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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Ready For Takeoff - Turn Your Aviation Passion Into A Career









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Mar 15, 2021

“It started with me seeing a photo of a plane in a Christmas catalogue and pointing to it. From that moment, that was what I wanted. As a child I would dream of flying, would beg my parents to go to the airport, watch planes take off and land. Around the age of 6, I flew in my first plane. It was all I ever wanted to do.”

At the same time, Lepley, who was assigned male at birth, explains that “from my earliest recollection I knew I was a girl. Yet societal, family and religious expectations would not allow it. I didn’t even know what trans was. As a child of the 70s and 80s there was no Google, Internet, and so on. It was only through some research in the card catalogues of our library did I find a few stories on others like me. One was Christine Jorgensen. The other was Renée Richards.”

As Lepley was coming to terms with her gender reality, her drive to become a pilot was unabated. Like many trans people, Lepley focussed on her professional career and achieved substantial success — in many ways, at the expense of her personal life — before transitioning to her gender identity.

“When I was 15, my dad took me to the local community college in Traverse City, Michigan, which had an aviation program,” Lepley continues. “We met with the Administrator of that department and learned what I would need to do to prepare for my career. At the age of 16, I would begin ground school. In the mornings and early afternoon, I would attend high school. In the late afternoon? College.”

“By the time I was 21, I had secured my first airline job as a flight engineer on a Lockheed Electra for an airline called Zantop, based in Willow Run Airport in Ypsilanti, MI. I was on top of the world, traveling to cities throughout the United States,” Lepley says.

Today, Lepley, an MD-11 first officer for a cargo airline, is based in Anchorage and type-rated for the SA-227, B-757/767 and MD-11. In addition to her type ratings, she has flown the DC-9 and engineered on the L-188, DC-8 and B-747.

Lepley flies the professionally challenging MD-11 aircraft for a cargo airline. Image: John Walton

Looking back, Lepley notes that it was only as she achieved her professional goals and career success that the incongruity of living in the male gender became insurmountable. Gender identity is, of course, not a choice, and coming to the realisation that one is trans — and then making the decision to live an authentic life — is an often difficult journey. In aviation terms, Lepley describes knowing that she was female yet living in a male body as listening to the HF frequencies with constant static every hour of the day for more than thirty years.

That courageous decision to confront the need to live as the same gender in one’s brain, particularly for those people who transition to living in a gender into which they were not born, often comes with consequences, however.

Lepley’s transition cost her a marriage, her home, retirement, and friendships, as well as a church community, but the reaction from her employer and the aviation community was also a concern. “Weighing heavily on my mind was the career that I worked so hard to obtain. Would I lose that as well?” Lepley asked herself. “Aviation is very much a male dominated field, with less than 6% flying as women. I was very fearful of coming out. How would I be perceived? How would I be treated? Would I be accepted? These were just some of the multiple questions that I processed.”

“Fortunately,” Lepley notes, “I had a role model of a woman who transitioned a few years prior to me. We met on a few occasions while overseas. She offered her help and assistance when it came to opening the door for my transition and instrumental in my success.”

“When I finally sat down with my chief pilot, words just could not describe the anxiety I was feeling. Here I am about to tell another man: ‘I am a woman’. Fortunately, he was already briefed on what I was about to say and stopped me. He said, ‘Don’t worry about it…I am here for you.’”

Lepley is a first officer on the MD-11 fleet. Image: Kelly Lepley

“It was those words that I will never forget,” Lepley says. “In that moment, he showed me more Christ-like love than any of my peers at the church I once called home. This is all any of us want: to be treated with dignity, respect, and love.”

Lepley’s continued faith in the context of her gender identity and transition is one of the most striking aspects of this remarkable woman. “I attend church in both Alaska and Kentucky when my schedule affords me the opportunity,” Lepley explains. “My faith is much deeper and much richer than before.”

Noting that finding a church while overseas can be difficult at times, she has been able to worship in cities like Hong Kong, Guangzhou, Sydney, Honolulu and Southern California. Yet many trans people not only find an unwelcoming atmosphere in places of faith, but in their workplaces as well.

Lepley recommends finding a strong, motivating mentor to new pilots. Image: Kelly Lepley

“When news did break of my transition, and rumors began to fly, I sat down and wrote out my story and posted it on our internal union website,” Lepley says. “I didn’t know what to expect. Knowing once I posted that story, there was no turning back. A new chapter in my life was about to begin. Like the demands I place on myself as an aviator, I would demand it of myself as a woman. Mediocrity was not an option.”

“I had to earn the respect of my peers as a woman, and that was OK. From the way I wore my uniform, dressed after hours, to the way I walked, spoke, and carried myself, everything I did had to be done with the highest of my own expectations. These were my peers with whom I loved and they deserved my very best. Demanding respect is one thing, but in the end is not meaningful. Earning it creates something much deeper. That was what I wanted and that is what I received.”

In her current first officer position, Lepley explains that she normally works a two week on, two week off schedule. The best part of her job, Lepley says, is meeting people from around the world. The downside, however is that “there is no regularity to my life. As much as I would love to participate in a weekly Bible Study, dance class, or social gathering, it just isn’t doable with my schedule.”

That’s just one of the tradeoffs Lepley makes as part of her career, but she consciously does her bit to help others to make their work/life balance work more easily: “When I am not scheduled to be with my kids, I will bid lines over the holidays in order to give someone junior to me the opportunity to be home with their family.”

“It’s a tough call!” Lepley says when asked which route is her favorite. “There is so much diversity throughout this world. I love flying over Japan seeing Mt. Fuji the glaciers in Alaska, the Tien Shan Mountain Range over eastern Kazakhstan and Western China, the Zagros Mountains in Eastern Iran… each place has its own unique beauty.”

Of course, getting to the front seats can be an expensive investment for new pilots. “One of the greatest deterrent for taking up this career is cost,” Lepley notes. “When I speak to young people I tell them: do not discount the smaller colleges. When you look hard enough there are options. In my case, I could not afford a four year college to obtain my ratings. It was cost prohibitive. Fortunately, our local community college, Northwestern Michigan College had their own aviation school. For a fraction of what it would have cost me at a major name college, I was able to obtain all my ratings in conjunction with a two year degree.”

“I used that foundation and experience to land a flight engineer slot with Zantop Airlines. Upon earning my wings as a flight engineer, I turned back to school focusing on my four year degree through Embry-Riddle’s Worldwide Program. By accumulating immeasurable flight experience, I was able to use my salary to obtain a four year degree. Although it took me over ten years to complete it, I overcame that obstacle and did it debt free.”

Having adopted two precious girls from China, Lepley has a soft heart for orphans. When on layover in Taiwan, she visits a home for orphans, bringing snacks, and playing with the kids. In a big way, these children tug at my heart. Image: Kelly Lepley

Lepley explains that she sought out mentors who matched and spurred on her own dedication. “There were two men in my flight school who pushed me hard. One was a retired Lieutenant Colonel and the other a long time instructor. Both of them took me under their wings. They pushed me hard. Anything less than precise was not good enough. That foundation they placed on me early in my career drives me today in what I do. I owe much of my career to them!”

To find that kind of mentor, Lepley recommends, “Set your bar very high. Seek out an instructor who has those same expectations. Show them your desire and be persistent. They will take you under their wings and push you if you are willing to allow it.”

Mar 11, 2021

Jet bridges provide all-weather dry access to aircraft and enhance the security of terminal operations. They are often permanently attached at one end by a pivot (or rotunda) to the terminal building and have the ability to swing left or right. The cabin, at the end of the loading bridge, may be raised or lowered, extended or retracted, and may pivot, to accommodate aircraft of different sizes. These motions are controlled by an operator's station in the cab. The cab is provided with an accordion-like canopy, which allows the bridge to dock with aircraft with differing shapes, and provide a nearly weather-proof seal. Additionally, many models offer leveling devices for the portion of the floor that makes contact with the aircraft; this allows passengers to slowly transition from level aircraft floor to sloping jet bridge floor. As such, jet bridges provide enhanced access to aircraft for passengers with many types of disabilities and mobility impairments, as they may board and disembark without climbing stairs or using a specialized wheelchair lift.

Some airports with international gates have two or even three bridges for larger aircraft with multiple entrances. In theory, this allows for faster disembarking of larger aircraft, though it is quite common, especially on aircraft such as Boeing 747s and Boeing 777s, to use one bridge for only passengers in first class and/or business class, while the other bridge is for the use of passengers in economy class. In some designs, the second jet bridge would even extend over the aircraft wing, being suspended from an overhead structure. This was, for example, originally adopted for most wide body gates at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol. The Airbus A380 is unique in that both of its two passenger decks have outside access doors and so using loading bridges for each deck is possible, having the advantage of faster aircraft loading (in parallel). Faster loading can lead to lower airport charges, fewer delays and more passenger throughout for the airport, all factors which impact an airline's bottom line.

Though loading bridges are usually permanently attached at their terminal-building end, leaving only the cab free to move, this is not always the case. Those at Melbourne Airport's international terminal are — and at Hong Kong's old Kai Tak Airport were — anchored in the middle and movable at either end to permit the terminal building-end to be raised or lowered to connect with either the departures level or the arrivals level of the terminal building.

Loading bridges restrict aircraft parking to spots immediately adjacent to the terminal. Thus, airports use mobile staircases to facilitate disembarking at hardstands (remote parking positions).

Loading bridges may pose hazards to aircraft if handled improperly. If the bridge is not retracted fully before departure, it may contact protruding parts of the taxiing aircraft (e.g., a pitot tube), requiring repair and delays. Furthermore, during cold weather, the loading bridge may become frozen to the aircraft. In this case, when the jet bridge retracts, it could damage the aircraft if that area has not been properly de-iced.

When regional jets are used, jet bridges have another disadvantage, since they allow only one aircraft to park at the gate at a time. Several airlines have removed jet bridges at regional jet gates at airports such as Atlanta which are short on gates. When having passengers disembark on the ramp or apron, airlines can fit two or more regional jets per gate. In many other places like Beijing Capital Airport and Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport, a gate for large aircraft can be used to accommodate two smaller aircraft like Boeing 737s or Airbus A320s.

Several incidents of jet bridges collapsing include Sydney, Hong Kong, Seattle, Los Angeles, Baltimore, and Islamabad.

Airports frequently charge increased fees for using loading bridges on stands as opposed to mobile stairs, therefore low-cost airlines such as Ryanair have avoided using these wherever possible.

Jet bridges are occasionally used at smaller, single-story airports. This is accomplished by a flight of stairs and, in some instances, a wheelchair lift. In this scenario, a passenger proceeds through the gate and then up a flight of stairs to meet the height of the jet bridge. An example of this can be found at South Bend International Airport. Alternatively, a ramp can be used in the terminal building to bring the passengers from the waiting area to the height of the jet bridge. For example, Sawyer International Airport has jet bridges that can load passengers onto smaller passenger aircraft such as the Saab 340 turboprop. The Ithaca Tompkins Regional Airport has two gates using this approach. This can be done to attract larger airlines that require use of a jet bridge to the airport, as well as to make disembarking smaller planes easier for disabled people and to improve the disembarking process in bad weather.

At the airport terminal, the bridge is connected to a portal (called a "gate") in the terminal wall behind the gate desk. Once airplane boarding starts, passengers hand their boarding passes to the gate's attendant, who lets them pass through.

Inside, the bridge looks like a narrow, lighted hallway, without doors. Loading bridges usually have no windows, but glass walls are becoming more common. The walls are normally painted in accordance with airline standards, generally with relaxing colours. Some bridges have advertisements on interior or exterior walls. The floor is generally uneven with many bumps, creating a hazard for wheelchairs and individuals with mobility issues.

By using a retractable tunnel design, loading bridges may retract and extend varying lengths. Some airports use fixed walkways to effectively extend the reach of a loading bridge. The fixed walkway extends out from the terminal building and connects to the loading bridge rotunda. Occasionally, fixed bridges lead to multiple loading bridges. There are some jetways (such as several older bridges on the north terminal at Edmonton International Airport) that sit directly on the ground, as opposed to supports. These jetways are often used by small airlines or airplanes that are sometimes too low for conventional jetways.

The cab of the loading bridge is raised and lowered to dock with aircraft of differing sill heights. The height of the cab is matched to the height of the aircraft door sill height. This often results in a slope along the length of the loading bridge.


Mar 8, 2021

Larry Freeland was born in Canton, Ohio.  Since his father was an officer with the United States Air Force he grew up on many Air Force bases across this country.   After graduating from High School at Ramey Air Force Base in Puerto Rico, he attended the University of South Florida in Tampa, Florida.  He graduated in 1968 with a degree in mathematics and a concentration in finance. He joined the U.S. Army and served one tour in Vietnam with the 101st Airborne Division as an Infantry Officer and a CH-47 helicopter pilot.  He is the recipient of the Distinguished Flying Cross with one Oak Leaf Cluster, the Air Medal, with 10 Oak Leaf Clusters, the Bronze Star, and various other military service medals.

Upon release from active duty in 1973, Larry returned to civilian life and pursued a career in the Financial Industry.  During his professional career, he continued his education earning graduate degrees in Management and Banking.  He worked for 29 years in the banking business with Trust Company of Georgia, Citizen and Southern Corporation, now Bank of America, and Wachovia, now Wells Fargo.  After retiring from banking he worked as an independent financial consultant for 3 years in the Atlanta area and then worked as an instructor for 6 years with Lanier Technical College in their Management and Leadership Development Program.

Larry is now retired and lives in North Georgia with his wife Linda, a retired school teacher.  They stay involved in various activities, most notably those associated with the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation and Veterans related organizations.  They also enjoy traveling together and spending as much time as possible with their two daughters, three grandsons, and two granddaughters.

Larry's novel Chariots In The Sky is based on his experiences in Vietnam.

Mar 4, 2021

With Covid-19 vaccines rolling out across the United States, the beginning of the end of the nation’s struggle with the pandemic may be coming into sight. But while the two currently approved Covid-19 vaccines from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna are more than 90 percent effective at preventing the development of serious illness, scientists don’t know whether someone who has been vaccinated can carry the live virus and spread it to others.

Initial vaccine trials focused on vaccine safety. These were designed to gather data quickly and accurately on how effectively the vaccines prevented large groups of people from getting seriously sick with Covid-19.

In the push to get a vaccine approved for emergency use as quickly as possible, other effects of the vaccines were left untested. Scientists must test a smaller pool of people with greater frequency to understand how the virus travels between people after vaccination—an effort that became secondary to studying vaccine safety and efficacy.

“We design the trials to determine how we reduce the disease burden and keep people from progressing to hospitalization and death and being on a ventilator—that was and I think, still is, the first primary purpose of developing a vaccine,” says Larry Corey, co-director of the Covid-19 Prevention Network, a group formed in part by the National Institutes of Health to address the need for vaccines.

Now, as new, highly contagious SARS-CoV-2 variants from California, the United Kingdom, South Africa and Brazil spread globally, understanding transmission as it relates to vaccine rollout efforts is vital.

Most vaccines still seem to prevent worst outcomes, like hospitalization and death, against the new variants. However, it may be months before researchers have conclusive findings about how viral transmission from vaccinated individuals to unvaccinated individuals works.

In the meantime, health experts recommend vaccinated people continue to adhere to current mask and social distancing practices.

“You’re self-protected, but you still could be a danger to other people, especially if you start using behavioral disinhibition, saying, ‘I'm vaccinated, I'm invulnerable’,” Corey says. “You could acquire Covid and it will be silent, and then you can infect a bunch of people who are not as lucky as you to be vaccinated at this point in time.”

The two approved mRNA vaccines provide systemic immunity, meaning they encourage the production of antibodies in the blood and trigger a whole-body response to the virus. However, the virus typically first infects the mucus of a person’s nose and mouth, where those antibodies don’t actively fend off pathogens. A study published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology in November shows that people who recover from natural Covid-19 infections develop antibodies to protect the mucosal regions in the respiratory tract, but there is no evidence yet that the same is true with vaccine-induced immunity.

Deborah Lehman, a professor of clinical pediatrics at UCLA, says if a Covid-19 vaccine is able to prevent the virus from living in the mucosal passages, it may not be able to spread to other people.

Since scientists haven’t yet found evidence that the vaccines provide mucosal immunity, someone who is vaccinated and has no symptoms of illness may be carrying the live SARS-CoV-2 virus and spreading it to others when they cough, breath or sneeze.

“You could have a lot of people vaccinated who are walking around but are still acquiring the virus—potentially still being infectious—and we don't really see a reduction on a population basis of disease burden,” Corey says.

To test whether this population is spreading live virus, Corey says researchers need to collect samples from a large group of vaccinated people multiple times per week for evidence of viral shedding. Corey’s team at the Covid-Prevention Network (CoVPN) proposed a study of 20,000 vaccinated college students to track transmission on a campus; it’s still awaiting federal funding. Lehman says studying the viral load in vaccinated people can help researchers understand how infectious they are compared to non-vaccinated people.

Given the rate of vaccinations, the duration of testing, and quantity of samples needed, Corey and Lehman expect researchers won’t collect enough data on transmission to have an answer until the fall. Having more information about virus transmission is crucial to the future of informed public health recommendations. If vaccinated people can still spread the virus, it could change the timeline for reopening businesses, allowing large gatherings and loosening current restrictions.

The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine doesn’t provide significant immune protection until 12 days after the first dose and only reaches 52 percent efficacy after a few weeks, per a study published in The New England Journal of Medicine in December. The Moderna vaccine is similarly 51 percent effective two weeks after the first immunization, per its application for authorization.

During this time, the body is still relatively vulnerable to infection. People will need to be mindful of when their friends and family got vaccinated in order to understand their immunity status, which will get complicated over time as more of the population gets vaccines.

“Vaccination hubs and centers are reinforcing the information that after the first dose and after the second dose you need to continue to practice these public health measures,” Lehman says. “[Immunity] takes a while and I think that's true for all vaccines.”

Ann Marie Pettis, who leads a national organization of infection preventionists, says experts are working to provide the most up-to-date Covid-19 information to the research community and general public so people can make safe decisions.

“There're so many more questions than answers, unfortunately,” Pettis says. “You just have to stay in touch with the data and with the science and try to keep track of what the experts are coming up with, from day to day.”

Until scientists are certain about the risks of transmission, and a large enough portion of the population is vaccinated to achieve herd immunity, Pettis says all people must continue to wear masks, practice social distancing and maintain good hygiene.

While widespread vaccination is a major milestone in combatting the Covid-19 pandemic, Lehman says it’s no “magic bullet.” Until more information becomes available, people should continue to live, work and travel with an abundance of caution for public health.

“The vaccine gives us all a certain amount of comfort, which is good, but I think it would be a mistake to just assume, get two vaccines and then we can have large gatherings again,” Lehman says. “It’s going to be a while before we feel comfortable recommending that all those restrictions be relaxed.”

Passengers must be tested with a viral test that could be either an antigen test or a nucleic acid amplification test (NAAT). Available NAATs for SARS-CoV-2 include reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR), reverse transcription loop-mediated isothermal amplification (RT-LAMP), transcription-mediated amplification (TMA), nicking enzyme amplification reaction (NEAR), and helicase-dependent amplification (HDA). The test used must be authorized for use by the relevant national authority for the detection of SARS-CoV-2 in the country where the test is administered. A viral test conducted for U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) personnel, including DOD contractors, dependents, and other U.S. government employees, and tested by a DOD laboratory located in a foreign country also meets the requirements of the Order.

Rapid tests are acceptable as long as they are a viral test acceptable under the Order.

The Order requires a lab report to be presented to the airline or to public health officials upon request. A home specimen collection kit that is tested in a laboratory should meet the requirements, if such methods have been authorized by the country’s national health authorities. A viral test conducted for U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) personnel, including DOD contractors, dependents, and other U.S. government employees, and tested by a DOD laboratory located in a foreign country also meets the requirements of the Order.

Mar 1, 2021

Ralph Wetterhahn went from 1100 knots to 11 knots, while serving as president, U.S. Merchant Marine Veterans of WWII, charged with maintaining and operating the historic SS Lane Victory berthed in San Pedro, CA. In addition, his skill as an aviation archaeologist, has enabled him to become a real life "Indiana Jones," traveling the world from Cambodia to the Russian Far East, to Guadalcanal, to the Philippines in search of aircraft wrecks, our nation's missing-in-action, and the amazing stories that his discoveries reveal.  His documentary efforts have appeared on NOVA, Discovery, and National Geographic Channels, including The Last Flight of Bomber-31, Missing in MiG Alley, Dogfight Over Guadalcanal, and in the Air Aces segment about the legendary Col. Robin Olds.  Widely read in Air & Space/Smithsonian, MOAA’s Military Officer Magazine, Leatherneck, and VFW Magazine, among others, he is also the author of four books: the Colby Award winning The Last Battle, as well as The Last Flight of Bomber-31, The Early Air War in the Pacific, and Shadowmakers.  A graduate of the USAF Academy,Wetterhahn served three tours during the Vietnam War flying fighters in both the U.S. Air Force and Navy, and is credited with downing one MiG-21.  He flew 180 combat missions in the F-4C Phantom and A-7E Corsair, made 144 carrier landings, and was awarded the Silver Star, Distinguished Flying Cross, and 19 Air Medals. He now spends his time working his seven gold claims in Northern California.


Feb 25, 2021

In 1967, when I was in Undergraduate Pilot Training (UPT) at Laughlin Air Force Base, I devoured everything I could read about flying, like every other student pilot. The UPT leadership helped us by providing a variety of flying periodicals in the magazine racks on the inside of every lavatory stall - Flying, Plane and Pilot, Private Pilot, the works. Early in our careers we learned about multi-tasking!

In one of the magazines, I can't remember which, I read an article titled "The Box Canyon Maneuver". A box canyon is a formation in which there is no room to perform a normal 180-degree turn, which has sides too high for the airplane to outclimb. The maneuver is basically a hammerhead turn, in which the pilot pulls the airplane up to vertical, remaining unloaded to avoid a stall, and then steps on a rudder to bring the airplane to a nose-down attitude facing the other direction. I was fascinated, and I practiced the maneuver whenever I had the chance during solo flight. I became reasonably proficient at it.

A little over a year later, I was flying the O-2A in Vietnam. In addition to combat flying, I flew Functional Check Flights (FCFs), where I would test all the systems of the airplane following maintenance. The FCF had to be conducted in visual flight conditions.

On this particular day I was scheduled for FCF duty, but the weather at DaNang Air Base was lousy. Drizzle and low clouds, and it looked like it would stay that way all day. Certainly not conducive for an FCF. I convinced our Operations Officer that I could climb out through the overcast on a heading of East, over the ocean, until I got into the clear to conduct the FCF. 

I took off to the North on Runway 35 Right and immediately turned East. At about 300 feet I was in clouds, flying entirely on instruments, holding steady on a heading of 090 degrees. As a new pilot, I had never flown in solid clouds, and I was pretty proud of myself, feeling like a real pilot. 

I was in the clouds, flying over the ocean as I climbed out. Nothing to look at out the windscreen, but for some reason I had the urge to look straight ahead. Suddenly, through the windscreen, I saw the jungle rushing up at me at 100 knots! I instinctively pulled up to vertical, unloaded, and stepped on the left rudder. When the airplane was headed downhill I pulled up to level flight and looked at my heading indicator. Now it showed I was heading West. Then I looked at the Standby Compass, sometimes called the Whiskey Compass. It showed I was heading South!

Finally, I realized what had happened. My heading indicator had precessed 90 degrees to the left, so that shortly after entering the clouds I had slowly turned to North, directly toward Monkey Mountain.

I discontinued the FCF and obtained a gyro-out Ground Controlled Approach (GCA). 

I've had a lot of close calls in combat, but this was the closest I ever came to unquestionably losing my life. Every day since then has been on borrowed time. 

Feb 22, 2021

Mike is a curator of modern military aircraft at the Smithsonian National Air & Space Museum, focusing on the history of the US Air Force. He is a former Assistant Professor of Strategy at the USAF Air Command and Staff College eSchool of Graduate PME, and a former instructor of military history at the USAF Academy. He completed his PhD in history at Kansas State University in 2018. Mike specializes in military history and the history of technology, with a special interest in air power history. He received his Masters from the University of North Texas in 2013. His current research focuses on the cultural influences on the technological development of Cold War military aircraft, especially the F-15 Eagle and F-16 Fighting Falcon fighters.


Mike has published peer-reviewed work in the Air Power History journal, as well as contributed to several encyclopedias, conference proceedings, and academic websites. He has presented at many academic conferences, including the American Historical Association, Society for Military History, and Society for the History of Technology.


In addition to teaching military history, he has taught courses at Kansas State University in World History, American Air Power, and a course on Comic Books in American History. He has a minor field in public history and has worked as a researcher in the curatorial department of the Marianna Kistler Beach Museum of Art, conducting archival and non-archival research on artists and the historical and cultural context of their work, in addition to co-curating work combing historical artwork and artifacts, including multi-media audio, visual, and digital elements. 

Feb 18, 2021

The Wright Brothers Master Pilot Award is the most prestigious award the FAA issues to pilots certified under Title 14 of the Code of Federal Regulations (14 CFR) part 61. This award is named after the Wright Brothers, the first US pilots, to recognize individuals who have exhibited professionalism, skill, and aviation expertise for at least 50 years while piloting aircraft as "Master Pilots".

A distinctive certificate and lapel pin is issued after application review and eligibility requirements have been met. Upon request, a stickpin similar in design to the lapel pin is also provided to the award recipient's spouse in recognition of his or her support to the recipient's aviation career. Once the award has been issued, the recipient's name, city and state will be added to a published "Roll of Honor" located at


To be eligible for the Wright Brothers MPA, nominees must meet the following criteria:

  • Hold a U.S. Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) or Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) pilot certificate.
  • Have 50 or more years of civil and military flying experience.
    • Up to 20 years of the required 50 years may be U.S. military experience.
    • The effective start date for the 50 years is the date of the nominee's first solo flight or military equivalent.
    • The 50 years may be computed consecutively or non-consecutively.
  • Be a U.S. citizen.

    Note: Revocation of any airman certificate will disqualify a nominee for this award.

Any person who meets the eligibility requirements, or a sponsor on behalf of the eligible person, may apply for the award by submitting a nomination package to the FAASTeam Program Manager (FPM) at the nearest Flight Standards District Office (FSDO).  The nomination package must consist of the following documents:

·  A completed Wright Brothers MPA Nomination Form

o The Wright Brothers MPA Nomination Form can be found in electronic form at

·  Nominee’s flying history

o Can be a detailed description, resume, or company records.

·  Three (3) letters of recommendation

o Must be from holders of FAA pilot certificates who can attest to the nominee’s 50 years or more of U.S. piloting experience. 

A FAASTeam Program Manager (FPM) will verify the nomination is complete and that the applicant meets the eligibility requirements listed within this document.  Verification of eligibility is performed by obtaining initial certification information through the FAA Airman Certification Branch (AFS-760), in the form of a Blue Ribbon package, and reviewing the enforcement investigation database. Additional information or an interview by the FPM may be necessary to verify a nominee’s qualifications.  If there is any question as to whether the nominee qualifies for the award, the FAASTeam National Manager shall be the final authority.

Additional notes on nomination acceptance:

·         A current flight review or medical certificate is not required at the time of nomination.

·         Prior accident history is not necessarily disqualifying but will be reviewed on a case by case basis.

·         Prior enforcement actions (excluding revocation) are not necessarily disqualifying but will be reviewed on a case by case basis.

·         The award may be presented to a nominee up to 3 years posthumously if the nominee has acquired 50 years of U.S. piloting experience prior to passing away.

·         Nominations will take a minimum of 60 days to be accepted.

Presentation - The FPM will contact the applicant or sponsor to schedule the award presentation. The FPM will make every effort to arrange a public presentation at a suitable FAA or industry function.  An appropriate FAA representative shall present the award to the nominee at the event.

Roll of Honor – The nominee’s name, city and state of residence plus the month and year of the Master Pilot Award presentation will be posted to the electronic Roll of Honor after the award has been presented.  The Roll of Honor can be found at

Feb 15, 2021

Captain Linda Pauwels is an airline pilot. For over three decades she has flown thousands of hours, on many types of big airplanes, all over the world. Linda even counts some aviation “firsts” attached to her name. At present, she instructs and evaluates pilots as a check airman on the Boeing 787 for American Airlines.

Linda was born in San Pedro, Buenos Aires, Argentina. She came to the United States at age six, after the death of her father. Having experienced adversity early on in life, she grew to understand and appreciate the value of resilience. Linda integrates intuition and sensitivity, along with a graduate academic preparation in education, in her professional life.

In the mid-2000s, Linda wrote a regular column, titled From the Cockpit, for the Orange County Register. She has been secretly writing poetry for a while. Unfortunately, that cat is now out of the bag.

Linda has been married to Frederick, also a pilot, for almost forty years. They have two adult children, Nathalie and Patrick, domestic animals, and an Asian garden with a bird feeder. The family has a primary base in North Texas, near DFW airport, and a secondary base in South Florida, near MIA.

Feb 11, 2021

When a project is highly successful, it might be as a result of luck or as a result of good planning. You just don't know what does not work. but if you fail, you now know, precisely, what does NOT work.

In his efforts to invent the light bulb, Thomas Edison famously said, "I have not failed. I just found 10,000 ways that don't work".

A failure I had on the FAA Airline Transport Pilot Written Exam was the basis for numerous subsequent professional successes. In this podcast, I share how this monumental failure changed my life.

Feb 8, 2021

Dr. Kenneth Byrnes is the Assistant Dean for the College of Aviation at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University’s Daytona Beach campus. In addition, Dr. Byrnes is an Associate Professor of Aeronautical Science and the Chairman of the Flight Training Department. As Chairman of the Flight Department, Dr. Byrnes is responsible for leading over 1300 flight students, over 200 Certified Flight Instructors, 30 A&P mechanics, and 35 additional support staff members. Dr. Byrnes is an expert in all aspects associated with flight training and his academic teaching responsibilities include Instructional Design in Aviation, Aviation Legislation, Private Pilot Knowledge, and Commercial Pilot Knowledge courses. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Aeronautical Science, a Master’s Degree in Business Administration in Aviation, and a PhD in Business with a dual specialization in Airline Management and Management of Engineering and Technology. His dissertation research investigated the relationship between organizational safety culture/climate and pilot decision making. Dr. Byrnes is also a Six Sigma Green Belt and has completed research on important aviation topics such as Flight Instructor training methods, organizational safety culture, aviation professionalism, ADS-B equipage motivation of the general aviation community, Flight Instructor Quality Assurance (FIQA), the pilot shortage, pilot motivations to join the airline industry, and Safety Management Systems (SMS). In addition, he has significant experience as a Certified Flight Instructor and holds a Multi-Engine Airline Transport Pilot Certificate, a Single-Engine Commercial Pilot Certificate, and Instrument Ratings. He has over 20 years of leadership experience within Part 141 and 142 flight training organizations and is well respected in the flight training industry.

Feb 4, 2021

On 22 November 2003, shortly after takeoff from Baghdad, Iraq, an Airbus A300B4-200F cargo plane, registered OO-DLL and owned by European Air Transport (doing business as DHL Express), was struck on the left wing by a surface-to-air missile while on a scheduled flight to Muharraq, Bahrain. Severe wing damage resulted in a fire and complete loss of hydraulic flight control systems. Because outboard left wing fuel tank 1A was full at takeoff, there was no fuel-air vapor explosion. Liquid jet fuel dropped away as 1A disintegrated. Inboard fuel tank 1 was pierced and leaking.

Returning to Baghdad, the three-man crew made an injury-free landing of the seriously damaged A300, using differential engine thrust as the only pilot input. This is despite major damage to a wing, total loss of hydraulic control, a faster than safe landing speed and a ground path which veered off the runway surface and onto unprepared ground.

Paris Match reporter Claudine Vernier-Palliez accompanied a Fedayeen unit on their strike mission against the DHL aircraft.

Sara Daniel, a French weekly newsmagazine journalist, claimed receipt, from an unknown source, of a video that showed insurgents, faces concealed, firing a missile at the DHL A300. Daniel was researching a feature about Iraqi resistance groups but she denied any specific knowledge of the people who carried out the attack, despite being present at the moment of attack.

The aircraft took off from Baghdad International Airport en route to Bahrain International Airport at 06:30 UTC with an experienced crew of three: two Belgians, 38-year-old Captain Éric Gennotte and 29-year-old First Officer Steeve Michielsen, and a Scotsman, 54-year-old flight engineer Mario Rofail. The captain had 3,300 total flight hours, more than half of them logged in the A300. The first officer had 1,275 hours of flight experience and the flight engineer had 13,400 hours of flight experience.

To reduce exposure to ground attack, the aircraft was executing a rapid climbout. At about 8,000 feet (2,450 metres), a 9K34 Strela-3 (SA-14 Gremlin) surface-to-air missile struck the rear of the left wing between the engine and the wing tip. The warhead damaged trailing-edge surfaces of the wing structure and caused a fire. All three hydraulic systems lost pressure, and flight controls were disabled. The aircraft pitched rapidly up and down in a roller-coaster phugoid, oscillating between a nose-up and a nose-down position.

As in the case of the 1989 United Airlines Flight 232 disaster in the United States, Captain Genotte could only use thrust to modify pitch, speed and altitude and vary throttles asymmetrically to control yaw and turn the aircraft. Flight engineer Mario Rofail executed a gravity drop to extend the landing gear, a procedure normally accomplished with hydraulic power. Early deployment of the gear was critical to a safe outcome because increased drag helped reduce speed and stabilize the aircraft.

In about 10 minutes of experimentation, the crew learned to manage turns, climbs and descents. After a meandering trajectory, they executed a right turn and initiated a descent path to Baghdad International Airport.

Because of left wing damage and fuel loss, Rofail had to monitor the engine closely – if fuel flow was lost from the left side, he would have to feed fuel from a right tank to maintain thrust. Survival was dependent on accurate power control of each jet engine.

Genotte and Michielsen set up for a final approach to runway 33R. The aircraft drifted to the right of the intended course, so Genotte chose the shorter 33L runway. Visibility was excellent and the pilots managed a controlled descent. They knew that, counter-intuitively, they could not retard throttles before touchdown without risking the nose or a wing smashing disastrously into the ground.

At about 400 feet (120 meters) turbulence upset the aircraft balance and the right wing dipped. With thrust adjustments, the roll was controlled but the aircraft touched down off the runway centerline. Rofail immediately deployed full reverse thrust but the aircraft veered off the paved runway. The aircraft ran through rough soft ground, throwing up a plume of sand and dragging a razor wire barrier, and halted after about 1,000 meters (3,300 ft).

The Honourable Company of Air Pilots jointly honoured crewmembers with the Hugh Gordon-Burge Memorial Award. This is awarded to flight crew whose action contributed outstandingly by saving their aircraft or passengers, or made a significant contribution to future air safety. This annual award is made only if a nomination is considered to be of significant merit.

The Flight Safety Foundation's FSF Professionalism Award in Flight Safety was presented to the crewmembers for their "extraordinary piloting skills in flying their aircraft to a safe landing after a missile strike following takeoff from Baghdad, Iraq".

In May 2006, Captain Éric Genotte, together with Armand Jacob, an Airbus experimental test pilot, gave a presentation to the Toulouse branch of the Royal Aeronautical Society titled "Landing an A300 Successfully Without Flight Controls".

In addition to severe wing and undercarriage damage, both jet engines suffered ruinous abuse by ingesting debris. The already aging aircraft did not fly again. In November 2004 the aircraft was repaired and re-registered as N1452, and put up for sale but not sold in 2005. The aircraft has since been scrapped.

Feb 1, 2021

Howard Putnam was raised on an Iowa farm and learned to fly out of a pasture in his Father’s J-3 Piper Cub. He entered the airline business as a baggage handler at Midway Airport in Chicago for Capital Airlines at age 17. Capital was soon merged into United and Howard held thirteen different positions in sales, services and staff assignments in several cities, before being named Group Vice President of Marketing for United Airlines, the world’s largest airline, in 1976.

In 1978 he was recruited to become President and CEO of fledgling Southwest Airlines in Dallas, TX. While at Southwest Howard and his team tripled the revenues and tripled profitability in three years. They also successfully guided Southwest through airline deregulation and Southwest was the first air carrier to order the Boeing 737-300, which later became the largest selling aircraft ever for Boeing.

Howard led the visioning process at Southwest as well as further developing the “fun” culture and excellent customer service that Southwest is still known for today.  Southwest has been profitable every year for over thirty years, a record unsurpassed by any other airline.

In 1981, Howard was recruited by the board of directors of Braniff International to come aboard as CEO and save and/or restructure the financially failing airline. He was the first airline CEO to successfully take a major carrier into, through and out of chapter 11. Braniff flew again in 1984.

He is the author of “The Winds of Turbulence” on leadership and ethics. Harvard University wrote a case study on his experiences at Braniff, “The Ethics of Bankruptcy” as a model as to how to handle stakeholders in crisis.

He has also been an entrepreneur, serving as Chairman of a startup investment company and two small manufacturing and distribution companies.

Howard and Krista have two children, Michael, a commercial airline captain and Sue, in public relations and marketing.

Jan 28, 2021

An outbreak aboard a September flight from Dubai to New Zealand offers researchers, and airlines, an opportunity to study in-transit contagion.

In an effort to reassure, the airlines have updated and adjusted their requirements for travelers, with patchwork results. Some airlines work to maintain social distance, both at the gate and at boarding; others are less vigilant. Mask-wearing is dependent on passenger compliance, and not predictable; nor, increasingly, is flight capacity, which can range from 20 percent to nearly full.

Given the variables, infectious disease specialists have had a hard time determining the risks of flying. But a study published on Wednesday provides some clarity.

After an 18-hour flight from Dubai landed in Auckland, New Zealand, in September, local health authorities discovered evidence of an outbreak that most likely occurred during the trip. Using seat maps and genetic analysis, the new study determined that one passenger initiated a chain of infection that spread to four others en route.

Previous research on apparent in-flight outbreaks focused on flights that occurred last spring, when few travelers wore masks, planes were running near capacity and the value of preventive measures was not broadly understood. The new report, of a largely empty flight in the fall, details what can happen even when airlines and passengers are aware and more cautious about the risks.

The findings deliver a clear warning to both airlines and passengers, experts said.

“The key message here is that you have to have multiple layers of prevention — requiring testing before boarding, social distancing on the flight, and masks,” said Dr. Abraar Karan, an internal medicine physician at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School who was not part of the study team. “Those things all went wrong in different ways on this flight, and if they’d just tested properly, this wouldn’t have happened.”

The new infections were detected after the plane landed in New Zealand; the country requires incoming travelers to quarantine for 14 days before entering the community. The analysis, led by researchers at the New Zealand Ministry of Health, found that seven of the 86 passengers on board tested positive during their quarantine and that at least four were newly infected on the flight. The aircraft, a Boeing 777-300ER, with a capacity of nearly 400 passengers, was only one-quarter full.

These seven passengers came from five countries, and they were seated within four rows of one another for the 18-hour duration of the flight. Two acknowledged that they did not wear masks, and the airline did not require mask-wearing in the lobby before boarding. Nor did it require preflight testing, although five of the seven passengers who later tested positive had taken a test, and received a negative result, in the days before boarding.

The versions of the coronavirus that all seven carried were virtually identical genetically — strongly suggesting that one person among them initiated the outbreak. That person, whom the report calls Passenger A, had in fact tested negative four or five days before boarding, the researchers found.

“Four or five days is a long time,” Dr. Karan said. “You should be asking for results of rapid tests done hours before the flight, ideally.”

Even restrictive “Covid-free” flights, international bookings that require a negative result to board, give people a day or two before departure to get a test.

The findings are not definitive, cautioned the authors, led by Dr. Tara Swadi, an adviser with New Zealand’s Health Ministry. But results “underscore the value of considering all international passengers arriving in New Zealand as being potentially infected, even if pre-departure testing was undertaken, social distancing and spacing were followed, and personal protective equipment was used in-flight,” the researchers concluded.

Previous studies of infection risk during air travel did not clearly quantify the risk, and onboard air filtration systems are thought to reduce the infection risk among passengers even when a flight includes one or more infected people. But at least two recent reports strongly suggest that in-flight outbreaks are a risk: one of a flight from Boston to Hong Kong in March; the other of a flight from London to Hanoi, Vietnam, also in March.

On the Hong Kong flight, the analysis suggested that two passengers who boarded in Boston infected two flight attendants. On the Hanoi flight, researchers found that 12 of 16 people who later tested positive were sitting in business class, and that proximity to the infectious person strongly predicted infection risk.

Airline policies vary widely, depending on the flight and the carrier. During the first months of the pandemic, most U.S. airlines had a policy of blocking off seats, or allowing passengers to reschedule if a flight was near 70 percent full. But by the holidays those policies were largely phased out, said Scott Mayerowitz, executive editor at The Points Guy, a website that covers the industry.

All carriers have a mask policy, for passengers and crew — although passengers are not always compliant.

“Even before the pandemic, passengers weren’t always the best at following rules on airplanes,” Mr. Mayerowitz said. “Something about air travel brings out the worse in people, whether it’s fighting over reclined seats, or overhead bin space, or wearing a mask properly.”

Temperature checks are uncommon and are less than reliable as an indicator of infectiousness. And coronavirus tests are not needed for boarding, at least on domestic flights. Some international flights are “Covid tested”: to fly from New York to Rome on Alitalia, for example, passengers must have received a negative test result within 48 hours of boarding. They are tested again on arrival in Rome.

Dr. Karan said that, unless all preventive measures are in place, there will be some risk of infection on almost any flight.

“It is surprising and not surprising, on an 18-hour flight, that an outbreak would occur,” Dr. Karan said. “It’s more than likely that more than just those two people took off their mask at some point,” and every such lapse increases the likelihood of spread.

Jan 25, 2021

Growing up in a community similar to the Amish, I’d been programmed to follow the same path my ancestors had followed for hundreds of years. Church members could only drive black cars, and the women all wore white caps, black bonnets, and long dark dresses exactly alike. Forbidden to own a television, go to the movies, wear makeup, serve in the military, or even press charges when someone robbed our home, we lived a life cut off from the mainstream. Having friends outside the church was discouraged, as they invited corruption. To leave the church was to be excommunicated and shunned by everyone near and dear. In some ways, the simplicity and isolation made it idyllic, even if it was also repressive. For men, only a handful of paths were acceptable. Allowable occupations were mainly confined to farming, business, or mechanical jobs to avoid becoming “worldly,” and college was discouraged for the same reason. And for women? Only one path was permissible: enter the church, marry only a member of that church, obey my husband, and have many children.
And then . . . destiny intervened early in the way it sometimes does . . .

After being catapulted out of the only world I knew as a child, I heard the Call of my Wild Soul. I followed. I acted. It took me places I never could have imagined or orchestrated. After obtaining my private pilot’s license in high school, followed by an appointment to the US Air Force Academy, I became an Air Force pilot, an aircraft commander in war, an international airline captain responsible for hundreds of lives, a life coach, and a medical qigong practitioner. The little girl who at a very young age began preparing for her expected future by learning to bake bread, sew clothes, cook for a large family, garden, can and freeze food, and be extremely obedient wouldn’t recognize this life. 

I’ve come to see over and over that the Universe always begins with the end in mind. It’s a far better travel agent with far more information at its fingertips than I have. It whispers an invitation to your personal path of transformation, beckoning you toward greater freedom and power—and especially toward the evolution of your soul. All you need do is listen and summon the courage to follow.

Every transformational adventure in my life has arisen out of a quiet voice that said, “Go here,” “Try this,” “Persevere,” “Leave,” “Revise this belief,” “Let it go,” etc. Sometimes it was an inner voice and sometimes an outer one. Often the path didn’t unfold in a logical manner, go as I planned, or lead  

where I thought it would—or should. And yet it always led to more freedom and deeper contentment. Many of my journeys were incredibly arduous. Had I understood how difficult they would be, I probably wouldn’t have agreed to go, yet I don’t regret any of them. I’m awestruck by the magic of this process, and it has led me to call myself by a term many people haven't heard before—the title of "practical mystic."

Jan 21, 2021

The Yerkes–Dodson law is an empirical relationship between pressure and performance, originally developed by psychologists Robert M. Yerkes and John Dillingham Dodson in 1908. The law dictates that performance increases with physiological or mental arousal, but only up to a point. When levels of arousal become too high, performance decreases. The process is often illustrated graphically as a bell-shaped curve which increases and then decreases with higher levels of arousal. The original paper (a study of Japanese dancing mice) was only referenced ten times over the next half century, yet in four of the citing articles, these findings were described as a psychological "law".

Researchers have found that different tasks require different levels of arousal for optimal performance. For example, difficult or intellectually demanding tasks may require a lower level of arousal (to facilitate concentration), whereas tasks demanding stamina or persistence may be performed better with higher levels of arousal (to increase motivation).

Because of task differences, the shape of the curve can be highly variable. For simple or well-learned tasks, the relationship is monotonic, and performance improves as arousal increases. For complex, unfamiliar, or difficult tasks, the relationship between arousal and performance reverses after a point, and performance thereafter declines as arousal increases.

The effect of task difficulty led to the hypothesis that the Yerkes–Dodson Law can be decomposed into two distinct factors as in a bathtub curve. The upward part of the inverted U can be thought of as the energizing effect of arousal. The downward part is caused by negative effects of arousal (or stress) on cognitive processes like attention (e.g., "tunnel vision"), memory, and problem-solving.

Jan 18, 2021

Hope2Others International is a 501c3 nonprofit organization dedicated to bringing clean water to those in need throughout the world. Our primary work is centered on offering individual families or groups of families the ability to own their own well, which creates not only dignity but long term sustainability and self-sufficiency.  We are dedicated to employing and empowering locals to bring this goal to fruition.

By manually drilling our wells and designing our pumps from locally available parts, we provide a family a source of clean, safe water on their own compound for less than $200.  The family pays a small fee, according to their ability, to support our drillers and helps in the drilling process. Once drilling is complete, H2O donates the materials to case the borehole and create a hand pump.  This pump provides readily accessible water for drinking, cleaning and irrigation of a garden to provide a year round food source.

Jan 14, 2021

Coronavirus has almost all of us grounded, so it’s probably been a while since you’ve heard a preflight safety briefing, and longer since you gave it any attention.

As we fantasize about getting on a plane again, we at TPG thought it’d be a good time to look under the hood of that once-familiar speech.

For starters, have you ever wondered why every airline seems to do theirs slightly differently? From Southwest’s folksy approach to American’s video demonstration that commands flyers to “buckle those belts,” each airline’s safety briefing might seem distinct. And, it’s true – most airlines have their own style. But, beyond that, there actually is a structure that all U.S. airlines must meet to have their briefings approved by the Federal Aviation Administration.

To get the details on what’s needed, TPG asked Sara Nelson, president of the Association of Flight Attendants (AFA), which represents cabin crew members from 20 airlines, and AFA spokeswoman Taylor Garland, to walk us through the most common elements of the briefing and explain their purpose.

“In general, a passenger who listens to the safety briefing is a safer passenger,” Nelson said.

Every airline’s safety briefing is slightly different, but they are all reviewed by the FAA, which also dictates what the videos or announcements must cover. That’s why they all contain the same basic elements.

If you’ve ever wondered why some things are included, here’s everything you need to know There’s a reason they’re displayed so prominently at every row and in other locations on planes, according to Garland. Fire, she said, “is one of the most dangerous things that can happen on an aircraft.”

That’s also why airplane lavatories still have ashtrays — cabin crews need a safe place to snuff out the butts of inflight lawbreakers.

Fire is also the main reason why battery-powered devices are increasingly being banned from checked bags. If it’s not in the cabin, Garland said, “fire is harder to recognize as quickly and deal with.”

Even in the cabin, fire can be dangerous, and that’s why it’s important to be careful with your electronics. Flight attendants increasingly make announcements about not adjusting your seat if you drop your phone or tablet, and that’s because, if you accidentally crack your device in the process, it has a higher chance of igniting.

 the key elements of the briefings, and an explanation of why they’re brought to your attention before every flight. Sit back, relax and enjoy your primer.

Posted signs and placards

Signs and placards give important, often legally binding info to passengers, and none is more familiar to travelers than the no smoking sign.

There’s a reason they’re displayed so prominently at every row and in other locations on planes, according to Garland. Fire, she said, “is one of the most dangerous things that can happen on an aircraft.”

That’s also why airplane lavatories still have ashtrays — cabin crews need a safe place to snuff out the butts of inflight lawbreakers.

Fire is also the main reason why battery-powered devices are increasingly being banned from checked bags. If it’s not in the cabin, Garland said, “fire is harder to recognize as quickly and deal with.”

Even in the cabin, fire can be dangerous, and that’s why it’s important to be careful with your electronics. Flight attendants increasingly make announcements about not adjusting your seat if you drop your phone or tablet, and that’s because, if you accidentally crack your device in the process, it has a higher chance of igniting.

Seat belts

“When the seat belt sign is on, you need to be in your seat. Some people think that’s a suggestion. It’s not, it is a federal regulation,” Garland said.

In turbulence, “you yourself can become a projectile if you are not restrained.”

While pilots often get advanced warnings from their instruments and other pilots about bumps in the air, airplanes do sometimes encounter unforeseen “clear-air” turbulence. That’s especially dangerous because passengers are less likely to be strapped in when it happens. Turbulence-related incidents are becoming more common as a result of climate change, and that’s why it’s so important to stay buckled in as much as possible.

Garland said taking your seat belt off at cruising altitude is just like unfastening while speeding down the highway in your car.

“You would never in your life think, ‘oh, I’m in the middle of this drive, let me unbuckle my seat belt,’” she said. “It’s the same thought process there. Yes, you’re dealing with turbulence on a plane versus other cars or things on the road,” but the danger of unexpected, serious injury is similar in both situations.

As for why passengers still need to be told how their seat belt works, Garland said there are two main reasons. “We have first time passengers all the time. Car seat belts don’t operate like airplane seatbelts, and people are confused,” she said in an email. “Plus it’s a reminder that you have to wear them — you wouldn’t believe the number of people who don’t wear the seat belt!”

Loss of pressure and the oxygen mask

Parents, we know the temptation is to help your kids (or your pets) first — my mom always swore she’d make sure my mask was on in an emergency before hers — but that’s a bad idea. There really is a reason you need to put your mask on before helping your travel companions.

“Depending on the type of decompression and how quickly it happens and what altitude you’re at, you can become incapacitated in seconds,” Garland said.

“You need to put your oxygen mask on first before even having a chance of helping others,” she added. “In the time it may take for you to help your child put on their oxygen mask, you can become incapacitated.”

It’s also important that the mask fully cover your nose and mouth, because you may not get sufficient oxygen in a depressurized cabin otherwise.

Oxygen masks received renewed attention in the aftermath of Southwest flight 1380, a plane that made an emergency landing in 2018, when passengers posted selfies while wearing the equipment improperly.


“Flight attendants are onboard to help get you off that plane in 90 seconds or less in the event of an emergency, and you knowing where those exits are is an important part of doing that quickly,” Garland said.

She added that for passengers seated in the exit row, knowing how to operate the door and help others evacuate can literally be the difference between life and death for you and your fellow travelers.

Above all, if there’s an emergency, do not bring your luggage off the plane with you, Garland said. Aside from possibly slowing down the evacuation, baggage and other items can damage slides and rafts so much that they could become unusable. High-heeled shoes can cause similar damage during an evacuation, so travelers — even drag queens — should consider wearing flats whenever they fly.

Life vests

“They’ve found over the course of several accidents that it wasn’t necessarily intuitive on how to put those on and how they function,” Garland said. The instruction about not inflating the life vest before exiting the plane is particularly important because a fully-inflated life vest can impede the evacuation, and may prevent people from getting to the nearest door — especially if parts of the cabin are already submerged.

Seats and tray tables: upright and locked

“It’s about giving everyone on board the best shot for minimal injury and survival in an accident,” Garland said.

Reclined seats and lowered tray tables can block other passengers from evacuating in an emergency. Also, seats are crash-tested in the upright position, so they’re designed to absorb the most impact when they aren’t reclined.

Improperly stowed carry-on bags can also block people during an evacuation. Large items like laptops or unsecured bags can become projectiles during a crash, which could cause serious injury to passengers or members of the cabin crew.

“Oftentimes this can be some of the pushback that we get. We go through the cabin and do our final safety checks and tell people to put their tray tables away and get their seat in — some will joke — the most uncomfortable position, and make sure their bags are stowed, and it’s all for a reason, there are actual safety reasons behind that,” Nelson, the AFA president, said.

Next time you get on a plane, it likely will have been a while since you heard the safety briefing. Now you’ll know why it has the information it does, and hopefully, you’ll understand why it’s important to listen to it every time you fly, even when hearing it starts to feel much more routine again.


Jan 11, 2021

Hi, I’m Chris Roy, founder and president of Doobert.  I’m a technology guy in my “day” job and I use my experience to create which is an online software platform custom-built for animal rescuers.  It’s like a combination of specifically for animal shelters and rescues to find new partners, and then a volunteer Uber for getting the animals where they need to go.  But it’s also the ONLY Foster home management solution out there and the ONLY solution that allows you to get videos back easily.  

I enjoy helping provide technology solutions to some of the biggest challenges in animal rescue and I am always looking for new ways to help animals and the people that care for them.  Personally, I’m supported by my amazing wife Daphne, and together we have 5 furkids:  4 cats and 1 dog.  

I’ve built Doobert to be a transparent, supportive organization.  We always welcome suggestions, ideas, complaints, as it helps us to make the software even better.

Thank you for what you do for the animals.  We are proud to support you.

Jan 7, 2021

How to Set a Goal

First consider what you want to achieve, and then commit to it. Set SMART (specific, measureable, attainable, relevant and time-bound) goals that motivate you and write them down to make them feel tangible. Then plan the steps you must take to realize your goal, and cross off each one as you work through them.

Goal setting is a powerful process for thinking about your ideal future, and for motivating yourself to turn your vision of this future into reality.

The process of setting goals helps you choose where you want to go in life. By knowing precisely what you want to achieve, you know where you have to concentrate your efforts. You'll also quickly spot the distractions that can, so easily, lead you astray.

Why Set Goals?

Top-level athletes, successful businesspeople and achievers in all fields all set goals. Setting goals gives you long-term vision and short-term motivation . It focuses your acquisition of knowledge, and helps you to organize your time and your resources so that you can make the most of your life.

By setting sharp, clearly defined goals, you can measure and take pride in the achievement of those goals, and you'll see forward progress in what might previously have seemed a long pointless grind. You will also raise your self-confidence , as you recognize your own ability and competence in achieving the goals that you've set.

Starting to Set Personal Goals

You set your goals on a number of levels:

  • First you create your "big picture" of what you want to do with your life (or over, say, the next 10 years), and identify the large-scale goals that you want to achieve.
  • Then, you break these down into the smaller and smaller targets that you must hit to reach your lifetime goals.
  • Finally, once you have your plan, you start working on it to achieve these goals.

This is why we start the process of setting goals by looking at your lifetime goals. Then, we work down to the things that you can do in, say, the next five years, then next year, next month, next week, and today, to start moving towards them.

Step 1: Setting Lifetime Goals

The first step in setting personal goals is to consider what you want to achieve in your lifetime (or at least, by a significant and distant age in the future). Setting lifetime goals gives you the overall perspective that shapes all other aspects of your decision making.

To give a broad, balanced coverage of all important areas in your life, try to set goals in some of the following categories (or in other categories of your own, where these are important to you):

  • Career – What level do you want to reach in your career, or what do you want to achieve?
  • Financial – How much do you want to earn, by what stage? How is this related to your career goals?
  • Education – Is there any knowledge you want to acquire in particular? What information and skills will you need to have in order to achieve other goals?
  • Family – Do you want to be a parent? If so, how are you going to be a good parent? How do you want to be seen by a partner or by members of your extended family?
  • Artistic – Do you want to achieve any artistic goals?
  • Attitude – Is any part of your mindset holding you back? Is there any part of the way that you behave that upsets you? (If so, set a goal to improve your behavior or find a solution to the problem.)
  • Physical – Are there any athletic goals that you want to achieve, or do you want good health deep into old age? What steps are you going to take to achieve this?
  • Pleasure – How do you want to enjoy yourself? (You should ensure that some of your life is for you!)
  • Public Service – Do you want to make the world a better place? If so, how?

Spend some time brainstorming  these things, and then select one or more goals in each category that best reflect what you want to do. Then consider trimming again so that you have a small number of really significant goals that you can focus on.

As you do this, make sure that the goals that you have set are ones that you genuinely want to achieve, not ones that your parents, family, or employers might want. (If you have a partner, you probably want to consider what he or she wants – however, make sure that you also remain true to yourself!)

Step 2: Setting Smaller Goals

Once you have set your lifetime goals, set a five-year plan of smaller goals that you need to complete if you are to reach your lifetime plan.

Then create a one-year plan, six-month plan, and a one-month plan of progressively smaller goals that you should reach to achieve your lifetime goals. Each of these should be based on the previous plan.

Then create a daily To-Do List  of things that you should do today to work towards your lifetime goals.

At an early stage, your smaller goals might be to read books and gather information on the achievement of your higher level goals. This will help you to improve the quality and realism of your goal setting.

Finally, review your plans, and make sure that they fit the way in which you want to live your life.

Staying on Course

Once you've decided on your first set of goals, keep the process going by reviewing and updating your To-Do List on a daily basis.

Periodically review the longer term plans, and modify them to reflect your changing priorities and experience. (A good way of doing this is to schedule regular, repeating reviews using a computer-based diary.)


A useful way of making goals more powerful is to use the SMART  mnemonic. While there are plenty of variants (some of which we've included in parenthesis), SMART usually stands for:

  • S – Specific (or Significant).
  • M – Measurable (or Meaningful).
  • A – Attainable (or Action-Oriented).
  • R – Relevant (or Rewarding).
  • T – Time-bound (or Trackable).

For example, instead of having "to sail around the world" as a goal, it's more powerful to use the SMART goal "To have completed my trip around the world by December 31, 2027." Obviously, this will only be attainable if a lot of preparation has been completed beforehand!

Further Tips for Setting Your Goals

The following broad guidelines will help you to set effective, achievable goals:

  • State each goal as a positive statement – Express your goals positively – "Execute this technique well" is a much better goal than "Don't make this stupid mistake."
  • Be precise – Set precise goals, putting in dates, times and amounts so that you can measure achievement. If you do this, you'll know exactly when you have achieved the goal, and can take complete satisfaction from having achieved it.
  • Set priorities – When you have several goals, give each a priority. This helps you to avoid feeling overwhelmed by having too many goals, and helps to direct your attention to the most important ones.
  • Write goals down – This crystallizes them and gives them more force.
  • Keep operational goals small – Keep the low-level goals that you're working towards small and achievable. If a goal is too large, then it can seem that you are not making progress towards it. Keeping goals small and incremental gives more opportunities for reward.
  • Set performance goals, not outcome goals – You should take care to set goals over which you have as much control as possible. It can be quite dispiriting to fail to achieve a personal goal for reasons beyond your control!In business, these reasons could be bad business environments or unexpected effects of government policy. In sport, they could include poor judging, bad weather, injury, or just plain bad luck.If you base your goals on personal performance, then you can keep control over the achievement of your goals, and draw satisfaction from them.
  • Set realistic goals – It's important to set goals that you can achieve. All sorts of people (for example, employers, parents, media, or society) can set unrealistic goals for you. They will often do this in ignorance of your own desires and ambitions.It's also possible to set goals that are too difficult because you might not appreciate either the obstacles in the way, or understand quite how much skill you need to develop to achieve a particular level of performance.

Achieving Goals

When you've achieved a goal, take the time to enjoy the satisfaction of having done so. Absorb the implications of the goal achievement, and observe the progress that you've made towards other goals.

If the goal was a significant one, reward yourself appropriately. All of this helps you build the self-confidence you deserve.

With the experience of having achieved this goal, review the rest of your goal plans:

  • If you achieved the goal too easily, make your next goal harder.
  • If the goal took a dispiriting length of time to achieve, make the next goal a little easier.
  • If you learned something that would lead you to change other goals, do so.
  • If you noticed a deficit in your skills despite achieving the goal, decide whether to set goals to fix this.

Example Personal Goals

For her New Year's Resolution, Susan has decided to think about what she really wants to do with her life.

Her lifetime goals are as follows:

  • Career – "To be managing editor of the magazine that I work for."
  • Artistic – "To keep working on my illustration skills. Ultimately I want to have my own show in our downtown gallery."
  • Physical – "To run a marathon."

Now that Susan has listed her lifetime goals, she then breaks down each one into smaller, more manageable goals.

Let's take a closer look at how she might break down her lifetime career goal – becoming managing editor of her magazine:

  • Five-year goal: "Become deputy editor."
  • One-year goal: "Volunteer for projects that the current Managing Editor is heading up."
  • Six-month goal: "Go back to school and finish my journalism degree."
  • One-month goal: "Talk to the current managing editor to determine what skills are needed to do the job."
  • One-week goal: "Book the meeting with the Managing Editor."

As you can see from this example, breaking big goals down into smaller, more manageable goals makes it far easier to see how the goal will get accomplished.

Key Points

Goal setting is an important method for:

  • Deciding what you want to achieve in your life.
  • Separating what's important from what's irrelevant, or a distraction.
  • Motivating yourself.
  • Building your self-confidence, based on successful achievement of goals.

Set your lifetime goals first. Then, set a five-year plan of smaller goals that you need to complete if you are to reach your lifetime plan. Keep the process going by regularly reviewing and updating your goals. And remember to take time to enjoy the satisfaction of achieving your goals when you do so.

If you don't already set goals, do so, starting now. As you make this technique part of your life, you'll find your career accelerating, and you'll wonder how you did without it!

Jan 4, 2021

Ace Beall entered the Air Force with over 200 hours flying experience, with a goal of becoming an airline pilot. He was commissioned through the "90-day wonder" program, and excelled in Undergraduate Pilot Training. Upon graduation he selected an assignment as a T-38 Instructor Pilot (IP).

After that assignment, he flew C-141s at McCord Air Force Base for four years. He had hoped to get an airline job, but instead flew a King Air for an oil company, which promptly went out of business. On a lark, he interviewed with National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and was hired as a T-38 pilot. In this role, he trained astronauts in the T-38, and was offered the opportunity to apply to be an astronaut, but chose to remain as a research pilot.

As a research pilot, he was flying five different types of airplanes, and eventually became the pilot of the shuttle carrier aircraft, the B747 that carried the space shuttle. He also flew the famous "vomit comet".

Ace now flies for NASA as a SOFIA pilot.

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