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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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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.

Exits

“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 Doobert.com which is an online software platform custom-built for animal rescuers.  It’s like a combination of Match.com 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.)

SMART Goals

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.

Dec 31, 2020

“Well, that fixes the pilot shortage.” This has been the “word on the street” since the Covid-19 crisis hit in mid-March. Since then, thousands of airline pilots have taken early retirement packages and extended leaves of absence.

 

The good news? Private charter flights are more in demand and first-time aircraft buyers are entering the market. While those factors might generate pilot demand, there aren’t enough positions to employ every furloughed airline pilot. And even if there were, many operators are leery of making the investment in them.

Temporary Relief

According to global management consulting firm McKinsey & Company, it might take up to four years for airline demand to come back to pre-pandemic levels. In the meantime, airlines have “solved” for this by offering early retirements, halting the natural progression of pilots through the ranks. But the strategy has produced the same effect as when the FAA raised the retirement age to 65. And that decision, as we know, fueled the pilot shortage.

When a vaccine is readily available and business and leisure travelers start flying again, will the airlines be ready? Many fear that they won’t be because furloughs and early retirements have gone so deep. As we know, retraining takes time.

So how will we be ready when travelers return? Especially when we’ll have a core of middle-to-late active career pilots and a surplus of out-of-currency pilots, many of whom just started their careers. Will these younger pilots leave the industry altogether? 

While I don’t have a crystal ball, it’s likely that the resurgence of travel and the start of additional age 65 retirements could occur simultaneously. Thus, another “perfect storm” looms, where demand for talent outstrips supply. And another pilot shortage begins.

So now, temporarily, we do have some relief. But not for long. It will return, and when it does, I fear it will come with a vengeance!

Don’t Let Up on the Gas

In business aviation, we’ve made tremendous progress with regard to becoming competitive against the airlines. Most business aviation operators have realigned compensation and addressed headcount to help with work/life balance.

Despite Covid, most of the pilots in this segment remain safely employed. More than ever, the industry is proving that being a business aviation pilot is an outstanding, stable career.

At present, it’s important to support our current retention strategies. Also, let’s not allow the flood of unemployed pilots to give us a false sense of security. Because when pilots return to the airlines, there likely won’t be enough. Thus, the pull on business aviation could possibly be even more extreme than it was in the first quarter of this year.

Is it worth becoming a pilot today? I would say “YES,” resoundingly. The public will travel again, and whether it’s with the airlines or on a private jet, we’ll need pilots!

This is the business aviation industry’s time to shine and for the next generation to understand why a piloting career in this segment is so wonderful. Let’s not lose critical ground by kicking the proverbial can down the road.

Despite an industry slump that has seen mass pilot lay-offs, the global civil aviation industry will still require an estimated 27,000 new pilots from the end of 2021, or 264,000 over the coming decade.

That forecast comes from Canadian training and simulator provider CAE, which on 9 November released its latest prediction covering the demand and availability of pilots through 2029.

This year, the number of active pilots has declined year on year by around 87,000 to about 300,000, but will bump up to an estimated 374,000 by the end of 2021, says CAE.

Though still less than 2019 levels, by the end of next year “age-based retirements and attrition” will leave the industry short 27,000 flightcrew, says the study.

That figure will balloon over 10 years to a requirement for more than 264,000 new pilots, CAE says.

“Despite the short-term decline in the number of active pilots due to the impact of Covid-19, the civil aviation industry is expected to require more than 260,000 new pilots over the next decade,” CAE says.

“Fundamental factors influencing pilot demand prior to the Covid-19 outbreak remain unchanged. Age-based retirement and fleet growth were, and are expected to remain, the main drivers of pilot demand.”

CAE predicts the civil aviation industry will require a total of 484,000 pilots in 2029: an estimated 426,000 for airlines and another 58,000 business jet crews.

Of those, 167,000 pilots will be needed to replace those who are retiring or otherwise leaving the workforce, while the remainder will be needed to meet industry expansion, CAE predicts.

“Thousands of pilots have been furloughed in recent months. Many of them have pivoted to other professions and might not want to resume their pilot careers,” says the report.

The Asia-Pacific region will require the most new pilots – about 91,000 over 10 years, equating to about one-third of total demand. North America will need a combined 65,000 new pilots; Europe 42,000; the Middle East 25,000; South and Central America 16,000; and Africa 4,000, CAE projects.

Dec 28, 2020

 

Kimbrell received her commission in 1998 after graduating from the USAF Academy, later she attended Undergraduate Pilot Training at Laughlin AFB, TX and was awarded her pilot wings in August 1999. She then completed Introduction to Fighter Fundamental training at Randolph AFB, TX in November 1999. In August 2000, she graduated from her initial F-16 training at Luke AFB, Arizona, becoming the first African American female fighter pilot in the USAF.

 

She was assigned to the 13th Fighter Squadron, Misawa, Japan for her first operational assignment. During this time she was deployed to Turkey and Saudi Arabia in support of Operation Northern and Southern Watch. Her flights in Operation Northern Watch marked her as the first female pilot to fly combat missions for Misawa's 35th Fighter Wing. Additionally, during Operation Northern Watch she became the first African American female pilot to employ ordnance in combat.

 

In July 2004, she graduated from the Joint Fire Control Course and was assigned to the 15th Air Support Operations Squadron. Later she deployed as the 2nd Brigade Air Liaison Officer in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

 

In June 2007, Kimbrell was assigned to the 31st Fighter Wing, Aviano AB Italy where she served as Assistant Director of Operations for the 555 Fighter Squadron.

 

In 2009, Kimbrell relocated to 6th Combat Training Squadron, Nellis AFB where she served as the Course Manager for the Air Liaison Officer Qualification Course and an instructor. From this assignment she separated from active duty Air Force and transitioned to the Air Force Reserves in Oct 2013.

 

Beginning October 2013, Kimbrell served as an MQ-9 Pilot and Mission Commander for the 78th Attack Squadron out of Creech Air Force Base, Nevada.

Dec 24, 2020

Furloughs in the airline industry are forcing pilots to find new work in other aspects of aviation, including flying privately-owned aircraft.

Private aviation is in the midst of an expansion that's seeing aircraft operators invest in more planes to bring in a new market of first-time private flyers who are abandoning first class thanks to the pandemic. A fleet of new planes requires more pilots to fly them and as the airlines contract during the downturn, private firms are looking to hire former airline pilots with plenty of experience.

It may seem like an easy transition since flying a plane is the same whether it be for an airliner or private charter company, but the workload and lifestyle couldn't be any more different. Instead of flying a plane full of passengers, a private aviation pilot caters solely to the wealthy and powerful, and that's just the tip of the iceberg.

It's a challenging job that requires a pilot to go above and beyond, at times, according to Sean Scialfa, a 31-year airline pilot who has spent time on both sides of the industry. Unlike the airlines, private aircraft pilots deal with problems head-on and face to face instead of from behind a locked cockpit door and through a public announcement system.

Here's how flying private aircraft is different than flying for the airlines.

1. Wearing many hats
Pilots on this side of the industry are very much the face of the operation and frequently interact with guests, which is why private aviation CEOs look for pilots with personality and a customer-service oriented attitude. It's not a job where pilots can show up a few minutes before boarding and not speak to a passenger the entire flight.

When an airline pilot shows up at the airport, the expectation is not to greet passengers in the gate area before a flight, scan their tickets, and load their bags for them. All that is done by the army of support staff that airlines employ to service any given flight.

But those tasks are routinely performed by a private aircraft pilot who typically arrives at the airport about an hour before their flight to prep the aircraft, which can include getting it fueled, stocked, catered, and cleaned. Once the passengers arrive at the plane, it's the pilot's responsibility to cross-check their identification with the manifest, load their bags, and even give the safety briefing if there is no cabin attendant for that flight.

2. The cockpit door is always open
Access to the cockpit on a commercial airliner became highly restricted after September 11, 2001. Cockpit doors were reinforced and locked to prevent any undue entry and only opened if the crew needed to use the restroom or receive their meals with no passenger access to the flight deck on most flights.

On the private side, however, the cockpit doors are normally left open. Passengers can see everything that's going on and come visit during the flight. Some private aircraft don't even have cockpit doors with most light and propeller aircraft, namely, having open environments and little to no boundaries between the passenger cabin and cockpit.

The problem isn't the threat of a hijacking with these aircraft but passengers having direct contact with pilots can lead to stressful or pressure-filled situations that could make pilots behave differently. For example, if an aircraft was late to arrive at an airport that is dangerous to access at night, Scialfa said, being pressured by passengers could lead to the pilot to make a fatal mistake by giving in instead of making the safe choice.

3. A different lifestyle, for better or worse
The wealthy often go to extremes when they travel and often visit exclusive and exciting locales that may make a pilot's life seem like one long vacation in between flights. Holiday weekends in the winter, for example, can see pilots flying to Aspen, Colorado; Jackson Hole, Wyoming; or Sun Valley, Idaho, then off to Europe or South America for weeks at a time in the summer.

But that lifestyle also means being away from home for long stretches, more so than at the airlines. Pilots working for a charter operation can be on-call or on the road for weeks at a time. Airlines trips are typically only a few days, with periods of time off in between, but private aircraft pilots often have a certain number of weeks on-call followed by hard days off.

According to Scialfa, pilots that can't keep up with that lifestyle will often ask themselves: "Is this better than working in Home Depot, or is it not?"

4. Living local
Private aircraft pilots often have to live within a certain radius of their home airport since flights can pop-up at a moment's notice, especially with on-demand charter flights. Some companies require pilots to live less than 90 minutes from the airport to be able to pick up what is known as an "ASAP" trip while some will allow commutes upwards of three hours.

Airline pilots don't need to live near the airports out of which they're based and will fly in and out around their work schedule. A New York City-based American Airlines pilot can live in Los Angeles, for example, and commute the day before the first flight of his trip and back as soon as he lands back in New York since pilots are given flight benefits on nearly any commercial airline.

"With the airlines, you know, you're not going to be gone for more than four to six days," said Scialfa. "And then, depending on where you live, you drive home or you jump in an airplane and commute to Ohio or wherever you may live."

5. Arriving early and leaving late
Private aircraft pilots are often required to arrive at the airport at least an hour before every flight to allow enough time to prepare for passenger arrival. During this time, the pilot will order fuel for the plane, perform pre-flight procedures, file the flight plan, check the route weather, stage the catering order if one was placed, and await passenger arrival, according to Scialfa.

Once the aircraft has arrived, the pilot has to stick around the button up the plane by checking the cabin for any issues, removing any trash, inspecting the exterior, and sometimes placing coverings on the engines and important gauges. If the plane is leaving early the next morning for a flight, the pilot will often stick around to see it fueled and ready to go for the early departure.

Airline pilots often show up a few minutes before boarding and perform all of the pre-flight checks while passengers are getting on the plane. But wealthy passengers expect to depart as soon as they arrive so that isn't an option on a private aircraft.

6. Moving to a smaller pond
Private aircraft operators are often family-like environments where all the pilots know each other and can fly in pairs based on experience. The same two pilots can be paired together for months at a time, especially if both assigned to the same owner, so there's less variety when it comes to the cockpit crew.

That also applies to the passengers with repeat-business very common in the private aviation world, especially with the owner of the aircraft. Pilots have to maintain relationships with passengers they fly as it will directly influence whether they fly with that company or flight crew again.

8. Making the most out of a bad situation
Private aircraft often have more flexibility in getting passengers from point A to B than airliners do thanks to the unscheduled nature of the business. If bad weather delays all flights into New York, for example, a pilot can file a flight plan for Boston and then request a diversion in mid-air since it's less likely to be turned down or directly ask passengers if they want to leave earlier to beat the storm.

And not all aircraft need to follow flight plans, with smaller aircraft often operating under visual flight rules restrictions that allow them to fly more direct routes and avoid certain types of delays. It's often done with shorter flights since visual flight rules can only be used under 18,000 feet.

Pilots can also depart under those rules to avoid ground delays with instrument flight plans and then request clearance to pick up a normal flight plan once they depart.

9. Working the holidays
To paraphrase the famous saying, private aircraft pilots follow the calendar of the elites. That means more trips over the holidays and especially long holiday weekends when the kids are off from school or when the office is closed.

The Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday periods, as well as the Fourth of July, are peak travel times. Some companies will allow pilots to fly home between flights but it's at the discretion of the company.

10. Max duty days
The longest workday for a private aircraft pilot is 14 hours and passengers will often seek to make the most of that timeframe. Early morning flights and late-night returns are very common and can occur back to back with only as little as 10 hours of rest in between.

Private aviation executives are predicting more day trips for business travelers as they seek to reduce exposure while on the road.

11. A more relaxed environment
Pilots coming from the airlines may be taken aback by the informal nature of private flying, according to Scialfa, especially when it comes to executing procedures. Airlines have a more regimented training program while the private side may not be as stringent, with multiple ways to accomplish a task in the latter compared to only one way in the former, according to Scialfa.

"It's hard for an airline guy to go, 'what do you mean there's three different ways to do that?'" Scialfa said.

 

Dec 21, 2020

Every day over 2,000 healthy dogs and cats are euthanized in our nations shelters— the result of too many animals and too few homes.   We are working to reduce euthanasia rates by transporting animals from places with overcrowded shelters to adoption centers in other geographic regions where loving families are waiting to adopt them.

DIMC flies as many animals as possible in a single flight to maximize efficiency.  DIMC does not charge our partners organizations for our transport services.  As opposed to long-distance ground transportation or the red tape of commercial flights, transporting animals via private aircraft is efficient and affordable — just $64 per animal, per flight. But resources are always in demand and DIMC looks to the public to keep flying.

Since its founding, DIMC has grown from saving a few hundred lives a year to more than 2,500 annually. DIMC’s success is due also to its dedicated team of organizers and contributors.

Peter, “The Pilot”, is an East Coast refugee, who always believed that he was switched at birth with a kid from New Jersey. After working his way through medical school as a pilot, he practiced Orthopedic Surgery for more than thirty years. Instead of retiring to a golf course, he has returned to the skies as our Chief Pilot. Peter holds an Airline Transport Pilot rating and is qualified to fly single and multiengine aircraft as well as seaplanes. He is also a certified flight instructor. Transporting animals to forever homes in a Cessna Turbo Cessna 206 Stationair and Cessna Grand Caravan, he says that the view from his new office beats any other.

Dec 17, 2020

From First Flight Society:

December 17, 1928, the 25th Anniversary of the world’s first powered flight, the Kill Devil Hills Memorial Association held a special ceremony commemorating those historic flights at the birthplace of aviation. The ceremony included the dedication of the boulder marking the site of the first flight and the laying of the cornerstone atop Kill Devil Hill for the Wright Memorial. Construction of the memorial atop Kill Devil Hill began in the spring of 1931 and was finished and dedicated November 19, 1932. Orville Wright was guest of honor at the dedication. The inscription around the base of the monument is a reminder to us of the incredible accomplishments of the brothers: “In commemoration of the conquest of the air by the brothers Wilbur and Orville Wright. Conceived by genius and achieved by dauntless resolution and unconquerable faith.”

Today, First Flight Society still serves its founding mission – and much more. Membership, programs, educational outreach, publications and scholarships were added over the years to serve the Society’s mission of cultivating support, education and understanding of the Wright Brothers Legacy.

Each year, FFS provides countless service hours to preserve, protect, inspire and teach. By supporting the society, you join a dedicated decades old community that shares in the wonder of aviation and this national treasure – Wright Brothers National Memorial for future generations. Thank you!

Dec 14, 2020

Tammie Jo Shults was accepted by the Navy for Aviation Officer Candidate School at Naval Air Station Pensacola. After completing the twelve-week course and receiving her commission as an Ensign on June 21, 1985, Shults attended flight training, also at NAS Pensacola, where she trained and qualified for her pilot's wings in the T-34 .

After Pensacola, Shults was stationed at Naval Air Station Chase Field as a flight instructor for the T-2 Buckeye. She later qualified in the A-7 Corsair II with training (RAG) squadron VA-122 at Naval Air Station Lemoore. Her next assignment was VAQ-34, a Tactical Electronic Warfare Squadron at the Pacific Missile Test Center located at Point Mugu, California. When the squadron relocated to NAS Lemoore in 1991, Shults became an instructor under the command of CAPT Rosemary Mariner, the first woman to command an operational air squadron. Shults became one of the first female naval aviators to qualify in the F/A-18 Hornet when the squadron transitioned from the EA-6B Prowler.

During Operation Desert Storm, the combat exclusion policy at that time prevented women from flying combat sorties, so Shults flew training missions as an instructor aggressor pilot for naval aviators. She finished her tour of duty in March 1993.

In December 1995, she was promoted to Lieutenant Commander (LCDR), then transitioned to the Navy Reserve, where she flew the F/A-18 Hornet and EA-6B Prowler until August 2001. 

After leaving the Navy, Shults joined Southwest Airlines as a pilot, flying a part-time schedule of 8–10 days per month so that she could also raise a family following her marriage to fellow naval aviator Dean Shults.

On April 17, 2018, while Shults was captain in command of Flight 1380 from New York to Dallas, an engine fan blade on the Boeing 737 failed and flying debris damaged the left side of the fuselage and one side window; the window failed, causing the plane to decompress. One passenger was partially sucked through the damaged window and was later pronounced dead at the hospital. Shults made an emergency descent and landed in Philadelphia. Her actions, calm demeanor, and competence during the emergency were noted by Southwest Airlines officials and passengers as well as Chesley Sullenberger, another commercial airline and former military pilot who controlled a similar situation in 2009 on US Airways Flight 1549.

Shults later revealed that she had not intended to be the pilot of that flight, but had swapped the shift with her husband.

In 1994, she married Dean Shults, at the time a fellow naval aviator in the A-7 Corsair II, who also joined Southwest Airlines as a pilot that year. Together, they have two children. The couple lives in Boerne, Texas. Shults is a devout Christian who teaches Sunday school, and helps the needy, such as internally displaced persons from Hurricane Rita.

Shults wrote a book about Southwest Airlines flight 1380, Nerves of Steel, which was released in the United States on October 8, 2019.

 
 
Dec 10, 2020

If you read my blog post My Love/Hate Relationship With Oxygen Masks, you know I have some great experiences in flight where the ever-present oxygen mask saved the day. If you're on LinkedIn you may have seen my recent video "Lights Out At Kadena", where having an oxygen mask was instrumental in my safely completing an Air Force mission.

I had another Air Force mission where the absence of an oxygen mask had the potential to end very badly. I was flying an O-2A aircraft (military version of the Cessna 337) on a local training mission out of Patrick Air Force Base, Florida. During the flight, the standby magnetic compass, sometimes called the "whiskey compass", started leaking. 

The liquid inside the whiskey compass is highly corrosive and the fumes can cause permanent neurological effects. And the O-2A does NOT have an oxygen mask! Fortunately, before the fumes could cause a problem, I came up with a solution: I retrieved an air sickness "barf bag" from my flight suit pocket and wrapped it around the leaking compass. Problem solved, but at the time I sure missed having an oxygen mask to protect me from the fumes.

But not all of my oxygen mask stories are pleasant. It was late 2004, and I was flying a B777 from Seoul, Korea to Narita, Japan. Halfway across the Yellow Sea, my flying partner Nick Hinch had to leave the flight deck to use the lavatory. We called a Flight Attendant up to the flight deck and, in keeping with FAA regulations, I donned my oxygen mask while I was the only pilot in a control seat. After my Nick returned, I stowed my oxygen mask, but I felt like something was wrong. My face itched, and I felt like I had been breathing dust. I carefully looked at my oxygen mask, and it was filthy with dust. Apparently, it hadn't been used in some time (I'll give all the previous crews the benefit of the doubt and ASSUME that no one ever left the flight deck on their flights!). I felt grubby the rest of the flight.

Let me digress. I had been in training to participate in the" Pump and Run" event in the 2005 Arnold Classic, a fitness contest in which contestants first bench press their body weight as many times as they can, up to a maximum of 30 reps, and then run a 5K. Every rep on the bench press subtracts 30 seconds from their 5K time, up to a max of 15 minute reduction in time. I had been running religiously, and was on track to run a 21-minute race. 

And I had an edge. Competitors over age 60 only had to bench press 70 percent of their body weight. And because I would be over age 60 when the 2005 Arnold Classic was held, I would only have to press 115 pounds, not my 160-pound body weight. I can press that for 30 reps any day of the week.

So, I was on track to have a 5K score of about 6 minutes, good enough to be second or third place. But when I returned to the hotel in Narita and went out for my daily run, where I'd been consistently cutting a few seconds off my time every time, I was out of breath and couldn't even finish my run!

When I got home I got on my treadmill and had the same experience - I couldn't run at my normal pace, and I couldn't finish my normal distance. In fact, when I tried pushing myself I started getting chest pains. I went to my primary care physician, and he put me through some tests, and then sent me to see a Pulmonologist, who did more tests. 

"You've got asthma," the doc said, "You got it from the dust in the oxygen mask." I was dumbfounded. "You can't CATCH asthma," I protested. "

Tell that to all the people who caught it from the Haman Fire (the largest wildfire in Colorado history)." 

"How long will I have it," I asked.

"Just the rest of your life."

So, obviously I didn't compete in the Arnold Classic, and to this day I can't really run any significant distance. And I still have asthma.

So, that's my love/hate oxygen mask story. I probably should have filed for Workman's Comp, but that ship sailed more than 15 years ago.

Dec 7, 2020

Dianna started flying in a J-3 Cub at six weeks old, flying with her airline pilot father. She learned to fly as a teenager with her father as her CFI, and soloed before she got her driver's license. Mark started flying as a teenager and paid for his lessons working at the Golden Corral.

Both Mark and Dianna attended Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and entered the Air Force after graduation. Dianna flew C-5s for the Reserves at Dover, then transferred to the Air National Guard. Mark was a FAIP (First Assignment Instructor Pilot) in the T-38 after Undergraduate Pilot Training, then flew the F-16 at Shaw Air Force Base. While there, he picked up the call sign Genghis. While in Korea, he was re-named Rush. Most of Mark's flying in combat was at night.

Dianna picked up the nickname "80's Baby". Her first flight into Iraq was totally blacked out. In addition to Air Force flying, she was hired by a legacy airline, first flying the B-737, then the B-787. She also served in the Chief Pilot's Office as a management pilot.

After finishing his active duty flying, Mark was hired by a different legacy airline and also transitioned to the Reserves.

In 2010 they purchased a Cessna 170 from a friend, and have enjoyed owning it for the past ten years. They had the airplane through four moves.

Dianna recently took a "Zero-G" flight, riding on a parabolic flight path. She also recently entered a beauty pageant, and was named Mrs. America-Nevada.

Dec 3, 2020

If you're like most Americans, you've resigned yourself to gaining a few pounds over the holidays, then plan to spend the next 11 months trying to lose the weight. 

But now, with the pandemic approaching 10 months, it gets worse, as many of us are stuck at home, unable (or forbidden!) to go to the gym. So naturally, we sit in front of the computer or television, and we don't get that "10,000 steps each day" exercise that we plan on completing.

Here's my story: in the year 2000, at age 55, I had gotten to the point that I was putting on a pound a month as a wide-body (pun intended!) Captain. I weighed in at 182 pounds and my waist was 36 inches. And I had tried a lot of fad diets, failed, and resigned myself to being a fat old man.

There's an expression "when the student is ready, the teacher appears". During recurrent training I was introduced to a fitness program, Body-for-LIFE, that changed my life forever. And I learned how to control my weight, fitness and health for the past 20 years. It's kind of like learning how to perform a magic trick. I currently weigh five pounds less than when I wrestled in high school!

Nov 30, 2020

Jim attended the University of Kansas and enrolled in Navy ROTC. Although he was promised an assignment as a pilot, he was initially assigned as a Naval Flight Officer (back seater). He flew the EA-6B Prowler out of Whidbey Island, WA. In the EA-6B, he flew combat missions in Bosnia. 

After his assignment, he finally got his slot to pilot training. As a pilot, he flew the EC-3, and electronic version of the P-3. He followed that assignment as a T-34 instructor in the Naval Training Command at Corpus Christi, TX. He flew 700 hours per year. He loved being an instructor, and decided that would be his future. He flew as an instructor for 15 years, amassing 3600 hours in the aircraft.

After the Navy, Jim worked for an aerospace engineering company in Corpus Christi and flew for the Reserves. He enjoyed the environment at the engineering company, but missed full-time flying. For a short time he flew for JetBlue Airlines, but after a short time he had to leave for a family emergency.

After JetBlue, he went to Iraq as a volunteer Individual Augmentee in the reserves. He was embedded with the army looking for Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs). 

After Iraq, he flew 10 2-month tours in Afghanistan as a contractor flying King Air aircraft. He became an instructor almost immediately.

Finally, Jim was hired by a legacy airline, where he now flies.

Jim has written his autobiography, Plans That Make God Laugh.

Nov 25, 2020

In Ready For Takeoff Podcast Episode 413 we discussed safe air travel during this COVID-19 pandemic. I'm not going to repeat all of the information from that podcast, but want to discuss some additional information that may be useful to you if you plan to travel by air this holiday season.

Some airlines are now administering COVID tests to passengers. 

Bring your own food and drink.

Consider using a security bin bag liner Bin Bag

Bring an extra N95 mask. Use eyelash adhesive.

Avoid getting close to strangers. Choose window seat, preferably in last row.

Check out your airline's safety rating. 

On your return post-Thanksgiving flight, there is an increased risk that your seat-mate will be an asymptomatic carrier. According to the Washington Post, "At the county level nationwide, the average estimated risk of running into a coronavirus-positive person at a 10-person gathering is just a hair under 40 percent. That’s a pretty high number — if you take five of next week’s Thanksgiving gatherings, you can expect that a coronavirus-positive person will be at two of them."

Nov 23, 2020

After flying planes around the world together for years, married couple Joe and Margrit Fahan co-piloted their last flight on August 13.

The Fahans have both been pilots for more than 30 years and have been co-pilots on a Delta Airbus A330-300 aircraft for the past six years.

The couple met while they were flying for the same commuter airline in New Jersey in the early 1980s. At the time, both Joe and Margrit were married to other spouses. Years later, when they were both single, they ran into each other again.

The Fahans got married in 1992 and had two sons, both of whom went on to become pilots.

The pilot couple met in the early '80s. 

When the coronavirus pandemic impacted travel in the US earlier in the year, their once-busy flight schedule was almost entirely grounded. They flew just a handful of flights after mid-March.

"When COVID hit, everything shut down. It just really came to a screeching halt, especially international travel," Joe told Insider.

In July, the couple accepted an offer made by Delta Air Lines to retire early due to the lack of flights. Joe, 63, was nearing the required commercial airline pilot retirement age of 65, but Margrit, 60, still had a few years left in the career.

"I still might do something else. I am enjoying a little bit of time off here and there, but I'm looking for other opportunities," Margrit said.

The Fahans can look back on many years of co-piloting memories and stories. 

The couple started their @flyingfahans Instagram account a few years ago to document their experience as married pilots. They recently posted a video marking their retirement.

 

In the video, the couple documented the experience of receiving a water salute, an aviation tradition to honor airline service in which fire hoses spray arcs of water over the plane.

Some people have asked the Fahans how they managed to work together as a married couple.

"We do get some people saying, 'I could never work with my spouse,'" Joe said. "My usual answer to them is: 'One day you're gonna be retired, and you'll have to get along with them then.'"

The couple is enjoying retirement but said they are open to future opportunities in aviation.

Nov 19, 2020

In 1970, the US had identified the names of over 500 American POWs who were being held by the North Vietnamese. Sources reported that these prisoners were being held in atrocious conditions and were being cruelly treated by their captors. That June, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Earle G. Wheeler, authorized the formation a fifteen-member planning group to address the issue. Operating under the codename Polar Circle, this group studied the possibility of conducting a night raid on a North Vietnamese POW camp and found that an attack on the camp at Son Tay was feasible and should be attempted.

Son Tay Raid Training

Two months later, Operation Ivory Coast commenced to organize, plan, and train for the mission. Overall command was given to Air Force Brigadier General LeRoy J. Manor, with Special Forces Colonel Arthur "Bull" Simons leading the raid itself. While Manor assembled a planning staff, Simons recruited 103 volunteers from the 6th and 7th Special Forces Groups. Based at Eglin Air Force Base, FL, and working under the name "Joint Contingency Task Group," Simons' men began studying models of the camp and rehearsing the attack on a full-size replica.

While Simons' men were training, the planners identified two windows, October 21 to 25 and November 21 to 25, which possessed the ideal moonlight and weather conditions for the raid. Manor and Simons also met with Admiral Fred Bardshar to set up a diversionary mission to be flown by naval aircraft. After 170 rehearsals at Eglin, Manor informed the Secretary of Defense, Melvin Laird, that all was ready for the October attack window. Following a meeting at the White House with National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger, the raid was delayed until November.

Son Tay Raid Planning

After using the extra time for further training, JCTG moved to its forward bases in Thailand. For the raid, Simons selected 56 Green Berets from his pool of 103. These men were divided into three groups each with a different mission. The first was the 14-man assault group, "Blueboy," which was to land inside the camp compound. This would be supported by the 22-man command group, "Greenleaf," which would land outside, then blow a hole in the compound wall and support Blueboy. These were supported by the 20-man "Redwine" which was to provide security against North Vietnamese reaction forces.

Son Tay Raid Execution

The raiders were to approach the camp by air aboard helicopters with fighter cover above to deal with any North Vietnamese MiGs. All told, 29 aircraft played a direct role in the mission. Due to the impending approach of Typhoon Patsy, the mission was moved up one day to November 20. Departing their base in Thailand at 11:25 PM on November 20, the raiders had an uneventful flight to the camp as the Navy's diversionary raid had achieved its purpose. At 2:18 AM, the helicopter carrying Blueboy successfully crash landed inside the compound at Son Tay.

Racing from the helicopter, Captain Richard J. Meadows led the assault team in eliminating the guards and securing the compound. Three minutes later, Col. Simons landed with Greenleaf approximately a quarter mile from their intended LZ. After attacking a nearby North Vietnamese barracks and killing between 100 to 200, Greenleaf re-embarked and flew to the compound. In Greenleaf's absence, Redwine, led by Lieutenant Colonel Elliott P. “Bud” Sydnor, landed outside Son Tay and executed Greenleaf's mission as per the operation's contingency plans.

After conducting a thorough search of the camp, Meadows radioed "Negative Items" to the command group signaling that no POWs were present. At 2:36, the first group departed by helicopter, followed by the second nine minutes later. The raiders arrived back in Thailand at 4:28, approximately five hours after departing, having spent a total of twenty-seven minutes on the ground.

Nov 16, 2020

Jeff became a USAF fighter pilot flying the venerable A-10 Thunderbolt, also known as the “Warthog”. He was stationed with the 18th Tactical Fighter Squadron at Eilson AFB in Fairbanks, Alaska.

While there, he qualified as one of the youngest 4-ship flight leaders in the entire squadron. He served as an instructor and was also combat search and rescue qualified. He won numerous Top Gun awards for air-to-ground bombing and gunnery. Due to Jeff’s outgoing, personable, always smiling, eager to please personality, his squadron mates quickly gave him his callsign “Odie” aptly named after the popular cartoon Garfield’s sidekick.

Now, few people know Jeff by his first name…but simply call him “ODIE.”

After 6 years of dedicated service in the Air Force, Odie decided to fulfill another lifelong dream by becoming an airline pilot. He began his career with Delta Air Lines in 1992, where he currently flies international routes out of Atlanta, GA.

Amid his tenure as an airline pilot, Odie also flew a 1943 T-6 “Texan ” on the airshow circuit. A tragic accident took the life of his brother, as well as the life of the pilot. This significant event in Odie’s life ignited the spark that helped create what TargetLeadership is today.

Odie has three children whom he is immensely proud of, a daughter two sons.

Nov 11, 2020

 

At the Academy, she was the first woman to command basic training and the first woman Vice Wing Commander. She graduated in 1982 as a Distinguished Graduate (magna cum laude equivalent). Wilson earned a Rhodes Scholarship to study at the University of Oxford and continued her education at Jesus College, earning an M.Phil. and D.Phil. in international relations by 1985.

In 1990, Oxford University Press published her book, International Law and the Use of Force by National Liberation Movements,[20] which won the 1988 Paul Reuter Prize of the International Committee of the Red Cross.

An Air Force officer for seven years, Wilson was a negotiator and political adviser to the U.S. Air Force in the United Kingdom, and a defense planning officer for NATO in Belgium, where her work included arms control negotiations.

She is the 24th Secretary of the Air Force and in this position responsible for the matters of the Air Force Department, including the organization, training, equipping and supplying 685,000 active, guard, reserve and civilian personnel and their families. She supervises the Air Force’s yearly budget of more than $ 138 billion and leads strategy and policy development, risk management, weapons procurement, technology investments and human resources management within a global enterprise.

 

Wilson is an instrument rated private pilot. She is married to Jay Hone, an attorney and retired Air National Guard Colonel. They have three adult children.

Nov 9, 2020

Craig Pope was inspired to fly from his father's example - his father waas the pilot for his state's governor. He attended Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, then joined the Air National Guard, flying F-4's, then F-16s.

He's been a pilot with a legacy airline for 30 years. He was hired in 1991, starting out as a DC-8 Flight Engineer, and progressed through the fleets and seats, and now flies as a Captain on the Airbus.

In addition to his airline flying, Pontiff is the curator of the River Rat Museum in Louisville. Pontiff has been active in the River Rats.

Pontiff also designs challenge coins, and has created more than 50 different coins.

Nov 5, 2020

Elizabeth “Liz” Ruth is a research pilot at NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center at Edwards Air Force Base in California. She flies the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA), a modified Boeing 747SP with the world’s largest airborne astronomical observatory.

Prior to joining Armstrong’s flight operations in 2016, Ruth was a legislative assistant for San Luis Obispo County in California from 2013 to 2015.

In Ruth’s earlier career, she was a United Airlines flight officer on the B737-300, B757, B767 and B777 aircraft. She also worked for the company as a simulator and academic instructor for the B737-300 and was on the development team for the B737-300 Fleet Computer Based Training and Advanced Qualification Training Program.

Before joining United, Ruth was an active duty pilot of the U.S. Air Force, where she served as instructor pilot, check pilot and aircraft commander for the T-38 and T-43 from 1981 to1989. She concluded her military career with the rank of captain.

Ruth earned a Bachelor of Science in business administration from the University of Southern California, Los Angeles. She also earned a Master of Aeronautical Science from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University where she attended classes at McClellan Air Force Base in Sacramento, California.

Nov 2, 2020

Kerry McCauley’s life of adventure started out in the Minnesota National Guard as a UH-1H “Huey” crew chief and winter survival instructor. He then moved on to becoming an international ferry pilot, professional skydiver and corporate jet pilot. His career as a ferry pilot has taken him to 60 countries, over three oceans and six continents. Kerry is frequently invited to speak about his adventures as a ferry pilot and his starring role in two seasons of the Discovery Channel’s series Dangerous Flights. He’s flown almost 50 different types of aircraft, has 9000 hours of flight time and 20,000 skydives. Kerry currently lives in Wisconsin with his wife Cathy. They own and operate a skydiving school along with their children, Claire and Connor.

Kerry McCauley has the job most pilots can only dream of: delivering small used aircraft to locations around the world. In his 30 years as an international ferry pilot, Kerry has delivered almost every kind of airplane you can name to almost every location you can think of. In his long career Kerry battled fuel system malfunctions over the Atlantic, a total electrical failure at night over the Sahara, getting lost over Africa and getting struck by lightning off the coast of Portugal. Not to mention losing his engine and having to fly dead stick in a thunderstorm. Kerry's almost insatiable, reckless quest for danger and adventure also led to putting international smuggler and bank robber on his resume. Kerry found the answer to the question "What could possibly go wrong?" time and time again. But his skill, ingenuity and a heavy dose of luck were what allowed him to survive the countless mishaps, catastrophes, close calls and a nearly fatal plane crash. While Ferry Pilot is a riveting account of one man's crazy thirst for thrills and adventure, it's also a portrait of a brave and devoted family man who lost many close friends, including his first wife, to the dangerous skies.

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