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.
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Jun 12, 2017

The Professional Pilots of Tomorrow was organized to provide confidential, insightful, and unbiased mentoring to pilots by more experienced and seasoned professional pilots from airlines throughout the aviation industry.

Becoming an airline pilot for a major airline takes years of work experience. Chances are pilots use one of two routes to build their work experience and flight time: military service or regional airlines. In the present day, most pilots entering the regional airline industry use it as a stepping stone.  Pilots may spend many years at their airline before getting a call to interview at a major airline.

Professional Pilots of Tomorrow is a means for up-and-coming pilots to network with established, more experienced pilots. The industry is small and the more we connect, the more we foster a sense of community which allows us the opportunity to help those following in our footsteps. By facilitating a means for people to speak with current regional airlines pilots and become apart of a growing network where the exchange of free information passes freely, they aspire to improve the lives of young professionals.

Their mentor program is designed to be as transparent and unbiased as possible. This fosters a relationship and dialogue that is honest and ensures the applicant is best suited to make the crucial decisions ahead of them.

Their website is

Jun 9, 2017

This week marks two very significant anniversaries in aviation history. Both occurred during World War Two.

The Battle of Midway occurred 75 years ago this week, June 4-7 1942. Although it was a naval battle, the dramatic results were achieved primarily by naval aviation. Only seven months after the attack on Pearl Harbor, which launched the United States into the war, the results of the battle crippled the Japanese navy for the remainder of the war. In this one battle, four Japanese aircraft carriers (Akagi, Kaga, Hiryu and Soryu) were destroyed. The U.S.S. Yorktown was the only American aircraft carrier loss.

In terms of casualties, the results were equally as dramatic. The Japanese navy suffered 3057 dead, while 307 Americans had lost their lives.

In the European Theater, Operation Overlord - the Normandy invasion - commenced 73 years ago, on June 6, 1944. This was the largest seaborne invasion in history, with nearly 5,000 landing and assault craft, 289 escort vessels, and 277 minesweepers participating. On just that one day, 160,000 allied troops crossed the English Channel. Allied casualties were immense, with 4414 confirmed dead on just that first day.

Airpower played a major role in the invasion. The allies had air superiority, which meant that their ground forces were not subject to German bomber attacks. Paratroopers were carried by transport aircraft, and gliders transported ground forces to unimproved sites in the dead of night. American fighter-bombers hammered German emplacements.

In terms of the overall plan, the invasion did not initially meet its objectives. The invasion beaches did not link up as planned, and the five critical bridgeheads did not get connected for six more days. Compared to allied casualties, the Germans lost 1000 men.

But the Normandy invasion was the beginning of the end for the Third Reich, and the lives lost, including a cousin I never met, were not in vain.

Jun 5, 2017

Richard McSpadden was first introduced to flying when his mother presented his father with an introductory flight lesson. His father became a pilot and that started a generational love of aviation that passed to Richard and now to his children. His father purchased a Navion, and Richard earned his pilot ratings in the plane.

Richard joined the Air Force after college, and found that the Navion time really gave him an edge in Undergraduate Pilot Training (UPT). His performance in UPT was instrumental in his getting the only F-15 assignment available to his graduating class. After attending F-15 training at Luke Air Force Base in Arizona, he was assigned to Kadena Air Base, Okinawa. He followed that assignment with an F-15A assignment at Holloman Air Force Base, New Mexico.

When it was time for a staff assignment, Richard became the Air Attache in the Republic of the Philippines, and flew the C-12 King Air aircraft as part of his duties.

Seeing an Air Force announcement that the Thunderbirds were recruiting demonstration pilots, Richard applied, completing an extensive flying history and personal resume. He was selected for an evaluation flight, and took it in an F-16, which he had never flown before, and became the new Commander for the Thunderbirds.

After his two-year tour with the Thunderbirds, Richard retired from the Air Force and pursued a career at Hewlett Packard. In 2017, Richard became the Executive Director of the AOPA Air Safety Institute.

Jun 1, 2017

ETOPS is an acronym for Extended Operations. The term used to signify Extended Range Operation with Two-Engine Airplanes but the meaning was changed by the US FAA when regulations were broadened to include aircraft with more than two engines. It refers to the standards and recommended practices (SARPS) issued by ICAO for Part 121 aircraft to fly long-distance routes that had been off-limits to twin-engined aircraft, and subsequently to extended range operations of four-engined aircraft (such as the Boeing 747-8 Intercontinental).

There are different levels of ETOPS certification, each allowing aircraft to fly on routes that are a certain amount of single-engine flying time away from the nearest suitable airport. For example, if an aircraft is certified for 180 minutes, it is permitted to fly any route not more than 180 minutes single-engine flying time to the nearest suitable airport.

ETOPS applies to twins on routes with diversion time more than 60 minutes at one engine inoperative speed. For rules that also cover more than two engines, as in the case of the FAA, ETOPS applies on routes with diversion time more than 180 minutes for airplanes with more than two engines.

May 29, 2017

After graduating from Wake Forest University in psychology, Captain Tom entered the U.S. Air Force. Number one in his class when he got his wings in 1960, he was given his choice of assignments, and chose to fly the Air Force's first supersonic jet fighter, the F-100.

He served from 1961 until 1965 with the 9th Tactical Fighter Squadron at Spangdahlem Air Base in Germany flying the F-100 and F-105. In addition to flying, he did accident investigation and developed a safety device for the F-100.

While in Germany, Captain Tom raced a Lola Mk5 Formula 3 at the Nurburgring, Zolder, Zandvordt, and Rouen. When returning to the U.S., he converted the car to SCCA Formula C specifications, and won a U.S. National Championship in 1965.
From 1965 until 1986, he flew DC-8s, 707s, and 747s internationally with Pan Am.

From 1986 until 1996, he flew 747s, 757s and 767s at United Airlines.

The first fear of flying program was started at Pan Am by Captain Truman "Slim" Cummings. Captain Tom worked with him on that program until founding SOAR in 1982 to develop more effective methods for dealing with flight problems. This led to graduate school at Fordham University where he earned a Masters Degree with top honors, and several years of postgraduate study at the Gestalt Center Of Long Island, the New York Training Institute For Neurolinguistic Programming, and The Masterson Institute. He was licensed as a therapist in 1990.

Tom's website is . He has authored an outstanding book to help travelers overcome their fear of flying.

May 25, 2017

Congratulations on achieving what at times probably seemed impossible. As a member of the legacy class of 1967 I'd like to share some thoughts with you.

As you go out into your first assignment, you’ll quickly learn that an Air Force squadron is truly a family, and your squadron-mates will quickly become your brothers and sisters. And you may notice that many of your contemporaries may not have the same posture, the same bearing, the same crisp salute that you have. That’s understandable - they didn’t have the advantage of being mentored 24/7 for four years by the finest, most highly-selected group of officers in the entire Air Force - your instructors, coaches and AOCs. But I can promise you that if you set the example you’ve learned over the past four years, everyone in your squadron will benefit.

A short story. In my Ready For Takeoff podcast I interview a cross-section of pilots with interesting stories to tell. One of my guests, a pilot named Tony, shared his story. Tony was a Lieutenant in the 1950s, before there was an Air Force Academy. He turned down a Regular commission after ROTC graduation because he didn’t really plan to make the Air Force a career. He described himself as a very mediocre Lieutenant, with equally mediocre Officer Effectiveness Reports. He was going to put in his four years and then become a civilian.

Then Tony was assigned to a squadron where he met a contemporary, an extremely sharp West Point graduate named Mike. Mike was always volunteering for projects, always trying to improve the squadron. Tony was impressed, inspired, and motivated by Mike’s example, and he began to rethink his career plans. He wanted to emulate Mike. Tony was an excellent writer, and started volunteering for projects, like rewriting most of the squadron manuals to remove the passive voice and create readable, concise text. And he became motivated to become a career officer.

As you might imagine, Mike had a great career. In fact, General Michael Dugan became the 13th Chief of Staff of the United States Air Force. And, after reorienting his attitude, Tony had a great career also. He became a member of the Thunderbirds. He became a squadron commander as a major. And later, General Merrill “Tony” McPeak became the 14th Chief of Staff of the Air Force.

So be the finest officer you can, and you may find that your civilian-educated contemporaries will surprise you. And realize this: like you, they have all volunteered to serve on active duty during a time of war. And that puts them, and you, in an elite club, the 1 percent of the entire American population that is serving their country. Like you and everyone else who has ever worn the uniform of our services, they each signed a check, payable to the United States of America, in an amount up to and including their lives. I can guarantee you that when you leave your squadron, or lose a squadron-mate, you will appreciate just how special your brothers and sisters are.

The Reader’s Digest version of my career is: after pilot training I flew as a Forward Air Controller in Vietnam in the smallest airplane in the inventory - the O-2A, then flew the largest - the B-52, then volunteered for another tour in Vietnam in one of the fastest - the F-4. After my second tour in Vietnam, I went to Kadena Air Base, Okinawa, in the F-4 and T-39, then became an O-2 instructor pilot at Patrick Air Force, Florida. At the eleven-year point I separated from the Air Force to pursue an airline career, and served in the Reserves as an Academy Admissions Liaison Officer. I enjoyed airline flying, but quickly discovered that qualities and characteristics we take for granted in the Air Force - character, discipline, cameraderie - are in really short supply in the civilian world. When I was furloughed by my airline, I was very fortunate to be accepted back into the Air Force, and had a great career, serving as an instructor pilot, evaluator, operations officer and squadron commander.

I hung up my Air Force uniform for the last time 30 years ago this July, and returned to my airline job, where I had a very satisfying career, flying outstanding equipment all over the world. But, I’ll be honest, I still miss the Air Force to this day. In fact, about ten years ago there was a program called Retired Recall, where the Air Force brought old far…, I mean, mature officers, back on active duty for four-year tours. I signed up, volunteering to go to Afghanistan for one year, to be followed by three years teaching at the Academy.

But it turned out I was ineligible, because there is a statutory requirement that line officers can only serve on active duty past the age of 64 if they are Brigadier General or higher in rank. I had an easy, obvious solution for that, but the Air Force told me “No, Major!”.

I’ll leave you with one final thought. I had two civilian jobs before I was hired by my airline, and seven jobs after my airline retirement. In every case, my employment in those ten jobs was facilitated by networking. As of today, you have just become members of the Long Blue Line, which is an excellent opportunity for networking, to get help and to help others.

I hope that in 50 years, as members of the Legacy Class, you will have the opportunity to share your thoughts with the Lieutenants of the class of 2067. And I hope I will be able to join you.


May 22, 2017

Bob was born in Memphis, Tennessee in 1926 and graduated from The Webb School in Bell Buckle, Tennessee in 1944. At age 17, Bob volunteered for the US Navy and was training to go into submarines when he was accepted into the US Naval Academy at the war’s end. As a midshipman he served on various warships, including a heavy cruiser, destroyer, carrier, and the battleship USS North Carolina in which his GQ station was the 16 inch gun turret. Bob graduated from the US Naval Academy in 1949. He took his commission in the Air Force where he could go immediately to flight school. He went on to fly the Republic F-84 ThunderJet in combat against MIGS in Korea and was then selected after the war for the elite Air Force Research and Development team where he flew virtually every aircraft in the USAF inventory including “expanding the envelope” in the Lockheed F-104 Starfighter. As a Lockhead F-104 instructor pilot, Bob taught some of the world’s leading pilots how to fly the Starfighter. Some of his students included WW2 Luftwaffe fighter aces Gunther Rall, and Johannes Steinhoff as well as Canada’s Wing Commander Kenneth Lett and USAF General John Dunning. Remarkably, Bob has made 5 successful “dead stick” landings in the F-104 – an amazing accomplishment given that the F-104 glides like a “toolbox” and is extremely unforgiving of pilot errors. Bob was also involved with fellow Lockheed test pilot Darryl Greenamyer in breaking the FAI world restricted altitude speed record of 988.26 mph in a highly modified F-104 on October 24, 1978.

Bob Gilliland has logged more test flight hours at Mach 3 than any other pilot in the world. He has been recognized and honored for his work many times. In the Smithsonian’s Air and Space Museum, he is honored for making one of the greatest contributions to aviation in his time as a test pilot/astronaut joining the 7 Mercury astronauts, Charles Lindberg and Howard Hughes in the same honor. Bob is a fellow in the Society of Experimental Test Pilots and a recipient of the “Lifetime Achievement Award” by the Flight Test Historical Foundation for his distinguished aviation career. Bob was awarded the prestigious Ivan C. Kincheloe Award in 1964 for his work on the Blackbird program. He was named an Eagle by the Air Force Flight Test Historical Foundation in 1998 and received the Godfrey L. Cabot Award in 2001. Among his many honors, the one which he seems to have enjoyed the most, was the “Legends of Aerospace Tour” to Europe and the Middle East in March of 2010. As one of America’s five Legends, along with astronauts Neil Armstrong, Gene Cernan, Jim Lovell, and Vietnam fighter ace Steve Ritchie, the Tour stopped at many “down range” US military bases and hospitals. Former Good Morning America host David Hartman served as the moderator for the Tour. The Legends spoke daily to thousands of our servicemen defending our interests abroad, reminding Bob, he said with a smile, of how much he had enjoyed seeing Bob Hope and Betty Grable visit his airbase when he was flying combat in Korea.

May 18, 2017

Factors of a Stabilized Approach

Maintain a specified descent rate.

Maintain a specified airspeed.

Complete all briefings and checklists.

Configure aircraft for landing (gear, flaps, etc).

Be stabilized by 1,000 feet for IMC operations; 500 feet for VMC approach.

Ensure only small changes in heading/pitch are necessary to maintain the correct flight path. Go-Around for Safety If these factors are not met, the approach becomes “unstabilized,” which means a go-around for another attempt at landing. If you choose to continue with an unstabilized approach, you risk landing too high, too fast, out of alignment with the runway centerline, or otherwise being unprepared for landing. These situations can result in loss of control of your aircraft.

Are Stabilized Approaches Always Safer? Yes, if you’ve incorporated the checklists and are prepared for a safe landing. It’s a good idea to execute a go around if your checklists are not completed. Your safety depends on your ability to focus on safely touching down.

Tips for a Stabilized Approach:

Pay attention to the wind in traffic pattern operations, especially on the base to final turn.

Adjust your stabilized approach guidelines to your type of aircraft based on manufacturer’s guidance.

Aircraft should be configured for landing at some predetermined distance from the airport or altitude, after which only small corrections to pitch, heading, and power setting should be made.

If not stabilized, go around.

May 15, 2017

Although Natalie Hoover's dad was an Air Force pilot and then became a Fedex pilot, she really didn't have any interest in flying until after she graduated college. On her way to pursuing a master's degree, she took an introductory airplane flight, and never looked back. She spent the next two years virtually living at the airport, collecting all the ratings, and getting an airline job.

Then she realized she wanted to get back to her roots in General Aviation, and became a full-time CFI. Later, she became a Designated Examiner, and now divides her flight time between instructing and conducting evaluations.

Natalie also writes a monthly column for AOPA Pilot Magazine. In addition to her ATP, she holds Gold Seal CFI, CFII, and MEI certificates.

May 11, 2017

Dean "Diz" Laird entered the Aviation Cadet Program of the U.S. Navy on January 2, 1942, was commissioned an Ensign on August 11, 1942, and was designated a Naval Aviator at NAS Miami, Florida, on October 21, 1942. His first assignment was as an F4F Wildcat and then F6F Hellcat pilot and assistant gunnery officer with VF-4 at NAS Norfolk, Virginia, from November 1942 to March 1943, aboard the aircraft carrier USS Ranger (CV-4) from March 1942 to December 1943, at NAS Quonset, Rhode Island, from December 1943 to May 1944, at NAAS Ayer, Massachusetts, from May to July 1944, at NAAS Hilo, Hawaii, from July to September 1944, aboard the aircraft carrier USS Bunker Hill (CV-17) from September to November 1944, and aboard the aircraft carrier USS Essex (CV-9) from November 1944 to March 1945. During this time, Lt Laird was credited with the destruction of 5.75 enemy aircraft in aerial combat, plus one damaged in the air. He shared in the destruction of a German Ju-88 and an He-115 off Norway in October 1943, and the rest of his air victories were against Japanese aircraft in the Pacific Theater, making him the only Navy ace to have scored air victories against both Germany and Japan.

May 8, 2017

Ryan was born and raised in Sarasota, FL. As a young boy he would drag his parents outside so he could look for aircraft flying overhead. Flying is the one thing he has wanted to do more than anything else. Thanks to the Navy and the support of his family he has been able to do just that, and in ways he could have never imagined.

While he loves flying, he is equally fascinated with meeting people  who share this excitement for aviation. So in 2017, he is going to fly 52 different types of aircraft with dozens of different people who, like him, love flying. He wants to tell their story.

These flights will be video documented and the content posted here and on his social media sites every week. When possible, these videos will feature airborne interviews with the people he flies with, as well as in an in-depth look at the aircraft they will be flying. For more information about the videos take a look at the introduction video on his blog.

May 4, 2017

To serve as Pilot In Command of a large (over 12,500 pounds) or turbojet aircraft, you must have a type rating in that aircraft. Normally, training for the type rating is conducted in a formal training environment, using simulators and advanced training facilities.

The Type Rating Test (check ride) is normally conducted adhering to the Practical Test Standards, although at some airlines the rating process is conducted using the Advanced Qualification Program (AQP) with proficiency determined at various milestones during training.

The Practical Test Standards are spelled out in FAA document FAA-S-8081-5F. This podcast discusses tips for success in your training and advice for a successful Type Rating Test.

May 1, 2017

Bruce Mayes started flying as a teenager, and continued his flying first in the Army and then in the Coast Guard, where he flew both helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft.

After the service, he was hired by Aloha Airlines, where he rose to Captain on the B737 until the airline went out of business. Of the nine world records Bruce holds, one of them is in the B737-700 on a passenger flight from Honolulu to Los Angeles!

Bruce has owned several airplanes, most of them antiques, and currently flies his Globe Swift out of Honolulu.

Apr 27, 2017

Jeff Price is considered one of the world’s leading experts on aviation security, lecturing at conferences such as the Airport Law Enforcement Agencies Network, the Air Line Pilot’s Association, and the American Association of Airport Executives. He has written over 300 publications for a variety of publications including Aviation Security International magazine, Airport magazine and Plane & Pilot. He has also authored two chapters on aviation security for other texts and is frequently called upon to comment for CNN, ABCNews, NBC, CBS, USAToday, the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, AP and others.

Jeff began his career as a U.S. Coast Guard Officer. He entered airport management in the Operations Department at Stapleton International Airport in 1992, working ops and developing the airfield manager training programs for DEN; he was part of opening Denver International Airport, then served as its Assistant Security Director until 1998; he moved to Jefferson County Airport as the Director of Public Relations, Marketing and Property Management and was then appointed the Airport Manager from 1999- 2002. He also served a term on the Colorado Aeronautics Board.

Through Leading Edge Strategies he provides security training and consulting, facilitates emergency exercises, and provides expert witness services; he also served as an expert witness on the 9/11 case.

Jeff has published two textbooks, Practical Aviation Security and Practical Airport Operations.

Apr 24, 2017

In 1973, Brian Shul was an Air Force T-28 pilot advising the Thai Air Force when his airplane was shot down over Cambodia. He suffered catastrophic burns and spent over a year in the hospital, with numerous experts telling him he would never fly again. He was determined to prove them wrong.

Two days after being released from the hospital, Brian was back flying Air Force fighter jet aircraft. He went on to fly the A-7D, and was then selected to be a part of the first operational A-10 squadron at Myrtle Beach, SC, where he was on the first A-10 air show demonstration team. After a tour as an A-10 Instructor Pilot at Davis-Monthan AFB, Arizona, he went on to instruct at the Air Force’s Fighter Lead-In School as the Chief of Air-to-Ground Academics. As a final assignment in his career, Shul volunteered for and was selected to fly the SR-71. This assignment required an astronaut type physical just to qualify, and Shul passed with no waivers.

He started taking photographs of the SR-71, and since retiring has published two books of SR-71 photos and information, and then turned his attention to photographing birds and nature.  

His "speed check" story is the most-repeated story in all of aviation.

Apr 20, 2017

Mary Flake grew up during the depression, and worked peeling potatoes on a farm as a 14-year-old. One day, a Piper Cub landed at the farm, she got a ride, and was hooked. She immediately wanted to take flying lessons, but had to save up $100 for the required lessons. After several months, she had the money, and started taking lessons. When she was ready to solo, she filled out the paperwork and her instructor told her she would have to wait until she was 16.

She spent the next year working at the airport and hitching rides every chance she could until she was old enough to solo. After receiving her Private Pilot license, she performed in some airshows, doing inverted flying in a Stearman biplane. She lived to fly, and used the money she had saved up for a prom dress to buy a leather flying jacket.
Mary graduated from high school at age 16 and moved away from home to pursue a career. She became a realtor, and purchased an archer to use for business.

Apr 17, 2017

Jack Brush began his aviation career as a rated navigator while at the United States Air Force Academy, where he was in the second class to ever graduate. He then attended Undergraduate Pilot Training (UPT) and was assigned to fly the C-124. In two years, he amassed 2000 flying hours, and then attended Massachusetts Institute of Technology, receiving his Master of Science Degree in Aeronautics.

While teaching Aeronautics and Economics at the Air Force Academy, he continued to fly with cadets,  then received his PhD from the UCLA Anderson School of Management and returned to teach Economics at the Academy.

Following retirement from the Air Force, he founded Columbine Capital Services, an internationally recognized quantitative equity modeling firm. At Columbine, he purchased an Aerostar 601P aircraft to use for business travel. After talking to other Aerostar owners, he discovered that his airplane was significantly faster than others of the same model, and the idea of setting a world record was born. He soon learned that setting a record could be very hard on an airplane, and he decided to sell his company and keep the airplane. And he vowed to not do anything that would harm is plane.

In this podcast, Jack explains that there is a lot of planning and coordination that goes into setting a world record. A major factor is fuel capacity. If the engines are operated at a high power setting, fuel is used at an increased rate and the airplane's fuel capacity may not be sufficient for a 2000 km course and a required emergency reserve. Jack had to continuously monitor weather patterns, to determine when winds and temperatures would be favorable for his planned course. An international observer is required for the record attempt, and that requires advance planning. Finally, Jack had to plan how to perform his mid-point turns as efficiently as possible, to minimize time in the turn and avoid losing airspeed.

Apr 12, 2017

Dave Fisch learned to fly as a teenager, soloed in 5 1/2 hours, and earned all of his certificates up to CFI in his first year. He worked his way through college as a CFI, then joined the Air Force Reserves at Travis Air Force Base and was sent to Air force Undergraduate Pilot Training (UPT). Following UPT, he was assigned to fly the C-141 worldwide.

In between Air Force missions, Dave worked several desk jobs and kept applying to the airlines. Finally, he struck pay dirt at American Airlines in 1976. He initially started as a B-727 Flight Engineer, and was the number 13 pilot from the bottom of the seniority list for two years. At the 10-year point, he finally made Captain. He retired at age-60 as a B-777 Captain, and then went to India to fly B-777s for Jet Airways. After several years, Jet Airways terminated all the expat pilots.

Dave now flies a Global Express aircraft for a boutique charter company. Virtually all of his missions are long-haul international flights, some exceeding 12 hours. Most of his trips start with an airline flight to anywhere in the world to meet up with the airplane, then he will have a 1-2 day layover prior to starting his mission. His schedule is 20 days on and 20 days off.

Apr 10, 2017

Jeff Fellmeth, formerly known as "First Officer Jeff" on the Airline Pilot Guy podcast, is now "Captain Jeff" at a legacy airline.

When Jeff was 14, his Boy Scout trip to summer camp had an overnight stop at the Air Force Academy, and that's when he decided he wanted to become an Air Force officer. He was initially turned down by the Academy, but was accepted to the Academy Prep School.

In Undergraduate Pilot Training (UPT), he initially got airsick, until his first spin in a T-37. After that, he was hooked, and determined to become a fighter pilot. Following UPT, he flew OV-10 aircraft as a Forward Air Controller (FAC) in Germany, working practice airstrikes all over the country for three years.

After the OV-10, Jeff got his F-15 assignment. The F-15 is a hands-on-throtle-and-stick (HOTAS) airplane, and the only time the pilot takes his hands off the stick and throttles is to turn on the master arm switch and operate the landing gear. During his Air Force career, Jeff flew all models of the F-15, the F-15A/B/C and F-15E.

Following a full military career, Jeff was hired by a legacy airline, where he now flies.

Apr 3, 2017

Kim Campbell joined the Civil Air Patrol as a cadet at age 13 and made her first solo flight in a civilian aircraft over San Jose at age 16. She graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree from the United States Air Force Academy in 1997 where she was the cadet wing commander, as was her father during his time at the academy, the first time that a father and daughter both served as cadet wing commander. Also, like her father before her, she "maxed" the rigorous PFT (Physical Fitness Test), one of only a handful of cadets to achieve a perfect score in the Academy's history. She holds a degree in International Security Studies from the University of Reading, United Kingdom, and a Masters in Business Administration from Imperial College London, United Kingdom, which she undertook while on a Marshall Scholarship.

Her A-10 aircraft received a catastrophic hit from AAA (Anti-Aircraft Artillery) when she was flying a combat mission in support of American ground forces over Baghdad on April 7, 2003. "We did our job with the guys there on the ground, and as we were on our way out is when I felt the jet get hit. It was pretty obvious — it was loud... I lost all hydraulics instantaneously, and the jet rolled left and pointed toward the ground, which was an uncomfortable feeling over Baghdad. It didn't respond to any of my control inputs."

She tried several procedures to get the aircraft under control, none of which worked; last, she put the plane into manual reversion, meaning she was flying the aircraft without hydraulics. The aircraft immediately responded. "The jet started climbing away from the ground, which was a good feeling because there was no way I wanted to eject over Baghdad." With some technical advice from her flight leader, Lieutenant Colonel Turner, she flew the injured plane for an hour back to the air base. "The jet was performing exceptionally well. I had no doubt in my mind I was going to land that airplane." Landing was tricky: "When you lose all the hydraulics, you don't have speed brakes, you don't have brakes, and you don't have steering." For this action in aerial combat she was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross.

On the ground it was discovered that her A-10 had sustained damage to one engine and to the redundant hydraulic systems, disabling the flight controls, landing gear and brakes, and horizontal stabilizer. A detailed inspection revealed hundreds of holes in the airframe and that large sections of the stabilizer and hydraulic controls were missing.

Mar 31, 2017


Colonel Christophe Deherre is the Director of the French Air Force Center for Studies, Reserve and Partnership for the French Air Force. He wanted to be a fighter pilot ever since he was a child, and he attended the prestigious Ecole de L'air in Provence, France.  He spent one year as an exchange student at the United States Air Force Academy in Colorado. He is currently commanding the Patrouille de France aerial demonstration team during their month-long tour of the United States. This operation in North America mobilizes more than 70 airmen, pilots, mechanics, support staff, 10 Alphajet, 1 Airbus A400M Atlas and 25 tons of equipment, demonstrating French Air Force capabilities. This is the team's first visit to the U.S. in 31 years.

During their U.S. tour, the team has a busy schedule, crossing the country to perform airshows. The Patrouille de France is the oldest aerial demonstration team in the world, and their visit to the U.S. commemorates the 100th anniversary of the United States into World War I in France.

During their flight in New York, they flew over the Statue of Liberty, which was a gift from France to the United States in 1886. During their flight over Kennedy Space Center, they carried two French astronauts.

Mar 27, 2017

Brian Settles embarked on his aviation career by accident, registering late (at the behest of his mother, Bernice) for Ball State University after his basketball scholarship to the University of Colorado fell through at the last minute. Ironically, he was talked into signing up for the drill team which meant enrolling in the Air Force ROTC program.

While at Ball State, Captain Settles majored in Secondary Education with a concentration in Spanish and English and was enticed to enrolling in the ROTC Flight Instruction program. Proving he could walk and chew gum at the same time, upon graduation and commissioning in August 1966, he entered into Air Force Undergraduate Pilot Training at Laredo Air Force Base, Texas.

Being a sports jock at heart, Captain Settles was captivated by the machismo of being a fighter pilot and chose the only fighter jet option available to him and most of his pilot training classmates, an assignment to fly as co-pilot in the F-4 Phantom jet fighter-bomber, a move which got him shipped off to Vietnam for a one year combat tour at Da Nang Air Base, Republic of Vietnam in August 1968.

Captain Settles survived one hundred ninety-nine combat missions flying the F-4 in Vietnam, completing  his Air Force obligation as a KC- 135 refueling tanker pilot at March Air Force Base in Riverside, California and concurrently earning his Master's degree in International Relations at the University of Southern California. Captain Settles reluctantly turned down a highly coveted selection to the U.S. Air Force Academy Political Science faculty to accept employment in the fall of 1972 as an airline pilot with now defunct Eastern Airlines.

The Arab Oil Embargo of the early seventies temporarily cost Captain Settles his lofty pilot job at Eastern. With a wife and a three year old son, he served for two years in a counseling position with Rutgers University College where he was promoted to Supervisor of Counseling and appointed Assistant Dean until his recall to Eastern in August of 1976.

Thirteen years later, struggling as a single parent Dad with two sons, the would-be airline pilot was once again forced from his glamorous airline pilot career in March of 1989 when a union strike and subsequent bankruptcy shut down Eastern Air Lines permanently. Perhaps as a lark, but more so intent on keeping the For Sale sign out of the yard of his Atlanta home, with his older son a freshman at Florida A & M University and a thirteen year old at home, he endured a two year cab driving adventure on the streets of metro Atlanta until fall of 1992 when he was hired by Private Jet Expeditions, an Atlanta charter jet airline. He advanced to Captain on the McDonald Douglas 82 passenger jet in six months.  Two years later, career storm clouds returned and Captain Settles suffered his second airline bankruptcy collapse. Once again, seeking solvency in his taxi-cab, he drove part time until he secured re-employment in 1995 with Indianapolis based ATA Airlines.

Mar 24, 2017

Your resume and employment application will determine if you are invited for an airline interview, but it is your performance at that interview that will get you hired! This episode of the Ready For Takeoff podcast will give you insights into what you can do now to be prepared for that interview.

Mar 20, 2017

As a 5-year-old, David Pettet wrote a letter to himself saying he wanted to be an airline pilot. He became a CFI as an 18-year-old, hired on as gate agent with a regional carrier, and parlayed that into a flying job. He was hired by Omni Air International as a B767 pilot, then moved to Hawaiian Airlines, flying the DC9 and the A330, and finally landed his current job at a major legacy airline.

He has been a member of the National Gay Pilots Association since his early years as a pilot, and served in numerous leadership positions, rising to his current position as Executive Director. The NGPA has both gay and straight members, and offers numerous membership benefits, including networking opportunities and millions of dollars in scholarships available to all members.

The NGPA is now an international organization, and is much larger than simply the LGBT community, offering networking opportunities for pilots of all genders and lifestyles. Their Industry Expo offers representatives from numerous airlines, including over 40 airline and vendor exhibitors. The last several hours of the Expo are reserved for members only, to allow them to interface with airline recruiters.

The scholarship program is currently  giving away 3 B737 type ratings, over $100,00 in cash awards, and a $5000 Private Pilot scholarship. Here's the important point for all pilots: you don't need to be LGBT to win a scholarship - fully half of the scholarships go to straight pilots! The organization has stated, "In order for us to ask the industry to be inclusive of LGBT, we have to be inclusive as well."

The organization offers several types of memberships, from individual to family and student.

Mar 13, 2017

Cristy Wise attended the United States Air Force Academy, and after graduation attended Air Force Undergraduate Pilot Training. When she received her wings, Christy was assigned as a Rescue C-130 pilot.

On April 11, 2015, Christy was struck by a hit-and-run boat while paddle boarding near Shalimar, Florida.  The injuries she sustained required her right leg be amputated above the knee.  Christy counts her survival a miracle.

Christy’s twin sister, Jessica, is a surgical resident who has provided medical assistance with the Children of Nations non-profit organization since 2010. Over the course of her countless hours with Dominican and Haitian populations, Jessica realized a significant need for prosthetic limbs exists among children as young amputees grow out of preliminary devices. Many families cannot afford new limbs for their children.​

To address this need, together with Jessica and boyfriend Tim, Christy founded the One Leg Up On Life Foundation in July 2015.

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