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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Michael Baiada has 35 years and over 20,000 hours of flying experience and holds BS degrees in Aeronautical Engineering and Business Administration from Rutgers University. He was the Manager of Products at Allied/Bendix Avionics Division, Assistant VP - Operations/Maintenance at Ransome Airlines and a USAF officer/pilot. After serving in the Air Force, Mike joined United Airlines as a pilot. His passion, from early on, has been to enhance airline productivity.
Over the last 25 years, Michael Baiada has worked extensively on airline operational productivity and ATC/airspace capacity issues. In collaboration with Michael Boyd, he co-authored the three volume Free Flight Analysis.
Mike is President of ATH Group, Inc. ATH's vision is to bring the Supply Chain, Lean Six Sigma philosophy to the airline curb to curb production process so as to fundamentally alter the airline operating environment. ATH Group’s products include its patented and award winning Attila Process™, a tactical aircraft/asset/airline flow management solution. ATH's award winning and patented Attila™ solution is currently operational for Delta Air Lines at Atlanta, reducing delays, improving product quality and saving Delta over $20,000 per day in fuel alone (www.athgrp.com). Based on Attila™, within 3 years, airlines can move to increase A0 to greater than 80% and reduce block time by an average of 10 minutes per flight.
Mark Berent received his pilot’s wings in September 1953, then flew the F-86 SabreJet and the F-100 Super Sabre in Germany, France, and the U.S. He even caught a ride in the "missile with a man in it", the F-104. In the early ‘60s, the USAF sent him to Arizona State University to get an engineering degree. While there, the Vietnam War became more intense, and he volunteered for duty in Vietnam
In mid-December 1965 he arrived at Bien Hoa Air Base in South Vietnam as a pilot in the 531st Tactical Fighter Squadron (TFS) in the 3rd Tactical Fighter Wing (TFW). He flew over 250 missions and was reassigned back in the States to a desk job at the Space and Missile Systems Organization (SAMSO) in El Segundo, California. Though he was able to fly the T-39 Sabreliner, he was not happy. The war tempo had increased. He made contact with Air Force Personnel and soon found himself at George Air Force Base, Victorville, California, upgrading into the F-4 Phantom.
On the 1st of November, 1968, he signed in to the 497th TFS at Ubon Royal Thai Air Force Base in upcountry Thailand. There he flew over 240 missions both as a Night Owl and as a Wolf Forward Air Controller (FAC).
He wrote the Wings of War series, a five-part series that follows pilot Court Bannister, pilot Toby Parker, and Special Forces officer Wolf Lochert through their successive combat tours in Vietnam. Along the way, we see real events like Johnson and McNamara micro-managing the war, the outrageous abuse of American Pilots held at the Hoa Lo prison, and the claim of an attack on the Russian ship Turkmenestan.
Carl Minter got his start in aviation as a teenager in the Negro Airmen International program, and later attended Parks College and Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. After a stint working as an engineer for Sikorsky, he joined the Air Force and flew C-141's and then was selected to fly Presidential Support missions in the Gulfstream aircraft. After leaving the military and joining a legacy airline, Karl continued his service in the Air Force reserves.
In this podcast, Karl describes the Organization of Black Aerospace Professionals and explains their many programs, including job fairs, mentoring and scholarship opportunities.
Chuck’s aviation career is the result of a life-long interest in aviation, which was made stronger as his father - an Air Force pilot in three wars - took him to countless air shows where he watched the Thunderbirds and Blue Angels perform. This led to enrollment in USAF ROTC at the Citadel and a subsequent pilot slot. He brought the discipline he learned at the Citadel into his Air Force flight training and graduated near the top of his class.
As a result of his performance in Undergraduate Pilot Training, he was selected by the Air Training Command as an Air Force instructor pilot. He excelled in this role and was offered a position as a career trainer, which he gladly accepted. Chuck spent the next 24 years educating and training pilots, serving in various capacities including Standardization/Evaluation Chief Spin Pilot, Squadron Commander, Air Operations Inspector and Director of Operations/Training for the Civil Air Patrol. Throughout his career, he helped Air Force pilots improve their skills. Chuck retired from the Air Force in 2000 with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel.
After military retirement, he turned his attention to general aviation (GA) where he found a huge discrepancy between the training and proficiency the Air Force offered and what was present in GA. This began his quest to bring GA training closer to the level offered by the military and the airlines through improved standardization and proficiency training. Since 2000, he has maintained this focus on providing quality GA flight instruction.
Chuck has influence well beyond the borders of the United States. As a Platinum Cirrus Instructor Pilot, he helps with ground and flight training internationally through the Cirrus Owners and Pilots Association Foundation’s Cirrus Pilot Proficiency Program. As a result of these efforts, owners and renters enhance their knowledge, proficiency, and safety in technologically advanced aircraft, making them more professional pilots.
As co-founder and Chief Instructor of Independence Aviation (IA), Chuck helped craft a unique and effective environment that emphasizes high-quality training in technologically advance aircraft and which fosters proficiency, safety, and fun in aviation. Since 2007, he helped grow the business from three instructors and two airplanes to more than 18 instructors and 13 aircraft with a strong base of loyal clientele. Chuck was named Chief Instructor Emeritus in acknowledgement of his many outstanding accomplishments as Chief Instructor at IA.
Carl Valeri started his career in the computer business, preparing clients for the effects of the dreaded Y2K Disaster. But he always had a desire to fly, and finally found his passion when he got an airline job. When he was furloughed, he found his other passion: helping furloughed pilots find aviation employment.
He now helps countless pilots in the pursuit of their passions through his aviation counseling, his blog, and his podcasts. He publishes an Aerospace Scholarship Guide, which he updates annually, and also guides young pilots as a Flight Team coach. In addition, Carl is a television on-air aviation expert. AND, in his spare time, he flies for an airline!
During WW II Bud Anderson served two combat tours escorting heavy bomber over Europe in the P-51 Mustang, Nov 1943 through Jan 1945. He flew 116 combat mission (480 hrs) and destroyed 16 and 1/4 enemy aircraft in aerial combat and another one on the ground.
He has an extensive flight testing background spanning a 25 year period. At Wright-Patterson AFB OH he was a fighter test pilot and later became Chief of Fighter Operations. He flew many models of the early jet fighters and was involved in two very unusual flight test programs. He made the first flights on a bizarre experimental program to couple jet fighters to the wingtips of a large bomber aircraft for range extension.
Later he also conducted the initial development flights on the F-84 Parasite fighter modified to be launched and retrieved from the very large B-36 bomber. At The Air Force Flight Test Center at Edwards AFB Col Anderson was assigned as the Chief Of Flight Test Operations and later Deputy Director of Flight Test. While there he flew the Century series fighters and all the other types of aircraft in the Air Force inventory. He has flown over 130 different types of aircraft and has logged over 7500 flying hours.
Other assignment in his 30 years of continuous military service include duty as: Commander of an F86 Squadron in post war Korea, Commander of an F-105 Wing on Okinawa, and two assignments to the Pentagon as an advanced R & D staff planner and as Director of Operational Requirements. Further, he served in Southeast Asia where he was Commander of the 355th Tactical Fighter Wing. Col Anderson flew bombing strikes against enemy supply lines and later was in charge of closing the first large air base when his combat wing was deactivated. Col Anderson was decorated 25 times. His awards include 2 Legion of Merits, 5 Distinguished Flying Crosses, the Bronze Star, 16 Air Medals, the French Legion of Honor and the French Croix de Guerre, as well as many campaign and service ribbons.
Christophe Simon wanted to fly from an earlier age, but his initial efforts were nipped in the bud when he could not pass the French medical exam because he had bad eyes. So he attended a university to become qualified for non-flying aviation employment.
After graduation, he discovered he couldn't find employment because he had not attended a prestige (Ivy League) university. He relocated to England and quickly found meaningful employment in his chosen career. After 7 years, he was hired by Airbus Industrie back in France!
During a trip to Canada, he discovered that vision correcting glasses was not a problem for obtaining a medical certificate to fly, so he began his flying career. He is now a rated pilot, specializing in aerobatics.
Motivational keynote speaker Waldo Waldman – The Wingman – is the author of the New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestseller Never Fly Solo. He teaches tactics on how to build trusting, revenue producing relationships with employees, partners, and customers while sharing his experiences as a decorated fighter pilot and sales expert. A graduate of the Air Force Academy, he holds an MBA with a focus on Organizational Behavior and is a former top producing sales manager. He successfully led national sales efforts for several cutting edge technology and consulting firms before becoming a motivational speaker and leadership expert.
Waldo overcame massive claustrophobia and a fear of heights to become a fighter pilot with 65 combat missions and 2,650 flight hours. He’s deployed worldwide and flew missions in Iraq, SE Asia, and Kosovo during Operation Allied Force. Waldo has been awarded 5 Air Medals, 2 Aerial Achievement Medals, 4 Commendation Medals, and 2 Meritorious Service Medals.
Katie leads AOPA’s Communications division and is responsible for its You Can Fly programs. Under the You Can Fly umbrella, Katie and her team are building programs designed to get lapsed pilots back in the air, provide more affordable access to aviation through flying clubs, support best practices in flight training, and introduce high school students to aviation.
Katie earned a degree from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and flew the Canadair Regional Jet with Atlantic Coast Airlines/Independence Air before serving as the director of communications for the General Aviation Manufacturers Association.
Katie is also a CFI and rated seaplane pilot. Her idea of the perfect weekend involves flying her Cessna 180 Skywagon. Katie's narrative is the cover story of the January 2017 issue of AOPA Pilot magazine.
Jeff Nielsen, the host of the Airline Pilot Guy podcast, started his aviation career in the U.S. Air Force, flying C-141s worldwide, then instructing in the T-37. He then left the Air Force to pursue a career in airline operations, hiring on with the airline he calls "Acme Air".
His Airline Pilot Guy podcast, to show what happens "on our side of the cockpit door", is immensely popular, and just passed the 250-episode milestone.
Larry Salganek has been instructing pilots for 25 years. Most of his instructing has been in warbirds, both piston and jets, including the T-34, T-33, T-28, YAK 18, YAK 52, CJ-6 Provost T-5, Mig 15/17, L-29, L-39 and Siai Marchetti and Fouga Jets. Larry has probably spent more hours instructing civilians in military piston and jet aircraft than anyone else in the United States. Larry currently holds low altitude airshow waivers in the T-34, YAK 52, Marchetti 260, L-29, L-39, Mig 15, T-33 and Fouga Jets. He is a CFI, CFII, and MEI and is an FAA Designated Examiner in our jet warbirds.
Kathi Durst attended the United States Air Force Academy the second year women were allowed to enroll, and went to Undergraduate Pilot Training the second year women were allowed to become Air Force pilots. Although she performed well enough to qualify for a fighter assignment, at that time women were not permitted to fly combat aircraft, so she was assigned as an Instructor Pilot (IP) in the supersonic T-38 Talon aircraft.
After seven years, she left the Air Force and hired on with American Airlines, where she rose to the position of Chief Pilot at the largest airline domicile in the world.
Justin started flying at age 14, and received his pilot’s license at 17. In 1999, he graduated from the University of North Dakota with a B.S. in Aeronautical Studies, a Multi-Engine Commercial Pilot Certificate, and a Flight Instructor Certificate.
He built experience as a flight instructor for several years until he left for Navy Officer Candidate School. After receiving his commission, Justin married his high school sweetheart, Sarah Clark Lewis, to whom he attributes much of his accomplishments.
Upon completion of Navy flight school, Justin was recognized as the top graduating tactical jet aviator in 2001. He was assigned the F-14D Tomcat and in 2004, he transitioned to the E-6B Mercury (a Boeing 707 variant). In 2007, he was assigned to train the next generation of Navy fighter and aircraft carrier pilots in the T-45 Goshawk.
After nearly 11 years of years of Active Duty, Justin continued to teach in the T-45 as a Naval Reservist until joining the Arkansas Air National Guard in 2011.
Today, Justin’s a certified Airline Transport Pilot and currently flying the A-10C as a “Traditional Guardsman.”
Laura Einsetler is a commercial airline pilot with over 30 years of flying experience in various aircraft around the world. She is also the author of two books, “Remove Before Flight” and “Lost and Found”. As an aviation and health enthusiast, she is passionate about sharing her knowledge and insight to help create better quality of life by reducing any fear of flying while educating and empowering the passenger.
Don Sebastian started his aviation career flying airplanes at an army aero club in the morning and then jumping out of airplanes in the afternoon. After finishing his military service, which included combat in the Caribbean, he completed his aeronautical ratings, and has been flight instructing for five decades. He now combines his pilot skills with his A&P certificate to conduct pre-buy inspections for airplane purchasers throughout the world.