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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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Now displaying: 2020
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.

Oct 29, 2020

In Ready For Takeoff Podcast Episode 175 we discussed airline drug testing, and now we're going to learn about WHY airline employees are tested for drugs.

An airline accident in 1988 was a major factor in requiring drug testing for pilots. Trans Colorado Airlines flight 2286 crashed during an approach to Durango, Colorado, and investigators learned that the captain had ingested cocaine prior to the flight. In the accident report the Safety Board stated "The NTSB believes that reasonable cause testing (triggered by any of a wide range of potentially safety-related errors), combined with effective management supervision of employees, post-accident/incident testing, pre-employment testing, periodic (medical) testing, and competent drug/alcohol education and treatment, are essential components of an effective anti-drug/alcohol abuse program."

From Test Country:

When President Ronald Reagan signed an Executive Order requiring federal agencies to create an employee drug testing program, the Department of Transportation (DOT) responded by developing a comprehensive program and cascading it down to all DOT administrations, including the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to cover pilots and air traffic controllers. Today, drug screening is done for most occupations related to the transport and aviation industry from mechanics to baggage handlers.

Extensive studies indicate that drug use is actually uncommon among pilots, but because of the high level of performance needed for flight, drug use in aviation is closely monitored.

On top of the FAA regulations, most airlines implement their own drug abuse policies. Under these policies, employees with substance abuse violations are removed from safety-sensitive operations and given the choice to go on a treatment program after which they are allowed back to full duty. A second violation will result in disciplinary action or termination.

Background Screening & Drug Testing in Aviation and Airline Companies

Under Section 120 of the Federal Aviation Regulations, employers shall conduct drug testing in accordance with the DOT’s “Procedures for Transportation Workplace Drug Testing Programs” as follows:

Pre-employment Drug Testing

No employer may hire any person for a safety-sensitive function or transfer any person from a non-safety sensitive function to a safety-sensitive function without having first conducted a pre-employment drug test and have received a negative result for the same. This rule applies to transfers if more than 180 days have elapsed from the time of the original hiring/pre-employment drug test.

The substances to be tested for are:

  • Marijuana
  • Cocaine
  • Opiates
  • Phencyclidine (PCP)
  • Amphetamines
  • A metabolite of the above-mentioned substances

DOT 10 Panel Drug Test can be conducted in a laboratory setting ensuring all qualifications are met under The Department of Transportation. Corporate laboratory drug testing is best used while screening candidates for employment. After employment, however, instant drug test kits can be useful tools.

Random drug testing

This test shall be done on 50% of covered employees selected at random and without warning.

Post-accident/post-incident drug testing

This test is to be done on an employee whose performance contributed to an accident, no later than 32 hours after the accident

Reasonable-cause drug testing

If it is reasonably suspected that an employee in a security and safety-sensitive function used a prohibited substance as demonstrated by physical, behavioral and performance indicators.

Return to duty drug testing

This test is given to an employee after previously testing positive or refusing to submit to testing (and was therefore removed from work) before being allowed back to work.

Follow-up drug testing

This test is for employees who have previously passed a return-to-duty test. Most DOT programs require 6 follow-up tests the first year from returning to duty, to continue for up to 5 years.

The Federal Aviation Administration’s Drug and Alcohol Testing Rules

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has a drug and alcohol testing program to make sure that the company provides a safe and healthy environment for both employees and those they serve. The administration follows The Department of Transportation’s (DOT) drug and alcohol testing policy. Both agencies work together to define and implement the coverage of the substance abuse program.

Here are some of the most common questions and answers about DOT’s drug and alcohol testing rules for FAA:

Who are covered by the DOT – FAA drug and alcohol testing rules?

According to DOT, all employees who perform safety-sensitive functions are subject to employee drug testing. These are:

  • Air traffic control
  • Aircraft dispatchers
  • Aircraft maintenance and preventive maintenance
  • Aviation screening
  • Flight attendants
  • Flight crewmembers
  • Flight instruction
  • Ground security

When are covered employees tested?

As per DOT, covered employees are tested during pre-employment and during random testing. Employees are also subject to testing during circumstances like post-accident, reasonable suspicion, return-to-duty, and follow-up testing.

What are drug and alcohol prohibitions as per DOT testing rules?

DOT drug testing rules require FAA employers to test their employees for the following drugs: MarijuanaOpiates, PCP, Cocaine, and Amphetamines.

For DOT Alcohol Testing, the prohibited alcohol concentration for FAA employees is 0.04% or greater. Instant tests can monitor the Breath Alcohol Concentration of drivers, immediately. Employees who are caught violating these prohibitions must be immediately removed from performing safety-sensitive functions until management decides on their applicable consequences.

Who performs the drug and alcohol testing procedures?

For drug testing, a DOT urinalysis procedure must be followed. Only certified collectors are allowed to perform the collection of urine samples from employees. They are trained to perform the testing procedure that meets DOT’s drug testing requirements, making sure that all samples reach the laboratory without signs of tampering.

For DOT alcohol screening, only a screening test technician (STT) and breath alcohol technician (BAT) are allowed to perform the alcohol test. DOT Alcohol Testing requires 2 tests: a screening and confirmation test. STTs are only allowed to perform screening tests, while BATs are allowed to perform both tests. They are trained to guarantee accurate test results.

FAA Random Drug Testing Requirements for Pilots

Like most drivers who drive vehicles that require special education and certification, pilots too are subject to the regulations of the DOT Alcohol Testing and Drug Testing Policy. These regulations are designed to maintain the safety of all passengers and aircraft crew who depend on their pilot to be able to transport them from one location to another without incident.

This means that the pilot must be able to be on guard at all times for the varying situations that could occur during the course of taking off, flying and landing the airplane under their control. A pilot more than any other major transportation operator needs to have a clear mind and an ability to focus to maintain the safety and well-being of those he transports. These abilities are delayed, limited or severely impaired by the abuse of illegal substances.

  • Pilots are subject to random, unannounced drug testing which is generally conducted during working hours. Those who are chosen are given a notice shortly before testing which tells them where they must go to submit their sample.
  • They must submit a sample for testing once they’re done doing the safety-sensitive job they are doing and arrive at the testing site. If the pilot doesn’t arrive at the appointed time or is thought to be tampering with the drug testing process they are considered to have refused to test.
  • If the pilot has done anything that constitutes a refusal or outright refuses to submit a sample they will not be able to fly or do any other job which is considered safety sensitive until they’ve completed a drug test with a negative result.
  • Getting a positive result on a random drug test also requires the pilot to achieve a negative test result on retest before they can return to safety-sensitive work. Pilots who failed a drug test will also be asked to submit to at least 6 random follow up drug screenings (which are observed) over the course of the next 12 months to verify their sobriety is being maintained.
  • Pilots who received a negative result are referred to a Substance Abuse Professional who will determine the rate and frequency of follow-up drug testing (which may continue for up to 5 years after the failed test) as well as what substances the pilot will be tested for.

The FAA random drug testing program (like other DOT-regulated substance abuse programs) also offers those with substance abuse problems opportunities to report their addiction to a counselor so that they may pursue treatment without facing censure from their employer.

Education about substance abuse and prevention is also an integral part of the drug testing process as they help employees to better understand the role that drugs take on in their lives. If these pilots feel that they work in an environment that is willing to help them succeed and remove the negative effects of substance abuse from their work and public lives they’ll be much more invested in maintaining the requirements.

Oct 26, 2020

Steven Giordano is an entrepreneur and former airline pilot with over 20 years of experience in aircraft flight operations, logistics, air-carrier management, aircraft trading, and aircraft modification. Giordano is a co-founder and Managing Director of Jet Test & Transport as well as the non-profit NGO the Humanitarian Lift Project (HLP).

 

Steven’s aviation experience is rooted in aircraft flight operations and operations management. After attending the Arizona State University and Embry Riddle Aeronautical University and serving in the USMC Reserve, Giordano embarked on a career as a commercial airline pilot. He has held various flight operations positions as a line pilot with four airlines including 10 years as a Captain with Allegiant Air. He holds an FAA Airline Transport Pilot Certificate with Pilot-in-command type ratings on the B737, B757, 767, B777, A320, A330, A340, DC-9/MD-80, CE500, and DHC-8. Giordano has logged over 18,000 flight hours operating worldwide both under contract privately and with scheduled airlines.

 

In 2006, Giordano cofounded Jet Test and Transport, an aircraft crew leasing and ops logistics provider to the Airline and Aircraft Leasing Industry, where he conducts flight operations while implementing business development strategies and initiatives, expanding the company's scope of capabilities, expanding the customer base, and forging alliances within the industry. Giordano also serves as the Director of JTOMS, a subsidiary of Jet Test which establishes and operates special ops oriented AOCs to serve a variety of special flight operations missions globally. In 2014 Giordano founded 30 West Inc. 30 West specialized in the trading of mid-life aircraft assets with a concentration on passenger-to-freighter conversions. Giordano also co-founded, and sits on the BOD for the Humanitarian Lift Project; a 501(c)3 aviation oriented non-profit that provides free/at-cost airlift to support relief operations worldwide.

 

 

 

Giordano resides in Southern NJ with his wife and 4 sons. Living and breathing aviation 24/7, Giordano owns and operates an Aerostar 600 and is active in General Aviation. 

 

Oct 22, 2020

LIMON, Colo. (KDVR) — The sign that greets you on the edge of this Eastern Plains town promises that Limon is “open for business.” That includes a small petroleum company on the west edge of town, now in its 74th year, with the same boss today as the day the business started.

Don Morrison is 95 years old. But you’ll still find him behind his desk at D-J Petroleum, Inc., running the company as president. It’s the kind of leadership he may have first learned way back in World War II, where he was the nose gunner on a B-17 Flying Fortress, carrying out bombing missions over Germany. He was part of the United States Army Air Corps 447th Bombardment Group.

“We flew into Brandenburg, Germany toward the end of the war, and we were just bombarded from every direction. I don’t know how we ever got out of there,” Morrison told FOX31. He was just a teenager when he left Limon to serve his country.

When he returned, he started his petroleum company. A few years later, he started a life with his wife Helen. They’ve been married 70 years.

“And we’ve just had a very happy marriage,” Helen Morrison told FOX31.

Most everyone in this town of 2,000 knows Don, and many know about his heroics during World War II. Last year, one of Morrison’s employees decided to pay tribute to him. They reached out to a group of local artists called “Some Girls and a Mural,” and commissioned a painting on one of D-J Petroleum’s large white fuel tanks on the edge of town.

“(The employee) approached us when we were working on another mural, and asked us to do a surprise mural for Don, and he was telling us the story of Don’s mission, and it just, immediately we gravitated toward it and we thought this would be a fun one to bring alive. And just share a piece of his history with the community,” said Kayla Ravenkamp, one of the artists who completed the painting.

Now, every time you drive into town, you see that painting of a cloudy sky over Germany, and a fleet of B-17 aircraft helping save the day. The mural spells out Morrison’s name and dates of service. 

To this town, Don has always been a hero. To his wife, same thing.

“And I’m proud of his career, he’s been very successful,” said Helen Morrison.

Oct 19, 2020

Brig. Gen. Paul W. Tibbets IV is Deputy Commander, Air Force Global Strike Command and Deputy Commander, Air Forces Strategic-Air, U.S. Strategic Command, Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana. AFGSC provides strategic deterrence, global strike and combat support to USSTRATCOM and other geographic combatant commands. The command comprises more than 33,700 professionals operating at two numbered air forces; 11 active duty, Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve wings, the Joint Global Strike Operations Center and the Nuclear Command, Control and Communications Center. Weapons systems assigned to AFGSC include all U.S. Air Force Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles and bomber aircraft, UH-1N helicopters, E-4B National Airborne Operations Center aircraft and the U.S. Air Force NC3 weapons system.

The command organizes, trains, equips and maintains combat-ready forces that provide strategic deterrence, global strike and combat support to USSTRATCOM and other geographic combatant commands. The command is comprised of more than 33,700 professionals operating at two Numbered Air Forces and 11 active-duty, Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve wings. Weapons systems assigned to the command include Minuteman III Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles, B-1, B-2 and B-52 bombers, UH-1N helicopters, the E-4B National Airborne Operations Center aircraft and the Nuclear Command, Control and Communications systems.

General Tibbets received his commission through the U.S. Air Force Academy in 1989. Following graduation, he served in a variety of operational assignments as a B-1 pilot, and subsequently as a B-2 pilot. The general has commanded at the squadron and wing levels, and flew combat missions in support of operations in Southwest Asia, the Balkans and Afghanistan. His staff assignments include Executive Officer to the Commander, Eighth Air Force, Chief of the Nuclear and CBRN Defense Policy Branch at NATO Headquarters, Deputy Director of Operations for AFGSC and Deputy Director for Nuclear Operations at U.S. Strategic Command.

Prior to his current assignment, he served as the Commander of the 509th Bomb Wing at Whiteman AFB, Missouri.

General Tibbets is a command pilot with more than 4,000 flying hours. 

Oct 15, 2020

Camila Turrieta currently works as an airline pilot with Jetblue Airways flying the Airbus 320/321. She holds a variety of FAA certifications to include an Airline Transport Certificate with Type Ratings on the Airbus 320, Boeing 737 and Embraer 170/190. She is also a Certified Flight Instructor, Aircraft Dispatcher and, Unmanned Aerial Systems Pilot.

Camila pursued her undergraduate studies at Vaughn College, where she obtained a Bachelor of Science degree specializing in Aircraft operations. Camila also holds a Master's Degree from Embry Riddle Aeronautical University with specializations in Aircraft Accident Investigation and Human Factors. She is currently pursuing a Doctor of Education degree focusing on Higher Education and Adult Learning from Walden University.
Camila is an active volunteer with a variety of aviation organizations such as Women in Aviation, Organization of Black Aerospace Professionals (OBAP), and the Latino Pilots Associations. Her work and mission within these organizations are to mentor the future leaders of the aviation industry. Camila is also a member of the Air Line Pilots Association serving as the very first Chair for the President’s Committee for Diversity & Inclusion representing over 59,000 members at 34 different airlines. Camila is also a member of the Critical Incident Response Program, the Professional Standards Committee and Pilot Peer Support Committee.

Her community service extends well beyond the flight deck, as she is also a spokesperson for organ donation throughout the United States, raising awareness on the importance of organ donation and giving the gift of life to others. Camila's efforts in her community and volunteerism have been recognized nationally, and she has been a two-time recipient of the President's Call to Service Award. This award is given to an individual who has completed over 4,000 hours of community service in their lifetime. This award was presented to her by President George W Bush and President Barack Obama.

Camila currently lives in Queens, NY with her family.

Oct 12, 2020

Upon completion of two tours in Iraq and leaving the military, Vernice launched VAI Consulting and Training, LLC. By applying the Zero to Breakthrough™ Success Model to her own company, Vernice produced over six-figures in revenue within the first 12 months and over a million in the first 5 years! Her passion is helping others create similar results.

As featured on Oprah Winfrey, CNN, Tavis Smiley, NPR and others, Vernice Armour’s fresh style and presentation methods have inspired hundreds of organizations and individuals.

Vernice ultimately impacts organizations and individuals with an understanding of the passion and leadership required to excel. Through her keynotes, executive and group coaching, seminars and executive retreats, Vernice conveys messages of Zero to Breakthrough™ through her unique insight and life strategy: “You HAVE permission to Engage!”

Vernice travels extensively in order to create a global movement based on the Breakthrough Mentality mindset. In order for us to change the current conditions we are going to need to think and execute differently. We are going to need leaders to step up, lead and Get Gutsy. Our society and global community needs people to take personal responsibility and accountability. We win or lose together. One Mission, One Goal, One Team™.

Her signature book, Zero to BreakthroughTM (Penguin 2011) chronicles the process she utilized to transition from beat cop to America’s First African American Female Combat Pilot. She is an internationally recognized inspirational leadership keynote speaker for premier leadership conferences and Fortune 500 companies.

Vernice has two honorary doctorates, been featured extensively in the media to include Oprah Winfrey, CNN, MSNBC and the View and is a member of the COMCAST/NBCUniversal Joint Diversity Council. She has also received awards as a pioneering pilot, to include her commanding role in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). She was the Marine Corps’ first African American Female pilot, first African American woman on the Nashville Police Department’s motorcycle squad, Camp Pendleton’s 2001 Female Athlete of the Year, two-time titleholder in Camp Pendleton’s annual Strongest Warrior Competition, and a running back for the San Diego Sunfire women’s professional football team.

Oct 8, 2020

Manny Montez used to watch planes fly overhead from his childhood home in Cuba, dreaming of some day becoming a pilot. When he was 13 his family immigrated to the United States with four suitcases and $50 cash, not speaking a word of English.

Ten years later Manny had learned English, become a U.S. citizen, and was a pilot in the Air Force, flying combat missions in Vietnam as a Forward Air Controller (FAC) in an OV-10. Following Vietnam he instructed in the supersonic T-38, then left the service for an airline career at American Airlines. At the same time, he flew O-2A and F-100 aircraft in the Air National Guard.

During a downturn when pilots were being furloughed, Manny volunteered to take a leave of absence and flew a private B-727 based in Saudi Arabia, operating all over the world. After his return to American, he rose to B777 Captain.

After age-60 retirement, Manny continued to fly and instruct in simulators, and currently flies the Emb-300 as a contract pilot.

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