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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Now displaying: 2018
Dec 31, 2018

The road to becoming an airline Captain starts long before you get hired by an airline. You should start planning on earning the left seat in the same way you plan a cross-country flight:

SELECT YOUR DESTINATION. This might be the left seat of an airliner, a business jet, crop-duster, whatever. Know where you want to go, and, just like on a cross-country flight, you may have to divert around unexpected weather or even land at an alternate.

CHECK THE WEATHER. Be aware of conditions along your route and at your destination, and be sure to check NOTAMS. In this case, learn about hazards along your route and be ready to change destinations (airlines) if conditions aren't favorable.

CHECK THE DESTINATION FACILITIES. Just like knowing your airport destination runway lengths and widths, elevation and available services, you should know what the airline expects of its pilots. Specifically, airlines are VERY conservative, and plan ahead to not have ear-rings for men, visible tattoos, or extreme appearance. Get that degree to make yourself more competitive.

KNOW THE MILESTONES. Just like checking your visual check-points along your route, plan ahead for the ratings you need.

CONFIRM YOUR LEGALITY. Make sure you have the certificates, and the medical, you will need for the career. It would truly be a shame to spend many thousands of dollars on ratings only to then discover you have a disqualifying condition, such as color-blindness.

CHART YOUR PROGRESS. Keep track of your progress along your journey to a professional pilot job.

BRIEF YOUR APPROACH. Be totally ready when you are called in for an interview. That means having your appearance exactly as you want it, including an interview suit/outfit that fits perfectly. Read Molloy's Dress For Success and Molloy's-Live For Success.

Dec 27, 2018

Visual illusions are familiar to most of us. As children, we learned that railroad tracks—contrary to what our eyes showed us—don’t come to a point at the horizon.

Aerial Perspective Illusions may make you change (increase or decrease) the slope of your final approach. They are caused by runways with different widths, upsloping ordownsloping runways, and upsloping or downslop ing final approach terrain.

Pilots learn to recognize a normal final approach by developing and recalling a mental image of the expected relationship between the length and the width of an average runway.

A final approach over a flat terrain with an upsloping runway may produce the visual illusion of a high-altitude final approach. If you believe this illusion, you may respond by pitching the aircraft nose down to decrease the altitude, which, if performed too close to the ground, may result in an accident.

A final approach over a flat terrain with a downsloping runway may produce the visual illusion of a low-altitude final approach. If you believe this illusion, you may respond by pitching the aircraft nose up to increase the altitude, which may result in a low-altitude stall or missed approach.

A final approach over an upsloping terrain with a flat runway may produce the visual illusion that the aircraft is higher than it actually is. If you believe this illusion, you may respond by pitching the aircraft nose-down to decrease the altitude, resulting in a lower approach. This may result in landing short or flaring short of the runway and risking a low-altitude stall. Pitching the aircraft nose-down will result in a low, dragged-in approach. If power settings are not adjusted, you may find yourself short of the runway, needing to add power to extend your flare. If you do not compensate with power, you will land short or stall short of the runway.

A final approach over a downsloping terrain with a flat runway may produce the visual illusion that the aircraft is lower than it actually is. If you believe this illusion, you may respond by pitching the aircraft’s nose up to gain altitude. If this happens, you will land further down therunway than you intended.

A final approach to an unusually narrow runway or an unusually long runway may produce the visual illusion of being too high. If you believe this illusion, you may pitch the aircraft’s nose down to lose altitude. If this happens too close to the ground, you may land short of the runway and cause an accident.

A final approach to an unusually wide runway may produce the visual illusion of being lower than you actually are. If you believe this illusion, you may respond by pitching the aircraft’s nose up to gain altitude, which may result in a low-altitude stall or missed approach.

A Black-Hole Approach Illusion can happen during a final approach at night (no stars or moonlight) over water or unlighted terrain to a lighted runway beyond which the horizon is not visible. When peripheral visual cues are not available to help you orient yourself relative to the earth, you may have theillusion of being upright and may perceive the runway to be tilted left and upsloping. However, with the horizon visible you can easily orient yourself correctly using your central vision. A particularly hazardous black-hole illusion involves approaching a runway under conditions with no lights before the runway and with city lights or rising terrain beyond the runway. Those conditions may produce the visual illusion of a high-altitude final approach. If you believe this illusion you may respond by lowering your approach slope.

The Autokinetic Illusion gives you the impression that a stationary object is moving in front of the airplane’s path; it is caused by staring at a fixed single point of light (ground light or a star) in a totally dark and featureless background. This illusion can cause a misperception that such a light is on a collision course with your aircraft .

False Visual Reference Illusions may cause you to orient your aircraft in relation to a false horizon; these illusions are caused by flying over a banked cloud, night flying over featureless terrain with ground lights that are indistinguishable from a dark sky with stars, or night flying over a featureless terrain with a clearly defined pattern of ground lights and a dark, starless sky.

Dec 24, 2018

Taught to fly in high school by his father, a combat-decorated Air Force pilot, Greg has gone on to fly professionally in aircraft ranging from crop dusters to corporate aircraft to airliners and has piloted more than 50 aircraft types (and counting).  His immediate family includes pilots for the Air Force, Navy, Army, and airlines, as well as a NASA Space Shuttle Commander.  What another company might refer to as a board of aviation experts, the Bristol founder just calls the dinner table. 

Dec 20, 2018

The first step in planning your cross-country VFR flight is to check departure, enroute and destination weather to confirm that you can safely, and legally, conduct the flight. Remember, VFR weather is 1000/3 and you must remain at least 500 feet below, 1000 feet above, and 2000 feet laterally from clouds.

Now, mark your departure airport and your destination on your sectional aeronautical chart.

Consult the Airport Facility Directory for both airports to determine runways and other airport information. Check NOTAMS for both airports to see if there are any changes to the Directory information.

Now, use your plotter to draw a straight line between the departure and destination. You may need to alter the course around restricted airspace and other areas you need to avoid.

Place your plotter on the course line you have drawn and measure the course with respect to true north by measuring at the mid-meridian - the true north line closest to the middle of your route. The reason for this is that the meridians converge at the poles.

Now, convert this course with respect to true north to a course with respect to magnetic north. You perform this conversion by finding the isogonic line that represents the variation from true north along your course. Subtract east variation and add west variation.

If you REALLY want to make this calculation easy, fly your cross-country along the east coast of Florida, along the agonic line where the variation is zero!

To calculate your compass heading to fly along the route, use the mnemonic TVMDC: true heading adjusted for variation equals magnetic heading; magnetic heading adjusted for deviation equals compass heading. Deviation adjusts for compass installation, and is typically a small number. It is marked on the compass correction card in your airplane.

To remember the mnemonic, think of: True Virgins Make Dull Company. Learn this quickly, because as soon as the PC police learn of this podcast, it will be banned!

Note checkpoints along your route that you can use to measure your course progress. Typically, these will be objects, such as bridges, towers, and distinctive river bends. You will use these to gauge your flight progress regarding your groundspeed and course maintenance.

Now, consult Chapter 5 of your Pilot's Operating Handbook (POH) to determine your true airspeed at your cruise altitude. Your cruise altitude for a VFR flight at an altitude above 3000 AGL must be at an odd altitude plus 500 feet heading east and at an even altitude plus 500 feet heading west.

Look at the FD Winds Aloft Forecast to determine the prevailing winds along your route closest to your planned altitude.

Now, use the wind side of your E6B computer to determine your groundspeed (for a refresher, listen to RFT episode 146) and then use the calculator side (RFT episode 148) to determine the time to reach each checkpoint.

Complete a navigation log, such as, for the flight and your preparations are complete.

Finally, file a flight plan (not REQUIRED, but really RECOMMENDED), and have a great flight!

Dec 17, 2018

From Jeff's website ( 

Jeff Berlin began his creative career chasing models down the streets of New York City… with a camera. They knew he was there, it was cool. He liked this so much he spent five years shooting in Milan and Paris before moving back to NYC to continue his career. Over the years, he’s collaborated with top fashion magazines and brands like Vogue Italia, L’Oreal, British Elle, Estée Lauder, Esquire, Bloomingdale’s, Miss Vogue, Macy’s, Vogue Pelle, Madame Figaro and many others.

Recently, Jeff transitioned to motion pictures. He was producer and camera operator on the feature film Three Days in August, which played at multiple film festivals and ran in select theaters nationwide. It’s now available on major streaming platforms. Jeff has both shot and directed an online spot for the Professional Bull Riders (PBR), a fashion brand film for noted designer Norma Kamali, as well as a number of short films and online spots for Sony. His latest film project, Stormchaser, a short with an award-winning director, was shot on the new Sony VENICE motion picture camera and is currently in post production.

Jeff is a Sony Artisan of Imagery and an experienced aviator. He is also a published writer and was editor of three national consumer aviation magazines -- Plane and Pilot, Pilot Journal and PilotMag.

Dec 13, 2018

Before you brief your instrument approach, WAIT!

W - obtain the Weather, typically from ATIS, and confirm that it is suitable for your approach.

A - perform your Approach Checklist

I - set up your Instruments for the approach, and load it into the FMS

T - now Talk about the approach

Confirm you are on the correct approach page.

Confirm the proper localizer frequency and approach course are entered into the FMS/navigation system.

Confirm the airport elevation and runway elevation.

Verify your flight path to the final approach course.

Confirm the glide path angle. A normal glide path is 3 degrees.

Confirm the minimum safe altitude and any obstructions.

Confirm the Outer Marker or Final Approach Fix crossing altitude.

Confirm the Decision Height or Minimum Descent Altitude.

Brief the Missed Approach.

Brief the runway exit plan.

Dec 10, 2018

AeroSearcher is the perfect example of a startup conceived to solve a founder’s frustrations with “the way things are.”

The aviation community has always been one of the most passionate, sophisticated and adventurous communities in the world. The average person simply doesn’t hop into a metal can and fly it to 25,000 feet. Despite the typical flyer being a go-getter, make-it-happen, we’ll-figure-it-out-when-we-get-there personality, finding online info as an aviator has always been a spaghetti bowl of tangled messiness.

Want to find a plane to buy and make sure you’ve seen all the options? You’d usually have to scour five, maybe even ten websites.

Looking for a job in the aviation field whether it be a corporate pilot, a mechanic or a flight instructor to name a few? You’re typically going to spend several hours and visit an array of websites before you even begin to feel you’ve seen the majority of possible opportunities.

Aircraft parts or aviation products? The same story: a vast number of sites and resources all with a different way to find what you’re looking for and no single site that can give you the majority of what’s available. It is this complexity that AeroSearcher simplifies. We’ve built a service that let’s you find in seconds what may have taken far longer in the past.

We’re not an aircraft classified provider. We just let you search every major classified site at one go.

We’re not an aviation job site. But using AeroSearcher means you can search nearly all aviation job sites with ease.

We don’t sell aircraft parts or aviation products, but there is no single place on the web where you can search and find whatever aviation related item you are looking for faster.

We know that we’re just at the start of an amazing journey. There are more possibilities for AeroSearcher: big improvements, new types of aviation information to index and innovative solutions to aviation problems.

Dec 6, 2018

The United States formally entered World War II in December 1941, following Japan's surprise attack on Pearl Harbor in Hawaii. Six months later, Bush enlisted into the U.S. Navy immediately after he graduated from Phillips Academy on his eighteenth birthday. He became a naval aviator, taking training for aircraft carrier operations aboard USS SableAfter completing the 10-month course, he was commissioned as an ensign in the United States Naval Reserve at Naval Air Station Corpus Christi on June 9, 1943 (just three days before his 19th birthday), which made him the youngest naval aviator to that date.

In September 1943, he was assigned to Torpedo Squadron 51 (VT-51) as the photographic officer. The following year, his squadron was based in USS San Jacinto as a member of Air Group 51, where his lanky physique earned him the nickname "Skin". During this time, the task force was victorious in one of the largest air battles of World War II: the Battle of the Philippine Sea.

After Bush's promotion to lieutenant (junior grade) on August 1, 1944, San Jacinto commenced operations against the Japanese in the Bonin Islands. Bush piloted one of four Grumman TBM Avengers of VT-51 that attacked the Japanese installations on Chichijima. His crew for the mission, which occurred on September 2, 1944, included Radioman Second Class John Delaney and Lt.(jg) William White. During their attack, the Avengers encountered intense anti-aircraft fire; Bush's aircraft was hit by flak and his engine caught fire. Despite the fire in his aircraft, Bush completed his attack and released bombs over his target, scoring several damaging hits. With his engine ablaze, Bush flew several miles from the island, where he and one other crew member of the TBM bailed out; the other man's parachute did not open. Bush waited for four hours in an inflated raft, while several fighters circled protectively overhead, until he was rescued by the submarine USS Finback, on lifeguard duty. For the next month, he remained in Finback and participated in the rescue of other aviators. Several of those shot down during the attack were executed, and their livers were eaten by their captors. A radio operator from the Japanese unit which shot down the Bush plane was American citizen Nobuaki Iwatake, a Japanese American who had settled in Japan six months before Pearl Harbor and was drafted into the Japanese Imperial Army in 1943. This experience shaped Bush profoundly, leading him to ask, "Why had I been spared and what did God have for me?"

In November 1944, Bush returned to San Jacinto and participated in operations in the Philippines until his squadron was replaced and sent home to the United States. Through 1944, he flew 58 combat missions for which he received the Distinguished Flying Cross, three Air Medals, and the Presidential Unit Citation awarded to San Jacinto. Bush was then reassigned to a training wing for torpedo bomber crews at Norfolk Navy Base, Virginia. His final assignment was to a new torpedo squadron, VT-153, based at Naval Air Station Grosse Ile, Michigan. Bush was honorably discharged from the U.S. Navy in September 1945, one month after the surrender of Japan.

Dec 3, 2018

From Dave Dequeljoe's website:

Dave Dequeljoe is a former Navy fighter pilot with two combat tours to Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. He was awarded the Navy Commendation with Combat “V” device for valor and an Air Medal with Individual star device for the heroic low altitude rescue of U.S. Special Operations Forces from an overwhelming advancing armor column. Dave also was awarded two Strike Flight Air Medals, and his squadron won the Battle “E” for excellence in sustained combat sorties. Transitioning home after debilitating injuries sustained from an inverted flat spin ejection, Dave became an entrepreneur and has owned several businesses.

Dave has written an outstanding book, Dogfighting Depression, to help people dealing with depression. His noble goal is to put a huge dent into the number of veteran suicides (22) each day.

Nov 29, 2018

The briefing for a VFR approach is not as comprehensive as the briefing for an IFR approach, but nevertheless should prepare the pilot for all anticipated contingencies.

FAR 91.103 requires the pilot in command to become familiar with all information concerning that flight. That would include all runway and NOTAM information for your departure and destination fields, departure, enroute and destination weather, NOTAMS, and airfield information for your departure and destination.

You can check the facilities at any airport by consulting the Airport Facility Directory, which is available online.

Nov 26, 2018

From the Brown's Seaplane Base website:

Brown’s Seaplane Base was started in 1963 by Jack Brown. His fondness for seaplanes began at an early age, flying an Aeronca C-3 Floatplane on the Kanawha River in West Virginia. This continued during WWII when he flew the Grumman “Flying Boats” and PBYs. Following the war Jack was a civilian instructor and test pilot for the U.S. Air Force stationed in central Florida. He put down roots here and became the fixed base operator at the Winter Haven airport, now Gilbert Field.

Jack’s affection for seaplanes gave him a grand vision for an overgrown area of Lake Jessie, located just southwest of the Winter Haven airport.

In 1975, Jack Brown passed away. His oldest son, Jon, became the FBO Director and along with his brother Chuck, they are the FAA Designated Pilot Examiners for the single engine sea course. Along with Jon and Chuck, you will find family working in the office, with old friends, and past students always dropping in to just say “Hello!”.

Nov 22, 2018

From Franklin Macon's website:

Franklin J. Macon (Frank) is a Documented Tuskegee Airman and dyslexic.  He grew up and still resides in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

Frank belongs to Tuskegee Airmen, Inc., Hubert L. "Hooks" Jones Chapter, a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to honoring the accomplishments and perpetuating the history of African-Americans who participated in air crew, ground crew and operations support training in the Army Air Corps during WWII; introducing young people across the nation to the world of aviation, aerospace, mathematics, and science through local programs such as the Mile High Flight Program; and, providing annual scholarships and awards to deserving individuals, groups and corporations whose deeds lend support to the goals of Tuskegee Airmen Inc.

Frank's wish is for all kids to live with purpose and conquer their challenges.

Tuskegee Airman Franklin Macon made an appearance at the Wings Over The Rockies Museum on November 20, 2018, to announce the publication of his memoir, I Wanted To Be A Pilot.

Nov 19, 2018

Willie Daniels became fascinated with aviation from an early age, and enrolled in Mount san Antonio College, majoring in Aviation, and then completed his degree at Metropolitan State College of Denver (now Metropolitan State University of Denver) in the Aviation Department.

His first airline job was as a flight attendant with United Airlines. In the meantime, he built his flying time and finally landed a position as a pilot with United. He advanced through the ranks and spent 19 years on the B747 before the plane was retired. He is currently a B777 Captain flying international routes.

After reading some sobering news stories, he founded Shades of Blue to foster Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) education in the minority community. He is now the President of Shades of Blue.

Here is the website for Shades of Blue, a 501(C)3 organization.

Nov 16, 2018

We discussed what windshear is in Ready For Takeoff Podcast Episode 94. Now we'll discuss pilot procedures to escape windshear encounters.

Windshear predictive equipment is discussed in AC 20-182A.

A recent landing accident at Sochi, Russia highlights the importance of adhering to crew procedures during windshear encounters. As you can read here, the crew made several attempts at landing, and finally landed during windshear and departed the runway, resulting in a hull loss.

The important take-away from this report is that the crew did not adhere to proper windshear avoidance and escape procedures. When the predictive windshear system announces "monitor radar display", it is indicating that there is potential windshear somewhere in the flight path. When it announces "go-around, windshear ahead" it indicates that windshear conditions exist directly in front of the aircraft, and a normal go-around should be accomplished. When the voice announces, "windshear", the aircraft is currently in windshear conditions and the windshear escape maneuver must be accomplished. Depending on the aircraft, the windshear escape maneuver may be totlaly different from a normal go-around.

While a normal go-around usually continues to use the autothrottle system, during a windshear escape maneuver, the autothrottles are disconnected and maximum thrust is required. Additionally, unlike a normal go-around, the landing gear is not retracted (to avoid additional drag of gear doors opening) and the aircraft is climbed at a pitch attitude established by the manufacturer (15 degrees for Boeings). Depending on the effects of the windshear, the crew may be required to decrease the climb to honor the pitch limit indicator.

The key to dealing with windshear is AVOIDING it at all costs, since there may windshear conditions that exceed the performance of the aircraft.

Nov 11, 2018

Andy Parks hails from a long line of aviation enthusiasts. His grandfather fought in World War I, and after the war he became friends with many of the aces of that war from all sides. Andy's dad met them as a kid and listened with rapt attention as they told their stories. Andy's dad became a physician and university medical school professor, and remained in contact with many of the aces.

Andy's dad started a project that has evolved into the Vintage Aero Flying Museum. He built and collected World War I airplanes. Andy is now the Director of the Lafayette Foundation, a 501(c)3 charity that accepts donations at their website.

The museum's collection includes a 1917 Fokker DRI, a 1918 Fokker DVII, a 1918 Fokker DVIII and two 7/8 scaled SE5a aircraft. Andy flies these aircraft and takes them to venues around the country.

In 1981, Andy's dad took him to Europe for a meeting of 48 aces from the Great War, and they all connected with Andy, giving him their memorabilia and regaling him with stories. For a week, these octogenarians were once again 18-year-old fighter pilots.

The memorabilia are all on display at the Vintage Aero Flying Museum, and Andy is on-site to share his encyclopedic knowledge of their stories.

Nov 8, 2018

The Vietnam Veterans Memorial – The Wall – has panels that list the KIA (Killed In Action) casualties in chronological order of their loss. Panel W1, the last panel, encompasses the date July 30, 1972. My name is not on that panel, because my military Brothers, J.D. Allen and the crew of Purple 28, saved my life.

On July 30, 1972, I was Number Four in Walnut Flight, four F-4s on a strike deep into enemy territory north of Hanoi. The flight was being led by a new flight lead on his first mission over Hanoi, and J.D. was the deputy flight lead, Walnut Three. Enroute to the target, we faced heavy reactions. SAMs (surface-to-air missiles), AAA (anti-aircraft artillery) and MiG calls (enemy aircraft). As we egressed the target area over the Gulf of Tonkin, Lead called for a fuel check, and that was when we all realized that my fuel was significantly below the other airplanes in the flight. In fact, I wouldn’t have enough fuel to make it to the post-strike refueling point.

Lead was out of ideas, and that’s when J.D. went into action. With Lead’s concurrence, he took command of the flight, sent us over to the emergency GUARD frequency, and made contact with the refueling tankers. One of them, Purple 28, volunteered to fly up into enemy territory to meet us. That crew put their airplane, their lives, and their careers on the line to save me.

Back in 1972, navigation was not the GPS precision it is today. The INS (inertial navigation system) position on the F-4 could be off by as much as 10 miles for every hour of operation. The only way to roughly determine our position was radial/DME from a TACAN located on a Navy ship, far away. J.D. asked the tanker for his position from the TACAN, then gave the tanker a heading to meet up with us. Picking the tanker up on radar, J.D. told him when to begin his turn to a heading to match ours, and told him to start a descent. In the meantime, he directed me to start a half-nozzle descent.

My WSO and I were running through the Preparation For Ejection checklist, and I was periodically reporting my fuel state. The last reading I recall seeing was 0 on the tape and 0030 on the counter. About two minutes fuel. With fuel gauge tolerance, perhaps a bit more, perhaps less.

Up until this time I had simply been flying the headings, speeds and altitudes J.D. had assigned. I was pretty much operating on mental autopilot. The next thing I knew, I looked up and saw the refueling boom of the tanker directly above me, ready to plug in. I opened up my refueling door and immediately heard the rush of JP-4 entering my aircraft. And I knew I wouldn’t need to step over the side on this mission.

I think of J.D. and the tanker crew, and silently thank them, every time I hold my wife, my kids, my grandkids. If they hadn’t stepped up to the plate when they did, I’m fairly certain I wouldn’t have made it home. When you pull the ejection handle over shark-infested enemy-controlled water, there are a thousand things that can happen to prevent a happy outcome.

So I want to once again thank my Brothers, the brave tanker crew and J.D. Allen.

Nov 5, 2018

We met Heath Owens in Ready for Takeoff Podcast episode 174, where  he was getting a lot of free flights, although he was not logging any student time.

Now Heath is actively pursuing his Private Pilot certificate, and is closing in on his check ride. He STILL has not paid for any flying, and he has amassed experience in even more airplanes!

Heath also has been extremely successful in the Aviation Insurance business, and his website is

Today is the anniversary of a tragic loss during World War II. This tribute to Loyce Deen, who was killed during the Battle of Manilla Bay, is really a tribute to all the men and women who served our country during the war that rescued the world.

Nov 1, 2018

Teamwork is the secret sauce to leadership, and both leadership and teamwork are essential to being a successful career as an airline pilot. One way to establish effective teamwork skills is to participate in team sports as opposed to individual sports. Alternatively, you can develop teamwork skills by club activities and other organizational efforts.

Oct 29, 2018

From the Safety Operating systems website:

A veteran major airline, corporate and general aviation pilot, Captain John Cox has flown over 14,000 hours with over 10,000 in command of jet airliners. Additionally, he has flown as an instructor, check pilot, and test pilot in addition to his extensive involvement in global air safety.

Awards and Recognition

  • Sir James Martin Award More Information
  • Fellow of the Royal Aeronautical Society, London, England
  • Member of the International Society of Air Safety Investigators (ISASI)
  • Master Air Pilot Certificate Guild of Air Pilots and Air Navigators
  • Air Line Pilots Association Air Safety Award (ALPA’s Highest Safety Award)
  • Air Line Pilots Association Leadership Award
  • Air Line Pilots Association Steering and Oversight Award
  • US Airways Safety Achievement (US Airway’s Highest Safety Award)
  • US Airways Boeing 737 Training Department Certificate of Appreciation
  • Outstanding MBA Graduate, Daniel Webster College in recognition for academic excellence
  • Laura Taber Barbour Award

Education and Affiliations

  • Graduate of University of Southern California Air Safety Program
  • United States Navy Post Graduate School Aviation Safety Command Program
  • Accredited International Standard Business Aircraft Auditor (IS-BAO)
  • International Air Transport Association Trained Airline Auditor (IOSA)
  • NTSB Group member on Systems, Structures, Powerplants, Air Traffic Control, and Operations.
  • Six major NTSB investigations with numerous field office investigations.
  • Masters Business Administration – Aviation Management, July 2010, Daniel Webster College, Nashua, New Hampshire

Public Appearances and Speaking Engagements

  • National Transportation Safety Board – Witness (twice)
  • National Safety Council Congress – Numerous guest lectures
  • ALPA Air Safety Week – Host 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004
  • International Federation of Air Line Pilot Associations – Numerous guest lectures
  • University of Southern California – Numerous guest lectures
  • Embry Riddle Aeronautical University – Numerous guest lectures
  • Department of Transportation’s Transportation Summit – Numerous guest lectures
  • Queens College, Charlotte, North Carolina – Guest Lecturer
  • SAE G-10- Society of Automotive Engineers Aerospace Conference – Speaker
  • International Society of Air Safety Investigators (ISASI) – Speaker
  • Flight Safety Foundation – Speaker
  • Contributor to USA Today's "Ask The Captain"
Oct 25, 2018

From Wikipedia:

A flight data recorder (FDR; also ADR, for accident data recorder) is an electronic device employed to record instructions sent to any electronic systems on an aircraft.

The data recorded by the FDR are used for accident and incident investigation. Due to their importance in investigating accidents, these ICAO-regulated devices are carefully engineered and constructed to withstand the force of a high speed impact and the heat of an intense fire. Contrary to the popular term "black box", the exterior of the FDR is coated with heat-resistant bright orange paint for high visibility in wreckage, and the unit is usually mounted in the aircraft's tail section, where it is more likely to survive a severe crash. Following an accident, the recovery of the FDR is usually a high priority for the investigating body, as analysis of the recorded parameters can often detect and identify causes or contributing factors.

Modern day FDRs receive inputs via specific data frames from the Flight Data Acquisition Units (FDAU). They record significant flight parameters, including the control and actuator positions, engine information and time of day. There are 88 parameters required as a minimum under current US federal regulations (only 29 were required until 2002), but some systems monitor many more variables. Generally each parameter is recorded a few times per second, though some units store "bursts" of data at a much higher frequency if the data begin to change quickly. Most FDRs record approximately 17–25 hours of data in a continuous loop. It is required by regulations that an FDR verification check (readout) is performed annually in order to verify that all mandatory parameters are recorded.

Modern FDRs are typically double wrapped in strong corrosion-resistant stainless steel or titanium, with high-temperature insulation inside. Modern FDRs are accompanied by an underwater locator beacon that emits an ultrasonic "ping" to aid in detection when submerged. These beacons operate for up to 30 days and are able to operate while immersed to a depth of up to 6,000 meters (20,000 ft).

Cockpit voice recorder

A cockpit voice recorder (CVR) is a flight recorder used to record the audio environment in the flight deck of an aircraft for the purpose of investigation of accidents and incidents. This is typically achieved by recording the signals of the microphones and earphones of the pilots' headsets and of an area microphone in the roof of the cockpit. The current applicable FAA TSO is C123b titled Cockpit Voice Recorder Equipment.

Where an aircraft is required to carry a CVR and uses digital communications the CVR is required to record such communications with air traffic control unless this is recorded elsewhere. As of 2008 it is an FAA requirement that the recording duration is a minimum of two hours.

A standard CVR is capable of recording 4 channels of audio data for a period of 2 hours. The original requirement was for a CVR to record for 30 minutes, but this has been found to be insufficient in many cases, significant parts of the audio data needed for a subsequent investigation having occurred more than 30 minutes before the end of the recording.

The earliest CVRs used analog wire recording, later replaced by analog magnetic tape. Some of the tape units used two reels, with the tape automatically reversing at each end. The original was the ARL Flight Memory Unit produced in 1957 by Australian David Warren and an instrument maker named Tych Mirfield.

Other units used a single reel, with the tape spliced into a continuous loop, much as in an 8-track cartridge. The tape would circulate and old audio information would be overwritten every 30 minutes. Recovery of sound from magnetic tape often proves difficult if the recorder is recovered from water and its housing has been breached. Thus, the latest designs employ solid-state memory and use digital recording techniques, making them much more resistant to shock, vibration and moisture. With the reduced power requirements of solid-state recorders, it is now practical to incorporate a battery in the units, so that recording can continue until flight termination, even if the aircraft electrical system fails.

Like the FDR, the CVR is typically mounted in the rear of the airplane fuselage to maximize the likelihood of its survival in a crash.

Combined units

With the advent of digital recorders, the FDR and CVR can be manufactured in one fireproof, shock proof, and waterproof container as a combined digital Cockpit Voice and Data Recorder (CVDR). Currently, CVDRs are manufactured by L-3 Communications, as well as by other manufacturers.

Solid state recorders became commercially practical in 1990, having the advantage of not requiring scheduled maintenance and making the data easier to retrieve. This was extended to the two-hour voice recording in 1995.

Oct 22, 2018

Michelle “Sonic” Ruehl is an Air Force Instructor Pilot with over fifteen years of service. She flew four different aircraft and amassed over 2000 hours, including 807 combat hours in Afghanistan, providing real-time airborne targeting data to Special Operations forces. While in Afghanistan, she also volunteered to teach English to local school girls as well as a group of young Afghan men studying Business. For her service, she earned seven Air Medals, two Aerial Achievement Medals and a special award for volunteer work, the Military Outstanding Volunteer Service Medal.

After her last deployment, Sonic returned to the U.S. Air Force Academy (class of ’03) to teach Rhetoric and Composition in the Department of English and Fine Arts. She taught courses in Writing and Public Speaking. When she was not in the classroom, she was the theater director, equestrian team mentor and worked down at the airfield teaching cadets how to fly the T-53 in the Air Force Academy’s Powered Flight Program. She found it incredibly rewarding to help the next generation of officers reach their dream of becoming military aviators.

Sonic brings 15 years of rhetoric, communication, and debriefing skills to the Afterburner team. She earned her M.A. in Teaching Writing and Rhetoric from the University of Colorado and traveled to Ghana where she taught civic leaders how to develop community improvement plans. In Tanzania, she taught children how to write music. In Nepal, she taught English to Tibetan refugees at a Buddhist monastery. She also worked as a speechwriter for a three-star general, preparing her for public engagements and developing strategic corporate messages for dissemination to 7000 personnel. Additionally, at the request of the Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson, she designed and taught a communication course to the Air Force headquarters staff at the Pentagon.

To honor fallen military colleagues, Sonic founded Parwana LEADership Legacy, a 501c3 non-profit organization whose mission is to provide leadership camps to veterans and their families to enhance empathy, communication, and teamwork so youth can then use these concepts to lead others. Through these programs, Sonic uses her M.A. in Psychology, as well as her certification as an Equine Specialist in Mental Health and Learning (ESMHL) to teach children, veterans, and survivors of trauma how to heal from their experiences and become empowered leaders in their community.

Sonic excels at helping teams become their best by aligning their communication processes with their strategic goals, so she was thrilled to join the Afterburner team in 2018! She is currently serving in the Air Force Reserves for the 302nd Airlift Wing at Peterson Air Force Base. She lives in Colorado with her husband, who flies for a major airline, and their baby girl.

Oct 18, 2018

Whether you're a professional pilot or someone who flies as a passenger, there's a good chance you're going to fly in an airliner and layover in a hotel at some point in the near future. Here are some tips to make your trip easier and safer:

  • If you plan to park your car at the airport, make sure your car registration and insurance card do NOT show your address.
  • Snap a photo of your parking spot.
  • Make your luggage look distinctive.
  • Only put your first initial and last name, and your email, on your luggage ID tag.
  • Do not pack anything of value in your checked luggage, and make sure all essential medications are in your hand-carried bag.
  • Fill any required prescriptions at a pharmacy with a national presence.
  • Bring your own water bottle onto the flight.
  • Carry a liberal supply of antibacterial hand wipes.
  • Pay attention to the flight attendant safety briefing.
  • At your destination, keep your luggage close by and in sight while waiting for ground transportation.
  • Know what that transportation will look like.
  • Keep all your bags with you when you check in at the hotel.
  • Try to get a room on the third floor.
  • If you feel uncomfortable with the security situation, ask the hotel for an escort to your room.
  • Perform a complete room inspection when you arrive at your room.
  • Immediately after the room inspection, walk to the two closest emergency exits shown on the map on the back of your door.
  • Carry an ultraviolet flashlight to check the cleanliness of your room.
  • Disinfect EVERYTHING in your room with your antibacterial wipes.
  • ALWAYS keep the DO NOT DISTURB sign on your door.
Oct 15, 2018

Tammy Barlette got her introduction to aviation when she received 40 hours of flight instruction from the ROTC Program at the University of Minnesota. After graduation and commissioning, she attended Undergraduate Pilot Training at Laughlin Air Force Base in Del Rio, Texas. When she received her wings, she qualified to remain at Del Rio as a T-37 Instructor Pilot as a FAIP (First Assignment Instructor Pilot).

After serving as an IP for three years, she qualified in the A-10, and went overseas to Korea. When she returned to the United States, she flew A-10s at Davis Monthan Air Force Base, in Tucson, and then became qualified in the MQ-1 Predator. Tammy participated in 1500 hours of combat support in Iraq and Afghanistan, protecting our troops on the ground with real-time combat support.

After attending Weapons School, she returned to Laughlin Air Force Base as a T-38 Instructor Pilot. She recently retired from the Air Force, and is now a motivational speaker. Her websites are and

Oct 11, 2018
I first attended the 23-acre United Airlines Flight Training Center in 1978. At the time, it was still a fairly-new facility, with the initial four buildings constructed in 1968. After completing my Initial Flight Officer training, I was invited to remain on campus as a B-727 instructor for a year before assuming my duties as a B-727 Second Officer (flight engineer) in San Francisco.
Throughout my employment at United, I spent half my career - 13 years out of 26 - as an instructor at the Training Center. I saw numerous changes, including the closure of nearby Stapleton airport and the construction of the "new" F building, which housed additional offices and simulators.
After retirement, I occasionally returned to the Training Center to administer simulator training as a private consultant for other companies. The last time I was there for work was about three years ago. I have to admit, the building was starting to look a bit long in the tooth.
Last week I attended a New Pilot Expo at the United Flight Training Center, for the Metropolitan State University of Denver Aviation Department, where I teach. From the outside, the campus looks pretty much the same, except for some construction on the south side. Once I entered, I was blown away.
Captain Mike McCasky, the Managing Director at United, made an impressive presentation, and every attendee was inspired to become a pilot with United. At the end of the presentations, we all received a tour, and were given the opportunity to see the simulators, flight training devices, and classrooms.
The entire facility has been renovated, and it looks awesome! I recognized the hallways, but was completely lost among the new offices and state-of-the-art classrooms. There are currently 31 full flight simulators and 10 flight training devices in operation. Another 8 simulators and 4 flight training devices are planned. When the additional construction is complete, the Flight Training Center will be the largest airline training facility in the world.
United will be conducting sixty thousand training events this year, and will use over one hundred thousand hotel rooms for trainees. In addition to pilot training, United conducts pilot interviews, flight attendant recurrent training, and Tech Ops training at the facility.
Oct 8, 2018

From Captain Aux's website:

Born in Phoenix, Arizona, Eric Auxier is an airline pilot by day, writer by night, and kid by choice. Never one to believe in working for a living, Mr. Auxier’s past list of occupations include: Alaska bush pilot, freelance writer, mural artist, and Captain for a Caribbean seaplane operation. With over 20,000 flight hours, he is now an A320 captain for a major U.S. airline.

Eric started out in aviation with a hang glider he bought at age 14, then flew gliders at age 16, and took lessons in powered aircraft at 17. He attended flight training courses at Cochise college, and had all of his flight ratings thru CFI when he graduated. He then attended Arizona State University for his bachelor's degree, and worked his way through school as a CFI.

After college Eric flew grand canyon tours, then landed a job as a bush pilot in Alaska He followed that with a stint flying charters in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Finally, Eric landed his dream job as an airline pilot, and is now a Captain on the Airbus A-321.

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