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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Jul 17, 2017

Dr. Tony Kern is the Founding Partner and CEO of Convergent Performance, LLC., a veteran-owned small business in Colorado Springs. Convergent was formed in 2003, and is specifically dedicated to reducing human error and improving performance in high risk environments such as aviation, military operations, surgical teams, law enforcement, and oil and gas. Tony is one of the world’s leading authorities on human performance in time constrained, error intolerant environments, and has lectured on the subject around the globe for over two decades. Dr. Kern has received multiple awards for his work, including Aviation Week & Space Technology 2002 Laurels Award for Outstanding Achievement in Government and Military, the University Aviation Association’s John K. Lauber Safety Award (2015), and the Flight Safety Foundation-Airbus Human Factors in Aviation Safety Award (2015). While Tony is grateful to have won these and other awards, it’s a completely different honor to have an award named after you. In 2015, the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) announced the creation of the Dr. Tony Kern Professionalism in Aviation award, and at the NBAA National Safety Forum in 2016, NBAA President Ed Bolan announced the first 19 award recipients. Dr. Kern has authored eight books on human performance, including the award-winning “Plane of Excellence” trilogy (Redefining Airmanship, Flight Discipline, and Darker Shades of Blue; McGraw Hill 1995, 1997, 1999). Broadening his approach beyond aviation, his “Empowered Accountability” series (Blue Threat: Why to Err is Inhuman and Going Pro: The Deliberate Practice of Professionalism; Pygmy Books 2009, 2011) creates a 21st century guide to extreme professionalism. His newest book (The Ghost of Nathan Hale; North Slope Publications 2016) remains in line with Dr. Kern’s passion for identifying and reducing threats. In it he details how declining public trust in government is an existential threat to America and the world itself, and provides strong motivation and a step-by-step path for restoring the integrity of government. A prolific writer, Tony is also a featured columnist and Contributing Editor for Skies and Vertical 911 magazines. In addition, Dr. Kern has been interviewed regarding his methodologies by the Fox Business Network, Bloomberg TV, the Discovery Channel, National Public Radio, NBC Nightly News, and 48 Hours with Dan Rather, among others. Despite his three graduate degrees, Dr. Kern does not consider himself an “academic.” He has deep operational roots in the U.S. Air Force as a Command Pilot and Flight Examiner in the B-1B bomber, as well as diverse senior staff and leadership experience, including service as the Chairman of the U.S. Air Force Human Factors Steering Group, and Director and Professor of Military History at the USAF Academy. Upon retirement from the Air Force in 2000, Dr. Kern served as the National Aviation Director for the U.S. Forest Service, where he directed the largest non-military government aviation program in the world in support of federal wildland fire suppression. Tony is a graduate of the Federal Executive Institute and the U.S. Federal Government Senior Executive Service Development Program. Tony has dedicated his adult life to helping individuals and organizations reduce error, mitigate losses, and optimize their performance, but still finds time to enjoy his personal hobbies of hunting, fishing, sports of all kinds, and writing. He currently lives with his wife of 29 years and their seven dogs in Woodland Park, Colorado.


Jul 14, 2017

A traffic collision avoidance system or traffic alert and collision avoidance system (both abbreviated as TCAS, and pronounced tee-kas) is an aircraft collision avoidance system designed to reduce the incidence of mid-air collisions between aircraft. It monitors the airspace around an aircraft for other aircraft equipped with a corresponding active transponder, independent of air traffic control, and warns pilots of the presence of other transponder-equipped aircraft which may present a threat of mid-air collision (MAC). It is a type of airborne collision avoidance system mandated by the International Civil Aviation Organization to be fitted to all aircraft with a maximum take-off mass (MTOM) of over 5,700 kg (12,600 lb) or authorized to carry more than 19 passengers. CFR 14, Ch I, part 135 requires that TCAS I is installed for aircraft with 10-30 passengers and TCAS II for aircraft with more than 30 passengers.

TCAS is based on secondary surveillance radar (SSR) transponder signals, but operates independently of ground-based equipment to provide advice to the pilot on potential conflicting aircraft.

In modern glass cockpit aircraft, the TCAS display may be integrated in the Navigation Display (ND) or Electronic Horizontal Situation Indicator (EHSI); in older glass cockpit aircraft and those with mechanical instrumentation, such an integrated TCAS display may replace the mechanical Vertical Speed Indicator (which indicates the rate with which the aircraft is descending or climbing).

TCAS involves communication between all aircraft equipped with an appropriate transponder (provided the transponder is enabled and set up properly). Each TCAS-equipped aircraft interrogates all other aircraft in a determined range about their position, and all other aircraft reply to other interrogations (via 1.09 GHz). This interrogation-and-response cycle may occur several times per second.

The TCAS system builds a three dimensional map of aircraft in the airspace, incorporating their range (garnered from the interrogation and response round trip time), altitude (as reported by the interrogated aircraft), and bearing (by the directional antenna from the response). Then, by extrapolating current range and altitude difference to anticipated future values, it determines if a potential collision threat exists.

TCAS and its variants are only able to interact with aircraft that have a correctly operating mode C or mode S transponder. A unique 24-bit identifier is assigned to each aircraft that has a mode S transponder.

The next step beyond identifying potential collisions is automatically negotiating a mutual avoidance maneuver (currently, maneuvers are restricted to changes in altitude and modification of climb/sink rates) between the two (or more) conflicting aircraft. These avoidance maneuvers are communicated to the flight crew by a cockpit display and by synthesized voice instructions.

A protected volume of airspace surrounds each TCAS equipped aircraft. The size of the protected volume depends on the altitude, speed, and heading of the aircraft involved in the encounter. The illustration below gives an example of a typical TCAS protection volume.

Jul 10, 2017

Chuck Gumbert, The Turnaround Specialist™, has utilized a wealth of life and business experience, as well as a knack for overcoming challenges, to guide numerous clients to success. One of Chuck’s first major challenges—overcoming the debilitating effects of polio at age 2—did not stop him from eventually participating in high school athletics and later becoming a fighter pilot in the U.S. Navy, graduating at the top of his class. His drive for accomplishment, led to him climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro and becoming a nationally recognized business leader, entrepreneur, speaker and mentor.

Chuck has been heavily influenced by historic leaders in both business and the military—most notably motivational speaker Zig Ziglar, Darren Hardy, business leader, author and speaker Jeff Hayzlett and General George S. Patton.

Chuck has applied his core principles and proven business Success Model in the business world, advising corporate leaders and their teams how to achieve predictable and consistent success. A true leader in an ever-changing America, Chuck is known for his high integrity, pristine character, drive and ability to “get the job done” – no matter what the circumstances. He has the unique ability to quickly diagnosis complicated problems and breakdowns within an organization, rally the troops to get everyone on board working towards a common goal and launch a solid success strategy for improved and accelerated performance.


Jul 7, 2017

Flown West

I hope there's a place, way up in the sky,
Where pilots can go, when they have to die-
A place where a guy can go and buy a cold beer
For a friend and comrade, whose memory is dear;
A place where no doctor or lawyer can tread,
Nor management type would ere be caught dead;
Just a quaint little place, kinda dark and full of smoke,
Where they like to sing loud, and love a good joke;
The kind of place where a lady could go
And feel safe and protected, by the men she would know.

There must be a place where old pilots go,
When their paining is finished, and their airspeed gets low,
Where the whiskey is old, and the women are young,
And the songs about flying and dying are sung,
Where you'd see all the fellows who'd flown west before.
And they'd call out your name, as you came through the door;
Who would buy you a drink if your thirst should be bad,
And relate to the others, "He was quite a good lad!"

And then through the mist, you'd spot an old guy
You had not seen for years, though he taught you how to fly.
He'd nod his old head, and grin ear to ear,
And say, "Welcome, my son, I'm pleased that you're here.
"For this is the place where true flyers come,
"When the journey is over, and the war has been won
"They've come here to at last to be safe and alone
From the government clerk and the management clone,
"Politicians and lawyers, the Feds and the noise
Where the hours are happy, and these good ol'boys
"Can relax with a cool one, and a well-deserved rest;
"This is Heaven, my son -- you've passed your last test!"

The tradition of throwing a nickel onto the grave of a fighter pilot started a long time ago. About a hundred years ago, the Salvation Army would beat a drum to collect money to help alcoholics. A song cam about with the chorus "throw a nickel on the drum, save another drunken bum".

During the Korean War, an F-86 pilot named William Starr modified the song: "Throw a nickel on the grass, save a fighter pilot's ass". Oscar Brand recorded it along with numerous other Air Force songs in 1959 in his album The Wild Blue Yonder.

Nickel on the Grass


Oh, Halleliua, Halleliua

Throw a nickel on the grass--Save a fighter pilot's ass.

Oh, Halleliua, Oh, Halleliua

Throw a nickel on the grass and you'll be saved.


I was cruising down the Yalu, doing six and twenty per

When a call came from the Major, Oh won 't you save me sir?

Got three flak holes in my wing tips, and my tanks ain't got no gas.

Mayday, mayday, mayday, I got six MIGS on my ass.


I shot my traffic pattern, and to me it looked all right,

The airspeed read one-thirty, I really racked it tight!

Then the airframe gave a shudder, the engine gave a wheeze,

Mayday, mayday, mayday, spin instructions please.


It was split S on my Bomb run, and I got too God Damn low

But I pressed that bloody button, and I let those babies go

Sucked the stick back fast as blazes, when I hit a hight speed stall

I won’t see my mother when the work all done next fall.


They sent me down to Pyongyang, the brief said "no ack ack"

by the time that I arrived there, my wings was mostly flak.

Then my engine coughed and sputtered, it was too cut up to fly

Mayday, mayday, mayday, I’m too young to die.


I bailed out from the Sabre, and the landing came out fine

With my E and E equipment, I made for our front line.

When I opened up ration, to see what was in it,

The God damn quartermaster why he filled the tin with grit.

Jul 3, 2017

In 1954, after 18 months of flight training, Chambers was designated as a Naval Aviator. His first fleet assignment was to an air-antisubmarine warfare squadron, VS-37, where he flew the Grumman AF Guardian. Transitioning to the light attack community, he later flew the A-1 Skyraider with VA-215 and then, following postgraduate education, transitioned to jet light attack aircraft, flying the A-4 Skyhawk with VA-125 and VA-22. He then established VA-67 (later VFA-15|VA-15) as its first commanding officer, flying the A-7 Corsair II.

From 1968 to 1971, Chambers flew combat missions over Vietnam from the USS Ranger and the USS Oriskany. In 1972 he was promoted to captain and placed in command of the USS White Plains, a combat stores ship.

In April 1975, while in command of the aircraft carrier USS Midway, Chambers was ordered to "make best speed" to the waters off South Vietnam as North Vietnam overran the country to take part in Operation Frequent Wind, the evacuation of U.S. and South Vietnamese personnel. At the time the carrier was in Subic Bay Naval Base with the engineering plant partially torn apart.

On April 29, 1975, South Vietnamese Air Force Major Buang-Ly loaded his wife and five children into a two-seat Cessna O-1 Bird Dog and took off from Con Son Island. After evading enemy ground fire Major Buang headed out to sea and spotted the Midway. The Midway's crew attempted to contact the aircraft on emergency frequencies but the pilot continued to circle overhead with his landing lights turned on. When a spotter reported that there were at least four people in the two-place aircraft, all thoughts of forcing the pilot to ditch alongside were abandoned - it was unlikely the passengers of the overloaded Bird Dog could survive the ditching and safely escape before the plane sank. After three tries, Major Buang managed to drop a note from a low pass over the deck: "Can you move the helicopter to the other side, I can land on your runway, I can fly for one hour more, we have enough time to move. Please rescue me! Major Buang, wife and 5 child."

After consultation with the USS Midway Carrier Task Force CO, Admiral William L. Harris, Chambers issued the order to allow the plane to land on the Midway's flight deck.[7] The arresting wires were then removed, all helicopters that could not be safely or quickly relocated were pushed over the side and into the sea. To get the job done he called for volunteers, and soon every available seaman was on deck, regardless of rank or duty, to provide the manpower to get the job done. An estimated US$10 million worth of UH-1 Huey helicopters were pushed overboard into the South China Sea. With a 500-foot ceiling, five miles visibility, light rain, and 15 knots of surface wind, Chambers ordered the ship to make 25 knots into the wind. Warnings about the dangerous downdrafts created behind a steaming carrier were transmitted blind in both Vietnamese and English. To make matters worse, five additional UH-1s landed and cluttered up the deck. Without hesitation, Chambers ordered them scuttled as well.


Jun 30, 2017

A visual no-flap or partial-flap approach may be a required maneuver on a type rating test. there are several techniques to make this event easier.

Naturally, good CRM requires you to use all of your resources, which include the ILS (if available), VASI/PAPI (if available) and non-ILS approaches in your database.

If none of these are available, simply fly the airplane on a 3-degree glide path by positioning the aircraft 350 feet AGL at one mile, 650 feet AGL at two miles, and 1000 feet AGL at three miles. Another way to determine a 3-degree flight path is to descend at 1/2 your groundspeed times 10. A 140 knot groundspeed would require 700 feet-per-minute descent rate. This is based on groundspeed, which can be determined by true airspeed (TAS) adjusted for wind. If you cannot read groundspeed directly from your instruments, calculate your TAS by realizing that TAS increases approximately 2 percent above IAS for every 1000 feet of elevation.

Jun 26, 2017

Marc Sheffler wanted to fly ever since he was a child. He started flying at age 17, and after attending L'ecole de L'air (the French Air Force Academy) he attended pilot training in the French Air Force in 1997. Excelling in flight training, he became a fighter pilot, flying the Alphajet.

Following that, he transitioned to the Mirage 2000. He currently has 2,200 hours in the Mirage in the air-to-ground mission, employing weapons ranging from "dumb bombs" to terminal guided munitions. He has flown five combat tours of duty in Afghanistan in the troop support mission and two combat tours over Libya.

Marc is also an author, and has written two novels, currently available only in French.

Jun 23, 2017

Night flying is generally smoother and features less communications traffic congestion than daytime flying. But to have a safe night flight, the pilot needs to be extra vigilant in several areas.

For starters, it is much more difficult to find a suitable area for an emergency landing at night, so you might want to adjust your route of flight to remain within a reasonable distance of suitable emergency airports. That might necessitate flying slightly higher at night to maximize gliding distance.

Flying higher, however, has its own downside at night, since vision is directly affected by oxygen level. Consider using supplemental oxygen if flying above 5,000 feet.

Prepare your eyes for night vision by wearing sunglasses for at least 30 minutes before dusk. Rhodopsin - visual purple - enhances the sensitivity of the rods in your eyes. Once your eyes are dark-adapted, they can discern the light of a candle at 2 miles. Even a brief flash of light will bleach out the rhodopsin and destroy the enhanced night vision. Rhodopsin is insensitive to red light.

Have at least two flashlights available, and keep instrument lights as dim as possible.

Currency requirements to carry passengers: 3 full stop landings within an hour of sunset or sunrise during the preceding 90 days.

Jun 19, 2017

Karen Kahn has been actively involved in the aviation industry for 30+ years. She is one of the nation’s first female commercial pilots hired and one of few pioneers still working. Prior to starting her airline career in 1977, she instructed at the Sierra Academy in Northern California and operated her own weekend ground school teaching Private, Commercial and Instrument courses.

She holds ratings through Airline Transport Pilot (ATP), including type ratings on the Boeing 757/767 and McDonnell-Douglas MD-80. She was the first woman to be type-rated in a Lockheed JetStar. Her other ratings include: CFII MEI, Flight Engineer, Turbojet, Seaplane, Helicopter, and the coveted Master CFI (MCFI) designation from the National Association of Flight Instructors.

As an author, speaker and career counselor, Captain Kahn also specializes in helping pilots improve their career preparation, and more recently has expanded her business to provide career development beyond aviation.

Captain Kahn’s professional presentations include career workshops, professional and civic meetings, events, trainings, and trade shows. She prefers to tailor her presentations to each event ensuring a special and unforgettable engagement. She is an inspirational voice on confidence, determination and achieving goals, and can speak on a variety of topics spanning personal motivation, leadership, travel, career development and, of course, aviation.

Jun 16, 2017

Wind shear is a change in wind speed and/or direction over a short distance. It can occur either horizontally or vertically and is most often associated with strong temperature inversions or density gradients. Wind shear can occur at high or low altitude.

Not all fronts have associated wind shear. In fact, shear is normally a problem only in those fronts with steep wind gradients. As with so many things associated with weather, there is no absolute rule, but a couple of clues tell you that wind shear may occur: • The temperature difference across the front at the surface is 10 o F (5 o C) or more. • The front is moving at a speed of at least 30 knots. You can get clues about the presence of wind shear during the weather briefing by checking these two factors. Ask the briefer and, if these factors are present, be prepared for the possibility of shear on approach.

Wind shear is just one of the many unpleasant aspect of thunderstorms. The violence of these storms and their winds are well documented. The two worst problems outside actual storm penetration are shear related. These are the “first gust” and the “downburst.” The rapid shift and increase in wind just before a thunderstorm hits is the first gust.

Gusty winds are associated with mature thunderstorms and are the result of large downdrafts striking the ground and spreading out horizontally. These winds can change direction by as much as 180 degrees and reach velocities of 100 knots as far as 10 miles ahead of the storm. The gust wind speed may increase by as much as 50 percent between the surface and 1,500 feet, with most of the increase occurring in the first 150 feet. The implications for a shear on approach in such a case are obvious.

The other wind problem mentioned previously, the downburst, is also downdraft related. It is an extremely intense, localized downdraft from a thunderstorm. This downdraft exceeds 720-feet-per-minute vertical velocity at 300 feet AGL. The power of the downburst can actually exceed aircraft climb capabilities, not only those of light aircraft, but, as is documented in one case, even a high-performance Air Force jet. The downburst is usually much closer to the thunderstorm than the first gust, but there is no absolutely reliable way to predict the occurrence. One clue is the presence of dust clouds, roll clouds, or intense rainfall. It would be best to avoid such areas.


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.

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