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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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.

Oct 5, 2020

Erin Miller is the granddaughter of WASP WWII pilot Elaine Danforth Harmon. Erin has a J.D. from the University of Maryland School of Law, a Master's in international studies from the University of Leeds (UK), and a B.A. in history from the University of California, San Diego. She is a licensed attorney in Maryland, where she lives with her two Shiba Inus.

Erin has become an ambassador for the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) of World War II by sharing her own story of honoring her grandmother who wanted to ensure future generations learn about the history of these trailblazing pilots.

She documented her fight for WASP recognition in Final Flight Final Fight.

Oct 1, 2020

Shreenand Sadhale was working in India when, at age 26, he came across a Singapore Airlines advertisement for their cadet program. Singapore Airlines wold pay for the pilot training and pay the cadets a salary, and there would be a seven year commitment. Shreenand jumped at the chance. He requested the cargo route because he wanted to fly the Boeing 747, and Singapore was already phasing out the B747 in passenger operations.

He attended training in both Singapore and in Perth, Australia. His training included flights in the Lear 45. When he started flying at Singapore Airlines, he was assigned to the Boeing 777, and was flying in the right seat on passenger flights with a total of 275 hours!

He started with Singapore in 2007, and in 2012 Singapore started a low-cost operation, called Scoot. Shreenand volunteered to transition to Scoot, and was removed from the Singapore seniority list. In the process he became a Captain on the B787 and flew all over the world. Unfortunately, due to COVID-19, Scoot went out of business.

Shreenand also owns a Stearman aircraft in the United States.

Sep 28, 2020

Col. (Ret.) Vic Vizcarra, a 24 year Air Force veteran, was commissioned through the ROTC program upon graduation from Loyola University of Los Angeles in 1960. A high ranking in his pilot training class allowed him to choose the F-100 from the list of available assignments. After completing F-100 training, he was assigned to the 31st TFW, 309th TFS at Homestead AFB, FL where he flew the "Hun" for 16 months. In 1963, he transitioned to the F-105 and served in Japan from where he participated in three deployments to Southeast Asia and flew 59 combat missions in the F-105D.  During his third deployment, he was forced to eject from his disabled F-105D over North Vietnam and spent two hours on the ground evading capture before being rescued by a U.S. Navy helicopter. He later returned to fly 120 combat missions in the F-100D/F with the 35th TFW, 352nd TFS, at Phan Rang AB, Republic of Vietnam. In addition to the F-100 and F-105, Col. Vizcarra flew the F-5E and F-4E in follow-on assignments. Promoted to Colonel in 1981, he served as the 35th TFW Deputy Commander of Maintenance in his final assignment. Hun Pilot is the author's second publication and is a companion to his first book, Thud Pilot.


Speed & Angels Productions makes films that honor those who served. Award-winning filmmaker, Mark Vizcarra founded the production company to bring a fresh and unique perspective in producing entertaining content. His thousands of hours of flying the world’s most sophisticated fighters and landing aboard nine different aircraft carriers while serving in the United States Navy brings a level authenticity to a niche piece of commercially viable storytelling.  Speed & Angels Productions’ slate of untold stories delivers spectacular aerial cinematography and dramatic story arcs that tap into a market yearning for aviation and historical content.

Captain Michael A. Vizcarra, first commissioned by the Navy in 1984, assumed command of MU’s Reserve Officers Training Corp Unit in August. Prior to being assigned to the post, he served as Commander of Fleet Activities in Okinawa, Japan.

“I am a Florida state resident but we’ve actually lived in Japan three times,” he said of his family’s many moves. “We wanted a small college town and we wanted a place where we could experience all four seasons. Not ever having lived anywhere in the Midwest, my wife Sherri looked online for information about Columbia, and everything she read about it, she really liked.

“Our kids are in high school, and I had a chance to look at the schools when I was here,” he said, adding that he liked what he saw. “Every person I talked to about Columbia said they came here, not necessarily intending to stay, but that it’s a great place and the people are great too. We haven’t looked back.”

Vizcarra became a Naval Flight Officer in 1986 and in his steady climb through the Navy’s ranks, he has accumulated over 3,600 flight hours piloting F-14s and F-18s with nearly 1,000 carrier take-offs and landings. “I’m glad I did it,” he said, “but I’m definitely glad to be spending time with my family now. I miss flying a little bit, but this way I can teach my kids to drive. I’m a family guy.”

He wholeheartedly believes that throughout his 30-year connection to the Navy he has been presented with great opportunities and that his experiences have led him to this job, serving as a mentor for young men and women starting down the same path.

Sep 24, 2020

Lieutenant Colonel Robert “Buzz” Patterson, United States Air Force (Retired), is a military combat pilot, distinguished White House military aide, bestselling author, leadership consultant, popular public speaker and former commercial airline pilot.  Among Patterson’s literary efforts include two New York Times best sellers, Dereliction of Duty and Reckless Disregard.



His most recent books include War Crimes and Conduct Unbecoming.




Patterson was born in Chapel Hill, North Carolina and earned a bachelor's degree in political science from Virginia Tech and a master's degree in business administration from Webster University.

Patterson served 20 years as a pilot on active duty in the United States Air Force and saw tours of duty world-wide including combat operations in Bosnia, the Persian Gulf, Somalia, Rwanda, and Haiti.. From 1996 to 1998, Colonel Patterson was the Senior Military Aide to President Bill Clinton. During that time he was responsible for the President's Emergency Satchel. He retired in 2001 to pursue a career as a writer, conservative political commentator and commercial airline pilot.

He retired from Delta Airlines and is currently a candidate for Congress, running in the California 07 District. His website is

Sep 21, 2020

As one of only a handful of women who have earned the Distinguished Flying Cross, Melissa “SHOCK” May, a career Air Force F-16 pilot, was also in the first wave of women to fly fighter aircraft straight from Undergraduate Pilot Training.  Her Air Force career got its start because her outstanding abilities as a competitive swimmer. Melissa was recruited to swim on the US Air Force Academy (USAFA) Intercollegiate team, which ultimately culminated in her induction into the USAFA Athletic Hall of Fame. Until her junior year at USAFA, the Combat Exclusion Law was in effect and women were not allowed to fly Air Force fighter aircraft, so the plan of becoming a fighter pilot was not even on the table.  

Upon graduation, she went on to pilot training in Del Rio, TX and she learned then that a fighter was a possibility, but she would have to finish high enough among her peers to earn one. Melissa graduated first in her class and earned the Distinguished Graduate Award, the Flying Training award and the Air Education and Training Commander’s Award. After pilot training she went on to fly the F-16 and her assignments included bases in Korea, Japan, Italy, and two assignments as an Instructor Pilot at the F-16 schoolhouse in Arizona. She also returned to the US Air Force Academy as a Commander of a Cadet Squadron.  

Melissa earned her combat time in Iraq in Operations Southern Watch and Iraqi Freedom, and in Libya in Operations Unified Protector and Odyssey Dawn. Her Distinguished Flying Cross was awarded during a night mission over Baghdad where her flight of 4 was under heavy fire from anti-aircraft artillery and guided missiles. The weather was extremely poor and her flight was tasked to bomb missile sites that were actively targeting them. At her side that night was one of the youngest wingman in the squadron. 

SHOCK was also a founding member of the Chick Fighter Pilot Association, a group she and a few fellow F-16 pilots started when they realized the importance of female friendship and mentorship in a male-dominated career. 

SHOCK served in the Air Force for 20 years and upon retirement, she joined a major airline where she now flies Boeing 737’s based out of Denver. Her husband of 21 years, also a retired Air Force F-16 pilot, flies at a major airline as well.  They have two children and they are striving for a balance of work and maximum family time. If she’s not flying the friendly skies and bouncing around a new city or country, you can find her on the golf course, a hiking trail, mountain biking, or snowboarding in the winter. 

Sep 17, 2020

National POW/MIA Recognition Day was established in 1979 through a proclamation signed by President Jimmy Carter. Since then, each subsequent president has issued an annual proclamation commemorating the third Friday in September as National POW/MIA Recognition Day.

A national-level ceremony is held on every National POW/MIA Recognition Day. Traditionally held at the Pentagon, it features members from each branch of military service and participation from high-ranking officials.

In addition to the national-level ceremony, observances of National POW/MIA Recognition Day are held across the country on military installations, ships at sea, state capitols, schools and veterans' facilities.

No matter where they are held, these National POW/MIA Recognition Day ceremonies share the common purpose of honoring those who were held captive and returned, as well as those who remain missing.

Since 1999, the POW/MIA Accounting community has created a poster commemorating National POW/MIA Recognition Day.  The 2020 edition of the poster, continues to honor this tradition. 

Staff Sergeant Jon Cavaiani
 received the Medal of Honor for his actions in Vietnam War. After his platoon came under intense attack and organized his unit’s defense. During evacuation by helicopter, Cavaiani voluntarily stayed on the ground to direct the large evacuation effort. In the morning, there was another enemy attack where he ordered and helped provide cover for the remaining small group of men to escape. He was then captured and spent the next two years as a prisoner of war until his release in 1973 during Operation Homecoming. He remained in the Army until 1990, completing over 5,000 jumps from all over the world.

Colonel Donald Cook posthumously received the Medal of Honor for his actions in Vietnam. He was wounded and captured by the enemy in December 1964. He was held as a prisoner of war where he assumed the role as the senior prisoner, even though he wasn’t. He volunteered to give other men his medicine and unselfishly put the overall health and wellbeing of his other prisoners above his health. He died from malaria three years later.

George “Bud” Day received the Medal of Honor for his actions in Vietnam. He was a prisoner of war, not once but twice. He was forced to eject from his aircraft where he was immediately captured, interrogated and tortured. Day eventually escaped into the jungle, surviving on berries and frogs. After swimming across a river, he wandered aimlessly for days, lost. He was ambushed, recaptured and suffered from gunshot wounds. Day was placed back in his original prisoner of war camp and several near Hanoi, where he was beaten, starved and tortured. He shared a cell with future senator and presidential candidate John McCain. After five years and seven months as a North Vietnamese prisoner of war, he was released on March 14, 1973. He is the only person to be awarded both the Medal of Honor and the Air Force Cross.

Sergeant William Port posthumously received the Medal of Honor for his actions in Vietnam. He rescued a wounded soldier and then used his body to smother the blast of an enemy grenade, protecting his fellow soldiers. After surviving the blast, he was captured by the enemy. Ten months later he died while a prisoner of war.

Captain Lance Sijan posthumously received the Medal of Honor for his actions in Vietnam. Sijan was forced to eject from his aircraft and evaded capture by enemy soldiers for more than six weeks. Seriously injured, suffering from shock and severe weight loss, Sijan was captured by enemy soldiers. He was able to overpower one of his guards and crawl into the jungle, however, he was recaptured after a few hours. He was then transferred to another prisoner of war camp where he was held in solitary confinement, tortured and interrogated. He never complained to any fellow prisoners or divulged any information to his captors. He died as a prisoner of war at ‘Hanoi Hilton’.

Commander James Stockdale received the Medal of Honor for his actions in Vietnam. His plane was struck by enemy fire, forcing him to eject over North Vietnam where he was captured as a prisoner and beaten. He was held at the ‘Hanoi Hilton’ for the next seven and a half years and was one of the main organizers for prisoner resistance and was known as one of the eleven members of the ‘Alcatraz Gang’ and placed in solitary confinement. Stockdale’s wife, Sybil, formed The League of American Families of POWs and MIAs, where she personally made demands known to acknowledge the mistreatment of POWs at the Paris Peace Talks.

Lieutenant Colonel Leo Thorsness received the Medal of Honor for his actions in Vietnam. While on a suppression mission, Thorsness engaged in a heroic air mission involving destroying multiple enemy cluster bombs and engaging the enemy in a turning dogfight. Eleven days after his Medal of Honor actions, he was on his 93rd mission and was forced to eject from his aircraft. He was captured as a prisoner of war and spent over six years as a prisoner, spending time in solitary confinement and enduring severe torture. He was released during Operation Homecoming.

Captain Humbert Roque “Rocky” Versace received the Medal of Honor for his actions while a prisoner of war in Vietnam. With less than two weeks left of his volunteered tour extension, Versace’s unit was ambushed, he was wounded and captured in the process. The enemy separated Versace from the other prisoners and the last time they heard his voice, he was loudly singing ‘God Bless America’. He was later executed, and his remains have never been found.

Sep 14, 2020

Brig. Gen. Chad T. Manske is the 30th Commandant of the National War College, Fort Lesley J. McNair, Washington, D.C. The mission of the National War College is to prepare future leaders of the armed forces, Department of State, foreign military officers and other civilian agencies for high-level policy command and staff responsibilities by conducting a senior-level course of study with emphasis on the formulation and implementation of national security strategy and policy. As the commandant, Brig. Gen. Manske is responsible for formulating academic policies, supervising curriculum planning, preparation and ensuring excellence in classroom teaching.

Prior to assuming his current position, Brig. Gen. Manske was the Deputy Commander, Canadian North American Aerospace Defense Region and Deputy Combined/Joint Force Air Component Commander for 1 Canadian Air Division, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.

Brig. Gen. Manske was commissioned in 1989 following his graduation from Michigan State University and has commanded at the squadron, group and wing levels. Additionally, he has deployed in support of ongoing operations in Central and Southwest Asia as an Air Expeditionary Group Commander, the Deputy Director and Director of the U.S. Central Command’s Deployment and Distribution Operations Center and as an Air Expeditionary Wing Commander for operations Odyssey Dawn and Unified Protector.

Sep 10, 2020

Over the past few months, the airline industry has gone from pilot and mechanic shortages to extreme overstaffing. This turnaround was sharp and dramatic. Pilots, flight attendants and A&Ps are facing a harsh, undeserved reality. Their colleagues, or even themselves, may be furloughed.


A furlough can be an emotional rollercoaster. When being furloughed, it might feel as if your world were collapsing. Besides the loss of stability, structure, lifestyle, and colleagues, the sense of social utility and identity can be strongly affected. When dealing with grief, feelings of anger, sadness and frustration are common. Everyone experiences loss in their own way.


Grief is a term often linked to the loss of a loved one, but it is equally applicable to losing a job. The different stages of grief in the Kubler-Ross grief cycle can also be experienced when it comes to important life changes, such as a furlough. Understanding and applying the stages of grief on oneself, colleague, or spouse can help process the emotions that come with a furlough.


The following are the Kubler-Ross five stages of grief: 

Stage 1: Denial

During the first phase, denial, it is difficult for one to face the dismissal. Denial can be the conscious or unconscious refusal to face reality. It is a natural form of self-protection. It helps determine at what rate the grief is allowed. This phase usually manifests itself through avoidance, confusion, shock, and fear. 

Stage 2: Anger

When the truth is faced, anger occurs. In this phase, these angry feelings may be projected onto the boss or company who have failed them. It is also possible that the blame is passed onto colleagues. Anger helps in the grieving process since the feelings of guilt and grief are suppressed by focusing on the anger that comes with blame. Feelings of anxiety, frustration, irritation, and thoughts of revenge can occur during this phase.

Stage 3: Bargaining 

At this stage, attempts are made to negotiate. One can try to deal with the loss of work by setting goals or making promises. For example, bargaining can be done by applying for myriad jobs or setting extremely high personal goals. During this phase, it might be difficult to find meaning, and it is particularly important to reach out to others for support.

Stage 4: Depression

When reality sets in, some may go into depression or show symptoms of stress. When one begins to accept reality, feelings of sadness, regret, fear, and insecurity emerge. Losses from the past resurface and one may need to express their sadness repeatedly. Underneath the sadness, feelings of anger remain. Suppressed anger is often a crucial cause of depression. Other feelings that might occur during this phase are helplessness, overwhelmedness and hostility. 

Stage 5: Acceptance

Having had enough time to process the loss and go through the mentioned stages, it is possible to start accepting reality. It is time to let go. Letting go is not the same as forgetting. It is giving the loss a place in life and moving on. Only after acceptance can come a new perspective, actively moving forward, exploring options, and making new plans.

Sep 7, 2020

Dr. Eileen A. Bjorkman, a member of the Senior Executive Service, is Executive Director, Air Force Test Center, Edwards Air Force Base, California. She serves as principal deputy to the AFTC Commander on all matters under the cognizance of the Commander. She has extensive authority for broad management, policy development, decision-making and effective program execution of the AFTC’s developmental test and evaluation mission. Her role as an Executive Director involves long and short-range planning, policy development, the determination of program and center goals, including those involving scientific and technical matters, and the overall management of the AFTC enterprise.

Dr. Bjorkman was commissioned through Officer Training School in 1980 and served nearly 30 years in the Air Force, retiring as a colonel. During her military career, she served as a Flight Test Engineer, Instructor and Test Squadron Commander. She was a Senior Non-rated Aircrew Member and flew more than 700 hours as a Flight Test Engineer in more than 25 different aircraft, primarily the F-4 Phantom II, F-16 Fighting Falcon, C-130 Hercules and C-141 Starlifter. She also held multiple staff and director positions involving modeling, simulation, analysis and joint testing, retiring from active duty as the Chief of the Modeling and Simulation Policy Division, Warfighter Systems Integration and Deployment. Dr. Bjorkman was appointed as a Senior Leader Executive in January 2010, and entered the Senior Executive Service in 2015.

Sep 3, 2020

Shannon Huffman Polson writes about courage and grit in her nonfiction and fiction. Her first book, the memoir North of Hope,

was released spring 2013 by Zondervan/Harper Collins. She released a short book of essays, The Way the Wild gets Inside, in December 2015. Her essays and articles have won recognition including honorable mention in the 2015 VanderMey Nonfiction Prize, and appear in River Teeth Journal, Ruminate Journal, Huffington Post, High Country News, Seattle and Alaska Magazines, as well as other literary magazines and periodicals. Her work is anthologized in “The Road Ahead,” “More Than 85 Broads” and “Be There Now: Travel Stories From Around the World.”

Polson’s business writing has appeared in Huffington Post and Forbes, and in 2016 she published three books profiling outstanding military women with a focus on leadership and grit (available on Kindle). Those profiles and others are available at, where Polson is a Top Leadership Writer.

After a childhood in Alaska, Polson studied English Literature and art history at Duke University. At graduation she was commissioned as a 2LT in Army Aviation and became one of the first women to fly Apache helicopters, serving on three continents and leading two flight platoons and a line company. In the midst of school and flying came skydiving, scuba diving, big-mountain climbing and long-course triathlons. To turn all that into something practical, she earned her MBA at the Tuck School at Dartmouth, and worked with some excellent people in the corporate jungle for a few years in the medical devices industry and technology. She then started an MDiv (part-time), and decided not to pursue it, returning to her love of words with an MFA.

Polson describes her writing as a way of wrestling with life by way of words to find its beauty and possibility. Current published and pending work is in non-fiction and some fiction, both journalistic and creative, but one day soon she hopes to start sharing work in poetry as well.

Polson is a leadership speaker, focusing on leadership and grit based on her years wearing the uniform and speaks to thousands of people in audiences around the country every year. She leads the board of the Friends of the Winthrop Public Library, working to cultivate community through a shared love of literacy and learning. She and her husband are co-founders of Methow Episcopal. Occasionally she procrastinates by reading, painting, classical choral performance, playing piano or heading out in the mountains with the greatest adventure of her life, her husband Peter and two young boys.

In 2009 Polson was awarded the Trailblazer Woman of Valor award by Senator Maria Cantwell.

Her websites are and

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