strike:

Mistrimmed stabilizer. Rotation at improper speed. Excessive rotation rate. Improper use of the flight director.

A mistrimmed stabilizer occurring during takeoff is not common but is an experience shared at least once by almost every flight crew. It usually results from using erroneous data, the wrong weights, or an incorrect center of gravity (CG). Sometimes the information presented to the flight crew is accurate, but it is entered incorrectly either to the flight management system (FMS) or to the stabilizer itself. In any case, the stabilizer is set in the wrong position. The flight crew can become aware of the error and correct the condition by challenging the reasonableness of the load sheet numbers. A flight crew that has made a few takeoffs in a given weight range knows roughly where the CG usually resides and approximately where the trim should be set. Boeing suggests testing the load sheet numbers against past experience to be sure that the numbers are reasonable.

A stabilizer mistrimmed nosedown can present several problems, but tail strike usually is not one of them. However, a stabilizer mistrimmed noseup can place the tail at risk. This is because the yoke requires less pull force to initiate airplane rotation during takeoff, and the pilot flying (PF) may be surprised at how rapidly the nose comes up. With the Boeing-recommended rotation rate between 2.0 and 3.0 degrees per second (dps), depending on the model, and a normal liftoff attitude, liftoff usually occurs about four seconds after the nose starts to rise. (These figures are fairly standard for all commercial airplanes; exact values are contained in the operations and/or flight-crew training manuals for each model.) However, with the stabilizer mistrimmed noseup, the airplane can rotate 5 dps or more. With the nose rising very rapidly, the airplane does not have enough time to change its flight path before exceeding the critical attitude. Tail strike can then occur within two or three seconds of the time rotation is initiated.

If the stabilizer is substantially mistrimmed noseup, the airplane may even try to fly from the runway without control input from the PF. Before reaching Vr, and possibly as early as approaching V1, the nose begins to ride light on the runway. Two or three light bounces may occur before the nose suddenly goes into the air. A faster-than-normal rotation usually follows and, when the airplane passes through the normal liftoff attitude, it lacks sufficient speed to fly and so stays on the runway. Unless the PF actively intercedes, the nose keeps coming up until the tail strike occurs, either immediately before or after liftoff.

This situation can result in a tail strike and is usually caused by one of two reasons: rotation is begun early because of some unusual situation, or the airplane is rotated at a Vr that has been computed incorrectly and is too low for the weight and flap setting.

An example of an unusual situation discovered during the DPD examination was a twinjet going out at close to the maximum allowable weight. In order to make second segment climb, the crew had selected a lower-than-usual flap setting. The lower flap setting generates V speeds somewhat higher than normal and reduces tail clearance during rotation. In addition, the example situation was a runway length-limited takeoff. The PF began to lighten the nose as the airplane approached V1, which is an understandable impulse when ground speed is high and the end of the runway is near. The nose came off the runway at V1 and, with a rather aggressive rotation, the tail brushed the runway just after the airplane became airborne.

An error in Vr speed recently resulted in a trijet tail strike. The load sheet numbers were accurate, but somehow the takeoff weight was entered into the FMS 100,000 lb lower than it should have been. The resulting Vr was 12 knots indicated air speed (kias) slow. When the airplane passed through a nominal 8-deg liftoff attitude, a lack of sufficient speed prevented takeoff. Rotation was allowed to continue, with takeoff and tail strike occurring at about 11 deg. Verification that the load sheet numbers were correctly entered may have prevented this incident.

Flight crews operating an airplane model that is new to them, especially when transitioning from unpowered flight controls to ones with hydraulic assistance, are most vulnerable to using excessive rotation rate. The amount of control input required to achieve the proper rotation rate varies from one model to another. When transitioning to a new model, flight crews may not consciously realize that it will not respond to pitch input in exactly the same way.

As simulators reproduce airplane responses with remarkable fidelity, simulator training can help flight crews learn the appropriate response. A concentrated period of takeoff practice allows students to develop a sure sense of how the new airplane feels and responds to pitch inputs. On some models, this is particularly important when the CG is loaded toward its aft limits, because an airplane in this condition is more sensitive in pitch, especially during takeoff. A normal amount of noseup elevator in an aft CG condition is likely to cause the nose to lift off the runway more rapidly and put the tail at risk.

As shown in figure 1, the flight director (FD) is designed to provide accurate pitch guidance only after the airplane is airborne, nominally passing through 35 ft (10.7 m). With the proper rotation rate, the airplane reaches 35 ft with the desired pitch attitude of about 15 deg and a speed of V2 + 10 (V2 + 15 on some models). However, an aggressive rotation into the pitch bar at takeoff is not appropriate and may rotate the tail onto the ground.

Landing Risk Factors
Any one of these four landing risk factors may precede a tail strike:

Unstabilized approach. Holding off in the flare. Mishandling of crosswinds. Over-rotation during go-around.

A tail strike on landing tends to cause more serious damage than the same event during takeoff and is more expensive and time consuming to repair. In the worst case, the tail can strike the runway before the landing gear touches down, thus absorbing large amounts of energy for which it is not designed. The aft pressure bulkhead is often damaged as a result.

An unstabilized approach appears in one form or another in virtually every landing tail strike event. When an airplane turns on to final approach with excessive airspeed, excessive altitude, or both, the situation may not be under the control of the flight crew. The most common cause of this scenario is the sequencing of traffic in the terminal area as determined by air traffic control.

Digital flight recorder data show that flight crews who continue through an unstabilized condition below 500 ft will likely never get the approach stabilized. When the airplane arrives in the flare, it invariably has either excessive or insufficient airspeed, and quite often is also long on the runway. The result is a tendency toward large power and pitch corrections in the flare, often culminating in a vigorous noseup pull at touchdown and tail strike shortly thereafter. If the nose is coming up rapidly when touchdown occurs and the ground spoilers deploy, the spoilers themselves add an additional noseup pitching force. Also, if the airplane is slow, pulling up the nose in the flare does not materially reduce the sink rate and in fact may increase it. A firm touchdown on the main gear is often preferable to a soft touchdown with the nose rising rapidly.

The second most common cause of a landing tail strike is a long flare to a drop-in touchdown, a condition often precipitated by a desire to achieve an extremely smooth landing. A very soft touchdown is not essential, nor even desired, particularly if the runway is wet.

Trimming the stabilizer in the flare may contribute to a tail strike. The PF may easily lose the feel of the elevator while the trim is running; too much trim can raise the nose, even when this reaction is not desired. The pitchup can cause a balloon, followed either by dropping in or pitching over and landing flat. Flight crews should trim the airplane in the approach, but not in the flare itself, and avoid "squeakers," as they waste runway and may predispose the airplane to a tail strike.

A crosswind approach and landing contains many elements that may increase the risk of tail strike, particularly in the presence of gusty conditions. Wind directions near 90 deg to the runway heading are often strong at pattern altitude, and with little headwind component, the airplane flies the final approach with a rapid rate of closure on the runway. To stay on the glidepath at that high groundspeed, descent rates of 700 to 900 ft (214 to 274 m) per minute may be required. Engine power is likely to be well back, approaching idle in some cases, to avoid accelerating the airplane. If the airplane is placed in a forward slip attitude to compensate for the wind effects, this cross-control maneuver reduces lift, increases drag, and may increase the rate of descent. If the airplane then descends into a turbulent surface layer, particularly if the wind is shifting toward the tail, the stage is set for tail strike.

The combined effects of high closure rate, shifting winds with the potential for a quartering tail wind, the sudden drop in wind velocity commonly found below 100 ft (31 m), and turbulence can make the timing of the flare very difficult. The PF can best handle the situation by exercising active control of the sink rate and making sure that additional thrust is available if needed. Flight crews should clearly understand the criteria for initiating a go-around and plan to use this time-honored avoidance maneuver when needed.

Go-arounds initiated very late in the approach, such as during flare or after a bounce, are a common cause of tail strike. When the go-around mode is initiated, the FD immediately commands a go-around pitch attitude. If the PF abruptly rotates into the command bars, tail strike can occur before a change to the flight path is possible. Both pitch attitude and thrust are required for go-around, so if the engines are just spooling up when the PF vigorously pulls the nose up, the thrust may not yet be adequate to support the effort. The nose comes up, and the tail goes down. A contributing factor may be a strong desire of the flight crew to avoid wheel contact after initiating a late go-around, when the airplane is still over the runway. In general, the concern is not warranted because a brief contact with the tires during a late go-around does not produce adverse consequences. Airframe manufacturers have executed literally hundreds of late go-arounds during autoland certification programs with dozens of runway contacts, and no problem has ever resulted. The airplane simply flies away from the touchdown.

RFT 306: Combat Flight Nurse Nikki Selby

Jul 8, 2019 20:34


Lt. Commander Dominique (Nikki) Selby was a Critical Care, Trauma and Enroute Care Nurse for the US Navy. She deployed to various regions to include Haiti, Afghanistan and various countries in the Middle East as an in-flight critical care nurse, ICU, trauma and Fleet Surgical Team nurse operating in austere conditions (Role II and Role III facilities). She is currently a Course Coordinator for the Advanced Trauma Course for Nurses and a Training Site Facilitator for ACLS, and teaches classes to all military and civilian providers for the Naval Medical Center San Diego.
Her current certifications are BLS-I, ACLS-I/TSF, ATCN Instructor and Course Coordinator, PALS-P, TCCC-P and TNCC-P. With 22 years in the Navy and 12 years of experience as an RN, she is certified in Emergency Nursing (CEN) and currently licensed in the states of Nevada and California. 


RFT 305: Hypoxia

Jul 4, 2019 14:26


There are four types of Hypoxia:
Hypoxia means “reduced oxygen” or “not enough oxygen.”
Although any tissue will die if deprived of oxygen long
enough, the greatest concern regarding hypoxia during
flight is lack of oxygen to the brain, since it is particularly
vulnerable to oxygen deprivation. Any reduction in mental
function while flying can result in life-threatening errors.
Hypoxia can be caused by several factors, including an
insufficient supply of oxygen, inadequate transportation of
oxygen, or the inability of the body tissues to use oxygen.
The forms of hypoxia are based on their causes:
• Hypoxic hypoxia
• Hypemic hypoxia
• Stagnant hypoxia
• Histotoxic hypoxia
Hypoxic Hypoxia
Hypoxic hypoxia is a result of insufficient oxygen available
to the body as a whole. A blocked airway and drowning
are obvious examples of how the lungs can be deprived of
oxygen, but the reduction in partial pressure of oxygen at high
altitude is an appropriate example for pilots. Although the
percentage of oxygen in the atmosphere is constant, its partial
pressure decreases proportionately as atmospheric pressure
decreases. As an aircraft ascends during flight, the percentage
of each gas in the atmosphere remains the same, but there are
fewer molecules available at the pressure required for them
to pass between the membranes in the respiratory system.
This decrease in number of oxygen molecules at sufficient
pressure can lead to hypoxic hypoxia.

Hypemic Hypoxia
Hypemic hypoxia occurs when the blood is not able to take
up and transport a sufficient amount of oxygen to the cells
in the body. Hypemic means “not enough blood.” This type
of hypoxia is a result of oxygen deficiency in the blood,
rather than a lack of inhaled oxygen, and can be caused by
a variety of factors. It may be due to reduced blood volume
(from severe bleeding), or it may result from certain blood
diseases, such as anemia. More often, hypemic hypoxia
occurs because hemoglobin, the actual blood molecule that
transports oxygen, is chemically unable to bind oxygen
molecules. The most common form of hypemic hypoxia is
CO poisoning. This is explained in greater detail later in this
chapter. Hypemic hypoxia can also be caused by the loss
of blood due to blood donation. Blood volume can require
several weeks to return to normal following a donation.
Although the effects of the blood loss are slight at ground
level, there are risks when flying during this time.

Stagnant Hypoxia
Stagnant means “not flowing,” and stagnant hypoxia or
ischemia results when the oxygen-rich blood in the lungs
is not moving, for one reason or another, to the tissues that need it. An arm or leg “going to sleep” because the blood
flow has accidentally been shut off is one form of stagnant
hypoxia. This kind of hypoxia can also result from shock,
the heart failing to pump blood effectively, or a constricted
artery. During flight, stagnant hypoxia can occur with
excessive acceleration of gravity (Gs). Cold temperatures
can also reduce circulation and decrease the blood supplied
to extremities.

Histotoxic Hypoxia
The inability of the cells to effectively use oxygen is defined
as histotoxic hypoxia. “Histo” refers to tissues or cells, and
“toxic” means poisonous. In this case, enough oxygen is being
transported to the cells that need it, but they are unable to make
use of it. This impairment of cellular respiration can be caused
by alcohol and other drugs, such as narcotics and poisons.
Research has shown that drinking one ounce of alcohol can
equate to an additional 2,000 feet of physiological altitude.

Symptoms of Hypoxia
High-altitude flying can place a pilot in danger of becoming
hypoxic. Oxygen starvation causes the brain and other vital
organs to become impaired. The first symptoms of hypoxia
can include euphoria and a carefree feeling. With increased
oxygen starvation, the extremities become less responsive and
flying becomes less coordinated. The symptoms of hypoxia
vary with the individual, but common symptoms include:
• Cyanosis (blue fingernails and lips)
• Headache
• Decreased response to stimuli and increased reaction
• Impaired judgment
• Euphoria
• Visual impairment
• Drowsiness
• Lightheaded or dizzy sensation
• Tingling in fingers and toes
• Numbness
As hypoxia worsens, the field of vision begins to narrow and
instrument interpretation can become difficult. Even with all
these symptoms, the effects of hypoxia can cause a pilot to
have a false sense of security and be deceived into believing
everything is normal.

Treatment of Hypoxia
Treatment for hypoxia includes flying at lower altitudes and/
or using supplemental oxygen. All pilots are susceptible
to the effects of oxygen starvation, regardless of physical
endurance or acclimatization. When flying at high altitudes,
it is paramount that oxygen be used to avoid the effects of
hypoxia. The term “time of useful consciousness” describes
the maximum time the pilot has to make rational, life-saving
decisions and carry them out at a given altitude without
supplemental oxygen. As altitude increases above 10,000
feet, the symptoms of hypoxia increase in severity, and the
time of useful consciousness rapidly decreases. [Figure 17-1]
Since symptoms of hypoxia can be different for each
individual, the ability to recognize hypoxia can be greatly
improved by experiencing and witnessing the effects of it
during an altitude chamber “flight.” The Federal Aviation
Administration (FAA) provides this opportunity through
aviation physiology training, which is conducted at the FAA
CAMI in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, and at many military
facilities across the United States. For information about the
FAA’s one-day physiological training course with altitude
chamber and vertigo demonstrations, visit the FAA website

RFT 304: F-18 Pilot/CEO Morri Leland

Jul 1, 2019 33:44


Morri Leland is the Chief Executive Officer of Patriot Mobile.  He assumed the role of CEO in 2017.  

As CEO, Morri is focused on helping conservative consumers and businesses throughout the United States protect and defend their rights and liberty and ensure these freedoms remain for generations to come.

For more than 30 years, Morri has led global teams to excel and exceed growth expectations.  Prior to joining Patriot Mobile, he served as Deputy Vice President for International Business at Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control, headquartered in Dallas, Texas. Morri was responsible for global sales and marketing for the aerospace, defense and energy sectors that included numerous competitive global pursuits that resulted in significant international growth.  Prior to that Morri served as the Program Director for F-35 / CVF Integration with Lockheed Martin Aeronautics.  As the senior representative for the Joint Strike Fighter program in the United Kingdom (UK), he was responsible for the successful development and management of the program to integrate the F-35 air system into the design and construction of the UK Future Aircraft Carrier (CVF).  

From 1983 to 2003, Morri served on active duty in the United States Navy.  After tours at NASA and as a flight instructor, he accumulated over 5,000 hours in various types of military aircraft.  With significant time in various models of the F/A-18 Hornet, he served multiple combat tours in Afghanistan, Iraq and the Balkans and commanded a squadron that garnered honors as the top Strike-Fighter squadron in the U.S. Navy.  He also served on a NATO exchange flying tour and in the Pentagon on the staff of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

A native of South Carolina, Morri holds a BS in Systems Engineering from the U.S. Naval Academy and a Master of Science in International Security Affairs from the U.S. Naval War College.

Morri and his wife Sheila reside in Southlake, TX with their two sons.

RFT 303: Postflight Debriefing

Jun 27, 2019 07:40


From AVweb:
Pull the mixture or condition lever and the propeller comes to a stop. Turn off the switches and what had been saturated with noise and vibration becomes still and quiet. After removing your headset and while sitting in the momentary silence that follows a flight, perhaps you’ll hear the engine ticking as heat dissipates. It’s time to pack up and leave the cockpit: Your work is done, right? No, not quite. To get the full benefit of the experience you just had, to learn from every flight, you need to spend just a few moments debriefing your flight.

Your post-flight debrief doesn’t have to be detailed. Just ask yourself a few questions, and provide honest answers. Your briefing also can be very structured, with a personalized debriefing form and lists of the myriad tasks you performed or planned, plus a scoring mechanism to fairly and objectively judge your performance. The most effective way to debrief, and the most likely system that actually will get used is probably somewhere in between. Regardless of how you debrief, the objective is to review the manner in which you conducted the just-ended flight so you can learn from your actions and be even better next time you fly.

Most pilot and flight instructor texts give a passing nod to the post-flight briefing. Virtually all declare it to be a highly important part of the flight-training process. Most decry the “lecture” method, in which the instructor tells the student what he or she did right and in what areas he or she needs to improve. The consensus is that better results come from asking the student to critique his or her performance, with the discussion guided, but not totally led, by the flight instructor. The biggest obstacles to making this technique work, according to the FAA’s Flight Instructor Handbook, are the student’s lack of experience and objectivity, which result in an inability to properly assess his/her performance; the fatigue state of a student after a lesson, especially in the early stages of pilot training; and an instructor’s lack of familiarity with good debriefing techniques. Another factor is the instructor or student’s unwillingness to spend the time necessary to conduct a useful post-flight debriefing.

I’ve not yet found any FAA guidance on extending the concept of a post-flight briefing to a pilot who is critiquing his or her performance following a day-to-day, non-instructional flight. Yet the vast majority of our flying happens without an instructor by our side, and available to review the flight afterward. Although instructors present us the training needed to earn certificates and ratings, and occasionally provide a refresher in the form of a flight review, an instrument proficiency check (IPC) and other recurrent training, we learn most from our own experiences as pilot-in-command in real-world situations.

Psychologist and flight instructor Dr. Janet Lapp is a proponent of the post-flight self-brief. “What happens during the crucial period of time immediately following a behavior, or set of behaviors, can either reinforce (make stronger), punish (eliminate temporarily), or help extinguish (aid in forgetting) that behavior,” according to her November 2008 article in AOPA’s Flight Training magazine.

“The best time to learn may be in the few moments right after a flight, in an organized and controlled manner,” she wrote. “Actions completed by self, rather than by other, are more meaningful and memorable; memory traces are more indelibly etched; and content is more internalized. We become responsible for what we do…[and] we take more responsibility for our actions.”

Dr. Lapp suggests we commit our debriefings to writing, building a journal of our growing experience. “If we don’t measure it,” she writes, “we can’t change it.” Lapp also says her personal research suggests that a written review makes pilots open up to the process and give self-debriefing the attention it deserves. The “central purpose [of a written review] is to increase self-correction, reflection, and tracking of attitude and behaviors. The goal is to create pilots who reflect on emerging issues immediately after every flight. The students make the entries, specify what they did well and what they could have done better, what they will work on next time, and what knowledge gaps were discovered. These are accompanied by a self-rating system that creates its own system of improvement.”

Dr. Lapp makes her suggested debriefing form available to the public, and invites pilots to adopt it and customize it to their needs. It allows the pilot to identify the major areas of critique, and to answer a few broad questions that identify the overall tenor of the flight. Although Dr. Lapp’s research focused on students receiving instruction (which was, after all, when she was present to introduce the concept of the post-flight debrief and judge the results), she notes in the Flight Training article she created the form originally to reinforce her own need for post-flight debriefings as a certificated and active pilot, and has told me several times her intent is for pilots to use the form as a self-debriefing tool.

Some pilots have suggested reluctance to create a written record of the mistakes they’ve made while flying an airplane. They seem to fear the journal could “fall into the wrong hands” and be used in some way against them in an FAA enforcement action or a liability lawsuit. Sad to say, they may be right. If you choose not to maintain a written record, but you find the act of writing about and scoring your flights indeed does focus your attention on continual improvement, there’s nothing to prevent you from critiquing your performance in writing and then destroying the record when you’re done with it.

If you want to develop an even more detailed type of self-debriefing, you might do what I do as a result of my military experience. Back in the Bad Old Days of the Cold War, I served as a Minuteman nuclear missile launch control officer for the U.S. Air Force. The pressure-cooker environment of potential total nuclear war, 60 feet under the Missouri plains, strangely did much to prepare me for the single-pilot cockpit of an airplane. One thing the “missile business” did for me as a pilot was to teach the debriefing concept of minor, major and critical errors.

Air Force missileers train and are evaluated relentlessly. At least once a month we spent four hours in “the box”—a functional simulator reproducing the hardware and operation of a missile launch control center. No less than once a year we were evaluated in the box (I personally had eight “annual” checks during a four-year tour of duty—go figure). We also were evaluated “in the field”—observed while on actual alert—much like a line check for an airline pilot.

Every evaluation assumed from the beginning that the missile combat crew’s performance was perfect —earning 5.0 points on a five-point scale. Of course, from there, things can go only one direction: downhill. Certain functions, if performed incorrectly, were considered minor errors. These were items that were missed or performed incorrectly, but which did not directly impact the primary mission. Commit a minor error, and you’d have one-tenth of a point lopped off your beginning, perfect score.

A major error might delay getting a missile repaired correctly, allow unauthorized access to a missile site (but no direct access to controls, boosters or warheads), or cause (by action or inaction) one component of the hardware to become inoperative. A major error cost one full point off your final score. In some cases it was possible to recover from a minor or even some major errors, and not be charged the adverse points…if you caught the error in time, and undid what you had done.

A critical error in missiledom cost five points, an automatic failure of the evaluation. Examples of “crits” included attempting to launch missiles when not ordered, launching at a valid order but at the wrong time, or launching to the wrong targets, all of which are highly undesirable events (this was, of course, all in “the box”). In the field, critical error might be tuning a radio or satellite receiver incorrectly (meaning you would not receive emergency messages). Another critical error was to shut down your launch capsule when not called for, thereby degrading your squadron’s ability to launch missiles (usually, when dealing with a simulated fire in your tiny underground command center).

Error points were additive. A major error and two minor errors resulted in a 3.8 score, etc. A crew was deemed qualified if its final score was 2.5 or higher. Crewmembers were awarded highly qualified (HQ) status for a 4.6 or better score (no more than four minor errors, and none of the major ones). You could “crit out” on a combination of major and minor errors. And sometimes an action that would ordinarily only be a minor error (such as setting a clock or tuning a radio) might become “major” if that act led to missing some other task, or it might even be critical if it adversely affected alert status or a simulated launch later on. Great woe fell upon the combat crew that “critted out” and had to go through the entire crew certification procedure to regain their mission-ready status.

What’s this got to do with flying airplanes? Since we’re not talking nuclear Armageddon here, most pilots who “crit out” (i.e., have an accident) do so by letting minor and major errors snowball. Here’s an example from several years ago: I was flying a Beechcraft Bonanza from Wichita to Tullahoma, Tenn. This was my first long trip in the rented Beech, and I was still getting the hang of its Garmin GX60 IFR-qualified GPS. Somewhere over southwestern Missouri, I was assigned a vector around a newly hot MOA, and was told to expect direct to the Walnut Ridge VOR and then the rest of my route as filed. I made the heading change and began fiddling with the GPS.

Still not fully proficient with the interface, I put the Bonanza on autopilot while I loaded the new waypoints. Satisfied, I activated the flight plan…and watched as the Bo’ turned directly toward Walnut Ridge, about five degrees to my left. Minor error! I realized my mistake and returned to my assigned heading. I never penetrated the MOA, and ATC never said a word about it. I was now flying on a “4.9” score. I made a quick note to include the event after I landed, when I’d have time to learn from it. If I’d have accidentally penetrated the MOA, or if ATC had needed to divert traffic to avoid me as a result, it would have been a “major” offense. And if I’d hit something because of my originally “minor” transgression, well….

Some examples of minor errors: missing a radio call; failure to tune backup navcoms; improper setting of altitude alerters; misprogramming or failing to confirm the autopilot’s operating modes; one dot from center on course guidance or glidepath at the missed approach point; etc. A few examples of major errors: Missing a handoff; flying a destabilized approach; deviation from your fuel management schedule; more than 100 feet off altitude; etc. In addition to actual crashes, critical errors include: busting minimums; deviations from an instrument procedure, cleared route or altitude that would result in failure of the IFR Practical Test; failing to brief for the missed approach; failure to follow an obstacle departure procedure; etc. You could list possibilities all day long. It’s easier and more effective to quickly note the transgressions in flight, then rank errors against the minor/major/critical scale after you land.

The trick of flying is to minimize the minor errors and avoid the major offenses, and thereby not “crit out,” or have an accident. We will make mistakes. It’s almost always possible to recover from a minor error in the plane and keep your score in the HQ range. Even if you “pull a major,” as we said in the Air Force, you can fly the rest of the trip in perfect safety if you monitor your position, use your checklists and watch your performance. Put the emotion of making a mistake behind you, and fly the rest of the trip to HQ standards. After you land, review your in-flight notes and score yourself—to become a highly qualified pilot.

Whether you answer a few brief questions or complete a detailed, point-by-point review—in your head, aloud with a fellow pilot or in writing—to fully benefit from the experience of every flight it’s extremely helpful to do a post-flight debriefing. The sooner after you land the better, because more information will be fresh in your head.

Most of us shut down, get out of the airplane, and get on with our busy lives—likely the reason we flew in the first place. Taking a few moments, however, to review the lessons of every flight will help prepare you for the next ones.

RFT 302: NASA/Airline Pilot Craig O'Mara

Jun 24, 2019 35:41


Craig O'Mara didn't start out intending to be a pilot. He was a bird-watcher, and became more interested in flight as he watched the birds, and started flying as a teenager. He soloed as a 16-year old, and received his Private Pilot certificate on his 17th birthday.

In 1979 he joined the Air Force Reserves as a C-9 pilot, flying air ambulance missions all over the United States, as well as overseas. He flew the C-9 for a total of 20 years.

In 1985 he was hired by United Airlines, and served on the DC-10, B737, B757/767, B747 and B787. He was a Line Check Airman on many of these aircraft.

In addition to his United flying, Craig flew as a pilot for NASA in the B747SP. He also flew a variety of warbirds.

RFT 301: Preflight Briefing

Jun 20, 2019 10:36


Your preflight briefing will depend on what type of flight you are planning - a training flight briefing will be quite different than an airline brief. But there are some factors that will be common to all flights:

Mission Objective



Aircraft Performance

Aircraft Maintenance Status

Route of Flight


Takeoff Briefing (PF)

Departure/Arrival Airports

Rejected Takeoff


Crew Member Duties/Expectations

Arrival/Approach/Missed Approach


Training Objective/Elements

RFT 300: Air Force/Airline Pilot George Nolly

Jun 17, 2019 01:00:36


Special thanks to Shreenand Sadhale for suggesting this episode!

Cliff Notes version of my career:

Air Force Academy

Undergraduate Pilot Training

O-2A Forward Air Controller, Danang, Vietnam

B-52 copilot, Mather Air Force Base

F-4 Aircraft Commander, Ubon Royal Thai Air Force Base

F-4 Aircraft Commander, Kadena Air Base, Okinawa

T-39 Aircraft Commander/Instructor Pilot, Kadeena Air Base, Okinawa

O-2A Instructor Pilot, Patrick Air Force Base, Florida

B727 Flight Operations Instructor/Flight Engineer, Unites Airlines

O-2A Instructor Pilot, Patrick Air Force Base, Florida

T-39/C-21 Instructor Pilot/Evaluator, Yokota Air Base, Japan

B737 First Officer/Training Check Airman, United Airlines

B737/B727 Captain, United Airlines

B727 /B777 Standards Captain, United Airlines

Adjunct Professor, Metropolitan State College of Denver/Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University

C680 Flight Instructor/Evaluator, FlightSafety International

B777 Senior Commander, Jet Airways, India

IOSA Audit Team Leader

B787 Instructor Pilot, Boeing

B777 Instructor Pilot, Omni Air International

Lecturer, Metropolitan State University of Denver

Fleet Technical Instructor, United Airlines

RFT 299: Get Out Of Jail FREE

Jun 13, 2019 08:35


FAR 91.25 refers to the NASA Aviation Safety Reporting Program, and Advisory Circular AC 00-46E Explains the program. AOPA has an excellent article about the program.

The Aviation Safety Reporting System, or ASRS, is the US Federal Aviation Administration's (FAA) voluntary confidential reporting system that allows pilots and other aircraft crew members to confidentially report near misses and close calls in the interest of improving air safety. The ASRS collects, analyzes, and responds to voluntarily submitted aviation safety incident reports in order to lessen the likelihood of aviation accidents. The confidential and independent nature of the ASRS is key to its success, since reporters do not have to worry about any possible negative consequences of coming forward with safety problems. The ASRS is run by NASA, a neutral party, since it has no power in enforcement. The success of the system serves as a positive example that is often used as a model by other industries seeking to make improvements in safety.

A notable feature of the ASRS is its confidentiality and immunity policy. Reporters may, but are not required to, submit their name and contact information. If the ASRS staff has questions regarding a report, it can perform a callback and request further information or clarification from the reporter. Once the staff is satisfied with the information received, the report is stripped of identifying information and assigned a report number. The part of the reporting form with contact information is detached and returned to the reporter. ASRS will issue alerts to relevant parties, such as airlines, air traffic controllers, manufacturers or airport authorities, if it feels it is necessary to improve safety. The ASRS also publishes a monthly newsletter highlighting safety issues, and now has an online database of reports that is accessible by the public.

Often, reports are submitted because a rule was accidentally broken. The FAA's immunity policy encourages submission of all safety incidents and observations, especially information that could prevent a major accident. If enforcement action is taken by the FAA against an accidental rule violation that did not result in an accident, a reporter can present their ASRS form as proof that the incident was reported. The FAA views the report as evidence of a "constructive safety attitude" and will not impose a penalty.Immunity can be exercised once every five years, though an unlimited number of reports can be filed.

Due to the self-selected nature of the reports to the ASRS, NASA cautions against statistical use of the data they contain. On the other hand, they do express considerable confidence in the reliability of the reports submitted:

"However, the ASRS can say with certainty that its database provides definitive lower-bound estimates of the frequencies at which various types of aviation safety events actually occur. For example, 34,404 altitude overshoots were reported to the ASRS from January 1988 through December 1994. It can be confidently concluded that at least this number of overshoots occurred during the 1988-94 period--and probably many more. Often, such lower-bound estimates are all that decision makers need to determine that a problem exists and requires attention."[3]

Speaking before a Flight Safety Foundation International Air Safety Seminar in Madrid in November 1966, Bobbie R. Allen, the Director of the Bureau of Safety of the U.S. Civil Aeronautics Board, referred to the vast body of accumulated aviation safety incident information as a "sleeping giant." Noting that fear of legal liability and of regulatory or disciplinary action had prevented the dissemination of this information, rendering it valueless to those who might use it to combat hazards in the aviation system, Mr. Allen commented:

“In the event that the fear of exposure cannot be overcome by other means, it might be profitable if we explored a system of incident reporting which would assure a substantial flow of vital information to the computer for processing, and at the same time, would provide some method designed to effectively eliminate the personal aspect of the individual occurrences so that the information derived would be helpful to all and harmful to none.”

Several years earlier, in testimony before the U.S. Senate on the legislation proposing the Federal Aviation Act of 1958, the late William A. Patterson, then President of United Airlines, touched on the need to develop accurate safety trend information. "On the positive side," said Mr. Patterson, "you take your statistics - and your records - and your exposures - and you act before the happening!“

These distinguished aviation figures were articulating an objective long-recognized, but which had frustrated all efforts at accomplishment. In the years to come, frequent references to the need for information collection and dissemination would recur.

Enforcement Restrictions. The FAA considers the filing of a report with NASA concerning an incident or occurrence involving a violation of 49 U.S.C. subtitle VII or the 14 CFR to be indicative of a constructive attitude. Such an attitude will tend to prevent future violations. Accordingly, although a finding of violation may be made, neither a civil penalty nor certificate suspension will be imposed if:

The violation was inadvertent and not deliberate; The violation did not involve a criminal offense, accident, or action under 49 U.S.C. §44709, which discloses a lack of qualification or competency, which is wholly excluded from this policy; The person has not been found in any prior FAA enforcement action to have committed a violation of 49 U.S.C. subtitle VII, or an regulation promulgated there for a period of 5 years prior to the date of occurrence; and The person proves that, within 10 days after the violation, or date when the person became aware or should have been aware of the violation, he or she completed and delivered or mailed a written report of the incident or occurrence to NASA.

RFT 298: B-2/Airline Pilot Keith Reeves

Jun 10, 2019 38:59


Keith Reeves wanted to be a pilot ever since he was a child, living on base at Kadena Air Base, Japan, and hearing the local F-4s and SR-71s taking off.

When the family relocated to Selfridge Air Force Base he got the chance to get close to airplanes. A friend on base took him up for a flight in a General Aviation plane, and he was hooked.

He attended the United States Air Force Academy, and flew with the Academy aero club. Before Undergraduate Pilot Training, he served as an engineer at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, then he attended pilot training at Laughlin Air Force Base. Kevin qualified for the T-38 track, then flew B-52's for 5 1/2 years, rising to the position of Instructor Pilot.

While flying B-52s, he bought a Citabria, and kept it for 10 years.

He applied to the B-2 program, and was accepted on his third attempt. He remained on the B-2 for the remainder of his flying career, stationed at Whiteman Air Force Base. In addition to the B-2, Keith was dual-qualified in the T-38.

During Operation Iraqi Freedom, he flew a 37-hour flight.

Keith now flies as a B737 first officer for a major legacy airline.

RFT 297: D Day 1944

Jun 6, 2019 06:50


Operation Overlord was the codename for the Battle of Normandy, the Allied operation that launched the successful invasion of German-occupied Western Europe during World War II. The operation was launched on 6 June 1944 with the Normandy landings (Operation Neptune, commonly known as D-Day). A 1,200-plane airborne assault preceded an amphibious assault involving more than 5,000 vessels. Nearly 160,000 troops crossed the English Channel on 6 June, and more than two million Allied troops were in France by the end of August.

The decision to undertake a cross-channel invasion in 1944 was taken at the Trident Conference in Washington in May 1943. General Dwight D. Eisenhower was appointed commander of Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force (SHAEF), and General Bernard Montgomery was named as commander of the 21st Army Group, which comprised all the land forces involved in the invasion. The coast of Normandy of northwestern France was chosen as the site of the invasion, with the Americans assigned to land at sectors codenamed Utah and Omaha, the British at Sword and Gold, and the Canadians at Juno. To meet the conditions expected on the Normandy beachhead, special technology was developed, including two artificial ports called Mulberry harbors and an array of specialized tanks nicknamed Hobart's Funnies. In the months leading up to the invasion, the Allies conducted a substantial military deception, Operation Bodyguard, using both electronic and visual misinformation. This misled the Germans as to the date and location of the main Allied landings. Führer Adolf Hitler placed German Field Marshal Erwin Rommel in charge of developing fortifications all along Hitler's proclaimed Atlantic Wall in anticipation of an invasion.

The Allies failed to accomplish their objectives for the first day, but gained a tenuous foothold that they gradually expanded when they captured the port at Cherbourg on 26 June and the city of Caen on 21 July. A failed counterattack by German forces on 8 August left 50,000 soldiers of the 7th Army trapped in the Falaise pocket. The Allies launched a second invasion from the Mediterranean Sea of southern France (code-named Operation Dragoon) on 15 August, and the Liberation of Paris followed on 25 August. German forces retreated east across the Seine on 30 August 1944, marking the close of Operation Overlord.

Invasion stripes were alternating black and white bands painted on the fuselages and wings of Allied aircraft during World War II to reduce the chance that they would be attacked by friendly forces during and after the Normandy Landings. Three white and two black bands were wrapped around the rear of a fuselage just in front of the empennage (tail) and from front to back around the upper and lower wing surfaces.

After a study concluded that the thousands of aircraft involved in the invasion would saturate and break down the IFF system, the marking scheme was approved on May 17, 1944, by Air Chief Marshal Sir Trafford Leigh-Mallory, commanding the Allied Expeditionary Air Force. A small-scale test exercise was flown over the OVERLORD invasion fleet on June 1, to familiarize the ships' crews with the markings, but for security reasons, orders to paint the stripes were not issued to the troop carrier units until June 3 and to the fighter and bomber units until June 4.

Stripes were applied to fighters, photo-reconnaissance aircraft, troop carriers, twin-engined medium and light bombers, and some special duty aircraft, but were not painted on four-engined heavy bombers of the U.S. Eighth Air Force or RAF Bomber Command, as there was little chance of mistaken identity — few such bombers existed in the Luftwaffe and were already quite familiar to the Allies. The order affected all aircraft of the Allied Expeditionary Air Force, the Air Defense of Great Britain, gliders, and support aircraft such as Coastal Command air-sea rescue aircraft whose duties might entail their overflying Allied anti-aircraft defenses.

One month after D-Day, the stripes were ordered removed from planes' upper surfaces to make them more difficult to spot on the ground at forward bases in France. They were completely removed by the end of 1944 after achieving total air supremacy over France.

The stripes were five alternating black and white stripes. On single-engine aircraft each stripe was to be 18 inches (46 cm) wide, placed 6 inches (15 cm) inboard of the roundels on the wings and 18 inches (46 cm) forward of the leading edge of the tailplane on the fuselage. National markings and serial number were not to be obliterated. On twin-engine aircraft the stripes were 24 inches (61 cm) wide, placed 24 inches (61 cm) outboard of the engine nacelles on the wings, and 18 inches (46 cm) forward of the leading edge of the tailplane around the fuselage. American aircraft using the invasion stripes very commonly had some part of the added "bar" section of their post-1942 roundels overlapping the invasion strips on the wings, however.

In most cases the stripes were painted on by the ground crews; with only a few hours' notice, few of the stripes were "masked". As a result, depending on the abilities of the "erks" (RAF nickname for ground crew), the stripes were often far from neat and tidy.

Plans for the invasion of Normandy went through several preliminary phases throughout 1943, during which the Combined Chiefs of Staff (CCS) allocated 13½ U.S. troop carrier groups to an undefined airborne assault. The actual size, objectives, and details of the plan were not drawn up until after General Dwight D. Eisenhower became Supreme Allied Commander in January 1944. In mid-February Eisenhower received word from Headquarters U.S. Army Air Forces that the TO&E of the C-47 Skytraingroups would be increased from 52 to 64 aircraft (plus nine spares) by April 1 to meet his requirements. At the same time the commander of the U.S. First Army, Lieutenant General Omar Bradley, won approval of a plan to land two airborne divisions on the Cotentin Peninsula, one to seize the beach causeways and block the eastern half at Carentan from German reinforcements, the other to block the western corridor at La Haye-du-Puits in a second lift. The exposed and perilous nature of the La Haye de Puits mission was assigned to the veteran 82nd Airborne Division ("The All-Americans"), commanded by Major General Matthew Ridgway, while the causeway mission was given to the untested 101st Airborne Division ("The Screaming Eagles"), which received a new commander in March, Brigadier General Maxwell D. Taylor, formerly the commander of the 82nd Airborne Division Artillery who had also been temporary assistant division commander (ADC) of the 82nd Airborne Division, replacing Major General William C. Lee, who suffered a heart attack and returned to the United States.

Bradley insisted that 75 per cent of the airborne assault be delivered by gliders for concentration of forces. Because it would be unsupported by naval and corps artillery, Ridgway, commanding the 82nd Airborne Division, also wanted a glider assault to deliver his organic artillery. The use of gliders was planned until April 18, when tests under realistic conditions resulted in excessive accidents and destruction of many gliders. On April 28 the plan was changed; the entire assault force would be inserted by parachute drop at night in one lift, with gliders providing reinforcement during the day.

RFT 296: Marine C-130 Pilot Angel Smith

Jun 3, 2019 14:27


Angel Smith started out in the Marines as an enlisted aviation radio repairman and then separated to go to college. Once out, she encountered a Marine recruiter who was trying to sign up women pilots, so she took the flight test and was hooked.

After she received her undergraduate degree (she now has a masters degree and is now finishing up her doctorate) she attended Marine Officer School, then went to pilot training at Pensacola for her first flight at the controls of an airplane.

She went through flight school as a single parent of two young children, and got her first choice of aircraft - the C-130 Hercules. In the C-130, she was stationed at Futenma Air Station in Okinawa. One of her first missions was refueling Navy fighters.

After the flying assignment, Angel served as the aide to three different generals in three years. She became the speechwriter for the Commandant of the Marine Corps.

After that, she returned to flying in the C-130 at Miramar. Angel served for a total of 23 years.

RFT 295: Laws of Learning

May 30, 2019 09:14


The basic needs of the learner must be satisfied before he or
she is ready or capable of learning (see Chapter 1, Human
Behavior). The instructor can do little to motivate the learner
if these needs have not been met. This means the learner must
want to learn the task being presented and must possess the
requisite knowledge and skill. In SBT, the instructor attempts
to make the task as meaningful as possible and to keep it
within the learner’s capabilities.
Students best acquire new knowledge when they see a clear
reason for doing so, often show a strong interest in learning
what they believe they need to know next, and tend to set
aside things for which they see no immediate need. For
example, beginning flight students commonly ignore the
flight instructor’s suggestion to use the trim control. These
students believe the control yoke is an adequate way to
manipulate the aircraft’s control surfaces. Later in training,
when they must divert their attention away from the controls
to other tasks, they realize the importance of trim.
Instructors can take two steps to keep their students in a state
of readiness to learn. First, instructors should communicate a
clear set of learning objectives to the student and relate each new topic to those objectives. Second, instructors should
introduce topics in a logical order and leave students with a
need to learn the next topic. The development and use of a
well-designed curriculum accomplish this goal.
Readiness to learn also involves what is called the “teachable
moment” or a moment of educational opportunity when a
person is particularly responsive to being taught something.
One of the most important skills to develop as an instructor
is the ability to recognize and capitalize on “teachable
moments” in aviation training. An instructor can find or
create teachable moments in flight training activity: pattern
work, air work in the local practice area, cross-country, flight
review, or instrument proficiency check.
Teachable moments present opportunities to convey
information in a way that is relevant, effective, and memorable
to the student. They occur when a learner can clearly see how
specific information or skills can be used in the real world.
For example, while on final approach several deer cross the
runway. Bill capitalizes on this teachable moment to stress the
importance of always being ready to perform a go-around.

All learning involves the formation of connections and
connections are strengthened or weakened according to
the law of effect. Responses to a situation that are followed
by satisfaction are strengthened; responses followed by
discomfort are weakened, either strengthening or weakening
the connection of learning. Thus, learning is strengthened
when accompanied by a pleasant or satisfying feeling, and
weakened when associated with an unpleasant feeling.
Experiences that produce feelings of defeat, frustration,
anger, confusion, or futility are unpleasant for the student.
For example, if Bill teaches landings to Beverly during the
first flight, she is likely to feel inferior and be frustrated,
which weakens the learning connection.
The learner needs to have success in order to have more
success in the future. It is important for the instructor to create
situations designed to promote success. Positive training
experiences are more apt to lead to success and motivate the
learner, while negative training experiences might stimulate
forgetfulness or avoidance. When presented correctly, SBT
provides immediate positive experiences in terms of real
world applications.
To keep learning pleasant and to maintain student motivation,
an instructor should make positive comments about the
student’s progress before discussing areas that need
improving. Flight instructors have an opportunity to do this
during the flight debriefing. For example, Bill praises Beverly on her aircraft control during all phases of flight, but offers
constructive comments on how to better maintain the runway
centerline during landings.

Connections are strengthened with practice and weakened
when practice is discontinued, which reflects the adage “use
it or lose it.” The learner needs to practice what has been
learned in order to understand and remember the learning.
Practice strengthens the learning connection; disuse weakens
it. Exercise is most meaningful and effective when a skill is
learned within the context of a real world application.
Primacy, the state of being first, often creates a strong, almost
unshakable impression and underlies the reason an instructor
must teach correctly the first time and the student must learn
correctly the first time. For example, a maintenance student
learns a faulty riveting technique. Now the instructor must
correct the bad habit and reteach the correct technique.
Relearning is more difficult than initial learning.
Also, if the task is learned in isolation, it is not initially
applied to the overall performance, or if it must be relearned,
the process can be confusing and time consuming. The
first experience should be positive, functional, and lay the
foundation for all that is to follow.
Immediate, exciting, or dramatic learning connected to
a real situation teaches a learner more than a routine or
boring experience. Real world applications (scenarios)
that integrate procedures and tasks the learner is capable
of learning make a vivid impression and he or she is least
likely to forget the experience. For example, using realistic
scenarios has been shown to be effective in the development
of proficiency in flight maneuvers, tasks, and single-pilot
resource management (SRM) skills.
The principle of recency states that things most recently
learned are best remembered. Conversely, the further a
learner is removed in time from a new fact or understanding,
the more difficult it is to remember. For example, it is easy for
a learner to recall a torque value used a few minutes earlier,
but it is more difficult or even impossible to remember an
unfamiliar one used a week earlier.

RFT 294: Memorial Day

May 27, 2019 13:56


Memorial Day endures as a holiday which most businesses observe because it marks the unofficial beginning of summer. The Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) and Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War (SUVCW) advocated returning to the original date, although the significance of the date is tenuous. The VFW stated in 2002:

In 2000, Congress passed the National Moment of Remembrance Act, asking people to stop and remember at 3:00 PM.

On Memorial Day, the flag of the United States is raised briskly to the top of the staff and then solemnly lowered to the half-staff position, where it remains only until noon. It is then raised to full-staff for the remainder of the day.

The National Memorial Day Concert takes place on the west lawn of the United States Capitol. The concert is broadcast on PBS and NPR. Music is performed, and respect is paid to the men and women who gave their lives for their country.

Across the United States, the central event is attending one of the thousands of parades held on Memorial Day in large and small cities. Most of these feature marching bands and an overall military theme with the Active Duty, Reserve, National Guard and Veteran service members participating along with military vehicles from various wars.

During World War II, more airmen died in combat than Marines.

Operation Tidal Wave was an air attack by bombers of the United States Army Air Forces (USAAF) based in Libya and Southern Italy on nine oil refineries around Ploiești, Romania on 1 August 1943, during World War II. It was a strategic bombing mission and part of the "oil campaign" to deny petroleum-based fuel to the Axis. The mission resulted in "no curtailment of overall product output."

This mission was one of the costliest for the USAAF in the European Theater, with 53 aircraft and 660 air crewmen lost. It was proportionally the most costly major Allied air raid of the war and its date was later referred to as "Black Sunday". Five Medals of Honor and 56 Distinguished Service Crosses along with numerous others awards were awarded to Operation Tidal Wave crew members.

Here is the story of John C. Waldron:

June 4, 1942. The 15 Douglas TBD-1 Devastators of VT-8 launched from Hornet's flight deck in search of the enemy. Before takeoff, LCDR Waldron had a dispute with the Hornet's Commander, Air Group, Stanhope C. Ring, and Hornet CO Marc Mitscher about where the Japanese carriers would be found. Despite having a contact report showing the Japanese southwest of Hornet, Mitscher and Ring ordered the flight to take a course due west, in the hopes of spotting a possible trailing group of carriers. Waldron argued for a course based on the contact report, but was overruled. Once in the air, Waldron attempted to take control of the Hornet strike group by radio. Failing that, he soon split his squadron off and led his unit directly to the Japanese carrier group. Waldron, leading the first carrier planes to approach the Japanese carriers (somewhat after 9:00AM local time, over an hour before the American dive bombers would arrive), was grimly aware of the lack of fighter protection, but true to his plan of attack committed Torpedo 8 to battle. Without fighter escort, underpowered, with limited defensive armament, and forced by the unreliability of their own torpedoes to fly low and slow directly at their targets, the Hornet torpedo planes received the undivided attention of the enemy's combat air patrol of Mitsubishi Zero fighters. All 15 planes were shot down. Of the 30 men who set out that morning, only one—Ensign George H. Gay, Jr., USNR—survived. Their sacrifice, however, had not been in vain. Torpedo 8 had forced the Japanese carriers to maneuver radically, delaying the launching of the planned strike against the American carriers. After further separate attacks by the remaining two torpedo squadrons over the next hour, Japanese fighter cover and air defense coordination had become focused on low-altitude defense. This left the Japanese carriers exposed to the late-arriving SBD Dauntless dive bombers from Yorktown and Enterprise, which attacked from high altitude. The dive bombers fatally damaged three of the four Japanese carriers, changing the course of the battle.

RFT 293: The Flight Review

May 23, 2019 06:37


The document that specifies the requirements of a Flight Review is AC 61-98B. From 61-98B:

Under § 61.56(c) no person may act as PIC of an aircraft unless within the preceding 24 calendar-months that person has accomplished a satisfactory flight review in an aircraft for which that pilot is appropriately rated. An appropriately-rated instructor or other designated person must conduct the flight review. The purpose of the flight review is to provide for a regular evaluation of pilot skills and aeronautical

Pilots and CFIs should be aware that, under § 61.56(d), there is no requirement for pilots who have completed certain proficiency checks and ratings within the preceding 24 calendar-months to accomplish a separate flight review. These accomplishments include satisfactory completion of pilot proficiency checks conducted by the FAA, an approved pilot check airman, a Designated Pilot Examiner (DPE), or a U.S. Armed Force for a pilot certificate, rating, or operating privilege. However, the FAA recommends that pilots consider also accomplishing a review under some of the following circumstances. For example, a pilot with an Airplane Single-Engine Land (ASEL) rating may have recently obtained a glider rating, but may still wish to consider obtaining a flight review in a single-engine airplane if the appropriate 24-month period has nearly expired.

Review of Maneuvers and Procedures:
(1) The maneuvers and procedures covered during the review are those which, in the opinion of the CFI conducting the review, are necessary for the pilot to perform in order to demonstrate that he or she can safely exercise the privileges of his or her pilot certificate.
Accordingly, the CFI should evaluate the pilot’s skills and knowledge to the extent necessary to ensure that he or she can safely operate within regulatory requirements throughout a wide range of conditions. The CFI should always include abnormal and emergency procedures applicable to
the aircraft flown in the flight review.
(2) The CFI may wish to prepare a preliminary plan for the flight review based on an interview or other assessment of the pilot’s qualifications and skills. The CFI should outline a sequence of maneuvers to the pilot taking the review. For example, this may include a cross-country flight to another airport with maneuvers accomplished while en route. It could also include a period of simulated instrument flight time. The CFI should request that the pilot conduct whatever preflight preparation is necessary to complete the planned flight. This preparation should include all items required in part 91, § 91.103, such as checking weather, calculating required runway lengths, calculating Weight and Balance (W&B), completing a flight log, filing a flight plan, and conducting the preflight inspection.
(3) Before beginning the flight portion of the review, the CFI should discuss various operational areas with the pilot. This oral review should include, but not be limited to, areas such as aircraft systems, speeds, performance, meteorological and other hazards (e.g., windshear and wake turbulence), operations in controlled airspace, and abnormal and emergency procedures.
The emphasis during this discussion should be on practical knowledge of recommended procedures and regulatory requirements.
(4) Regardless of the pilot’s experience, the CFI may wish to review at least those maneuvers considered critical to safe flight, such as stalls, slow flight, and takeoffs and landings. Based on his or her in-flight assessment of the pilot’s skills, the CFI may wish to add other maneuvers from the PTS appropriate to the pilot’s grade of certificate. All reviews should include those areas within the PTS identified as “Special Emphasis.” Appendix 5 includes a list of suggested maneuvers. The FAA does not intend this list to be all-inclusive, nor does it limit a CFI’s discretion in selecting other appropriate maneuvers and procedures. To the greatest possible extent, the CFI should organize and sequence the selected maneuvers in a realistic
scenario appropriate to the kind of flying normally done by the pilot.
(5) The role of the CFI during the review is to provide an evaluation. However, the instructor is not limited to this role and may provide specific instruction to an airman on any areas the instructor notes as being weak. This additional instruction does not preclude the pilot’s successful completion of the review as long as the deficiencies are corrected. If the additional instruction does not correct the deficiencies, and/or it becomes apparent to the instructor that additional flights will be necessary, the CFI should discuss the situation with the pilot and proceed accordingly.

RFT 292: Rescue Flight Engineer/Martial Artist Gregory Poole

May 20, 2019 25:39


Gregory Poole is a former Coast Guard flight engineer, based in Southern California. When he was a teenager, he saw a poster of a military helicopter, and that was his inspiration to enlist.

His training was in North Carolina, learning avionics, electrical, mechanical and rescue. He cross-trained in numerous fields.

As an early flight engineer, he performed a rescue at the bottom of a cliff where a car had gone off the road, and he had to conduct the rescue with the rotor blades inches from the face of the cliff. His rescue helicopter was the HH-52, similar to the Sea King helicopter.

As flight engineer, he performed all preflight and post-flight inspections, with special attention to hydraulics. During actual missions, he operated the night spotlight and forward-looking infra-red (FLIR), which was essential in night rescue missions.

Greg also participated in law enforcement missions.

Greg is also an experienced martial artist instructor. He started in Philippines martial arts, then branched in to aikido, tae kwan do, hapkido, jeet kun do and salat. He has developed his own system, and now trains youngsters.

RFT 291: Off To Tinseltown!

May 16, 2019 10:55


In May of last year I was accepted into the Writers Guild Foundation Veterans Writing Project. The program accepts 50 veterans each year (I was turned down the previous year) and holds a 3-day Retreat to launch the year's activities.

We were divided into groups of about 8 veterans and paired with working screen writing professionals to brainstorm our topics and refine our writing process. Then we were mentored throughout the year by more professional writers, with meetings twice each month. those of us who did not live in the Los Angeles area were able to participate via Facebook video and telephone conferences.

I based my script on my Hamfist novel series. I quickly discovered that a screenplay is totally different from a novel, and my script evolved dramatically, mostly due to the feedback of my mentor, Sabrina Almeida. With her help and guidance, my script went from not-ready-for-prime-time to pretty darned good.

And now the yearlong program, for me, is over, and I was invited to "pitch" my script to industry heavyweights. So, two days ago, I went to Los Angeles for the pitch-fest.

Here’s the pitch:

I'm Major George Nolly of the US Air Force

Author of the Hamfist Novel Series, with multiple Best-sellers that have been ranked #1 Fiction in the Vietnam War - History category with over 151,000 units downloaded and paperback sales on Amazon.

I teach Aviation at Metro State University, and I'm a Flight Instructor at United Airlines, where I flew for 26 years after active duty.

I have two masters, and a doctorate in Homeland Security, but before that, I was a cadet at the US Air Force Academy because I wanted to be a pilot, just like my father.

I did two tours in Vietnam with 198 combat missions flying an F-4 fighter jet, and let me tell you, there is nothing in this world that compares to being strapped to two J79 engines pushing 36,000 foot pounds of thrust at Mach 1 while a SAM is closing in on your ass.

It was everything I hoped for and more.

But before I got into my first dogfight, I had to get through my first combat tour.

After pilot training, I went over as a FAC, a Forward Air Controller, in an O-2, which was a tiny, twin-prop Cessna used to fly low to the ground, and spot high-value targets in enemy territory.

It was NOT what I signed up for.

And that's where we meet our hero, Hamilton "Hamfist" Hancock, a hotshot pilot with the need for speed, who sabotoges his chance at a fighter assignment by shining his ass on his final flight in pilot training.

He's sent to Vietnam in an O-2, one of the slowest planes in the service, where he meets SPEEDBRAKE, fellow pilot and mentor, who shows him what a FAC really does:

He loiters in the area long enough to direct fighters in for an air strike. The way you do this is at night is by GOING CHRISTMAS TREE, where we would turn on all our exterior lights and light up like a christmas tree to attract enemy ground fire, so that Charlie would reveal himself to our fighters for an air strike.

It's on a close call going Christmas Tree where our hero earns the call sign HAMFIST.


When the Base Commander offers winner's choice of aircraft for the pilot with the highest kill ratio, Hamfist sees a way into an F-4, that is, if he can beat his nemesis, Tank, the squadron Top Dog.

However, Hamfist's relentless pursuit leads him to fly fast and loose. When his flying puts others in jeopardy, he is deemed reckless, and sent on mandatory R&R.

While on R&R in Tokyo, he meets SAMANTHA - SAM, a recent Harvard Law Grad. Samantha has just signed up to join the Air Force as a JAG, and has a thing for fighter pilots. For the first time, Hamfist has dreams of something big in his life, other than flying fast.

That dream is interrupted when Hamfist gets word that his Mentor SPEEDBRAKE is shot down, and Hamfist must return to Vietnam to pack up Speedbrake's things for his family.

On his first mission back, distracted by how he left things with Sam, Hamfist gets shot down over the trail, and injured during his rescue.

After he's patched up, he persuades the doc to clear him to fly, even though the full extent of his injuries are not yet known.

The deadline arrives for the competition, and he has just enough time for one more sortie to secure his lead over TANK.

However, when as he enters the target area, he hears a distress call from a downed F-4. Hamfist forfeits his target to rescue the pilot.

Hamfist returns to base as a hero, however, he loses the competition to Tank, and along with that, his dreams of piloting an F-4.

A medical exam reveals that his injuries were more severe than previously thought, and he also loses his Air Force Flight Clearance.

Hamfist is overcome by the failure in his pursuit to follow in his father's footsteps.

Unable to turn to Sam, for fear that her affections will change, now that he will never be a fighter pilot, he severs his relationship with her while she is still in Officer Training.

Hamfist is given the option to leave the service at the end of his tour with an Honorable Discharge, or remain grounded for the rest of his career.

When word of his heroism reaches the private sector, however, Hamfist is offered a job as a civilian test pilot... in an F-4.

Assigned as the Interim Squadron Intel Officer until a replacement arrives, he witnesses the dedication of the men left behind on base while pilots flew their combat missions.

- The maintenance crews that perform 20 man-hours to every one hour he was in the air.

He sees how each person's contribution to the war effort is critical.

Hamfist understands that the War Effort comes before his personal desires, and extends his tour in Vietnam as a Ground officer.

That's when his replacement Intel Officer arrives on base, and Hamilton walks in to brief... Samantha, freshly graduated from Intel School.


RFT 290: Aeromedical Evacuation/Airline Pilot Tom Cappelletti

May 13, 2019 17:38


Tom Cappelletti wanted to be a pilot ever since he was a child, but his first Air Force assignment was as an engineer. Yom spent three years at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base as a Test Program Manager before getting an assignment to Undergraduate Pilot Training in the Reserves.

After earning his wings, Tom flew the C-9 aeromedical evacuation aircraft, flying patients and their families to medical facilities all over the united States. He has landed virtually everywhere that has 5000 feet of concrete in the aeromedical evacuation role.

Tom participated in the commissioning of a painting of the C-9 to hang at Scott Air Force Base to commemorate the aircraft.

Tom became an airline pilot with a major carrier, and now flies the B737NG. His routes include Hawaii, Canada, and South America. Like every other pilot at his airline tom is ETOPS (Extended Twin Engine Operations) qualified.

Tom has an eclectic collection of aviation memorabilia, books and prints, and has had many of the items personally signed.

RFT 289: Normalization of Deviance

May 9, 2019 05:44


From NCBI:

Normalization of deviance is a term first coined by sociologist Diane Vaughan when reviewing the Challenger disaster. Vaughan noted that the root cause of the Challenger disaster was related to the repeated choice of NASA officials to fly the space shuttle despite a dangerous design flaw with the O-rings. Vaughan describes this phenomenon as occurring when people within an organization become so insensitive to deviant practice that it no longer feels wrong. Insensitivity occurs insidiously and sometimes over years because disaster does not happen until other critical factors line up. In clinical practice, failing to do time outs before procedures, shutting off alarms, and breaches of infection control are deviances from evidence-based practice. As in other industries, health care workers do not make these choices intending to set into motion a cascade toward disaster and harm. Deviation occurs because of barriers to using the correct process or drivers such as time, cost, and peer pressure. As in other industries, operators will often adamantly defend their actions as necessary and justified. Although many other high-risk industries have embraced the normalization of deviance concept, it is relatively new to health care. It is urgent that we explore the impact of this concept on patient harm. We can borrow this concept from other industries and also the steps these other high-risk organizations have found to prevent it.

RFT 288: Cancer Survivor/Airline Pilot David Whitson

May 6, 2019 33:33


From Air Line Pilots Association:

In September 2016, Capt. David Whitson (United) was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia, a condition in which white blood cells that manage the body’s immune system form abnormally. The then B-787 first officer was treated at the Texas Oncology–Baylor Charles A. Sammons Cancer Center in Dallas, Tex., where he spent an initial 30 days undergoing tests and chemotherapy.

“I had a mutation called FLT3 that put me at high risk for not reaching remission and also in a high-incidence category for relapse even if remission was achieved,” he recalled, adding, “My best shot was to have a bone marrow transplant, also called a stem cell transplant. Without it, I had a 5 percent chance of survival.”

Whitson was released from the hospital for a brief break. During this period, doctors conducted a bone marrow biopsy and discovered that the pilot’s cancer was in remission, a condition necessary to achieve before a bone marrow transplant could be conducted. Whitson and his doctors quickly found a donor.

“It was hard for me to wrap my head around the fact that a complete stranger would be willing to give me bone marrow stem cells and potentially save my life,” he acknowledged. Whitson endured additional rounds of chemotherapy and a full-body radiation scan to ensure his body was ready and on Dec. 21, 2016, received the transplant. Within several days, his new immune system was up and running.

Thirteen days after the transplant, Whitson was released from the hospital. He noted that prior to the transfusion of stem cells his blood type was B+, but today it’s O-. In addition, the DNA in his blood is different from that in his body.

Whitson encourages everyone to donate blood. “I needed more than a dozen blood and platelet transfusions during my treatments,” he said. The United pilot also urges those interested to join the national bone marrow registry at or “There’s a lack of diversity within the registry, and minorities are greatly needed,” he shared.

“Every day is a gift,” Whitson remarked, who credits ALPA’s Aeromedical Office for advising him and helping him jump through the necessary hoops to acquire his special issuance medical certificate and return to the cockpit. He also gave a nod to his medical benefits, noting, “I was on long-term disability for more than two years, and my medical insurance was excellent. Thank you, ALPA!”

RFT 287: Atmospheric Stability

May 2, 2019 07:38


From the Pilot’s Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge:

The stability of the atmosphere depends on its ability to
resist vertical motion. A stable atmosphere makes vertical
movement difficult, and small vertical disturbances dampen
out and disappear. In an unstable atmosphere, small vertical air
movements tend to become larger, resulting in turbulent airflow
and convective activity. Instability can lead to significant
turbulence, extensive vertical clouds, and severe weather.
Rising air expands and cools due to the decrease in air
pressure as altitude increases. The opposite is true of
descending air; as atmospheric pressure increases, the
temperature of descending air increases as it is compressed.
Adiabatic heating and adiabatic cooling are terms used to
describe this temperature change.

The adiabatic process takes place in all upward and
downward moving air. When air rises into an area of lower
pressure, it expands to a larger volume. As the molecules
of air expand, the temperature of the air lowers. As a result,
when a parcel of air rises, pressure decreases, volume
increases, and temperature decreases. When air descends,
the opposite is true. The rate at which temperature decreases
with an increase in altitude is referred to as its lapse rate.
As air ascends through the atmosphere, the average rate of
temperature change is 2 °C (3.5 °F) per 1,000 feet.
Since water vapor is lighter than air, moisture decreases air
density, causing it to rise. Conversely, as moisture decreases,
air becomes denser and tends to sink. Since moist air cools
at a slower rate, it is generally less stable than dry air since
the moist air must rise higher before its temperature cools
to that of the surrounding air. The dry adiabatic lapse rate
(unsaturated air) is 3 °C (5.4 °F) per 1,000 feet. The moist
adiabatic lapse rate varies from 1.1 °C to 2.8 °C (2 °F to
5 °F) per 1,000 feet.
The combination of moisture and temperature determine the
stability of the air and the resulting weather. Cool, dry air
is very stable and resists vertical movement, which leads to
good and generally clear weather. The greatest instability
occurs when the air is moist and warm, as it is in the tropical
regions in the summer. Typically, thunderstorms appear on
a daily basis in these regions due to the instability of the
surrounding air.

As air rises and expands in the atmosphere, the temperature
decreases. There is an atmospheric anomaly that can occur;
however, that changes this typical pattern of atmospheric
behavior. When the temperature of the air rises with altitude, a
temperature inversion exists. Inversion layers are commonly
shallow layers of smooth, stable air close to the ground. The
temperature of the air increases with altitude to a certain
point, which is the top of the inversion. The air at the top
of the layer acts as a lid, keeping weather and pollutants
trapped below. If the relative humidity of the air is high, it
can contribute to the formation of clouds, fog, haze, or smoke
resulting in diminished visibility in the inversion layer.
Surface-based temperature inversions occur on clear, cool
nights when the air close to the ground is cooled by the
lowering temperature of the ground. The air within a few
hundred feet of the surface becomes cooler than the air above
it. Frontal inversions occur when warm air spreads over a
layer of cooler air, or cooler air is forced under a layer of
warmer air.

From AC 006B:

Vertical Motion Effects on an Unsaturated Air Parcel. As a bubble or parcel of air ascends (rises), it moves into an area of lower pressure (pressure decreases with height). As this occurs, the parcel expands. This requires energy, or work, which takes heat away from the parcel, so the air cools as it rises. This is called an adiabatic process. The term adiabatic means that no heat transfer occurs into, or out of, the parcel. Air has low thermal conductivity, so transfer of heat by conduction is negligibly small.

The rate at which the parcel cools as it is lifted is called the lapse rate. The lapse rate of a rising, unsaturated parcel (air with relative humidity less than 100 percent) is approximately 3 °C per 1,000 feet (9.8 °C per kilometer). This is called the dry adiabatic lapse rate. This means for each 1,000-foot increase in elevation, the parcel’s temperature decreases by 3 °C. Concurrently, the dewpoint decreases approximately 0.5 °C per 1,000 feet (1.8 °C per kilometer). The parcel’s temperature-dewpoint spread decreases, while its relative humidity increases. 

This process is reversible if the parcel remains unsaturated and, thus, does not lose any water vapor. A descending (subsiding) air parcel compresses as it moves into an area of higher pressure. The atmosphere surrounding the parcel does work on the parcel, and energy is added to the compressed parcel, which warms it. Thus, the temperature of a descending air parcel increases approximately 3 °C per 1,000 feet (9.8 °C per kilometer). Concurrently, the dewpoint increases approximately 0.5 °C per 1,000 feet (1.8 °C per kilometer). The parcel’s temperature-dewpoint spread increases, while its relative humidity decreases.

The parcel and the surrounding environmental air temperatures are then compared. If the lifted parcel is colder than the surrounding air, it will be denser (heavier) and sink back to its original level. In this case, the parcel is stable because it resists upward displacement. If the lifted parcel is the same temperature as the surrounding air, it will be the same density and remain at the same level. In this case, the parcel is neutrally stable. If the lifted parcel is warmer and, therefore, less dense (lighter) than the surrounding air, it will continue to rise on its own until it reaches the same temperature as its environment. This final case is an example of an unstable parcel. Greater temperature differences result in greater rates of vertical motion.

RFT 286: Airshow Pilot Patrick McAlee

Apr 29, 2019 32:26


Patrick McAlee is a dedicated and highly-skilled, aerobatic pilot who mixes his intense personality with his hardcore passion to produce a unique and entertaining product unlike any other. During his routine, Patrick executes his maneuvers to a choreographed music playlist all while practicing precision, professionalism and safety. Since its first inception, Pat’s dream has led him to fly shows all across the nation. He has logged over 1,000 aerobatic hours and over 10,000 hours in over thirty different aircraft. Before making the transition to airshows, Patrick flew in aerobatic competitions for 5 years; he has been performing shows for the past three. Currently Patrick strives to the best entertainer and performer for past and future generations.

RFT 283: Flying A Manual ILS

Apr 26, 2019 07:24


In this age of flight directors, flight management computers and autopilots, it's easy to get into the mode of letting the automation do all the work. And that's good if it enhances safety.

But it's really important to keep your basic stick-and-rudder skills current, and that includes flying an ILS approach without any of the bells and whistles.

So let's discuss a hand-flown ILS flown WITHOUT a flight director or autopilot.

The key to successfully, easily flying a manual ILS is preparation. First, study the approach chart, so you have a complete understanding of all the facilities involved. Take a look at the distance from the glide slope intercept point and the outer marker (if it's part of the approach) to the runway. Examine the glide slope angle, and note if it is OTHER than the standard 3-degrees.

Now, as close to your ETE as possible, get the destination weather. Ideally, this will be right before you prepare for your approach. Now, take out your E6B computer and calculate your groundspeed and wind correction for the approach. If you can't remember how to do this, listen to episode RFT 146 and PRACTICE with your E6B until you can solve a wind problem in under 30 seconds. The only thing that makes this calculation different from what you do with the E6B for your cross-country planning planning is that you will be using only MAGNETIC winds (from ATIS), rather than winds oriented to true north.

When entering your true airspeed into your E6B, you need to know your true airspeed (TAS), based on your indicated airspeed (IAS). You can use the calculator side of your E6B to determine TAS (RFT 148), but, as a guide, TAS increases 2 percent for every 1000 feet above sea level. So, if you are flying your approach at 120 KIAS at an average elevation of 6000 feet MSL, your TAS is [120 + 120(.02X6)] = 120 + 14 = 134. THAT's the number you use for TAS in your E6B.

Once you have calculated your GS and WCA, calculate your descent rate and heading to keep yourself on the localizer and glide slope. Now that you have your groundspeed, you can calculate your 3-degree descent rate by multiplying HALF your groundspeed times 10. In the example above, our descent rate will be 670 feet per minute (FPM).

All of this, of course is simply a guide to get you into the ballpark for an easy, stabilized approach. But if you start out with these values, you will only need minimal corrections to keep your LOC and GS centered.

The only thing left to do when you get to approach minimums and visually acquire the runway is DON'T CHANGE ANYTHING. If you have a crosswind, the runway will not be DIRECTLY in front of you, it will be offset by your WCA.

RFT 284: Navy SEAL/Cropduster Mike Rutledge

Apr 22, 2019 36:29


From the Fighter Sweep website: Michael Rutledge is a 30 active duty year veteran with almost 12 years enlisted including a 3-year assignment as a Helicopter Rescue Swimmer, followed by 8 years as a Navy SEAL. While at SEAL Team One, he served as an M-60 gunner, Air Operations Specialist, Advanced Training Instructor and Platoon Leading Petty Officer. In 2002, Mike transferred to the U.S. Army to become a Warrant Officer Aviator. Upon graduation from flight school, he was directly assigned to the "Night Stalkers" of the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (Airborne) where he served for 13 years as an MH-47G pilot. His current assignment is the Commander of the West Point Flight Detachment at the United States Military Academy. Mike is also an accomplished aviation author, consultant, speaker, and airshow pilot specializing in vintage WWII aircraft, as well as spending his summers flying crop dusters in the Midwest.

RFT 283: The Last Goblet

Apr 18, 2019 07:53


The Doolittle Raid, also known as the Tokyo Raid, on Saturday, April 18, 1942, was an air raid by the United States on the Japanese capital Tokyo and other places on the island of Honshu during World War II, the first air operation to strike the Japanese Home Islands. It demonstrated that the Japanese mainland was vulnerable to American air attack, served as retaliation for the attack on Pearl Harbor, and provided an important boost to American morale. The raid was planned and led by Lieutenant Colonel James Doolittle of the United States Army Air Forces.

Sixteen B-25B Mitchell medium bombers were launched without fighter escort from the U.S. Navy's aircraft carrierUSS Hornet (CV-8) deep in the Western Pacific Ocean, each with a crew of five men. The plan called for them to bomb military targets in Japan, and to continue westward to land in China—landing a medium bomber on Hornet was impossible. The bombing raid killed about 50 people, including civilians, and injured 400. Fifteen aircraft reached China, but all crashed, while the 16th landed at Vladivostok in the Soviet Union. Of the 80 crew members, 77 initially survived the mission. Eight airmen were captured by the Japanese Army in China; three of those were later executed. The B-25 that landed in the Soviet Union was confiscated, with its crew interned for more than a year before being allowed to "escape" via Soviet-occupied Iran. Fourteen complete crews of five, except for one crewman who was killed in action, returned either to the United States, or to American forces.[

After the raid, the Japanese Army conducted a massive sweep through the eastern coastal provinces of China, in an operation now known as the Zhejiang-Jiangxi campaign, searching for the surviving American airmen and inflicting retribution on the Chinese who aided them, in an effort to prevent this part of China from being used again for an attack on Japan.

The raid caused negligible material damage to Japan, but its consequences had major psychological effects. In the United States, it raised morale. In Japan, it raised doubt about the ability of military leaders to defend the home islands, but the bombing and strafing of civilians also steeled the resolve of many to gain retribution and was exploited for propaganda purposes.[ It also contributed to Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto's decision to attack Midway Island in the Central Pacific—an attack that turned into a decisive strategic defeat of the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) by the U.S. Navy in the Battle of Midway. The consequences were most severely felt in China, where Japanese reprisals cost an estimated 250,000 lives.[

Doolittle, who initially believed that the loss of all his aircraft would lead to his court-martial, received the Medal of Honor and was promoted two ranks to brigadier general.

Doolittle and Hornet skipper Captain Marc Mitscher decided to launch the B-25s immediately—10 hours early and 170 nautical miles (310 km; 200 mi) farther from Japan than planned. After re-spotting to allow for engine start and run-ups, Doolittle's aircraft had 467 feet (142 m) of takeoff distance. Although none of the B-25 pilots, including Doolittle, had ever taken off from a carrier before, all 16 aircraft launched safely between 08:20 and 09:19. The B-25s then flew toward Japan, most in groups of two to four aircraft, before flying singly at wave-top level to avoid detection.[

The aircraft began arriving over Japan about noon Tokyo time, six hours after launch, climbed to 1,500 feet (460 m) and bombed 10 military and industrial targets in Tokyo, two in Yokohama, and one each in Yokosuka, Nagoya, Kobe, and Osaka. Although some B-25s encountered light antiaircraft fire and a few enemy fighters (made up of Ki-45s and prototype Ki-61s, the latter being mistaken for Bf 109s) over Japan, no bomber was shot down. Only the B-25 of 1st Lt. Richard O. Joyce received any battle damage, minor hits from antiaircraft fire. B-25 No. 4, piloted by 1st Lt. Everett W. Holstrom, jettisoned its bombs before reaching its target when it came under attack by fighters after its gun turret malfunctioned.[

The Americans claimed to have shot down three Japanese fighters – one by the gunners of the Whirling Dervish, piloted by 1st Lt. Harold Watson, and two by the gunners of the Hari Kari-er, piloted by 1st Lt. Ross Greening. Many targets were strafed by the bombers' nose gunners. The subterfuge of the simulated gun barrels mounted in the tail cones was described afterwards by Doolittle as effective, in that no airplane was attacked from directly behind.[

Fifteen of the 16 aircraft then proceeded southwest off the southeastern coast of Japan and across the East China Sea toward eastern China. One B-25, piloted by Captain Edward J. York, was extremely low on fuel, and headed instead for the Soviet Union rather than be forced to ditch in the middle of the East China Sea. Several fields in Zhejiang province were supposed to be ready to guide them in using homing beacons, then recover and refuel them for continuing on to Chongqing, the wartime Kuomintang capital. The primary base was at Zhuzhou, toward which all the aircraft navigated, but Halsey never sent the planned signal to alert them, apparently because of a possible threat to the task force.[

The raiders faced several unforeseen challenges during their flight to China: night was approaching, the aircraft were running low on fuel, and the weather was rapidly deteriorating. None would have reached China if not for a tail wind as they came off the target, which increased their ground speed by 25 kn (46 km/h; 29 mph) for seven hours. The crews realized they would probably not be able to reach their intended bases in China, leaving them the option of either bailing out over eastern China or crash-landing along the Chinese coast.[

All 15 aircraft reached the Chinese coast after 13 hours of flight and crash-landed or the crews bailed out. One crewman, 20-year-old Corporal Leland D. Faktor, flight engineer/gunner with 1st Lt. Robert M. Gray, was killed during his bailout attempt over China, the only man in that crew to be lost. Two crews (10 men) were missing. The 16th aircraft, commanded by Capt. Edward York (eighth off—AC #40-2242) flew to the Soviet Union and landed 40 miles (65 km) beyond Vladivostok at Vozdvizhenka, where their B-25 was confiscated and the crew interned.

Although York and his crew were treated well, diplomatic attempts to return them to the United States ultimately failed, as the Soviet Union was not at war with Japan and therefore obligated under international law to intern any combatants found on its soil. Eventually, they were relocated to Ashkhabad, 20 miles (32 km) from the Iranian border, and York managed to "bribe" a smuggler, who helped them cross the border into Iran, which at the time was under British-Soviet occupation. From there, the Americans were able to reach a nearby British consulate on 11 May 1943.[ The smuggling was actually staged by the NKVD, according to declassified Soviet archives, because the Soviet government was unable to repatriate them legally in the face of the neutrality pact with Japan and unwilling to openly flout its treaty obligations with Japan in light of the fact that Vladivostok and the rest of the Soviet Far East were essentially defenseless in the face of any potential Japanese retaliation. Nevertheless, by the time of the American aircrew's "escape" from Soviet internment, Japan's armed forces were clearly on the defensive and drawing down their strength in Manchuria in order to reinforce other fronts. Meanwhile, Soviet forces had gained the strategic initiative in Europe. Even if the Americans' "escape" managed to gain significant attention in Tokyo, it was by then thought extremely unlikely that Japan would respond with any sort of military retaliation.

Doolittle and his crew, after parachuting into China, received assistance from Chinese soldiers and civilians, as well as John Birch, an American missionary in China. As did the others who participated in the mission, Doolittle had to bail out, but he landed in a heap of dung (saving a previously injured ankle from breaking) in a paddy in China near Quzhou. The mission was the longest ever flown in combat by the B-25 Mitchell medium bomber, averaging about 2,250 nautical miles (4,170 km).

The Doolittle Raiders held an annual reunion almost every year from the late 1940s to 2013. The high point of each reunion was a solemn, private ceremony in which the surviving Raiders performed a roll call, then toasted their fellow Raiders who had died during the previous year. Specially engraved silver goblets, one for each of the 80 Raiders, were used for this toast; the goblets of those who had died were inverted. Each Raider's name was engraved on his goblet both right side up and upside down. The Raiders drank a toast using a bottle of cognac that accompanied the goblets to each Raider reunion.[ In 2013, the remaining Raiders decided to hold their last public reunion at Fort Walton Beach, Florida, not far from Eglin Air Force Base, where they trained for the original mission. The bottle and the goblets had been maintained by the United States Air Force Academy on display in Arnold Hall, the cadet social center, until 2006. On 19 April 2006, these memorabilia were transferred to the National Museum of the United States Air Force at Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio.[

On 18 April 2013, a final reunion for the surviving Raiders was held at Eglin Air Force Base, with Robert Hite the only survivor unable to attend.[

The "final toast to fallen comrades" by the surviving raiders took place at the NMUSAF on 9 November 2013, preceded by a B-25 flyover, and was attended by Richard Cole, Edward Saylor, and David Thatcher.

RFT 282: Marine Helo Pilot Steve Mount

Apr 15, 2019 43:27


From Communities Digital News:

There are those who take uncertain steps on IED-ridden battlefields, take to contested waterways, and fly unguarded skies as dangerous threats lurk below. Protecting freedom is how over a million active-duty military men and women support their families.

These Brothers in Arms fight and die, for each other, and for those who can’t fight for themselves.

Since the Global War on Terror began on September 11, 2001, America’s warriors have faced evil on a heightened scale and risked life and limb to quell a hate-filled enemy who does not respect human life.

It was the remarkable esprit de corps, the history and its intimacy as an organization that drew Lt. Col. Stephen Mount to the Marine Corps in 1996. Mount, severely wounded in Iraq, 2004, was given command June 30th, 2016, of Wounded Warrior Battalion-West (WWBn-W), located at Camp Pendleton Calif., now in its tenth year of operation.

SAN DIEGO, 2017. Lt. Col. Stephen Mount at Wounded Warrior Battalion-West  Headquarters Complex, Camp Pendleton, Calif. Photo by Jeanne McKinney for CommDigiNews

There, he is committed to the successful recovery of each Marine assigned to his care.

“I try to be the kind of guy who absorbs the blows and then just figures it out,” said Mount. He chooses to not make drastic decisions right away and let things kind of simmer. “Let’s just figure this out together and go forward,” he tells his Marines.

Absorbing the blows of active-duty service prefaced Mount’s first historic experiences as a UH-1N (Huey) pilot with Helicopter Marine Light Attack Squadron (HMLA)-169. His first deployment in 2001, as part of the Aviation Combat Element (ACE) with the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), took him to Darwin, training with the Australians.

After the twin towers and the Pentagon were hit and hijacked Flight 93 crashed into a Pennsylvania field, the 15th MEU was redirected to the Arabian Sea.

“It was a very anxious and excitable kind of feeling that we were out in the Arabian Sea and the country had been attacked and more than likely we were going to do something about it.”

He was on the flight deck of his ship, watching the first U.S. missile strikes launched in the first round of attacks.

The guided-missile destroyer USS Porter (DDG 78) conducts strike operations against Syria while in the Mediterranean Sea, April 7, 2017. U.S. Navy Photo

Mount’s squadron was flown into the Afghanistan desert and had to scrape out a “pseudo desert airstrip”, that Mount said, “[had] some old abandoned buildings they probably used to run drugs out of.”

By end of November 2001, that pseudo desert airstrip had a name: Camp Rhino, the first U.S. Forward Operating Base (FOB) established in Afghanistan during Operation Enduring Freedom. They went in there with 1st Battalion, 1st Marines under Colonel Brett Bourne.

“It wasn’t a Forward Operating Base in the traditional sense. They dug holes in the sand—that was our perimeter. Then we built ourselves fueling points.”

Mount called flying into the middle of the desert in a foreign country and doing good things “fun times.” The first night he slept by the skid of his aircraft.

“None of our aircraft have any gas. We don’t know what is going to happen. You’re a young man—that’s what you do … it was exciting.”

A sense of finality prevailed. “I can’t get back to the ship until someone lands and gives me more gas,” said Mount.

There was already fighting in the North which had fallen to the Taliban. Gas arrived on C-130’s and U.S. troops followed Hamid Karzai and his boys into Kandahar and then Lashkar Gah, Helmand Province, establishing an airfield at Kandahar.

Mount explains, “The big offensive against the Taliban hadn’t started yet; not until we got there and Karzai could have some assurances that America is here to help you.”

A future home for wounded warriors would come into play as the Global War on Terrorism kicked off.

Operation Iraqi Freedom I, the initial invasion of Iraq, saw U.S. and Coalition Forces quickly defeat Suddam Hussein’s Army. Upheaval and more harrowing times ensued. During Operation Iraqi Freedom II, 2004, the U.S. sent troops in to support the newly-established Provisional Iraqi Government, trying to stabilize the country and protect Iraqi citizens, threatened by growing violence and complexity.

The unpreparedness for the number of casualties and pace of operations going forward took a toll on the military healthcare system. For Mount and others deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan, there was no centralized operation to care for the numbers of wounded warriors too well to be kept in-patient, but not well enough to go back to their units or deploy.

A charismatic yet disenchanted Shiite Muslim cleric, Muqtada al­ Sadr, spread insurrection around Iraq, in opposition to the new government. His die-hard followers formed heavily-armed militias or al-Sadr’s Mahdi Army, who rained bullets and shrapnel on U.S. and Coalition forces.

Al-Sadr’s militia was battered. A conditional truce was made with him for An Najaf and al-Kufa (his home territory) that restricted Coalition forces entry. Al-Sadr used fear and oppression to reinforce control and conducted assassinations, kidnappings, and torture of police and government officials.

The militia would then hide where Coalition forces could not pursue them.

Mount and his flight crew deployed with Colonel Anthony M. Haslam’s 11th MEU and Lt. Col. John L. Mayer’s Landing Team, 1st Battalion, 4th Marines (1/4) in the summer of ‘04.

The MEU took over the battlespace in and around An Najaf by August, in soaring desert temperatures and volatile instability.

“There was an old holy cemetery [Wadi al-Salam],” said Mount, then a Captain. “They [al-Sadr’s militia] would use the crypts and catacombs to build smuggled weapons and launch attacks out to the Iraqi police forces.”

Mount and his crew couldn’t fly over or attack the holy burial grounds or the Imam Ali Mosque.

“There was a police station in Revolutionary Circle…they would lob mortars and shoot at us [every night]. By the time we’d get to our birds and fly over there, they’d [retreat] back to the cemetery,” said Mount.

The night of August 3rd, enough was enough for MEU commanders. A Quick Reaction Force (QRF) and Combined Anti-Armor-Team (CAAT) were summoned to reinforce the police station. American forces came under attack on the main highway that runs by the cemetery, from where al-Sadr’s militia was positioned. Mount’s aircraft section suppressed the threat, allowing our forces to run through.

Again, they were called out.

“We spun up one Huey and two Cobras,” said Mount, who piloted the lead Huey with Co-pilot Drew Turner, Crew Chief Pat Burgess, and Gunner Lance Corporal Teodro Naranjo. Mount’s section circled, seeking to take out a mortar pit that an ‘observer’ had seen by an old gas station near the cemetery.

He missed seeing it on the first “poke your head out, shoot, and get back,” attempt, but on a second circle, further out, the Huey’s number one engine and Mount got a fiery hit.

“I clenched and reflexed, bringing our nose way up and lost all our air speed,” remembered Mount, crediting Turner for landing the battered helicopter right-side up instead of upside down, which would have killed them.

A rifle round entered Mount’s left temple and went behind the bridge of his nose, in front of an eye through the socket and exited the right temple.

“I remember Pat Burgess…dragging me off the skid behind some bricks – waiting there for the guys – a Corpsman ran up and jabbed with morphine.”

“Captain Andrew Turner, ran into the [nearby medical] clinic and came out with an Iraqi physician. Mount had been holding a compress to his wound while trying to chamber a round in his pistol with his teeth. His crew chief, Staff Sergeant Patrick O. Burgess, finally gave him a needed hand in loading.”

RFT 281: No Flap Takeoff

Apr 11, 2019 06:52


There have been numerous air carrier accidents in which the crew attempted takeoff without the leading and trailing edge flaps extended to the takeoff position. Unlike many general aviation airplanes, large turbojet aircraft require high-lift devices (leading and trailing edge flaps and slats) for the airplane to safely get airborne. In some of these accidents, the Takeoff Warning System (TOWS) was intentionally disabled, preventing the crew from receiving a warning of incorrect airplane configuration.

Here are notable accidents resulting in 746 fatalities:

1974 Lufthansa flight 540, B747, 59 fatalities

1987 Northwest 255, MD 82, 150 fatalities

1988 Delta 1411, B727-200, 14 fatalities

1999 LAPA Flight 3142, B737-200, 65 fatalities

2005 Mandala Airlines 91, B737-200, 144 fatalities

2008 Spanair 5022 - MD 82, 154 fatalities

In every case, if the flight crews had performed their normal pre-takeoff checks, the accidents would have been averted. It is essential that all crew members actually confirm every item on the appropriate checklist.

As an additional mnemonic, many pilots will perform a FEATS check before every takeoff: Flaps, EPRs, Airspeed bugs, Trim, Speed brake.

RFT 280: Marine Major/Author Scott Huesing

Apr 8, 2019 20:31


Scott A. Huesing is a proven combat leader. He is a retired United States Marine Corps Infantry Major with 24 years of honorable service, both enlisted and as a commissioned officer. His career spanned 10 deployments to over 60 countries worldwide. Throughout his numerous deployments to Iraq, Afghanistan, and the Horn of Africa he planned, led, and conducted hundreds of combat missions under some of the most austere and challenging conditions.
Scott is a published author since 2005. His bestselling book, Echo in Ramadi, (Regnery, 2018) is a snapshot in time that changed the face of operations on the battlefield; a captivating story of Echo Company, 2d Battalion, 4th Marines during the Second Battle of Ramadi in support of the Multi National Forces Surge Strategy in 2006. His true-life account provides keen insights into what may be an unfamiliar world to readers, but very familiar to those, like Scott, who lived it and endured this historic fight. Echo in Ramadi was written to honor the sacrifices and spirit of his Marines and the families they supported. It not simply a war story—it is about the people and the power of human connection that speaks about leadership, team-building, and overcoming adversity under the toughest conditions.
Scott is an expert contributor and has written articles, editorials, and scholarly pieces for USA Today, Fox News Channel, Entercom, The Marine Corps Gazette, Military Times, Townhall, and The Daily Signal. He has been an author for the U.S. Marine Corps doctrine shaping the future of training within the world’s most elite branch of service. He is the creative author for the standard operating procedures for Marine Expeditionary Units, America’s first response force, with The Lightning Press.
Scott is a formally trained public speaker with 25 years of experience in both the military and private sector. He has spoken to audiences as large as 2,000 conveying his thoughts, intent, and goals to motivate listeners. Scott’s natural, outgoing style allows him to connect with audiences to share his experience. Scott dedicates his time to travel to military bases, college programs, veteran organizations, non-profit organizations, corporate leadership conferences, Gold Star Family events, and a multitude of venues to share the story of his epic journey and struggles. He is continually sought out to speak on leadership and his combat experiences—and the importance of writing about them.
Scott is the Executive Director of Save the Brave, a certified non-profit that connects Veterans through outreach programs—their mission is staying proactive to the needs of the Veterans they serve. He is also the President of the 2d Battalion, 4th Marines Association, a non-profit that helps Veterans and active duty Marines.

RFT 279: The Uberlingen Crash

Apr 4, 2019 03:34


From Wikipedia

On the night of 1 July 2002, Bashkirian Airlines Flight 2937, a Tupolev Tu-154 passenger jet, and DHL Flight 611, a Boeing 757 cargo jet, collided in mid-air over Überlingen, a southern German town on Lake Constance. All 69 passengers and crew aboard the Tupolev and the two crew members of the Boeing were killed.

The official investigation by the German Federal Bureau of Aircraft Accident Investigation (German: Bundesstelle für Flugunfalluntersuchung, (BFU)) identified as the main cause of the collision a number of shortcomings on the part of the Swiss air traffic control service in charge of the sector involved, and also ambiguities in the procedures regarding the use of TCAS, the on-board aircraft collision avoidance system.

A year and a half after the crash, on 24 February 2004, Peter Nielsen, the air traffic controller on duty at the time of the collision, was murdered in an apparent act of revenge by Vitaly Kaloyev, a Russian citizen who had lost his wife and two children in the accident.

Bashkirian Airlines Flight 2937 was a chartered flight from Moscow, Russia, to Barcelona, Spain, carrying sixty passengers and nine crew. Forty-five of the passengers were Russian schoolchildren from the city of Ufa in Bashkortostan on a school trip organised by the local UNESCO committee to the Costa Dorada area of Spain. Most of the parents of the children were high-ranking officials in Bashkortostan.[12] One of the fathers was the head of the local UNESCO committee.

The aircraft, a Tupolev Tu-154M registered as RA-85816, was piloted by an experienced Russian crew: 52-year-old Captain Alexander Mihailovich Gross (Александр Михайлович Гросс) and 40-year-old First Officer Oleg Pavlovich Grigoriev (Олег Павлович Григорьев). The captain had more than 12,000 flight hours to his credit. Grigoriev, the chief pilot of Bashkirian Airlines, had 8,500 hours of flying experience and his task was to evaluate Captain Gross's performance throughout the flight. 41-year-old Murat Ahatovich Itkulov (Мурат Ахатович Иткулов), a seasoned pilot with close to 7,900 flight hours who was normally the first officer, did not officially serve on duty due to this being the captain's assessment flight. 50-year-old Sergei Gennadyevich Kharlov, a flight navigator with approximately 13,000 flight hours, and 37-year-old Flight Engineer Oleg Irikovich Valeev, who had almost 4,200 flight hours, joined the three pilots in the cockpit.

DHL Flight 611, a Boeing 757-23APF cargo aircraft registered as A9C-DHL, had originated in Bahrain and was being flown by two Bahrain-based pilots, 47-year-old British Captain Paul Phillips and 34-year-old Canadian First Officer Brant Campioni. Both pilots were very experienced — the captain had logged close to 12,000 flight hours and the first officer had accumulated more than 6,600 flight hours. At the time of the accident, the aircraft was en route from Bergamo, Italy, to Brussels, Belgium.

The two aircraft were flying at flight level 360 (36,000 feet, 10,973 m) on a collision course. Despite being just inside the German border, the airspace was controlled from Zürich, Switzerland, by the private Swiss airspace control company Skyguide. The only air traffic controller handling the airspace, Peter Nielsen, was working two workstations at the same time. Partly due to the added workload, and partly due to delayed radar data, he did not realize the problem in time and thus failed to keep the aircraft at a safe distance from each other. Less than a minute before the accident he realised the danger and contacted Flight 2937, instructing the pilot to descend by a thousand feet to avoid collision with crossing traffic (Flight 611). Seconds after the Russian crew initiated the descent, their traffic collision avoidance system (TCAS) instructed them to climb, while at about the same time the TCAS on Flight 611 instructed the pilots of that aircraft to descend. Had both aircraft followed those automated instructions, the collision would not have occurred.

Flight 611's pilots on the Boeing jet followed the TCAS instructions and initiated a descent, but could not immediately inform Nielsen because the controller was dealing with Flight 2937. About eight seconds before the collision, Flight 611's descent rate was about 2,400 feet per minute (12 m/s), not quite as rapid as the 2,500 to 3,000 ft/min (13 to 15 m/s) range advised by that jet's TCAS; as for the Tupolev, the pilot disregarded his jet's TCAS instruction to climb, having already commenced his descent as instructed by the controller. Thus, both planes were now descending.

Unaware of the TCAS-issued alerts, Nielsen repeated his instruction to Flight 2937 to descend, giving the Tupolev crew incorrect information as to the position of the DHL plane (telling them that the Boeing was to the right of the Tupolev when it was in fact to the left).

The aircraft collided at 23:35:32 local time, at almost a right angle at an altitude of 34,890 feet (10,630 m), with the Boeing's vertical stabilizer slicing completely through Flight 2937's fuselage just ahead of the Tupolev's wings. The Tupolev broke into several pieces, scattering wreckage over a wide area. The nose section of the aircraft fell vertically, while the tail section with the engines continued, stalled, and fell. The crippled Boeing, now with 80% of its vertical stabilizer lost, struggled for a further seven kilomters (four miles) before crashing into a wooded area close to the village of Taisersdorf at a 70-degree downward angle. Each engine ended up several hundred meters away from the main wreckage, and the tail section was torn from the fuselage by trees just before impact. All 69 people on the Tupolev, and the two on board the Boeing, died.

RFT 287: Atmospheric Stability

Apr 4, 2019 07:38


From the Pilot’s Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge:

The stability of the atmosphere depends on its ability to
resist vertical motion. A stable atmosphere makes vertical
movement difficult, and small vertical disturbances dampen
out and disappear. In an unstable atmosphere, small vertical air
movements tend to become larger, resulting in turbulent airflow
and convective activity. Instability can lead to significant
turbulence, extensive vertical clouds, and severe weather.
Rising air expands and cools due to the decrease in air
pressure as altitude increases. The opposite is true of
descending air; as atmospheric pressure increases, the
temperature of descending air increases as it is compressed.
Adiabatic heating and adiabatic cooling are terms used to
describe this temperature change.

The adiabatic process takes place in all upward and
downward moving air. When air rises into an area of lower
pressure, it expands to a larger volume. As the molecules
of air expand, the temperature of the air lowers. As a result,
when a parcel of air rises, pressure decreases, volume
increases, and temperature decreases. When air descends,
the opposite is true. The rate at which temperature decreases
with an increase in altitude is referred to as its lapse rate.
As air ascends through the atmosphere, the average rate of
temperature change is 2 °C (3.5 °F) per 1,000 feet.
Since water vapor is lighter than air, moisture decreases air
density, causing it to rise. Conversely, as moisture decreases,
air becomes denser and tends to sink. Since moist air cools
at a slower rate, it is generally less stable than dry air since
the moist air must rise higher before its temperature cools
to that of the surrounding air. The dry adiabatic lapse rate
(unsaturated air) is 3 °C (5.4 °F) per 1,000 feet. The moist
adiabatic lapse rate varies from 1.1 °C to 2.8 °C (2 °F to
5 °F) per 1,000 feet.
The combination of moisture and temperature determine the
stability of the air and the resulting weather. Cool, dry air
is very stable and resists vertical movement, which leads to
good and generally clear weather. The greatest instability
occurs when the air is moist and warm, as it is in the tropical
regions in the summer. Typically, thunderstorms appear on
a daily basis in these regions due to the instability of the
surrounding air.

As air rises and expands in the atmosphere, the temperature
decreases. There is an atmospheric anomaly that can occur;
however, that changes this typical pattern of atmospheric
behavior. When the temperature of the air rises with altitude, a
temperature inversion exists. Inversion layers are commonly
shallow layers of smooth, stable air close to the ground. The
temperature of the air increases with altitude to a certain
point, which is the top of the inversion. The air at the top
of the layer acts as a lid, keeping weather and pollutants
trapped below. If the relative humidity of the air is high, it
can contribute to the formation of clouds, fog, haze, or smoke
resulting in diminished visibility in the inversion layer.
Surface-based temperature inversions occur on clear, cool
nights when the air close to the ground is cooled by the
lowering temperature of the ground. The air within a few
hundred feet of the surface becomes cooler than the air above
it. Frontal inversions occur when warm air spreads over a
layer of cooler air, or cooler air is forced under a layer of
warmer air.

From AC 006B:

Vertical Motion Effects on an Unsaturated Air Parcel. As a bubble or parcel of air ascends (rises), it moves into an area of lower pressure (pressure decreases with height). As this occurs, the parcel expands. This requires energy, or work, which takes heat away from the parcel, so the air cools as it rises. This is called an adiabatic process. The term adiabatic means that no heat transfer occurs into, or out of, the parcel. Air has low thermal conductivity, so transfer of heat by conduction is negligibly small.

The rate at which the parcel cools as it is lifted is called the lapse rate. The lapse rate of a rising, unsaturated parcel (air with relative humidity less than 100 percent) is approximately 3 °C per 1,000 feet (9.8 °C per kilometer). This is called the dry adiabatic lapse rate. This means for each 1,000-foot increase in elevation, the parcel’s temperature decreases by 3 °C. Concurrently, the dewpoint decreases approximately 0.5 °C per 1,000 feet (1.8 °C per kilometer). The parcel’s temperature-dewpoint spread decreases, while its relative humidity increases. 

This process is reversible if the parcel remains unsaturated and, thus, does not lose any water vapor. A descending (subsiding) air parcel compresses as it moves into an area of higher pressure. The atmosphere surrounding the parcel does work on the parcel, and energy is added to the compressed parcel, which warms it. Thus, the temperature of a descending air parcel increases approximately 3 °C per 1,000 feet (9.8 °C per kilometer). Concurrently, the dewpoint increases approximately 0.5 °C per 1,000 feet (1.8 °C per kilometer). The parcel’s temperature-dewpoint spread increases, while its relative humidity decreases.

The parcel and the surrounding environmental air temperatures are then compared. If the lifted parcel is colder than the surrounding air, it will be denser (heavier) and sink back to its original level. In this case, the parcel is stable because it resists upward displacement. If the lifted parcel is the same temperature as the surrounding air, it will be the same density and remain at the same level. In this case, the parcel is neutrally stable. If the lifted parcel is warmer and, therefore, less dense (lighter) than the surrounding air, it will continue to rise on its own until it reaches the same temperature as its environment. This final case is an example of an unstable parcel. Greater temperature differences result in greater rates of vertical motion.

RFT 278: Air Traffic Controller Gabriel Staschill

Apr 1, 2019 29:41


Gabriel Staschill is an ATC controller in Germany, and he shares insights into the similarities, and differences, between air traffic controllers and pilots.


Mar 28, 2019 07:04


From Wikipedia:

In the late 1960s, a series of controlled flight into terrain (CFIT) accidents took the lives of hundreds of people. A CFIT accident is one where a properly functioning airplane under the control of a fully qualified and certified crew is flown into terrain, water or obstacles with no apparent awareness on the part of the crew.

Beginning in the early 1970s, a number of studies examined the occurrence of CFIT accidents. Findings from these studies indicated that many such accidents could have been avoided if a warning device called a ground proximity warning system (GPWS) had been used. As a result of these studies and recommendations from the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), in 1974 the FAA required all large turbine and turbojet airplanes to install TSO-approved GPWS equipment.

The ICAO recommended the installation of GPWS in 1979.

C. Donald Bateman, a Canadian-born engineer, developed and is credited with the invention of GPWS.[

In March 2000, the U.S. FAA amended operating rules to require that all U.S. registered turbine-powered airplanes with six or more passenger seats (exclusive of pilot and copilot seating) be equipped with an FAA-approved TAWS. The mandate affects aircraft manufactured after March 29, 2002.

Prior to the development of GPWS, large passenger aircraft were involved in 3.5 fatal CFIT accidents per year, falling to 2 per year in the mid-1970s. A 2006 report stated that from 1974, when the U.S. FAA made it a requirement for large aircraft to carry such equipment, until the time of the report, there had not been a single passenger fatality in a CFIT crash by a large jet in U.S. airspace.[

After 1974, there were still some CFIT accidents that GPWS was unable to help prevent, due to the "blind spot" of those early GPWS systems. More advanced systems were developed.

Older TAWS, or deactivation of the EGPWS, or ignoring its warnings when airport is not in its database, or even the entire EGPWS altogether still leave aircraft vulnerable to possible CFIT incidents. In April 2010, a Polish Air Force Tupolev Tu-154M aircraft crashed near Smolensk, Russia, in a possible CFIT accident killing all passengers and crew, including the Polish President.[11][12][13][14] The aircraft was equipped with TAWS made by Universal Avionics Systems of Tucson. According to the Russian Interstate Aviation Committee TAWS was turned on. However, the airport where the aircraft was going to land (Smolensk (XUBS)) is not in the TAWS database. In January 2008 a Polish Air Force Casa C-295M crashed in a CFIT accident near Mirosławiec, Poland, despite being equipped with EGPWS; the EGPWS warning sounds had been disabled, and the pilot-in-command was not properly trained with EGPWS.[

The FAA specifications[19]have detailed requirements for when certain warnings should sound in the cockpit.

The system monitors an aircraft's height above ground as determined by a radar altimeter. A computer then keeps track of these readings, calculates trends, and will warn the flight crew with visual and audio messages if the aircraft is in certain defined flying configurations ("modes").

The modes are:

Excessive descent rate ("SINK RATE" "PULL UP")[ Excessive terrain closure rate ("TERRAIN" "PULL UP") Altitude loss after take off or with a high power setting ("DON'T SINK") Unsafe terrain clearance ("TOO LOW – TERRAIN" "TOO LOW – GEAR" "TOO LOW – FLAPS") Excessive deviation below glideslope ("GLIDESLOPE") Excessively steep bank angle ("BANK ANGLE") Windshear protection ("WINDSHEAR")

The traditional GPWS does have a blind spot. Since it can only gather data from directly below the aircraft, it must predict future terrain features. If there is a dramatic change in terrain, such as a steep slope, GPWS will not detect the aircraft closure rate until it is too late for evasive action.

In the late 1990s improvements were developed and the system is now named "Enhanced Ground Proximity Warning System" (EGPWS/TAWS). The system is combined with a worldwide digital terrain database and relies on Global Positioning System (GPS) technology. On-board computers compare current location with a database of the Earth's terrain. The Terrain Display gives pilots a visual orientation to high and low points nearby the aircraft.

EGPWS software improvements are focused on solving two common problems; no warning at all, and late or improper response.

The primary cause of CFIT occurrences with no GPWS warning is landing short. When the landing gear is down and landing flaps are deployed, the GPWS expects the airplane to land and therefore, issues no warning. EGPWS introduces the Terrain Clearance Floor (TCF) function, which provides GPWS protection even in the landing configuration.

The occurrence of a GPWS alert typically happens at a time of high workload and nearly always surprises the flight crew. Almost certainly, the aircraft is not where the pilot thinks it should be, and the response to a GPWS warning can be late in these circumstances. Warning time can also be short if the aircraft is flying into steep terrain since the downward looking radio altimeter is the primary sensor used for the warning calculation. The EGPWS improves terrain awareness and warning times by introducing the Terrain Display and the Terrain Data Base Look Ahead protection.

In commercial and airline operations there are legally mandated procedures that must be followed should an EGPWS caution or warning occur. Both pilots must respond and act accordingly once the alert has been issued. An Indonesian captain has been charged with manslaughter for not adhering to these procedures.

Main article: TAWS § TAWS Types

TAWS equipment is not required by the U.S. FAA in piston-engined aircraft, but optional equipment categorized as TAWS Type C may be installed. Depending on the type of operation, TAWS is only required to be installed into turbine-powered aircraft with six or more passenger seats.

A smaller and less expensive version of EGPWS was developed by AlliedSignal (now merged with Honeywell) for general aviation and private aircraft.

For fast military aircraft, the high speed and low altitude that may frequently be flown make traditional GPWS systems unsuitable, as the blind spot becomes the critical part. Thus, an enhanced system is required, taking inputs not only from the radar altimeter, but also from inertial navigation system (INS), Global Positioning System(GPS), and flight control system (FCS), using these to accurately predict the flight path of the aircraft up to 5 miles (8.0 km) ahead. Digital maps of terrain and obstacle features are then used to determine whether a collision is likely if the aircraft does not pull up at a given pre-set g-level. If a collision is predicted, a cockpit warning may be provided. This is the type of system deployed on aircraft such as the Eurofighter Typhoon.[22] The U.S. FAA has also conducted a study about adapting 3-D military thrust vectoring to recover civil jetliners from catastrophes.

On May 5, 2016 a military GPWS called Automatic Ground Collision Avoidance System (Auto-GCAS) equipped aboard an F-16 made a dramatic save after a trainee pilot lost consciousness from excessive G forces during basic fighter maneuver training. In an approximately 55 degree nose down attitude at 8,760 ft and 652 KIAS(750 mph), the Auto-GCAS detected the aircraft was going to strike the terrain and executed an automatic recovery and saved the pilot's life.

RFT 276: French Navy Pilot Pierre-Henri Chuet

Mar 25, 2019 31:50


Pierre-Henri (nick name Até) is a dual Canadian and French citizen. Até grew up on RAF Linton-On-Ouse with an exchange instructor father on the RAF Jet Provost.

After being Europe’s youngest pilot at 15 in 2001 and flying in the French national Precision Flying team for the 2006 World Championships, he joined the French Navy to fly jets.

 After 26 months as an exchange Officer in the US NAVY he graduated as a Naval Aviator and flew Super-Etendard from the aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle.

In 2014 he transitioned to the Dassault Rafale.

Até deployed several times including after the 2015 French terrorist attacks.

He flew missions over Iraq, flying combat missions from the French aircraft carrier both at night and day.
He received a Cross for Military Valour for meritorious action in the face of the enemy.

 Flying several seasons in the French Navy Tactical Display as wingman he became the Leader of the display in 2017. Meanwhile, he was appointed Rafale Navy Subject Matter Expert at just 29 and chief instructor for the Rafale in the Navy at 30 years old.

 Leaving the military to fly for a Major Airline on the Boeing 737MAX, he decided to share his experience.

Até holds over 2500 hours of flight time including more than 1850 hours on fighter aircraft.
He flew a wide range of aircraft from general aviation or aerobatic aircraft to Business jets and of course fighter aircraft.

He has completed over 200 carrier landings.

Enjoying triathlon, he took part in the 2007 Amateur Long distance Triathlon World Championships and in the 2009 Amateur Short Distance Duathlon World Championships.

He has spoken for events or companies like Dassault, Safran, MBDA, Thales, The London Tech Week, EdTechXEurope, and banks

Até is married with a family of three and now lives in Hampshire, UK.

RFT 275: WAI Recap With Jennifer Aupke

Mar 21, 2019 10:20


The Women In Aviation conference was held in Long Beach from 14-16 March 2019. Our previous guest, Jennifer Aupke, attended and is providing an exciting recap of the event, including her meeting with notable aviation luminaries.

WAI Membership is open to women and men from all segments of the aviation industry, and all members may participate in their numerous scholarships. For more membership information, visit the WAI website.

RFT 274: Combat Rescue Pilot Jennifer Aupke

Mar 18, 2019 29:00


Experienced Combat Rescue Instructor Pilot 👣 with a demonstrated history building teams and innovating for military officer training and combat planning and operations. Experienced in planning, programming, budget and execution operations at multiple levels as well as requirements management and operational test and evaluations. 340 combat hours and 76 saves. Motivational speaker, blogger, and change agent.

Previously served as executive officer to MAJCOM leadership (Four and Two star generals and SES), learning strategic communication and high level task management covering multiple directorates and operational capabilities. Ranked #1 of 17 execs in general officer’s career.

Skilled in Government Acquisition (Program Manager lvl 1), PPBE, Requirements management and Operational Test and Evaluation. Served multiple deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan. Airplane and Rotary wing Multiengine Land Instrument and commercial Rating.

Innovator. Disruptor. Connector. Strong operations professional with a global perspective- M.S. focused in Leadership and Liberal Studies from Duquesne University. AFWERX contributor, DEF AGORA lead, Principal/Founder The Milieux Project, Advisory Board Member, GirlApproved.

Member of: EAA, WAI, Whirly Girls, and the Friends of CAP

RFT 273: Chief Pilot Deborah Hecker

Mar 13, 2019 31:35


Deborah Hecker originally had no intention of becoming a pilot. She graduated college with a degree in International Relations with the intention of becoming an attorney, went backpacking through the Middle East, and returned to study for her LSAT (Law School Admissions Test). On her birthday, a friend gave her a present of an airplane introductory flight, and she was hooked.

She bought a used Cessna 172 and pursued her ratings. She built up her time and got her first flying job flying automotive parts around the northeast. She later was hired by Piedmont, and eventually ended up flying for American Airlines.

Deborah performed management duties for American in addition to her flying, and worked her way up to Chief Pilot.

Deborah also has created several scholarships, all under the umbrella of Women In Aviation International (WAI). These scholarships are open to men as well as women - the only requirement is to be a member of WAI:

Keep Flying Scholarship

American Airlines Engineering Scholarship

American Airlines Veterans Initiative Scholarship

RFT: Airline Pilot/Martial Artist Valerie Walker

Mar 7, 2019 33:38


Adapted from Aero Crew News

Captain Valerie Walker started her aviation career in unconventional, adventurous ways full of interesting challenges. She was a flight instructor, police aerial patrol pilot in fixed wing and helicopters, DC-3 bush-pilot in Botswana, South Africa, Flight Test Pilot for Plane & Pilot and Air Progress magazines, plus various freelance aviation jobs. She was hired into Western Airlines’ first class to include a female airline pilot and many years later retired from Delta Airlines as a captain rated on the 727, 737, 757 and 767. Throughout her career she pursued her second passion in martial arts and continues to train, teach and hone that craft. On March 8, 1976, she was hired into Western Airlines’ first class to include a female airline pilot. Martial arts and flying have always been her two passions. Martial arts had to be put on the back-burner as she put everything she had into aviation. she built her flying experience as a with less than reassuring equipment or procedural safety margins. In her teens and twenties, the military didn’t accept women as pilots, so her career path was unconventional, adventurous and full of interesting challenges that made her adaptable and able to think outside the box. Later, aviation blessed her with the resources to pursue a variety of martial arts disciplines, and she’s done so for the last 35 years. She became a first-degree black belt in Kenpo Karate while continuing to train in Wing Chun, Jiu Jitsu, Aikido, Hapkido and Kendo. After 9/11, Valerie was one of 40 airline pilots selected to be in the first class of Federal Flight Deck Officers. They trained with Special Forces instructors in hand-to-hand combat and firearm retention, as well as in law and shoot/don’t shoot scenarios. At that time, she began developing a combination of the best common principles and thought processes from all of my martial arts disciplines. Her goal was to develop a 10-minute briefing for flight crews with no martial arts backgrounds yet who might encounter a terrorist situation. An airplane isn’t a politely scripted martial arts dojo. It’s a place where an unexpected real life-or-death situation can occur which requires us to be situationally aware and employ a few tools that are easily remembered; that don’t require a great deal of fine motor-skill finesse, and are good for fighting in the tight confines of a hollow tube that’s shooting through the air at Mach .82 with its tail on fire with no visible means of support and packed with panicked strangers. Valerie retired from Delta Airlines and still teaches martial arts, still trains, and is still always learning.

RFT 270: F-111/O-2A Pilot B/Gen Rico Aponte

Mar 4, 2019 18:24


From Wikipedia:

Aponte was raised and educated in San Juan, the capital of Puerto Rico. After receiving his primary and secondary education, he enrolled in the University of Puerto Rico and joined the campus ROTC program. On December 29, 1972, he earned a Bachelor of Science degree in civil engineering and was commissioned a Second Lieutenant in the United States Air Force.

Aponte was assigned to Moody Air Force Base in the state of Georgia and completed his pilot training in August 1974. He was then reassigned to the 27th Tactical Fighter Wing at Cannon Air Force BaseNew Mexicoas pilot-weapons system officer and aircraft commander General Dynamics F-111D. He was promoted to First Lieutenant on May 1, 1975. Aponte flew the F-111 F and D models, the 02-A and T-38 aircraft.F-111 - Type of aircraft flown by Aponte

Aponte became a Captain on May 1, 1977 and served as aircraft commander and instructor pilot of the F-111F aircraft of the 48th Tactical Fighter WingRoyal Air Force Lakenheath in the United Kingdom from August 1978 to May 1981. During this period, he earned his Master of Science degree in management science from Troy State University.

In May 1981, he returned to the United States and served as instructor pilot of the 0-2A aircraft, assigned to the 549th Tactical Air Support Training Squadron at Patrick Air Force Base in Florida. During this period, Aponte attended the United States Marine CorpsWeapons and Tactics Instructor School in Marine Corps Air Station Yuma located in Arizona, the United States Air Force Squadron Officer's School and United States Air Force Air Command and Staff College (the latter two by correspondence). He served at Patrick Air Force Base until May 1984, when he was sent to Howard Air Force Base in Panama. Aponte was promoted to major on October 1, 1984 and was the chief of the Latin American Political Military Affairs Division and deputy director for Latin American Affairs.

On June 1988, Aponte was reassigned to Cannon Air Force Base in New Mexico where he served as aircraft commander F111-D, 523rd Tactical Fighter Squadron and from 1989 to December 1989 as chief, Quality Assurance of 27th Tactical Fighter Group.[

In August 1990, Aponte joined the Air Force Reserve and was assigned to Deputy Chief of Staff for Air and Space Operations Western Hemisphere Division in the Pentagon in Washington, D.C.. At the Pentagon, Aponte was the international political officer who led the reserve officers assigned to the Western Hemisphere, European and Defense Attached Directorates. In 1992, the U.S. Air Force Demonstration Squadron, The Thunderbirds, selected him as the Spanish Language Narrator for their highly successful Latin America Tour. He was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel on June 18, 1993 and completed by seminar Air War College in 1994. From November 1999 to January 2001, he served as individual mobilization augmentee to Deputy Under Secretary International Affairs. He was promoted to the rank of Colonel on August 1, 1997.

In January 2001, he was assigned as a mobilization assistant to the deputy to the Chief Air Force Reserve. There he led transformation efforts and was a tiger team member in response to frequent mobilization and demobilization issues resulting from Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom.

In April 2003, Aponte became the Deputy Director for Operations, Headquarters United States Southern Command in Miami, Florida. Aponte was promoted to Brigadier General on March 1, 2003. In October 2004, he was named Director, J-7, of the United States Southern Command.

His directorate is the focal point for transformation initiatives, knowledge management, experimentation and gaming within the U. S. Southern Command. The directorate seeks out new concepts and rigorously tests them both in simulation and as part of operational experiments. The first transformation initiative was the startup of the Secretary of Defense mandated Standing Joint Force Headquarters (SJFHQ). The SJFHQ, consists of planning, operations, knowledge management, and information superiority experts who form the backbone of the Joint Task Force command structure in the event of contingency operations. Aponte retired July 1, 2007.

RFT 269: NAT Changes

Feb 28, 2019 04:47


From Ops Group

Starting 28th March 2019, a new trial will be implemented on the NAT called ASEPS (Advanced Surveillance Enhanced Procedural Separation) using ADS-B in the Shanwick, Gander and Santa Maria FIRs.

Compliant aircraft will see a reduction in longitudinal separation to as close as 14 NM. This is not restricted to particular tracks or altitudes, just between properly equipped aircraft – you’ll need RVSM/HLA approval, ADS-B, and to be fully PBCS compliant (that means meeting the specifications of RNP4, RCP240 and RSP180). Read this ICAO Bulletin for all the details.

When the ASEPS trial starts, there will also be some changes to the contingency and weather deviation procedures. Before, there was a lot of confusion around the wording of these two procedures – this has now been made much clearer, and they have even included a nice little graphic to help us understand what to do. Read this ICAO Bulletin for all the details.


ICAO have published all these changes in their updated NAT 007 Doc valid for 28th March 2019.

Further reading:

On Nov 1st we had a call with 140 Opsgroup members about upcoming changes on the NAT in 2019, and how we can effect change. Opsgroup members can find the PDF notes of this in your Dashboard. A big thing driving the ASEPS trial is the rollout of Space-based ADS-B, which is scheduled to complete its deployment by 30 Dec 2018, giving us worldwide, pole-to-pole surveillance of aircraft. For more on that, and how it will affect operations on the NAT specifically, read the article by Mitch Launius here. Use our quick guide to figure out where you are welcome on the NAT, depending on what equipment and training you have. All the big changes on the NAT in 2018 are covered on our page here.

RFT 268: F-14 Pilot/Keynote Speaker John Ramstead

Feb 25, 2019 48:31


From John Ramstead's webpage:

John started out his career as a Navy F-14 pilot and flew combat during Desert Storm.  Following his Navy career, he became a successful startup entrepreneur and then joined the management team of a Fortune 100 company.   Four years ago he had a near fatal accident that put him under hospital care for two years and required 23 surgeries.  This taught him what is truly important and how to move from success to significance.

Today he is the founder of Beyond Influence, LLC, a global leadership coaching and consulting firm.

Their mission is to equip and empower leaders to achieve what has been inspired in them.  He now devotes his time to leadership coaching, consulting, and speaking.

RFT 267: Airline Pilot Beth Powell

Feb 21, 2019 18:45


Beth Powell was recently featured in Essence magazine as one of the few female African-American airline pilots operating in the United States.

Beth's interest in flying began when she was 15 years old and took an introductory airplane flight in her home country of Jamaica. She was immediately hooked, and started taking flying lessons when she was 16. She soloed at 16 and received her Private Pilot certificate when she was 17.

To pay for her CFI lessons Beth worked three jobs, and finally landed a position at American Eagle, and then later became a pilot with American Airlines, where she flies domestic and international routes. In addition to her flying duties, Beth is also a pilot manager at the Integrated Operations Center.

Beth is active in giving back to aviation, sponsoring a scholarship through the Organization of Black Aerospace Professionals (OBAP) and, additionally through the Sisters of the Skies, which reaches out to young African-American girls to tell them about aviation.

RFT 266: Military/Airline Pilot Jason Harris

Feb 18, 2019 34:10


Jason Harris attended the Air Force Academy, planning to be an attorney. Instead, after meeting original Tuskegee Airmen, he became interested in flying. He participated in the glider program, as well as free-fall skydiving five times.

After graduation he attended Undergaduate Pilot training and then flew the C-130, flying four combat deployments in the Middle East. After his C-130 assignment, he flew special operators in Cessna Caravans on classified missions, often landing on unimproved surfaces, at night using night vision goggles. He flew seven combat deployments in the Caravan.

Then he became an Instructor in the Military Training Department at the Air Force Academy and also an instructor pilot in the powered flight program. After two years he separated from the Air Force and joined the Reserves, serving as a T-1 instructor pilot at Laughlin Air Force Base. He now works at NORAD as a Joint Planning Logistics Officer.

After separating from the Air Force, Jason was hired by a legacy airline, where he currently flies international flights. In addition, he is now a member of the National Speakers Association and is a sought-after motivational speaker.

RFT 265: Terrain Escape Profile

Feb 15, 2019 06:43


From Skybrary

In commercial operations, it is highly desirable that the most direct route between two airports be flown whenever possible. Where that route involves the overflight of extensive areas of high terrain, it is critical that escape routes and procedures be developed and used in the event that an emergency requires that the aircraft must descend to an altitude that is below the Minimum Obstacle Clearance Altitude (MOCA) (MOCA).

In many parts of the world, aircraft are routinely flown over terrain that has minimum obstacle clearance altitudes (MOCA) exceeding 10,000'. In most areas, however, the relatively short exposure time to the high terrain negates the requirement for predetermined escape routes and procedures.

There are several exceptions to the premise of minimum exposure time. These exceptions include central Asia due to its very extensive areas of high terrain. Avoidance of these areas by transiting aircraft could potentially add hundreds of extra miles to a given route and result in a substantial increase in flight time and the associated costs. This is not desirable from a commercial standpoint. To satisfy the commercial imperative while maintaining an acceptable level of safety, operators have developed escape routes and the associated procedures for use in the event of an emergency whilst overflying extensive high terrain.

The primary threats to safe flight over extensive areas of high terrain are those situations which result in the immediate requirement to initiate a descent. These threats include:

Engine failure Loss of pressurisation Fire

Analysis of these threats against the capabilities of the specific aircraft type and configuration will determine which of them defines the most restrictive terrain clearance profile. This, in turn, will determine what (if any) limitations must be applied to any route of flight that might be under consideration.

An engine failure or an emergency, which requires the immediate shutdown of an engine, will normally result in the requirement for a descent. If the one engine inoperative ceiling for the anticipated weight, corrected as required for the existing conditions, exceeds the maximum terrain height, the route is not limited by engine out performance. If, on the other hand, the aircraft is not able to maintain level flight at an altitude at or above the MOCA with one engine inoperative, the maximum exposure to the high ground must be limited by the distance that the aircraft could fly, using a drift down profile, prior to descending below the minimum safe altitude.

In the event of loss of pressurisation, the standard procedure is to initiate an emergency descent to the higher of 10,000' or the Minimum En-route Altitude (MEA) (MEA). If the MEA, as corrected for existing conditions, is above 14,000' (13,000' for some National Aviation Authorities (NAA)), continuing the descent to MOCA would be prudent. If the MOCA is also above 14,000', the route of flight will be limited by the availability of supplemental/emergency oxygen supplies. Flight crew supplemental oxygen is rarely limiting; however, passenger emergency oxygen, when provided by Chemical Oxygen Generators, is only available for a limited amount of time. This time is dependent upon the capacity of the generators that have been installed in the aircraft concerned. Regulations require a minimum passenger oxygen supply of 10 minutes. The majority of chemical generators have a useful life of between 12 and 20 minutes depending upon the type.

For flight over extensive areas of high terrain, the planned route must allow that an emergency descent to 14,000' (13,000' for some NAA) or lower can be safely made prior to exhaustion of the passenger oxygen generators. This descent will occur while following a pre-planned escape route that must also allow further descent to below 10,000' within 30 minutes of emergency oxygen supply exhaustion. In these circumstances, the descent will be progressive, based on the safe altitudes for the specific underlying segement of the escape route and will be flown at maximum forward ground speed. The distance that can be flown to reach 14,000' at the moment of emergency oxygen depletion defines the limits for the planned route of flight. As an example, an aircraft that can achieve an average ground speed of 5nm per minute that has 12 minute oxygen generators must be able to descend to 14,000' within 60nm of the planned route.

In itself, a fire does not limit the altitude capability of an aircraft. However, as part of the fire fighting/smoke removal protocol, it may be necessary to depressurise the aircraft. A minimum time routing and flight profile which will allow a timely descent to below 10,000' is desirable.

Safe altitude information can come from a variety of sources:

If following an ATS Route, the Minimum En-route Altitude (MEA) (MEA) and possibly the MOCA for the airway will be indicated on the applicable route chart. For flights on a non-ATS or random route, the Instrument Flight Rules (IFR) charts are overlaid with a grid indicating the Minimum Off Route Altitude (MORA). The MORA grid is usually presented in blocks measuring 1 degree by 1 degree and a minimum altitude for each block is given in feet with the last two digits omitted. As an example, a MORA of 12,500' would be shown as 125. In most parts of the world, the MORA will provide 1000' clearance above the highest point in the grid block when terrain heights are 5000' or less. If the terrain height exceeds 5000', the MORA provides 2000' clearance above the highest point in the block. On some charts, the term MORA may be replaced by Off Route Obstruction Clearance Altitude (OROCA). As the MORA provides a single altitude for a grid block, topographical maps may be used to refine the minimum safe altitude when developing escape routes. Other sources of safe altitude information include emergency safe and Minimum Sector Altitude (MSA) information from approach charts and altitudes published on terminal or arrival charts.

Emergency altitudes must be corrected for:

Altimeter Temperature Error Correction. If the temperature is less than that of the International Standard Atmosphere (ISA), altitude corrections must be made to ensure sufficient terrain clearance. Altimeter Pressure Settings. If a local altimeter setting is not available and the area atmospheric pressure is less than 1013 mb, crews should be prepared to use an area altimeter setting or the lowest of the pressure settings for the route of flight. Wind. If the strength and direction of the wind could result in the formation of Mountain Waves, altitude corrections to compensate for potential wave action should be made to the minimum safe altitudes.

Escape routes are developed based on the more restrictive of the drift down or loss of pressurisation scenarios. In most transport category jet aircraft, the loss of pressurisation case will define the escape route requirements. In either scenario, the limit of safe operations is defined by the criteria presented previously under the headings of "Engine Failure" and "Loss of Pressurisation."

For routes of flight that require a predefined escape route or routes, the following information should be provided to, or developed by, the crew prior to flight:

Minimum Route Altitude. This is the minimum altitude which ensures safe obstacle clearance at any point on the entire route of flight. Route Segment. Depending upon the length of that portion of the route of flight that is over high terrain, there may be a requirement to divide the route into parts or segments. In this case, each segment will have its own designated escape fix. Escape Fix. An escape fix is the pre-defined starting point of the escape route for a specific segment of the route of flight. Where possible, the escape fix should be a ground based navigation aid but, in many cases, an FMS extracted waypoint will be used. A minimum crossing altitude for the escape fix will be published as part of the vertical profile. This altitude will be safe within the applicable route segment between any point on the route and the escape fix. Escape Route. An escape route defines the track to be flown in the event of an emergency. It starts at the escape fix and will terminate either at a diversion aerodrome or when the MOCA is at or below 10,000'. As well as a ground track, the escape route will also define an appropriate vertical profile. This profile must ensure that 14,000' (13,000' for some NAA) can be safely achieved prior to exhaustion of the emergency oxygen supply and that further descent to 10,000' or lower occurs within 30 minutes of oxygen supply exhaustion.

In the event of an engine failure, the crew will turn towards the escape fix while establishing an obstacle clearance drift down profile. This is accomplished by selecting maximum continuous thrust on the operating engine(s), disconnecting the autothrottle if fitted and slowing to best climb speed while in level flight. Once this speed has been achieved, descent will be initiated while maintaining maximum continuous thrust.

If the escape route requirement is as a result of a loss of pressurisation, the crew will don oxygen masks, turn towards the escape fix and commence an emergency descent to the predefined minimum route altitude. The escape fix crossing altitude can then be verified and the descent continued to comply with the predefined vertical profile.

Should the diversion be required due to a fire, the crew will don oxygen masks, turn towards the escape fix and accelerate to maximum forward speed. Initial descent will be to the minimum route altitude with further descent to the escape fix altitude once it has been confirmed. After crossing the escape fix, the escape route vertical profile can be followed.

In all cases, the FMS will be updated so the escape route is in the active flightplan. After crossing the escape fix, the pilots must follow the escape route lateral profile. In the depressuriation scenario, the vertical profile must also be complied with to ensure that the oxygen considerations are met. If the escape is being flown due to the loss of an engine, the vertical profile will be at the discretion of the crew on the provision that minimum altitudes are not compromised.

To be effective, escape route profiles must be executed immediately in the event of engine failure or loss of pressurisation. To achieve this, the crew must be aware of the current escape fix, the appropriate direction of turn to be made in the event of an emergency and the initial safe altitude for an emergency descent. Escape route charts and their associated altitude profiles should be immediately available and, where possible, the escape routing should be pre-programmed into the Flight Management System.

Most manufacturers and operators recommend that the autopilot be used for both an emergency descent and a drift down procedure. Appropriate use of the autopilot reduces flight deck workload and allows the crew to concentrate on accurately managing the escape profile. It also allows them to better manage secondary tasks such as as completion of checklists and coordination with ATC as well as providing time to consider the implications of the emergency. This is especially true during an emergency descent due to loss of pressurization or in the event of an on board fire as the flight deck crew will be wearing oxygen masks.

RFT 264: Aerobatic Champion Gerry Molidor

Feb 11, 2019 30:57


From the Phillips 66 website:
As a 39-year veteran for a major Chicago airline and Line Check Captain on the globally flying B-777, it is no wonder Gerry has over 30,000 hours of flying time. Being a Certified Flight Instructor, former three-time US Advanced Aerobatic Champion and Captain of the Gold Medal Winning 1997 US Advanced Aerobatic Team, it only makes sense that Gerry serves as President Emeritus and current director at the International Aerobatic Club. Gerry is type rated on the Lear Jet, Lockheed Jetstar, DC-3, B727, B737, B757, B767 and B-777. Before becoming a Phillips 66 Aerostar, Gerry flew the Sukhoi Su-26m, which is now on display at the Smithsonian Air & Space Museum. Gerry is a proud alumnus of St. Louis University – Parks College.

RFT 263: Black History Month Pilot Recap

Feb 7, 2019 07:52


Here are some of the incredible black aviators we've met on this podcast:

RFT 015 Brenda Robinson - Brenda was the first female African-American to earn gold wings as a navy aviator.

RFT 017 Donnie Cochran - Captain Cochran was not only the first black member of the Blue Angels naval aerial demonstration team, he later returned as the team's commander.

RFT 045 Dick Toliver - Colonel Toliver was the first African-American to graduate from the Air Force Fighter Weapons School.

RFT 068.5 Karl Minter - Airline Captain Minter is the Advisor Chair to the Organization of Black Aviation Professionals (OBAP).

RFT 073 Brian Settles - After serving in the Air Force, Brian flew for Eastern Airlines, then had an on-again/off-again relationship with several airlines, in addition to being an author.

RFT 099 Lawrence Chambers - Admiral Chambers was the new skipper of the USS Midway when South Vietnam fell and evacuating pilots were flying helicopters to every American ship they could find. A solitary two-place O-1 flew over the Midway and dropped a note, saying that the pilot's wife and five children were aboard, and he needed to land on the carrier deck. Admiral Chambers made the potentially career-ending decision to push all the helicopters that were cluttering the deck overboard to allow the O-1 to land.

RFT 109 Todd Curtis - Dr. Todd Curtis operates a top aviation safety website.

RFT 139 Otis Hooper - Ltc. Hooper - "Hoop" - was a VIP airlift pilot in the Air Force, and is a fitness professional with numerous awards, a movie actor, and a motivational speaker.

RFT 190 George Hardy - Ltc. Hardy was an original Tuskegee Airman who flew combat missions during World War II.

RFT 240 Willie Daniels - In addition to being a Captain for a legacy airline, Captain Daniels is the CEO of Shades of Blue.

RFT 241 Frank Macon - In addition to being an author and public speaker, Frank is an original member of the Tuskegee Airmen.

RFT 266 Jason Harris - You will meet former Air Force pilot, current airline pilot and motivational speaker Jason Harris on an upcoming episode on February 18th. He has an excellent article here.

RFT 262: Scholarship Winner Megan Gerding

Feb 4, 2019 14:13


Megan credits her life’s passion to one day: July 3, 2015. That’s the first day she took an introductory flight at Sporty’s Academy (flyGIRL’s partner in crime for the scholarship program). Before that day, she was, like many young people, unsure about what she wanted to do with her life.

“I remember walking away from the airport thinking,
‘everything just changed; I want to be a pilot.’” When she first heard about the flyGIRL opportunity, Megan had already earned her Private Pilot’s License. She spent most of her free time (and money) on flight training, even thinking about her paychecks in terms of flights. (“If I sell this account at work, that will equate to 5 flying lessons.”) She was so committed to achieving her dream of flying professionally for airlines, cargo, or a corporation that she had recently quit her full time job to begin training full time. Talk about

Matt, her Private Pilot instructor, wrote a recommendation letter for Megan. In it, he describes her as a determined, attentive, and hard-working student: “Her ability to control the aircraft was never in doubt when we flew together, and I can honestly say she had some of the best landings of any of my students.”

Turning Dreams into Reality – And Inspiring Others to Take Flight
Megan embodies everything flyGIRL is all about. Not only is she pursuing a career in flight, but she wants to give back to others with the same dream, too.

“I would love to give free rides and let people realize how incredible flying is. I would hopefully be able to spark something in them to have the same realization that I had on July 3, 2015.”

That is something to which I can certainly relate!

Putting it to Use
FlyGirl aims to inspire women to pursue their dreams. While aviation can give us confidence to explore the heavens, that exploration has real costs. Flight time means paying for a plane, an instructor and the gas to power the engines. That’s why our scholarship provides $5,000 to aspiring female pilots to help cover some of the various fees associated with becoming a pilot.

RFT 261: No Useless Information

Jan 31, 2019 05:41


When it comes to aviation, there is no such thing as useless information.

If you've read this story on my author website, you will read how seemingly useless information saved my life 50 years ago.

A recent episode of Air Disasters highlighted the crash of Atlantic Airways Flight 670. In that accident, the BAE-146 aircraft was attempting to land with a slight tailwind on a short damp runway which had a major drop-off at each end. The airplane was unable to stop, and went off the end of the runway into a ravine and burst into flames. Four of the 16 passengers lost their lives.

The accident board found that, when the spoilers failed to extend upon landing, the Captain selected the emergency brakes. A relatively innocuous entry into the airplane flight manual notes that when the emergency brakes are engaged, the anti-skid system is deactivated.

What you may remember from your studies is the phenomenon of reverted rubber hydroplaning. When a lock tire skids over a damp surface, it heats up and the heat turns the water to steam. This layer of steam lifts the airplane off the runway, and the brakes become relatively ineffective.

In the case of Atlantic Airways Flight 670, seemingly unimportant information - the lack of antiskid protection when using the emergency brakes, and the potential for reverted rubber hydroplaning - led to this accident.

Takeaway: there is no such thing as unimportant information in aviation!

RFT 260: Pilot/Author Ric Hunter

Jan 28, 2019 36:35


From Ric's Website:

Ric Hunter is a 27-year combat veteran of the Air Force; he retired as a colonel. He has 4000 flight hours in high-performance aircraft including the F-4 Phantom and F-15C Eagle. He commanded an Eagle squadron and was a 3-time Top Gun. After active duty service, Ric became a freelance writer/photographer for magazine feature articles in aviation, and hunting and fishing magazines. He was founder and president of the Panama City, Florida, Writers Association. After attacks on 9-11-01, he returned to serve his country once again as a civil servant for eight years. He took over world-wide program management of the Air Force’s 50-million dollar fighter aircraft flight simulator program, thus freeing young pilot staff officers to return to cockpit duties for the war on terror. Ric recently completed FIREHAMMER, an historical fiction novel, based on a true story, that puts the reader in the cockpit of an F-4 aircraft during evacuation of Saigon and then in the last battle of the Vietnam War, rescue of the SS Mayaguez and its crew. The novel is available on Amazon by Red Engine Press. His hobbies are hunting and fishing, and riding his Harley-Davidson through the Blue Ridge Mountains. He now resides with his wife, Jan, on top of a mountain in western North Carolina where he is a consultant to industry and freelance journalist, photographer and novelist.

RFT 259: LeRoy Homer, Jr. Foundation

Jan 24, 2019 24:39


From the LeRoy Homer, Jr. Foundation Website:
LeRoy Homer was a soft spoken man with an ever-present smile; his friends described him as having a heart of gold. He grew up as one of nine children, seven of them girls. LeRoy had dreamed of flying since he was a young boy. As a child he assembled model airplanes, read every book he could find on aviation, and at fifteen began flying lessons. He completed his first solo flight at 16 and by the time he entered the US Air Force Academy, he had a private pilot license.
He graduated from the US Air Force Academy and then began his military career flying C-141s. He served in Desert Shield and Desert Storm and received commendation for flying humanitarian operations in Somalia, an assignment that put his life at risk. During his active service in the US Airforce, LeRoy achieved the rank of Captain and later became a Major after he entered the US Airforce Reserves. In 1995, LeRoy joined United Airlines.
It was that same year that LeRoy met Melodie, his future wife. Introduced by friends, they communicated by telephone and eventually meet for the first time at LAX airport. The former Melodie Thorpe wondered if she would recognize him on their 3,000-mile blind date. Easy, he told her that he’d be the one in the pilot’s uniform. Two years later they were engaged and married in 1998.
On the morning of September 11th, 2001, United Airlines Flight #93 had 37 passengers including the two pilots, five flight attendants and the four hijackers. The pilots had received messages from United Airlines dispatch that said “beware of cockpit intrusion. 2 ac [aircraft] have hit the wtc.” Melodie Homer also sent a message to her husband via the cockpit computer system. When the cockpit door was breached, FAA’s air traffic control center in Cleveland could hear LeRoy Homer declaring “Mayday” amid the sounds of a physical struggle in the cockpit. According to the official transcripts of the cockpit voice recorder from the flight, the hijacking took place 46 minutes after takeoff, and the plane turned toward Washington, DC. It was later determined the plane was headed for the US Capitol.
As the hijackers attempted to fly the aircraft, the passengers and flight crew using GTE Airfones called family, friends and found out about the other attacks. The passengers were determined to take back the plane. What they didn’t realize was the automatic pilot had been manipulated in a way that made it difficult for the hijackers to fly the Boeing 757. They are heard on the cockpit voice recorder saying “This does not work now.” and then a minute later “Inform them, and tell him to talk to the pilot. Bring the pilot back.” The pilots were the first to fight the terrorists, and along with the crew and passengers saved Washington, DC from an attack.
Martin Luther King, Jr. said “the ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.” We know where LeRoy W. Homer Jr. was standing on Tuesday, September 11th, 2001.

RFT 258: Airplane Owner Allyssa VanMeter

Jan 21, 2019 17:21


Allyssa is a successful salon owner. She was initially not interested in fixed-wing flying - she wanted to fly helicopters. A family friend invited her to go along with him in his Cessna 150, so she went along. What started out as a few trips around the pattern on a Friday turned into a three-hour flight, and Allyssa signed up for flying lessons the next Monday!

She scheduled three lessons a week, and received her Private certificate in about six months. Six months ago she purchased half ownership in a Piper Cherokee 160, which she keeps in a T-hangar. She discovered that there are occasional maintenance issues involved in owning an airplane, so there may be occasional times when she wanted to fly and a maintenance issue prevented flying.

Allyssa flew her plane to Oshkosh with only 85 hours, and read all 30 pages of NOTAMS before takeoff! Once there, s he slept under the wing, the way REAL pilots do it!

RFT 257: Space-Based ADS-B

Jan 17, 2019 05:08


From CBS News:

For the first time, a new network of satellites will soon be able to track all commercial airplanes in real time, anywhere on the planet. Currently, planes are largely tracked by radar on the ground, which doesn’t work over much of the world’s oceans.

The final 10 satellites were launched Friday to wrap up the $3 billion effort to replace 66 aging communication satellites, reports CBS News’ Kris Van Cleave, who got an early look at the new technology.

On any given day, 43,000 planes are in the sky in America alone. When these planes take off, they are tracked by radar and are equipped with a GPS transponder. All commercial flights operating in the U.S. and Europe have to have them by 2020. It’s that transponder that talks to these new satellites, making it possible to know exactly where more than 10,000 flights currently flying are.

Tucked inside the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket that was blasted into space on Friday are 10 advanced Iridium Communications satellites, each the size of a Mini Cooper. Once active, they’ll power satellite phone communications, space-based broadband and carry a device which will solve an issue that’s plagued aviation for decades.

“Seventy percent of the world’s airspace has no surveillance. Aircraft fly over the oceans and report back their positions to air traffic control every 10 to 15 minutes at best and in between those periods, no one knows where they are,” said Aireon CEO Don Thoma.

Aireon, based in McLean, Virginia, was developing the technology to change that even before Mayalasia Airlines flight MH370 vanished over the Indian Ocean in March 2014. But a Boeing 777 with 239 aboard disappearing was a wake-up call, prompting years of safety experts demanding change.

“I can find my kids by pinging their iPhone. We shouldn’t have aircraft that disappear anywhere in the world today,” former National Transportation Safety Board Chairman Debbie Herman said back in 2016.

To make that happen, the Aireon technology is hitching a ride to space as part of the largest technology swap the universe has ever seen. Iridium is replacing its existing constellation of 66 satellites and 9 spares orbiting the earth built and launched in the mid-90s.

Walt Everetts help designed the first generation of Iridium satellites, naming two of them after his sons Nicholas and Andrew. He’ll be in the company’s command center outside Washington, D.C. as his team maneuvers the new satellites into place, simultaneously powering on the new and devastating old. The legacy satellites will then be moved out of orbit where they’ll burn up in the earth’s atmosphere.

“It’s kind of like changing a tire on a bus going 17,000 miles per hour,” said Walt Everetts, vice president of satellite operations for Iridium. “With these new satellites that we’re putting up, we have more capacity, more processing capability, more memory … so we are taking an old flip phone and upgrading it into a smartphone.”

While not fully complete, the updated network circling the globe 485 miles overhead is already tracking planes. Aireon was able to instantly confirm the last known location of Lion Air Flight 610, the Boeing 737 Max that crashed in the Java Sea last October.

“With the Iridium-Aireon system, every airplane is in reach of an air traffic controller … so no matter what happened to that airplane we would know within seconds of where that airplane was,” Iridium CEO Matt Desch said.

The technology may also make it possible for air traffic controllers to allow more flights to be in the air at the same time on busy routes over the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. It could also allow for more direct flight paths, which means more flights, the potential for fewer delays, and shorter flights to places like Europe.

From Aerion’s website:

ADS-B is an air traffic surveillance technology that relies on aircraft broadcasting their identity, a precise Global Positioning System (GPS) position and other information derived from on-board systems. The data is broadcast every half a second from the aircraft, and is being used by Air Traffic Controllers (ATCs) to identify and separate aircraft in real-time.

RFT 256: Test Pilot Charles Doryland

Jan 14, 2019 24:53


Charles Doryland was an Eagle scout who attended West Point, intending to be an Infantry officer. During his senior year, while walking to the hospital to take his commissioning physical, he went to the Air Force line, thinking that he could choose either the Army or the Air Force. He passed his physical, and was offered a pilot training slot.
He ended up flying F-86s after pilot training, then B-47s. Then he was selected for Test Pilot School, and was subsequently stationed at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. Later, after attending graduate school, he was assigned to Edwards Air Force Base.
Charles was the pilot of "Balls Eight", B-52 number 8, on flights carrying the X-15s on their journeys into space.
He volunteered to fly RF-4s in Vietnam, and achieved 100 missions over North Vietnam in five months, then served in Saigon during the Tet Offensive.
Charles went back to graduate school for his Doctorate, and taught at the Air Force Institute of Technology (AFIT). Following his retirement from the Air Force he was a university professor until fully retiring at age 65.


Jan 10, 2019 05:02



Increased navigational accuracy can place several aircraft on the same course in the same lateral position

Strategic lateral offset procedure (SLOP) is a solution to a byproduct of increased navigation accuracy in aircraft. Because most now use GPS, aircraft track flight routes with extremely high accuracy. As a result, if an error in height occurs, there is a much higher chance of collision. SLOP allows aircraft to offset the centreline of an airway or flight route by a small amount, normally to the right, so that collision with opposite direction aircraft becomes unlikely.

In the North Atlantic Region pilots are expected to fly along the oceanic track center-line or 1 or 2 nautical miles to its right, randomly choosing one of these three offsets on each entry to oceanic airspace. The aim is to not achieve an overall even distribution of one-third of all flights on each of the three possible tracks, as one might assume. When the procedure was originally developed, 4.9 percent of aircraft in most oceans could not offset automatically, so the centerline had to remain as an option. Because of the possibility of opposite direction traffic on the centerline, it is the least desirable option, with the highest risk. The procedure lowers the overall risk of collision should an aircraft move vertically away from its assigned level. This randomization has the advantage over a planned assignment of offsets to each individual aircraft in that it mitigates the collision hazard for same-direction flights should an aircraft be erroneously flown along a track that was not assigned by ATC.

SLOP is recommended for use in modern flight management system-based, RVSM (reduced vertical separation minima)-equipped aircraft operations to mitigate the midair collision hazard, which is amplified by the accuracy of modern aircraft navigational technology and onboard flight instruments.

Lateral navigation (left–right) based on global positioning system (GPS), and RVSM quality altimetry (up–down), are each so accurate in their own dimension that opposite-direction aircraft which are erroneously flying the same altitude on the same navigational path are very likely to collide.

In addition to mitigating en route midair collision hazard, SLOP is used to reduce the probability of high-altitude wake turbulence encounters. During periods of low wind velocity aloft, aircraft which are spaced 1000 feet vertically but pass directly overhead in opposite directions can generate wake turbulence which may cause either injury to passengers/crew or undue structural airframe stress. This hazard is an unintended consequence of RVSM vertical spacing reductions which are designed to increase allowable air traffic density. Rates of closure for typical jet aircraft at cruise speed routinely exceed 900 knots.

Wake turbulence is thought likely to be experienced by the lower of two aircraft when it arrives approximately 15–30 nm behind an opposite-direction aircraft which has crossed directly overhead on the same route. On November 13, 2015, ICAO published a revised version of Document 4444, Pans ATM Paragraph 16.5 that includes provisions for applying SLOP in a continental/domestic air space for aircraft that are capable of offsetting in tenths of a mile. Centerline is not an option as aircraft can offset up to one-half mile right of course, in tenths of a mile, providing 5 alternative offsets.

In January 2017, the ICAO SPG (Authority for the NAT region) published updated guidance indicating that SLOP is now a requirement on the North Atlantic, rather than a recommendation. The guidance was part of a number of changes that were contained in a revised 2017 edition of NAT Doc 007:North Atlantic Airspace and Operations Manual.

RFT 254: Natalie "FlyGirl" Kelley

Jan 8, 2019 25:46


From Natalie's website:

The flyGIRL mission is to encourage and inspire women and young girls to open their hearts and minds to their potential. We want every girl and woman to dream big, aim high, and fly!

Natalie Kelley launched flyGIRL after she earned her pilot’s license. The experience of pushing her own boundaries, challenging herself, and succeeding as a woman in a male-dominated industry completely changed Natalie’s life. She gained confidence and a sense of independence that she had forgotten in adulthood. With her own money, Natalie launched flyGIRL and self-funded the first $5,000 flyGIRL Scholarship to finance a portion of the cost to send another woman to pilot training.

Today, flyGIRL has helped dozens of young women explore their potential and change their lives through scholarships, a supportive network, motivational articles and speaking engagements. Contact flyGIRL to learn how to bring our mission to your organization, community, or school!

RFT 254: Natalie "FlyGirl" Kelley

Jan 7, 2019 26:59


From Natalie's website:

The flyGIRL mission is to encourage and inspire women and young girls to open their hearts and minds to their potential. We want every girl and woman to dream big, aim high, and fly!

Natalie Kelley launched flyGIRL after she earned her pilot’s license. The experience of pushing her own boundaries, challenging herself, and succeeding as a woman in a male-dominated industry completely changed Natalie’s life. She gained confidence and a sense of independence that she had forgotten in adulthood. With her own money, Natalie launched flyGIRL and self-funded the first $5,000 flyGIRL Scholarship to finance a portion of the cost to send another woman to pilot training.

Today, flyGIRL has helped dozens of young women explore their potential and change their lives through scholarships, a supportive network, motivational articles and speaking engagements. Contact flyGIRL to learn how to bring our mission to your organization, community, or school!


Jan 3, 2019 06:57


From Wikipedia:

An engineered materials arrestor system, engineered materials arresting system (EMAS), or arrester bed is a bed of engineered materials built at the end of a runway to reduce the severity of the consequences of a runway excursion. Engineered materials are defined in FAA Advisory Circular No 150/5220-22B as "high energy absorbing materials of selected strength, which will reliably and predictably crush under the weight of an aircraft". While the current technology involves lightweight, crushable concrete blocks, any material that has been approved to meet the FAA Advisory Circular can be used for an EMAS. The purpose of an EMAS is to stop an aircraft overrun with no human injury and minimal aircraft damage. The aircraft is slowed by the loss of energy required to crush the EMAS material. An EMAS is similar in concept to the runaway truck ramp made of gravel or sand. It is intended to stop an aircraft that has overshot a runway when there is an insufficient free space for a standard runway safety area (RSA). Multiple patents have been issued on the construction and design on the materials and process.

FAA Advisory Circular 150/5220-22B explains that an EMAS may not be effective for incidents involving aircraft of less than 25,000 pounds weight. It also clarifies that an EMAS is not the same as a stopway, which is defined in FAA Advisory Circular 150/5300-13A, Section 312.

As of May 2017, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) has been working on developing a harmonized regulation regarding arresting systems.

Research projects completed in Europe have looked into the cost-effectiveness of EMAS. Although arrestor beds have initially been installed at airports where the runway safety areas are below standards, their ability to stop aircraft with minimal or no damage to the air frame and its occupants has proven to bring results far beyond the cost of installations. The latest report, "Estimated Cost-Benefit Analysis of Runway Severity Reduction Based on Actual Arrestments" shows how the money saved through the first 11 arrestments has reached a calculated total of 1.9 Billion USD, thus saving over $1 B over the estimated cost of development (R&D, all installations worldwide, maintenance and repairs reaching a total of USD 600 Million). The study suggests that mitigating the consequences of runway excursions worldwide may turn out to be much more cost-effective than the current focus on reducing the already very low probability of occurrence.

Higher EMAS bed with side steps to allow aircraft rescue and firefighting (ARFF) access and passenger egress.

The FAA's design criteria for new airports designate Runway Safety Areas (RSA's) to increase the margin of safety if an overrun occurs and to provide additional access room for response vehicles. A United States federal law required that the length of RSA's in airports was to be 1,000 feet (300 m) by the end of 2015, in a response to a runway overrun into a highway at Teterboro Airport in New Jersey.[ At airports built before these standards were put into effect, the FAA has funded the installation of EMAS at the ends of main runways. The minimum recommended overall length of an EMAS installation is 600 feet (180 m), of which at least 400 feet (120 m) is to consist of the frangible material.

As of July 2014, 47 United States airports had been so equipped; the plan was to have 62 airports so equipped by the end of 2015.[ As of May 2017, over 100 EMAS have been installed at over 60 US airports.

As of May 2017, there were two recognized EMAS manufacturers worldwide that meet the FAA requirements of Advisory Circular 150-5220-22B, “Engineered Materials Arresting Systems for Aircraft Overruns.” (The FAA must review and approve each EMAS installation.)

The first, original EMAS was developed in the mid-1990s by Zodiac Arresting Systems (then known as ESCO/Engineered Arresting Systems Corp.) as part of a collaboration and technical acceptance by the FAA. EMASMAX® (fourth generation EMAS) arrestor beds are composed of blocks of lightweight, crushable cellular cement material, encased in jet blast resistant protection, designed to safely stop airplanes that overshoot runways. Zodiac’s latest, most durable EMAS is installed on over 110 airport runways at over 65 airports on three continents. Zodiac's EMAS has undergone intense testing, including several live aircraft test runs at speeds up 55 knots and is the world’s first and only EMAS that has safely stopped aircraft in real emergency overrun situations at commercial airports.

In October 2016 EMAS saved Vice Presidential candidate Mike Pence's B737 from a runway overrun at La Guardia Airport, and in December 2018 EMAS saved a Southwest Airlines B737 at Burbank Airport.

Runway Safe EMAS (second generation EMAS) is a foamed silica bed made from recycled glass and is contained within a high-strength plastic mesh system anchored to the pavement at the end of the runway. The foamed silica is poured into lanes bounded by the mesh and covered with a poured cement layer and treated with a top coat of sealant.[

Runway Safe EMAS has been installed to replace older EMAS at Chicago Midway. Runway Safe has also installed an EMAS at Zurich airport 2016.

There is a third manufacturer, certified by the Chinese CAAC, with a product that is very similar to the original one of Zodiac ESCO.

RFT 252: The Road To Captain

Dec 31, 2018 11:56


The road to becoming an airline Captain starts long before you get hired by an airline. You should start planning on earning the left seat in the same way you plan a cross-country flight:

SELECT YOUR DESTINATION. This might be the left seat of an airliner, a business jet, crop-duster, whatever. Know where you want to go, and, just like on a cross-country flight, you may have to divert around unexpected weather or even land at an alternate.

CHECK THE WEATHER. Be aware of conditions along your route and at your destination, and be sure to check NOTAMS. In this case, learn about hazards along your route and be ready to change destinations (airlines) if conditions aren't favorable.

CHECK THE DESTINATION FACILITIES. Just like knowing your airport destination runway lengths and widths, elevation and available services, you should know what the airline expects of its pilots. Specifically, airlines are VERY conservative, and plan ahead to not have ear-rings for men, visible tattoos, or extreme appearance. Get that degree to make yourself more competitive.

KNOW THE MILESTONES. Just like checking your visual check-points along your route, plan ahead for the ratings you need.

CONFIRM YOUR LEGALITY. Make sure you have the certificates, and the medical, you will need for the career. It would truly be a shame to spend many thousands of dollars on ratings only to then discover you have a disqualifying condition, such as color-blindness.

CHART YOUR PROGRESS. Keep track of your progress along your journey to a professional pilot job.

BRIEF YOUR APPROACH. Be totally ready when you are called in for an interview. That means having your appearance exactly as you want it, including an interview suit/outfit that fits perfectly. Read Molloy's Dress For Success and Molloy's-Live For Success.

RFT 251: Visual Illusions

Dec 27, 2018 06:58


Visual illusions are familiar to most of us. As children, we learned that railroad tracks—contrary to what our eyes showed us—don’t come to a point at the horizon.

Aerial Perspective Illusions may make you change (increase or decrease) the slope of your final approach. They are caused by runways with different widths, upsloping ordownsloping runways, and upsloping or downslop ing final approach terrain.

Pilots learn to recognize a normal final approach by developing and recalling a mental image of the expected relationship between the length and the width of an average runway.

A final approach over a flat terrain with an upsloping runway may produce the visual illusion of a high-altitude final approach. If you believe this illusion, you may respond by pitching the aircraft nose down to decrease the altitude, which, if performed too close to the ground, may result in an accident.

A final approach over a flat terrain with a downsloping runway may produce the visual illusion of a low-altitude final approach. If you believe this illusion, you may respond by pitching the aircraft nose up to increase the altitude, which may result in a low-altitude stall or missed approach.

A final approach over an upsloping terrain with a flat runway may produce the visual illusion that the aircraft is higher than it actually is. If you believe this illusion, you may respond by pitching the aircraft nose-down to decrease the altitude, resulting in a lower approach. This may result in landing short or flaring short of the runway and risking a low-altitude stall. Pitching the aircraft nose-down will result in a low, dragged-in approach. If power settings are not adjusted, you may find yourself short of the runway, needing to add power to extend your flare. If you do not compensate with power, you will land short or stall short of the runway.

A final approach over a downsloping terrain with a flat runway may produce the visual illusion that the aircraft is lower than it actually is. If you believe this illusion, you may respond by pitching the aircraft’s nose up to gain altitude. If this happens, you will land further down therunway than you intended.

A final approach to an unusually narrow runway or an unusually long runway may produce the visual illusion of being too high. If you believe this illusion, you may pitch the aircraft’s nose down to lose altitude. If this happens too close to the ground, you may land short of the runway and cause an accident.

A final approach to an unusually wide runway may produce the visual illusion of being lower than you actually are. If you believe this illusion, you may respond by pitching the aircraft’s nose up to gain altitude, which may result in a low-altitude stall or missed approach.

A Black-Hole Approach Illusion can happen during a final approach at night (no stars or moonlight) over water or unlighted terrain to a lighted runway beyond which the horizon is not visible. When peripheral visual cues are not available to help you orient yourself relative to the earth, you may have theillusion of being upright and may perceive the runway to be tilted left and upsloping. However, with the horizon visible you can easily orient yourself correctly using your central vision. A particularly hazardous black-hole illusion involves approaching a runway under conditions with no lights before the runway and with city lights or rising terrain beyond the runway. Those conditions may produce the visual illusion of a high-altitude final approach. If you believe this illusion you may respond by lowering your approach slope.

The Autokinetic Illusion gives you the impression that a stationary object is moving in front of the airplane’s path; it is caused by staring at a fixed single point of light (ground light or a star) in a totally dark and featureless background. This illusion can cause a misperception that such a light is on a collision course with your aircraft .

False Visual Reference Illusions may cause you to orient your aircraft in relation to a false horizon; these illusions are caused by flying over a banked cloud, night flying over featureless terrain with ground lights that are indistinguishable from a dark sky with stars, or night flying over a featureless terrain with a clearly defined pattern of ground lights and a dark, starless sky.

RFT 250: Pilot/Bristol Watch Company Founder Greg Youngs

Dec 24, 2018 40:59


Taught to fly in high school by his father, a combat-decorated Air Force pilot, Greg has gone on to fly professionally in aircraft ranging from crop dusters to corporate aircraft to airliners and has piloted more than 50 aircraft types (and counting).  His immediate family includes pilots for the Air Force, Navy, Army, and airlines, as well as a NASA Space Shuttle Commander.  What another company might refer to as a board of aviation experts, the Bristol founder just calls the dinner table. 

RFT 249: VFR Cross-Country Planning

Dec 20, 2018 09:20


The first step in planning your cross-country VFR flight is to check departure, enroute and destination weather to confirm that you can safely, and legally, conduct the flight. Remember, VFR weather is 1000/3 and you must remain at least 500 feet below, 1000 feet above, and 2000 feet laterally from clouds.

Now, mark your departure airport and your destination on your sectional aeronautical chart.

Consult the Airport Facility Directory for both airports to determine runways and other airport information. Check NOTAMS for both airports to see if there are any changes to the Directory information.

Now, use your plotter to draw a straight line between the departure and destination. You may need to alter the course around restricted airspace and other areas you need to avoid.

Place your plotter on the course line you have drawn and measure the course with respect to true north by measuring at the mid-meridian - the true north line closest to the middle of your route. The reason for this is that the meridians converge at the poles.

Now, convert this course with respect to true north to a course with respect to magnetic north. You perform this conversion by finding the isogonic line that represents the variation from true north along your course. Subtract east variation and add west variation.

If you REALLY want to make this calculation easy, fly your cross-country along the east coast of Florida, along the agonic line where the variation is zero!

To calculate your compass heading to fly along the route, use the mnemonic TVMDC: true heading adjusted for variation equals magnetic heading; magnetic heading adjusted for deviation equals compass heading. Deviation adjusts for compass installation, and is typically a small number. It is marked on the compass correction card in your airplane.

To remember the mnemonic, think of: True Virgins Make Dull Company. Learn this quickly, because as soon as the PC police learn of this podcast, it will be banned!

Note checkpoints along your route that you can use to measure your course progress. Typically, these will be objects, such as bridges, towers, and distinctive river bends. You will use these to gauge your flight progress regarding your groundspeed and course maintenance.

Now, consult Chapter 5 of your Pilot's Operating Handbook (POH) to determine your true airspeed at your cruise altitude. Your cruise altitude for a VFR flight at an altitude above 3000 AGL must be at an odd altitude plus 500 feet heading east and at an even altitude plus 500 feet heading west.

Look at the FD Winds Aloft Forecast to determine the prevailing winds along your route closest to your planned altitude.

Now, use the wind side of your E6B computer to determine your groundspeed (for a refresher, listen to RFT episode 146) and then use the calculator side (RFT episode 148) to determine the time to reach each checkpoint.

Complete a navigation log, such as, for the flight and your preparations are complete.

Finally, file a flight plan (not REQUIRED, but really RECOMMENDED), and have a great flight!

RFT 248: Aviation Photographer/Pilot Jeff Berlin

Dec 17, 2018 32:23


From Jeff's website ( 

Jeff Berlin began his creative career chasing models down the streets of New York City… with a camera. They knew he was there, it was cool. He liked this so much he spent five years shooting in Milan and Paris before moving back to NYC to continue his career. Over the years, he’s collaborated with top fashion magazines and brands like Vogue Italia, L’Oreal, British Elle, Estée Lauder, Esquire, Bloomingdale’s, Miss Vogue, Macy’s, Vogue Pelle, Madame Figaro and many others.

Recently, Jeff transitioned to motion pictures. He was producer and camera operator on the feature film Three Days in August, which played at multiple film festivals and ran in select theaters nationwide. It’s now available on major streaming platforms. Jeff has both shot and directed an online spot for the Professional Bull Riders (PBR), a fashion brand film for noted designer Norma Kamali, as well as a number of short films and online spots for Sony. His latest film project, Stormchaser, a short with an award-winning director, was shot on the new Sony VENICE motion picture camera and is currently in post production.

Jeff is a Sony Artisan of Imagery and an experienced aviator. He is also a published writer and was editor of three national consumer aviation magazines -- Plane and Pilot, Pilot Journal and PilotMag.

RFT 247: Instrument Approach Briefing

Dec 13, 2018 10:32


Before you brief your instrument approach, WAIT!

W - obtain the Weather, typically from ATIS, and confirm that it is suitable for your approach.

A - perform your Approach Checklist

I - set up your Instruments for the approach, and load it into the FMS

T - now Talk about the approach

Confirm you are on the correct approach page.

Confirm the proper localizer frequency and approach course are entered into the FMS/navigation system.

Confirm the airport elevation and runway elevation.

Verify your flight path to the final approach course.

Confirm the glide path angle. A normal glide path is 3 degrees.

Confirm the minimum safe altitude and any obstructions.

Confirm the Outer Marker or Final Approach Fix crossing altitude.

Confirm the Decision Height or Minimum Descent Altitude.

Brief the Missed Approach.

Brief the runway exit plan.

RFT 246: Aerosearcher Founders

Dec 10, 2018 20:31


AeroSearcher is the perfect example of a startup conceived to solve a founder’s frustrations with “the way things are.”

The aviation community has always been one of the most passionate, sophisticated and adventurous communities in the world. The average person simply doesn’t hop into a metal can and fly it to 25,000 feet. Despite the typical flyer being a go-getter, make-it-happen, we’ll-figure-it-out-when-we-get-there personality, finding online info as an aviator has always been a spaghetti bowl of tangled messiness.

Want to find a plane to buy and make sure you’ve seen all the options? You’d usually have to scour five, maybe even ten websites.

Looking for a job in the aviation field whether it be a corporate pilot, a mechanic or a flight instructor to name a few? You’re typically going to spend several hours and visit an array of websites before you even begin to feel you’ve seen the majority of possible opportunities.

Aircraft parts or aviation products? The same story: a vast number of sites and resources all with a different way to find what you’re looking for and no single site that can give you the majority of what’s available. It is this complexity that AeroSearcher simplifies. We’ve built a service that let’s you find in seconds what may have taken far longer in the past.

We’re not an aircraft classified provider. We just let you search every major classified site at one go.

We’re not an aviation job site. But using AeroSearcher means you can search nearly all aviation job sites with ease.

We don’t sell aircraft parts or aviation products, but there is no single place on the web where you can search and find whatever aviation related item you are looking for faster.

We know that we’re just at the start of an amazing journey. There are more possibilities for AeroSearcher: big improvements, new types of aviation information to index and innovative solutions to aviation problems.

RFT 245: Aviator George H.W. Bush

Dec 6, 2018 05:16


The United States formally entered World War II in December 1941, following Japan's surprise attack on Pearl Harbor in Hawaii. Six months later, Bush enlisted into the U.S. Navy immediately after he graduated from Phillips Academy on his eighteenth birthday. He became a naval aviator, taking training for aircraft carrier operations aboard USS Sable. After completing the 10-month course, he was commissioned as an ensign in the United States Naval Reserve at Naval Air Station Corpus Christi on June 9, 1943 (just three days before his 19th birthday), which made him the youngest naval aviator to that date.

In September 1943, he was assigned to Torpedo Squadron 51 (VT-51) as the photographic officer. The following year, his squadron was based in USS San Jacinto as a member of Air Group 51, where his lanky physique earned him the nickname "Skin". During this time, the task force was victorious in one of the largest air battles of World War II: the Battle of the Philippine Sea.

After Bush's promotion to lieutenant (junior grade) on August 1, 1944, San Jacinto commenced operations against the Japanese in the Bonin Islands. Bush piloted one of four Grumman TBM Avengers of VT-51 that attacked the Japanese installations on Chichijima. His crew for the mission, which occurred on September 2, 1944, included Radioman Second Class John Delaney and Lt.(jg) William White. During their attack, the Avengers encountered intense anti-aircraft fire; Bush's aircraft was hit by flak and his engine caught fire. Despite the fire in his aircraft, Bush completed his attack and released bombs over his target, scoring several damaging hits. With his engine ablaze, Bush flew several miles from the island, where he and one other crew member of the TBM bailed out; the other man's parachute did not open. Bush waited for four hours in an inflated raft, while several fighters circled protectively overhead, until he was rescued by the submarine USS Finback, on lifeguard duty. For the next month, he remained in Finback and participated in the rescue of other aviators. Several of those shot down during the attack were executed, and their livers were eaten by their captors. A radio operator from the Japanese unit which shot down the Bush plane was American citizen Nobuaki Iwatake, a Japanese American who had settled in Japan six months before Pearl Harbor and was drafted into the Japanese Imperial Army in 1943. This experience shaped Bush profoundly, leading him to ask, "Why had I been spared and what did God have for me?"

In November 1944, Bush returned to San Jacinto and participated in operations in the Philippines until his squadron was replaced and sent home to the United States. Through 1944, he flew 58 combat missions for which he received the Distinguished Flying Cross, three Air Medals, and the Presidential Unit Citation awarded to San Jacinto. Bush was then reassigned to a training wing for torpedo bomber crews at Norfolk Navy Base, Virginia. His final assignment was to a new torpedo squadron, VT-153, based at Naval Air Station Grosse Ile, Michigan. Bush was honorably discharged from the U.S. Navy in September 1945, one month after the surrender of Japan.

RFT 244: Navy Fighter Pilot/Author Dave Dequeljoe

Dec 3, 2018 40:54


From Dave Dequeljoe's website:

Dave Dequeljoe is a former Navy fighter pilot with two combat tours to Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. He was awarded the Navy Commendation with Combat “V” device for valor and an Air Medal with Individual star device for the heroic low altitude rescue of U.S. Special Operations Forces from an overwhelming advancing armor column. Dave also was awarded two Strike Flight Air Medals, and his squadron won the Battle “E” for excellence in sustained combat sorties. Transitioning home after debilitating injuries sustained from an inverted flat spin ejection, Dave became an entrepreneur and has owned several businesses.

Dave has written an outstanding book, Dogfighting Depression, to help people dealing with depression. His noble goal is to put a huge dent into the number of veteran suicides (22) each day.

RFT 243: VFR Approach Briefing

Nov 29, 2018 06:22


The briefing for a VFR approach is not as comprehensive as the briefing for an IFR approach, but nevertheless should prepare the pilot for all anticipated contingencies.

FAR 91.103 requires the pilot in command to become familiar with all information concerning that flight. That would include all runway and NOTAM information for your departure and destination fields, departure, enroute and destination weather, NOTAMS, and airfield information for your departure and destination.

You can check the facilities at any airport by consulting the Airport Facility Directory, which is available online.

RFT 242: Seaplane Examiner Jon Brown

Nov 26, 2018 22:34


From the Brown's Seaplane Base website:

Brown’s Seaplane Base was started in 1963 by Jack Brown. His fondness for seaplanes began at an early age, flying an Aeronca C-3 Floatplane on the Kanawha River in West Virginia. This continued during WWII when he flew the Grumman “Flying Boats” and PBYs. Following the war Jack was a civilian instructor and test pilot for the U.S. Air Force stationed in central Florida. He put down roots here and became the fixed base operator at the Winter Haven airport, now Gilbert Field.

Jack’s affection for seaplanes gave him a grand vision for an overgrown area of Lake Jessie, located just southwest of the Winter Haven airport.

In 1975, Jack Brown passed away. His oldest son, Jon, became the FBO Director and along with his brother Chuck, they are the FAA Designated Pilot Examiners for the single engine sea course. Along with Jon and Chuck, you will find family working in the office, with old friends, and past students always dropping in to just say “Hello!”.

RFT 241: Q&A With Tuskegee Airman Frank Macon

Nov 22, 2018 40:51


From Franklin Macon's website:

Franklin J. Macon (Frank) is a Documented Tuskegee Airman and dyslexic.  He grew up and still resides in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

Frank belongs to Tuskegee Airmen, Inc., Hubert L. "Hooks" Jones Chapter, a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to honoring the accomplishments and perpetuating the history of African-Americans who participated in air crew, ground crew and operations support training in the Army Air Corps during WWII; introducing young people across the nation to the world of aviation, aerospace, mathematics, and science through local programs such as the Mile High Flight Program; and, providing annual scholarships and awards to deserving individuals, groups and corporations whose deeds lend support to the goals of Tuskegee Airmen Inc.

Frank's wish is for all kids to live with purpose and conquer their challenges.

Tuskegee Airman Franklin Macon made an appearance at the Wings Over The Rockies Museum on November 20, 2018, to announce the publication of his memoir, I Wanted To Be A Pilot.

RFT 240: Shades of Blue President Captain Willie Daniels

Nov 19, 2018 01:02:04


Willie Daniels became fascinated with aviation from an early age, and enrolled in Mount san Antonio College, majoring in Aviation, and then completed his degree at Metropolitan State College of Denver (now Metropolitan State University of Denver) in the Aviation Department.

His first airline job was as a flight attendant with United Airlines. In the meantime, he built his flying time and finally landed a position as a pilot with United. He advanced through the ranks and spent 19 years on the B747 before the plane was retired. He is currently a B777 Captain flying international routes.

After reading some sobering news stories, he founded Shades of Blue to foster Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) education in the minority community. He is now the President of Shades of Blue.

Here is the website for Shades of Blue, a 501(C)3 organization.

RFT 239: Windshear Escape

Nov 16, 2018 08:30


We discussed what windshear is in Ready For Takeoff Podcast Episode 94. Now we'll discuss pilot procedures to escape windshear encounters.

Windshear predictive equipment is discussed in AC 20-182A.

A recent landing accident at Sochi, Russia highlights the importance of adhering to crew procedures during windshear encounters. As you can read here, the crew made several attempts at landing, and finally landed during windshear and departed the runway, resulting in a hull loss.

The important take-away from this report is that the crew did not adhere to proper windshear avoidance and escape procedures. When the predictive windshear system announces "monitor radar display", it is indicating that there is potential windshear somewhere in the flight path. When it announces "go-around, windshear ahead" it indicates that windshear conditions exist directly in front of the aircraft, and a normal go-around should be accomplished. When the voice announces, "windshear", the aircraft is currently in windshear conditions and the windshear escape maneuver must be accomplished. Depending on the aircraft, the windshear escape maneuver may be totlaly different from a normal go-around.

While a normal go-around usually continues to use the autothrottle system, during a windshear escape maneuver, the autothrottles are disconnected and maximum thrust is required. Additionally, unlike a normal go-around, the landing gear is not retracted (to avoid additional drag of gear doors opening) and the aircraft is climbed at a pitch attitude established by the manufacturer (15 degrees for Boeings). Depending on the effects of the windshear, the crew may be required to decrease the climb to honor the pitch limit indicator.

The key to dealing with windshear is AVOIDING it at all costs, since there may windshear conditions that exceed the performance of the aircraft.

RFT 238: Armistice Day With Pilot/Historian Andy Parks

Nov 11, 2018 35:09


Andy Parks hails from a long line of aviation enthusiasts. His grandfather fought in World War I, and after the war he became friends with many of the aces of that war from all sides. Andy's dad met them as a kid and listened with rapt attention as they told their stories. Andy's dad became a physician and university medical school professor, and remained in contact with many of the aces.

Andy's dad started a project that has evolved into the Vintage Aero Flying Museum. He built and collected World War I airplanes. Andy is now the Director of the Lafayette Foundation, a 501(c)3 charity that accepts donations at their website.

The museum's collection includes a 1917 Fokker DRI, a 1918 Fokker DVII, a 1918 Fokker DVIII and two 7/8 scaled SE5a aircraft. Andy flies these aircraft and takes them to venues around the country.

In 1981, Andy's dad took him to Europe for a meeting of 48 aces from the Great War, and they all connected with Andy, giving him their memorabilia and regaling him with stories. For a week, these octogenarians were once again 18-year-old fighter pilots.

The memorabilia are all on display at the Vintage Aero Flying Museum, and Andy is on-site to share his encyclopedic knowledge of their stories.

RFT 237: Veteran's Day

Nov 8, 2018 08:58


The Vietnam Veterans Memorial – The Wall – has panels that list the KIA (Killed In Action) casualties in chronological order of their loss. Panel W1, the last panel, encompasses the date July 30, 1972. My name is not on that panel, because my military Brothers, J.D. Allen and the crew of Purple 28, saved my life.

On July 30, 1972, I was Number Four in Walnut Flight, four F-4s on a strike deep into enemy territory north of Hanoi. The flight was being led by a new flight lead on his first mission over Hanoi, and J.D. was the deputy flight lead, Walnut Three. Enroute to the target, we faced heavy reactions. SAMs (surface-to-air missiles), AAA (anti-aircraft artillery) and MiG calls (enemy aircraft). As we egressed the target area over the Gulf of Tonkin, Lead called for a fuel check, and that was when we all realized that my fuel was significantly below the other airplanes in the flight. In fact, I wouldn’t have enough fuel to make it to the post-strike refueling point.

Lead was out of ideas, and that’s when J.D. went into action. With Lead’s concurrence, he took command of the flight, sent us over to the emergency GUARD frequency, and made contact with the refueling tankers. One of them, Purple 28, volunteered to fly up into enemy territory to meet us. That crew put their airplane, their lives, and their careers on the line to save me.

Back in 1972, navigation was not the GPS precision it is today. The INS (inertial navigation system) position on the F-4 could be off by as much as 10 miles for every hour of operation. The only way to roughly determine our position was radial/DME from a TACAN located on a Navy ship, far away. J.D. asked the tanker for his position from the TACAN, then gave the tanker a heading to meet up with us. Picking the tanker up on radar, J.D. told him when to begin his turn to a heading to match ours, and told him to start a descent. In the meantime, he directed me to start a half-nozzle descent.

My WSO and I were running through the Preparation For Ejection checklist, and I was periodically reporting my fuel state. The last reading I recall seeing was 0 on the tape and 0030 on the counter. About two minutes fuel. With fuel gauge tolerance, perhaps a bit more, perhaps less.

Up until this time I had simply been flying the headings, speeds and altitudes J.D. had assigned. I was pretty much operating on mental autopilot. The next thing I knew, I looked up and saw the refueling boom of the tanker directly above me, ready to plug in. I opened up my refueling door and immediately heard the rush of JP-4 entering my aircraft. And I knew I wouldn’t need to step over the side on this mission.

I think of J.D. and the tanker crew, and silently thank them, every time I hold my wife, my kids, my grandkids. If they hadn’t stepped up to the plate when they did, I’m fairly certain I wouldn’t have made it home. When you pull the ejection handle over shark-infested enemy-controlled water, there are a thousand things that can happen to prevent a happy outcome.

So I want to once again thank my Brothers, the brave tanker crew and J.D. Allen.

RFT 236: Heath Owens Returns!

Nov 5, 2018 29:54


We met Heath Owens in Ready for Takeoff Podcast episode 174, where  he was getting a lot of free flights, although he was not logging any student time.

Now Heath is actively pursuing his Private Pilot certificate, and is closing in on his check ride. He STILL has not paid for any flying, and he has amassed experience in even more airplanes!

Heath also has been extremely successful in the Aviation Insurance business, and his website is

Today is the anniversary of a tragic loss during World War II. This tribute to Loyce Deen, who was killed during the Battle of Manilla Bay, is really a tribute to all the men and women who served our country during the war that rescued the world.

RFT 235: Teamwork

Nov 1, 2018 05:32


Teamwork is the secret sauce to leadership, and both leadership and teamwork are essential to being a successful career as an airline pilot. One way to establish effective teamwork skills is to participate in team sports as opposed to individual sports. Alternatively, you can develop teamwork skills by club activities and other organizational efforts.

RFT 234: Aviation Safety Expert Captain John Cox

Oct 29, 2018 21:40


From the Safety Operating systems website:

A veteran major airline, corporate and general aviation pilot, Captain John Cox has flown over 14,000 hours with over 10,000 in command of jet airliners. Additionally, he has flown as an instructor, check pilot, and test pilot in addition to his extensive involvement in global air safety.

Awards and Recognition

Sir James Martin Award More Information Fellow of the Royal Aeronautical Society, London, England Member of the International Society of Air Safety Investigators (ISASI) Master Air Pilot Certificate Guild of Air Pilots and Air Navigators Air Line Pilots Association Air Safety Award (ALPA’s Highest Safety Award) Air Line Pilots Association Leadership Award Air Line Pilots Association Steering and Oversight Award US Airways Safety Achievement (US Airway’s Highest Safety Award) US Airways Boeing 737 Training Department Certificate of Appreciation Outstanding MBA Graduate, Daniel Webster College in recognition for academic excellence Laura Taber Barbour Award

Education and Affiliations

Graduate of University of Southern California Air Safety Program United States Navy Post Graduate School Aviation Safety Command Program Accredited International Standard Business Aircraft Auditor (IS-BAO) International Air Transport Association Trained Airline Auditor (IOSA) NTSB Group member on Systems, Structures, Powerplants, Air Traffic Control, and Operations. Six major NTSB investigations with numerous field office investigations. Masters Business Administration – Aviation Management, July 2010, Daniel Webster College, Nashua, New Hampshire

Public Appearances and Speaking Engagements

National Transportation Safety Board – Witness (twice) National Safety Council Congress – Numerous guest lectures ALPA Air Safety Week – Host 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004 International Federation of Air Line Pilot Associations – Numerous guest lectures University of Southern California – Numerous guest lectures Embry Riddle Aeronautical University – Numerous guest lectures Department of Transportation’s Transportation Summit – Numerous guest lectures Queens College, Charlotte, North Carolina – Guest Lecturer SAE G-10- Society of Automotive Engineers Aerospace Conference – Speaker International Society of Air Safety Investigators (ISASI) – Speaker Flight Safety Foundation – Speaker Contributor to USA Today's "Ask The Captain"

RFT 233: Flight Recorders

Oct 25, 2018 08:12


From Wikipedia:

A flight data recorder (FDR; also ADR, for accident data recorder) is an electronic device employed to record instructions sent to any electronic systems on an aircraft.

The data recorded by the FDR are used for accident and incident investigation. Due to their importance in investigating accidents, these ICAO-regulated devices are carefully engineered and constructed to withstand the force of a high speed impact and the heat of an intense fire. Contrary to the popular term "black box", the exterior of the FDR is coated with heat-resistant bright orange paint for high visibility in wreckage, and the unit is usually mounted in the aircraft's tail section, where it is more likely to survive a severe crash. Following an accident, the recovery of the FDR is usually a high priority for the investigating body, as analysis of the recorded parameters can often detect and identify causes or contributing factors.

Modern day FDRs receive inputs via specific data frames from the Flight Data Acquisition Units (FDAU). They record significant flight parameters, including the control and actuator positions, engine information and time of day. There are 88 parameters required as a minimum under current US federal regulations (only 29 were required until 2002), but some systems monitor many more variables. Generally each parameter is recorded a few times per second, though some units store "bursts" of data at a much higher frequency if the data begin to change quickly. Most FDRs record approximately 17–25 hours of data in a continuous loop. It is required by regulations that an FDR verification check (readout) is performed annually in order to verify that all mandatory parameters are recorded.

Modern FDRs are typically double wrapped in strong corrosion-resistant stainless steel or titanium, with high-temperature insulation inside. Modern FDRs are accompanied by an underwater locator beacon that emits an ultrasonic "ping" to aid in detection when submerged. These beacons operate for up to 30 days and are able to operate while immersed to a depth of up to 6,000 meters (20,000 ft).

Cockpit voice recorder

A cockpit voice recorder (CVR) is a flight recorder used to record the audio environment in the flight deck of an aircraft for the purpose of investigation of accidents and incidents. This is typically achieved by recording the signals of the microphones and earphones of the pilots' headsets and of an area microphone in the roof of the cockpit. The current applicable FAA TSO is C123b titled Cockpit Voice Recorder Equipment.

Where an aircraft is required to carry a CVR and uses digital communications the CVR is required to record such communications with air traffic control unless this is recorded elsewhere. As of 2008 it is an FAA requirement that the recording duration is a minimum of two hours.

A standard CVR is capable of recording 4 channels of audio data for a period of 2 hours. The original requirement was for a CVR to record for 30 minutes, but this has been found to be insufficient in many cases, significant parts of the audio data needed for a subsequent investigation having occurred more than 30 minutes before the end of the recording.

The earliest CVRs used analog wire recording, later replaced by analog magnetic tape. Some of the tape units used two reels, with the tape automatically reversing at each end. The original was the ARL Flight Memory Unit produced in 1957 by Australian David Warren and an instrument maker named Tych Mirfield.

Other units used a single reel, with the tape spliced into a continuous loop, much as in an 8-track cartridge. The tape would circulate and old audio information would be overwritten every 30 minutes. Recovery of sound from magnetic tape often proves difficult if the recorder is recovered from water and its housing has been breached. Thus, the latest designs employ solid-state memory and use digital recording techniques, making them much more resistant to shock, vibration and moisture. With the reduced power requirements of solid-state recorders, it is now practical to incorporate a battery in the units, so that recording can continue until flight termination, even if the aircraft electrical system fails.

Like the FDR, the CVR is typically mounted in the rear of the airplane fuselage to maximize the likelihood of its survival in a crash.

Combined units

With the advent of digital recorders, the FDR and CVR can be manufactured in one fireproof, shock proof, and waterproof container as a combined digital Cockpit Voice and Data Recorder (CVDR). Currently, CVDRs are manufactured by L-3 Communications, as well as by other manufacturers.

Solid state recorders became commercially practical in 1990, having the advantage of not requiring scheduled maintenance and making the data easier to retrieve. This was extended to the two-hour voice recording in 1995.

RFT 232: C-130/MC-12 Pilot Michelle Ruehl

Oct 22, 2018 28:11


Michelle “Sonic” Ruehl is an Air Force Instructor Pilot with over fifteen years of service. She flew four different aircraft and amassed over 2000 hours, including 807 combat hours in Afghanistan, providing real-time airborne targeting data to Special Operations forces. While in Afghanistan, she also volunteered to teach English to local school girls as well as a group of young Afghan men studying Business. For her service, she earned seven Air Medals, two Aerial Achievement Medals and a special award for volunteer work, the Military Outstanding Volunteer Service Medal.

After her last deployment, Sonic returned to the U.S. Air Force Academy (class of ’03) to teach Rhetoric and Composition in the Department of English and Fine Arts. She taught courses in Writing and Public Speaking. When she was not in the classroom, she was the theater director, equestrian team mentor and worked down at the airfield teaching cadets how to fly the T-53 in the Air Force Academy’s Powered Flight Program. She found it incredibly rewarding to help the next generation of officers reach their dream of becoming military aviators.

Sonic brings 15 years of rhetoric, communication, and debriefing skills to the Afterburner team. She earned her M.A. in Teaching Writing and Rhetoric from the University of Colorado and traveled to Ghana where she taught civic leaders how to develop community improvement plans. In Tanzania, she taught children how to write music. In Nepal, she taught English to Tibetan refugees at a Buddhist monastery. She also worked as a speechwriter for a three-star general, preparing her for public engagements and developing strategic corporate messages for dissemination to 7000 personnel. Additionally, at the request of the Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson, she designed and taught a communication course to the Air Force headquarters staff at the Pentagon.

To honor fallen military colleagues, Sonic founded Parwana LEADership Legacy, a 501c3 non-profit organization whose mission is to provide leadership camps to veterans and their families to enhance empathy, communication, and teamwork so youth can then use these concepts to lead others. Through these programs, Sonic uses her M.A. in Psychology, as well as her certification as an Equine Specialist in Mental Health and Learning (ESMHL) to teach children, veterans, and survivors of trauma how to heal from their experiences and become empowered leaders in their community.

Sonic excels at helping teams become their best by aligning their communication processes with their strategic goals, so she was thrilled to join the Afterburner team in 2018! She is currently serving in the Air Force Reserves for the 302nd Airlift Wing at Peterson Air Force Base. She lives in Colorado with her husband, who flies for a major airline, and their baby girl.

RFT 231: Road Warrior Survival Tips

Oct 18, 2018 17:46


Whether you're a professional pilot or someone who flies as a passenger, there's a good chance you're going to fly in an airliner and layover in a hotel at some point in the near future. Here are some tips to make your trip easier and safer:

If you plan to park your car at the airport, make sure your car registration and insurance card do NOT show your address. Snap a photo of your parking spot. Make your luggage look distinctive. Only put your first initial and last name, and your email, on your luggage ID tag. Do not pack anything of value in your checked luggage, and make sure all essential medications are in your hand-carried bag. Fill any required prescriptions at a pharmacy with a national presence. Bring your own water bottle onto the flight. Carry a liberal supply of antibacterial hand wipes. Pay attention to the flight attendant safety briefing. At your destination, keep your luggage close by and in sight while waiting for ground transportation. Know what that transportation will look like. Keep all your bags with you when you check in at the hotel. Try to get a room on the third floor. If you feel uncomfortable with the security situation, ask the hotel for an escort to your room. Perform a complete room inspection when you arrive at your room. Immediately after the room inspection, walk to the two closest emergency exits shown on the map on the back of your door. Carry an ultraviolet flashlight to check the cleanliness of your room. Disinfect EVERYTHING in your room with your antibacterial wipes. ALWAYS keep the DO NOT DISTURB sign on your door.

RFT 230: T-37 IP/T-38 IP/A-10 Pilot/MQ-1 Pilot Tammy Barlette

Oct 15, 2018 29:29


Tammy Barlette got her introduction to aviation when she received 40 hours of flight instruction from the ROTC Program at the University of Minnesota. After graduation and commissioning, she attended Undergraduate Pilot Training at Laughlin Air Force Base in Del Rio, Texas. When she received her wings, she qualified to remain at Del Rio as a T-37 Instructor Pilot as a FAIP (First Assignment Instructor Pilot).

After serving as an IP for three years, she qualified in the A-10, and went overseas to Korea. When she returned to the United States, she flew A-10s at Davis Monthan Air Force Base, in Tucson, and then became qualified in the MQ-1 Predator. Tammy participated in 1500 hours of combat support in Iraq and Afghanistan, protecting our troops on the ground with real-time combat support.

After attending Weapons School, she returned to Laughlin Air Force Base as a T-38 Instructor Pilot. She recently retired from the Air Force, and is now a motivational speaker. Her websites are and

RFT 229: The UAL Flight Training Campus

Oct 11, 2018 06:40


I first attended the 23-acre United Airlines Flight Training Center in 1978. At the time, it was still a fairly-new facility, with the initial four buildings constructed in 1968. After completing my Initial Flight Officer training, I was invited to remain on campus as a B-727 instructor for a year before assuming my duties as a B-727 Second Officer (flight engineer) in San Francisco.   Throughout my employment at United, I spent half my career - 13 years out of 26 - as an instructor at the Training Center. I saw numerous changes, including the closure of nearby Stapleton airport and the construction of the "new" F building, which housed additional offices and simulators.   After retirement, I occasionally returned to the Training Center to administer simulator training as a private consultant for other companies. The last time I was there for work was about three years ago. I have to admit, the building was starting to look a bit long in the tooth.   Last week I attended a New Pilot Expo at the United Flight Training Center, for the Metropolitan State University of Denver Aviation Department, where I teach. From the outside, the campus looks pretty much the same, except for some construction on the south side. Once I entered, I was blown away.   Captain Mike McCasky, the Managing Director at United, made an impressive presentation, and every attendee was inspired to become a pilot with United. At the end of the presentations, we all received a tour, and were given the opportunity to see the simulators, flight training devices, and classrooms.   The entire facility has been renovated, and it looks awesome! I recognized the hallways, but was completely lost among the new offices and state-of-the-art classrooms. There are currently 31 full flight simulators and 10 flight training devices in operation. Another 8 simulators and 4 flight training devices are planned. When the additional construction is complete, the Flight Training Center will be the largest airline training facility in the world.   United will be conducting sixty thousand training events this year, and will use over one hundred thousand hotel rooms for trainees. In addition to pilot training, United conducts pilot interviews, flight attendant recurrent training, and Tech Ops training at the facility.

RFT 228: Airline Pilot/Author Eric Auxier

Oct 8, 2018 46:40


From Captain Aux's website:

Born in Phoenix, Arizona, Eric Auxier is an airline pilot by day, writer by night, and kid by choice. Never one to believe in working for a living, Mr. Auxier’s past list of occupations include: Alaska bush pilot, freelance writer, mural artist, and Captain for a Caribbean seaplane operation. With over 20,000 flight hours, he is now an A320 captain for a major U.S. airline.

Eric started out in aviation with a hang glider he bought at age 14, then flew gliders at age 16, and took lessons in powered aircraft at 17. He attended flight training courses at Cochise college, and had all of his flight ratings thru CFI when he graduated. He then attended Arizona State University for his bachelor's degree, and worked his way through school as a CFI.

After college Eric flew grand canyon tours, then landed a job as a bush pilot in Alaska He followed that with a stint flying charters in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Finally, Eric landed his dream job as an airline pilot, and is now a Captain on the Airbus A-321.

RFT 227: Prepare the Cabin!

Oct 4, 2018 08:24


In airline operations, flight crews and cabin crews are thoroughly trained on what to expect in the event of an emergency landing. There are several acronyms that are used to convey this information.


N - Nature of emergency

T - Time until landing

S - Signal

B - Brace


T - Type of Emergency

E - Exits to be used in the event of evacuation

S - Signal to be given by the flight deck crew to brace customers

T - Time to prepare cabin


N -nature of the emergency

I - information to passenger & preparation

T -time remaining

S - Signals

If the aircraft is equipped with an Evacuation Command Switch, this will be part of the briefing.

After receiving the briefing from the Captain, the lead flight attendant will identify any Able Bodied Passengers (ABPs) who can assist with a potential evacuation, and may reseat and thoroughly brief APBs if time permits.

RFT 226: TV Weatherman/Pilot Chris Dunn

Oct 1, 2018 33:34


Chris Dunn started flying - in the right seat of his father's airplane - when he was an infant. Chris's dad had several airplanes while Chris was growing up, so he was steeped in aviation throughout his childhood.

Chris didn't actually start his own flight training until he was thirty years old, when he had "the time and the money" to take lessons. He flew 2-3 days a week, and earned his Private Pilot certificate quickly. He immediately earned his Instrument rating shortly afterwards, and later pursued his Commercial certificate.

Chris attended Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University to earn his Master's Degree in Aviation Safety.

Chris became an on-air television weatherman, and continued his love of aviation by serving in volunteer aviation activities, such as Civil Air Patrol and Angel Flight West. In that capacity, Chris transported patients to medical treatment where commercial air transportation was not available and automobile trips would take too long and be too taxing on the individuals. He once transported a patient from Denver to North Platte, Nebraska, where she was met by another pilot who would fly her the rest of the way to Iowa. The patient's transfer was front and center on North Platte's only television station, and garnered publicity and appreciation for General Aviation and how it serves communities.

Chris shares his love of aviation in his website:

RFT 225: The Commuting Life

Sep 28, 2018 13:13


If you become an airline pilot, there's a good chance you will at some point become a commuter. Commuting is probably more prevalent among pilots than in the general population, since they can travel from their homes to their bases on their company's planes as pass-riding passengers on in the cockpit on jump seats. Reciprocal jump seat agreements make it fairly easy to obtain a jump seat on another carrier.

There are several scenarios of commuting situations. If you reside in a city where your airline has a base, but you are currently based at a different location, you may decide to commute to your base, rather than relocate. At some point, you may become senior enough to be based where you live. In this case, there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

In another example, perhaps you reside in a city where your airline does not have a pilot base. In this case, you will be a commuter for the duration of your employment, unless and until the airline establishes a base where you live. There is no light at the end of the tunnel.

When you commute, you typically must plan for several backup flights to get yorself to work, since  your airline expects you to be in position when you're needed. And you have to be well-rested. That means you probably need to obtain accommodations at your base.

Many pilots obtain crash pads, where they pay a fairly reasonable price to share a sleeping space with other commuting pilots. The other option, unless you have a friend in the new city who will allow you to camp out at their house, is to get an apartment in the city where you're based, or get a hotel room for every trip.

In another model, perhaps your airline provides positive-space air transportation and hotel room prior to your beginning your flight schedule. In this case, you still need to spend a lot of time away from home simply traveling to your employment, but the problem of uncertainty about your transportation is solved.

If you're commuting simply to get seniority in a base, or get more pay due to a promoted position, you need to give a lot of thought to the heavy price you'll pay.

For more information, read the blog post "The Commuter's Survival Kit".

RFT 224: General Michael Hostage

Sep 24, 2018 33:55


Gilmary Michael "Mike" Hostage III is a retired United States Air Force four-star general who last served as the commander, Air Combat Command from September 13, 2011 to October 2014. He previously served as commander, United States Air Forces Central, Southwest Asia. He retired from the Air Force after over 37 years of service.

As the commander of Air Combat Command, he is responsible for organizing, training, equipping and maintaining combat-ready forces for rapid deployment and employment while ensuring strategic air defense forces are ready to meet the challenges of peacetime air sovereignty and wartime defense. ACC operates more than 1,000 aircraft, 22 wings, 13 bases, and more than 300 operating locations worldwide with 79,000 active-duty and civilian personnel. When mobilized, the Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve contribute more than 700 aircraft and 51,000 people to ACC. As the Combat Air Forces lead agent, ACC develops strategy, doctrine, concepts, tactics, and procedures for air- and space-power employment. The command provides conventional and information warfare forces to all unified commands to ensure air, space and information superiority for warfighters and national decision-makers. ACC can also be called upon to assist national agencies with intelligence, surveillance and crisis response capabilities.

As the Air Component Commander for U.S. Central Command, Hostage was responsible for developing contingency plans and conducting air operations in a 20-nation area of responsibility covering Central and Southwest Asia.

General Hostage entered the air force through Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps from Duke University in 1977 with a Bachelor of Science degree in mechanical engineering. He is also a graduate of the U.S. Air Force Fighter Weapons School, and a command pilot with more than 4,000 flying hours. He has flown combat missions in multiple aircraft, logging more than 600 combat hours in operations Desert Shield, Desert Storm, Southern Watch, Enduring Freedom, Iraqi Freedom and New Dawn.

In May 2012, press reports have indicated Hostage ordered pilots to fly the F-22 Raptordespite problems with its oxygen system. Hostage has said that some of the problems the pilots encountered were simply limits of the human body, but that UAVs were not suitable for the AirSea Battle concept of the Pacific Pivot.

Hostage has put forward the concept of a "combat cloud" for how manned and unmanned systems will work together in the USAF of the future.

In 2014 Hostage said that his plans to retire the A-10 fleet would put greater demands on USAF pilots and that their readiness was crucial. He also doubted the usefulness of the planned Combat Rescue Helicopter in a serious conflict against modern air defenses, and that it might be better to just use the V-22.

RFT 223: National POW/MIA Recognition Day

Sep 21, 2018 03:52


National POW/MIA Recognition Day is an observance that honors whose who were prisoners of war (POW) as well as those who are still missing in action (MIA). It is observed in the United States on the third Friday in September. National POW/MIA Recognition Day was proclaimed by the United States Congress in 1998. It is one of the six national observances when the POW/MIA Flag can be flown. The other five observances are Armed Forces Day, Memorial Day, Flag Day, Independence Day, and Veterans Day.The POW/MIA flag was created by the National League of Families in 1972 and was officially recognized by the Congress in 1990. It is a symbol of concern about United States military personnel taken as POW or listed as MIA.The POW/MIA flag should be no larger than the United States flag. It is typically flown immediately below or adjacent to the national flag as second in the order of precedence. On National POW/MIA Recognition Day, the flag is flown on the grounds of major military installations, veterans memorials, government agencies, federal national cemeteries.In the armed forces, a single table and chair draped with the POW/MIA flag are displayed in mess halls and dining halls. Such installation symbolizes the hope for the return of these who are missing in action.

The POW/MIA flag was created for the National League of Families of American Prisoners and Missing in Southeast Asia and officially recognized by the United States Congress in conjunction with the Vietnam War POW/MIA issue, "as the symbol of our Nation's concern and commitment to resolving as fully as possible the fates of Americans still prisoner, missing and unaccounted for in Southeast Asia, thus ending the uncertainty for their families and the Nation."

The original design for the flag was created by Newt Heisley in 1972 The National League of Families then-national coordinator, POW wife Evelyn Grubb, oversaw its development and also campaigned to gain its widespread acceptance and use by the United States government and also local governments and civilian organizations across the United States.

In 1971, while the Vietnam War was still being fought, Mary Helen Hoff, the wife of a service member missing in action and member of the National League of Families of American Prisoners and Missing in Southeast Asia, recognized the need for a symbol of U.S. POW/MIAs, some of whom had been held captivity for as many as seven years. The flag is black, and bears in the center, in black and white, the emblem of the league. The emblem was designed by Newton F. Heisley, and features a white disk bearing in black silhouette the bust of a man (Jeffery Heisley), watch tower with a guard on patrol, and a strand of barbed wire; above the disk are the white letters POW and MIA framing a white 5-pointed star; below the disk is a black and white wreath above the white motto: "You are not Forgotten." The POW/MIA was flown over the White House for the first time in September 1982. The flag has been altered many times; the colors have been switched from black with white – to red, white and blue – to white with black; the POW/MIA has at times been revised to MIA/POW.

On March 9, 1989, a league flag that had flown over the White House on the 1988 National POW/MIA Recognition Day was installed in the U.S. Capitol rotunda as a result of legislation passed by the 100th Congress. The league's POW-MIA flag is the only flag ever displayed in the rotunda, and the only one other than the Flag of the United States to have flown over the White House. The leadership of both houses of Congress hosted the installation ceremony in a demonstration of bipartisan congressional support.

On August 10, 1990, the 101st Congress passed U.S. Public Law 101-355, recognizing the National League of Families POW/MIA flag and designating it "as a symbol of our Nation's concern and commitment to resolving as fully as possible the fates of Americans still prisoner, missing and unaccounted for in Southeast Asia, thus ending the uncertainty for their families and the Nation." Beyond Southeast Asia, it has been a symbol for POW/MIAs from all U.S. wars.

The flag is ambiguous as it implies that personnel listed as MIA may in fact be held captive. The official, bipartisan, U.S. government position is that there is "no compelling evidence that proves that any American remains alive in captivity in Southeast Asia". The Defense Prisoner of War/Missing Personnel Office (DPMO) provides centralized management of prisoner of war/missing personnel (POW/MP) affairs within the United States Department of Defense and is responsible for investigating the status of POW/MIA issues. As of 29 March 2017, 1,611 Americans remained unaccounted for, of which 1,023 were classified as further pursuit, 497 as no further pursuit and 91 as deferred.

The last loss of the Vietnam War:

CDR Harley H. Hall was the commanding officer of Fighter Squadron 143
onboard the aircraft carrier USS ENTERPRISE. On January 27, 1973 he and his
Radar Intercept Officer (RIO), LTCDR Philip A. Kientzler, launched in their F4J
Phantom fighter aircraft on an attack mission against North Vietnamese supplies
and logistic vehicles 15 miles northwest of Quang Tri, South Vietnam. Hall and
Kientzler were under the direction of an OV10 Forward Air Controller (FAC).

CDR Hall's aircraft came under intense anti-aircraft fire while attacking
several trucks and was hit. He made an attempt to fly back out to the safety of
the sea, but minutes later the aircraft caught fire on the port wing and

Both Hall and his co-pilot, LCDR Philip A. Kintzler ejected at 4,000 feet and
were seen to land 100 feet apart near a village on an island in the Dam Cho Chua
and Cua Viet Rivers. CDR Hall was seen moving about on the ground, discarding
his parachute. No voice contact was made with the men, and the probability of
immediate capture was considered very high.

Numerous aircraft made several passes over the area for the next several hours
and were unsuccessful in observing either of the downed crewmen. Several
emergency beepers were heard intermittently the remainder of the afternoon and
throughout the night, however, no voice contact was established. Active,
organized search and rescue efforts were subsequently terminated.

Only Kientzler was released at Operation Homecoming in 1973. He reported that
during parachute descent they received heavy ground fire, at which time he was
hit in the leg. He last saw CDR Hall as they touched the ground. When he asked
his guards about his pilot, he was told that he was killed by another.

No other returned POW reported having knowledge of Harley Hall, yet the Pentagon
maintained him in POW status for over 6 years, and documents were obtained that
indicated that he was indeed captured. The Hanoi government claims to have no
knowledge of CDR Harley Hall. This former member of the famed Blue Angels flight
team remains missing.

Harley Hall was shot down on the last day of the war and was the last Navy air
casualty of the Vietnam War. He was the last American to be classified Prisoner
of War in the Vietnam War.

Harley H. Hall was promoted to the rank of Captain during the period he was
maintained as a prisoner.

In October 2017, state government buildings in Maryland began flying the POW/MIA flag outside.

RFT 222 Extra

Sep 18, 2018 03:58


The U.S. War Department created the first antecedent of the U.S. Air Force, as a part of the U.S. Army, on 1 August 1907, which through a succession of changes of organization, titles, and missions advanced toward eventual independence 40 years later. In World War II, almost 68,000 U.S. airmen died helping to win the war, with only the infantry suffering more casualties. In practice, the U.S. Army Air Forces (USAAF) was virtually independent of the Army during World War II, and in virtually all ways functioned as an independent service branch, but airmen still pressed for formal independence. The National Security Act of 1947 was signed on 26 July 1947 by President Harry S Truman, which established the Department of the Air Force, but it was not until 18 September 1947, when the first secretary of the Air Force, W. Stuart Symington, was sworn into office that the Air Force was officially formed as an independent service branch.

The act created the National Military Establishment (renamed Department of Defense in 1949), which was composed of three subordinate Military Departments, namely the Department of the Army, the Department of the Navy, and the newly created Department of the Air Force. Prior to 1947, the responsibility for military aviation was shared between the Army Air Forces and its predecessor organizations (for land-based operations), the Navy (for sea-based operations from aircraft carriers and amphibious aircraft), and the Marine Corps (for close air support of Marine Corps operations).

RFT 222: Pilot/Aviation Historian Chuck Stout

Sep 17, 2018 30:44


From the Wings Over The Rockies website:

Chuck enjoys working as an aviation writer and as a museum exhibit designer. He gets to do both in his current career as director of the Colorado Aerospace History Project. Before this, he spent many years writing the books and online courses that help teach pilots to fly. He has volunteered at Wings Over the Rockies for more than 20 years. Chuck learned to fly in 1972, and has been an active general aviation pilot ever since. He’s passionate about encouraging Americans to improve their critical thinking skills, and especially likes sharing his interest in aerospace history. Whether in an elementary school classroom or a senior center, his lively presentations encourage interaction and keep audiences engaged, interested, and entertained.

Speaking Topics: Colorful Coloradans in Aerospace History The 20 Greatest Moments in Flight (that you never heard of) Everyday Life in Space (So, how do astronauts go to the bathroom, anyway?) Best. Race. Ever. (To the Moon and back!) What Has the Space Program Done for YOU? Women in Aviation: Determined Pioneers Did Going to the Moon Save the Earth? Those Dang Little Airplanes: Menace or Necessity? Flying with Broken Wings: Pilots Who Overcame Disabilities How Airplanes Fly What Makes a Hero? Invisible Heroes in Aerospace From Biplanes to Atomic Bombs: The astonishing changes in aviation technology during World War II How to Have a Great Career Six Major Air Disasters that Never Happened Aerobatics: Gymnastics in the Sky What Makes Weather Poetry, Prose, and… Pilots? (Aviators with the Write Stuff) Night Sky (Naked-eye astronomy) A Really Grand Tour What We’ve Learned from Flying

RFT 221: RAT On A Plane

Sep 13, 2018 05:13


Now we'll talk about a RAT on a plane. A ram air turbine (RAT) is a small wind turbine that is connected to a hydraulic pump, or electrical generator, installed in an aircraft and used as a power source. The RAT generates power from the airstream by ram pressure due to the speed of the aircraft.

Modern aircraft generally use RATs only in an emergency. In case of the loss of both primary and auxiliary power sources the RAT will power vital systems (flight controls, linked hydraulics and also flight-critical instrumentation). Some RATs produce only hydraulic power, which is in turn used to power electrical generators. In some early aircraft (including airships), small RATs were permanently mounted and operated a small electrical generator or fuel pump.

Modern aircraft generate power in the main engines or an additional fuel-burning turbine engine called an auxiliary power unit, which is often mounted in the rear of the fuselage or in the main-wheel well. The RAT generates power from the airstream due to the speed of the aircraft. If aircraft speeds are low, the RAT will produce less power. In normal conditions the RAT is retracted into the fuselage (or wing), and is deployed manually or automatically following complete loss of power. In the time between power loss and RAT deployment, batteries are used.

On the B787, the RAT extends automatically if any of the following occur:

Ram Air Turbine (RAT) Generator

• both engines are failed

• all three hydraulic system pressures are low

• loss of all electrical power to captain’s and first officer’s flight


• loss of all four EMPs and faults in the flight control system occur on


• loss of all four EMPs and an engine fails on takeoff or landing

RFT 220: The Jason Dahl Scholarship Fund

Sep 11, 2018 43:11


From the DahlFund website:

This fund is created in memory of Captain Jason Dahl with respect toward all victims of the events of 9/11/2001. It supports future generations of pilots, young people yearning to fly, through the award of Aviation Scholarships annually.

Jason never accepted less than the best. We remain dedicated to ensure that the Captain Jason Dahl Scholarship Board and the growing community of Scholarship Winners reflect this expectation of excellence.

The Captain Jason Dahl Scholarship Fund is a IRS qualified 501(c)3 Non-Profit Corporation. The Captain Jason Dahl Scholarship Fund was established the day after the national tragedy, and grew to a respectable sum within the first few months, thanks to the outpouring of support from family, friends, and other generous Americans. That outpouring continues to this day, as fundraising activities and charitable organizations demonstrate with generous contributions.

The Dahl Fund provides scholarships for qualified students who wish to attend accredited commercial flight training schools in the United States.


RFT 119: Runway Information

Sep 6, 2018 09:23


From Wikipedia:

Runways are named by a number between 01 and 36, which is generally the magnetic azimuth of the runway's heading in decadegrees. This heading differs from true north by the local magnetic declination. A runway numbered 09 points east (90°), runway 18 is south (180°), runway 27 points west (270°) and runway 36 points to the north (360° rather than 0°). When taking off from or landing on runway 09, a plane would be heading 90° (east).

A runway can normally be used in both directions, and is named for each direction separately: e.g., "runway 33" in one direction is "runway 15" when used in the other. The two numbers usually differ by 18 (= 180°).

If there is more than one runway pointing in the same direction (parallel runways), each runway is identified by appending Left (L), Center (C) and Right (R) to the number to identify its position (when facing its direction) — for example, Runways One Five Left (15L), One Five Center (15C), and One Five Right (15R). Runway Zero Three Left (03L) becomes Runway Two One Right (21R) when used in the opposite direction (derived from adding 18 to the original number for the 180° difference when approaching from the opposite direction). In some countries, if parallel runways are too close to each other, regulations mandate that only one runway may be used at a time under certain conditions (usually adverse weather).

At large airports with four or more parallel runways (for example, at Los Angeles, Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta, Denver, Dallas-Fort Worth and Orlando) some runway identifiers are shifted by 10 degrees to avoid the ambiguity that would result with more than three parallel runways. For example, in Los Angeles, this system results in runways 6L, 6R, 7L, and 7R, even though all four runways are actually parallel at approximately 69 degrees. At Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, there are five parallel runways, named 17L, 17C, 17R, 18L, and 18R, all oriented at a heading of 175.4 degrees. Occasionally, an airport with only 3 parallel runways may use different runway identifiers, such as when a third parallel runway was opened at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airportin 2000 to the south of existing 8R/26L — rather than confusingly becoming the "new" 8R/26L it was instead designated 7R/25L, with the former 8R/26L becoming 7L/25R and 8L/26R becoming 8/26.

For clarity in radio communications, each digit in the runway name is pronounced individually: runway three six, runway one four, etc. (instead of "thirty-six" or "fourteen"). A leading zero, for example in "runway zero six" or "runway zero one left", is included for all ICAO and some U.S. military airports (such as Edwards Air Force Base). However, most U.S. civil aviation airports drop the leading zero as required by FAA regulation. This also includes some military airfields such as Cairns Army Airfield. This American anomaly may lead to inconsistencies in conversations between American pilots and controllers in other countries. It is very common in a country such as Canada for a controller to clear an incoming American aircraft to, for example, runway 04, and the pilot read back the clearance as runway 4. In flight simulation programs those of American origin might apply U.S. usage to airports around the world. For example, runway 05 at Halifax will appear on the program as the single digit 5 rather than 05

Runway designations change over time because the magnetic poles slowly drift on the Earth's surface and the magnetic bearing will change. Depending on the airport location and how much drift takes place, it may be necessary over time to change the runway designation. As runways are designated with headings rounded to the nearest 10 degrees, this will affect some runways more than others. For example, if the magnetic heading of a runway is 233 degrees, it would be designated Runway 23. If the magnetic heading changed downwards by 5 degrees to 228, the Runway would still be Runway 23. If on the other hand the original magnetic heading was 226 (Runway 23), and the heading decreased by only 2 degrees to 224, the runway should become Runway 22. Because the drift itself is quite slow, runway designation changes are uncommon, and not welcomed, as they require an accompanying change in aeronautical charts and descriptive documents. When runway designations do change, especially at major airports, it is often changed at night as taxiway signs need to be changed and the huge numbers at each end of the runway need to be repainted to the new runway designators. In July 2009 for example, London Stansted Airport in the United Kingdom changed its runway designations from 05/23 to 04/22 during the night.

For fixed-wing aircraft it is advantageous to perform takeoffs and landings into the wind to reduce takeoff or landing roll and reduce the ground speed needed to attain flying speed. Larger airports usually have several runways in different directions, so that one can be selected that is most nearly aligned with the wind. Airports with one runway are often constructed to be aligned with the prevailing wind. Compiling a wind rose is in fact one of the preliminary steps taken in constructing airport runways. Note that wind direction is given as the direction the wind is coming from: a plane taking off from runway 09 would be facing east, directly into an "east wind" blowing from 090 degrees.

Runway dimensions vary from as small as 245 m (804 ft) long and 8 m (26 ft) wide in smaller general aviation airports, to 5,500 m (18,045 ft) long and 80 m (262 ft) wide at large international airports built to accommodate the largest jets, to the huge 11,917 m × 274 m (39,098 ft × 899 ft) lake bed runway 17/35 at Edwards Air Force Base in California – developed as a landing site for the Space Shuttle.

Takeoff and landing distances available are given using one of the following terms:

TORA Takeoff Run Available – The length of runway declared available and suitable for the ground run of an airplane taking off. TODA Takeoff Distance Available – The length of the takeoff run available plus the length of the clearway, if clearway is provided. ASDA Accelerate-Stop Distance Available – The length of the takeoff run available plus the length of the stopway, if stopway is provided. LDA Landing Distance Available – The length of runway that is declared available and suitable for the ground run of an airplane landing. EMDA Emergency Distance Available – LDA (or TORA) plus a stopway.

There exist standards for runway markings.

The runway thresholds are markings across the runway that denote the beginning and end of the designated space for landing and takeoff under non-emergency conditions. The runway safety area is the cleared, smoothed and graded area around the paved runway. It is kept free from any obstacles that might impede flight or ground roll of aircraft. The runway is the surface from threshold to threshold, which typically features threshold markings, numbers, and centerlines, but not overrun areas at both ends. Blast pads, also known as overrun areas or stopways, are often constructed just before the start of a runway where jet blast produced by large planes during the takeoff roll could otherwise erode the ground and eventually damage the runway. Overrun areas are also constructed at the end of runways as emergency space to slowly stop planes that overrun the runway on a landing gone wrong, or to slowly stop a plane on a rejected takeoff or a takeoff gone wrong. Blast pads are often not as strong as the main paved surface of the runway and are marked with yellow chevrons. Planes are not allowed to taxi, take off or land on blast pads, except in an emergency. Displaced thresholds may be used for taxiing, takeoff, and landing rollout, but not for touchdown. A displaced threshold often exists because obstacles just before the runway, runway strength, or noise restrictions may make the beginning section of runway unsuitable for landings.It is marked with white paint arrows that lead up to the beginning of the landing portion of the runway.

RFT 218: Vietnam Ace Bill Driscoll

Sep 3, 2018 01:21:50


From Wikipedia:

In 1968, Driscoll graduated from Aviation Officer Candidate School and received his commission as an Ensign (ENS) in the Naval Reserve. After initial flight training at Naval Air Station Pensacola, Florida, he completed advanced flight training at Naval Air Station Glynco, Georgia, and received his Naval Flight Officer wings in 1970. He was selected to be in the F-4 Phantom II as a Radar Intercept Officer (RIO). He was assigned to Fighter Squadron 121 (VF-121) at NAS Miramar, California, for fleet replacement squadron training in the F-4J, then to Fighter Squadron 96 (VF-96) The Fighting Falcons, also based at NAS Miramar. As a lieutenant junior grade (LTJG), he served as a RIO with his primary pilot, Lieutenant Randy "Duke" Cunningham. They became the Navy's only two flying aces during the Vietnam War while VF-96 was embarked on a Western Pacific deployment aboard the aircraft carrier USS Constellation.

Cunningham, with Driscoll as his RIO, made his first two kills on separate missions; his third, fourth and fifth kills occurred during a single day: May 10, 1972. The engagement became one of the most celebrated aerial dogfights in the war. After they bombed their intended ground target, they engaged 16 MiG interceptors that converged on a bomber convoy of USAF Boeing B-52 Stratofortresses attacking a railyard in Hải Dương.[1] Cunningham shot down two MiG-17s, and became separated from the other aircraft in their strike package. The pair headed for the coast, where they spotted and shot down a lone North Vietnamese MiG-17. Their fighter was then hit by a missile, and they ejected over the Gulf of Tonkin and were rescued. Driscoll was awarded the Navy Cross for his actions.

During the war, Driscoll was promoted to lieutenant. Besides the Navy Cross, he was awarded two Silver Stars, a Purple Heart, and ten Air Medals. He was also nominated for the Medal of Honor.

Driscoll later became an instructor at the U.S. Naval Fighter Weapons School (TOPGUN) followed by his transition to the F-14 Tomcat and assignment as an instructor at Fighter Squadron 124 (VF-124), the F-14 Fleet Replacement Squadron for the Pacific Fleet at NAS Miramar (now MCAS Miramar), in San Diego, California. He separated from active duty in 1982, but remained in the United States Navy Reserve, flying the F-4 Phantom II and later the F-14 Tomcat in a Naval Air Reserve fighter squadron at NAS Miramar, eventually retiring with the rank of commander (O-5).

RFT 217: Fire Extinguisher Symbols

Sep 1, 2018 07:42


From Wikipedia:

Ordinary combustibles Fire type A.svg

Class A fires consist of ordinary combustibles such as wood, paper, fabric, and most kinds of trash.

  Flammable liquid and gas  A carbon dioxide fire extinguisher rated for flammable liquids and gasses

These are fires whose fuel is flammable or combustible liquid or gas. The US system designates all such fires "Class B". In the European/Australian system, flammable liquids are designated "Class B" having flash point less than 100 °C, while burning gases are separately designated "Class C". These fires follow the same basic fire tetrahedron (heat, fuel, oxygen, chemical reaction) as ordinary combustible fires, except that the fuel in question is a flammable liquid such as gasoline, or gas such as natural gas. A solid stream of water should never be used to extinguish this type because it can cause the fuel to scatter, spreading the flames. The most effective way to extinguish a liquid or gas fueled fire is by inhibiting the chemical chain reaction of the fire, which is done by dry chemical and Halon extinguishing agents, although smothering with CO2 or, for liquids, foam is also effective. Halon has fallen out of favor in recent times because it is an ozone-depleting material; the Montreal Protocol declares that Halon should no longer be used. Chemicals such as FM-200 are now the recommended halogenated suppressant.


Electrical fires are fires involving potentially energized electrical equipment. The US system designates these "Class C"; the Australian system designates them "Class E". This sort of fire may be caused by short-circuiting machinery or overloaded electrical cables. These fires can be a severe hazard to firefighters using water or other conductive agents, as electricity may be conducted from the fire, through water, to the firefighter's body, and then earth. Electrical shockshave caused many firefighter deaths.

Electrical fire may be fought in the same way as an ordinary combustible fire, but water, foam, and other conductive agents are not to be used. While the fire is or possibly could be electrically energized, it can be fought with any extinguishing agent rated for electrical fire. Carbon dioxideCO2, NOVEC 1230, FM-200 and dry chemical powder extinguishers such as PKP and even baking soda are especially suited to extinguishing this sort of fire. PKP should be a last resort solution to extinguishing the fire due to its corrosive tendencies. Once electricity is shut off to the equipment involved, it will generally become an ordinary combustible fire.

In Europe, "electrical fires" are no longer recognized as a separate class of fire as electricity itself cannot burn. The items around the electrical sources may burn. By turning the electrical source off, the fire can be fought by one of the other class of fire extinguishers.


Class D fires involve combustible metals - especially alkali metals like lithium and potassium, alkaline earth metals such as magnesium, and group 4 elements such as titanium and zirconium.

Metal fires represent a unique hazard because people are often not aware of the characteristics of these fires and are not properly prepared to fight them. Therefore, even a small metal fire can spread and become a larger fire in the surrounding ordinary combustible materials. Certain metals burn in contact with air or water (for example, sodium), which exaggerate this risk. Generally speaking, masses of combustible metals do not represent great fire risks because heat is conducted away from hot spots so efficiently that the heat of combustion cannot be maintained. In consequence, significant heat energy is required to ignite a contiguous mass of combustible metal. Generally, metal fires are a hazard when the metal is in the form of sawdust, machine shavings or other metal "fines", which combust more rapidly than larger blocks. Metal fires can be ignited by the same ignition sources that would start other common fires.

Care must be taken when extinguishing metal fires. Water and other common firefighting agents can excite metal fires and make them worse. The National Fire Protection Association recommends that metal fires be fought with dry powder extinguishing agents that work by smothering and heat absorption. The most common agents are sodium chloride granules and graphite powder. In recent years, powdered copper has also come into use. These dry powder extinguishers should not be confused with those that contain dry chemical agents. The two are not the same, and only dry powder should be used to extinguish a metal fire. Using a dry chemical extinguisher in error, in place of dry powder, can be ineffective or actually increase the intensity of a metal fire.

Cooking oils and fats (kitchen fires)  

Laboratory simulation of a chip pan fire: a beaker containing wax is heated until it catches fire. A small amount of water is then poured into the beaker. The water sinks to the bottom and vaporizes instantly, ejecting a plume of burning liquid wax into the air.

Class K fires involve unsaturated cooking oils in well-insulated cooking appliances located in commercial kitchens.

Fires that involve cooking oils or fats are designated “Class K” under the American system, and “Class F” under the European/Australian systems. Though such fires are technically a subclass of the flammable liquid/gas class, the special characteristics of these types of fires, namely the higher flash point, are considered important enough to recognize separately. Water mist can be used to extinguish such fires. As with Class B fires, a solid stream of water should never be used to extinguish this type because it can cause the fuel to scatter, spreading the flames. Appropriate fire extinguishers may also have hoods over them that help extinguish the fire. Sometimes fire blankets are used to stop a fire in a kitchen or on a stove.

RFT 216: President/CEO Wings Over The Rockies Air & Space Museum M/Gen. John Barry

Aug 27, 2018 35:11


From the Wings Over The Rockies Air & Space Museum website:

John L. Barry, current President & CEO of Wings Over the Rockies Air & Space Museum, was a member of the Columbia Accident Investigation Board that was created to examine the disaster. In his presentation “When the Right Stuff Goes Wrong”, he will speak first-hand about the accident and share lessons that can be learned from this mishap.

The accident was a major event that was essentially caused by technological, cultural, mechanical and organizational failures. Barry will explain the “nuts and bolts” of this disaster in a way that can be understood, reflected on, and applied to current business plans.

About John L. Barry:

Retired Major General John L. Barry was in the Air Force for over 30 years as a combat veteran, fighter pilot/USAF “Top Gun” graduate and Military Assistant to the Secretary of Defense. He retired in 2004, having served his last tour on active duty as Board Member and Executive Director for the Space Shuttle Columbia Accident Investigation.

From 2006-2013, Barry served as superintendent of Aurora Public Schools, the sixth largest district in Colorado. In 2014, he was then named Chief Executive Officer for Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Denver. Currently, Barry holds the position as President & CEO at Wings Over the Rockies Air & Space Museum.

RFT 215: Common Carrier Duty of Care

Aug 23, 2018 05:48


Common carriers are required to exercise the highest degree of care in safety:

49 U.S. Code § 44701 - General requirements

(d)Considerations and Classification of Regulations and Standards.—When prescribing a regulation or standard under subsection (a) or (b) of this section or any of sections 4470244716 of this title, the Administrator shall—



the duty of an air carrier to provide service with the highest possible degree of safety in the public interest;

From Wikipedia: A common carrier is distinguished from a contract carrier (also called a public carrier in UK English), which is a carrier that transports goods for only a certain number of clients and that can refuse to transport goods for anyone else, and from a private carrier. A common carrier holds itself out to provide service to the general public without discrimination (to meet the needs of the regulator's quasi judicial role of impartiality toward the public's interest) for the "public convenience and necessity." A common carrier must further demonstrate to the regulator that it is "fit, willing, and able" to provide those services for which it is granted authority. Common carriers typically transport persons or goods according to defined and published routes, time schedules, and rate tables upon the approval of regulators. Public airlines, railroads, bus lines, taxicab companies, phone companies, internet service providers, cruise ships, motor carriers (i.e., canal operating companies, trucking companies), and other freight companies generally operate as common carriers. Under US law, an ocean freight forwarder cannot act as a common carrier.



RFT 214: F-4 WSO Jim Badger

Aug 20, 2018 40:28


Jim Badger became an Air Force officer after graduating from college, and attended navigator training. After earning his wings, he was assigned to (at the time) Military Air Transport Service (later to become MAC - Military Airlift Command) flying as navigator on the C-124. He flew missions in support of Europe and the expanding war in Vietnam. The C-124 flew low and slow, and was not well suited to supplying the needs of the war.

Jim transitioned into the new C-141, which flew much faster and further, and carried a much greater load. By the time Jim finished his time in the 141, he had accumulated over 5000 hours of flying time. Then the Air Force needed Weapon System Officers (WSOs).

Jim attended F-4 WSO training at George Air Force Base, California and was "top gun" in his class. He selected Ubon Royal Thai Air Base as his Vietnam assignment, and joined the 8th Tactical Fighter Wing, the "wolfpack". In addition to flying combat missions, Jim ran the Frag Shop, which planned the hazardous missions over North Vietnam.

After Ubon, Jim was assigned to a missile unit in Missouri, and, after leaving the Air Force, attended law school and practice law, eventually rising to the position of magistrate.

RFT 213: Stolen Airliner!

Aug 15, 2018 09:54


This past week there was a dramatic, and tragic, event at Sea-Tac airport in Seattle, Washington. An airport worker stole an empty Horizon Air Q400 aircraft and flew it erratically for over an hour before crashing and killing himself. Rather than the NTSB, the FBI is taking the lead in the investigation into this event, which is rightly being called a crime.

Even for an experienced pilot, stealing an airliner is no small feat. If the airplane is parked at a gate, it must be pushed back with a tow vehicle and then disconnected from the tow vehicle, which must them be driven out of the way. In this case it was parked remotely, at the cargo ramp, and could be taxied forward once the engines were started. And the cargo ramp is located adjacent to the takeoff position on runway 19L, so once the engines were started there was little to prevent the aircraft from initiating a takeoff.

Gaining access to the Q400 aircraft itself is relatively easy, as the main entry door has integral stairs, and there is a YouTube video showing door operation:

There is very little information regarding how the individual was able to gain access to the aircraft, start the APU, start the engines, taxi and take off without interruption. The facts as they are now known are:

He had no prior experience as a pilot He was an airline employee with access to the airport Secure Identification Display Area (SIDA) His normal employment was in the area of baggage loading and airplane marshalling From his conversations with ATC, he intended to kill himself

This is not something that can be accomplished on a whim. I believe the FBI's investigation will reveal that the individual had planned this for some time. He most likely had the Microsoft Flight Simulator X program and had been practicing how to start the engines, adjust the condition levers, take off, raise the landing gear, and fly.

There is an add-on program for Microsoft Flight Simulator X for the Q400, and the flight manual for the Q400 is readily available on the internet.

If this individual had simply wanted to steal the airplane and crash it, he likely would not have engaged in conversation with ATC. He was clearly a troubled individual, and it is really sad that an intervention was apparently not possible.

This is not the first such event. In 1969, Sergeant Paul Meyer, a C-130 aircraft mechanic stationed at Mildenhall Air Base in England, put on an officer's flight suit and stole a C-130, hoping to fly back to the United States. He had been under a lot of emotional pressure and desperately wanted to get back home to his wife of eight weeks. He was drunk when he stole the plane, which vanished after a few hours.

There will undoubtedly be a knee-jerk over-reaction in the industry, which will make it more difficult for legitimate crew members to initiate their flights, and which will likely lead to departure delays. Perhaps it would be more productive to educate the public on the signs of mental illness and how to help someone who seeks a permanent solution to a temporary problem.

If you have thoughts of suicide, confidential help is available for free at the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. Call 1-800-273-8255. This line is available for 24 hours, every day.

RFT 212: Fighter Pilots Cynthia and Mike Lisa

Aug 13, 2018 32:46


Cynthia and Mike Lisa met while midshipmen at the Naval Academy in Annapolis, MD. Mike graduated a year ahead of Cynthia, and attended graduate school to receive his Master of Science Degree in Physics, then attended Navy pilot training at the same time as Cynthia.

Once they were married, they received joint-spouse assignments to Whidby Island Naval Air Station, each flying the EA-6B. During their careers, Mike attended Navy Test Pilot School in Patuxent River, MD, and Cynthia continued flying the EA-6B until her aircraft accident.

Her EA-6B suffered an engine failure, followed by smoke and fire in the cockpit. She ordered a crew ejection, and a long 1.2 seconds transpired before her sequenced ejection as the aircraft commander. Less than a second later, the jet impacted the ground. She got "one swing" of the parachute before landing near the crash site. Cynthia's ejection was featured in the Smithsonian Channel "Survival In The Skies" episode on ejection seats.

In the mean-time, Mike was deployed and not permitted to return to home for another five months.

RFT 211: Weight and Balance

Aug 11, 2018 10:42


From Wikipedia:

Center-of-Gravity Limits Center of gravity (CG) limits are specified longitudinal (forward and aft) and/or lateral (left and right) limits within which the aircraft's center of gravity must be located during flight. The CG limits are indicated in the airplane flight manual. The area between the limits is called the CG range of the aircraft. Weight and Balance When the weight of the aircraft is at or below the allowable limit(s) for its configuration (parked, ground movement, take-off, landing, etc.) and its center of gravity is within the allowable range, and both will remain so for the duration of the flight, the aircraft is said to be within weight and balance. Different maximum weights may be defined for different situations; for example, large aircraft may have maximum landing weights that are lower than maximum take-off weights (because some weight is expected to be lost as fuel is burned during the flight). The center of gravity may change over the duration of the flight as the aircraft's weight changes due to fuel burn or by passengers moving forward or aft in the cabin. Reference Datum The reference datum is a reference plane that allows accurate, and uniform, measurements to any point on the aircraft. The location of the reference datum is established by the manufacturer and is defined in the aircraft flight manual. The horizontal reference datum is an imaginary vertical plane or point, placed along the longitudinal axis of the aircraft, from which all horizontal distances are measured for weight and balance purposes. There is no fixed rule for its location, and it may be located forward of the nose of the aircraft. For helicopters, it may be located at the rotor mast, the nose of the helicopter, or even at a point in space ahead of the helicopter. While the horizontal reference datum can be anywhere the manufacturer chooses, most small training helicopters have the horizontal reference datum 100 inches forward of the main rotor shaft centerline. This is to keep all the computed values positive. The lateral reference datum is usually located at the center of the helicopter. Arm The arm is the horizontal distance from the reference datum to the center of gravity (CG) of an item. The algebraic sign is plus (+) if measured aft of the datum or to the right side of the center line when considering a lateral calculation. The algebraic sign is minus (-) if measured forward of the datum or the left side of the center line when considering a lateral calculation.[1] Moment The moment is the moment of force that results from an object’s weight acting through an arc that is centered on the zero point of the reference datum distance. Moment is also referred to as the tendency of an object to rotate or pivot about a point (the zero point of the datum, in this case). The further an object is from this point, the greater the force it exerts. Moment is calculated by multiplying the weight of an object by its arm.

There's much more information in the FAA Weight And Balance Handbook.

RFT 210: C-21/C-130/KC-10 Pilot Dr. Jannell MacAulay

Aug 6, 2018 45:02


Dr MacAulay spent 20 years in the US Air Force where she commanded the 400 member joint 305th Operations Support Squadron, was a professionalism and leadership instructor, and served as the Director of Human Performance and Leadership for the 58th Special Operations Wing. In this capacity, she stood up a pilot program launching a human performance effort from the ground up, to create high-performing, mindful, and mission-focused warfighters & families.

Most recently, she serves as a Human Performance consultant for the US Air Force, Department of Justice, and corporate America - sharing her knowledge and lessons for building high-performing organizations and teams. She has a

Masters Degree in Kinesiology (focused in exercise physiology) and a PhD with

work in the field of strategic health & human performance. Dr MacAulay is a

certified wellness educator, yoga instructor, mindfulness researcher, and holds a

certificate in plant based nutrition. She is a mother of two, and a combat veteran

with over 3000 flying hours in the C-21, C-130, & KC-10 aircraft.

RFT 209: Airplanes As Missiles

Aug 2, 2018 08:54


Attempting to crash an aircraft into a building was not an entirely new paradigm.  Despite Secretary Rice stating, “I don't think anybody could have predicted that they would try to use an airplane as a missile”, there had been numerous prior attempts to utilize aircraft in this manner.  In addition, there had been a significant number of warnings suicide hijackings posed a serious threat.  For example, a 1994 report for the Department of Defense predicted every aspect of the 911 attack. 

In 1972, hijackers of Southern Airways Flight 49 threatened to crash the airliner into Oak Ridge National Laboratory if a $10 million ransom was not paid.  The specific target was the nuclear reactor.  The hijacked airliner began a dive toward Oak Ridge, and was only pulled out at the last minute when Southern Airways agreed to pay $2 million to the hijackers.

In 1974, S. Byck attempted to hijack a Delta Airlines DC-9 aircraft to crash it into the White House.  During the hijacking, Byck killed a security guard and the copilot before committing suicide after being wounded by police.  Also in 1974, Private R. Preston stole an Army helicopter and flew over the White House and hovered for six minutes over the lawn outside the West Wing, raising concerns about a suicide attack.

In 1994, four Algerian terrorists attempted to hijack Air France Flight 8969.  The group, identified as Phalange of the Signers in Blood, killed one of the passengers, planted explosives on the plane, and planned to crash the aircraft into the Eiffel Tower.  French police stormed the aircraft and stopped the hijacking.    

Also in 1994, Flight Engineer A. Calloway boarded Federal Express Flight 705 as an additional jump seat crewmember, intending to overpower the crew and crash the DC-10 aircraft into the Federal Express corporate headquarters in Memphis.  Calloway attacked the flight deck crew with a hammer, inflicting serious, permanent, disabling injuries to all three pilots.  Additionally in 1994, F. Corder attempted to crash an aircraft into the White House. 

The planned 1995 Bojinka attack targeted the Pentagon, an unidentified nuclear power plant, the Transamerica Building in San Francisco, the Sears Tower in Chicago, the World Trade Center, John Hancock Tower in Boston, U.S. Congress, and the White House.  In 1996, hijackers attempted to crash Ethiopian Airlines flight 961 into a resort in the Comoros Islands, ditching into the Indian Ocean near the coast. 

Another 1996 event occurred when M. Udugov, a Chechen leader, threatened to hijack a Russian airliner and crash it into the Kremlin. 

In 1998 the Kaplancilar terrorist organization planned to crash an explosives-laden plane into the tomb of M. Ataturk, Turkey’s founder.  The entire Turkish government had gathered at the mausoleum for a ceremony on the day scheduled for the attack.  Police foiled the plot and arrested the conspirators shortly before execution of the plan.

In addition to actual aircraft suicide attacks, there were numerous predictions of these types of attacks.  One prediction was in the March 2001 pilot episode of the Fox series The Lone Gunmen, featuring a hijacked Boeing 727 used as a missile to crash into the World Trade Center.  In 1999, the British Secret Service MI6 provided the U.S. Embassy in London with a secret report on al Qaeda activities.  The report indicated al Qaeda was planning to use commercial aircraft to attack the United States.  The report stated the aircraft would be used in “unconventional ways”.

The 1993 attack on the World Trade Center prompted an exhaustive threat analysis for the World Trade Center.  The study concluded an aerial attack by crashing an aircraft into the Center was a remote possibility requiring consideration.  Reports indicated Iran was training pilots to hijack airplanes and fly them into buildings: “Trained aircrews from among the terrorists would crash the airliner into a selected objective”. 

A report on terrorist threats prepared for the Federal Research Division of the Library of Congress specifically named bin Laden and al Qaeda: “Suicide bomber(s) belonging to al-Qaida’s Martyrdom Battalion could crash-land an aircraft packed with high explosives (C-4 and semtex) into the Pentagon, the headquarters of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), or the White House”.  A 1999 keynote address at the National Defense University warned terrorists might attempt to use unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to attack buildings.  In 2000, security consultant C. Schnabolk had remarked, the most serious threat to the World Trade Center was someone flying a plane into it.

RFT 208: Vietnam C-123 Pilot/Artist "Doc" Weaver

Jul 30, 2018 33:13


From Doc Weaver's website:

Upon graduation from college, Weaver pursued a flying career as a pilot in the United States Air Force. In addition to flying, painting gave him an outlet that added much to his life. His last assignment prior to retirement brought him to New Mexico in 1974. He retired from active duty in 1976 and from that time on he has painted full time.

In 1974 Doc Weaver joined the New Mexico Watercolor Society. He was awarded Charter Signature Membership in this society.

From 1972 through 1976 Weaver was employed as a workshop director with Tony Van Hassalt's Painting Holidays Workshops. Van Hasssalt's workshops always had a stable of top-notch artists teaching painting. He directed many workshops, principally for John Pike, Tom Hill, George Cheropov, Jack Pellew, Tony Van Hassalt and Charles Reid. Over the past 30 years he also conducted his own watercolor workshops throughout the West. In 1977 Doc moved from Albuquerque to Santa Fe, where he has remained active in the arts community. During the next several years he served on the Santa Fe City Arts Council, the Board of Directors and Master Selection Committee of the Santa Fe Institute of Fine Arts, and has been an Officer and Trustee, Museum of New Mexico Foundation.

Weaver splits his time between painting outdoors and painting in the studio. Sketches completed on location are a valuable resource for his larger studio work. In addition to watercolor he also paints in oil and acrylic mediums. Many of his paintings are in private collections and in the collections of museums throughout the country. He is a member of the United States Air Force Artist Program and his paintings are represented in the United States Air Force Art Collection.

New Mexico Watercolor Society: 2004 Spring Show, Canson Award winner.
American Watercolor Society: Selected for exhibition in the 134th show, New York, NY, April 2001
Watermedia 2000: Signature Member Group, New Mexico Watercolor Society Palace of the Governors, Santa Fe, New Mexico, June, 2000
The Taos National Exhibition of American Watercolor II: Stables Gallery, Taos, New Mexico, November, 1996

RFT 207: Bojinka!

Jul 26, 2018 07:25


Funding for the Bojinka Plot came from Osama bin Laden and Hambali, and from front organizations operated by Mohammed Jamal Khalifa, bin Laden's brother-in-law.

Wali Khan Amin Shah, an Afghan, was the financier of the plot. He funded the plot by laundering money through his girlfriend and other Manila women, several of whom were bar hostesses and one of whom was an employee at a KFC restaurant. They were bribed with gifts and holiday trips so that they would open bank accounts to stash funds.

The transfers were small, equivalent to about 12,000 to 24,000 Philippine pesos ($500 to $1,000 US), and would be handed over each night at a Wendy's or a karaoke bar. The funds went to "Adam Sali", an alias used by Ramzi Yousef. The money came through a Filipino bank account owned by Jordanian Omar Abu Omar, who worked at International Relations and Information Centre, an Islamic organization run by Mohammed Jamal Khalifa.

A company called Konsojaya also provided financial assistance to the Manila cell by laundering money to it. Konsojaya was a front company that was started by the head of the group Jemaah Islamiyah, an Indonesian named Riduan Isamuddin, also known as Hambali. Wali Khan Amin Shah was on the board of directors of the company.

As soon as Yousef arrived in Manila along with other "Arab Afghans" who were making cells in Manila, he started to work on making bombs. Yousef had shown up in Singapore with Shah earlier in the fall of 1994. The two got their Philippine visas in Singapore.

He left Manila for several days, but was met by Islamist emissaries upon his return to Metro Manila. They asked him to attack United States President Bill Clinton, who was due to arrive in the Philippines on November 12, 1994 as part of a five-day tour of Asia. Yousef thought of several ways to kill the president, including placing nuclear bombs on Clinton's motorcade route, firing a Stinger missile at Air Force One or the presidential limousine, launching theater ballistic missiles at Manila and or killing him with phosgene, a chemical weapon. He abandoned the idea, as it would be too difficult to kill the President. However, he incorporated his plan to kill the Pope into the Bojinka plot.

In 1994, Yousef and Khalid Sheik Mohammed started testing airport security. Yousef booked a flight between Kai Tak International Airport in Hong Kong and Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport near Taipei. Mohammed booked a flight between Ninoy Aquino International Airport near Manila and Kimpo International Airport near Seoul. The two had already converted fourteen bottles of contact lens solution into bottles containing nitroglycerin, which was readily available in the Philippines. Yousef had taped a metal rod to the arch of his foot, which would serve as a detonator. The two wore jewelry and clothing with metal to confuse airport security. To support their claim that they were meeting women, they packed condoms in their bags.

On December 8, Yousef moved into the Doña Josefa Apartments under the alias "Najy Awaita Haddad" and purported himself to be a Moroccan. Edith Guerrera, the manager, laughed with the receptionist after the two men asked for new registration forms. "Perhaps they have forgotten their names", she said as the first ones were torn up. Yousef had accidentally put his "real name" on the first form. He did not want to get discovered too early.

Yousef had booked Room 603 in advance. He had made an Php 80,000 (Philippine peso) deposit, and added Php 40,000 more up front before taking the elevator to Room 603.

A conspirator named Abdul Hakim Murad came to Manila with Yousef and stayed at the same apartment.

The apartments are located in the Malate district, 200 meters away from the embassy of the Holy See in the Philippines, and 500 meters down the street from Manila Police Station No. 9 on Quirino Avenue. One of the windows of Room 603 looks down on the path that the Papal motorcade was to take.

People were suspicious of the men in Room 603. The men renting the apartment were very secretive. According to Guerrera, "They gave me the impression that they were here to study", said Mrs. Guerrera. "They looked like students. They double locked the door when they were inside or out. They didn't ask the room boy to clear up the room." The men, who had chemical burns on their hands, were carrying boxes and never hired other people to carry them up. The boxes contained chemicals bought from suppliers in Manila and Quezon City in Metro Manila. Yousef would use these to make his bombs.

Mohammed purported himself to be a Saudi or Qatari plywood exporter named "Abdul Majid." Yousef and Mohammed had already started planning Operation Bojinka.

According to Abdul Hakim Murad, Yousef got an idea for crashing a plane into the CIA from Murad while at the apartments. According to Murad, Yousef replied, "OK, we will think about it", before heading off with Mohammed to Puerto Galera for scuba diving.

Yousef's first operational test of his bomb was inside a mall in Cebu City. The bomb detonated several hours after he put it in a generator room. It caused minor damage, but it proved to Yousef that his bomb was workable.

On December 1, Shah placed a bomb under a seat in the Greenbelt Theatre in Manila to test what would happen if a bomb exploded under an airline seat. The bomb went off, injuring several patrons.

On December 11, 1994, Yousef built another bomb, which had one tenth of the power that his final bombs were planned to have, in the lavatory of an aircraft. He left it inside the life jacket under his seat (26 K) and got off the plane when it arrived in Cebu. Yousef had boarded the flight under the assumed name of Arnaldo Forlani, using a false Italian passport. The aircraft was Philippine Airlines Flight 434 on a Manila to Narita route, stopping partway at Cebu. Yousef had set the timer for four hours after he got off the aircraft.

The bomb exploded while the aircraft was over Japan's Minamidaitō Island, part of Okinawa Prefecture. A Japanese businessman named Haruki Ikegami occupying the seat was killed and an additional 10 passengers were injured. The flight was carrying 273 passengers in total. The blast blew a hole in the floor and the cabin's rapid expansion severed several control cables in the ceiling, cutting off control of the plane's right aileron, as well as both the pilot and first officer's steering controls. Usually, 26K, the seat that Yousef chose to plant the bomb, would be positioned directly over the centre fuel tank, and the detonation of the bomb would have caused a crippling explosion, but on this particular airframe, a former Scandinavian Airlines aircraft, the seat was two rows forward from normal. The flight crew kept control of the Boeing 747-200 and brought it into an emergency landing at Okinawa's Naha Airport. Satisfied with the deadly results of the attack, Yousef then planned which flights to attack for "Phase II" of the plot.

The first plan was to assassinate Pope John Paul II when he visited the Philippines during the World Youth Day 1995 celebrations. On January 15, 1995, a suicide bomber would dress up as a priest, while John Paul II passed in his motorcade on his way to the San Carlos Seminary in Makati City. The assassin planned to get close to the Pope, and detonate the bomb. The planned assassination of the Pope was intended to divert attention from the next phase of the operation. About 20 men had been trained by Yousef to carry out this act prior to January 1995.

The details of Phase I were found in the evidence discovered in the investigation into Room 603 in the Doña Josefa.

The next plan would have involved at least five terrorists, including Yousef, Shah, Murad and two more unknown operatives. Beginning on January 21, 1995, and ending on January 22, 1995, they would have placed bombs on 11 United States-bound airliners which had stopovers scattered throughout East Asia and Southeast Asia. All of the flights had two legs. The bombs would be planted inside life jackets under seats on the first leg, and each bomber would then disembark. He would then board one or two more flights and repeat. After all of the bombers had planted bombs on all of the flights, each man would then catch flights to Lahore, Pakistan. The men never needed U.S. visas, as they only would have been on the planes for their first legs in Asia.

United States airlines had been chosen instead of Asian airlines so as to maximize the shock toward Americans. The flights targeted were listed under operatives with codenames: "Zyed", "Majbos", "Markoa", "Mirqas" and "Obaid". Obaid, who was really Abdul Hakim Murad, was to hit United Flight 80, and then he was to go back to Singapore on another United flight which he would bomb.

Zyed, probably Ramzi Yousef, was to target Northwest Flight 30, a United Flight going from Taipei to Honolulu, and a United Flight going from Bangkok to Taipei to San Francisco.

The explosions were to be timed by the operatives before they disembarked from the plane. The aircraft would have exploded over the Pacific Ocean and the South China Sea almost simultaneously. If this plan worked, several thousand passengers would have perished, and air travel would likely have been shut down worldwide. The U.S. government estimated the prospective death toll to be about 4,000 if the plot had been executed. (For comparison, about 3,000 were killed during the September 11 attacks in the United States.)

If Phase II of the plot had been successful, it would have been, in terms of casualties, the most devastating terrorist attack in recent history.

The "Mark II" "microbombs" had Casio digital watches as the timers, stabilizers that looked like cotton wool balls, and an undetectable quantity of nitroglycerin as the explosive. Other ingredients included glycerin, nitrate, sulfuric acid, and minute concentrations of nitrobenzene, silver azide(silver trinitride), and liquid acetone. Two 9-volt batteries in each bomb were used as a power source. The batteries would be connected to light bulb filaments that would detonate the bomb. Murad and Yousef wired an SCR (silicon controlled rectifier) as the switch to trigger the filaments to detonate the bomb. There was an external socket hidden when the wires were pushed under the watch base as the bomber would wear it. The alteration was so small that the watch could still be worn in a normal manner.

Yousef got batteries past airport security during his December 11 test bombing of Philippine Airlines Flight 434 by hiding them in hollowed-out heels of his shoes. Yousef smuggled the nitroglycerin on board by putting it inside a small container, reputedly containing contact lens cleaning solution.

Abdul Hakim Murad's confession detailed Phase III in his interrogation by the Manila police after his capture.

Phase three would have involved Murad either renting, buying, or hijacking a small airplane, preferably a Cessna. The airplane would be filled with explosives. He would then crash it into the Central Intelligence Agency headquarters in the Langley area in Fairfax County, Virginia. Murad had been trained as a pilot in North Carolina, and was slated to be a suicide pilot.

There were alternate plans to hijack a 12th commercial airliner and use that instead of the small aircraft, probably due to the Manila cell's growing frustration with explosives. Testing explosives in a house or apartment is dangerous, and it can easily give away a terrorist plot. Khalid Sheik Mohammed probably made the alternate plan.

A report from the Philippines to the United States on January 20, 1995 stated, "What the subject has in his mind is that he will board any American commercial aircraft pretending to be an ordinary passenger. Then he will hijack said aircraft, control its cockpit and dive it at the CIA headquarters."

Another plot that was considered would have involved the hijacking of more airplanes. The World Trade Center (New York City, New York), The Pentagon (Arlington, Virginia), the United States Capitol (Washington, D.C.), the White House (Washington, D.C.), the Sears Tower (Chicago, Illinois), and the U.S Bank Tower (Los Angeles, California), would have been the likely targets. In his confession to Filipino investigators, prior to the foiling of Operation Bojinka, Abdul Hakim Murad said that this part of the plot was dropped since the Manila cell could not recruit enough people to implement other hijackings. This plot would eventually be the base plot for the September 11 attacks which involved hijacking commercial airliners, as opposed to small aircraft loaded with explosives, and crashing them into their intended targets. However, only the World Trade Center (which was destroyed) and The Pentagon (which suffered partial damage) were hit.

The plot was abandoned after an apartment fire at the six-story Doña Josefa apartments occurred in Manila, Philippines, on the evening of Friday, January 6, 1995. The fire occurred before Pope John Paul II was scheduled to visit the Philippines on January 12.

According to the initial accounts of the Philippine authorities, Abdul Hakim Murad started a chemical fire in the kitchen sink in Room 603 in the 6th floor of the Doña Josefa apartment by pouring water on a substance. The fire was spotted at about 11 pm after residents complained about a strange odour. Edith Guerrera, the owner of the apartments, called the fire brigade, but the fire went out unassisted. Yousef and Murad had told the firefighters to stay away before they fled. Police Major Francisco F. Bautista and his men, including watch commander Aida D. Fariscal, decided to investigate the situation and saw four hot plates in their packing crates, what looked like cotton batting soaked in a beige solution, and loops of green, red, blue, and yellow electrical wiring. The telephone rang, and the police ran downstairs, thinking that it was a trap.Fa riscal had been suspicious of the men in Room 603 due to the recent wave of bombings (committed by Yousef) that hit Metro Manila and Philippine Airlines Flight 434. Seeking a search warrant, they left and asked 11 judges before finding one that would grant a warrant.

After police discovered the evidence, they arrested a man who called himself "Ahmed Saeed." "Saeed", who later proved to be Murad, claimed that he was a commercial pilot who was on his way to the precinct house to explain that what he claimed to be firecrackers had gone off. Murad initially tried to run away, but he was arrested after he tripped over a tree root. The arresting officer, having lost his handcuffs, improvised a solution by tying Murad's hands with the elastic cord taken from the officer's raincoat. Murad was hauled to the precinct in a taxi van with the help of two other people. He offered 110,740 Philippine pesos (US$2,000) to the policemen if they would agree to let him go, but the officers refused. At the precinct, Murad signed a statement saying that he was innocent and that he was a tourist visiting his friend in his chemical import/export business. He then mumbled about "two Satans that must be destroyed: the Pope and America."

55-year-old Fariscal was later depicted (although by a much younger actress) in the 2006 docudrama The Path to 9/11, in which US agencies in the script gave her much credit. An actress portrays her in the Mayday episode "Bomb on Board." The widow of a slain police officer, she had spent seventeen years as a homemaker before enrolling in the police department in 1977. She became well known in her home nation, which awarded her the equivalent of 33,222 pesos ($700) and a trip to Taiwan. The CIA awarded her a certificate reading "in recognition of your personal outstanding efforts and co-operation." Her decision to investigate the fire was key to disrupting the plot and forcing Yousef to flee.

When the officers returned to Suite 603 at 2:30 am on January 7, they found: street maps of Manila with routes plotting the papal motorcade, a rosary, a photograph of the pontiff, bibles, crucifixes, papal confessions, and priest clothing, including robes and collars. This collection of objects, and a phone message from a tailor reminding the occupant that "the cassock was ready to be tried on", along with the fact of the Pope's impending visit, was enough for Police Major Francisco F. Bautista to infer that an assassination plot had been interrupted. A search warrant was granted by 4 am on January 7.

The most conclusive piece of evidence found was a manual written in Arabic on how to build a liquid bomb.

Stacks of 12 false passports, including Norwegian, Afghan, Saudi, and Pakistani were also found in the apartment. Investigators found a business card from Mohammed Jamal Khalifa; Saeed apparently possessed five telephone numbers from Khalifa. Investigators also found phone numbers for Rose Masquera, Mohammed's girlfriend.

Yousef's project was discovered on four floppy disks and an off-white Toshiba laptop inside his apartment, two weeks before the plot would have been implemented. Several encrypted files on the hard drive contained flight schedules, calculations of detonation times, and other items. The first string of text in one of the files states, "All people who support the U.S. government are our targets in our future plans and that is because all those people are responsible for their government's actions and they support the U.S. foreign policy and are satisfied with it. We will hit all U.S. nuclear targets. If the U.S. government keeps supporting Israel, then we will continue to carry out operations inside and outside the United States to include..." and the text ends.

A file named "Bojinka" lists the 11 flights between Asia and the United States, which were grouped under five codenames. Strings were found, such as "SETTING: 9:30 pm to 10:30 pm TIMER: 23HR. BOJINKA: 20:30-21:30 NRT Date 5" (for United flight 80), and "SETTING: 8:30-9:00. TIMER: 10HR. BOJINKA: 19:30-20:00 NRT Date 4" (for Northwest Flight 30).[7]

The laptop had names of dozens of associates, including some photographs of a few of them and including contact information for Mohammed Jamal Khalifa. They contained records of information about five-star hotels, dealings with a London trading corporation, a meat market owner in Malaysia, and an Islamic center in Tucson, Arizona. Information about how money moved through an Abu Dhabi banking firm was found.

A communication signed "Khalid Shaikh + Bojinka" was also found on Yousef's computer that threatened to attack targets "in response to the financial, political and military assistance given to the Jewish state in the occupied land of Palestine by the United States Government." The letter also said that the bombers claimed to have "ability to make and use chemicals and poisonous gas... for use against vital institutions and populations and the sources of drinking water."

The letter also threatened to assassinate Fidel V. Ramos, the President of the Philippines at the time, as well as attack aircraft if the United States did not meet the group's demands. The letter said that the group claiming responsibility was the "Fifth Division of the Liberation Army".[7]

The evidence found at the Doña Josefa filled three police vans.

U.S. investigators did not find the connection with Khalid Sheikh Mohammed to al-Qaeda until several years later.

The 9/11 attacks evolved from the original Bojinka plot

Khalid Sheikh Mohammed decided that explosives were too risky to use in his next plot, and chose instead to use airplanes. The plot was later revised and executed during the September 11 attacks. Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was arrested in Rawalpindi, Pakistan in 2003.

Yousef filed a motion for a new trial in 2001. The United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit heard the case on May 3, 2002, and announced on April 3, 2003 the decision that Yousef and his partners were to remain incarcerated.


RFT 206: Master Pilot/Author John Graybill

Jul 23, 2018 22:34


From John's website:

John O. Graybill has been an active aviator for more than fifty years. He holds a commercial pilot certificate (single- and multiengine rating), glider rating, is a certified flight instructor, is an instrument pilot, has been designated by the Federal Aviation Administration as a master pilot, and has flown private airplanes all over the United States, Mexico, and Central America. He holds an MBA with studies in operations research and statistics. Mr. Graybill is the author of The Entrepreneur’s Road to Business Success and Personal Freedom.

John has owned numerous aircraft, both powered and gliders.

John's newest book, Private Airplane Passenger Safety, is now available at Amazon.

RFT 205: Density Altitude

Jul 19, 2018 08:49


From the Pilot's Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge:

Density Altitude

SDP is a theoretical pressure altitude, but aircraft operate in a nonstandard atmosphere and the term density altitude is used for correlating aerodynamic performance in the nonstandard atmosphere. Density altitude is the vertical distance above sea level in the standard atmosphere at which a given density is to be found. The density of air has significant effects on the aircraft’s performance because as air becomes less dense, it reduces:

Power because the engine takes in less air Thrust because a propeller is less efficient in thin air Lift because the thin air exerts less force on the airfoils

Density altitude is pressure altitude corrected for nonstandard temperature. As the density of the air increases (lower density altitude), aircraft performance increases; conversely as air density decreases (higher density altitude), aircraft performance decreases. A decrease in air density means a high density altitude; an increase in air density means a lower density altitude. Density altitude is used in calculating aircraft performance because under standard atmospheric conditions, air at each level in the atmosphere not only has a specific density, its pressure altitude and density altitude identify the same level.

The computation of density altitude involves consideration of pressure (pressure altitude) and temperature. Since aircraft performance data at any level is based upon air density under standard day conditions, such performance data apply to air density levels that may not be identical with altimeter indications. Under conditions higher or lower than standard, these levels cannot be determined directly from the altimeter.

Density altitude is determined by first finding pressure altitude, and then correcting this altitude for nonstandard temperature variations. Since density varies directly with pressure and inversely with temperature, a given pressure altitude may exist for a wide range of temperatures by allowing the density to vary. However, a known density occurs for any one temperature and pressure altitude. The density of the air has a pronounced effect on aircraft and engine performance. Regardless of the actual altitude of the aircraft, it will perform as though it were operating at an altitude equal to the existing density altitude.

Air density is affected by changes in altitude, temperature, and humidity. High density altitude refers to thin air, while low density altitude refers to dense air. The conditions that result in a high density altitude are high elevations, low atmospheric pressures, high temperatures, high humidity, or some combination of these factors. Lower elevations, high atmospheric pressure, low temperatures, and low humidity are more indicative of low density altitude.

Effect of Pressure on Density

Since air is a gas, it can be compressed or expanded. When air is compressed, a greater amount of air can occupy a given volume. Conversely, when pressure on a given volume of air is decreased, the air expands and occupies a greater space. At a lower pressure, the original column of air contains a smaller mass of air. The density is decreased because density is directly proportional to pressure. If the pressure is doubled, the density is doubled; if the pressure is lowered, the density is lowered. This statement is true only at a constant temperature.

Effect of Temperature on Density

Increasing the temperature of a substance decreases its density. Conversely, decreasing the temperature increases the density. Thus, the density of air varies inversely with temperature. This statement is true only at a constant pressure.

In the atmosphere, both temperature and pressure decrease with altitude and have conflicting effects upon density. However, a fairly rapid drop in pressure as altitude increases usually has a dominating effect. Hence, pilots can expect the density to decrease with altitude.

Effect of Humidity (Moisture) on Density

The preceding paragraphs refer to air that is perfectly dry. In reality, it is never completely dry. The small amount of water vapor suspended in the atmosphere may be almost negligible under certain conditions, but in other conditions humidity may become an important factor in the performance of an aircraft. Water vapor is lighter than air; consequently, moist air is lighter than dry air. Therefore, as the water content of the air increases, the air becomes less dense, increasing density altitude and decreasing performance. It is lightest or least dense when, in a given set of conditions, it contains the maximum amount of water vapor.

Humidity, also called relative humidity, refers to the amount of water vapor contained in the atmosphere and is expressed as a percentage of the maximum amount of water vapor the air can hold. This amount varies with temperature. Warm air holds more water vapor, while cold air holds less. Perfectly dry air that contains no water vapor has a relative humidity of zero percent, while saturated air, which cannot hold any more water vapor, has a relative humidity of 100 percent. Humidity alone is usually not considered an important factor in calculating density altitude and aircraft performance, but it is a contributing factor.

As temperature increases, the air can hold greater amounts of water vapor. When comparing two separate air masses, the first warm and moist (both qualities tending to lighten the air) and the second cold and dry (both qualities making it heavier), the first must be less dense than the second. Pressure, temperature, and humidity have a great influence on aircraft performance because of their effect upon density. There are no rules of thumb that can be easily applied, but the affect of humidity can be determined using several online formulas. In the first example, the pressure is needed at the altitude for which density altitude is being sought. Using Figure 4-2, select the barometric pressure closest to the associated altitude. As an example, the pressure at 8,000 feet is 22.22 "Hg. Using the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) website ( epz/?n=wxcalc_densityaltitude) for density altitude, enter the 22.22 for 8,000 feet in the station pressure window. Enter a temperature of 80° and a dew point of 75°. The result is a density altitude of 11,564 feet. With no humidity, the density altitude would be almost 500 feet lower.


RFT 204: USAFA Superintendent Lt. General Jay Silveria

Jul 16, 2018 28:12


Official Air Force Biography:

Lt. Gen. Jay B. Silveria is the Superintendent, U.S. Air Force Academy, Colorado Springs, Colorado. He directs a four-year regimen of military training, academics, athletic and character development programs leading to a Bachelor of Science degree and a commission as a second lieutenant.

Prior to assuming his current position, General Silveria served as the Deputy Commander, U.S. Air Forces Central Command, and Deputy Commander, Combined Air Force Air Component, U.S. Central Command, Southwest Asia. As Deputy Commander, he was responsible for the command and control of air operations in a 20-nation area of responsibility covering Central and Southwest Asia, to include operations Resolute Support in Afghanistan, and Inherent Resolve in Iraq and Syria. He has previously served as Commander, U.S. Air Force Warfare Center, Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, and Vice Commander, 14th Air Force, Air Forces Strategic at Vandenberg AFB, California, as well as Director, Security Assistance in the Office of Security Cooperation-Iraq.

General Silveria grew up in an Air Force family and is a 1985 graduate of the U.S. Air Force Academy. He completed undergraduate pilot training in 1986. He is a command pilot with more than 3,900 hours in the T-37, T-38, F-15C/E, HH-60 and F-35A aircraft. He has flown combat sorties over the Balkans and Iraq and served as Vice Commander at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan.

RFT 203: It's Not WHO'S Right

Jul 12, 2018 07:56


United Airlines Flight 173 was the watershed event that launched the establishment of Crew Resource Management (CRM) throughout the airline industry. That accident occurred thirty years ago. With the widespread acceptance of CRM in airline operations, one would surmise that crew communication issues would be a thing of the past.

Unfortunately, that’s not the way it has worked out. We have no way to determine how many times a Captain has disregarded a First Officer’s suggestions or comments and there is no adverse effect, but we do   numerous accidents where this has been a causal factor.

Take, for example, the case of Air Florida Flight 90, three years after Flight 173. During the takeoff roll, the First Officer expressed concern about the airplane’s performance. Three times the former F-15 pilot First Officer expressed concern. “That don't seem right, does it? Ah, that's not right.” The Captain answered, “Yes it is, there's eighty.”. Then, twelve seconds later, the First Officer said “Naw, I don't think that's right. Ah, maybe it is.”. Twelve more seconds and the First Officer said: “I don't know.”.

So was this simply a case of the pre-CRM philosophy that “the Captain is God”, early in the use of CRM? After all, in the old days, the Captain WAS God! Consider Ernest Gann’s book Fate Is The Hunter, in which he recounts his Captain holding lit matches in front of his face as he flew a challenging instrument approach to minimums - with passengers aboard! But that was then, this is now, right?

I wish that were true, but I believe there are still far too many of “Captain-God’s” out there. When I was flying for a major airline in Asia, on  several occasions I made errors (thankfully, all minor) and never heard a word from my First Officers. During our post-flight debriefing, I inquired why they had not advised me of a potential problem, especially since I had specifically briefed them to do so. (“I’d rather be embarrassed in the cockpit than on the evening news”). In EVERY case the response was, roughly, “Captain, I did not want to disagree with you”! I suspect there is a cultural aspect to this, wherein First Officers are used to being disregarded.

In 2007 Garuda Indonesia Airways Flight 200 crashed following an unstable approach in which the First Officer repeatedly advised the Captain that the approach was unstabilized and to go around. The Captain ignored him, attempting to salvage a landing by descending at 4000 feet per minute, and crashed. In 2010 India Air Express Flight 812 also crashed on landing. The Captain was the pilot flying, and the first Officer had said “Go around” three times, the first being on two-mile final. Of the 160 passengers and crew, only 8 passengers survived.

And, it apears to be a problem world-wide. First Air Flight 6560 crashed in 2011 attempting an ILS in Canada. The First Officer specifically advised the Captain that the GPS showed them off course to the right, and that the localizer was showing full-scale deflection. He also said “Go around”. Altogether, the First Offficer expressed clear concern THIRTEEN TIMES. Yet the Captain continued the approach. Everyone onboard died.

Psychologists will tell us there are valid reasons for the pilot flying not wanting to go around when another crew member who has less professional image at stake has no problem abandoning the approach. Let me posit a concept that should appeal to EVERY pilot - money. When you go around, the flight lasts longer, and you get more flight pay! Depending on your operation, you may be required to submit some sort of report. So be it. Here’s a suggestion for First Officers: if you EVER experience a Captain ignoring your suggestion to go around, visit your chief pilot or Professional Standards Committee immediately!

Let’s not lose sight of the requirement that common carriers, such as scheduled airlines, are REQUIRED to exercise the HIGHEST degree of safety in performing their duties. Unless you are operating in an emergency fuel situation, continuing an unstabilized approach does not satisfy that requirement.

Bottom line: it’s not WHO is right, it’s WHAT is right!

RFT 202: President of Metropolitan State University of Denver Dr. Janine Davidson

Jul 9, 2018 34:03


Dr. Davidson grew up in a Navy family in California and Virginia and was commissioned as an Air Force second lieutenant in 1988. She flew combat support, airdrop, and humanitarian air mobility missions in the Pacific, Europe and the Middle East in both the Lockheed C-130 Hercules and the Boeing C-17 Globemaster cargo aircraft, and also served as an instructor pilot at the United States Air Force Academy. She was a Distinguished Graduate of Air Force Squadron Officers’ School and was the first woman to fly the Air Force’s tactical C-130. 

Dr.  Davidson became president of Metropolitan State University of Denver on July 24, 2017. Her primary focus is on student retention and graduation – better serving the nearly 20,000 current students that call the University home and preparing them to launch into the workforce. While MSU Denver is a leader in educating Coloradans through programs relevant to the state’s economy, Davidson aims to build the institution’s reputation both nationally and internationally. She served as Under Secretary of the United States Navy from 2016 to 2017. She is the author of Lifting the Fog of Peace: How Americans Learned to Fight Modern War, a study of organizational learning and institutional change within the U.S. military.

Lifting the Fog of Peace: How Americans Learned to Fight Modern War by [Davidson, Janine]

Following the conclusion of her Air Force career in 1998, Davidson pursued doctoral studies in international affairs at the University of South Carolina. From 2006 to 2008, she served as Director of Stability Operations Capabilities within the office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Special Operations/Low Intensity Conflict). She was founding director of the Consortium for Complex Operations, later renamed the Center for Complex Operations (CCO), a research center within the National Defense University that studies military and civilian coordination in stability operations.

From 2009 to 2012, she served as Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Plans, where she oversaw the formulation and review of military war plans and global force posture policy. She was recognized with the Secretary of Defense Medal for Outstanding Public Service.

Following her service in the Pentagon, Dr. Davidson became an Assistant Professor in the Graduate School of Public Policy at George Mason University, where she taught courses on national security policy and civil-military relations.

On January 17, 2014, Dr. Davidson accepted the position of Senior Fellow for Defense Policy at the Council on Foreign Relations. During this time, Davidson also served as a presidentially appointed member of the National Commission on the Structure of the Air Force, which recommended changes to service structure and management policies, as well as a member of the Reserve Forces Policy Board.

On September 18, 2015, it was announced that she had been nominated by President Barack Obama to become Under Secretary of the United States Navy.She was confirmed by the United States Congress and assumed her post on March 17, 2016.

On February 14, 2017, Metropolitan State University of Denver announced that Dr. Davidson would become the next president of the university.


RFT 201: Runway Surface Treatments

Jul 6, 2018 08:37


From Wikipedia:

The choice of material used to construct the runway depends on the use and the local ground conditions. For a major airport, where the ground conditions permit, the most satisfactory type of pavement for long-term minimum maintenance is concrete. Although certain airports have used reinforcement in concrete pavements, this is generally found to be unnecessary, with the exception of expansion joints across the runway where a dowel assembly, which permits relative movement of the concrete slabs, is placed in the concrete. Where it can be anticipated that major settlements of the runway will occur over the years because of unstable ground conditions, it is preferable to install asphaltic concrete surface, as it is easier to patch on a periodic basis. For fields with very low traffic of light planes, it is possible to use a sod surface. Some runways also make use of salt flat runways.

For pavement designs, borings are taken to determine the subgrade condition, and based on the relative bearing capacity of the subgrade, the specifications are established. For heavy-duty commercial aircraft, the pavement thickness, no matter what the top surface, varies from 10 in (250 mm) to 4 ft (1 m), including subgrade.

Airport pavements have been designed by two methods. The first, Westergaard, is based on the assumption that the pavement is an elastic plate supported on a heavy fluid base with a uniform reaction coefficient known as the K value. Experience has shown that the K values on which the formula was developed are not applicable for newer aircraft with very large footprint pressures.

The second method is called the California bearing ratio and was developed in the late 1940s. It is an extrapolation of the original test results, which are not applicable to modern aircraft pavements or to modern aircraft landing gear. Some designs were made by a mixture of these two design theories. A more recent method is an analytical system based on the introduction of vehicle response as an important design parameter. Essentially it takes into account all factors, including the traffic conditions, service life, materials used in the construction, and, especially important, the dynamic response of the vehicles using the landing area.

Because airport pavement construction is so expensive, manufacturers aim to minimize aircraft stresses on the pavement. Manufacturers of the larger planes design landing gear so that the weight of the plane is supported on larger and more numerous tires. Attention is also paid to the characteristics of the landing gear itself, so that adverse effects on the pavement are minimized. Sometimes it is possible to reinforce a pavement for higher loading by applying an overlay of asphaltic concrete or portland cement concrete that is bonded to the original slab. Post-tensioning concrete has been developed for the runway surface. This permits the use of thinner pavements and should result in longer concrete pavement life. Because of the susceptibility of thinner pavements to frost heave, this process is generally applicable only where there is no appreciable frost action.

Runway descriptions

Macadam is a type of road construction, pioneered by Scottish engineer John Loudon McAdam around 1820, in which single-sized crushed stone layers of small angular stones are placed in shallow lifts and compacted thoroughly. A binding layer of stone dust (crushed stone from the original material) may form; it may also, after rolling, be covered with a binder to keep dust and stones together. The method simplified what had been considered state of the art at that point. Tarmac is tar on top of macadam, initially called tarmacadam, patented in 1902. Tarmac is now used as a generic term.

RFT 200: Fighter Pilot Podcast Host Vincent Aiello

Jul 2, 2018 31:07


Vincent Aiello (aka "Jell-O") took his first airplane flight when he was 11 years old, and was smitten. He attended UCLA, majoring in Mathematics, and then entered the Navy. He was initially assigned as a life guard while waiting for flight training, then finally started his flying. He flew the T-34, the T-2 and the TA-4 while in training.

After his initial training, he flew the FA-18 at El Toro, then flew at Cecil Field. His first deployment was on the USS George Washington. He later attended TOPGUN and remained on staff as an instructor.

Following 25 years of service, he retired from the Navy and, somewhat reluctantly, became n airline pilot.

Jell-O is the host of the Fighter Pilot Podcast, where he interviews fighter pilots from all branches of the service in captivating episodes.

RFT 199: The Berlin Airlift

Jun 30, 2018 03:41


From Wikipedia:

The Berlin Blockade (24 June 1948–12 May 1949) was one of the first major international crises of the Cold War. During the multinational occupation of post–World War II Germany, the Soviet Union blocked the Western Allies' railway, road, and canal access to the sectors of Berlin under Western control. The Soviets offered to drop the blockade if the Western Allies withdrew the newly introduced Deutsche mark from West Berlin.

The Western Allies organized the Berlin airlift (26 June 1948–30 September 1949) to carry supplies to the people of West Berlin, a difficult feat given the size of the city's population. Aircrews from the United States Air Force, the British Royal Air Force, the French Air Force, the Royal Canadian Air Force, the Royal Australian Air Force, the Royal New Zealand Air Force, and the South African Air Force flew over 200,000 flights in one year, providing to the West Berliners up to 8,893 tons of necessities each day, such as fuel and food. The Soviets did not disrupt the airlift for fear this might lead to open conflict.`

By the spring of 1949, the airlift was clearly succeeding, and by April it was delivering more cargo than had previously been transported into the city by rail. On 12 May 1949, the USSR lifted the blockade of West Berlin. The Berlin Blockade served to highlight the competing ideological and economic visions for postwar Europe.

Flying The Hump With Leland Stolberg

Jun 25, 2018 26:53


Leland Stolberg volunteered for military duty immediately after graduating high school, right after the attack on Pearl Harbor. He was trained as a Radio Operator, and flew in that position on the C-46 aircraft on missions flying over the "Hump", resupply missions flown from Assam, India to China in support of American and Chinese forces. The mission was extremely hazardous because of enroute weather challenges and poor single-engine performance. Altogether almost 1700 American crewmembers were lost in this operation.

Leland once had a very close call when his plane lost an engine. He went to the cargo area and dropped all of the 55-gallon fuel drums of cargo to lighten the plane enough for it to maintain altitude.

From Wikipedia:

The Hump was the name given by Allied pilots in the Second World War to the eastern end of the Himalayan Mountains over which they flew military transport aircraft from India to China to resupply the Chinese war effort of Chiang Kai-shek and the units of the United States Army Air Forces (AAF) based in China. Creating an airlift presented the AAF a considerable challenge in 1942: it had no units trained or equipped for moving cargo, and no airfields existed in the China Burma India Theater (CBI) for basing the large number of transports that would be needed. Flying over the Himalayas was extremely dangerous and made more difficult by a lack of reliable charts, an absence of radio navigation aids, and a dearth of information about the weather.

The task was initially given to the AAF's Tenth Air Force, and then to its Air Transport Command(ATC). Because the AAF had no previous airlift experience as a basis for planning, it assigned commanders who had been key figures in founding the ATC in 1941–1942 to build and direct the operation, which included former civilians with extensive executive experience operating civil air carriers.

Originally referred to as the "India–China Ferry", the successive organizations responsible for carrying out the airlift were the Assam–Burma–China Command. (April–July 1942) and the India-China Ferry Command (July–December 1942) of the Tenth Air Force; and the Air Transport Command's India-China Wing (December 1942 – June 1944) and India-China Division (July 1944 – November 1945).

The operation began in April 1942, after the Japanese blocked the Burma Road, and continued daily to August 1945, when the effort began to scale down. It procured most of its officers, men, and equipment from the AAF, augmented by British, British-Indian Army, Commonwealth forces, Burmese labor gangs and an air transport section of the Chinese National Aviation Corporation(CNAC). Final operations were flown in November 1945 to return personnel from China.

The India–China airlift delivered approximately 650,000 tons of materiel to China at great cost in men and aircraft during its 42-month history. For its efforts and sacrifices, the India–China Wing of the ATC was awarded the Presidential Unit Citation on 29 January 1944 at the personal direction of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, the first such award made to a non-combat organization.

RFT 197: Sexual Assault On Airplanes

Jun 23, 2018 07:57


From the Washington Post, 20 June 2018:

The FBI in Maryland is warning travelers taking to the skies this summer to be cautious as airlines nationwide have seen a recent spike in the number of sexual assaults reported on commercial flights.

The assaults, which typically occur on long overnight flights, are “increasing every year . . . at an alarming rate,” said David Rodski, an FBI special agent assigned to investigate crimes out of Baltimore-Washington International Marshall Airport.

“This is statistically still very rare; however, it is very good ­advice for people traveling to have situational awareness,” said Rodski, one of several law enforcement officials who gathered at the airport Wednesday to warn travelers about the disturbing trend.

In 2014, airline passengers ­reported 38 instances of sexual assault on flights, compared with 63 reports in 2017, according to the FBI.

Rodski said the reports are coming from airports across the country and urged passengers to flag assaults immediately so law enforcement officials can effectively investigate and prosecute the cases.

“What we’re finding is a lot of people do not report the act” or report long after the incident occurs, Rodski said. “Hit that call button . . . notify the flight crew immediately.”

Brian Nadeau, assistant special agent in charge of the FBI’s Baltimore Division, said sexual assault on an airplane falls within the FBI’s jurisdiction and is a federal crime that carries a penalty of up to 10 years in prison.

Nadeau said assaults range from strangers grazing other passengers to explicit acts. The assaults typically involve alcohol, a passenger who is asleep, or someone who is sitting in a middle or window seat when the cabin lights are darkened. Nadeau warned passengers on red-eye flights to be particularly careful if they’ve taken medication or sleep aids.

“We find offenders will often test their victims, sometimes brushing up against them to see how they will react or if they will wake up,” Nadeau said. “Do not give these offenders the benefit of the doubt.”

Renee Murrell, an FBI victim specialist in Baltimore, said many sexual assaults on airplanes go unreported because victims are ashamed or blame themselves.

“They are very scared and they don’t know what to expect,” Murrell said. In some cases of passengers assaulted while they’re asleep, “you wake up and you really don’t know what happened.”

Paul Hudson, president of the airline consumer organization Flyers Rights, said victims may not be reporting assaults on airplanes because the process can be onerous and flight attendants do not always have clear guidelines for how to handle complaints.

Hudson and others have called on lawmakers to pass legislation that would create standards for enforcement and reporting.

“If you’re a victim of a crime on the ground, what do you do?” said Hudson, who is an attorney and represented rape victims in New York. “You call 911 and report it to a police officer. But if you’re in an airplane, you can’t do that. You have to report through a flight attendant, and they have to report it to the captain, and the captain has to report it to a ground supervisor for the airline. . . . In many cases, too much time has passed.”

The union representing flight attendants recently conducted a survey asking about reports of passenger-on-passenger sexual assaults.

About 20 percent of 2,000 flight attendants who responded said they had received a report of a passenger-on-passenger assault while working, but law enforcement got involved only half the time. They complained that airlines often do not offer written guidance or training on how to handle such reports, the union said, with flight attendants relying on their own “resourcefulness” to intervene.

RFT 196: Honeywell Aerospace Lead Program Pilot Pamela Mannon

Jun 18, 2018 38:50


Pam Mannon was transfixed by aviation ever since she was a child. When she told her parents she wanted to be a pilot, they were not too happy. In fact, since they were both college professors, they wanted Pam to avail herself of the free tuition at their school rather than attending Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University (ERAU). Pam created a win-win solution by attending their school until attaining all the credits that could be transferred to ERAU, then completed her education at ERAU. She later earned a dual Master's Degree from ERAU in Aerospace Operations and Human Factors.

Once she graduated with all the ratings, she worked at numerous aviation jobs, from managing an FBO front desk to flying as copilot in various jets. She eventually became a flight Instructor at FlightSafety International, and subsequently became a pilot and instructor for Continental Express.

For the past 15 years Pam has been a pilot for Honeywell Aerospace, and as the Lead Program Pilot she travels internationally to conduct training, and also flies operational missions.

RFT 195: Hydroplaning

Jun 14, 2018 05:28


Dynamic Hydroplaning: Water on the runways reduces the friction between the tires and the ground and can reduce braking effectiveness. The ability to brake can be completely lost when the tires are hydroplaning because a layer of water separates the tires from the runway surface. This is also true of braking effectiveness when runways are covered in ice. When the runway is wet, the pilot may be confronted with dynamic hydroplaning. Dynamic hydroplaning is a condition in which the aircraft tires ride on a thin sheet of water rather than on the runway’s surface. Because hydroplaning wheels are not touching the runway, braking and directional control are almost nil. To help minimize dynamic hydroplaning, some runways are grooved to help drain off water; most runways are not.

Tire pressure is a factor in dynamic hydroplaning. Using the simple formula of 8.6 times the square root of the tire pressure in p.s.i., a pilot can calculate the minimum speed, in knots, at which hydroplaning begins. In plain language, the minimum hydroplaning speed is determined by multiplying the square root of the main gear tire pressure in psi by nine. For example, if the main gear tire pressure is at 36 psi, the aircraft would begin hydroplaning at 54 knots. Landing at higher than recommended touchdown speeds exposes the aircraft to a greater potential for hydroplaning. And once hydroplaning starts, it can continue well below the minimum initial hydroplaning speed. On wet runways, directional control can be maximized by landing into the wind. Abrupt control inputs should be avoided. When the runway is wet, anticipate braking problems well before landing and be prepared for hydroplaning. Opt for a suitable runway most aligned with the wind. Mechanical braking may be ineffective, so aerodynamic braking should be used to its fullest advantage.

Viscous Hydroplaning: Slippery surfaces can cause tires to slip. One of the most common factors is rubber build-up on the runway, generally in the touchdown zone.

From Wikipedia: Viscous aquaplaning is due to the viscous properties of water. A thin film of fluid no more than 0.025 mm in depth is all that is needed. The tire cannot penetrate the fluid and the tire rolls on top of the film. This can occur at a much lower speed than dynamic aquaplane, but requires a smooth or smooth-acting surface such as asphalt or a touchdown area coated with the accumulated rubber of past landings. Such a surface can have the same friction coefficient as wet ice.

From Wikipedia:

Reverted Rubber Hydroplaning:

Reverted rubber (steam) aquaplaning occurs during heavy braking that results in a prolonged locked-wheel skid. Only a thin film of water on the runway is required to facilitate this type of aquaplaning. The tire skidding generates enough heat to change the water film into a cushion of steam which keeps the tire off the runway. A side effect of the heat is it causes the rubber in contact with the runway to revert to its original uncured state. Indications of an aircraft having experienced reverted rubber aquaplaning, are distinctive 'steam-cleaned' marks on the runway surface and a patch of reverted rubber on the tire.

Reverted rubber aquaplaning frequently follows an encounter with dynamic aquaplaning, during which time the pilot may have the brakes locked in an attempt to slow the aircraft. Eventually the aircraft slows enough to where the tires make contact with the runway surface and the aircraft begins to skid. The remedy for this type of aquaplane is for the pilot to release the brakes and allow the wheels to spin up and apply moderate braking. Reverted rubber aquaplaning is insidious in that the pilot may not know when it begins, and it can persist to very slow groundspeeds (20 knots or less).

RFT 194: F-16/Airline Pilot Scott "Hurler" Weaver

Jun 11, 2018 45:12


Scott Weaver hails from a long line of pilots, starting with his grandfather, Leo Purington, who had a 4-digit pilot certificate number. Scott was immersed in aviation from a young age, but had initially aspired to a career as a professional baseball player.

Finally, the flying bug bit him, and he entered the Air Force and attended Undergraduate Pilot Training (UPT). Following UPT, he stayed in Air Training Command as a First Assignment Instructor Pilot (FAIP), instructing student pilots. Then it was time for him to get his fighter assignment, and he selected the F-16. Scott continued to fly the F-16 for the rest of his career, including his time in the DC Air Guard. He retired from the Guard as a Lieutenant Colonel.

After leaving active duty, Scott hired on with a major airline, and currently flies B777's on international routes.

Scott also wrote a book that chronicles the history of Thunderbird Field and his family's role in that history.

As part of his research, he met Jerry Yellin, the pilot who flew the last combat mission of World War II, who trained at Thunderbird Field.

RFT 193: D-Day Airpower

Jun 6, 2018 04:19


From Flying Magazine: "In all, an estimated 13,000 Allied aircraft participated in the D-Day operations. It remains the single largest aerial operation in history. As it was an unprecedented action, it was a learning process, and there were fundamental misunderstandings about how aircraft would operate and interact. The operation was so critical and so complex that commanders made clear early on that they were willing to accept great losses in order to establish a beachhead."

From History on the Net: "However, success was not achieved without cost. During June 1944 the Eighth and Ninth Air Forces lost 904 aircraft: 284 in aerial combat, 400 to flak, and 220 operationally. The total included 320 Eighth Air Force B-17s and B-24s plus 44 B-26s and A-20s of the Ninth Air Force. Combined Eighth and Ninth fighter losses amounted to 540 Thunderbolts, Lightnings, and Mustangs."

From Smithsonian Air and Space Museum: "The planners feared friendly fire - anti-aircraft fire from Allied naval vessels and Allied troops - against their own air flotilla, and pilots mistakenly engaging in dogfights against their own comrades in arms. The existing system for identifying friendly aircraft, Identification Friend or Foe, would in all probability be overwhelmed by the sheer number of aircraft over the beaches. To avoid fratricidal incidents, the D-Day planners called for paint and brushes, and ordered that the aircraft of the Allied Expeditionary Air Force and supporting units be painted with alternating black and white stripes on wings and fuselage - 18 inches wide on single-engine aircraft, and 24 inches wide for twin-engined craft. They were called invasion stripes." D-Day stripes article

From Wikipedia: "CG-4As went into operation in July 1943 during the Allied invasion of Sicily. They were flown 450 miles across the Mediterranean from North Africa for the night-time assaults such as Operation Ladbroke. Inexperience and poor conditions contributed to the heavy losses. They participated in the American airborne landings in Normandy on 6 June 1944, and in other important airborne operations in Europe and in the China Burma India Theater. Although not the intention of the Army Air Forces, gliders were generally considered expendable by high-ranking European theater officers and combat personnel and were abandoned or destroyed after landing. While equipment and methods for extracting flyable gliders were developed and delivered to Europe, half of that equipment was rendered unavailable by certain higher-ranked officers. Despite this lack of support for the recovery system, several gliders were recovered from Normandy and even more from Operation Market Garden in the Netherlands and Wesel, Germany."

RFT 192: WASP Kay Hilbrandt

Jun 4, 2018 29:02


Kathleen (Kay) Hilbrandt started taking flying lessons in 1942, and in 1943 was accepted into the Womens Airforce Service Pilot (WASP) program. She attend Army Air Corps flight training (the same course as male pilots) in 1944, flying PT-17s, BT-13s and AT-6s. Then she served as a safety pilot in Eagle Pass, Texas, for aviation cadets performing instrument flights "under the hood".

After the war, when the WASP was disbanded, she joined the Ninety Nines and returned to New Jersey to work for Bendix Aviation Corporation. Following that, she was a flight instructor, training veterans who were using their GI Bill to obtain flight training.

In 1960 she flew in the All Women Transcontinental Air Race ("Powder Puff Derby") in a Cessna 172.

In 2010 the WASP were awarred the Congressional gold Medal for their service during WWII.

In 2013 Kay received the Wright Brothers Master Pilot Award. She continues to fly for pleasure.

RFT 191: VOR Discontinuation Program

May 31, 2018 03:57


As part of ATC modernization (NextGen), the FAA will be shutting down 308 VORs of the roughly 1000 in use right now in the United States. They will continue to operate VORs that provide coverage above 5000 feet over the entire continental United States (CONUS). This will provide Hazardous Inflight Weather Advisory Service (HIWAS) continuity. They will also retain VORs that are used with VOR, localizer and ILS approaches, and those in mountainous terrain and those used by the military. This will leave what is called the Minimum Operational Network (MON) for use in the event of GPS interruption.

Phase I: From 2016 to 2020, the FAA will decommission 74 VORs. Phase II: Between 2021 and 2025, the remaining 234 VORs will be decommissioned.

If a VOR is shut down, it SHOULD be shown with a cross-hatch on aeronautical charts.

It will continue to be REALLY IMPORTANT for pilots to always check NOTAMS that pertain to their route of flight!

The FAA plan is shown here.

General Aviation pilots should continue to hone their map-reading skills!

RFT 190: Tuskegee Airman Ltc. George Hardy

May 28, 2018 38:51


George E. Hardy in March 1943, at the age of 17, passed the written and physical examinations for the US Army Aviation Cadet program.  In July 1943 he was called to active duty and sent to Keesler Army Air Field, Biloxi, Mississippi, for basic training.  In September 1943 he was assigned to the 320th College Training Detachment at Tuskegee Institute in Alabama.  His group was scheduled to take college-level courses, at Tuskegee Institute, for a period of five months. This training was cut short in the beginning of December, as his group was transferred to Tuskegee Army Air Field (TAAF) for Aviation Cadet training, as part of Class 44-H.  In September 1944 he graduated as a single-engine pilot and was commissioned a Second Lieutenant in the U.S. Army. In November he was transferred to Walterboro AAF in South Carolina for combat flying training in P-47 aircraft.  This combat flying training was completed in early February 1945, and he was shipped overseas to Italy.  In Italy, he was assigned to the 99th Fighter Squadron, 332nd Fighter Group, where he flew 21 combat missions over Germany in P-51 aircraft.  Those missions were mainly high-altitude escort missions of heavy bombers, but many of the missions also included strafing of ground targets.  He returned from Italy in August 1945 and served at TAAF, until it closed in the summer of 1946.  In July 1946 he was transferred to Lockbourne AAF, Ohio where he was assigned to the 99th Fighter Squadron, flying P-47 aircraft. He was discharged from active duty in November 1946.

He attended New York University, School of Engineering, in the Bronx, from September 1947 to May 1948. He was recalled to active duty at Lockbourne Air Force Base (LAFB), Ohio, in June 1948.  He was assigned to the 301st Fighter Squadron, 332nd Fighter Group, flying P-47 aircraft.  In September 1948 he was reassigned as a student in the Airborne Electronics Maintenance Officers Course at Keesler AFB, Mississippi.  The course of study covered radar and long-range navigational equipment on fighter and bomber aircraft.  He graduated in August 1949.  In July 1949 the USAF instituted racial integration and personnel at Lockbourne AFB were reassigned to Air Force bases worldwide.  After graduation in August 1949, he was transferred to the 19th Bomb Group (B-29 Aircraft) on the island of Guam. He was further assigned to the 28th Bomb Squadron as a maintenance officer. His primary job was supervising about 25 airmen in maintenance of electronic equipment on the assigned aircraft.  As a pilot he was also required to fly and was assigned as a copilot on a B-29 aircrew.  The Korean War started 25 June 1950, and the 19th Bomb Group was transferred to Kadena Air Base, Okinawa. He flew 45 combat missions over Korea in the B-29 aircraft.

In March 1951 he returned to the states and was assigned to 6th Bomb Wing, at Walker AFB in New Mexico, as a maintenance officer. In June 1951 he was transferred to Lowry AFB, Denver, Colorado for seven months training as an Armament Systems maintenance officer, specifically on B-36 aircraft.  The B-36 aircraft was the largest aircraft in the Air Force, capable of intercontinental bombing missions without refueling.  The armament systems field included not only the electronic navigational and bombing systems but also included the retractable gun turrets and maintenance and loading of the bomb bays.  After the training at Lowry he was transferred back to Walker AFB and in December 1952 he was transferred to Carswell AFB, Ft Worth, Texas. He became part of the 42nd Bomb Wing (B-36 aircraft) and in March 1953 the wing was transferred to Limestone AFB, Maine. He served as a maintenance officer in the 42nd Armament and Electronics Maintenance Squadron (AEMS), until August 1955.

In August 1955 he transferred to the United States Air Force Institute of Technology at Wright Patterson AFB, Dayton Ohio.  He entered the undergraduate engineering program and in August 1957, received a Bachelor of Science Degree in Electrical Engineering.

In September 1957 he was assigned to the 3rd AEMS, 3rd Bomb Wing (B- 57, Canberra aircraft) at Johnson Air Base, Japan.  He was soon assigned as Maintenance Supervisor, a position he held for almost 3 years. The 3rd Bomb Wing  areas of operations were in Japan, Korea and Okinawa. He became jet-qualified as a pilot and in 1959 he received the aerial rating of Command Pilot. In June 1960 he was promoted to the grade of Major.

In November 1960 he transferred to Plattsburgh AFB, New York.  He was assigned as Squadron Commander of the 4108th AEMS, in the 4108th Air Refueling Wing (KC–97aircraft).  In the second half of 1962 his squadron held the 8th Air Force trophy for best AEMS squadron.  In November 1962 he was notified by the Air Force Institute of Technology of his eligibility to apply for a new graduate level systems engineering course specializing in reliability engineering.  He applied for the course and was reassigned, in January 1963, to the USAF Institute of Technology, at Wright Patterson AFB, Dayton Ohio.  In August 1964 he graduated with a Master of Science Degree in Systems Engineering - Reliability.

In September 1964 he was assigned to the Electronic Systems Division of Air Force Systems Command, at  Hanscom  AFB, Massachusetts.  In 1965 he received his promotion to the grade of Lt. Col.  In August 1966 he was assigned as Chief of Engineering and Program Manager, for the Development, Installation and Cutover of the 490L Overseas AUTOVON (AUTOmatic VOice Network) Communications Switches, part of the Department of Defense first worldwide direct dial telephone system.  The AUTOVON services within the continental United States was provided by the various telephone companies.  With completion of the overseas switches, the Department of Defense and other government agencies would have almost worldwide, direct dial telephone access.  The initial sites in Europe, Panama and the Pacific were successfully cut over in 1969.

At the end of 1969 he received notice of a flying assignment in Vietnam and was provided with refresher flight training as an AC-119K Gunship Aircraft Commander. He was assigned to the 18th Special Operations Squadron at Phan Rang Air Base in Vietnam in April 1970.  Although the squadron headquarters was at Phan Rang Air Base, the aircraft were located at two operating locations, one at Udorn Air Base, in Thailand, and the other at DaNang Air Base in Vietnam.  He was assigned as the Operating Location Commander at Udorn Air Base, Thailand through August 1970.  Missions were flown at night over northern Laos searching for truck traffic from North Vietnam.  In September 1970 he was transferred to DaNang Air Base in Vietnam as Operating Location Commander.  Missions were flown at night over central portions of Laos looking for truck traffic from North Vietnam.  He flew 70 combat missions before returning to the states in April 1971.

In May of 1971 he  was assigned to the Inspector General's office at Air Force Systems Command,  Andrews AFB in Maryland.  He served in the IG's office until November 1971 when he retired with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel.

His decorations include the Distinguished Flying Cross with Valor, the Air Medal with eleven (11) Oak Leaf Clusters, and the Commendation Medal with one Oak Leaf Cluster.


RFT 189: WGF Veterans Writing Project Trip

May 24, 2018 04:57


This past weekend I attend an outstanding workshop in Los Angles. Forty-eight veterans were selected to participate. The selection process was fairly intense - I had applied last year and was not selected, so I felt very honored to participate. I was there to see if I could develop a theatrical treatment of my Hamfist series.

The workshop was held at the Writers Guild Foundation. The Foundation describes itself as "a non-profit organization that serves as the premier resource for emerging writers and movie and TV lovers in Hollywood. boasting a vast toolbox for writers, the Foundation is unmatched in its mission to promote and preserve the craft, history and voices of screen storytelling through its Library, Archives, Programs and Events".

The Veterans Writing Project receives funding from donors and sponsors, including Final Draft, a software program that each participant received.

Attendees were divided into eight groups of six participants, all veterans. On the first day, in our individualized groups, we worked on Premise/Concept and Story/Structure. On the second day, we worked on Character and Dialog/Scene. We were guided by Mentors, all experienced, working, script-writers, and had an awesome two-hour presentation by Academy Award-nominated screenwriter Billy Ray (Hunger Games, Captain Phillips).

I really enjoyed the workshop, and realize I have a lot of work to do to turn my novel series into a movie. Fortunately, the Foundation will be holding our hands for the next year, with monthly workshops in L.A. and video conferencing for those of us who don't live nearby. Altogether, this was a fantastic experience, and I would encourage any veterans who have a story to tell to consider applying. You can get more information on the Project's website.

RFT 188: Airshow Performer Jacquie Warda

May 21, 2018 32:35


From Jacqui's website:

Jacquie traces her love of flying her to her earliest days, when, as a newborn, her first outing was to the Los Angeles County Airport Air Show. Her pilotfather’s interest in airplanes and flying inspired Jacquie to want to dream of flying. Jacquie spent many years dreaming of flying but was unable to do much about it until years later after working and saving her money. By the time she was 32 years old, she decided she was tired of hearing herself say “I wish I could fly and airplane”. She enrolled in ground school and the rest is history, as they say. She earned her Private Pilot certificate in 1987 and shortly thereafter was introduced to the world of aerobatics. Shortly thereafter a friend offered her a ride in a Pitts Special and she jumped at the chance to do a different kind of flying. With that first flight of loops, rolls, spins and a few other very scary maneuvers, she was instantly hooked on aerobatics. Once she discovered aerobatics, there was no question in her mind she was destined for aerobatic flying. It took 10 years longer to save enough money to take aerobatic lessons, but save she did and took her first “formal” aerobatic lesson in July 1997. She joined the International Aerobatic Club in August 2000 and for the next 4 years she flew aerobatic competition. She raced her biplane at the Reno Air Races from 2001 through 2004 to learn a whole new kind of flying.

Jacquie is now flying an Extra 300 monoplane. She made the switch from a biplane of many years to something new. Her beautiful red Extra is faster, more capable of gyroscopic maneuvers and has two seats! She can now give rides and share her love and passion of flying with others across the country. She holds a Commercial Certificate in land-based aircraft as well as a seaplane rating and holds a Level 1 ACE card which allows her to perform air shows down to the surface.

Jacquie B has earned her wings. She no longer qualifies as a newcomer flying for gas-and-a-hot-dog, as the saying goes. Her time has come. With over 3,200 flight hours and more than 1100 coast-to-coast air show performances behind her, Jacquie has proven that she has the talent, stamina, discipline and guts to reach beyond the limits placed on her by naysayers. In fact, she broke even more stringent cultural boundaries when she became the first female solo pilot to perform at the 2010 Al Ain Aerobatic Show in the United Arab Emirates. Jacquie is a powerful inspiration to the millions of fans who realize that they too can accomplish great things in life.

Jacquie spends a large part of her time as a role model by way of speaking to kids at schools, speaking to civic groups, private groups, and particularly groups of women and young girls. In March 2013, she organized a week-long program to offer airplane rides to young girls and women of all ages in a concerted effort to introduce them to the joys of flight and all things aviation. Jacquie flew 31 girls/women with the help of several other pilots during that week and made some life-long friends! Most had never been in a small airplane before. And the first two riders – Mom and her high school aged daughter, both said at the conclusion of their ride that they “needed to buy an airplane”!! Poor Dad didn’t know what to do! But the result is these girls/women got to experience something they always wanted to do and may someday go on to do great things in aviation. “We must give back” says Warda. “Our real job is to educate others of the vast opportunities in the world of aviation and share our passion and make sure others learn about and experience what we love so much. We must help others get started down the path of achieving their dreams, and by simply giving a ride in an airplane, it works! It’s a small gesture but makes a HUGE impact on the lives of many”.


RFT 187: Easy ILS

May 17, 2018 10:06


In Episode 149 we discussed how to fly a 3-degree visual approach. In this episode we talk about how to fly a manual ILS approach, i.e., an approach flown without a flight director.

If you are planning to fly to an airport with an operable ILS, a little flight planning goes a long way. You can check weather forecasts for your destination and determine the probable runway that will be in use when you arrive, along with the forecast temperature and wind. You need this information to plan your approach.

To start, calculate the true airspeed of your aircraft at the anticipated landing weight when you arrive at your destination. Depending on your aircraft, this can vary considerably depending on weight. Now, consult your performance charts to determine your approach speed in indicated airspeed (IAS).

Use your IAS to calculate the true airspeed (TAS) for your approach. If you are operating into a sea level airport on a standard day, IAS an TAS are close to each other, but if you are flying your approach to a high-altitude airport there can be a considerable difference between IAS and TAS. The proper way to do this is to use your E6B computer, as explained in RFT 148. The fall-back method is to increase your IAS by 2 percent for each  1000 feet of altitude to determine TAS. For example, if you are flying 90 knots IAS at 5000 feet pressure altitude, your IAS would be 99 knots (90 knots plus 10 percent of 90).

You need this TAS to use the wind side of your E6B, as explained in RFT Episode 146. Perform a wind-side calculation to determine your groundspeed and wind correction angle for the approach.

Now, to stay on a nominal 3-degree ILS glide slope, descend at 1/2 your groundspeed times 10. If your groundspeed is 99 knots, descend at 500 feet per minute. When you intercept the localizer, apply the wind correction angle to the final approach course to get an initial approach heading.

ASSIGN yourself headings and descent rates, and you will find that it's relatively easy to fly an ILS with the needles centered, even without a flight director!

When you get to minimums and see the runway, don't change a thing!

RFT 186: Ageless Aviation Dreams Foundation

May 14, 2018 35:41


Ageless Aviation Dreams Foundation is a manifestation of the passion of the Fisher family for seniors and for aviation. To understand this passion and the history of the Foundation, you need only look at the personal and professional legacy of the Fisher Family.

William L. and Dorothy Fisher started the family’s aviation heritage in 1940. Their love for the freedom of flight now transcends through four generations of pilots.  William purchased a Stearman for $1,200 but later sold the airplane.  They also had a very soft spot in their hearts for the aging and, in 1965, decided to open a senior health care facility in Roseburg, Oregon. Since then, aviation and senior care and service have become a lifetime priority for 3 generations of the Fisher family.

In the spring of 2011, William Fisher, son of William L. and Dorothy, and his son Darryl, decided to fulfill a life-long dream. They traveled throughout the United States, giving veterans and seniors in long-term care communities, an opportunity to fly in a newly restored Boeing Stearman aircraft.

Darryl was so moved by the positive emotions generated by the trip that he and his wife, Carol, decided to establish the non-profit organization, Ageless Aviation Dreams Foundation, as a tribute to seniors and United States veterans. Carol Fisher states, “The Fisher’s have always enjoyed sharing their love of aviation with anyone and everyone that has an interest in flying. Ageless Aviation Dreams Foundation is the Fisher family’s way of giving back to those that sacrificed so much to help build this great nation”.

RFT 185: NASA Aviation Safety Reporting System

May 10, 2018 08:25


FAR 91.25 briefly discusses the NASA Aviation Safety Reporting Program. In many respects, it's a "get out of jail" card to avoid enforcement action. The program is explained in Advisory Circular AC 00-46E.

Enforcement Action. When determining the type and extent of the enforcement action to take in a particular case, the FAA will consider the following factors:

(1) Nature of the violation;

(2) Whether the violation was inadvertent or deliberate;

(3) The certificate holder’s level of experience and responsibility;

(4) Attitude of the violator;

(5) The hazard to safety of others, which should have been foreseen; Par 7 Page 3 AC 00-46E 12/16/11

(6) Action taken by employer or other government authority;

(7) Length of time which has elapsed since the violation;

(8) The certificate holder’s use of the certificate;

(9) The need for special deterrent action in a particular regulatory area or segment of the aviation community; and

(10) Presence of any factors involving national interest, such as the use of aircraft for criminal purposes.

Enforcement Restrictions. The FAA considers the filing of a report with NASA concerning an incident or occurrence involving a violation of 49 U.S.C. subtitle VII or the 14 CFR to be indicative of a constructive attitude. Such an attitude will tend to prevent future violations. Accordingly, although a finding of violation may be made, neither a civil penalty nor certificate suspension will be imposed if: (1) The violation was inadvertent and not deliberate;

(2) The violation did not involve a criminal offense, accident, or action under 49 U.S.C. § 44709, which discloses a lack of qualification or competency, which is wholly excluded from this policy;

(3) The person has not been found in any prior FAA enforcement action to have committed a violation of 49 U.S.C. subtitle VII, or any regulation promulgated there for a period of 5 years prior to the date of occurrence; and

(4) The person proves that, within 10 days after the violation, or date when the person became aware or should have been aware of the violation, he or she completed and delivered or mailed a written report of the incident or occurrence to NASA.


RFT 184: Christina Olds Tells The Robin Olds Story

May 7, 2018 37:12


Christina Olds is the daughter of Robin Olds, an American fighter pilot and general officer in the U.S. Air Force. He was a "triple ace", with a combined total of 16 victories in World War II and the Vietnam War. He retired in 1973 as a brigadier general. After her father's death, Christina spent years combing through her father's notes, diaries and unfinished memoir to complete a captivating, intimate memoir of the consummate fighter pilot.

The son of Army Air Forces Major General Robert Olds, educated at West Point, and the product of an upbringing in the early years of the U.S. Army Air Corps, Olds epitomized the youthful World War II fighter pilot. He remained in the service as it became the United States Air Force, despite often being at odds with its leadership, and was one of its pioneer jet pilots. Rising to the command of two fighter wings, Olds is regarded among aviation historians, and his peers, as the best wing commander of the Vietnam War, for both his air-fighting skills, and his reputation as a combat leader.[4]

Olds was promoted to brigadier general after returning from Vietnam and became Commandant of Cadets at the United States Air Force Academy. 

Olds had a highly publicized career and life, including marriage to Hollywood actress Ella Raines. As a young man he was also recognized for his athletic prowess in both high school and college, being named an All-American as a lineman in college football. Olds expressed his philosophy regarding fighter pilots in the quote: "There are pilots and there are pilots; with the good ones, it is inborn. You can't teach it. If you are a fighter pilot, you have to be willing to take risks."


May 4, 2018 07:55


FOQA is a voluntary safety program that is designed to make commercial aviation safer by allowing commercial airlines and pilots to share de-identified aggregate information with the FAA so that the FAA can monitor national trends in aircraft operations and target its resources to address operational risk issues (e.g., flight operations, air traffic control (ATC), airports). The fundamental objective of this new FAA/pilot/carrier partnership is to allow all three parties to identify and reduce or eliminate safety risks, as well as minimize deviations from the regulations. To achieve this objective and obtain valuable safety information, the airlines, pilots, and the FAA are voluntarily agreeing to participate in this program so that all three organizations can achieve a mutual goal of making air travel safer.

A cornerstone of this new program is the understanding that aggregate data that is provided to the FAA will be kept confidential and the identity of reporting pilots or airlines will remain anonymous as allowed by law. Information submitted to the FAA pursuant to this program will be protected as “voluntarily submitted safety related data” under Title 14 of the Code of Federal Regulations (14 CFR) part 193.

RFT 182: Airline Pilot/Author Emilio Corsetti III

Apr 30, 2018 41:11


Emilio Corsetti took a flight in an airplane as a teenager, and he was hooked! He started taking flying lessons, and received his Private Pilot license before his driver's license. He paid his dues at numerous flying jobs after becoming a CFI, and flew night check deliveries for four years before getting hired as an airline pilot.

During his journey, Emilio was unemployed a total of ten years as he moved from one company to the next, experiencing terminations and furloughs numerous times. His major airline flying, at TWA, started out in the Second Officer (flight engineer) position on the 727.

While a new-hire at TWA, he became fascinated by the story of the first turbojet airliner to ditch in open water. During his furlough he researched the event, interviewing crew members, survivors, rescuers, and air traffic controllers, as well as researching NTSB records.

The resulting book, 35 Miles From Shore, was an immediate success.

His next book, Scapegoat, chronicles the 10-year battle of a b727 crew to clear their names.


RFT 181: Explosive Decompression!

Apr 26, 2018 12:24


During qualification training, airline pilots learn to deal with depressurization, engine failure, and  emergency descent. It's a straight-forward process in training. Each of these are memory-response items that must be completed correctly. The training and checking for these emergency procedures evaluates each of these events separately. In fact, compound emergencies are not permitted to be evaluated.

Unlike a "routine" decompression, an explosive decompression is a much more serious event. The time of useful consciousness (TUC) during an explosive decompression is roughly half the TUC of a slower decompression. While the TUC at 35,000 is 30-60 seconds, after an explosive decompression it will be 15-30 seconds.

That is exactly what the pilots of Southwest Flight 1380 were faced with: Explosive Decompression, Engine Severe Damage, and Emergency Descent, and they performed magnificently.

RFT 180: Fighter Pilot/Airline Pilot Russ Goodenough

Apr 23, 2018 57:36


Russ Goodenough is one of the few people on the planet to become a member of the caterpillar club from both seats of the F-4!

Russ attended the United States Air Force Academy in the second graduating class, and then went on to Air Force Undergraduate Pilot Training (UPT) and followed that with qualification in the top-of-the-line F-4.

During his combat tour of duty at Cam Ranh Air Base in South Vietnam he was shot down, exactly 52 years ago on the date of this recording, April 21, 1966. His dramatic rescue is chronicled, along with actual photos of the rescue, in his memoir, Why Johnny Came Marching Home.


Following his combat tour of duty, Russ flew F-4s in Europe, then separated from the Air Force to pursue a career as an airline pilot. He flew all over the South Pacific as a Continental Airlines pilot.


Apr 20, 2018 07:13


Aircraft on Ground or AOG is a term in aviation maintenance indicating that a problem is serious enough to prevent an aircraft from flying. Generally there is a rush to acquire the parts to put the aircraft (A/C) back into service, and prevent further delays or cancellations of the planned itinerary. AOG applies to any aviation materials or spare parts that are needed immediately for an aircraft to return to service. AOG suppliers refer qualified personnel and dispatch the parts required to repair the aircraft for an immediate return to service. AOG also is used to describe critical shipments for parts or materials for aircraft "out of service" or OTS at a location.

In aviation, master minimum equipment list, or MMEL, is a categorized list of on-board systems, instruments and equipment that may be inoperative for flight. Specific procedures or conditions may be associated with operation of the relevant item. It is considered by default that any equipment or system related to airworthiness which is not included in the MMEL is required to be operative. The MMEL is defined on a per aircraft model basis.

MEL (Minimum Equipment List): MEL is based upon the MMEL (Master Minimum Equipment List). MMEL is defined on a per aircraft model basis. MEL is prepared by the operator by taking reference of the MMEL keeping in mind the type and number of equipment installed. Initial issue of the MEL and its subsequent revisions will be approved by competent authority.

The philosophy behind MEL is to authorize release of flight with inoperative equipment only when the inoperative equipment does not render the aircraft unairworthy for the particular flight to avoid revenue loss to the operator and discomfort to the passengers.

Limitations, procedures and substitutions may be used to provide conditions under which the inoperative equipment will not make the operation unsafe or the aircraft unairworthy. This is not a philosophy which permits reduced safety in order to fly to a base where repairs can be made, but rather a philosophy which permits safe operations for a take off from a maintenance base or en-route stop.

It may not include items like galley equipment, entertainment systems, passenger convenience equipment, which do not affect the airworthiness of an aircraft. All items which affect the airworthiness of aircraft or safety of those carried on board and are not included in MEL are required to be operative.

Minimum equipment lists are issued to specific aircraft and specific operators. In order to use a minimum equipment list, that specific company must receive a letter of authorization from the national aviation authorities of the countries where the aircraft will operate.

A minimum equipment list is required in the United States by the Federal Aviation Administration:

When operating any turbine-powered aircraft such as jets or turboprops. When operating under part 135 (Commuter and on-demand operations) When operating under part 125 (Non-airline large aircraft operations)

The CDL evolved over several years from what was commonly known as a “missing parts list,” which was a list of non-structural external parts of an airplane that were found missing after flight. The missing parts list is known today as the CDL.

The CDL plays an important role in the operator’s ability to safely continue flight operations. It is a list of externally exposed aircraft parts that may be missing for flight while the aircraft remains Airworthy. CDLs are developed by aircraft manufacturers, approved by the FAA, and tailored for each model aircraft.

A CDL is developed for most U.S.-built transport 14 CFR part 25 aircraft and many 14 CFR part 23 aircraft by aircraft manufacturers during the initial certification process. However, they are not a required element for aircraft certification. The manufacturer makes the decision to develop or not to develop a CDL. If deemed necessary, the aircraft manufacturer develops a proposed CDL and submits it to the responsible Aircraft Certification Office (ACO). The ACO reviews, evaluates, conducts the required testing, and coordinates with the appropriate Aircraft Evaluation Group (AEG), if needed, to resolve any problems and/or discrepancies.

RFT 178: Air Disasters Writer Samme Chittum

Apr 16, 2018 36:31


Samme Chittum is an award-winning writer of fiction and nonfiction, and is currently a writer for Smithsonian Channel's Air Disasters series. She has a PhD and two Masters Degrees.

Samme started her journalistic career as a police reporter, covering crimes and accidents. Her first nonfiction book about an air accident was The Flight 981 Disaster: Tragedy, Treachery, and the Pursuit of Truth, the story of the Turkish Airlines DC-10 air disaster that occurred in 1974.


Her book Southern Storm: The Tragedy of Flight 242 recounts the tragic crash of Southern Airways Flight 242, a DC-9 that lost power of both engines due to massive water and hail ingestion.


Her book about the crash of the Concorde, Last Days of the Concorde: The Crash of Flight 4590 and the End of Supersonic Passenger Travel is now available for pre-order.

RFT 177: Laws of Learning

Apr 13, 2018 08:10



The basic needs of the learner must be satisfied before he or she is ready or capable of learning (see Chapter 1, Human Behavior). The instructor can do little to motivate the learner if these needs have not been met. This means the learner must want to learn the task being presented and must possess the requisite knowledge and skill. In SBT, the instructor attempts to make the task as meaningful as possible and to keep it within the learner’s capabilities. Students best acquire new knowledge when they see a clear reason for doing so, often show a strong interest in learning what they believe they need to know next, and tend to set aside things for which they see no immediate need. For example, beginning flight students commonly ignore the flight instructor’s suggestion to use the trim control. These students believe the control yoke is an adequate way to manipulate the aircraft’s control surfaces. Later in training, when they must divert their attention away from the controls to other tasks, they realize the importance of trim. Instructors can take two steps to keep their students in a state of readiness to learn. First, instructors should communicate a clear set of learning objectives to the student and relate each new topic to those objectives. Second, instructors should introduce topics in a logical order and leave students with a need to learn the next topic. The development and use of a well-designed curriculum accomplish this goal. Readiness to learn also involves what is called the “teachable moment” or a moment of educational opportunity when a person is particularly responsive to being taught something. One of the most important skills to develop as an instructor is the ability to recognize and capitalize on “teachable moments” in aviation training. An instructor can find or create teachable moments in flight training activity: pattern work, air work in the local practice area, cross-country, flight review, or instrument proficiency check. Teachable moments present opportunities to convey information in a way that is relevant, effective, and memorable to the student. They occur when a learner can clearly see how specific information or skills can be used in the real world. For example, while on final approach several deer cross the runway. Bill capitalizes on this teachable moment to stress the importance of always being ready to perform a go-around.


All learning involves the formation of connections and connections are strengthened or weakened according to the law of effect. Responses to a situation that are followed by satisfaction are strengthened; responses followed by discomfort are weakened, either strengthening or weakening the connection of learning. Thus, learning is strengthened when accompanied by a pleasant or satisfying feeling, and weakened when associated with an unpleasant feeling. Experiences that produce feelings of defeat, frustration, anger, confusion, or futility are unpleasant for the student. For example, if Bill teaches landings to Beverly during the first flight, she is likely to feel inferior and be frustrated, which weakens the learning connection. The learner needs to have success in order to have more success in the future. It is important for the instructor to create situations designed to promote success. Positive training experiences are more apt to lead to success and motivate the learner, while negative training experiences might stimulate forgetfulness or avoidance. When presented correctly, SBT provides immediate positive experiences in terms of real world applications. To keep learning pleasant and to maintain student motivation, an instructor should make positive comments about the student’s progress before discussing areas that need improving. Flight instructors have an opportunity to do this during the flight debriefing. For example, Bill praises Beverly on her aircraft control during all phases of flight, but offers constructive comments on how to better maintain the runway centerline during landings.


Connections are strengthened with practice and weakened when practice is discontinued, which reflects the adage “use it or lose it.” The learner needs to practice what has been learned in order to understand and remember the learning. Practice strengthens the learning connection; disuse weakens it. Exercise is most meaningful and effective when a skill is learned within the context of a real world application.


Primacy, the state of being first, often creates a strong, almost unshakable impression and underlies the reason an instructor must teach correctly the first time and the student must learn correctly the first time. For example, a maintenance student learns a faulty riveting technique. Now the instructor must correct the bad habit and reteach the correct technique. Relearning is more difficult than initial learning. Also, if the task is learned in isolation, it is not initially applied to the overall performance, or if it must be relearned, the process can be confusing and time consuming. The first experience should be positive, functional, and lay the foundation for all that is to follow.


Immediate, exciting, or dramatic learning connected to a real situation teaches a learner more than a routine or boring experience. Real world applications (scenarios) that integrate procedures and tasks the learner is capable of learning make a vivid impression and he or she is least likely to forget the experience. For example, using realistic scenarios has been shown to be effective in the development of proficiency in flight maneuvers, tasks, and single-pilot resource management (SRM) skills.


The principle of recency states that things most recently learned are best remembered. Conversely, the further a learner is removed in time from a new fact or understanding, the more difficult it is to remember. For example, it is easy for a learner to recall a torque value used a few minutes earlier, but it is more difficult or even impossible to remember an unfamiliar one used a week earlier. Instructors recognize the principle of recency when they carefully plan a summary for a ground school lesson, a shop period, or a postflight critique. The instructor repeats, restates, or reemphasizes important points at the end of a lesson to help the learner remember them. The principle of recency often determines the sequence of lectures within a course of instruction. In SBT, the closer the training or learning time is to the time of the actual scenario, the more apt the learner is to perform successfully. This law is most effectively addressed by making the training experience as much like the scenario as possible.

RFT 176: Marine B-25/PBJ Waist Gunner Vern Horton

Apr 8, 2018 44:31


Vern Horton enlisted in the military at age 17, as soon as he graduated high school. He wanted to be a pilot, and initially signed up for the Army Air Corps, but after a long wait to in-process, he visited a Marine recruiter. He was promised a pilot slot, but while he was in boot camp, the pilot training program he was to be enrolled in was canceled. He was offered navigator/bombardier and accepted, but while he was waiting to attend, that program was canceled also.

Finally, he was accepted into waist-gunner training, and graduated first in his class. After training, he shipped out to the South Pacific, where he flew combat missions in the B25 PBJ. On one mission, he fired so many rounds at the enemy he overheated the barrels of his 50-caliber machine gun!

This 93-years-young combat veteran now shares his story with aviation aficionados as he accompanies the one-of-a-kind restored Marine PBJ.

RFT 175: Airline Drug Testing

Apr 6, 2018 14:14


Anyone in a safety-sensitive position in transportation must be tested for drug use, both pre-employment and on a random basis, as well as for suspected drug use. In airline operations, the following positions are subject to this testing:

Flight crewmember duties.

Flight attendant duties.

Flight instruction duties.

Aircraft dispatcher duties.

Aircraft maintenance and preventive maintenance duties.

Ground security coordinator duties.

Aviation screening duties.

Air traffic control duties.

In addition to the previously-screened marijuana, cocaine and heroin, as of January 2018 the drug tests for synthetic opioids.

RFT 174: Free Flier Heath Owens

Apr 2, 2018 27:39


Heath Owens is not the typical professional pilot Ready for Takeoff guest. In fact, Heath is not yet a pilot. But he is an aviation fanatic who has broken the code on how to fly for FREE, and his enthusiasm is contagious, and he has some great ideas for our listeners who want to learn how to get in the air without spending a lot of - or any - money.

And Heath explains how he got started in aviation insurance. I think you're going to find his story fascinating.

RFT 173: Upgrading Right To Left

Mar 30, 2018 17:49


Even if you are type rated the in the airplane, there is a lot more to upgrading than learning how to fly the airplane from a different seat. You'll find that most of the real-life challenges you face as Captain have nothing to do with engine failure on takeoff!

At many airlines, when it took more than 10 years to make Captain, copilots would have a lot of exposure to good and bad Captains, and would have the opportunity to see countless airborne decisions and evaluate their results. With rapid advancement now days, it's possible copilots will not have the extensive mentoring that existed previously.

At most airlines there is some form of New Captain training to give the prospective aircraft commander training and instruction on a variety of operational topics, such as Leadership, Crewmember Mentoring, Crew Resource Management (CRM), Inflight Medical Issues, Decision-Making, Management, Fatigue-Risk Management, Stress, Aviation Law, Company Procedures and Performance.

RFT 172: Robert "Cujo" Teschner

Mar 26, 2018 32:52


Robert "Cujo" Teschner served as the U.S. Air Force's debrief expert during his time as an F-15C instructor pilot at the U.S. Air Force Weapons School at Nellis AFB, NV.  He personally designed and taught the first-ever core debrief fundamentals course to all Weapons School students across all disciplines.  He authored the paper "The Vocabulary of the Debrief," which was published in the Weapons School Review, and served as the subject author and senior adviser on a paper presenting the fundamentals of debrief methodology.  Cujo has spent countless hours teaching debrief fundamentals to both military and business professionals. After retiring from the Air Force, Cujo founded VMax Group.

RFT 171: Airline Upgrading

Mar 23, 2018 13:47


Upgrading from airline First Officer (copilot) to Captain involves more than simply moving from the right seat to the left. If a new type rating is required, there will be ground school and simulator training, and the ubiquitous check ride.

Simulator training may consist of traditional Appendix H Training to ATP Practical Test Standards and the newer Advanced Qualification Program, and will be conducted in a Level C or Level D simulator.

After training is complete, the new Captain must complete Operating Experience (OE) - formerly called Initial Operating Experience (IOE) in accordance with FAR 121.434, which consists of 25 hours of supervised inflight training on regular revenue flights with a Line Check Airman in the right seat. At the completion of OE, if it the pilot's initial Captain certification, an FAA Aviation Safety Inspector will ride along on one leg of the OE to observe the PIC's performance during the latter stages of OE.


RFT 170: Afterburner President Joel "Thor" Neeb

Mar 19, 2018 29:33


From the Afterburner website:

As an F-15 pilot, Thor escorted the U.S. President through the sky and flew missions to ensure the safety of the country after the attacks of 9/11. He was the tactical leader of 300 of the most senior combat pilots in the Air Force and he oversaw the execution of a $150M/year flight program. Thor was named the Top Instructor Pilot at the Air Force Flight Training Headquarters and he’s flown thousands of missions teaching pilots from 25 countries around the world. He received his Bachelor’s Degree at the United States Air Force Academy and is a summa cum laude graduate of the McCombs School of Business at the University of Texas.

For most of 2015, Thor led a team of Afterburner consultants that was embedded in Silicon Valley with one of the top-five largest software companies in the world. While there, Thor supported the successful completion of more than 50 projects or “Missions” created from the CEO’s key strategic objectives.

Thor is humbled to have had the incredible experiences that executive leadership within the military and Afterburner have afforded him, but he’s most proud of the following accomplishments. In 2010, Thor was diagnosed with Stage IV cancer and given about a 15% chance to live. Instead of giving up, Thor decided to give back. He started a youth outreach program in San Antonio that has grown to help more than 15,000 at-risk kids. Their efforts have been featured on every news channel for 100 miles and one national media outlet. In 2012, he was selected out of 62,000 people to receive the AETC National Public Service Award.

Thor completed the New Zealand Ironman Triathlon in March of 2015 to commemorate the five-year anniversary of his Stage IV cancer diagnosis and to raise awareness for the rare and deadly cancer that he battles.

Thor sits on the board of several national organizations and is the co-founder of a military support corporation. As Afterburner’s President, Thor leads our team of more than 70 elite military professionals. He has helped achieve strategic objectives and foster elite teams for Fortune 100 companies within the tech industry, pharmaceuticals, finance, medical devices, retail apparel and several NFL teams.

Thor hosts the Thorcast podcast.

RFT 169: RTO

Mar 15, 2018 16:33


In aviation terminology, a rejected takeoff (RTO) or aborted takeoff is the situation in which it is decided to abort the takeoff of an airplane. There can be many reasons for deciding to perform a rejected takeoff, but they are usually due to suspected or actual technical failures, like an engine failure such as a compressor stall occurring during the takeoff run.

A rejected takeoff is normally performed only if the aircraft's speed is below the critical engine failure  speed (sometimes called decision speed) known as V1 , which for larger multi-engine airplanes is calculated before each flight.The Federal Aviation Administration defines V1 as: "the maximum speed in the takeoff at which the pilot must take the first action (e.g., apply brakes, reduce thrust, deploy speed brakes) to stop the airplane within the accelerate-stop distance. V1 also means the minimum speed in the takeoff, following a failure of the critical engine at VEF, at which the pilot can continue the takeoff and achieve the required height above the takeoff surface within the takeoff distance." Below the decision speed, the airplane should be able to stop safely before the end of the runway. Above the decision speed, the airplane may overshoot the runway if the takeoff is aborted, and, therefore, a rejected takeoff is normally not performed above this speed, unless there is reason to doubt the airplane's ability to fly. If a serious failure occurs or is suspected above V1 but the airplane's ability to fly is not in doubt, the takeoff is continued despite the (suspected) failure and the airplane will attempt to land again as soon as possible.

Single-engine aircraft will normally reject any takeoff after an engine failure, regardless of speed, as there is no power available to continue the takeoff. Even if the airplane is already airborne, if sufficient runway remains, an attempt to land straight ahead on the runway may be made. This may also apply to some light twin engine airplanes.

Before the takeoff roll is started, the autobrake system of the aircraft, if available, is set to the RTO mode. The autobrake system will automatically apply maximum brakes if throttle is reduced to idle or reverse thrust during the takeoff roll.

An RTO is usually seen as one of the hardest tests an airplane has to undergo for its certification trials. The RTO test is performed under the worst possible conditions; i.e. with fully worn out brakes, the plane loaded to maximum takeoff weight and no use of thrust reverst. During an RTO test most of the kinetic energy of the airplane is converted to heat by the brakes, which may cause the fusible plugs of the tires to melt, causing them to deflate. Small brake fires are acceptable as long as they do not spread to the airplane body within five minutes (the maximum likely time for arrival of the airport fire fighters).   Most modern flight manuals specify 80 (Boeing) or 100 (Airbus) knots as the beginning of the "high speed" regime of the takeoff run, and recommend only rejecting the takeoff only in the case of Engine fire Engine failure predictive windshear aircraft unsafe to fly A significant high-speed rejected takeoff accident highlights the importance of performing a high-speed RTO in the case of an uncontained engine failure that resulted in a fuselage fire. In this accident, the crew initially thought that they had experienced a tire failure and elected to RTO at 126 knots (V1 was 146). The engine fire indication did not occur for 9 more seconds. If they had continued the takeoff, it is likely that all occupants would have perished instead of the 55 of the 131 passengers.   For discussion reference, a B777 at maximum takeoff weigh of 520,000 pounds on a standard day at sea level has a balanced field length of 6950 feet (Reference). On a typical runway length of 12,000 feet, such as runway 18L or 18R at Orlando International Airport, that leaves almost a mile of additional runway available for stopping.

RFT 168: Senior VP Folds of Honor Jim Ravella

Mar 12, 2018 27:09


From The Anchor of Hope website:

Col Ravella is a 1983 graduate of Texas A&M and served over 26 years in the USAF as an F-15E pilot with over 3700 hours and command at the Squadron and Group levels.  Jim is a father of seven children, a writer and a speaker.  Jim married Andrea Fuller in 1983; they had two wonderful sons, Nic and Anthony. They lost Andrea in 2007 after a four-year battle with breast cancer. During their fight with cancer, Jim documented their journey in a blog, Journey to Healing, that touched many lives around the world. Jim and Andrea spoke to cancer groups and churches, offering hope to those facing life's challenges.  Their faith, grace and courage was an inspiration to all who knew them and, through Jim's writing, continues to change the lives of those who read their story. Jim has appeared in numerous print venues and radio interviews.

Ginger Gilbert Ravella is a military wife and widow, mother of five, stepmother of two, writer and international speaker.  At 36 years old, she faced the sudden tragic loss of her college-sweetheart husband in Operation Iraqi Freedom and the horrors that quickly followed.

Her late husband, Major Troy Gilbert, an Air Force F-16 pilot, gave his life while saving over twenty Special Operation soldiers, defining a true American war hero.   His remains were tragically stolen by the enemy but led to a captivating story of recovery unprecedented in U.S. military history. He left behind five beautiful children, all under the age of 9 years. Ginger’s openly genuine testimony of wrestling with God in the midst of despair and depression resonates with those who question their faith in the face of tragedy.  Her private pain became front-page news time and time again over an amazing ten-year journey.  Ginger has shared her heart-wrenching story of loss, perseverance and hope in venues such as “The O’Reilly Factor”, “Fox and Friends News”, TIME Magazine, “CNN’s The Lead with Jake Tapper”, The Golf Channel, USA Today, Air Force Times, Gary Sinise documentary “Lt. Dan Band - For the Common Good”, Stars and Stripes, NRA TV documentary with Lee Brice “This is My Cause”, CMT News, PGA Magazine and numerous national radio interviews.

Ginger is the Director of the Speakers Bureau for Folds of Honor, a non-profit charity whose mission is to raise educational funds for fallen and wounded soldiers’ families.  She is an international speaker and author devoted to her God, her family and her country.


RFT 167: Deep Vein Thrombosis

Mar 10, 2018 06:47


From Wikepedia:

Deep vein thrombosis (DVT), is the formation of a blood clot in a deep vein, most commonly the legs. Symptoms may include pain, swelling, redness, or warmth of the affected area. About half of cases have no symptoms. Complications may include pulmonary embolism, as a result of detachment of a clot which travels to the lungs, and post-thrombotic syndrome.

Risk factors include recent surgery, cancer, trauma, lack of movement, obesity, smoking, hormonal birth control, pregnancy and the period following birth, antiphospholipid syndrome, and certain genetic conditions. Genetic factors include deficiencies of antithrombin, protein C, and protein S, and factor V Leiden mutation. The underlying mechanism typically involves some combination of decreased blood flow rate, increased tendency to clot, and injury to the blood vessel wall.

Individuals suspected of having DVT may be assessed using a clinical prediction rule such as the Wells score. A D-dimer test may also be used to assist with excluding the diagnosis or to signal a need for further testing. Diagnosis is most commonly confirmed by ultrasound of the suspected veins. Together, DVT and pulmonary embolism are known as venous thromboembolism (VTE).

Anticoagulation (blood thinners) is the standard treatment. Typical medications include low-molecular-weight heparin, warfarin, or a direct oral anticoagulant. Wearing graduated compression stockings may reduce the risk of post-thrombotic syndrome. Prevention may include early and frequent walking, calf exercises, aspirin, anticoagulants, graduated compression stockings, or intermittent pneumatic compression. The rate of DVTs increases from childhood to old age; in adulthood, about one in 1000 adults are affected per year. About 5% of people are affected by a VTE at some point in time.


RFT 166: Aviation Artist/Airline Pilot Lance Lockhart

Mar 5, 2018 32:05


From Lance's website:

Lance is a full time pilot for Southwest Airlines.  With aviation as his profession and inspiration he wanted a name that captured flight.  Lance and his wife Jamie coincidently named their children Lucas Wylde and Judah Byrd.  He combined their names to create Wyldebyrd.

Prior to the establishment of Wyldebyrd Art, Lance grew up in Northern Ontario Canada, in Sioux Lookout.  His Father Howard was a pilot and his mother Sandra a school teacher.  His parents s started their own air service back in 1989.  Lance was asked to be the designer and builder of the remote buildings of the new business Lockhart Air Services.

Combing years of summer jobs and his love of architecture in the far reaches of the remote wilderness Lance carved out the landscape and built several structures that are still standing and being used to date.

After completing college Lance joined the company as a bush pilot.  He often flew hundreds of miles further north into remote native villages.  The adventure and challenge were in his blood.  As his connection to the landscape and the presence of history and culture of the native people.  It resonated with Lance.

Today Lance often connects the emotional history in people's live to the pieces he creates.  Not only is the art inspired, it often speaks to people on a deeper level.  That element helps transform the creations into generational keepsakes.

Lance Lockhart is the artist at Wyldebyrd Art. He is also a Captain for Southwest Airlines, one of the most beloved and trusted airlines in the world. He was hired in 2006 and upgraded to Captain in 2016. With thousands of flying hours over decades in aviation the position of Captain gives him great insight and access to unique aviation items to create into art. As an aviation artist, Lance is the only full time airline pilot and aviation artist. The view from the Captains seat not only help provide inspiration to create more art, it also allows a behind the scenes look and connection into the airline industry as well as years of flying experience in many plane types along the way. Art from the Captains hand and world leader in aviation art. No other storefront or company has as many products, provides as much value and connects with their customers as both the subject matter expert, with the creative ability to make desirable products.


RFT 165: Traveling With Lithium Ion Batteries

Mar 2, 2018 07:00


Lithium-ion batteries are common in home electronics. They are one of the most popular types of rechargeable batteries for portable electronics, with a high energy density, tiny memory effect and low self-discharge. LIBs are also growing in popularity for military, battery electric vehicle and aerospace applications.

Lithium-ion batteries can pose unique safety hazards since they contain a flammable electrolyte and may be kept pressurized. An expert notes "If a battery cell is charged too quickly, it can cause a short circuit, leading to explosions and fires". Because of these risks, testing standards are more stringent than those for acid-electrolyte batteries, requiring both a broader range of test conditions and additional battery-specific tests. There have been battery-related recalls by some companies, including the 2016 Samsung Galaxy Note 7 recall for battery fires.

RFT 164: B-130 Pilot/Airline Pilot Don Mrosla

Feb 26, 2018 29:04


Don Mrosla attended the United States Air Force academy in the same class as his twin brother. While there, both Mrosla brothers became champions at boxing, but hung up their gloves their last year to prevent any potential boxing injury that would disqualify them from attending Air Force Undergraduate Pilot Training.

After completing pilot training, Don qualified in the C-130 Hercules, and continuously cycled to Vietnam. One of the missions he was qualified in was to drop a 15,000 pound bomb out of the C-130 tailgate in support of American helicopter operations, creating an "instant landing zone". On these missions, the aircraft was called the B-130. On one of his missions, he had two of his four engines shot out and barely made it back to a safe landing.

Following retirement from the Air Force, Don flew for an airline in the South Pacific, then pursued a career at Southwest Airlines, which he continued until mandatory retirement.


Feb 23, 2018 09:59


The IATA Operational Safety Audit (IOSA) program is an internationally recognized and accepted evaluation system designed to assess the operational management and control systems of an airline. IOSA uses internationally recognized quality audit principles and is designed to conduct audits in a standardized and consistent manner. It was created in 2003 by IATA. The program is designed to assess the operational management and control systems of airlines. The companies are included in the IOSA registry for a period of 2 years following an audit carried out by an organization accredited by IATA. The auditing standards have been developed in collaboration with various regulatory authorities, such as the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in the USA, Australia's Civil Aviation Safety Authority, Transport Canada and the Joint Aviation Authorities (JAA). IATA oversees the accreditation of audit organizations, ensure the continuous development of IOSA standards and practices and manages the IOSA registry.

RFT 162: Air Force/Coast Guard/Navy Pilot Rich Jackson

Feb 19, 2018 01:00:45


Rich Jackson is a true Renaissance Man of aviation. He has flown in the Air Force, the Navy and the Coast Guard, and after retiring from 22 years in the military he flew in several combat zones as a contract pilot.

Rich started out as a helicopter pilot in the Air Force and served as an H-53 Aircraft Commander, based in Sembach Air Base, Germany. He then transitioned to fixed wing in the Air Force. After another helicopter stint in the Air Force as an HH-65 Aircraft Commander, he transitioned to the Coast Guard and then served on an exchange tour with the Navy, instructing in T-34 aircraft.

Rich has flown helicopters to both the north and south pole, and has served in numerous advisory capacities for advanced helicopter operations and employment. After retiring from the Coast Guard, he flew as a pilot of MC-337 ISR aircraft during Kosovo operations, then worked as a Piasecki Aircraft test pilot before going back into the combat theater, this time in Iraq, again flying the C-337. With 5000 hours in the C-337, he is perhaps the highest time Skymaster pilot in the world.

Rich continues to work as a consultant to the tactical community.

RFT 161: Safe Airline Travel

Feb 16, 2018 10:35


Sooner or later, you're going to be flying as a passenger on an airliner. There are numerous steps you can take to ensure your safety as a passenger.

Preparation for an airline flight starts before you leave home. One basic step is to make sure the identification on your luggage tags does not provide information to anyone with nefarious intent. Your luggage tag should only have your first initial, last name and telephone number or email address. Using an initial rather than a name should be standard operating procedure for female travelers when making hotel reservations also.

The reason to omit your address on the luggage to to prevent anyone who sees, finds or steals your luggage from knowing where you live. If your luggage is stolen and the thief finds out where you live, he will have possibly unrestricted access to your home while you are traveling. For the same reason, it is a really bad idea to tell the world, via social media, about your travels while you are away. Just last week, Patriot team member Rob Gronkowski's house was burglarized while he was out of town participating in the Superbowl. So save your social media photos for after you return.

Before you leave for your flight, stop by your local everything's-a-dollar store and get a pack of antibacterial wipes (I know you can also buy these for a few more dollars at your local grocery store, but most of our listeners are pilots, i.e., cheap!). Take those with you, and wipe down everything at your airline seat. Everything: tray table (you wouldn't believe how often passengers use tray tables to change diapers!), safety information card, arm rests, seat belt buckle and air vents. A 2015 study by TravelMath found more bacteria on the aforementioned items than on the airplane toilets!

I also recommend you abstain from using the airplane potable water supply. That includes coffee and tea service, since the water for coffee and tea comes from the airplane's potable water. Even though it's heated for coffee and tea, dirty water is still dirty water. I recommend that you brink your own water bottle with you to the airport. Obviously, you cannot bring liquids through the security checkpoint, but you can bring an empty bottle, and then fill it from a water fountain at the airport. The best source of water is from a bottle-filling station rather than a drinking fountain.

As you enter the airplane, pay attention to the location of the emergency exits and the number of rows between your seat and the closest exit. During an evacuation in a dark, smoke-filled cabin, you may have a difficult time finding an emergency exit unless you know exactly where the exit is located relative to your seat.

If you have a choice of seats, I recommend a window seat. It's a no-brainer you don't want a middle seat, but an aisle seat has certain hazards you should know about. It a passenger - any passenger - is walking down the aisle when the airplane encounters turbulence, there's a possibility that passenger could fall onto you. Also, items in the overhead storage compartment can fall onto you if the compartment door is open during a period of turbulence.

Really pay attention to the safety information briefing the flight attendants provide. Take out the safety information card and study it. You may discover new things you didn't previously know. Even if you're on an airplane that seems the same as previous models, you may find some differences. For example, the A-320 has two overwing exits while the A-321 has four. And the overwing exits on a B737-300 are totally different from the overwing exits on a B737-800.

RFT 160: Fighter Pilot/Author Ed Cobleigh

Feb 12, 2018 32:20


From Fast Eddie's website:

I was born in New Orleans at a very early age and raised in Chattanooga, East Tennessee. I earned an engineering degree from Georgia Tech and a Masters in Management from USC. I was a designer for Piper Aircraft. As a USAF fighter pilot, I flew the F-104 Starfighter, the F-4 Phantom II, the A-4 Skyhawk, the Anglo-French Jaguar, and F-16 Viper aircraft.  I instructed and flew with the USAF Fighter Weapons School, the US Navy Fighter Weapons School (Top Gun), the Royal Air Force Qualified Weapons Instructor Course (Jaguar), the French Air Force, and the Imperial Iranian Air Force. I logged 375 combat missions over North Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia, earning two Distinguished Flying Crosses and the Air Medal. After my flying career, I served as an Air Intelligence Officer working with the CIA, FBI, and MI6. My first book, War for the Hell of It: A Fighter Pilot's View of Vietnam, is an Amazon bestseller.  My first novel, The Pilot: Fighter Planes and Paris, earned laudatory reviews. My wife and I live in the wine country of Paso Robles, CA with our dogs and horses.

RFT 159: Cold Weather Altimetry

Feb 9, 2018 08:26


When flying in colder-than-standard temperatures, it's important to understand that True Altitude may be lower than Indicated altitude due to the effects of cold temperatures. This is especially important when making an instrument approach at a high-terrain airport during cold temperature conditions.

RFT 158: Accident Investigator/F-111 Pilot Dave Scheiding

Feb 5, 2018 56:30


Colonel Dave Scheiding started his aviation career in the U.S. Air Force. After Undergraduate Pilot Training, Dave was asked to remain in Air Training Command as a T-37 Instructor Pilot (IP) at Laughlin Air Force Base. In addition to being the resident expert at spin recovery, he pulled service as the base Aerdrome Officer. In that capacity, on October 21st, 1967, he oversaw the post-crash activities when Thunderbird pilot Merrill McPeak crashed during a performance.

Following his IP assignment, Dave volunteered for Vietnam, flying the O-2A as a Forward Air Controller (FAC). He was based at several locations in Vietnam, and has chronicled his experiences in his memoir, The Long Return.

After Vietnam, Dave was selected to attend the University of Denver, where he received his Master's Degree in Mechanical Engineering. This education was instrumental in determining the cause of the terrible crash of the Operation Babylift flight, the evacuation of Vietnamese children during the collapse of South Vietnam.

On short notice, Dave traveled to South Vietnam to investigate the crash of the C-5. With virtually no security, Dave's team scoured the accident site and recovered whatever debris remained after locals had stripped the location. During an extended analysis of the C-5 aft cargo door after returning to the United States, Dave re-created the cause of the accident.

After that, Dave returned to the cockpit and flew the F-111 until his Air Force retirement.

In addition to his memoir, Dave authored a moving book about his beloved dog, Hank.

RFT 157: The Critique Element of CRM

Feb 1, 2018 07:13


The five original elements of Crew Resource Management (CRM) are:

Inquiry Advocacy Conflict Resolution Decision Making Critique

Most pilots have become proficient in the first four elements, but frequently the Critique element is ignored. A properly conducted Critique allows you to evaluate how the flight went and to learn from successes and failures of the flight's activities.

Basically, when conducting the Critique, you consider what went right and what went wrong, and what you would do differently if given the opportunity to conduct the flight again. It is comparable to the post-flight Debrief process conducted by military pilots.

RFT 156: Misty FAC MGen Don Shepperd

Jan 29, 2018 32:57


Major General Donald W. Shepperd, USAF (Ret.) is president of The Shepperd Group, Inc. He performs independent consulting on defense, strategic planning, executive leadership, information technology and visioning and preparation of executive teams for the 21st century. He was a fighter pilot who flew 247 combat fighter missions in Vietnam. He retired in 1998 from the Pentagon where he served as head of the Air National Guard. He commanded over 110,000 Air National Guard personnel, 1400 aircraft, 88 flying units, and 250 support units spread throughout the 54 states and territories. General Shepperd was a military analyst for CNN.

He is also a writer and provides military commentary for radio in Arizona, Colorado, and the east coast.  He serves on several boards and was an ad hoc member of the Air Force Scientific Advisory Board.

He lives with his wife in Tucson, Arizona. His latest book, Bury Us Upside Down, published by Random House, is available in bookstores and on-line.

RFT 155: Radiant Crossing Part 3

Jan 25, 2018 10:09


November 28, 2013
0312 Greenwich Mean Time West 87 Degrees
Altitude 4000 Feet


As we continued westward, we maintained radio contact with other aircraft on 123.45. It appeared that the entire electrical grid for the United States was wiped out. No one had any idea what caused it or how long it would take for the system to be restored. It seemed pretty clear to us that once we were on the ground, it would be quite a while before we would be able to travel anywhere.

This was a major concern for Jim and me. While Mark lived locally, in Schaumburg, Jim and I were both commuters, from Denver. Initially, we discussed perhaps renting a car and driving from Chicago to Denver, then reality set in. Without electricity, it would be impossible to rent a car or conduct virtually any other type of financial transaction, since pretty much everything is done with computers and internet connections.

And, even if we could get our hands on a car, we wouldn’t be able to reach Denver on a single tank of gas. The previous year’s aftermath of Hurricane Sandy demonstrated how fragile the fuel infrastructure is. Without electrical power, there was no way we would be able to refuel enroute from Chicago to Denver. So driving home was out of the question.

Mark listened to us discussing our predicament, and finally chimed in.

“Hey, guys, you can stay at my house.”

I wanted to at least make an effort to object, but it would have been totally transparent. He offered his help, and we needed it badly. We accepted his offer. I momentarily felt sorry for his wife and kids. They were expecting Mark to be coming home to their own rescue, and here he would be dragging complete strangers with him. And, with all communications out, there wouldn’t even be any way for him to give them a heads up.

We allowed our FMC to guide us to O’Hare, and set up for a visual approach to Runway 32 Left. I configured the aircraft a bit early, so that we could see if all of the onboard equipment was operating normally. Everything worked pretty much as advertised except for the autobrakes.

The Autobrake System was designed to automatically apply the brakes to slow the airplane at a predetermined, pilot-selectable deceleration level upon landing. It wouldn’t be a problem to use manual brakes and get the airplane stopped on the runway. What concerned me more was the potential for the Anti-skid System to also malfunction, so I would need to be extra careful with manual braking, since I would be the human-powered antiskid. Still, not a problem.

I easily picked out the landmarks along the shoreline of Lake Michigan and set myself up on a long straight-in final approach to Runway 32 Left, using the TCAS to give myself five miles spacing on the aircraft ahead of me. When I was on a three-mile final, I gave a quick call on 123.45, then on 121.5.

“WorldJet Airways 407 on three-mile final to three-two left.”

On short final, I looked over toward the control tower to see if they would flash a green light at me, the backup system to provide landing authorization. Nothing. There was no way to know if there was even anyone in the tower. I wouldn’t have blamed them if they had abandoned the tower hours ago, since there was nothing they could accomplish without any form of communications capability.

After we landed, I cleared the runway and shut down the left engine. My weight was light enough that a one-engine taxi would be no problem, and I wanted to save as much fuel as I could, to operate the APU if necessary. The Auxiliary Power Unit would provide electrical power and air for heating and cooling, if we needed to be self-sufficient for a while, such as remote parking.

We proceeded along the outer taxiway in a counter-clockwise direction to the International Terminal, the only terminal authorized for flights originating out of the United States. I knew from previous experience, inner taxiway goes clockwise, outer taxiway goes counter-clockwise. I just hoped the other airplanes on the ground knew it also.

And there were a lot of airplanes. They were everywhere. From what I could see at the concourses of the main terminal, every parking spot was occupied, probably by aircraft that were on the gate when the power failed.

Frequency 123.45 became the de-facto CB radio, with everyone chiming in on their location and intentions. I could see that there were some open gates at the International Terminal, but the automatic Accu-Park parking system would, obviously, be inoperative.

I picked an empty gate, turned in along the lead-in line painted on the tarmac, and slowly approached the gate. As I got closer, I reached up to the overhead panel and started the APU. Just as I was about to slow to a stop, I saw a mechanic running toward our parking spot, with directional wands in his hands. As he got to our gate, he started marshaling me to the parking spot. When he gave me the “stop” signal, I set the brakes, confirmed that the APU was running, and shut down the right engine. The mechanic plugged his headset into the communication jack in the nose wheel well.

“Welcome to Chicago, Captain. We’ve had an exciting day!”
“So have we. Can you fill me in on what’s going on?” I asked.
“About five hours ago, a huge sun spot storm knocked out all power, pretty much all

over the world, as far as we can tell. Internet, phone lines, everything is out. All of our electronics are fried. The only radios that work are the hand-held transceivers that were in the garage and the baggage sorting area. Not very many. Let me ask you something, Captain. How much fuel do you have?”

“Twenty-two thousand pounds. Why?”

“We’re trying to get an idea how much fuel we have if we need to rob one airplane to fuel another. I’m going to be off headset for a little while to try to get some boarding stairs hooked up to door six left.”

“Why can’t we hook up the loading bridge?”

“The terminal backup power is out, and the loading bridge needs power to position it up to the airplane. Also, even if we had the bridge up to the airplane, we couldn’t use it without power, because the auto-leveler wouldn’t work.”

Of course – the auto-leveler. As people enter or leave an airplane, the weight of the airplane changes, and the auto-leveler adjusts the height of the loading bridge so that it remains at the height of the bottom of the aircraft door. When you offload over two hundred people, the aircraft can raise as much as three feet.

So we waited for portable stairs. At least we had the APU, so we could have electrical power for lighting and services, such as toilet operation. And heating. The sun was starting to go down, and the temperature was dropping quickly. After about an hour, portable stairs were positioned at door four left, and everyone slowly deplaned. It took about forty minutes for everyone to deplane, with all of their carry-on luggage. When everyone was off, I shut down the APU, turned off the Battery Switch, and headed to the back of the airplane, where the stairs were located. The Captain is always the last to leave. No telling when I’d be flying this baby again.

By now it was dark inside the airplane, and I reached into my flight bag, pulled out my new LED flashlight, and pressed the switch. Nothing. I cycled the switch a few more times, with the same results. About this time, the mechanic had entered the plane to make sure everyone had gotten off okay. His flashlight was working fine.

“Is that an LED light, Captain?”
“Yes, but it’s not working.”
“The radiation has wiped out pretty much all the LEDs. If you have HID headlights in

your car, they won’t work, either. As far as I can tell, most of the cars are operating okay, though.”

“Thanks for your help. We have a good ship. The only squawk we have is the autobrakes aren’t working. Other than that, clean bird.”

“Good to hear, Captain. Have a safe trip home.”

A safe trip home. With no way to communicate to the airline planning department, no way to flight plan without weather information, no way for the airline to even know where its planes or pilots were located, no way to communicate to the flight crews or passengers, and a winter storm approaching, a safe trip home would be nice. Really nice.

But it wouldn’t be happening very soon.

RFT 154: Ryan Rankin's Victory

Jan 22, 2018 28:22


In Ready For Takeoff episode 83 we met Ryan Rankin, a Navy Instructor Pilot who had the goal of flying in 52 different aircraft over the course of one year - one per week. In this episode we catch up with Ryan, to see if he reached his goal and to find out about the exciting and unusual aircraft - airplanes, rotorcraft, and seaplanes - he flew.

Ryan describes how he traveled as far away as Poland in his quest, and he describes some really interesting and exciting rides.

Ryan documented his journey in his website, with photos and videos.

You're going to find his journey fascinating!

RFT 153: Radiant Crossing Part 2

Jan 18, 2018 10:13


November 28, 2013
2346 Greenwich Mean Time West 60 Degrees
Flight Level 310


It was time to give ATC a call on Guard frequency. We were still over the ocean, but, I estimated, we would be in range of one of the radio facilities on the east coast.

For the previous three hours we had maintained a listening watch on VHF 123.45, and had passed along our information, sparse as it was, to aircraft following us. If this had been a domestic flight, we would have come into contact with aircraft that were headed east, but the NAT tracks only operate in one direction. Flights on the tracks go east at night, usually to arrive in Europe around the time the airport control towers accept arrivals, typically 0600 local time, like Heathrow. Westbound flights operate in the daytime.

From what I could determine, all of the airplanes I had made contact with had exactly the same indications we had, in terms of inoperative equipment. Fortunately, our TCAS was working, since it was dependent only on the operability of onboard equipment. That meant we would be able to visualize nearby aircraft on our TCAS display, and we would all be able to maneuver to avoid midair collisions with other TCAS-equipped aircraft. At these high altitudes, all aircraft were required to have TCAS. It might be a different story altogether when we got lower, as we approached to land,

since light planes didn’t usually have that equipment. But I suspected there wouldn’t be any light planes flying by the time we got to Chicago.

We had a fairly lengthy discussion about exactly where we should land. Given that the meteorological conditions were virtually the same everywhere, arrival weather would likely not be a factor. There was the real potential that, wherever we went, we might not get a gate at the terminal. That would mean remote parking.

The problem with remote parking was that we might not be able to get off the airplane. The 777 sits so high that it takes a special loading bridge or portable stairs to reach up to the aircraft door sill. If we were to divert to an airport that didn’t routinely accept 777s, we could have a problem with our passengers trapped onboard.

That’s what happened when I was flying a trip on September 11, 2001. Like today, weather was crisp and clear all over the United States. When the national aviation emergency was declared, every aircraft was told to land immediately at the nearest airport.

At the time, I had only been a 777 Captain for two years. Two years may sound like a long time, but the 777 is a highly sophisticated airplane, and it takes quite a bit of time for a pilot to fill his bag of tricks on a new airplane. I was flying a domestic trip, from Washington Dulles Airport to Denver International Airport. We were over Kansas when the national emergency was declared. It seemed like a no-brainer to me to continue to Denver, but when the controllers said land immediately, they meant immediately. The closest small blue circle on my cockpit moving map display, denoting a suitable airport, was labeled “KFOE”. From my Boeing 727 days, when I had flown nothing but domestic

trips all over the country, I had remembered that FOE was the VOR identifier for Topeka.

With some great help from my copilot, I had scrambled to program Topeka into our FMC to enable the pressurization system to schedule properly, located the paper approach charts for Topeka that I carried in my “brain bag”, the catalog case that carried all of my documents, and set up for an immediate landing. As I extended the speed brakes and executed an emergency descent, my copilot had made a quick Passenger Address announcement advising everyone on the aircraft that we were making an emergency landing at Topeka.

When we landed at Topeka, the Ground controller advised us that the loading bridges could not accept any aircraft larger than a 727, so we would have to deplane remotely. Then they told us that the only portable stairs they had would be three feet short of our door sill. I still remembered, now eleven years later, how I had stood on the top step of the portable stairs and helped the passengers deplane, one by one. We had three wheelchair passengers that day. It was grim.

I wasn’t going to let that happen again today, if I could help it. The passengers already were aware that something was wrong. About a half hour after the glitch happened, the purser came up to the cockpit.

“Captain, is there something going on that I need to know about? One of our passengers noticed that our airplane symbol isn’t moving on the Airshow moving map display on the passenger video screens. He did a pretty good impression of Scotty from

Star Trek when he said, ‘They have us in a tractor beam.’ Anything wrong besides the Airshow?”

“We’re not sure, Bill. We’ve lost contact with our GPS satellites, and with all ground- based communications facilities. We’re hearing from other airplanes that the power grid is out all across the United States. Right now, we’re planning on continuing on to O’Hare, but that’s subject to change. I’ll keep you posted as soon as I hear anything new. I’ll make a PA announcement to let the folks know what little I know.”

“Thanks, Ham.”

Bill was one of the few Flight Attendants that could get away with calling me by my nickname. We had flown trips together for years, and I had gone to dinner with the cabin crew on numerous layovers. I usually treated the crew. Bill ran a tight ship in the back, and his crew always did an outstanding job of taking care of the passengers.

Several years ago, I had been dead-heading in the cabin on a domestic 737 flight where Bill was the purser when a passenger, an overweight lady in her sixties, had a heart attack. At the time, not all WorldJet Airways planes had Automatic External Defibrillators onboard, and the 737 fleet was the last fleet scheduled to get outfitted with AEDs. We didn’t have any on board. Worse yet, there were no medical personnel among the passengers, and the two other Flight Attendants were new-hires and had not yet gotten CPR qualified. Since I had been trained on Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation as part of my side business as a fitness trainer, I volunteered to help out. Bill and I administered CPR as a team for over 40 minutes while the Captain made an emergency divert to Spokane. By the time the medics got aboard, we were exhausted. But we saved

the lady’s life, and after the passengers deplaned, we were overcome with emotion. I guess when you’ve cried with someone, he can call you by your nickname.

I picked up the PA handset.

“Ladies and gentlemen, this is Captain Hancock. You may have noticed the moving map display on your video screens is not working properly. That’s because the Global Positioning System signals are not tuning properly. Apparently, there’s also a problem with the domestic power grid, so we may experience some difficulties with the loading bridge after we arrive at Chicago. We don’t know a whole lot more right now, but I’ll keep you posted as we receive additional information.”

That should do it. Keep it short and sweet. For the life of me, I wanted to start out by saying “We have good news and bad news”, but years ago the company had said that was a big no-no. A career-ending no-no. So I kept it short and sweet.

Now it was time to see if Guard frequency was alive. We tuned the left VHF transmitter to 121.5 megahertz, and made a transmission in the blind.

“This is WorldJet Airways 407 on Guard in the blind. Are there any Air Traffic Control facilities reading my transmission?”

No response. I tried several more times, with the same results. It looked like we would be on our own.

Shortly after we passed over the east coast, our Engine Indicating and Crew Alerting System, called EICAS, displayed the warning, “Unable RNP”. That meant that the FMC was not able to maintain the Required Navigation Performance. In short, the navigation information from the FMC might not be very accurate.

Fortunately, I could see the ground. As our flight progressed, I was able to identify several airports on the ground that corresponded with the blue airport symbols on my cockpit moving map display, so I knew I was reasonably close to on course. Onward.

Jim, Mark and I had a fairly extensive discussion about where we should land, and I made the decision to proceed on to O’Hare. Landing there would be as safe as landing anywhere else, we had plenty of fuel, and O’Hare was where the passengers, and the airplane, needed to be.




RFT 152: Lyle Prouse's Redemption

Jan 15, 2018 58:43


From Lyle Prouse's website:

This is the story of the first airline pilot ever arrested and sent to prison for flying under the influence. He was fired by his airline, stripped of his FAA licenses, tried, convicted, and sent to Federal prison. This was a first. It had never occurred before.

Lyle Prouse came from a WWII housing project in Kansas and an alcoholic family where both parents died as a result of alcoholism. He rose through the ranks of the United States Marine Corps from private to captain, from an infantryman to a fighter pilot. He made his way to the pinnacle of commercial aviation, airline captain...then lost it all.

Today he is a recovering alcoholic with nearly twenty-two years sobriety. This story describes his rise from the ashes of complete destruction from which he was never to fly again. It is full of miracles which defy all manner of odds.

In a long and arduous journey, he eventually regained his FAA licenses. He never fought his termination; he considered it fair and appropriate.

Miraculously, after nearly four years, the President/CEO of his airline personally reinstated him to full flight despite the adverse publicity and embarrassment.

In effect, the President/CEO gambled his own career by taking such a risk on a convicted felon and publicly acknowledged alcoholic pilot.

In another stunning event, the judge who tried, sentenced, and sent him to prison watched his journey and reappeared eight years after the trial. He became the driving force behind a Presidential pardon although he'd never supported a petition for pardon in all his years on the bench.

Lyle retired honorably as a 747 captain for the airline he'd so horribly embarrassed and disgraced. He lives with his wife of nearly forty-nine years and has five grandchildren.

He continues to work with all the major airlines in their alcohol programs. He is also active in his Native American community, and he provides hope to those struggling with the disease of alcoholism, no matter who they are or where they are.

Lyle has documented his fall, and his redemption, in his fascinating memoir, Final Approach.



RFT 151: Radiant Crossing Part 1

Jan 10, 2018 14:09


November 28, 2013
2013 Greenwich Mean Time West 30 Degrees
Flight Level 310


I had just drifted off to sleep, with the rhythmic undulations of the aircraft gently rocking me to sleep, when there was a loud knock on the bunk door. Calling the claustrophobic space a bunk was a stretch, but at least it provided the opportunity to get a power nap while my two copilots manned the cockpit. I opened the door and swung my legs to the aisle floor, being careful not to completely sit up so I wouldn’t hit my head on the bottom of the upper bunk.

I blinked against the light in the narrow hallway between the passenger cabin and the cockpit as I let my eyes adjust. Bill Burton, our Purser, was standing in the hallway.

“Captain Hancock, the crew called me to wake you. You’re needed in the cockpit immediately.”

“Thanks, Bill. Could you please send up a coffee, black with Splenda?”
“Right away, sir.”
My mind raced to clear the cobwebs as I tried to envision what the problem was. I

could fully appreciate what the Captain of Air France 447 must have experienced, as he was awakened from his crew rest and rushed to the cockpit as his airplane was falling out of the sky. Two minutes later, he was dead, along with everyone else on his plane.

But this was different. Unlike Air France 447, we were operating in daylight hours. At night, every emergency is at least twice as difficult to handle. More important, we were in a Boeing 777, not the Airbus 340 that Air France 447 flew. Every time I thought of 447, I muttered to myself, “If it ain’t Boeing, I ain’t going”.

I entered the cockpit access code into the keypad on the door lock and waited for the crew to unlock the fortified door. Mary, the First Class Flight Attendant, had arrived behind me with a Styrofoam cup of coffee. I took a quick sip, and the fog instantly started to clear from my mind. Obviously, my degree of sleepiness or wakefulness was totally psychological.

Jim Johnson, the copilot assigned to the left seat, peered through the viewport and opened the door. I swiftly entered.

“What’s up, guys?”

“Sir, we’re having a lot of different problems,” said Mark Mason, my other copilot. “They all happened at the same time, about ten minutes ago. And they all seem unrelated.”

“Okay,” I replied, “let’s go over them one by one. What’s the most serious?”
“ Well,” Jim answered, “we lost our GPS positioning. Both of them.”
That was unusual. Really unusual. The 777 has enough redundancy in its systems

that if one component fails, another will pick up the slack. I’d been flying the 777 for over ten years, and never had a Global Position System fail. The odds against both failing were astronomical.

But it wasn’t that big a deal, really. The Flight Management Computers on the airplane would simply compute our present position, groundspeed and wind vector from the Inertial Reference Units. The IRUs were much more accurate than the Inertial Navigation Systems like we had in the older airplanes. An INS will get you position accuracy within a few miles after a 10-hour flight like ours, while an IRU will get you within a hundred feet. And once we were over land, instead of the middle of the Atlantic Ocean where we presently were, the FMC would use land-based navigation transmitters, VORs, to update our position.

My copilots were too young to remember when we didn’t have “glass” cockpits, with moving-map displays and GPS positioning. During our layover in London, when we’d been doing some “hangar flying” at the hotel bar, they’d confided to me that they’d never flown anything but glass. Even their basic flight training airplanes had glass instruments. Using old-fashion round dials, like I’d been flying with for most of my forty-year career, would be an emergency procedure for them.

“Okay,” I responded, “not that big a problem. What else?”

“ At 30 west we couldn’t get CPDLC to work, and we’ve been unable to raise Gander on either HF or VHF.”

“Did you try the left, right and center radios for both VHF and HF?” I asked. “Yes,sir,” Jim responded,. “tried them all. Nothing.”
That could be a problem, but not a show-stopper. The Controller-Pilot Data Link

Communications System was the airborne equivalent of sending emails back and forth between aircraft and Air Traffic Control. CPDLC made it much easier to talk to ATC

than trying to make contact on the radio through static and interference from other aircraft transmissions. Our fallback communications method would be what we used back in the old days – voice transmissions on the radio, using either HF or VHF. It was really unusual for both radio systems, with their triple redundancy, to be inoperative.

Fortunately, the weather was severe clear. I looked ahead and could see an Air Canada 767 a thousand feet below us, slightly ahead, our speeds perfectly matched. Well ahead I could see contrails, those white trails that form when an aircraft disturbs the air and causes ice crystals to form, that indicated where we would be flying next. All aircraft on North Atlantic routes, called NAT Tracks, flew on assigned flight paths at specifically-assigned speeds. There were additional tracks every thirty miles north and south of our route.

I could see the other aircraft on our Traffic Collision and Avoidance System, called TCAS, and everyone seemed to be on course with no problems.

“Have you tried 12345?” I asked.

“Not yet,” Jim answered, “We thought we’d get your input before we went outside our airplane.”

That was a good call. It could have been something as simple as a couple of popped circuit breakers, and there was no reason to tell the world yet. I instinctively glanced at the overhead circuit breaker panel. None were tripped. I moved my transmitter selector to the right VHF radio, which was tuned to the oceanic inter-plane frequency of 123.45 megahertz.

“This is WorldJet Airways 407 on 12345. Is anybody up on frequency?”

“Hello, WorldJet Airways, this is Air Canada 332, a bit past 30 west. We’re having problems contacting Gander on any of their frequencies, and we’ve lost our GPS. And our SATCOM isn’t working also. Are you having the same problems?”

“That’s affirmative,” I answered, “We have no comm with our company on ACARS also.”

The Arinc Communication and Reporting System was an automatic data link with our company headquarters. Theoretically, we could maintain communications with our company anywhere in the world with either ACARS or the Satellite Communications system. When Air Canada mentioned SATCOM, Mark pointed at the Satellite Communications control panel and gave me a thumbs down signal.

“Same here.”

“WorldJet Airways and Air Canada, this is Delta 883. We’re about sixty miles ahead of you. Did you hear US Air’s transmission?”

“Delta, this is WorldJet Airways 407. Negative. Would you relay for us?”

“Roger, WorldJet Airways. US Air said that the word is being passed along that there’s been an EMP attack. No one is in contact with ATC, and we’re all pretty much on our own.”

An Electro Magnetic Pulse attack, the detonation of a nuclear weapon at high altitude over the United Airways States, could wipe out the entire power grid of the country in the blink of an eye. There’d been stories about the Iranians planning something like that, and the subject had been in the news recently when Boeing had announced that they had developed a drone that could do the same thing to an enemy

on a more local scale. But something about the EMP attack story didn’t sound quite right.

“Wait a minute, guys,” I transmitted, “an EMP attack wouldn’t knock out our GPS satellites. I think it might be something else, like sun spot activity.”

“This is Delta 883. You’re right, WorldJet Airways. I’ll pass this up ahead and see if anyone has any more information.”

I heard Delta relay my message, then I heard an intermittent, scratchy retransmission from an airplane ahead of him. Maybe one of the planes ahead of us would get more information. We had our own airplane to worry about.

“Jim, do you have the WBM?”
“Here you go, boss.”
I looked at all five pages of the Weather Briefing Message. It was like I always said: I’d rather be lucky than good. Severe clear weather over the entire eastern half of the United States, from Colorado east, for the next two days. A winter storm was predicted in a couple of days, but right now it was smooth sailing. This was great news. If the power grid was out, there was no telling if the backup systems at all the airports would be operational. We may have navigation signals, we may not. At least it was daytime, and the weather was good. We’d be able to make a visual approach to wherever we were going to land.

Chicago O’Hare Airport, our destination, was always hectic, even when communications were working. Even on a good day when everything was going smoothly, the ATC controllers usually sounded more like tobacco auctioneers than tower operators. If there was any snag in communications, it was going to get pretty hairy.

I looked at the O’Hare forecast. The wind was going to be from the west. At an airport that’s not very busy, that would most likely mean landing to the west. At O’Hare, unless the wind was greater than 10 knots, takeoff and landing directions were not so set in stone. My guess was that we’d be using Runway 32 Left, 32 Right, 27 Left or 27 Right. Depended on which runway they were using for takeoffs.

But wait. If communications were out, there wouldn’t be any takeoffs. Only landings. That meant our potential conflicts had just been cut in half. Things were starting to look up. I turned to Jim and Mark.

“Okay, guys, I think there’s been some kind of event that’s taken out most of the radios and the power grid. Is anything else on the airplane inop?”

“The only other thing I noticed is the EFBs aren’t working,” Jim said. “I think they quit around the same time as the GPS.”

I looked down at my Electronic Flight Bag. The screen was black, unpowered. Unlike when we carried 40 or 50 pounds of paper charts and maps in our “brain bags”, the leather catalog cases pilots had carried since the beginning of commercial aviation, all of our flight documents were now in our EFBs, with backup copies in the iPads we’d recently been authorized to use in the cockpit.

I looked on the overhead circuit breaker panel and found the EFB-L and EFB-R circuit breakers and pulled them out. One potato, two potato, three potato. I pushed them back in. It would take a few minutes to see if recycling the breakers would get the Left and Right EFBs back in operation.

“Jim,” I said, “check your iPad. We may need to use the charts in there.”

“Bad news, Ham,” he answered. “I tried cranking it up a few minutes ago, and all I got was a black screen with the Apple logo. I tried both of the others, too, and none of them are working.”

“Hamilton,” Mark said, “why would some of our equipment work and some not?”

“Most of our electronics,” I answered, “are in the lower electronics bay. That area is well shielded, and the airplane itself acts pretty much like a Faraday cage. The electronics in the cockpit, like the iPads, aren’t so well protected because of all of the windows. My guess, and it’s just a guess, is that there was some form of event, like a sun spot, that caused a glitch. When we get closer to land, within radio range of the States, we’ll try Guard frequency. I suspect that Guard transmitters have some sort of power backup, and they’re probably well shielded. We’ll just have to wait.”

Mark and Jim silently nodded. After about three minutes, the EFBs came back to life. At least we’d have our charts. It was going to be at least three more hours before we were within range of any American or Canadian radio stations.

It was going to be a long three hours.


RFT 150: Congressional Medal of Honor Recipient Major General Patrick Brady

Jan 6, 2018 45:55


MAJOR GENERAL (RET) PAT BRADY served over thirty-four years in the Army in duty stations across the world: In Berlin during the building of the Wall; as commander of the DMZ in Korea, in the Dominican Republic; in the Pentagon as chief spokesman for the Army and for two years in Viet Nam. In two tours in Viet Nam he rescued over five thousand wounded and flew over twenty-five hundred combat missions. He is identified in the Encyclopedia of the Viet Nam War as the top helicopter pilot in that war and is one of two Viet Nam soldiers to earn both the Medal of Honor and the Distinguished Service Cross, our nation's second highest award. Some pundits also identify him as the most decorated living veteran. His awards include: Two Distinguished Service Medals; the Defense Superior Service Medal; the Legion of Merit; six Distinguished Flying Crosses; two Bronze Stars, one for valor; the Purple Heart and fifty-three Medals, one for valor. He is a member of both the Army Aviation and Dust Off Halls of Fame. Brady is a former president of the Congressional Medal of Honor Society and a past Commissioner of the Battle Monuments Commission during the construction of the WWII memorial. General Brady has a bachelor's degree in psychology from Seattle University and an MBA from Notre Dame University.

RFT 149: How To Fly A 3-Degree Final

Jan 3, 2018 13:59


Every time you fly a visual or instrument approach you will be flying a nominal-3 degree flight path. This podcast covers several techniques to fly a 3-degree final approach, whether you have glide slope guidance, such as an ILS, or simply referring to visual cues.Since the glideslope on most ILS installations and the desired visual glide path is 3 degrees, we will look at ways to easily fly a 3-degree glide path.

A 3-degree glide path is equal to an altitude loss of 300 feet per mile. Considering that a nominal threshold crossing height (TCH) is 50 feet, the proper glide path would be an altitude of 350 feet above ground level (AGL) at a distance of one mile from the runway, 650 feet AGL at 2 miles, and 1000 feet AGL at 3 miles (I'm a pilot, so I try to simplify things!). If you know your distance from the runway and the elevation of the airport, it's fairly easy to keep yourself on the right path. You can determine your distance from the runway using GPS, VOR/DME or visual references.

The vertical speed (VSI) (in feet per minute - FPM) to arrive at a 3-degree flight path is one-half your groundspeed in knots times 10. For example, if your groundspeed is 100 knots, your VSI for a 3-degree flight path would be 500 FPM. It's important to note that this is GROUNDSPEED, not airspeed.

You can determine your groundspeed from your GPS (if you have one) or by calculating your true airspeed (TAS) and subtracting your headwind. To calculate your TAS, you can estimate it by increasing your indicated (or calibrated) airspeed by 2 percent for every 1000 feet of altitude. So if your IAS is 100 knots indicated airspeed (KIAS) and you are at 5000 feet MSL, your TAS would be 110 KIAS. You can estimate your headwind by taking the headwind component at the runway and increasing it by about 20 percent. In this example for a 100 KIAS approach flown at 5000 feet MSL with a 20 knot headwind, you have a groundspeed of 90 knots, and would descent at 450 FPM.

If you do not have an ILS receiver and are approaching a runway served by an ILS, you can fly toward the runway in level flight, configured and at final approach airspeed, until reaching the outer marker (OM), then simply lower the nose 3 degrees.


RFT 148: E6B Slide Rule Side

Dec 29, 2017 08:08


The slide rule side of the E6B computer is used to calculate time, speed and distance. The scales on the outer circle and the first scale on the inner disk are identical. Also on the inner disk is an additional scale that represents hours corresponding to the number of minutes on the first scale. Think of the edge of the inner disk as representing the word "per", such as "miles per hour", gallons per minute, etc.

To calculate any rate, simply place the black triangle on the inner disk opposite the number on the outer scale that represents the value that changes with time, such as miles per hour and gallons per hour. Then, opposite the number of minutes on the inner disk, you can read the result. Naturally, you need to provide the zero or decimal point if appropriate by first estimating an answer to comply with the TLAR (That Looks About Right) rule.

To compute True Air Speed, use the small window and align the temperature opposite the altitude and read the True Air Speed on the outer scale opposite the Calibrated Air Speed on the inner disk.

RFT 147: Airshow Performer Paul "Sticky" Strickland

Dec 25, 2017 52:00


Paul Strickland entered the Air Force in 1983, graduating with honors from OCS. Paul has had a distinguished and successful Air Force career logging over 3,900 hours in military aircraft including the A-10, F-5 and F-16. Paul served with various squadrons in the US, Europe, and Korea, flying combat missions during Operation Deny Flight over Bosnia, Operation Northern Watch over Iraq, and supporting Operation ALLIED FORCE over Kosovo as operations director, Combined Air Ops Center in Italy. In 1991, “Sticky” was named to the USAF Air Demonstration Squadron “Thunderbirds” as the #4, Slot pilot, Instructor Pilot, Flight Examiner, and Safety officer. While with the Thunderbirds, he logged over 160+ air shows throughout the United States and two overseas tours, flying in 11 European countries (and the first ever USAF demonstration in Hungary and Poland), and seven South American countries. “Sticky” commanded the 4th Fighter Squadron “Fuujins”, the 388 Ops Support Squadron “Raptors”, and the 8th Ops Group “Wolfpack” at Kunsan, Korea before serving with the Joint Staff, Pentagon as the Chief, Joint Operations Division, SOUTHCOM, until his retirement in 2006. “Sticky” is currently a pilot with Southwest Airlines.

RFT 146B: RIP Jerry Yellin

Dec 24, 2017 02:56


The last combat mission of World War II began Aug. 15, 1945, when fighter pilot Jerry Yellin and his wingman, 19-year-old Philip Schlamberg, took off from Iwo Jima to attack airfields near Nagoya, Japan.

The war seemed all but over. Germany had surrendered in May, and much of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were in ruins, decimated by atomic bombs dropped the previous week. If Mr. Yellin heard a code word — “Utah” — Japan’s rumored surrender had occurred, and he was to cancel his mission and return to Iwo Jima, a rocky island that he had helped secure months earlier and that offered a base for American bombers headed north to Japan.

Later that day, on what was still Aug. 14 in the United States, Emperor Hirohito announced Japan’s surrender. For some reason, however, Mr. Yellin and Schlamberg never got the message.

Taking on antiaircraft fire in their P-51 Mustangs, they strafed their targets and headed home, passing through a thick bank of clouds. Schlamberg, who had previously admitted a sense of foreboding to Mr. Yellin, saying, “If we go on this mission, I’m not coming back,” never emerged from the haze.

Disappearing from Mr. Yellin’s wing, he was presumed dead and considered one of the last Americans to be killed in combat during World War II.

Mr. Yellin in 2015. (Lightfinder Public Relations)

Mr. Yellin, who landed on Iwo Jima to discover that the war had ended three hours earlier, and who later became an outspoken advocate of veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder, died Dec. 21 at his son Steven Yellin’s home in Orlando. He was 93 and had lung cancer, his son said.

For Mr. Yellin, the war was a hellish necessity, essential for halting the spread of Nazism and Japanese aggression. But he also spoke forthrightly about its costs, including the mental anguish over memories of combat that nearly led him to suicide. He recalled with particular horror the experience of landing on war-torn Iwo Jima for the first time, where “there wasn’t a blade of grass and there were 28,000 bodies rotting in the sun.”

“The sights and the sounds and the smells of dead bodies and the sights of Japanese being bulldozed into mass graves absolutely never went away,” he told the Washington Times in August.

Mr. Yellin, a captain in the 78th Fighter Squadron of the Army Air Forces, counted 16 downed pilots in his unit during the war, including Schlamberg. For years afterward, he struggled to keep a steady job, moving a dozen times in the United States and Israel (where he settled, at one point, partly in protest of the Vietnam War).

He eventually found solace through Transcendental Meditation, a twice-daily technique of silent concentration that his wife introduced him to in 1975 after she saw the practice’s originator, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, on “The Merv Griffin Show.”

Mr. Yellin soon began speaking to other veterans who struggled to adapt to civilian life, and in 2010 he co-founded Operation Warrior Wellness, a division of the David Lynch Foundation that helps veterans learn Transcendental Meditation. He said he was inspired to start the group after a friend and Army veteran killed himself that year. Mr. Yellin received support in promotional videos by actress Scarlett Johansson, a grandniece of Schlamberg.

“The feeling that one has when a buddy dies? You just can’t emulate that. We have a burden civilians will never understand,” Mr. Yellin told The Washington Post earlier this month, shortly after the release of “The Last Fighter Pilot,” an account of his World War II service written with Don Brown.

RFT 146: The Wind Side of the E6B

Dec 22, 2017 09:26


The great thing about the mechanical E6B computer is that it requires no batteries and gets more accurate the more often you use it! The easy way to use the wind side of the E6B is remember to start with placing the wind direction under the True Index.  Align the grommet over any solid line on the slide, and draw a wind dot UP a distance representing the wind speed.

Next, rotate the bezel to place the true course under the True Index. Now, move the slide until the wind dot is over the line that represents the true airspeed.

Finally, without moving anything, read your groundspeed under the grommet and read your wind correction angle under the near-vertical line that radiates from the bottom of the slide.

RFT 145: Airline Pilot Brian Schiff

Dec 18, 2017 22:52


From Brian Schiff's website:

Capt. Brian Schiff is a captain for a major US airline and is type-rated on the Boeing 727, 757, 767, DC-9 (MD-80), CL-65, LR-JET, and G-V. Schiff’s roots are deeply planted in general aviation where he has flown a wide variety of aircraft.

     He holds several flight instructor ratings and is recognized for his enthusiasm and ability to teach in way that simplifies complex procedures and concepts. He has been actively instructing since earning his flight and ground instructor certificates in 1985. Schiff also has been an FAA-designated examiner.

     He attended San Jose State University, and earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Aeronautical Science from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and his Masters of Science Degree in Aviation Safety from the University of Central Missouri. He regularly conducts seminars about aviation safety and techniques to student and professional pilots alike.

Here's a great website that features a visit with Brian:

Brian's website has tons of great information for pilots at every level of experience.


Dec 16, 2017 11:10


IMSAFE is the Aeronautical Information Manual's recommended mnemonic for aircraft pilots to use to assess their fitness to fly.

The mnemonic is:

Illness - Is the pilot suffering from any illness or symptom of an illness which might affect them in flight? Medication - Is the pilot currently taking any drugs (prescription or over-the-counter)? Stress - Is the pilot overly worried about other factors in his life? The psychological pressures of everyday living can be a powerful distraction and consequently affect a pilot's performance. The Yerkes-Dodson study illustrates that performance actually improves with increasing levels of stress up to a certain level, then drops off rapidly if the stress level is too great. Alcohol - Although legal limits vary by jurisdiction (0.04 BAC, any consumption in the past 8 hours or current impairment in the USA), the pilot should consider their alcohol consumption within the last 8 to 24 hours. Fatigue - Has the pilot had sufficient sleep and adequate nutrition? Emotion - Has the pilot fully recovered from any extremely upsetting events such as the loss of a family member?

'E', while defined under the FAA as standing for Emotion, is considered by other international Aviation Authorities such as the CAA and CASA to stand for Eating, including ensuring proper hydration, sustenance, and correct nutrition.

RFT 143: Dean Siracusa

Dec 11, 2017 22:46


Dean Siracusa used to fly in his father's airplane as a child, but when he started traveling by air as an adult he developed a fear of flying. To combat this fear, he started taking flying lessons in 1999, and immediately fell in love with aviation.

Dean has owned a Cessna 172, a Grumman Cheeta, and his current airplane, a Myers 200D. He's put 1000 hours on the Myers since buying it in 2006, and still raves about the plane.

In 2010 Dean noticed a major problem with aviation sunglasses: the temple pieces dig into the wearer's head when using a tight-fitting headset or helmet. That started him on his quest to design and develop sunglasses with micro-thin temples that are comfortable under the headgear worn for any activity, such as flying, cycling, and skiing. The result was a ground-breaking line of eyewear designed for aviation, and currently in use by pilots of C-130s, F-16s and a host of other military and civilian airplanes.

Glasses can be ordered directly from his website and also at numerous optical retailers.

RFT 142: Night Vision

Dec 8, 2017 07:16


It is estimated that once fully adapted to darkness, the rods are 10,000 times more sensitive to light than the cones, making them the primary receptors for night vision. Since the cones are concentrated near the fovea, the rods are also responsible for much of the peripheral vision. The concentration of cones in the fovea can make a night blindspot in the center of the field of vision.To see an object clearly at night, the pilot must expose the rods to the image.This can be done by looking 5° to10° off center of the object to be seen.This can be tried in a dim light in a darkened room. When looking directly at the light, it dims or disappears altogether. When looking slightly off center, it becomes clearer and brighter.

When looking directly at an object, the image is focused mainly on the fovea, where detail is best seen. At night, the ability to see an object in the center of the visual field is reduced as the cones lose much of their sensitivity and the rods become more sensitive. Looking off center can help compensate for this night blind spot. Along with the loss of sharpness (acuity) and color at night, depth perception and judgment of size may be lost. 

Dark Adaptation

Dark adaptation is the adjustment of the human eye to a dark environment. That adjustment takes longer depending on the amount of light in the environment that a person has just left. Moving from a bright room into a dark one takes longer than moving from a dim room and going into a dark one.

While the cones adapt rapidly to changes in light intensities, the rods take much longer. Walking from bright sunlight into a dark movie theater is an example of this dark adaptation period experience. The rods can take approximately 30 minutes to fully adapt to darkness. A bright light, however, can completely destroy night adaptation, leaving night vision severely compromised while the adaptation process is repeated.

Scanning techniques are very important in identifying objects at night. To scan effectively, pilots must look from right to left or left to right. They should begin scanning at the greatest distance an object can be perceived (top) and move inward toward the position of the aircraft (bottom). For each stop, an area approximately 30° wide should be scanned. The duration of each stop is based on the degree of detail that is required, but no stop should last longer than 2 to 3 seconds. When moving from one viewing point to the next, pilots should overlap the previous field of view by 10°. 

Off-center viewing is another type of scan that pilots can use during night flying. It is a technique that requires an object be viewed by looking 10° above, below, or to either side of the object.  In this manner, the peripheral vision can maintain contact with an object.

With off-center vision, the images of an object viewed longer than 2 to 3 seconds will disappear. This occurs because the rods reach a photochemical equilibrium that prevents any further response until the scene changes. This produces a potentially unsafe operating condition. To overcome this night vision limitation, pilots must be aware of the phenomenon and avoid viewing an object for longer than 2 or 3 seconds. The peripheral field of vision will continue to pick up the object when the eyes are shifted from one off- center point to another.

Several things can be done to help with the dark adaptation process and to keep the eyes adapted to darkness. Some of the steps pilots and flight crews can take to protect their night vision are described in the following paragraphs.

If, during the flight ,any high intensity lighting areas are encountered, attempt to turn the aircraft away and fly in the periphery of the lighted area.This will not expose the eyes to such a large amount of light all at once. If possible, plan your route to avoid direct over flight to built-up, brightly lit areas.

Flight deck lighting should be kept as low as possible so that the light does not monopolize night vision. After reaching the desired flight altitude, pilots should allow time to adjust to the flight conditions.This includes readjustment of instrument lights and orientation to outside references. During the adjustment period, night vision should continue to improve until optimum night adaptation is achieved. When it is necessary to read maps, charts, and checklists, use a dim white light flashlight and avoid shining it in your or any other crew member’s eyes.

Often time, pilots have no say in how airfield operations are handled, but listed below are some precautions that can be taken to make night flying safer and help protect night vision.

•Airfield lighting should be reduced to the lowest usable intensity.

•Maintenance personnel should practice light discipline with headlights and flashlights.

•Position the aircraft at a part of the airfield where the least amount of lighting exists.

If a night flight is scheduled, pilots and crewmembers should wear neutral density (N-15) sunglasses or equivalent filter lenses when exposed to bright sunlight. This precaution increases the rate of dark adaptation at night and improves night visual sensitivity.

Unaided night vision depends on optimum function and sensitivity oftherods of the retina. Lack of oxygen to the rods (hypoxia) significantly reduces their sensitivity. Sharp clear vision(with the best being equal to 20–20 vision) requires significant oxygen especially at night. Without supplemental oxygen, an individual’s night vision declines measurably at pressure altitudes above 4,000 feet. As altitude increases, the available oxygen decreases, degrading night vision. Compounding the problem is fatigue, which minimizes physiological well being. Adding fatigue to high altitude exposure is a recipe for disaster. In fact, if flying at night at an altitude of 12,000 feet, the pilot may actually see elements of his orher normal vision missing or not in focus. Missing visual elements resemble the missing pixels in a digital image while unfocused vision is washed out.

For the pilot suffering the effects of hypoxia, a simple descent to a lower altitude may not be sufficient to reestablish vision. For example, a climb from 8,000 feet to 12,000 feet for 30 minutes does not mean a descent to 8,000 feet will rectify the problem. Visual acuity may not be regained for over an hour. Thus, it is important to remember, altitude and fatigue have a profound effect on a pilot’s ability to see.

•Select approach and departure routes that avoid highways and residential areas where illumination can impair night vision.

Night flight can be more fatiguing and stressful than day flight, and many self-imposed stressors can limit night vision. Pilots can control this type of stress by knowing the factors that can cause self-imposed stressors.

RFT 141: Lt. General John Fairfield

Dec 4, 2017 41:05


When John Fairfield visited an Air Force recruiter, he became convinced he should be a navigator to gain additional aviation education before becoming a pilot. He attended navigator training and served as a B-52 Navigator, eventually becoming a check airman and a Navigator-Bombadier. Due to his exceptional performance and attitude, he was selected to attend Air Force Undergraduate Pilot Training as the only Navigator released from Strategic Air Command for this school.

He performed extremely well in pilot training, and had his choice of assignments. He elected to remain in Air Training Command as an Instructor Pilot, to gain additional flight experience. At Williams Air Force Base he became the base expert in T-37 spin recovery training, administering this training to students and instructors alike. After gaining additional flying experience, John volunteered for combat duty in Vietnam.

Following F-4 Replacement Training Unit training, he arrived at the 8th Tactical Fighter Wing, at Ubon Royal Thai Air Base, just as Operation Linebacker commenced. He quickly became a flight commander and flight leader on missions over Hanoi, at the time the most heavily-defended area in the world. He led combat flights during both Linebacker I and Linebacker II.

After Ubon, John was assigned to the Pentagon to manage the Air Force fuel program. A few months after assuming that position, the 1973 Fuel Crisis occurred, and it was his job to ensure that the Air Force could continue flying with drastically reduced fuel stores. Because of his performance in this position, he was promoted from Captain to Colonel in four years, considered an impossibility during peacetime!

John eventually got back into the cockpit in the B-52 and served numerous roles, including becoming a Wing Commander a few weeks after arriving on base when his wing failed an Operational Readiness Inspection (ORI) and the previous Wing Commander was fired. He instituted a corrective action program that resulted in his wing achieving the best bombing scores in the history of the Strategic Air Command during the ORI re-test.

Numerous other assignments, including another tour at the Pentagon, led to his selection as Lieutenant General (three-star). For most of these assignments, General Fairfield was not selected for these positions because of his in-depth knowledge of the intricacies of the tasks, but for his leadership and for his ability to inspire his men and women to achieve the goals of their mission.

General Fairfield retired from active duty in 1997.

RFT 140: UAS Threat - The ASSURE Report

Dec 2, 2017 11:55


Unmanned Aerial Systems (drones) pose a serious inflight risk to aircraft. In this episode, we discuss some of the findings in the comprehensive ASSURE study performed by 23 academic institutions.

RFT 139: VIP Airlift Pilot/Fitness Professional Otis Hooper

Nov 27, 2017 32:15


After Otis Hooper graduated from the United States Air Force Academy, he attended Undergraduate Pilot Training in Columbus, MS, and then flew the KC-135 aircraft at McConnell Air Force Base in Kansas. He had just returned from his first deployment (of eight total) when the September 11th attacks occurred, and was assigned to fly refueling missions over New York City for the fighter aircraft protecting the city.

After leaving the active duty Air Force, he flew VIP airlift support missions in the C-40 Boeing Business Jet with the Washington, D.C. Air Guard. It was at this time that Otis started his fitness transformation. During an 18-month period, he dropped 50 pounds of fat, gained 25 pounds of muscle, and competed in the Mr. Olympia contest. He continues his bodybuilding activities, and has now become a professional.

But that's just the beginning of his non-flying activities. He trained for and completed an Ironman triathlon, and then competed on the American Ninja Warrior program. He is also a motivational speaker with the Afterburner Team, and has just started a career as a movie actor, appearing in Rampage with Dwayne Johnson.

RFT 138: Laser Threat To Aircraft

Nov 25, 2017 04:23


- Pilots should avoid flight within areas of reported ongoing unauthorized laser activity to the extent practicable.

- In the event a cautionary broadcast (by ATC or another pilot) regarding unauthorized laser illumination is made within the previous 20 minutes for a particular area, pilots should avoid the area, if practicable.

- In the event laser activity is encountered or reported in the vicinity of flight, pilots operating in accordance with instrument flight rules (IFR) should obtain ATC authorization prior to deviating from their assigned clearance.

- In the event aircrews are unexpectedly exposed to laser illumination, direct eye contact with the beam should be avoided, and eyes should be shielded to the maximum extent possible consistent 4 with aircraft contract and safety. ATC understands that, under these circumstances, aircrews may regard the event as an in-flight emergency and may take evasive action to avoid further exposure to the laser illumination.

- As soon as possible, following an incident, pilots should report it to the appropriate ATC facility in accordance with the guidance provided by this AC. Forward as much information as available. Expeditious reporting will assist law enforcement in locating the source of the laser transmission.

RFT 137: Award-Winning Film Producer John Mollison

Nov 20, 2017 32:57


This is our second visit with aviation artist and historian John Mollison. In this interview, John discusses his newest film, the award-winning South Dakota Warrior: The John Waldron Story.

On 4 June, 1942, LtCDR John C. Waldron led 29 other men into battle against the Japanese at the Battle of Midway. The result was (nearly) utter annihilation of his squadron...and the moment that assured that the United States would utterly defeat the Japanese. His mission led to the destruction of four Japanese aircraft carriers (the Soryu, the Hiryu, the Kaga and the Akagi) during the Battle of Midway, which changed the course of the war in the Pacific.

In Mollison's film, we learn the John Waldron story and the lessons of the Battle of Midway.

RFT 136: Turbulence

Nov 17, 2017 10:03


Turbulence is air movement that normally cannot be seen and often occurs unexpectedly. It can be created by many different conditions, including atmospheric pressure, jet streams, air around mountains, cold or warm weather fronts or thunderstorms. Turbulence can even occur when the sky appears to be clear.

While turbulence is normal and happens often, it can be dangerous. Its bumpy ride can cause passengers who are not wearing their seat belts to be thrown from their seats without warning. But, by following the guidelines suggested on this site, you can help keep yourself and your loved ones safe when traveling by air.

To keep you and your family as safe as possible during flight, FAA regulations require passengers to be seated with their seat belts fastened:

When the airplane leaves the gate and as it climbs after take-off. During landing and taxi. Whenever the seat belt sign is illuminated during flight.

Why is it important to follow these safety regulations? Consider this:

In nonfatal accidents, in-flight turbulence is the leading cause of injuries to airline passengers and flight attendants. Each year, approximately 58 people in the United States are injured by turbulence while not wearing their seat belts. From 1980 through 2008, U.S. air carriers had 234 turbulence accidents*, resulting in 298 serious injuries and three fatalities. Of the 298 serious injuries, 184 involved flight attendants and 114 involved passengers. At least two of the three fatalities involved passengers who were not wearing their seat belts while the seat belt sign was illuminated. Generally, two-thirds of turbulence-related accidents occur at or above 30,000 feet.


RFT 135: Airshow Pilot/Guinness Record-Holder Spencer Suderman

Nov 13, 2017 34:21


From Spencer Suderman's website:

Spencer Suderman is not only one of the most exciting air show performers on the planet, he is also a Guinness World Record holder! On March 20, 2016, Spencer flew the Sunbird S-1x, an experimental variant of the Pitts S-1 biplane to an altitude of 24,500′ in the restricted airspace over the Barry M. Goldwater Range in Yuma, Arizona then entered an inverted flat spin. At an altitude of 2,000′ the recovery was initiated and the Sunbird smoothly returned to level flight at 1,200′. A new world record of 98 inverted flat spins crushed the previous Guinness World Record of 81 that Spencer set in 2014.

Spencer began flying while in college in the late 1980’s and quickly advanced from private pilot to commercial pilot with an instrument rating. In 2002 he became a Certified Flight Instructor (CFI) and now holds an FAA unrestricted Statement of Aerobatic Competency (SAC) card allowing him to perform solo and formation aerobatics down to surface level.

While working on his instrument rating, Spencer discovered that aerobatics are amazingly fun and quickly lost interest in merely flying straight and level. After attending numerous aerobatic contests in the Super Decathlon aerobatic trainer rented from a local flight school he moved up to the high performance Pitts S-2B. He’s been performing in air shows since 2006 and the plane was dubbed the “Meteor Pitts” because it shoots across the sky with its unique hot rod style flame paint scheme.

Spencer’s air show performance uniquely showcases the capabilities of the Meteor Pitts Biplane with Intense gyroscopic maneuvers like the Double Hammerhead and the Inverted Flat Spin with its signature corkscrew smoke trail as the plane drops towards the ground at over 6000′ feet per minute spinning like a Frisbee!

Spencer enjoys entertaining the audience with this amazing airplane. His enthusiasm for flight is infectious and he’s proud of the people that have been motivated to get involved in aviation. Spencer enjoys producing videos about flying that give the viewer a sense of being in the cockpit going along for the ride!

When not flying Spencer works in IT within the entertainment industry and lives in Southern California with his wife, children, and two dogs. His educational background includes an MBA from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst and a bachelors degree from the State University of New York. Education is the most important pursuit any human can undertake and Spencer speaks from experience when encouraging young people to pursue learning with passion.


RFFT 134: PRM Approaches

Nov 12, 2017 07:36


What is Precision Runway MonitorTraining?
Precision Runway Monitor (PRM) training provides guidance on conducting PRM approaches. These are simultaneous, independent approaches to closely spaced, parallel runways.
What You Need to Know
The FAA, together with industry, recently completed an extensive overhaul of the PRM training material. The centerpiece of this effort is a newly developed training aid titled, “Precision Runway Monitor (PRM) Pilot Procedures.” It replaces previously used training videos for both air carrier and general aviation pilots. Although the core elements of the training remain unchanged, this new version has been streamlined to reduce completion time and provides the most up-to-date information on how to safely conduct PRM approaches.
In conjunction with this change, the Aeronautical Information Manual (AIM) is being updated regarding simultaneous approaches in general, and PRM operations specifically. Over time, other relevant documents will also be updated.
To reduce cockpit workload, a new Attention All Users Page (AAUP) format will be implemented. This new format is shorter in length and delivers updated briefing material. It will be published on December 7, 2017.
The FAA’s PRM website ( been updated as well. Here, pilots can view or download the PRM training slide presentation. A link to the appropriate AIM section is also provided.
What Do I Need to Do?
Part 121, 129, and 135 operations:Pilots must comply with FAA-approved company training, as identified in their Operations Specifications.
Part 91 operations:Pilots operating transport category aircraft must be familiar with PRM and Simultaneous Offset Instrument Approaches (SOIA) operations as contained in the AIM. Training, at a minimum, must require pilots to view the new FAA slide presentation, "Precision Runway Monitor (PRM) Pilot Procedures."Pilots not operating transport category aircraft must be familiar with PRM and SOIA operations, as contained in the AIM. The FAA strongly recommends these pilots view the new FAA training slide presentation, "Precision Runway Monitor (PRM) Pilot Procedures."

RFT 133: Air Force Fighter Pilot/CAP Pilot Lynn Damron

Nov 6, 2017 37:47


Aviation was in Lynn Damron's blood from the time he was born. His uncle was a barnstormer in the 1930s and later became an airline pilot. Starting at about age 10, Lynn wanted to be a fighter pilot. He soloed a J-3 Cub when he as still in high school, and after a year at a civilian college he was accepted to the United States Air Force Academy, class of 1967. After graduation he attended Undergraduate Pilot Training (UPT) at Moody Air Force Base and was assigned to fly back-seat F-4s.

On the way to Vietnam his unit was diverted to Korea, and he spent six months there on an air defense assignment. After his F-4 assignment, Lynn went to Vietnam as a Forward Air Controller (FAC), based at Hue. After Vietnam he became an instructor pilot (IP) in the supersonic T-38 Talon, training UPT students. Following his IP assignment he became an F-105 Wild Weasel pilot at George Air Force Base, CA.

After an educational assignment at Air Command And Staff College Lynn was assigned to fly F-4s at Clark Air Base, Philippines. Following his final F-4 assignment Lynn served as a staff officer for his last eight years in the Air Force.

Lynn now serves in the Civil Air Patrol, mentoring cadets and flying search and rescue missions.

RFT 132: Runway Status Lights

Nov 4, 2017 06:11


Concept of Operations

Runway Status Lights is an essential FAA system which uses Airport Surface Survellance data to determine vehicle and aircraft locations. Runway Status Lights processes this data using complex software algorithms with adjustable parameters to control airfield lights in accordance with Air Traffic operations, including anticipated separation. Red airfield lights (Runway Entrance Lights and Takeoff Hold Lights) illuminate and extinguish as vehicles and aircraft traverse the airfield.


Runway Status Lights integrates airport lighting equipment with approach and surface surveillance systems to provide a visual signal to pilots and vehicle operators indicating that it is unsafe to enter/cross or begin takeoff on runway. The system is fully automated based on inputs from surface and terminal surveillance systems. Airport surveillance sensor inputs are processed through light control logic that commands in-pavement lights to illuminate red when there is traffic on or approaching the runway. Runway Entrance Lights (RELs) provide signal to aircraft crossing entering runway from intersecting taxiway Takeoff Hold Lights (THLs) provide signal to aircraft in position for takeoff Runway Entrance Lights

The Runway Entrance Lights system is composed of flush mounted, in-pavement, unidirectional fixtures that are parallel to and focused along the taxiway centerline and directed toward the pilot at the hold line. A specific array of Runway Entrance Lights lights include the first light at the hold line followed by a series of evenly spaced lights to the runway edge; and one additional light at the runway centerline in line with the last two lights before the runway edge (See FIG 2-1-9). When activated, these red lights indicate that there is high speed traffic on the runway or there is an aircraft on final approach within the activation area.

Operating Characteristics – Departing Aircraft: When a departing aircraft reaches 30 knots, all taxiway intersections with Runway Entrance Lights arrays along the runway ahead of the aircraft will illuminate (see FIG 2-1-9). As the aircraft approaches a Runway Entrance Lights equipped taxiway intersection, the lights at that intersection extinguish approximately 2 to 3 seconds before the aircraft reaches it. This allows controllers to apply "anticipated separation" to permit Air Traffic Control to move traffic more expeditiously without compromising safety. After the aircraft is declared "airborne" by the system, all lights will extinguish. Operating Characteristics – Arriving Aircraft: When an aircraft on final approach is approximately 1 mile from the runway threshold all sets of Runway Entrance Light arrays along the runway will illuminate. The distance is adjustable and can be configured for specific operations at particular airports. Lights extinguish at each equipped taxiway intersection approximately 2 to 3 seconds before the aircraft reaches it to apply anticipated separation until the aircraft has slowed to approximately 80 knots (site adjustable parameter). Below 80 knots, all arrays that are not within 30 seconds of the aircraft's forward path are extinguished. Once the arriving aircraft slows to approximately 34 knots (site adjustable parameter), it is declared to be in a taxi state, and all lights extinguish. What a pilot would observe: A pilot at or approaching the hold line to a runway will observe Runway Entrance Lights illuminating and extinguishing in reaction to an aircraft or vehicle operating on the runway, or an arriving aircraft operating less than 1 mile from the runway threshold.

Whenever a pilot observes the red lights of the Runway Entrance Lights, that pilot will stop at the hold line, or along the taxiway path and remain stopped. The pilot will then contact Air Traffic Control for resolution if the clearance is in conflict with the lights. Should pilots note illuminated lights under circumstances when remaining clear of the runway is impractical for safety reasons (i.e., aircraft is already on the runway), the crew should proceed according to their best judgment while understanding the illuminated lights indicate the runway is unsafe to enter or cross. Contact Air Traffic Control at the earliest possible opportunity.

Runway Entrance Lights

Takeoff Hold Lights

The Takeoff Hold Lights system is composed of in-pavement, unidirectional fixtures in a double longitudinal row aligned either side of the runway centerline lighting. Fixtures are focused toward the arrival end of the runway at the "line up and wait" point, and they extend for 1,500 feet in front of the holding aircraft (see FIG 2-1-9). Illuminated red lights provide a signal, to an aircraft in position for takeoff or rolling, that it is unsafe to takeoff because the runway is occupied or about to be occupied by another aircraft or ground vehicle. Two aircraft, or a surface vehicle and an aircraft, are required for the lights to illuminate. The departing aircraft must be in position for takeoff or beginning takeoff roll. Another aircraft or a surface vehicle must be on or about to cross the runway.

Operating Characteristics – Departing Aircraft: Takeoff Hold Lights will illuminate for an aircraft in position for departure or departing when there is another aircraft or vehicle on the runway or about to enter the runway (see FIG 2-1-9.) Once that aircraft or vehicle exits the runway, the Takeoff Hold Lights extinguish. A pilot may notice lights extinguish prior to the downfield aircraft or vehicle being completely clear of the runway but still moving. Like Runway Entrance Lights, Takeoff Hold Lights have an "anticipated separation" feature.When the Takeoff Hold Lights extinguish, this is not clearance to begin a takeoff roll. All takeoff clearances will be issued by Air Traffic Control. What a pilot would observe: A pilot in position to depart from a runway, or has begun takeoff roll, will observe Takeoff Hold Lights illuminating in reaction to an aircraft or vehicle on the runway or about to enter or cross it. Lights will extinguish when the runway is clear. A pilot may observe several cycles of lights illuminating and extinguishing depending on the amount of crossing traffic. Whenever a pilot observes the red lights of the Takeoff Hold Lights, the pilot will stop or remain stopped. The pilot will contact Air Traffic Control for resolution if any clearance is in conflict with the lights. Should pilots note illuminated lights while in takeoff roll and under circumstances when stopping is impractical for safety reasons, the crew should proceed according to their best judgment while understanding the illuminated lights indicate that continuing the takeoff is unsafe. Contact Air Traffic Control at the earliest possible opportunity.

Takeoff Hold Lights

Pilot Actions When operating at airports with Runway Status Lights, pilots should turn the transponder "ON" with Altitude Enabled when operating on all taxiways and runways. This ensures interaction with the FAA surveillance systems which provide information to the Runway Status Lights system. Never cross over illuminated red lights. Under normal circumstances, Runway Status Lights will confirm the pilot's taxi or takeoff clearance. If Runway Status Lights indicates that it is unsafe to takeoff from or taxi across a runway, immediately notify Air Traffic Control of the conflict and confirm your clearance. Do not proceed when lights have extinguished without an Air Traffic Control clearance. Runway Status Lights verifies an Air Traffic Control clearance, it does not substitute for an Air Traffic Control clearance. Air Traffic Control of Runway Status Lights Controllers can set in-pavement lights to one of five brightness levels to assure maximum conspicuity under all visibility and lighting conditions. Runway Entrance Lights and Takeoff Hold Lights subsystems may be independently set. The system can be shutdown should Runway Status Lights operations impact the efficient movement of air traffic or contribute, in the opinion of the Air Traffic Control Supervisor, to unsafe operations. Whenever the system is shutdown, a NOTAM must be issued, and the Automatic Terminal Information System must be updated.

RFT 131: Airline Pilot/Author Mark Berry

Oct 30, 2017 35:27


Mark Berry started flying as a teenager, and attended Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, earning all of his General Aviation (GA) ratings by the time he graduated. Following graduation, he paid his dues in GA, and passed his Airline Transport Pilot written exam and Practical Test (check ride), but couldn't receive his ATP rating until he turned 23 years old.

Flying Tigers Airline wanted to offer him employment, but couldn't hire him without an ATP. While he was waiting to "age" into his rating, he was hired by Trans World Airlines. His life was on track to a fantastic career, and he was engaged to his soul-mate, Suzanne.

Suzanne was traveling to Rome on business, seated in First Class of TWA Flight 800. When Flight 800 crashed, Mark's world fell apart. Every day he went to work he saw aircraft in his airline's livery that were identical to the plane that carried Suzanne to her death. Mark had to take time off, and had to find a way to deal with his loss.

In the long process of healing, Mark wrote two novels that explored survivor guilt. But he didn't deal with his own issues until, after much urging from family and publisher, he wrote his memoir, 13,700 Feet - My Personal Hole In The Sky.

Mark eventually recovered, and returned to airline flying. When TWA went out of business, he ended up at another airline, and is now a Captain.

RFT 130: Aircraft Lightning Strikes

Oct 27, 2017 05:59


Lightning has the potential to cause catastrophic damage to aircraft. It is estimated that lightning will strike an aircraft every 1000 flight hours, normally without serious complications. One of the more famous aircraft accidents caused by lightning was the 1963 crash of Pan Am flight 214, which crashed near the University of Delaware.

An immediate result of that crash was the requirement for all turbojet passenger aircraft to have lightning-dissipating static discharge wicks installed on the airplane wingtips. In addition, it was recommended that all jet aircraft use jet A fuel, rather than more volatile kerosene. Today, in the event of a lightning strike, the aluminum fuselage acts like a Faraday cage and diverts the thousands of amperes of electricity around the aircraft, not through it.

RFT 129: Aviation Adventurer Richard Taylor

Oct 23, 2017 29:56


One day, while at Airventure at Oshkosh, Richard Taylor had a bold proposal to his friend, fellow pilot Pat Epps. "Let's fly over the magnetic north pole and do a roll to see what happens to the magnetic compass!" This was the start of a multi-attempt saga that took several years and took the pair on an adventure of a lifetime.

Richard Taylor had served in the U.S. Army as a paratrooper, then attended college. He had promised himself a Private Pilot certificate as a reward for finishing college, and that was the start of his aviation passion. In this podcast you will hear Richard recount his flight to the north pole, his authoring of the memoir Roll The Pole, and his project with Pat Epps to rescue the P-38 Glacier Girl from under 250 feet of ice.

RFT 128: Jet Lag

Oct 21, 2017 11:54


From Wikipedia:

Jet lag, medically referred to as desynchronosis and rarely as circadian dysrhythmia, is a physiological condition which results from alterations to the body's circadian rhythms resulting from rapid long-distance trans-meridian (east–west or west–east) travel. For example, someone travelling from New York to London feels as if the time were five hours earlier than local time. Jet lag was previously classified as one of the circadian rhythm sleep disorders.

The condition of jet lag may last several days before the traveller is fully adjusted to the new time zone; a recovery period of one day per time zone crossed is a suggested guideline. Jet lag is especially an issue for airline pilots, crew, and frequent travellers. Airlines have regulations aimed at combating pilot fatigue caused by jet lag.

The term "jet lag" is used because before the arrival of passenger jet aircraft, it was uncommon to travel far and fast enough to cause desynchronosis. Travel by propeller-driven aircraft, by ship or by train was slower and of more limited distance than jet flights, and thus did not contribute widely to the problem.

The symptoms of jet lag can be quite varied, depending on the amount of time zone alteration, time of day, and individual differences. Sleep disturbance occurs, with poor sleep upon arrival and/or sleep disruptions such as trouble falling asleep (when flying east), early awakening (when flying west), and trouble remaining asleep. Cognitive effects include poorer performance on mental tasks and concentration; increased fatigue, headaches, and irritability; and problems with digestion, including indigestion, changes in the frequency of defecation and consistency of faeces, and reduced interest in and enjoyment of food. The symptoms are caused by a circadian rhythm that is out of sync with the day-night cycle of the destination, as well as the possibility of internal desynchronisation. Jet lag has been measured with simple analogue scales, but a study has shown that these are relatively blunt for assessing all the problems associated with jet lag. The Liverpool Jet Lag Questionnaire was developed to measure all the symptoms of jet lag at several times of day, and this dedicated measurement tool has been used to assess jet lag in athletes.

Jet lag may require a change of three time zones or more to occur, though some individuals can be affected by as little as a single time zone or the single-hour shift to or from daylight saving time. Symptoms and consequences of jet lag can be a significant concern for athletes traveling east or west to competitions, as performance is often dependent on a combination of physical and mental characteristics that are impacted by jet lag.

Travel fatigue is general fatigue, disorientation, and headache caused by a disruption in routine, time spent in a cramped space with little chance to move around, a low-oxygen environment, and dehydration caused by dry air and limited food and drink. It does not necessarily involve the shift in circadian rhythms that cause jet lag. Travel fatigue can occur without crossing time zones, and it often disappears after a single day accompanied by a night of good quality sleep.

Jet lag is a chronobiological problem, similar to issues often induced by shift work and the circadian rhythm sleep disorders. When traveling across a number of time zones, the body clock (circadian rhythm) will be out of synchronization with the destination time, as it experiences daylight and darkness contrary to the rhythms to which it has grown accustomed. The body's natural pattern is upset, as the rhythms that dictate times for eating, sleeping, hormone regulation, body temperature variations, and other functions no longer correspond to the environment, nor to each other in some cases. To the degree that the body cannot immediately realign these rhythms, it is jet lagged.

The speed at which the body adjusts to the new schedule depends on the individual as well as the direction of travel; some people may require several days to adjust to a new time zone, while others experience little disruption.

Crossing the International Date Line does not in itself contribute to jet lag, as the guide for calculating jet lag is the number of time zones crossed, with a maximum possible time difference of plus or minus 12 hours. If the time difference between two locations is greater than 12 hours, one must subtract that number from 24. For example, the time zone UTC+14 will be at the same time of day as UTC−10, though the former is one day ahead of the latter.

Jet lag is linked only to the trans-meridian (west–east or east–west) distance travelled. A ten-hour flight between Europe and southern Africa does not cause jet lag, as the direction of travel is primarily north–south. A five-hour flight between the Pacific and Atlantic coasts of the United States may well result in jet lag.

There are two separate processes related to biological timing: circadian oscillators and homeostasis. The circadian system is located in the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN) in the hypothalamus of the brain. The other process is homeostatic sleep propensity, which is a function of the amount of time elapsed since the last adequate sleep episode.

The human body has a master clock in the SCN and also peripheral oscillators in tissues. The SCN's role is to send signals to peripheral oscillators, which synchronise them for physiological functions. The SCN responds to light information sent from the retina. It is hypothesised that peripheral oscillators respond to internal signals such as hormones, food intake, and "nervous stimuli"

The implication of independent internal clocks may explain some of the symptoms of jet lag. People who travel across several time zones can, within a few days, adapt their sleep-wake cycles with light from the environment. However, their skeletal muscles, liver, lungs and other organs will adapt at different rates.This internal biological de-synchronization is exacerbated as the body is not in sync with the environment—a "double desynchronization", which has implications for health and mood.

RFT 127: CFI/Balloon Pilot/Iridium Creator Dr. Raymond Leopold

Oct 16, 2017 58:51


Raymond Leopold knew he wanted to be a pilot since he was a child. He took flying lessons before entering the United States Air Force Academy, and continued his lessons with the Academy Aero Club. After graduation, he went to graduate school, earning his Master's Degree in Electrical Engineering, before attending Air Force Undergraduate Pilot Training.

In pilot training, he was at the top of his class. In fact, to celebrate the fact that he was the first student to solo in a jet, his classmates threw him into the swimming pool. In the process, he was injured, herniating three lumbar discs, and was medically eliminated from pilot training.

The Air Force assigned him to a position that would let him utilize his education, and he attended night classes to pursue his Doctorate in Electrical Engineering. He followed this assignment with a stint teaching at the Air Force Academy. By this time he had become a CFI, and was selected to supervise the Balloon Club at the Academy, earning his balloon ratings in the process.

Ray's career included a tour at the Pentagon, working with aviation pioneer John Boyd. After serving twenty years in the Air Force, Ray made the hard choice to pursue a civilian career. And that's where he changed the world.

Ray was hired by Motorola, and created the satellite telephone system that became known as Iridium. In this podcast, you'll hear a recap of the incredible efforts that went into launching 77 communications satellites and the system that now enables telephone calls from anywhere on the planet.

You'll also hear about how Ross Perot was willing to bankroll Ray in his attempt to lead the first team to successfully fly across the Atlantic Ocean in a balloon.

RFT 126: Aviation Drug Testing

Oct 12, 2017 07:05


Drug testing is a way of life for pilots and other transportation workers. As a pilot, you will receive pre-employment drug testing, random (no-notice) drug testing, and reasonable-cause drug testing throughout your career.

RFT 125: jetBlue Gatewy Select Program

Oct 9, 2017 20:29


Gateway Select is an innovative talent pathway for those seeking to become pilots at JetBlue. This particular Gateway Program will allow an applicant, if successful, to learn with us from the beginning and become a JetBlue pilot after completing a rigorous training program.

This unique, accessible and cost effective JetBlue Pilot Gateway Program will take a more competency-based approach to becoming a professional pilot. The Program will optimize the training of prospective airline pilots by offering early exposure to multi-crew/multi-engine operations, full motion simulator training, crew resource management, and threat and error management. Once meeting all program requirements, including the FAA's 1,500 flight-hour requirement, pilots will become a new hire at JetBlue. At that time, graduates will go through the same orientation and six-week instruction that all E190 first officers complete.

RFT 124: Wrong Runway!

Oct 8, 2017 07:09


Misidentifying airports and landing at the wrong runway has plagued pilots for generations. Typically, the two airports are within 10 miles of each other and have similar runway orientations. But the wrong runway may be significantly shorter.

From NTSB:

Without adequate preparation, robust monitoring, and cross-checking of position using all available resources, flight crews may misidentify a nearby airport that they see during the approach to their destination airport.

The risk of an accident increases because the runway at the wrong airport may not be long enough to accommodate the landing airplane, and other aircraft operating at the airport may also be unaware of potential conflicting traffic.

Air traffic controllers may not detect a wrong airport landing in time to intervene because of other workload or radar coverage limitations. Related incidents The following incidents involving air carriers landing at the wrong airport occurred within 2 months of each other:

On January 12, 2014, about 1810 local time, a Boeing 737-7H4, Southwest Airlines flight 4013, landed at the wrong airport in Branson, Missouri, in night visual meteorological conditions (VMC). The airplane was scheduled to fly from Chicago Midway International Airport, Chicago, Illinois, to Branson Airport. Instead, the flight crew mistakenly landed the airplane at M. Graham Clark Downtown Airport, Branson, Missouri. The flight crew reported that they were flying direct to a fix for an area navigation (RNAV) approach. They advised the air traffic controller that they had the airport in sight; they were then cleared for the visual approach. Although the correct destination airport was depicted on their cockpit displays, the flight crew reported flying to the airport that they visually identified as their destination; once the airport was in sight, they did not reference their cockpit displays. The airplane stopped at the end of the 3,738-ft runway after a hard application of the brakes. (DCA14IA037)

On November 21, 2013, about 2120 local time, a Boeing 747-400LCF (Dreamlifter) landed at the wrong airport in Wichita, Kansas, in night VMC. The airplane was being operated as a cargo flight from John F. Kennedy International Airport, Jamaica, New York, to McConnell Air Force Base, Wichita, Kansas. Instead, the flight crew mistakenly landed the airplane at Colonel James Jabara Airport, Wichita, Kansas. The flight crew indicated that during their approach to the airport, they saw runway lights that they misidentified as McConnell Air Force Base. The flight was cleared for the RNAV GPS 19L approach, and the flight crew saw Jabara but misidentified it as McConnell. The flight crew then completed the flight by visual reference to the Jabara runway. Once on the ground at Jabara, the flight crew was uncertain of the airplane’s location until confirmed by the McConnell Air Force Base tower controller. The Jabara runway is 6,101 ft long, whereas McConnell runways are 12,000 ft long.

What can flight crews do?

Adhere to standard operating procedures (SOPs), verify the airplane’s position relative to the destination airport, and use available cockpit instrumentation to verify that you are landing at the correct airport.

Maintain extra vigilance when identifying the destination airport at night and when landing at an airport with others in close proximity.

Be familiar with and include in your approach briefing the destination airport’s layout and relationship to other ground features; available lighting such as visual glideslope indicators, approach light systems, and runway lighting; and instrument approaches.

Use the most precise navigational aids available in conjunction with a visual approach when verifying the destination airport.

Confirm that you have correctly identified the destination airport before reporting the airport or runway is in sight.


RFT 123: Warbird/Airline Pilot Stacey Banks

Oct 2, 2017 21:49


Aviation has been a major part of Stacey Banks' family for three generations. Inspired by her uncle, an American Airlines pilot, Stacey's father became an Air Force pilot, flying F-4s in Vietnam, then flying for United Airlines. He took Stacey up on numerous civilian flights when he was delivering cargo and checks when she was a toddler. When Stacey was a teenager, she started taking flying lessons, vowing that her father would be her first passenger once she obtained her Private Pilot certificate.

Achieving that goal came under enormous pressure when her father was diagnosed with terminal cancer. Finally, when she earned her ticket, her father was permitted to leave the hospital to accompany her on her most memorable flight. After her father passed away, Stacey chose to remain closer to home to help her mother, and attended Metropolitan State University of Denver, majoring in Aviation. During her internship at American Airlines, she formed her goal to be a pilot for American. She worked her way up through the piloting ranks, and finally was hired by American.

During her journey, she suffered serious potentially career-ending injuries, and overcame numerous obstacles to achieve her dream.

RFT 122: Volcanic Activity

Sep 29, 2017 08:41


Volcanic ash poses a significant risk to aviation. It can cause problems for aircraft on the ground and inflight. This podcast discusses some issues that are significant to pilots.

RFT 121: Television Personality/Pilot/Author MayCay Beeler

Sep 25, 2017 25:38


MayCay Beeler is a spirited vivacious American aviatrix, record breaking pilot, best-selling multi award-winning author, television personality, veteran TV host/producer/journalist, spokesperson, and active FAA Certified Flight Instructor with a passion for all things flying.

Born in our Nation's Capitol, MayCay grew up in the Washington metro area. After a brief stint as a cowgirl working summer jobs in Wyoming, attending Montana State University, and graduating from the University of Kentucky, MayCay found her niche on the small screen and in the big sky. Her television broadcasting career began as a co-host for the nationally syndicated TV show PM Magazine at WATE-TV, the ABC affiliate in Knoxville, Tennessee. Her flying career took flight from these same roots.

With an extensive career in television, MayCay has worked for every major network affiliate as on-camera talent in TV news and entertainment. Readers of a local newspaper voted MayCay their "Favorite TV/Radio Personality" in a Charlotte area "best of" poll. Additionally, MayCay has worked as a TV news weather anchor for the ABC and NBC-TV stations in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

MayCay's knowledge of weather comes first hand from her flying career. She is a licensed Airline Transport Pilot and FAA Certified Flight Instructor. She set world aviation records in the experimental Questair Venture aircraft. MayCay has been named FAA Aviation Safety Counselor of the Year for the southern United States. She is a member and former chapter chairman of The Kitty Hawk Ninety-Nines, the International Organization of Women Pilots. MayCay represents Greensboro, North Carolina's Piedmont Triad International Airport as the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) Airport Support Network volunteer. Additionally, she has served as an AOPA seminar instructor pilot traveling the nation for the Air Safety Foundation. MayCay is a former charter pilot and applicant in NASA's Journalist-in-Space Project. An avid proponent of learning to fly, MayCay is the creator of The Diva Flight Experience, which empowers women through aviation.

MayCay has produced numerous TV features on aviation, including her personal accounts of flying with General Chuck Yeager; and Dick Rutan and Jeana Yeager of Voyager fame. Her many adventures in television include initially learning to fly for a TV assignment; competing in the Air Race Classic- an all-women's transcontinental air race; and skydiving with the Navy Seals.


RFT 120: Getting Your UAS Certificate

Sep 23, 2017 11:58


FAR Part 107 describes the process of obtaining an Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) certificate. Airman Certification Standards describes the process, which involves taking a written examination by computer at an authorized testing location, and there is no practical test (checkride) involved. The FAA has provided a study guide, an online course, and a sample test. For certificated pilots, the process simply involves completing the online course with an end-of-course exam.

Once you pass the test (or complete the online course for certificated pilots) you can immediately print your UAS license, and the permanent license will be mailed to you a short time later.

Getting a UAS license may be an excellent opportunity for new and aspiring pilots to gain an introduction to aviation.

RFT 119: C-130/C-17 Instructor Pilot Michael Morales

Sep 18, 2017 29:46


Michael Morales had a dream to become an astronaut, and set a goal of attending the United States Air Force Academy to become an Air Force pilot. At the Academy, he discovered his eyesight would not qualify him to become an astronaut, but he was qualified to become a pilot. He attended Undergraduate Pilot Training and then became a C-17 pilot. Shortly after qualifying in the airplane, the Global War On Terrorism started and he was deployed worldwide for an extended period, away on missions 200 days a year.

After four years, he became a C-17 Instructor Pilot at Altus Air Force Base, and later transitioned to the C-130J at Ramstein Air Base. At Ramstein he became the Chief Pilot for the transition from the C-130E, working with numerous foreign military leaders. He served two tours in Afghanistan, training Afghani pilots in English and flying.

He later became a White House Fellow, serving with the Small Business Administration, and currently serves at the Air Force Office of Legislative Liaison.

RFT 118: Airport Markings

Sep 16, 2017 17:39


Airport markings are full explained in Chapter 2, section 3 of the Aeronautical Information Manual. This podcast highlights the more important issues.

RFT 117: Marine Top Gun Instructor/F-18/F-16/F-22/F35B Pilot David Berke

Sep 11, 2017 31:30


David Berke is a retired Marine Corps officer and combat veteran. As an F/A-18 pilot he deployed twice from the USS John C Stennis in support of combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. He spent three years as an Instructor Pilot at TOPGUN where he was dual qualified in the F-16 Fighting Falcon and served as the Training Officer, the senior staff pilot responsible for conduct of the TOPGUN course. He then served as an ANGLICO Forward Air Controller supporting the Army’s 1st Armored Division during extensive urban combat operations in Ramadi, Iraq in 2006. He was the only Marine selected to fly the F-22 Raptor having served as an exchange officer at the Air Force’s 422nd Test and Evaluation Squadron as the Division Commander. He became the first operational pilot ever to fly and be qualified in the F-35B, serving as the Commanding Officer of the Marine Corps’ first F-35 squadron from 2012-2014. He earned his Master’s degree in International Public Policy from the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies with a concentration in Strategic Studies. He is now a leadership consultant at Echelon Front.

RFT 116: Airport Lighting

Sep 8, 2017 18:28


There is an abundance of information about airport lighting in Chapter Two of the Aeronautical Information Manual. This podcast covers some of the high points.

RFT 115: Motivational Speaker/Fighter Pilot Christian "Boo" Boucoucis

Aug 31, 2017 26:39


Christian “Boo” Boucousis was a fighter pilot in the Royal Australian Air Force for 10 years. He is now the CEO of Mode, an innovative property development group that is currently developing Australia’s tallest prefabricated hotel in the Perth CBD.

Boo’s story is a real world example of how fighter pilots use the skills developed during their military careers to succeed in business.

Diagnosed with a serious medical condition, Boo could no longer fly fighter aircraft and so he decided to take the plunge into business. Using the skills and knowledge he acquired in the Air Force, he co-founded a successful humanitarian support company in the Middle East growing it to over 1,500 staff. Boo then sold that business and moved back to Australia to focus on developing affordable building methods, which was the genesis of Mode.

Boo attributes his success in business to the values and discipline he learned in the Air Force – focus, efficiency, continuous improvement and simplicity. And because of this experience, Boo fundamentally believes that the simple methodology used by fighter pilots (which Afterburner calls FLEX), can accelerate the performance of any business or organization.

RFT 114: ADS-B

Aug 27, 2017 06:12


ADS-B enables increased capacity and efficiency by supporting:

Better ATC traffic flow management Merging and spacing Self-separation or station keeping Enhanced visual approaches; Closely spaced parallel approaches; Reduced spacing on final approach; Reduced aircraft separations; Enhanced operations in high altitude airspace for the incremental evolution of the "free flight" concept; Surface operations in lower visibility conditions; Near visual meteorological conditions (VMC) capacities throughout the airspace in most weather conditions; Improved air traffic control services in non-radar airspace; Trajectory-based operations providing a gently ascending and descending gradient with no step-downs or holding patterns needed. This will produce optimal trajectories with each aircraft becoming one node within a system wide information management network connecting all equipped parties in the air and on the ground. With all parties equipped with NextGen equipage, benefits will include reduced gate-to-gate travel times, increased runway utilization capacity, and increased efficiency with carbon conservation. Use of ADS-B and CDTI may allow decreased approach spacing at certain airports to improve capacity during reduced-visibility operations when visual approach operations would normally be terminated (e.g., ceilings less than MVA +500).

RFT 113: More New Pilot Advice

Aug 24, 2017 18:00


This episode features more great advice from our previous guests.


Aug 19, 2017 08:24


Controller Pilot Data Link Communications (CPDLC) is a protocol for pilots and controllers to communicate with each other via digital means. Think of it as pilots and controllers communicating via email.

The standard method of communication between an air traffic controller and a pilot is voice radio, using either VHF bands for line-of-sight communication or HF bands for long-distance communication (such as that provided by Shanwick Oceanic Control).

One of the major problems with voice radio communications used in this manner is that all pilots being handled by a particular controller are tuned to the same frequency. As the number of flights air traffic controllers must handle is steadily increasing (for instance, Shanwick handled 414,570 flights in 2007, an increase of 5% - or 22,000 flights - from 2006, the number of pilots tuned to a particular station also increases. This increases the chances that one pilot will accidentally override another, thus requiring the transmission to be repeated. In addition, each exchange between a controller and pilot requires a certain amount of time to complete; eventually, as the number of flights being controlled reaches a saturation point, the controller will not be able to handle any further aircraft.

The CPDLC application provides air-ground data communication for the ATC service. This includes a set of clearance/information/request message elements which correspond to voice phraseology employed by air traffic control procedures. The controller is provided with the capability to issue level assignments, crossing constraints, lateral deviations, route changes and clearances, speed assignments, radio frequency assignments, and various requests for information. The pilot is provided with the capability to respond to messages, to request clearances and information, to report information, and to declare/rescind an emergency.

The sequence of messages between the controller and a pilot relating to a particular transaction (for example request and receipt of a clearance) is termed a ‘dialogue’. There can be several sequences of messages in the dialogue, each of which is closed by means of appropriate messages, usually of acknowledgement or acceptance. Closure of the dialogue does not necessarily terminate the link, since there can be several dialogues between controller and pilot while an aircraft transits the air traffic service unit (ATSU) airspace.


RFT 111: New Pilot Advice

Aug 15, 2017 13:41


In prior Ready For Takeoff podcasts our guests have shared their advice for new pilots just starting out their flying training. In this episode we've assembled a cross-section of their thoughts.

RFT 110: Wake Turbulence

Aug 11, 2017 09:36


This information is for training and informational purposes only. Wake turbulence is generated whenever an airplane is developing lift. The heavier and slower the airplane, the greater the wake turbulence. Your key to avoiding wake turbulence is to always fly through undisturbed air.

A Bombardier CL604 Challenger suffered catastrophic damage at FL 340 from the wake of an Airbus A380 flying at FL 350. The report is very sobering.

RFT 109: Flight Test Engineer/Aviation Expert Dr. Todd Curtis

Aug 7, 2017 36:28


Todd Curtis served as a Flight Test Engineer in the Air Force at Edwards Air Force Base prior to launching the web site in 1996, capitalizing on his Bachelor's Degree (Electrical Engineering), Master's Degrees (Electrical Engineering and Business) and Doctorate (Aviation Risk Asseessment). The site consistently ranks as a top three or first page result for Google searches for airline safety, fear of flying, carry-on baggage, and numerous other airline safety and security terms. The web site has also been cited frequently by major newspapers such as the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and Washington post. The site and related online properties continue to provide the public with a diverse source of airline safety and security information.

He has worked at Boeing and is a frequent guest on television news shows as an aviation expert.

RFT 108: Aerotoxic Syndrome

Aug 4, 2017 11:00


Modern jetliners have an environmental control system (ECS) that manages the flow of cabin air. Outside air enters the engines and is compressed in the forward section, prior to the combustion section, ensuring no combustion products can enter the cabin. A portion of that compressed bleed air is used to pressurize the cabin. The ECS then recirculates some of that cabin air through HEPA filters, while the rest is directed to outflow valves, ensuring there is a constant supply of fresh, clean air coming into the cabin pressurization system at all times.

It is possible for contaminants to enter the cabin through the air-supply system and through other means. Substances used in the maintenance and treatment of aircraft, including aviation engine oil, hydraulic fluid, cleaning compounds and de-icing fluids, can contaminate the ECS. While ground and flight crews, as well as passengers themselves can be sources of contaminants such as pesticides, bioeffluents, viruses, bacteria, allergens, and fungal spores.

Possible sources of poor-quality cabin air include exposures related to normal operations of the aircraft:

Ozone (O3) Carbon dioxide (passengers exhaling CO2) Carbon monoxide (CO - Jet exhaust fumes, Ambient airport air) Temperature Relative humidity Off-gassing from interior material and cleaning agents Bioeffluents Personal-care products Allergens Infectious or inflammatory agents Cabin pressure/partial pressure of oxygen Alcohol Formaldehyde Deicing fluid. Particulate Matter (Including dust which contains microbes). Dry ice used to keep food cold. Toilet fluid, leaked or spilled. Rain repellent fluid. Pyrethroid Pesticides Pre-existing illness—such as anemia, asthma, COPD, and coronary arterial disease—the stresses of flight could exacerbate symptoms.

RFT 107: Tanker Pilot/Author Mark Hasara

Jul 31, 2017 45:30


For twenty-four years Mark Hasara operated one of the Air Force’s oldest airplanes, the Boeing KC-135 Stratotanker. His career started during the Reagan Administration, carrying out Strategic Air Command's nuclear deterrent mission. Moving to Okinawa Japan in August 1990, he flew missions throughout the Pacific Rim and Southeast Asia. His first combat missions were in Desert Shield and Desert Storm. As a Duty Officer in the Tanker Airlift Control Center, he planned and ran five hundred airlift and air refueling missions a month. Upon retirement from the Air Force, Mark spent seven years at Rockwell Collins in engineering, designing and developing military fixed and rotary wing aircraft cockpits. Mark became a full-time author and defense industry consultant in 2014.

RFT 106: Low Fuel Over North Vietnam

Jul 28, 2017 08:07