Ready For Takeoff - Turn Your Aviation Passion Into A Career

The Ready For Takeoff podcast will help you transform your aviation passion into an aviation career. Every week we bring you instruction and interviews with top aviators in their field who reveal their flight path to an exciting career in the skies.
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Ready For Takeoff - Turn Your Aviation Passion Into A Career








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Oct 19, 2021

At some point in your flying career, either in an FAA Practical Test or in real life, you will be required to perform a visual approach to a landing. In a simulator checkride, typically the electronic glideslope and VASI (visual approach slope indicator) will be rendered inoperative.

For planning purposes, we will use 3 degrees as the desired approach path. That is a typical ILS glideslope and typical VASI glideslope. For a 3-degree descent, your descent rate (vertical speed) will need to be 1/2 your groundspeed times 10. For example, if your groundspeed is 100 knots, you will need to descend at 500 feet per minute to remain on a 3-degree glideslope.

You can read your groundspeed directly from your glass-cockpit instruments. What if you're flying an aircraft with antique gauges? That's where some mental math comes in. Your groundspeed is your true airspeed minus the headwind. You can estimate the headwind by using ATIS winds and adding a few knots for the increased winds (assumed) at approach altitude. How about your true airspeed? Calculate your true airspeed by increasing your indicated airspeed by 2 percent for every 1000 feet above sea level. For example, if you are flying the approach at 90 knots at an average altitude of 5000 feet in Colorado, your true airspeed will be 10 percent higher than your indicated airspeed. So your true airspeed will be 100 knots (actually, 99 knots, but we're doing PILOT math!). If your headwind is 10 knots, your groundspeed is 90 knots, so you will descend at 450 feet per minute.

Here's an even easier way to maintain a 3-degree glideslope: simply fly towards the runway at the glideslope intercept altitude, maintaining final approach airspeed. When you fly over the outer marker (the blue marker beacon light, or the DME for the final approach fix), simply lower the nose 3 degrees and hold that pitch. Wherever the touchdown zone appears in your windscreen, hold that sight picture all the way down. Piece of cake!

Oct 15, 2021

I was hired by United Airlines as a Flight Officer on October 16, 1978. In those days they used the term "Flight Officer" instead of "Pilot" because most new-hires were assigned as Flight Engineers. Now, of course, new-hires are all hired as pilots.

My road to the airlines:

1977: Flight Engineer written exam

1977: Airline Transport Pilot written exam - FAILED on the first attempt!

1977: Self-study for ATP written exam - PASSED with 99%

1977: Airline Transport Pilot practical test - Beech 18

1978 (March): Flight Engineer training at Arnautical, Inc.

1978 (April): Instructed Flight Engineer trainees at Arnautical

1978 (May): Updated United application

1978 (July): Interviewed with United Airlines

1978 (October): New-hire at United

1981 (June): Furloughed!

Oct 11, 2021

Brett had an early love for aviation, inspired by his uncle, a United Airlines B-747 Captain. He started flying at age 16 and attained all of his certificates while in college. He was anxious to get into professional aviation, and graduated a year early so he could get his start.

His first flying job after graduation was in the cold northeast, where the airplane engine had to be artificially warmed for two hours before flight, but the cockpit stayed frigid! He was then hired by Mesa Airlines, based in Orlando, to fly his first jet. He upgraded to Captain at JFK Airport, where he sometimes had to taxi for two hours fo a 30-minute flight. 

After about five years and being downgraded, Brett was starting to feel burned out with regional flying. He heard about a corporate flying job and went to a bar to learn more. He wanted to separate himself from the pool of pilot applicants, he had his resume produced on a cake! He didn't get the job, but got on the company's radar, and was ultimately hired.

Brett eventually worked his way up to Chief Pilot at Kroger, and is now firmly committed to the company.

From NBAA:

Since Minturn transitioned from the airlines to business aviation, the NBAA Safety Committee member and chair of the Midwest Safety Roundtable has pursued his passion – aviation safety. He is a staunch advocate for adoption of the Aviation Safety Action Program in Part 91 operations, and last year he worked with the University of Amsterdam to develop aviation safety metrics. Minturn also has helped develop in-house technology solutions for data collection. “What I love about business aviation is I really feel like I’m making the company and the industry better.”

Oct 7, 2021

The Runway Awareness and Advisory System (RAAS) is one of a number of related software enhancements available on later-model Enhanced Ground Proximity Warning Systems. RAAS is designed to improve flight crew situational awareness, thereby reducing the risks of runway incursion, runway confusion and runway excursions.

Runway Awareness and Advisory System uses airport data stored in the EGPWS database, coupled with GPS and other onboard sensors, to monitor the movement of an aircraft around the airport. It provides visual/aural annunciations at critical points, such as "Approaching Runway 09 Left and confirmation when an aircraft is lined up on the runway prior to takeoff: for example, "On Runway 09 Right, 2,450 metres remaining." In a scenario where a crew inadvertently lines up on a parallel taxiway and commences a take off, an aural alert “On Taxiway, On Taxiway” is provided if the aircraft speed exceeds 40 kts. On approach and after touchdown, the system continues to announce the distance to go until the end of the runway is reached.

System Description

Advisories/cautions are generated based upon the current aircraft position as compared to the location of the airport runways, which are stored within the EGPWS Runway Database.

The aurals can be grouped into two categories:

  • Routine Advisories (annunciations the flight crew will hear during routine operations) and
  • Non-Routine Advisories/Cautions (annunciations the flight crew will seldom or perhaps never hear).

RAAS provides the flight crew with five ‘routine advisories'. Three of these annunciations will be heard by the crew in normal operations, providing increased position awareness relative to the runway during taxi and flight operations. They are intended to reduce the risk of a runway incursion. The two remaining ‘routine’ advisories provide information about the aircraft location along the runway, and are intended to reduce the risk of overruns. The five advisories are:

  • Approaching Runway - Airborne advisory provides the crew with awareness of which runway the aircraft is lined up with on approach.
  • Approaching Runway - On-Ground advisory provides the flight crew with awareness of approximate runway edge being approached by the aircraft during taxi operations.
  • On Runway - Advisory provides the crew with awareness of which runway the aircraft is lined-up with.
  • Distance Remaining - Advisories enhance crew awareness of aircraft along-track position relative to the runway end.
  • Runway End - Advisory is intended to improve flight crew awareness of the position of the aircraft relative to the runway end during low visibility conditions.

In addition, RAAS provides the flight crew with several ‘non-routine’ advisories/cautions. These annunciations are designed to enhance safety and situational awareness in specific situations not routinely encountered during normal aircraft operations. Some of the RAAS advisories include distance information. The unit of measure used for distance can be configured to be either metres or feet.

  • Approaching Short Runway - Airborne advisory provides the crew with awareness of which runway the aircraft is lined-up with, and that the runway length available may be marginal for normal landing operations. If desired, an additional caution annunciation can be enabled which provides the crew with awareness that the issue has not been resolved when the aircraft is on final approach.
  • Insufficient Runway Length - On-Ground advisory provides the crew with awareness of which runway the aircraft is lined-up with, and that the runway length available for takeoff is less than the defined minimum takeoff runway length. If desired, an additional caution annunciation can be enabled which provides the crew with awareness that the issue has not been resolved when the aircraft is on the final stage of takeoff.
  • Extended Holding on Runway - Advisory provides crew awareness of an extended holding period on the runway.
  • Taxiway Take-Off - Advisory enhances crew awareness of excessive taxi speeds or an inadvertent take-off on a taxiway. If desired, this function can provide a caution annunciation in lieu of an advisory annunciation.
  • Distance Remaining - Advisories provide the flight crew with position awareness during a Rejected Take Off (RTO).
  • Taxiway Landing - Alert provides the crew with awareness that the aircraft is not lined up with a runway at low altitudes.

Each RAAS function is independently enabled based on a customer specification and, when enabled, the RAAS functions operate automatically without any action required from the flight crew.

In addition to the aural annunciations provided, visual caution indications may be activated if the appropriate criteria are met. Visual text annunciations can also be configured so they are overlaid on the terrain display for a period of time after the warning is generated. 

Oct 4, 2021

With over 20 years of experience in the aviation industry as an educator, researcher, FAA Part 141 chief instructor, airline pilot, corporate pilot, and flight instructor, Chad is versed in the kinetic and dynamic challenges and changes in the aviation industry. His passion for aviation, education, background, research, and experiences are beneficial to industry start-ups, consulting firms, and aviation companies.

Chad was instrumental in obtaining the Part 141 certificate for Metropolitan State University of Denver's Aviation Department. As a result, Program graduates are eligible to obtain their Airline Transport Pilot certificate with 1,000 flight hours, compared to the 1,500 hours normally required.

Sep 30, 2021

Gold Star Mother’s and Family Day falls on September 26 this year and is traditionally observed on the last Sunday in September. The day is for honoring families of those who have received The Gold Star – the military award no one wants. The award commemorates the tragic death of a military member who has perished while in the line of duty and hopes to provide a level of comfort to the parents and families that are left behind. Since World War 1, a “Gold Star Family” has signified a family that has lost one of its members in combat. The family can display a Gold Star Service Flag for any military family members who have died from any honorable cause – each gold star on the flag signifies a death. Though today only around 1% of the country is involved in military service, as compared to the 12% during other times of war, like World War 2, there are still a significant number of surviving Gold Star families – not to mention, a Gold Star lives on in a family’s legacy.


Though the exact roots of the tradition aren’t totally known, it was during World War 1 that the gold star came to symbolize that a family member had fallen in battle. Around that time, the term “Gold Star Family” came to mean that you were a surviving family of a person who died in service and families hung banners with a gold star outside their homes. The tradition has since been authorized and seeks to ease the grief of mothers and families while reminding that no one truly serves alone.

Gradually, there came to be many ways for grieving family members to honor their loved ones with symbols worn or places outside the home. In 1918, President Wilson allowed grieving military mothers to wear a traditional black armband featuring a gold star. Soon after, it was approved for families to cover the blue star on the service flag outside of their home with a gold one. As of 1947, Gold Star family members can also display the Gold Star Lapel.

The American Gold Star Mothers Inc. first got its start in 1917, when Grace Siebold’s son was killed during World War 1. Wanting to create a support system for grieving mothers in similar circumstances, Grace gathered what would become the American Gold Star Mothers to grieve together and tend to hospitalized veterans in local hospitals. The organization was formalized as a non-profit in 1928, with a mission of remembrance, education, and patriotism. Still today, they support Gold Star mothers in their grief, hold an annual conference, and organize events with supporting groups.

Though Gold Star Mother’s and Family Day isn’t observed as a National, federal holiday like Memorial Day, it was declared by Congress in 1936 to be the last Sunday in September – though, at the time, it was only known as “Gold Star Mother’s Day.” It was in 2011 that President Obama amended the declaration, declaring the day to include families as well as mothers. Today, the holiday includes any immediate family member and authorizes that person to display the Gold Star Service Flag.

Today, America is not embroiled in any kind of conflict like World War 1 or 2, and far fewer individuals consider Gold Star heroes and their families – oftentimes, people may think that they don’t know anyone in a Gold Star Family. However, there are many more Gold Star families from previous wars than you may think, and since over 1.3 million people are involved in the military today, it’s possible you know a family that still grieves a recent fallen soldier. Understanding the sacrifice and acknowledging the holiday are the best ways to support the families and honor the soldiers.


1918 Armbands Authorized

President Wilson authorized mothers who had lost a child in the war to wear a traditional black mourning armband featuring a gold star.

1929 American Gold Star Mothers

Started in Washington, DC, The American Gold Star Mothers Inc. quickly spread across the country. In 1929, the organization obtained a federal charter to support mothers who were often separated from their ailing or dead children.

June 23, 1936 Gold Star Mother’s Day Recognized

Since this date, Gold Star Mother’s Day has always fallen on the last Sunday of September.

1947 Gold Star Lapel

The Gold Star Service Lapel, in addition to the Gold Star Service Flag, is authorized to be displayed by surviving family members.September 23, 2011.

Obama Proclamation

President Obama amended “Gold Star Mother’s Day” to include families as “Gold Star Mother’s and Family Day” on September 23, 2011.

Sep 28, 2021

Pondering this past year and our new normal, I realized lessons learned from ancient and modern battlefields can be used in so many areas of our lives. Sitting down one night, hundreds of stories and lessons learned flowed onto the notebook pages. Three close friends told me “Share these with the rest of us!” The Lessons from the Cockpit podcast was born.

Flying is described as long periods of boredom interrupted by short intermittent periods of extreme terror.

On the Lessons from the Cockpit show, we debrief the most intriguing pilots, aircrew members, maintainers, and aviation enthusiasts, investigating their tactics, techniques, and procedures cultivated during extraordinary military, commercial, and private flight operations.

Our exploration gives practical advice on how the aviation world works and expands critical thinking skills in the air and on the ground.

Many of our guests were involved in front-page headline news, others in events taking great pains to ensure they didn’t end up in the news.  

Sep 24, 2021

From Code 7700:

  • Fatigue. Fatigue refers to a physiological state in which there is a decreased capacity to perform cognitive tasks and an increased variability in performance as a function of time on task. Fatigue is also associated with tiredness, weakness, lack of energy, lethargy, depression, lack of motivation, and sleepiness.
  • Sleep Inertia. Sleep inertia (also termed sleep drunkenness) refers to a period of impaired performance and reduced vigilance following awakening from the regular sleep episode or nap. This impairment may be severe, last from minutes to hours, and be accompanied by micro-sleep episodes.
  • Window of Circadian Low (WOCL). Individuals living on a regular 24-hour routine with sleep at night have two periods of maximum sleepiness, also known as “WOCLs.” One occurs at night, roughly from 3 a.m. to 5 a.m., a time when physiological sleepiness is greatest and performance capabilities are lowest. The other is in the afternoon, roughly from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m.

Sleep-Related Processes

[AC 120-100, ¶7.]

  1. Sleep Regulation. The drive for sleep increases over time since the last sleep period and with any cumulative deficit in sleep relative to the average 8-hour day requirement. As a consequence, the sleep drive is at its lowest point in the morning, upon awakening, and as the day progresses, the drive to sleep increases and the ability to sustain attention and engage in cognitive activities decreases. Once sleep begins, this drive gradually decreases until awakening.
  2. Elevated Sleep Drive. For the average person, the daily upswing in alertness produced by the circadian system tends to offset the decrease in alertness produced by depletion of the sleep regulatory process. The result is roughly constant reaction time and lapses during the first 16 hours of the day 85. After about 16 hours of continuous wakefulness, most adults begin to notice reductions in the speed of performance and in alertness levels 87. However, a prior history of insufficient sleep quantity and quality can magnify the changes in behavior and alertness.
  3. Desynchronization. The timing of sleep and wakefulness of most humans, under natural conditions, is consistent with the circadian control of the sleep cycle and all other circadian-controlled rhythms. However, people working in a developed society override their internal biological clock and attempt to sleep at times that are not always consistent with the biological drive to sleep. For example, when individuals travel rapidly across time zones or work the night shift, the sleep/wake cycle is out of phase with the biological rhythms controlled by the circadian clock. This can adversely affect both alertness while awake and at work, and the ability to achieve restorative sleep.
  4. Sleep Inertia. This sleep-related process causes a temporary degradation in performance immediately after awakening. The degradation or loss of alertness is dependent on depth of sleep at the time of awakening. The degradation dissipates, after awakening, on a time scale ranging from minutes to a few hours. Sleep inertia causes a feeling of drowsiness or lethargy and can be measured as a noticeable change in reaction time and potential for lapses in attention. The duration and severity of sleep inertia is related to the depth of sleep at the time of awakening. It tends to be greater after short sleep periods of an hour or two, when the need for sleep is not fully satisfied, or after sleep when the person is carrying a large sleep debt from prior sleep restrictions 10.

Fatigue Factors


Figure: Window of circadian low, from Duty/Rest Guidelines for Business Aviation, §1.0.

[Duty/Rest Guidelines for Business Aviation, §1.0]

1.1 Sleep

  • Sleep is a vital physiological need. Sleep is necessary to maintain alertness and performance, positive mood, and overall health and well-being. Each individual has a basic sleep requirement that sustains optimal levels of performance and physiological alertness during wakefulness. On average, an adult requires eight hours of sleep in a 24-hour period.
  • It has been shown in laboratory studies that loss of as little as two hours of sleep will induce fatigue and degrade subsequent waking performance and alertness. Over successive days, sleep loss — any amount less than is required — will accrue into a cumulative sleep deficit commonly referred to as a "sleep debt." The physiological need for sleep created by sleep loss can be reversed only by sleep. Recovery from acute sleep loss takes one or two consecutive extended sleep periods. These extended sleep periods will be even longer if a person is suffering from a cumulative sleep debt. An individual who has obtained ample recovery sleep will be better prepared to perform after long hours awake or while working nonstandard schedules than a person who is operating with a sleep debt.

1.2 Recovery Periods

  • Recovery from acute or cumulative sleep loss is critical when a person is challenged with non-standard schedules that include extended periods of wakefulness (e.g., extended duty periods) or circadian disruption (scheduled sleep/wake periods that are misaligned with the body's circadian rhythm, described in Section 1.3). Recovery is necessary to reduce the accumulated effects of fatigue and enable an individual to perform assigned duties fully rested. Further, recovery periods should allow for recuperative sleep opportunities of an appropriate number of hours and, in some cases, an appropriate number of successive days (as noted in Section 1.1).
  • Placement of recovery sleep periods is crucial and can be especially challenging when schedules include changing time zones because individuals may experience circadian misalignment. Westward travel is often associated with waking up too early in relation to the local time zone, and eastward travel is associated with delay in falling asleep in relation to the local time zone. (See Section 1.3 for further discussion.)
  • Another challenge an individual may experience when planning recovery rest is adaptation to time zone shifts (jet lag), as discussed in Section 1.3. Many operational factors impact the scheduling of recovery periods, and a simple rule may not fully account for the role that individual differences play in recovery. It is known that meeting daily sleep requirements and using restorative breaks promote optimal performance and alertness.
  • Frequent recovery periods reduce cumulative fatigue more effectively than less frequent ones. For example, weekly recovery periods are more likely to relieve acute fatigue than monthly recovery periods. Consequently, guidelines that ensure a minimum number of days off per week are necessary for minimizing cumulative fatigue effects over longer periods of time (e.g., month, year).

Time-of-Day and Circadian Physiology

  • Time-of-day or circadian effects are important considerations in determining 24-hour operational requirements because circadian rhythms do not adjust rapidly to change. In fact, the rhythms of many physiological functions adjust at different rates.
  • There is a 24-hour biological "clock" in the human brain, as in other organisms, that regulates 24-hour patterns of body functions. This clock controls not only sleep and wakefulness alternating in parallel with the environmental light/dark cycle, but also the oscillatory nature of most physiological, psychological and behavioral functions. The wide range of body functions controlled by the clock includes body temperature, hormone secretion, digestion, physical and mental performance, mood and many others. On a 24-hour basis, these functions fluctuate in a regular pattern with a high level at one time of day and a low level at another time.
  • The clock's circadian (circa meaning "around," dies meaning "day") pattern of wakefulness and sleep programs the human body for wakefulness during the day and sleep at night. This circadian system repeats this pattern on a daily basis. Certain hours of the 24-hour cycle — that is, roughly 0200 to 0600 (for individuals adapted to a usual day-wake/night-sleep schedule), called the window of circadian low (WOCL) — are identified as a time when the body is programmed to sleep, and during which alertness and performance are degraded. There is a second, less pronounced, period of reduced alertness between 1500 and 1700. The body is also programmed for two periods of enhanced alertness and performance, and these periods are estimated to occur roughly between 0900 and 1100 and again between 2100 and 2300.
  • Non-standard schedules interrupt daily wake and sleep patterns, resulting in internal circadian disruption. For example, an individual working during the night is maintaining wakefulness in direct opposition to physiological programming to be asleep. Physiological, psychological and behavior al functions are set by the circadian system to a low status during the WOCL and a person cannot compensate by being awake and active. Conversely, the same individual sleeping during the day is in direct opposition to physiological programming to be awake. The circadian system provides a high level of functioning during the day that counteracts the drive to sleep.
  • Circadian disruption also occurs with jet lag. When the biological clock is not aligned with the external environment's time cues, desynchronization occurs both in relation to the external environment and among the various internal physiological functions. Such circadian disruptions can lead to acute sleep loss, sleep debt, decrements in performance and alertness, and various health problems (e.g., gastrointestinal).
  • Scientists agree there is no simple equation to determine the rate of circadian adjustment in any one individual. Numerous factors play a role, such as number of time zones crossed, direction of travel, amount and timing of light exposure, morning/evening types, and long sleepers vs. short sleepers. While one study in the 1970s on non-pilot volunteers suggests that when adjusting to eastbound travel, circadian rhythms adjust at a rate of 1.0 hour per day and when traveling westbound, the adjustment rate is 1.5 hours per day, this has not been confirmed with additional scientific study.

1.4 Continuous Waking Hours

  • Extended wakefulness and prolonged periods of continuous performance or vigilance on a task will result in sleepiness and fatigue. Across duty periods, these effects can accumulate further. One way to minimize the accumulation of these effects is to limit the length of a duty period (i.e., the continuous hours of wakefulness during operations). Acute effects can be addressed through daily duty limits, and cumulative effects can be minimized by weekly limits.
  • More scientific evidence is available to support guidelines for acute limits than for determining specific cumulative limits. Nevertheless, cumulative limits (weekly and beyond) remain an accepted operational approach for minimizing accumulation of fatigue effects.

1.5 Individual Differences

  • There are considerable individual differences in the magnitude of fatigue effects on performance, physiological alertness and subjective reports of fatigue. These differences extend to the effects of sleep loss, night work, required sleep and recovery time for an individual.
  • Individuals vary from one another in sleep requirement, overall health, age and other factors. Individuals' fatigue level can also vary from day to day based on their participation in activities that contribute to fatigue while on duty and prior to a duty period. In this regard, long-duration commutes immediately before a duty period are of concern.
  • Scientists agree that increased workload amplifies the performance degradation produced by extended hours of wakefulness and adverse circadian phase (that is, being awake during the WOCL). And individuals respond differently to the effects of workload. In aviation, workload factors can include the number of flight segments, time on task, airport characteristics, weather conditions, aircraft capabilities and other environmental conditions.

Sources of Pilot Fatigue

[Caldwell, pg. 6] Both long-haul and short-haul pilots commonly associate fatigue with scheduling issues

  • Night flights (operating at circadian low point)
  • Multiple time-zone crossings (jet lag)
  • Early wake ups (truncated sleep)
  • Time pressure (increased workload)
  • Multiple flight legs (extended work periods)
  • Consecutive duty periods without sufficient recovery time (chronic sleep loss)

Symptoms of Pilot Fatigue

[Caldwell, pg. 9]

  • Accuracy and timing degrade
  • Lower standards of performance become acceptable
  • Attentional resources are difficult to divide
  • A tendency toward preservation develops
  • The ability to integrate information is lost
  • Everything becomes more difficult to perform
  • Social interactions decline
  • The ability to logically reason is impaired
  • Attention wanes
  • Attitude and mood deteriorates
  • Involuntary lapses into sleep begin to occur

Effects of Pilot Fatigue


Figure: In-cockpit nodding off episodes, from Caldwell, pg. 16.

[Caldwell, pg. 16.]

  • A study of night flights undertaken in the 1980’s revealed numerous instances of nodding off in the cockpit
  • In the early morning hours, the frequency of such lapses increased tenfold
  • Note than many of these occur well after sunrise!

[Caldwell, pg. 18.]

  • Standardized laboratory tests show decrements in pilots’ attention, reaction time, and accuracy
  • Fatigue-induced mood changes compromise crew resource management
  • Flight simulation and in-flight studies show deteriorations in fundamental flight skills
  • And the group effects fail to highlight the full extent of impairments experienced by some pilots
Sep 20, 2021

Robert DeLaurentis, “Zen Pilot,” is a successful author, speaker, pilot, real estate entrepreneur, philanthropist and Navy Gulf War Veteran. His books include the best-selling Zen Pilot: Flight of the Passion and the Journey Within; Flying Thru Life: How to Grow Your Business and Relationships Through Applied Spirituality; and the forthcoming, Citizen of the World: To the Ends of the Earth and Beyond.

In 2019, Robert will undertake his second circumnavigation, this time from the North Pole to the South Pole in the “Citizen of the World,” a 1983 Turbine Commander 900 aircraft with the powerful global mission of “One Planet, One People, One Plane: Oneness for Humanity.” This trip is a real-time example of going after the seemingly impossible, not giving up while “Flying Thru Life” and making the dream of connecting our humanity through flight a reality.

Founder and president of the inspirational publishing company Flying Thru Life and the charitable organization, DeLaurentis Foundation, Robert’s mission is to inspire people and organizations to live their impossibly big dreams through the wonder of aviation and the power of courageous action.

A notable pilot listed in Wikipedia, Robert has flown his single engine Piper Malibu Mirage to 53 countries and territories in three years, including Europe, Central America, Southern Africa, Asia, Siberia, Mexico and the Caribbean. Flying solo, Robert has crossed the Polar Ice Cap, the North Atlantic Ocean, Bering Sea and Gulf of Mexico.
In 2015, Robert successfully completed an equatorial circumnavigation, single plane, single engine, single pilot, across the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian Oceans to 23 countries in his Piper Malibu Mirage named “Spirit of San Diego.” He survived an engine-out at 14,000 feet over the Strait of Malacca and dead sticked 19.6 nautical miles into Kuala Lumpur International with 600 pounds of fuel in the cabin and oil spraying on the 1500 degree exhaust. He lived to tell the story in his best-selling book, Zen Pilot.

In recognition of his courage, resourcefulness and contribution to the San Diego community, the San Diego Mayor’s Office and City Council awarded Robert the “Spirit of San Diego Day” Proclamation.

An AOPA (Aircraft Owners and Pilot Association) Opinion Leader Blogger with 400,000 followers and more than 100 media interviews, Robert is a recognized social media influencer. In addition to his media and speaking appearances and books, he has recorded the video, Overcoming the Fear of Flying, Unleashing Potential, to be released to 26,000 high schools across the US and created the Citizen of the World Pole to Pole Flight Coloring and Activity Book for children of all ages.

Robert’s real estate business, Innorev Enterprises, Inc., includes over 300 real estate units, acquired over twenty-eight years. Starting with one condo in 1990, his road to success, much like flying, was not a straight path. The lessons he learned and the success he experienced along the way funded his dream of becoming a pilot and owning a plane, and is the basis of his book, Flying Thru Life.

Robert has an undergraduate degree in Accounting from USC, and an advanced degree in graduate studies in Spiritual Psychology, a three year program with an emphasis in Consciousness, Health, and Healing from the University of Santa Monica.
Robert was in the Navy for 14 years – four years active duty and 10 years reserves, leaving in 2003 as a Lieutenant Commander.
Born in Salamanca, New York, Robert grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area until he was 10 years old, followed by three years in Indonesia. His family returned back to the Bay Area, where Robert lived until attending college at USC. After his initial tour with the Navy, he settled in San Diego where he currently resides. However, watch his Google Map to find out where he is flying to today!

Sep 17, 2021

POW/MIA Recognition Day is observed on the third Friday of September, on September 17 this year, to recommit to full accountability to the families of the more than 80,000 veterans captured or still missing from wars that the United States has participated in. According to accounts, during the first ceremony of POW/MIA Day at the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C., fighter airplanes from the military base in Virginia flew in the ‘missing man formation’ in their honor.


National POW/MIA Recognition Day is observed annually in September around a central theme to show commitment to full accountability to the families of captured service members and missing war heroes.

The term POW and MIA mean prisoner of war and military personnel who went missing in action.

Many service members suffered as prisoners during the several wars that have happened throughout the history of the U.S. National POW/MIA Recognition Day was initiated as the day to commemorate with the family of many of the tens of thousands of service members who never made it home.

The day was first observed in 1979 after Congress and the president passed a resolution to make it official following the demands of the families of 2,500 Vietnam War POW/MIAs who asked for accountability in finding their loved is also mostly associated with service members who were prisoners of war during the Vietnam War.

Regardless of where they are held in the country, National POW/MIA Recognition Day ceremonies share the common purpose of honoring those who were held captive and returned, as well as the memory of those who remain missing in service to the United States.

Until 1979, there was no formal day set aside for these important men and women and the first observance of POW/MIA day included a remembrance ceremony at the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C. Since then, the Pentagon is where the official observance happens, with other celebrations happening at military bases around the country and elsewhere.

On the Ready For Takeoff Podcast, we've had the honor of speaking to the following POWs:

Lee Ellis

Smitty and Louise Harris 

John Borling

Charlie Plumb

Robert Shumaker

Sep 13, 2021

The term The Greatest Generation was popularized by the title of a 1998 book by American journalist Tom Brokaw. In the book, Brokaw profiled American members of this generation who came of age during the Great Depression and went on to fight in World War II, as well as those who contributed to the war effort on the home front. Brokaw wrote that these men and women fought not for fame or recognition, but because it was the "right thing to do."

I have had the honor of interviewing numerous members of this generation, pilots who bravely served in World War Two. Many people are not aware that casualties in the war were higher among aircrews than among Marines.

The people who served during World War II were from a different generation, at a time when patriotism was the order of the day and national service was expected and respected. Major movie stars put their careers on hold to serve their country. Athletes like Ted Williams continued to serve in Korea.

Today, the environment is different. There is no longer a draft. Military service is totally voluntary. As a result, only 1 percent of Americans new serve in the military.

I believe that the military members of today are truly the greatest generation. A perfect example of this is Pat Tilman, who gave up his four million dollar salary to serve his country.

I recently worked with a retired Marine pilot who had served two years in Iraq and five years in Afghanistan.

Sep 9, 2021

Attempting to crash an aircraft into a building was not an entirely new

paradigm. Despite Secretary Rice stating, “I don't think anybody could have

predicted that they would try to use an airplane as a missile” (Brush, 2002, para.

24), there had been numerous prior attempts to utilize aircraft in this manner

(CNN, 2001). In addition, there had been a significant number of warnings

suicide hijackings posed a serious threat.

In 1972, hijackers of Southern Airways Flight 49 threatened to crash the

airliner into Oak Ridge National Laboratory if a $10 million ransom was not paid

(CNN, 2001). Copilot Johnson reported, “The demands at Knoxville were that if

we didn't have the money by 1:00 that we'd crash into the nuclear reactor there”

(CNN Transcripts, 2001, para. 151). The hijacked airliner was placed in a dive

toward Oak Ridge, and was only pulled out of the dive at the last minute when

Southern Airways agreed to pay $2 million to the hijackers (Allison, 2004).

In 1974, S. Byck attempted to hijack a Delta Airlines DC-9 aircraft to

crash it into the White House (Cohen, 2009). During the hijacking, Byck killed a

security guard and the copilot before committing suicide after being wounded by

police. Also in 1974, Private R. Preston stole an Army helicopter and flew over

the White House and hovered for six minutes over the lawn outside the West

Wing, raising concerns about a suicide attack (White House Security Review,


Following the 1993 attack on the World Trade Center, Jenkins and

Edwards-Winslow (2003) conducted an exhaustive threat analysis for the World

Trade Center. They concluded that an aerial attack by crashing an aircraft into the

Center was a remote possibility which must be considered. Reports indicated Iran

was training pilots to hijack airplanes and fly them into buildings: “Trained

aircrews from among the terrorists would crash the airliner into a selected

objective” (Bodansky, 1993, p. 15). Senator S. Nunn was concerned terrorists

would attempt to crash a radio-controlled airplane into the Capitol during a State

of the Union address, possibly killing the President, Vice President, and all of

Congress (Nelan, 1995).

In 1994, four Algerian terrorists attempted to hijack Air France Flight

8969 (Air Safety Week, 1995). The group, identified as Phalange of the Signers

in Blood, killed one of the passengers, planted explosives on the plane, and

planned to crash the aircraft into the Eiffel Tower (Bazerman & Watkins, 2005).

French police stormed the aircraft and stopped the hijacking. R. Yousef, the

architect of the first World Trade Center attack, was associated with these

Algerian terrorists (Lance, 2003).

Another attempted airliner suicide hijacking occurred in 1994. Flight

Engineer A. Calloway boarded Federal Express Flight 705 as an additional jump

seat crewmember, intending to overpower the crew and crash the DC-10 aircraft

into the Federal Express corporate headquarters in Memphis (CVR Database,

1994). Calloway attacked the flight deck crew with a hammer, inflicting serious,

permanent disabling injuries to all three pilots (Wald, 2001).

On September 11, 1994, F. Corder attempted to crash an aircraft into the

White House (Wald, 2001). Experts had been concerned the White House was

highly vulnerable to an attack from the air (Duffy, 1994). Former CIA director R.

Helms expressed concern a suicidal pilot could easily divert from an approach to

Washington to crash into the White House (Duffy, 1994).

In 1995, FBI informant E. Salem revealed a Sudanese Air Force pilot’s

plot to bomb the Egyptian President’s home and then crash an aircraft into the

U.S. Embassy (Berger, 2004). Salem also testified about Project Bojinka, which,

in addition to the aforementioned bombing of 11 American aircraft, included

crashing an airplane into CIA headquarters. In addition to CIA headquarters, this

second Bojinka wave was planned to target the Pentagon, an unidentified nuclear

power plant, the Transamerica Building in San Francisco, the Sears Tower in

Chicago, the World Trade Center, John Hancock Tower in Boston, U.S. Congress,

and the White House (Brzenzinski, 2001).

McNeil (1996) noted in 1996, Ethiopian Airlines flight 961 was hijacked

and an attempt was made to crash into a resort in the Comoros Islands. At the last

moment, the pilot overpowered the hijacker and ditched the fuel-starved airplane

into the Indian Ocean near the coast. Of the 175 passengers, 123 died (AirSafe

Journal, 2001). Also in 1996, M. Udugov, a Chechen leader, threatened to hijack

a Russian airliner and crash it into the Kremlin (Cohen, 2002).

In 1998, White House Terrorism Chief R. Clarke conducted a training

exercise to simulate a Learjet intentionally crashing into a government building

(Kaplan, 2004). Clarke considered the exercise unsatisfactory (Kaplan, 2002). In

a 1998 briefing to the FAA, three terrorism experts were concerned terrorists

would hijack airliners and crash into buildings in the United States (Fainaru,


In 1998 the Kaplancilar terrorist organization had planned to crash an

explosives-laden plane into the tomb of M. Ataturk, Turkey’s founder (Anadolu

Agency, 2006). The entire Turkish government was gathered at the mausoleum

for a ceremony on the day scheduled for the attack. The plot was foiled and the

conspirators were arrested shortly before execution of the plan (Anadolu Agency,


In addition to actual aircraft suicide attacks, there were numerous

predictions of these types of attacks. One such prediction was the script which

showed an airliner crashing into New York in the 1980s movie Escape from New

York (“Kamikaze Jet Hijacking,” n.d.). Another prediction was in the March 2001

pilot episode of the Fox series The Lone Gunmen, featuring a hijacked Boeing 727

used as a missile to crash into the World Trade Center (Killtown, 2009).

In 1999, the British Secret Service MI6 provided the U.S. Embassy in

London with a secret report on al Qaeda activities (Rufford, 2002). The report

indicated al Qaeda was planning to use commercial aircraft to attack the United

States. The report stated the aircraft would be used in “unconventional ways”

(Rufford, 2006, para. 1).

In a report prepared for the Federal Research Division of the Library of

Congress, Hudson (1999) noted numerous terrorist threats, and specifically named

bin Laden and al Qaeda: “Suicide bomber(s) belonging to al-Qaida’s Martyrdom

Battalion could crash-land an aircraft packed with high explosives (C-4 and

semtex) into the Pentagon, the headquarters of the Central Intelligence Agency

(CIA), or the White House” (p. 7). A 1999 keynote address at the National

Defense University warned terrorists might attempt to use unmanned aerial

vehicles (UAVs) to attack buildings (Hoffman, 2001). Security consultant C.

Schnabolk had remarked, in 2000, the most serious threat to the World Trade

Center was someone flying a plane into it (Reeves, 2001).

Sep 6, 2021

This is a special Labor Day and Rosh Hashanah gift for our listeners.

This is a fictional account, taken from Hamfist Down!, the sequel to Hamfist Over the Trail. Available soon as an audiobook.

Strong language!

December 21, 1969

I was scheduled for my Champagne Flight – my final mission – in the morning. Things had been uncharacteristically quiet on the trail for several days, and I wanted to get some target photos for Intel to find out what was going on. Also, I wanted some photos of the AO as a memento of my Vietnam tour.

The O-2 actually had the provision for a belly-mounted KB-18 aerial camera, but we didn't have any KB-18s at DaNang. So, if we wanted to take photos, we relied on hand-held cameras. There were a bunch of beat up old Nikon Fs at the squadron, but they were really heavy and difficult to use with one hand. It was really tough to fly and take pictures at the same time.

Then, about two weeks earlier, we got new cameras, Pentax Spotmatics with motor drives. Each camera had a pistol-grip mount with a trigger to activate the shutter, and the focus was set at “infinity”, so there would be no problem with single-hand operation. I was really looking forward to giving them a try. I signed one out on a hand receipt and carried it to the plane.

Task Force Alpha had provided Igloo White information from the seismic sensors that indicated a lot of truck activity along highway 165, near Chavane. I headed directly to the Chavane area to see if I could find anything.

Chavane was an old abandoned grass airfield. Reflectors still lined the edges of the runway, and it almost looked like it could support aircraft operations at any moment. I'd heard that it was an old Japanese airfield from World War II.

There was a dead truck parked out in the open, off to the south side of the east end of the runway. About a year ago, it had been used as a flak trap for unsuspecting FACs, but the word had been out for a long time and nobody paid any attention to it any more. There were no longer active guns, that we knew of, in the area.

I followed highway 165 away from the airfield, and kept my camera on the seat next to me, ready to use if I found anything of interest. I put the highway on the left side of the airplane, and made gentle turns right and left. It was during the left turns that I would be able to see gomer activity, if there was any. The gomers thought we always looked ahead of the airplane, and they would frequently conduct their movements after we passed, thinking we couldn't see them once they were behind the wing. 

Sure enough, back at my seven o'clock, I saw a truck cross the road, from the cover of the jungle on one side of the road to the cover of the jungle on the other side. I kept my eyes on the exact location and began a steeper turn back toward that area. 

I picked out a distinctive landmark, a small bend in the road, and then looked further away to see if there were any other landmarks that could point my eyes back to the target. I used the runway at Chavane for a yardstick. The target was exactly one runway length north of the east end of the runway. The bend in the road sort of pointed to the target. Okay, now I could leave the immediate target area and find my way back.

I flew off to the east and set up an orbit over an area a few klicks away, to make the gomers think I was interested in something else. I turned on the gyro-stabilized binoculars, locked onto the target area, and zoomed in to the highest setting.

Sure enough, I saw some vehicle tracks in the dirt alongside the road that indicated truck activity. I was pretty sure there was a truck park there, I just couldn't determine which side of the road it was on. I flew back to the target area and made a wide sweeping circle, taking pictures from every angle. If I couldn't get any air assets, I would at least have photos to give to Intel.

I switched my transmitter over to VHF and called Hillsboro.

“Hillsboro, Covey 218, vicinity Delta 33. I have a truck park and need air.”

“Roger, Covey 218, we're sending Sharkbait 41 to you, flight of two fox fours, CBU-24s and mark-82s. ETA 10 minutes. Strike frequency Echo.”

“Roger, thank you.”

I looked forward to working with Sharkbait Flight. Sharkbait was the callsign of the F-4s from Cam Ranh Air Base. When I was at the Cam Ranh hospital, I went by the F-4 squadron a few times, just to visit with the jocks. I got to know a few of them, and they showed me around one of the airplanes in the maintenance hangar. Sitting in the cockpit convinced me that I really ought to request an F-4 for my follow-on assignment. That really worked out well!

I switched my UHF to strike frequency Echo and waited. After a few minutes, the F-4s arrived at the rendezvous.

“Sharkbait, check.”


“Hello, Covey 218, Sharkbait 41, flight of two fox fours at the rendezvous point. Mark-82s and CBU-24s. Angels twenty-two. Twenty minutes playtime.”

“Roger Sharkbait. Look due south, at angels seven. I'm giving you a wing flash now.”

I rocked my wings several times and performed a quick aileron roll. The O-2 wasn't really an acrobatic aircraft, but an aileron roll wasn't all that much different than the maneuver we needed to perform a rocket pass. And I wanted to get my rocks off one last time.

“We have you in sight, Covey.”

“Roger, the target area is off my left wing. Truck park. Negative reaction so far. I'm in for the mark.”

I rolled into a 120-degree bank to the left and pulled the nose of my aircraft through into a 30-degree dive. When the pipper in my gun sight tracked up to the target, I fired off a willie pete. I pulled off hard to the right, then banked left to see where my mark hit. It was a perfect mark, right on the road adjacent to my target.

“Sharkbait has your mark in sight.”

“Okay, Sharkbait, the target is a truck park on both sides of the road, alongside my mark. I want you to run in with mark-82s from north to south, with a break to the west. Lead, put your bombs in the trees next to my mark. Either side of the road. Two, I want you to take the other side of the road. I'll be holding off to the east.”

“Sharkbait lead is in.”

Sharkbait lead put his bombs exactly where I wanted, and we immediately got huge secondary explosions. As lead pulled off target, there was heavy fire at his aircraft from a ZSU 23-4, located about a klick to the west of the target.

I transmitted, “Number two, hold high and dry. I want to put you in on that gun. Do you have the location, or do you want me to mark?”

Before number two could answer, lead came back on the radio.

“Sharkbait lead's been hit.”

I immediately got on the radio again, “Lead, head south, I repeat, head south. Number two, hold high and dry.”

Sharkbait two acknowledged.


Sharkbait lead had apparently heard me, he was heading south. I could see flames trailing from lead's aircraft, and they were moving forward, gradually engulfing the entire aircraft.

I was fairly sure lead knew he was on fire, but I didn't want to take any chances. “Sharkbait lead, you're on fire!”

Now burning pieces were separating from lead's aircraft.

Lead came on the radio one last time.

“Sharkbait lead bailing out.”

Sharkbait lead's aircraft was in a slight bank to the right, at about 5000 feet. The rear canopy separated, followed immediately by the ejection of the rear seat pilot. About a half-second later, the front canopy separated and the front seat pilot ejected. 

I was able to keep both ejection seats in sight, and watched in horror as the back seat pilot separated from his seat, his parachute automatically deployed, and the parachute didn't open – it was a streamer. He plummeted down into the jungle. There was no beeper.

I looked at the front pilot's seat and watched him separate. As his chute opened, I heard his high-to-low-sweep beeper on Guard. The front-seater had a good chute. I set up an orbit to the east and watched him descend, as I selected VHF and called Hillsboro.

“Mayday, mayday, mayday. Hillsboro, this is Covey 218, we have Sharkbait lead down in the area of Delta 33. Need immediate SAR.”

“Roger, Covey 218, we are notifying King.”

I switched back to UHF.

“Sharkbait two, say playtime remaining.”

“I can give you 30 minutes, then I need to RTB. Listen, Covey, we need to get a SAR for lead.”

“I'm working on it.”

“I mean,” he responded, “we really need to get lead picked up.”

“Roger, hold high and dry off to the east, over me. Climb to your best endurance altitude and let me know your angels when you get there. Left hand orbit. We're going to need to use you to go after that gun when SAR gets here.”


I watched the front-seat pilot descend to the ground. He landed in an open meadow. At least he wasn't hung up in the trees. I saw him release from his parachute harness and head south to find cover. Right after he disappeared into the tree line, the beeper went silent and he came up on Guard, using his survival radio.

“This is Sharkbait 41 Alpha. I'm on the move heading south. Unhurt.”

I saw about twenty gomers entering the meadow from the north. I went to Guard frequency.

“Sharkbait 41 Alpha, Covey 218, you need to keep moving. There are gomers north of you heading to where you came down.”


Back to strike frequency Echo.

“Sharkbait 42, Covey 218. I need to put you in with your CBU on the meadow. I'm in for the mark.”


I rolled in and put a willie pete dead center in the meadow. The gomers had flooded in and were now everywhere.

“Hit my mark. Cleared in hot with one CBU from any direction. I'll be off to the east.”

“Two's in.”

I watched Sharkbait 42 release his CBU, saw the spark that indicated the canister opened, then saw the donut-shaped sparkling pattern, right on target. I put the gyro-stabilized binoculars on the target area and saw a bunch of dead bodies. But I saw some gomers still moving through the meadow, headed south. And more were entering the meadow.

“Okay two, I need you to keep making passes on that target until you're winchester CBU.”

“Two's in.”

Sharkbait 42 made three more passes on the meadow, all right on target. There were a bunch of dead gomers. But there were still more coming in from the north.

Just then the ZSU 23-4 opened up again, this time targeting me. I jinked out of the way without too much trouble. I was getting good at dodge ball.

If I had to, I'd put Sharkbait 42 in on the gun now, but I wanted to reserve his mark-82s for the SAR. I went over to VHF.

“Hillsboro, Covey 218, what's the status of the SAR?”

“Covey 218, Jolly 22 is departing NKP now with Spad 11 Flight. ETA 30 minutes.”

“Roger, I need more air for the cap right now. I don't care what ordnance. I want them ASAP.”

“We're scrambling Dingus Flight from Ubon. They should be there in fifteen to twenty minutes.”

Shit. It looked like the gomers would be on top of Alpha before my air arrived.

Over to Guard.

“Four-one Alpha, say your position.”

“I'm still moving south. I hear automatic weapons fire coming from where I landed. I'm at the edge of a tree line now, alongside what looks like an old grass strip.”

“Okay Alpha, Covey 218. Cross the strip and hide in the tree line on the other side, the south side.”


Strike Frequency Echo.

“Sharkbait 42, I need to put your mark-82s on the tree line, north side of the midfield of that grass strip. Do you have the strip in sight?”


“Okay, hold high and dry until I call you in. Be ready to roll in on short notice.”


I checked out the tree line on the north side of the runway. No gomers yet. I kept checking, and after a few minutes the gomers appeared. I could see flashes. They were firing at Alpha.

“Sharkbait 42 roll in now, parallel to the runway, in the tree line, midfield, north side. North side only.”

“Two's in.”

His bombs were right on target. He held for a few more minutes, then made another run. And another.

“Sharkbait two is winchester.”

“Any chance you have twenty mike-mike?” I was hoping he had a cannon, but I already knew what the answer would be.

“Negative. Sharkbait 42 is bingo.”

“Roger, Sharkbait, cleared RTB. I'll pass BDA over the landline.”

Back to VHF.

“Hillsboro, I need those fighters and SAR, NOW”

There was a short pause. My guess was that Hillsboro was contacting Jolly and Dingus.

“Ten more minutes.”

Fuck! We didn't have ten minutes. The gomers were everywhere in the north tree line, muzzle flashes everywhere. I still had 12 willie petes left. Time to become an attack aircraft.

I rolled in on a rocket pass down the runway, angling in slightly toward the north. I fired off one willie pete at a time, and made 12 passes. 

I was now a war criminal.

The Geneva Convention prohibited the use of white phosphorous weapons. The willie pete rocket explodes with the lethal radius of a hand grenade, and the phosphorous sticks to the skin and burns at a temperature of five thousand degrees. It's terrible. It's illegal.

So is skinning a helpless captive. Or shooting at someone descending in a parachute. Or setting up a flak trap. Or shooting rockets at helpless South Vietnamese civilians. 

And besides, we were fighting a fucking war in Laos, where our government didn't even acknowledge our presence. Every fucking mission got logged as “South Vietnam”. We weren't even there, so the Geneva Convention wouldn't apply. And if it did, I didn't give a fuck. I wasn't going to let those bastards get Alpha.

I was out of willie petes, and SAR was still eight or nine minutes away.

Over to Guard.

“How are you doing, Alpha?”

“The gomers have me pinned down on the south side of the runway. They're shooting at me from across the runway and also from somewhere south of me.”

I had to do something. I climbed to 5000 feet and feathered my rear prop. Then I released my lap belt and moved to the passenger seat, opened the passenger door, and pulled the red door release handle. With the rear prop feathered, I didn't need to worry about the door hitting the rear prop as I jettisoned it. As soon as the door was gone, I unfeathered the rear prop, and the engine started right up.

I opened the karabiner that attached my AR-15 to my survival vest, put the rifle in full auto, and pushed the throttles to the firewall to fly down the runway at max airspeed. I went down to about five feet, screaming down the runway, firing my AR-15 out the open door at the north tree line. I emptied the 20-round clip in about a second. Shit! I should have used short bursts.

I pulled up into a chandelle, put another magazine in the AR-15, and made another run,. This time I was shooting out the left window. It was a smaller opening to shoot through, but it would have to do. Ejected shell casings hammered against the instrument panel. The glass on the Vertical Speed Indicator cracked. I didn't care.

Over to VHF. 

“Status on the SAR.”

“Five more minutes.”

“We don't have five fucking minutes!”

If I didn't get Alpha out of there right now, there would be no use having a SAR.

Over to Guard.

“Alpha, how high is the grass on the runway?”

“Not very high. Maybe eight, ten inches.”

“Okay, get ready to go for an airplane ride.”

I jettisoned my rocket pods and dove for the ground. I needed to get as low as I could as I approached the runway, so they wouldn't see me coming. I unsynchronized my propellers, so that the engines would make a beat frequency sound, making it more difficult to determine my location by ear.

I came in from the west. As I crossed over the end of the strip, I put down the landing gear and pulled the throttles to idle. I touched down a third of the way down the runway, and rapidly slowed to a crawl right at midfield. I suppose the gomers were totally surprised, because there was no ground fire. None. Alpha came running from the tree line and leaped through the open door into the passenger seat while the plane was still moving. 

I firewalled the throttles and hoped I still knew how to perform a soft-field takeoff. I got airborne and stayed in ground effect, trying to accelerate.

The gomers quickly caught on to what I was doing, and opened up from the tree lines, both left and right, with massive automatic weapons fire. I could hear our aircraft taking a few hits, but it was still flying. I think the gomers hadn't gotten the hang of leading a moving target. They'd probably never gone quail hunting.

I handed the AR-15 to Alpha and tried to tell him to kill those bastards. The sound of the engines, the open door, and the ground fire drowned out what I was saying, but he caught on and started shooting out the door. I could see gomers firing back, and some were falling down as he fired.

I climbed up to 5000 feet and tried to figure out which way to head. The front engine was starting to run rough, and my fuel gauges showed a huge discrepancy between the left and right tanks. I must have taken a hit in the right wing. I headed toward Lima 44, about 50 miles due west.

I still had work to do. I didn't want the SAR forces coming anywhere near that ZSU 23-4. I got on VHF.

“Hillsboro, cancel the SAR. Keep the SAR airplanes away from Delta 33. There's an active 23 mike-mike in the area. I have Sharkbait 41 Alpha in my aircraft. We've taken numerous hits, and we're recovering at Lima 44. Send Jolly 22 to Lima 44 for our pickup.”

“Roger. We'll pass the info.”

The front engine quit about two miles on final approach to Lima 44. Now I would need to pump the gear down, since the hydraulic pump was on the front engine. I feathered the front prop, put down the gear handle, reached down, extended the manual hydraulic pump handle, and started pumping. Then it occurred to me: I had a helper. I made a pumping motion with my right hand.

“Here. Pump this,” I said. He probably didn't hear me, but he figured out what to do.

The gear came down about a half-mile on final, and we had an uneventful landing. I followed a beat-up follow-me truck, probably the same one as last time, and shut down the airplane. When we got out, Alpha gave me a big hug. He didn't want to release me, and he was shaking.

I knew how he felt. I hugged him back, and then we both started crying.

“I, I don't know how to thank you. I'm Herb McCall.”

“I'm Hamfist Hancock. No problem, Herb. I've been in your situation, and I understand completely.”

Just like last time, Jolly 22 landed in the parking spot next to our airplane. I reached into my plane and grabbed the AR-15 and the Pentax, and then we climbed aboard the chopper. I went up to the cockpit and saw Vince.

“Hey, Vince, we've got to stop meeting this way! I'm on my Champagne Flight”

“You got that right, Hamfist. So am I.”

Alpha took off his survival vest and guzzled down the water the PJ handed to him.

When his vest was off, I saw the rank insignia on his shoulders. Alpha was a Brigadier General!

Sep 2, 2021

This advice is my opinion only!

Goal: avoid being infected, and avoid being placed on No-Fly list!

Now more than ever, preparation is key.

If you are in the high-risk group (over 65, asthma, heart disease, other underlying disease) don’t fly.

Avoid Low Cost Carriers (LCCs)

Get vaccinated and take a photo of your vaccination card.

Enhance your immunity with zinc lozenges and IGg.

Don’t fly if you have a cold.

If traveling overseas, check with State Department (

Check with Centers for Disease Control ( for latest risk information, including quarantine requirements, at your destination.

Consider travel medical insurance policy, including medevac. May be included in your platinum card.

Keep all prescriptions with you, not checked bags. Use national pharmacy chain.

Conditions changing day by day. Reminds me of how we improvised securing the cockpit post 9/11.


no shorts or flip-flops!

I recommend long pants for women as well as men, and no high-heel shoes for women 

I will discuss evacuation shortly

Face mask - actually TWO face masks (in case head band breaks) carbon filter n95

aerotoxic syndrome - only B787 does not use bleed air from pneumatic system

Bring empty water bottle - fill at filing station, not water fountain

Anti-bacterial wipes

Hand sanitizer - Bring up to 12 ounces of sanitizer - possibly screening delay

Take your temperature before leaving home

If it’s above 100 you may not be allowed on the airplane

Get COVID test before/after trip

Put ALL medications into hand-carried bags

fanny pack even better

Check in kiosk - use smart phone vs touch screen

TSA bins probably filthy

bin covers 

Wash hands after TSA screening

Consider taking disposable gloves

Stay hydrated! 

airline cabins have very low humidity

low humidity makes it harder for your body to fight off viruses

some aircraft, such as A350 and B787, have humidification systems.

Don’t drink alcohol - many airlines no longer serve alcohol

cabin typically at 8000 feet

already party hypoxic

being drunk is a type of hypoxia

easier to get drunk at altitude

Bring reading material, computer or kindle - DO NOT touch inflight magazine (if it exists)

Disinfect ALL seat surroundings

seat belt buckle


air vent

safety information card

tray table

You may be sitting next to a total stranger - not all airlines block middle seats.

Direct air vent onto yourself

Pay attention to FA safety briefing

DO NOT argue with FA, even if they're wrong!

Lavatories - disinfect EVERYTHING you touch!

flush handle

faucet handles

door handle

faucet will not give you 20 seconds to wash hands AND water may not be safe! - use hand sanitizer instead

disinfect everything again when you return to seat, including hands

Evac - Keep your shoes on for takeoff and landing

All occupants must be able to evacuate thru half exits in 90 seconds

One FA per 50 pax, more if needed to pass evac test

Luggage claim - sanitize luggage surfaces

Aug 30, 2021




Originally posted in Marine Corps Gazette, September 2007



In my 76th year, the events of my life appear to me, from time to time, as a series of vignettes. Some were significant; most were trivial. War is the seminal event in the life of everyone that has endured it. Though I fought in Korea and the Dominican Republic and was wounded there, Vietnam was my war.




Lt. Col. George Goodson (Ret) and family

Now 42 years have passed, and thankfully, I rarely think of those days in Cambodia , Laos, and the panhandle of North Vietnam where small teams of Americans and Montagnards fought much larger elements of the North Vietnamese Army.

Instead I see vignettes: some exotic, some mundane:

*The smell of Nuc Mam

*The heat, dust, and humidity

*The blue exhaust of cycles clogging the streets

*Elephants moving silently through the tall grass

*Hard eyes behind the servile smiles of the villagersBeauty and the Beast streaming

*Standing on a mountain in Laos and hearing a tiger roar

*A young girl squeezing my hand as my medic delivered her baby

*The flowing Ao Dais of the young women biking down Tran Hung Dao


*My two years as Casualty Notification Officer in North Carolina, Virginia and Maryland

It was late 1967. I had just returned after 18 months in Vietnam.  Casualties were increasing. I moved my family from Indianapolis to Norfolk, rented a house, enrolled my children in their fifth or sixth new school, and bought a second car. A week later, I put on my uniform and drove 10 miles to Little Creek, Virginia. I hesitated before entering my new office. Appearance is important to career Marines. I was no longer, if ever, a poster Marine. I had returned from my third tour in Vietnam only 30 days before. At 5’9″, I now weighed 128 pounds, 37 pounds below my normal weight. My uniforms fit ludicrously, my skin was yellow from malaria medication, and I think I had a twitch or two.

I straightened my shoulders, walked into the office, looked at the nameplate on a Staff Sergeant’s desk and said, “Sergeant Jolly, I’m Lieutenant Colonel Goodson. Here are my orders and my Qualification Jacket.” Sergeant Jolly stood, looked carefully at me, took my orders, stuck out his hand; we shook and he asked, “How long were you there, Colonel?” I replied “18 months this time.”

Jolly breathed, “You must be a slow learner Colonel.” I smiled. Jolly said, “Colonel, I’ll  show you to your office and bring in the Sergeant Major. I said, “No, let’s just go straight to his office.” Jolly nodded, hesitated, and lowered his voice, “Colonel, the Sergeant Major. He’s been in this job two years. He’s packed pretty tight. I’m worried about him.” I nodded.

Jolly escorted me into the Sergeant Major’s office. “Sergeant Major, this is Colonel Goodson, the new Commanding Office. The Sergeant Major stood, extended his hand and said, “Good to see you again, Colonel.” I responded, “Hello Walt, how are you?”

Jolly looked at me, raised an eyebrow, walked out, and closed the door. I sat down with the Sergeant Major. We had the obligatory cup of coffee and talked about mutual acquaintances. Walt’s stress was palpable. Finally, I said, “Walt, what the h-ll’s wrong?” He turned his chair, looked out the window and said, “George, you’re going to wish you were back in Nam before you leave here. I’ve been in the Marine Corps since 1939. I was in the Pacific 36 months, Korea for 14 months, and Vietnam for 12 months. Now I come here to bury these kids. I’m putting my letter in. I can’t take it anymore.”

I said, “Okay Walt. If that’s what you want, I’ll endorse your request for retirement and do what I can to push it through Headquarters Marine Corps.” Sergeant Major Walt Xxxxx retired 12 weeks later. He had been a good Marine for 28 years, but he had seen too much death and too much suffering. He was used up.

Over the next 16 months, I made 28 death notifications, conducted 28 military funerals, and made 30 notifications to the families of Marines that were severely wounded or missing in action. Most of the details of those casualty notifications have now, thankfully, faded from memory.

Four, however, remain.


My third or fourth day in Norfolk, I was notified of the death of a 19 year old Marine. This notification came by telephone from Headquarters Marine Corps. The information detailed:

*Name, rank, and serial number.

*Name, address, and phone number of next of kin.

*Date of and limited details about the Marine’s death.

*Approximate date the body would arrive at the Norfolk Naval Air  Station.

*A strong recommendation on whether the casket should be opened or closed.

The boy’s family lived over the border in North Carolina, about 60 miles away. I drove there in a Marine Corps staff car. Crossing the state line into North Carolina , I stopped at a small country store / service station / Post Office. I went in to ask directions.

Three people were in the store. A man and woman approached the small Post Office window. The man held a package. The Store owner walked up and addressed them by name, “Hello John. Good morning Mrs. Cooper.”

I was stunned. My casualty’s next-of-kin’s name was John Cooper!

I hesitated, then stepped forward and said, “I beg your pardon. Are you Mr. and Mrs. John Cooper of (address.)

The father looked at me – I was in uniform – and then, shaking, bent at the waist, he vomited. His wife looked horrified at him and then at me. Understanding came into her eyes and she collapsed in slow motion.

I think I caught her before she hit the floor.

The owner took a bottle of whiskey out of a drawer and handed it to Mr. Cooper who drank. I answered their questions for a few minutes. Then I drove them home in my staff car. The store owner locked the store and followed in their truck. We stayed an hour or so until the family began arriving.

I returned the store owner to his business. He thanked me and said, “Mister, I wouldn’t have your job for a million dollars.” I shook his hand and said; “Neither would I.”

I vaguely remember the drive back to Norfolk. Violating about five Marine Corps regulations, I drove the staff car straight to my house.  I sat with my family while they ate dinner, went into the den, closed the door, and sat there all night, alone.

My Marines steered clear of me for days. I had made my first death notification


Weeks passed with more notifications and more funerals. I borrowed Marines from the local Marine Corps Reserve and taught them to conduct a military funeral: how to carry a casket, how to fire the volleys and how to fold the flag.

When I presented the flag to the mother, wife, or father, I always said, “All Marines share in your grief.” I had been instructed to say, “On behalf of a grateful nation….” I didn’t think the nation was grateful, so I didn’t say that.

Sometimes, my emotions got the best of me and I couldn’t speak. When that happened, I just handed them the flag and touched a shoulder.

They would look at me and nod. Once a mother said to me, “I’m so sorry you have this terrible job.” My eyes filled with tears and I leaned over and kissed her.


Six weeks after my first notification, I had another. This was a young PFC. I drove to his mother’s house. As always, I was in uniform and driving a Marine Corps staff car. I parked in front of the house, took a deep breath, and walked towards the house. Suddenly the door flew open, a middle-aged woman rushed out. She looked at me and ran across the yard, screaming “No! No! No! No!! I hesitated. Neighbors came out.

I ran to her, grabbed her, and whispered stupid things to reassure her. She collapsed. I picked her up and carried her into the house.  Eight or nine neighbors followed. Ten or fifteen minutes later, the father came in followed by ambulance personnel. I have no recollection of leaving.Watch Full Movie Online Streaming Online and Download

The funeral took place about two weeks later. We went through the drill. The mother never looked at me. The father looked at me once and shook his head sadly.


One morning as I walked into the office, the phone was ringing.  Sergeant Jolly held the phone up and said, “You’ve got another one, Colonel.” I nodded, walked into my office, picked up the phone, took notes, thanked the officer making the call and hung up. Jolly, who had listened, came in with a special telephone directory that translates telephone numbers into the person’s address and place of employment.

The father of this casualty was a longshoreman. He lived a mile from my office. I called the Longshoreman’s Union Office and asked for the business manager. He answered the phone, I told him who I was, and asked for the father’s schedule. The business manager asked, “Is it his son?” I said nothing. After a moment, he said, in a low voice, “Tom is at home today.” I said, “Don’t call him. I’ll take care of that.” The business manager said, “Aye, Aye Sir,” and then explained, “Tom and I were Marines in WWII.”

I got in my staff car and drove to the house. I was in uniform. I knocked and a woman in her early forties answered the door. I saw instantly that she was clueless. I asked, “Is Mr. Smith home?” She smiled pleasantly and responded, “Yes, but he’s eating breakfast now.  Can you come back later?” I said, “I’m sorry. It’s important. I need to see him now.” She nodded, stepped back into the beach house and said, “Tom, it’s for you.” A moment later, a ruddy man in his late forties, appeared at the door. He looked at me, turned absolutely pale, steadied himself, and said, “Jesus Christ man, he’s only been there three weeks!”

Months passed. More notifications and more funerals. Then one day while I was running, Sergeant Jolly stepped outside the building and gave a loud whistle, two fingers in his mouth and held an imaginary phone to his ear.

Another call from Headquarters Marine Corps. I took notes, said, “Got it.” and hung up. I had stopped saying “Thank You” long ago.

Jolly, “Where?”

Me, “Eastern Shore of Maryland . The father is a retired Chief Petty Officer. His brother will accompany the body back from Vietnam.” Jolly shook his head slowly, straightened, and then said, “This time of day, it’ll take three hours to get there and back. I’ll call the Naval Air Station and borrow a helicopter. And I’ll have Captain Tolliver get one of his men to meet you and drive you to the Chief’s home.”

He did, and 40 minutes later, I was knocking on the father’s door. He opened the door, looked at me, then looked at the Marine standing at parade rest beside the car, and asked, “Which one of my boys was it, Colonel?” I stayed a couple of hours, gave him all the information, my office and home phone number and told him to call me, anytime. He called me that evening about 2300 (11:00 PM). “I’ve gone through my boy’s papers and found his will. He asked to be buried at sea. Can you make that happen?” I said, “Yes I can, Chief. I can and I will.”

My wife who had been listening said, “Can you do that?” I told her, “I have no idea. But I’m going to die trying.” I called Lieutenant General Alpha Bowser, Commanding General, Fleet Marine Force Atlantic, at home about 2330, explained the situation, and asked, “General, can you get me a quick appointment with the Admiral at Atlantic Fleet Headquarters?” General Bowser said,” George, you be there tomorrow at 0900. He will see you. I was and the Admiral did. He said coldly, “How can the Navy help the Marine Corps, Colonel.” I told him the story. He turned to his Chief of Staff and said, “Which is the sharpest destroyer in port?” The Chief of Staff responded with a name.

The Admiral called the ship, “Captain, you’re going to do a burial at sea. You’ll report to a Marine Lieutenant Colonel Goodson until this mission is completed.” He hung up, looked at me, and said, “The next time you need a ship, Colonel, call me. You don’t have to sic Al Bowser on me.” I responded, “Aye Aye, Sir” and got out of his office in a hurry.

I went to the ship and met with the Captain, Executive Officer, and the Senior Chief. Sergeant Jolly and I trained the ship’s crew for four days. Then Jolly raised a question none of us had thought of. He said, “These government caskets are air tight. How do we keep it from floating?” All the high priced help including me sat there looking dumb. Then the Senior Chief stood and said, “Come on Jolly. I know a bar where the retired guys from World War II hang out.” They returned a couple of hours later, slightly the worse for wear, and said, “It’s simple; we cut four 12″ holes in the outer shell of the casket on each side and insert 300 lbs. of lead in the foot end of the casket. We can handle that, no sweat.”

The day arrived. The ship and the sailors looked razor sharp. General Bowser, the Admiral, a US Senator, and a Navy Band were on board. The sealed casket was brought aboard and taken below for modification. The ship got underway to the 12-fathom depth.

The sun was hot. The ocean flat. The casket was brought aft and placed on a catafalque. The chaplain spoke. The volleys were fired. The flag was removed, folded, and I gave it to the father. The band played “Eternal Father Strong to Save.” The casket was raised slightly at the head and it slid into the sea. The heavy casket plunged straight down about six feet. The incoming water collided with the air pockets in the outer shell. The casket stopped abruptly, rose straight out of the water about three feet, stopped, and slowly slipped back into the sea.  The air bubbles rising from the sinking casket sparkled in the in the sunlight as the casket disappeared from sight forever.

The next morning I called a personal friend, Lieutenant General Oscar Peatross, at Headquarters Marine Corps and said, “General, get me out of here. I can’t take this anymore.” I was transferred two weeks later. I was a good Marine but, after 17 years, I had seen too much death and too much suffering. I was used up.

Vacating the house, my family and I drove to the office in a two-car convoy. I said my goodbyes. Sergeant Jolly walked out with me. He waved at my family, looked at me with tears in his eyes, came to attention, saluted, and said, “Well done, Colonel. Well done.”

I felt as if I had received the Medal of Honor!

Aug 26, 2021


From FAA:

Advanced Qualification Program (AQP)

The Advanced Qualification Program (AQP) training system is developed using a systematic training program methodology. AQP is a voluntary, data-driven, alternative means of compliance to the ‘traditional’ regulatory requirements under 14 CFR Parts 121 and 135 for training and checking.

Under the AQP performance-based regulatory framework of 14 CFR Subpart Y, FAA is authorized to vary from traditional prescriptive requirements under 14 CFR 121 Subparts N and O (i.e., ‘traditional training’), subject to justification of an equivalent or better level of safety. As part of the systematic development process, AQP requires a front-end analysis of both training and operational data to establish proficiency objective requirements for all aspects of training.

Unlike traditional aviation training, AQP provides a multitude of training and safety benefits including data-driven improvement and program flexibility; integration of CRM; crew evaluation; planned hours (i.e., ‘trained-to-proficiency’); and scenario-based training and evaluations.

Technical assistance and policy support provided by the Training and Simulation Group
Email Air Transportation Division or call (202)-267-8166

AQP Summary Topics




What and Who

AQP is a voluntary, alternative method for qualifying, training, and certifying crewmembers and operations personnel, such as:PilotsFlight AttendantsInstructors and EvaluatorsDispatchersOther operations personnel (as applicable)

AQP is an alternative to ‘traditional’ training programs, which are defined under part 121 Subparts N & O - and are based on a prescriptive rule that assumes a “one size fits all” approach to training.AQP encourages innovation in the methods and technology that are used during instruction and evaluation.AQP is a process (or performance-based rule) that allows for customized training to the certificate holder’s unique demographic and flight operation.


AQP was established to allow a greater degree of regulatory flexibility in the approval of innovative training programs.AQP improves flight crewmember performance by providing alternative means of compliance with traditional training rules and promotes the innovative use of modern technology for flight crewmember training.

The AQP methodology directly supports the FAA’s goals for safety enhancement, through data-informed, and data-driven improvement.Catalyst for this alternative method of compliance proposal was airline training management familiarity with instructional systems design (ISD), and proficiency-based training experience from military flight training programs.


AQP was introduced in 1990 under SFAR 58 special rule.AQP regulatory codification was published in 2005 as 14 CFR Part 121 Subpart Y.

In contrast to original traditional training rules from the late 1950’s and updated in the early 1970’s with the advancement of aircraft simulation technologies, and a recognized need to introduce CRM to training programs.

How Many

90% of Large 121 carriers(over 1000 pilots) utilize AQP100% of Medium size 121 carriers( 501-999 pilots)5% of Small size 121 carriersOver 90% of U.S. airline pilots train under AQP

95% of small 121 carriers(less than 500 pilots) choose compliance with traditional training rulesTo date, there are 71 active 121 carriers43 of those carriers still train under traditional Subparts N&O

FAA ATP Practical Test Standards

Aug 23, 2021

Shinji Maeda is a Shin-Issei who is active in our community as founder and president of Aero Zypangu Project, a 501c3 non-profit organization he founded with his supporters. Its mission is “to provide opportunities and experiences that inspire hope, strength, and joy in people with disabilities, in youngsters, and in their families through aviation activities.” Through his motivational lectures and discovery flight lessons, Shinji delivers his message, “Nothing is impossible,” through his own life experiences.

Shinji began dreaming about becoming a pilot when he was a kindergartener.

“The view of Tokachi Plain looking down from my flight back from Tokyo, which was my first trip out from Hokkaido, was so beautiful. I remember I was convinced to become a pilot to see this kind of scenery all the time.”

As a child, Shinji loved looking up at the sky from his father’s farmland, thinking about becoming a pilot. After graduating from junior high school, he left his parents’ home to attend Japan Aviation High School in Yamanashi Prefecture, west of Tokyo. From there, he was admitted to the Department of Aerospace Engineering at the College of Science and Technology, Nihon University. As he was striving toward his dream, he experienced a major setback in his first year of college. He was hit by a car on the street and lost sight in his right eye.


In Japan, you cannot be a pilot with sight in only one eye.

“Many adults back then advised me that it’s almost impossible for people with disabilities to play an active role in the aviation industry. I had been thinking about life only as a pilot, so I was totally lost,” says Shinji.

He even thought about suicide. But harsh words from his high school teacher, who called him from Yamanashi, saved Shinji.

His teacher told him, “Even if you die, the world will just forget about you and nothing will change. I will forget you, too. If you die here, you are the loser. The only thing that happens is that your parents will cry for you throughout the rest of their lives.”

All his friends from high school and college also supported him in chasing his dream of becoming a pilot.


After graduating from Nihon University, he moved to the United States to earn a master’s degree at Embry-Riddle Aviation University, Prescott, Arizona, with the aim of finding a job in the aviation industry as his career.

“I realized that I cannot pursue my dream if I stay in Japan. I did research to find colleges outside of Japan which offer master’s programs in risk management, which I started to become interested in after I suffered from the car accident. Embry-Riddle was the only option.”

After graduating from Embry-Riddle, he started working as a technical coordinator at the North American Headquarters of ShinMaywa Industries, Ltd. in California.

“This very first opportunity for me to work in the aviation industry gave me great understanding about aerospace production and its industry,” says Shinji.

After working a few years at ShinMaywa, he was headhunted by his client at Boeing.

“It was a great surprise for me. I never thought that I could get a job at Boeing!”

Now he has been working as a manufacturing operation specialist at Boeing for 13 years.

“My job is to analyze how to efficiently build the wings of airplanes and manage the process,” says Shinji.

He has been successfully working in the aviation industry which he was told was “impossible.”

Another turning point for him came when he was on a long-term business trip in Japan for Boeing.

“It was more than ten years after I moved to the United States. But I realized that the sky in Japan had not changed. There were no pilots with disabilities in Japan,” says Shinji.

He also questioned how most engineers in the Japanese aviation industry had no experience flying aircraft. He wanted to change this situation. When he returned to the United States, he obtained a license as a commercial pilot. He had previously obtained licenses as a non-commercial pilot and a flight instructor. Although he had already started delivering motivational lectures at different educational institutions, he then launched the Aero Zypangu Project to officially start his activities. With his instructor’s license, he began leading “Discovery Flights” where anyone can hold the control stick on his airplane and experience flying.

“My message with Discovery Flight is ‘you can be a pilot!’”

It does not have to be only for those who want to become pilots.

“It is important to give confidence to young people through this ‘I can do it’ experience,” explains Shinji.

He also started to warm up to the concept of a round-the-world flight mission to spread his “you can do it” message even further.

Carrying out the round-the-world flight as a pilot and aviation engineer

“Lucy” is the aircraft that Shinji took off in on May 1. She is a Beechcraft Bonanza made in 1963.


“I purchased her from my former boss at ShinMaywa. He gave me a very reasonable price after I told him about my round-the-world flight mission,” says Shinji.

It was a long process after the purchase.

“It took about four years. I worked with professional engineers who are experts in different areas to retrofit her. We replaced her engine, propeller, navigation system, etc.”

This process was possible because of his career background.

“Honestly, I used to be worried about whether or not I could really go around the world with such an old aircraft,” he confesses. “At that time, I met Adrian Eichhorn, who made a successful round-the-world flight with the same Beechcraft Bonanza 1963 aircraft in 2016.”

When Shinji contacted Adrian, his reply was very curt, as he assumed Shinji was not serious like many other inquirers.

But after looking at Shinji’s serious plan in progress, Adrian messaged Shinji, “Sorry, I wish I had cooperated earlier. I will help you out.”

After that, Adrian frequently visited Seattle from his base in Washington, D.C. to help Shinji and his mechanics team retrofit Lucy.

With each retrofit, Shinji became fascinated by Lucy’s old charm.


“Her aircraft body smells like the age of 1963. Through her, I can feel what the engineers in that era used to think when building the aircraft. It is quite interesting as an engineer. She is a beautifully crafted airplane.”

Now, it is an age where new technology is always highlighted and appraised.

However, “I feel this mission can also demonstrate the beauty of retrofitting old things. I want to prove that this old aircraft can go around the world if refurbished to the best condition.”

Flying around the world is a big project. It includes over ten hours of intercontinental travel from Canada to Ireland, as well as from Japan to Seattle. There will be many risks involved. Does Shinji have any worries?

“Of course, there are risks. However, since I am not visiting dangerous areas such as war zones, all risks can be under control. I can minimize risks by preparing for them,” says Shinji.

During the four-year preparation period, he did all he could do to retrofit Lucy to the best possible condition. Through the connection with Adrian, who used to work as a commercial pilot, Shinji was able to conduct various flight trainings for possible accidents. His flight route was thoughtfully planned, including refueling spots and safe accommodations. Adrian gave Shinji much advice from his previously successful mission.

Obtaining visas to enter different countries and understanding COVID-19 safety regulations were also part of his preparations.

“So, once I leave for the mission, all I have to do is keep flying.”

Message for the next generation

In 2019, Shinji’s father, who always encouraged him to pursue his dream, passed away.

With his wife Makiko and their children. Shinji met her at work, as Makiko also used to work in the aerospace industry.

“When I was so worried about financing, as I spent on Lucy as much as I would to buy a house, I earnestly told her about giving up the round-the-world mission. Makiko was mad at me and told me ‘don’t give up just because of money.’” Makiko is the most understanding person of Shinji’s projects.

“When he was lying in the hospital bed, my father told me, “I finally understand how you felt when you were hospitalized for months after the car accident. It must have been hard for you as an 18-year-old young man. Everyone faces their own obstructions, small and large. You have overcome yours and your dreams have come true. Tell more people what you did so others can do it, too.

“This was the last message from my father and it made me determined to complete the round-the-world flight mission.”

“I think young people can feel hopeful by learning from a one-eyed ojisan (old man in Japanese) like me enjoying my own freedom, flying around the world, pursuing my dream,” remarks Shinji. “I indeed want to have young people especially with handicaps and disabilities to have dreams and step forward with them.”

His passion and energy simply pursuing his dreams flying around-the-world on his own should surely inspire people in the current pandemic recovery period.

Aug 19, 2021

"An era can be said to end when its basic illusions are exhausted” - Arthur Miller

From War On The Rocks:




President Joe Biden failed America’s allies — and my family — in 1975. He should not repeat his mistake in 2021.

My mother was a Vietnamese national who risked her life working for the U.S. naval attaché in Saigon. My father was a South Vietnamese army officer. In April of 1975, as communist forces closed in on Saigon, the fate of my family and tens of thousands of other Vietnamese allies hung in the balance as President Gerald Ford and congressional leaders debated.

Today, America faces a similar challenge as the Taliban control the capital of Afghanistan, the United States evacuates its embassy, and the lives of America’s Afghan allies and their families hang in the balance.

Back then Ford showed remarkable leadership by appealing to the American people on television, despite popular opinion against the evacuation. Lacking a mandate from Congress, the president used executive authority to rescue 130,000 Vietnamese allies in a single month, relocating them to Guam. My family and I were among those liberated.

Ford faced marked opposition from key members of Congress, including then-Sen. Joe Biden. On April 23, the same day my family boarded a U.S. Air Force C-141 Starlifter for Guam, Biden took to the Senate floor and stated, “The United States has no obligation to evacuate [one], or 100,001, South Vietnamese.”

Had Biden prevailed in his view that day, I and 130,000 other Vietnamese who had worked hard for the United States — and their families — would have suffered the fate that befell those not rescued: reeducation camps, torture, and death. I would have likely grown up an orphan in communist Vietnam instead of an immigrant in a free America.

Biden seemed to soften his view because in May 1975, he supported legislation to bring Vietnamese allies to the United States. In 2020, he went as far to express his explicit support for this cause in an op-ed published in a Vietnamese newspaper.

After coming to the United States, we lived with a sponsor family before settling into a home in Tumwater, Washington. Growing up, I learned about my family’s exodus and felt a deep sense of gratitude and obligation to the United States and to the men and women who served in Vietnam. In order to repay that debt, I attended West Point, followed by five years on active duty. I continued my service as a lawyer, eventually working in the White House as an associate counsel to President George W. Bush. When I left the White House, I recommissioned as a U.S. Army captain and served in Afghanistan as part of Operation Enduring Freedom with a U.S. Army special forces company.

In Afghanistan, my fellow soldiers and I placed our lives in the hands of Afghan interpreters, analysts, and other Afghan allies daily. In turn they risked their lives for us. Like the communists in Vietnam, the Taliban in Afghanistan hold a dim view of those Afghans who worked alongside Americans. Several Afghan allies were killed during my time in Afghanistan by Taliban forces. I vividly remember one who told us that helping Americans would cost him his life.

Days later he was found killed, the cell phone he used to communicate with our company shoved in his mouth.

Just weeks ago, I was contacted by one of my Afghan allies, Jabar, who now resides in Kabul with his family. Jabar and thousands of others were startled by Biden’s decision to formally withdraw from Afghanistan no later than Sept. 11 of this year. While the United States has a system in place to process special immigrant visa applicants like Jabar, it is simply broken. Current estimates place the backlog at more than 18,000 applicants along with over 53,000 dependents.

And now, it is too late. With Kabul under Taliban control, America’s Afghan allies are out of time.

I fear every day for the safety of Jabar and his family. I cannot help but see in them my own family’s uncertain fate 46 years ago.

Once again history has put Biden in a position where he needs to decide where he stands. On July 14, his administration announced that it would airlift Afghan allies and their families through Operation Allies Refuge. However, announcing an airlift is not the same as completing one. To date, only 1,200 of the estimated 18,000 eligible Afghan allies and their families have been airlifted to safety. Tens of thousands of Afghan allies and their families still face persecution, torture, or death.

Biden and his administration can and need to do better. My family and I were rescued from communist forces in 1975 because Ford provided the leadership and resources to overcome the tremendous bureaucratic and logistical hurdles involved in evacuating 130,000 Vietnamese allies within weeks. Biden has failed to do the same in 2021.

What Biden should do is, using existing authorities, immediately designate America’s Afghan allies and their families as parolees. These parolees should then be marshalled at Kabul under the protection of rapidly deployed U.S. forces, before evacuation to a location outside Afghanistan for care and processing. The full and vast capabilities of the U.S. Air Force supplemented by contractor aircraft should be used to complete this urgent airlift. The administration can then determine, in coordination with Congress, which individuals will be resettled in the United States and implement a plan to do so properly. Finally, Biden should immediately and clearly state his public support for this effort and back his words by empowering the secretary of state and secretary of defense to take all actions necessary for the United States to fulfill its moral obligation to its Afghan allies.

There is still time to save Jabar, his family, and the tens of thousands of Afghan allies like them who risked their lives alongside soldiers like myself.

France Hoang commissioned twice as a U.S. Army officer, served as an associate White House counsel to President George W. Bush, and is the co-founder and chief strategy officer of boodleAI and a partner at the law firm of FH+H. 

Aug 16, 2021

Body-for-LIFE has become a best-selling book in the United States, and millions of Americans have regained control of their lives through this fitness/nutrition program. In May 2000, as a fat 55-year-old with a 36-inch waist, I accepted the challenge. Eighty-four days later, I was fitter than at any time in my life— including my time as a college gymnast—and I’d lost 25 pounds of fat and sported a 32-inch waist. 

At the end of the year, I was honored by being selected first runner-up for the men-over-50 category, becoming one of the 37 champions selected from the 700,000 people who had entered the 2000 challenge. 

Over the past 2 years, I have helped hundreds of airline employees, mostly pilots, complete their own transformations. Almost all of them initially felt that this program would be great for someone with regular, predictable hours but would just be incompatible with the airline lifestyle. I’d like to pass on some tips for success that worked for me and, subsequently, for them. And I’d like to share some thoughts on what to do when you find yourself on a layover in the Bates Motel, with ‘nary a workout facility within a country mile. 

Actually, when you think about it, probably no group of people in the world should be more successful on a fitness/nutrition program than airline pilots. At the heart of the program is the concept of setting goals and then following a specific plan to reach those goals. 

And that is something we airline pilots do for a living! On every flight we have a goal, such as safely and efficiently flying from Chicago to Denver. And we have a specific plan to do it, such as flying the O’Hare departure, direct DBQ, then J84 to SNY, then picking up the LANDR arrival to DEN. 

On the way, we may have to take a reroute for weather, or deviate around buildups, but we still do what we’re told: we salute smartly and, overall, follow the magenta line. 

So following a simple plan that tells us when and what to eat, and when to exercise is really a walk in the park for us. It’s in our genes! The only hard part is deviating around the buildups (ground delays that cause our crew day to stretch out ad infinitum, missing crew meals, getting to the hotel after the exercise room has closed, etc.). 

The first part of your mission, should you accept it, is deciding on realistic goals. This can be tricky. If you choose goals that are too easy to attain, when you finish the 12 weeks you’ll feel little sense of accomplishment. And if you select goals that are unreachable, you’ll feel like a failure. 

Let me suggest that you choose goals that seem slightly out of reach, goals that, if you heard of someone else achieving them, would really impress you. And remember, no hard-and-fast rule says you can’t change your goals along the way. Just as you sometimes divert to an alternate rather than continue to the destination, you may amend your goals if they appear to be too easily achieved once you’re under way. 

The more specific the goals are, the easier measuring your progress will be. For example, "I want to lose weight" is a goal that is easy to measure, but not specific enough to judge your success. If you lose one pound in 12 weeks, were you successful? How about 10 pounds? A better goal would be "I want to lose 10 pounds of fat in the next 12 weeks." That’s a measurable, achievable goal. Similarly, "I want to lose 2 inches off my waist" is measurable and achievable. 

Because 61 percent of the adult American population is overweight, I assume that at least one of your goals is to lose fat. We frequently fall into the trap of equating losing weight with losing fat, and I’d like to discuss this for a moment. 

Many of the yo-yo diets that have been popular in the past (and successful in the short term and very unsuccessful in the long term) emphasize losing weight, rather than losing fat. Much of their short-term success is based on losing water weight and muscle. Because muscle weighs more than fat, you can indeed lose a lot of weight by allowing your muscle mass to deteriorate. And since muscles hold water, you will also lose weight from water loss. 

Losing fat is a different matter. Fat is not very dense, so you need to lose a lot of fat before you notice it on the scale. But you will quickly notice it by the way your clothes fit. So I suggest you measure your bodyfat percentage, rather than your weight. You can do this rather easily with a set of plastic calipers, available for about $20 from most health food stores. In my opinion, the absolute best way to use a scale is to stand squarely on both feet in front of the scale. Carefully bend over and lift the scale with both hands. Now, carry it over to the garbage can and throw the damned thing out! Since you probably won’t do this, at least get into the habit of measuring your bodyfat at the same time you weigh yourself. 

Eating six small, balanced meals each day can be problematic when you’re flying a trip. This works out, roughly, to a meal every 3 hours. Even on a short domestic flight, you’ll probably be sitting in the cockpit for at least 3 hours counting preflight and ground taxi times. Unless you eat right before enplaning and are lucky enough to have minimal ground delays, you will probably need to eat some of your meals in the cockpit. 

A little planning here goes a long way. If your airline boards customized crew meals, you might be able to eat a meal that’s right along the lines of the program, courtesy of your employer. For example, at United, I order the lighter-choice chicken crew meal. It’s a chicken breast about the size of my outstretched palm (one of the standard Body-for-LIFE measurements), a scoop of rice about the size of my clenched fist (the other standard measurement), and lots of vegetables. Now, that’s a perfect meal! 

In this program, a meal ideally will consist of equal portions of protein and carbohydrates, plus lots of vegetables. A portion is an amount about the size of your outstretched palm or clenched fist. Of course, you won’t always get a crew meal. That’s where the planning comes in. A lot of meal replacement bars are available and are excellent. Be sure to look at the nutritional information and make sure that the bar contains about equal portions of protein and carbohydrate. Most of the "weight loss" bars do not qualify, as they contain lots of carbs and very little protein. 

Another option is ready-to-drink shakes made by EAS, the sponsor of the Body-for-LIFE Transformation Challenge. These are slightly smaller than a soft drink can, and I usually have a few stashed in my flight bag, along with a few bars. I also have at least three for each day of my trip packed in my suitcase. The residual advantage of this is that you get a great workout just lifting your bag at the beginning of the trip! 

Healthy eating on your layover can also present a challenge. If you find yourself out in the boonies along a motel strip with only fast food available, you need to get creative. Eating a healthy meal at virtually every fast-food chain in America is possible, but you need to pay attention to what’s on the menu. 

First, you need to forget about anything that’s fried—no french fries, no fried chicken patties, no onion rings. Next, be sure to order your sandwich without mayonnaise. If you want to spice up the taste a bit, add catsup yourself. Get all the lettuce and tomatoes on your sandwich you can. It will give you a feeling of satiety, and make your meal healthier. I opt for the Chicken McGrill without mayo at McDonald’s when I’m forced to go the fast-food route. Most of the yuppie restaurant chains have something relatively healthy on their menus. For example, at Outback Steakhouse, the salmon dinner is an excellent choice: a large salmon filet, a nice assortment of vegetables, and a rice pilaf. 

The only problem is that it’s about twice the size of an ideal meal. As soon as I get my entrée, I cut it in half and put one part of it in a takeout box. If you have a refrigerator in your room, you can save it for later. I suppose another choice is to split the meal with your flying partner, if he or she goes to dinner with you. Of course, if you pay for it, you’ll probably find yourself expelled from the Captains Club! 

When it comes to alcohol on layovers, I’ve learned to "Just Say No." It doesn’t take many beers to completely ruin your nutrition program. If you can nurse one drink for the entire evening, fine; otherwise, I suggest you go without. I’ve found that the workout facilities at my layover hotels have ranged from fabulous to dismal. Because the basis of the exercise program is to preplan your workouts in advance, this can present a problem. If you’re set for a lower-body day, for example, and no weights of any kind are in the workout room, maybe you need to swap around your lower body and cardio days. Just like deviating around the buildup, we may need to deviate in our workout plan. Trust me, missing one workout in its proper order will not sidetrack your program. 

What if you arrive in the evening at the hotel, the one with the fabulous workout room, only to find the room closed? Well, that’s when the in-room workout plan takes over. You can get a terrific workout right in your room with very little in the way of equipment. I strongly suggest you include a stretch band and a jump rope in your suitcase. They take up very little space and can work wonders in a pinch. Unless you’re on the ground floor, I don’t recommend jumping rope in your room, but you can usually find someplace in the hotel where you won’t disturb anyone. 

Jumping rope is a skill unto itself, so you may have some difficulty initially, but it’s a great cardio workout. A typical 20-minute rope jumping session burns about 250 calories. Stretch-band exercises are limited only by your imagination. You can usually improvise a stretch-band exercise that’s pretty close to the free-weight or machine exercise you were planning on doing. Let’s not forget the two pieces of weightlifting equipment you brought with you: your suitcase and your flight bag. Remove some manuals or add the hotel phone book, and you can customize your flight bag to just about any weight you want. This adjustable weight can be used for one-arm rows, curls, two-hand presses, and squats. Don’t forget dips between chairs, with your feet on the bed. And as long as you have a few feet of floor space, you can get a great ab workout by doing crunches with your feet up on the bed, and a great tricep/chest workout by doing pushups with your feet on the bed. 

Frankly, although workout rooms are fun to go to just to stand around and flex and look in the mirrors that are everywhere, I’d be lying if I said I needed them for a complete workout. If you’re longing to regain that lost fitness of your youth, you could not start at a better time than now. And, in my opinion, you can get no better all-around program for doing it than Body-for LIFE. You can find additional information on fitness for the airline pilot at Start now, and in less than 3 months, you could be looking at a slimmer, fitter you staring back in the mirror. 

Aug 12, 2021

Flight 401 departed JFK Airport in New York on Friday, December 29, 1972, at 21:20 EST, with 163 passengers and 13 crew members on board.

The flight was routine until 23:32, when the plane began its approach into Miami International Airport. After lowering the gear, First Officer Stockstill noticed that the landing gear indicator, a green light identifying that the nose gear is properly locked in the "down" position, had not illuminated. This was later discovered to be due to a burned-out light bulb. The landing gear could have been manually lowered, nonetheless. The pilots cycled the landing gear, but still failed to get the confirmation light.

Loft, who was working the radio during this leg of the flight, told the tower that they would discontinue their approach to their airport and requested to enter a holding pattern. The approach controller cleared the flight to climb to 2,000 ft (610 m), and then hold west over the Everglades.

The cockpit crew removed the light assembly, and Second Officer Repo was dispatched to the avionics bay beneath the flight deck to confirm via a small porthole if the landing gear was indeed down. Fifty seconds after reaching their assigned altitude, Captain Loft instructed First Officer Stockstill to put the L-1011 on autopilot. For the next 80 seconds, the plane maintained level flight. Then, it dropped 100 ft (30 m), and then again flew level for two more minutes, after which it began a descent so gradual it could not be perceived by the crew. In the next 70 seconds, the plane lost only 250 ft (76 m), but this was enough to trigger the altitude warning C-chord chime located under the engineer's workstation. The engineer (Repo) had gone below, and no indication was heard of the pilots' voices recorded on the CVR that they heard the chime. In another 50 seconds, the plane was at half its assigned altitude.

As Stockstill started another turn, onto 180°, he noticed the discrepancy. The following conversation was recovered from the flight voice recorder later:Stockstill: We did something to the altitude.Loft: What?Stockstill: We're still at 2,000 feet, right?Loft: Hey—what's happening here?

Less than 10 seconds after this exchange, the jetliner crashed:Cockpit area microphone (CAM): [Sound of click]CAM: [Sound of six beeps similar to radio altimeter increasing in rate]CAM: [Sound of initial impact]

The location was west-northwest of Miami, 18.7 mi (30.1 km) from the end of runway 9L. The plane was traveling at 227 miles per hour (197 kn; 365 km/h) when it hit the ground. With the aircraft in mid-turn, the left wingtip hit the surface first, then the left engine and the left landing gear, making three trails through the sawgrass, each 5 ft (1.5 m) wide and over 100 ft (30 m) long. When the main part of the fuselage hit the ground, it continued to move through the grass and water, breaking up as it went.

The TriStar's port outer wing structure struck the ground first, followed by the No. 1 engine and the port main undercarriage. The disintegration of the aircraft that followed scattered wreckage over an area 1,600 ft (500 m) long and 330 ft (100 m) wide in a southwesterly direction. Only small fragments of metal marked the wingtip's first contact, followed 49 ft (15 m) further on by three massive 115 ft (35 m) swaths cut through the mud and sawgrass by the aircraft's extended undercarriage before two of the legs were sheared off. Then came scattered parts from the No. 1 (port) engine, and fragments from the port wing itself and the port tailplane. About 490 feet (150 m) from the wingtip's initial contact with the ground, the massive fuselage had begun to break up, scattering components from the underfloor galley, the cargo compartments, and the cabin interior. At 820 ft (250 m) along the wreckage trail, the outer section of the starboard wing tore off, gouging a 59-foot-long (18 m) crater in the soft ground as it did so. From this point on, the breakup of the fuselage became more extensive, scattering metal fragments, cabin fittings, and passenger seats widely.

The three major sections of the fuselage—the most intact of which was the tail assembly—lay in the mud towards the end of the wreckage trail. The fact that the tail assembly—rear fuselage, No. 2 tail-mounted engine, and remains of the empennage—finally came to rest substantially further forward than other major sections, was probably the result of the No. 2 engine continuing to deliver thrust during the actual breakup of the aircraft. No complete cross-section of the passenger cabin remained, and both the port wing and tailplane were demolished to fragments. Incongruously, not far from the roofless fuselage center section with the inner portion of the starboard wing still attached, lay a large, undamaged and fully inflated rubber dinghy, one of a number carried on the TriStar in the event of an emergency water landing. The breakup of the fuselage had freed it from its stowage and activated its inflation mechanism.

Robert "Bud" Marquis (1929–2008), an airboat pilot, was out frog gigging with Ray Dickinsin (1929–1988) when they witnessed the crash. They rushed to rescue survivors. Marquis received burns to his face, arms, and legs—a result of spilled jet fuel from the crashed TriStar—but continued shuttling people in and out of the crash site that night and the next day. For his efforts, he received the Humanitarian Award from the National Air Disaster Alliance/Foundation and the "Alumitech – Airboat Hero Award", from the American Airboat Search and Rescue Association.

In all, 75 survived the crash—67 of the 163 passengers and eight of the 10 flight attendants. Despite their own injuries, the surviving flight attendants were credited with helping other survivors and several quick-thinking actions such as warning survivors of the danger of striking matches due to jet fuel in the swamp water and singing Christmas carols to keep up hope and draw the rescue teams' attention, as flashlights were not part of the standard equipment on commercial airliners at the time. Of the cockpit crew, only flight engineer Repo survived the initial crash, along with technical officer Donadeo, who was down in the nose electronics bay with Repo at the moment of impact. Stockstill was killed on impact, while Captain Loft died in the wreckage of the flight deck before he could be transported to a hospital. Repo was evacuated to a hospital, but later succumbed to his injuries. Donadeo, the lone survivor of the four flight-deck occupants, recovered from his injuries. Frank Borman, a former NASA astronaut and Eastern's senior vice president of operations, was awoken at home by a phone call explaining of a probable crash. He immediately drove to Eastern's Miami offices and decided to charter a helicopter to the crash site as the swampy terrain made rescue difficult and Eastern had not heard any news of progress in rescue efforts. There he was able to land in a swampy patch of grass and coordinate rescue efforts. He accompanied 3 survivors on the helicopter to the hospital including a flight attendant and passenger who lost her baby in the crash.

Most of the dead were passengers in the aircraft's midsection. The swamp absorbed much of the energy of the crash, lessening the impact on the aircraft. The mud of the Everglades may have blocked wounds sustained by survivors, preventing them from bleeding to death. However, it also complicated the survivors' recuperation, as organisms in the swamp caused infection, with the potential for gas gangrene. Eight passengers became infected; doctors used hyperbaric chambers to treat the infections. All the survivors were injured; 60 received serious injuries and 17 suffered minor injuries that did not require hospitalization. The most common injuries were fractures of ribs, spines, pelvises, and lower extremities. Fourteen survivors had various degrees of burns.

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigation discovered that the autopilot had been inadvertently switched from altitude hold to control wheel steering (CWS) mode in pitch. In this mode, once the pilot releases pressure on the yoke (control column or wheel), the autopilot maintains the pitch attitude selected by the pilot until he moves the yoke again. Investigators believe the autopilot switched modes when the captain accidentally leaned against the yoke while turning to speak to the flight engineer, who was sitting behind and to the right of him. The slight forward pressure on the stick would have caused the aircraft to enter a slow descent, maintained by the CWS system.

Investigation into the aircraft's autopilot showed that the force required to switch to CWS mode was different between the A and B channels (15 vs. 20 lbf or 6.8 vs. 9.1 kgf, respectively). Thus, the switching to CWS in channel A possibly did not occur in channel B, thus depriving the first officer of any indication the mode had changed (channel A provides the captain's instruments with data, while channel B provides the first officer's).

After descending 250 feet (76 m) from the selected altitude of 2,000 feet (610 m), a C-chord sounded from the rear speaker. This altitude alert, designed to warn the pilots of an inadvertent deviation from the selected altitude, went unnoticed by the crew. Investigators believe this was due to the crew being distracted by the nose gear light, and because the flight engineer was not in his seat when it sounded, so would not have been able to hear it. Visually, since it was nighttime and the aircraft was flying over the darkened terrain of the Everglades, no ground lights or other visual signs indicated the TriStar was slowly descending.

Captain Loft was found during the autopsy to have an undetected brain tumor, in an area that controls vision. However, the NTSB concluded that the captain's tumor did not contribute to the accident.

The final NTSB report cited the cause of the crash as pilot error, specifically: "the failure of the flight crew to monitor the flight instruments during the final four minutes of flight, and to detect an unexpected descent soon enough to prevent impact with the ground. Preoccupation with a malfunction of the nose landing gear position indicating system distracted the crew's attention from the instruments and allowed the descent to go unnoticed."

In response to the accident, many airlines started crew resource management training for their pilots. The training is designed to make problem solving in a cockpit much more efficient, thus causing less distraction for the crew. Flashlights are now standard equipment near jumpseats, and all jumpseats are outfitted with shoulder harnesses.

Aug 9, 2021

Randall Brooks’ varied flying experience supports the advancement of APS’s unique flight training programs and advanced pilot training techniques. Randall joined APS in 2012 with seven years of experience in the UPRT field and more than 25 years of flight operations and training experience as a pilot and aviation manager.

Prior to joining APS, Randall held multiple director of flight operations and director of flight training positions. While vastly skilled providing flight instruction in flight simulators, gliders, aerobatic aircraft, multi-engine jets, and military jet training aircraft, he finds UPRT the most challenging and gratifying as providing such training offers the greatest potential for worldwide aviation safety improvement.

Randall served as the president of the Upset Prevention and Recovery Training Association (UPRTA), focusing on instructor and training program standardization. He has also served as the leader of training analysis for the International Committee for Aviation Training in Extended Envelopes (ICATEE), an international working group founded by the Royal Aeronautical Society. Randall has assisted in drafting FAA Advisory Circulars and other guidance material in the area of stall training and loss of control prevention, and has appeared as a subject matter expert for multiple Aviation Rulemaking Committee proceedings on these subjects.

As an instructor pilot, Randall has over 25 years of experience in the delivery of all-attitude/all-envelope flight instruction. He served as a primary instructor for the FAA Flight Standardization Board’s evaluation of pilot training for a newly certified business jet aircraft and developed a unique training program combining both simulator and aircraft training for European aviation authorities. He was also instrumental in creating a required program of upset recovery instruction for customers of a certificated light jet aircraft.

Randall is a 3 time Master CFI–Aerobatic and has over 13,500 hours of flight experience in over 100 different aircraft types. As an airshow demonstration pilot, he performed over 500 surface level aerobatic displays throughout North America and the Caribbean. He served as a member of numerous civilian formation aerobatic teams and flew formation aerobatics professionally for 19 years. Randall’s diverse airshow experience includes demonstration of a single-engine jet aircraft prototype and leading a two-ship sailplane team. As the director of operations for the Red Baron Squadron, he was responsible for the formation training and airshow qualification of all pilots of a seven-ship fleet of aerobatic aircraft.

Randall holds a degree in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Colorado. In the field of flight simulation, Randall worked as a flight test engineer creating and executing a test plan to gather data for flight simulator development and has evaluated operational and research simulators assessing their upset recovery training potential and capabilities. In 2019, he received the NBAA Dr. Tony Kern Professionalism Award recognizing individual aviation professionals who have demonstrated their outstanding professionalism and leadership in support of aviation safety in the business aviation industry. 

Randall’s articles and presentations on flight training to reduce the LOC-I Accident Threat

  • “Loss of Control in Flight – Training Foundations and Solutions”, European Airline Training Symposium, Istanbul, Turkey, 9-10 November 2010
  • “Aerobatics versus Upset Prevention and Recovery Training”, Civil Aviation Training Magazine, Issue 2, 2011
  • “The Psychological Boundaries of Flight Simulation”, Royal Aeronautical Society, Flight Simulation Group Conference, London, UK, 8-9 June 2011
  • “Integrated Upset Prevention and Recovery Training”, Simulation and Training for Resilience and Safety Symposium, London, UK, 27 March 2019
Aug 5, 2021

United Airlines Flight 266 was a scheduled flight from Los Angeles International Airport, California, to General Mitchell International Airport, Milwaukee, Wisconsin via Stapleton International Airport, Denver, Colorado with 38 on board. On January 18, 1969 at approximately 18:21 PST it crashed into Santa Monica Bay, Pacific Ocean, about 11.5 miles (18.5 km) west of Los Angeles International Airport, four minutes after takeoff.

Rescuers (at the time) speculated that an explosion occurred aboard the plane, a Boeing 727. Three and a half hours after the crash three bodies had been found in the ocean along with parts of fuselage and a United States mail bag carrying letters with that day's postmark. Hope was dim for survivors because the aircraft was configured for domestic flights and did not carry liferafts or lifejackets. A Coast Guard spokesman said it looked "very doubtful that there could be anybody alive."

Up until 2013, United used "Flight 266" designation on its San Francisco-Chicago (O'Hare) route.

The crew of Flight 266 was Captain Leonard Leverson, 49, a veteran pilot who had been with United Airlines for 22 years and had almost 13,700 flying hours to his credit. His first officer was Walter Schlemmer, 33, who had approximately 7,500 hours, and the flight engineer was Keith Ostrander, 29, who had 634 hours. Between them the crew had more than 4,300 hours of flight time on the Boeing 727.

The Boeing 727-22C aircraft, registration N7434U, was almost new and had been delivered to United Airlines only four months earlier. It had less than 1,100 hours of operating time. The aircraft had had a nonfunctional #3 generator for the past several days leading up to the accident. Per standard procedure, the crew placed masking tape over the switches and warning lights for the generator. Approximately two minutes after takeoff, the crew reported a fire warning on engine #1 and shut it off. The crew radioed to departure control that they only had one functioning generator and needed to come back to the airport, but it turned out to be their last communication, with subsequent attempts to contact Flight 266 proving unsuccessful. Shortly after engine #1 shut down, the #2 generator also ceased operating for reasons unknown. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) was unable to determine why the #2 generator had failed after it had become the plane's sole power source, nor why the "standby electrical system either was not activated or failed to function."

Several witnesses saw Flight 266 take off and reported seeing sparks emanating from either engine #1 or the rear of the fuselage, while others claimed an engine was on fire. Salvage operations were conducted to recover the wreckage of the aircraft, but not much useful information was gleaned as the cockpit instruments were not recovered. The wreckage was in approximately 930 feet (280 meters) of water and had been severely fragmented, however the relatively small area in which it was spread indicated an extremely steep, nose-down angle at impact. There was little in the way of identifiable human remains at the wreckage site, only two passengers were identified and only one intact body was found. The #2 and #3 engines suffered severe rotational damage from high RPM speeds at impact, but the #1 engine had almost no damage because it had been powered off. No evidence of any fire or heat damage was found on the engines, thus disproving the witnesses' claims. The small portion of the electrical system that was recovered did not provide any relevant information. The CVR took nearly six weeks to locate and recover. NTSB investigators could not explain the sparking seen by witnesses on the ground and theorized that it might have been caused by debris being sucked into the engine, a transient compressor stall or an electrical system problem that led to the eventual power failure. They also were unable to explain the engine #1 fire warning in the absence of a fire, but this may have resulted from electrical system problems or a cracked duct that allowed hot engine air to set off the temperature sensors. The sensors from the #1 and #2 engines were recovered and exhibited no signs of malfunction. Some tests indicated that it was indeed possible for the #2 generator to fail from an overload condition as a result of the operating load being suddenly shifted onto it following the #1 generator's shutdown, and this was maintained as a possible cause of the failure.

N7434U had recently been fitted with a generator control panel that had been passed around several different UAL aircraft because of several malfunctions. After being installed in N7434U the month prior to the ill-fated flight, generator #3 once again caused operating problems and was swapped with a different unit. Since that generator was subsequently tested and found to have no mechanical issues, the control panel was identified as the problem after it caused further malfunctions with the replacement generator. Busy operating schedules and limited aircraft availability meant that repair work on N7434U was put on hold, with nothing that could be done in the meantime except to disable the #3 generator. The NTSB investigators believed that the inoperative #3 generator probably was not responsible for the #2 generator's in-flight failure since it was assumed to be isolated from the rest of the electrical system.

With the loss of all power to the lights and flight attitude instruments, flying at night in instrument conditions, the pilots quickly became spatially disoriented and unable to know which inputs to the flight controls were necessary to keep the plane flying normally. Consequently, the crew lost control of the aircraft and crashed into the ocean in a steep nose-down angle, killing everyone on board. The flight control system would not have been affected by the loss of electrical power, since it relied on hydraulic and mechanical lines, so it was concluded that loss of control was the result of the crew's inability to see around the cockpit. It was theorized that the non-activation of the backup electrical system might have been for one of several reasons:

  • The aircraft's battery, which powered the backup electrical system, could have been inadvertently disconnected by the flight engineer following the shutdown of engine 1, as he made sure that the galley power switch (which was similar in shape and adjacent to the battery switch) was turned off (in accordance with procedures for operating with only one functional generator).
  • The battery, or its charging circuitry, could have malfunctioned, rendering it unable to power the backup electrical system.
  • The flight engineer could have mistakenly set the aircraft's essential power switch to the APU position, rather than the standby (backup) position; the switch has to pass through a gate when turning from the APU position to the standby position, and the flight engineer, turning the switch until he encountered resistance, may have assumed that this meant that the switch had reached the end of its travel and was now in the standby position, when it had actually hit the detent between the APU and standby positions. The 727's APU is inoperative in flight.
  • The flight engineer could simply have neglected to switch the aircraft to the backup electrical system; the United Airlines procedures for the loss of all generators did not, at the time, explicitly tell the crew to switch to backup power (instead focusing on regaining at least one generator), and it is possible that the flight engineer repeatedly tried to bring a generator back online instead of immediately switching the aircraft to the backup system.

The CVR and FDR both lost power just after the crew informed ATC of the fire warning on engine #1. At an unknown later point, both resumed operation for a short period of time. The FDR came back online for 15 seconds, the CVR nine seconds during which time it recorded the crew discussing their inability to see where the plane was. No sounds of the plane impacting the water could be heard when this second portion of the recording ceased.

At the time, a battery-powered backup source for critical flight instruments was not required on commercial aircraft. The accident prompted the Federal Aviation Administration to require all transport-category aircraft to carry backup instrumentation, powered by a source independent of the generators.

The NTSB's "probable cause" stated:

"The Board determines that the probable cause of this accident was loss of altitude orientation during a night, instrument departure in which the altitude instruments were disabled by loss of electrical power. The Board has been unable to determine (a) why all generator power was lost or (b) why the standby electrical power system either was not activated or failed to function."

As a result of this accident, all air carrier aircraft are required to have an additional attitude indicator (Standby Attitude Indicator) that has its own power supply and will operate without selection in the event of a failure of the aircraft electrical system.

Aug 2, 2021

Kevin Sweeney is the only person to successfully land a KC-135, the military version of the Boeing 707, after two of the four engines were ripped completely off the airplane while on a night combat mission in Desert Storm. This challenging experience taught him to think on his feet and be highly flexible, which means that he will quickly make adjustments to his presentation to be sure that your audience is receiving the most applicable information possible.

The unique life experiences of Kevin Sweeney have molded him into an inspirational speaker, allowing him to effectively motivate members of any organization. Through his presentation, people learn how to shine during the tough days by using specific techniques, helping them to maintain a calm composure when faced with change or challenge.

Kevin has written Pressure Cooker Confidence: Pressure Cooker Confidence takes you on a true story of a phenomenal military jet flight where the two engines on the left wing of the KC-135E tanker aircraft (military version of the Boeing 707 aircraft) come completely off the airplane. Without warning the crew is suddenly faced with this terrifying life-threatening emergency. How they react will determine their ability to survive this airborne crisis. The unforeseen crisis happens at night, at maximum gross weight, and on a Desert Storm combat sortie. The story takes you through the remarkable successful recovery of the airplane.

Jul 29, 2021

Pan Am Flight 214 was a scheduled flight of Pan American World Airways from San Juan, Puerto Rico, to Baltimore, Maryland, and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. On December 8, 1963, the Boeing 707 serving the flight crashed near Elkton, Maryland, while flying from Baltimore to Philadelphia, after being hit by lightning. All 81 occupants of the plane were killed. The crash was Pan Am's first fatal accident with the 707, which it had introduced to its fleet five years earlier.

An investigation by the Civil Aeronautics Board concluded that the cause of the crash was a lightning strike that had ignited fuel vapors in one of the aircraft's fuel tanks, causing an explosion that destroyed one of the wings. The exact manner of ignition was never determined, but the investigation yielded information about how lightning can damage aircraft, leading to new safety regulations. The crash also spawned research into the safety of various types of aviation fuel and into methods of reducing dangerous fuel-tank vapors.

Pan American Flight 214 was a regularly scheduled flight from Isla Verde International Airport in San Juan, Puerto Rico, to Philadelphia International Airport with a scheduled stopover at Baltimore's Friendship Airport. It operated three times a week as the counterpart to Flight 213, which flew from Philadelphia to San Juan via Baltimore earlier the same day. Flight 214 left San Juan at 4:10 p.m. Eastern time with 140 passengers and eight crew members, and arrived in Baltimore at 7:10 p.m. The crew did not report any maintenance issues or problems during the flight. After 67 passengers disembarked in Baltimore, the aircraft departed at 8:24 p.m. with its remaining 73 passengers for the final leg to Philadelphia International Airport.

As the flight approached Philadelphia, the pilots established contact with air traffic control near Philadelphia at 8:42 p.m. The controller informed the pilots that the airport was experiencing a line of thunderstorms in the vicinity, accompanied by strong winds and turbulence. The controller asked whether the pilots wanted to proceed directly to the airport or to enter a holding pattern to wait for the storm to pass. The crew elected to remain at 5,000 feet in a holding pattern with five other aircraft. The controller told the pilots that the delay would last approximately 30 minutes. There was heavy rain in the holding area, with frequent lightning and gusts of wind up to 50 miles per hour (80 km/h).

At 8:58 p.m., the aircraft exploded. The pilots were able to transmit a final message: "MAYDAY MAYDAY MAYDAY. Clipper 214 out of control. Here we go." Seconds later, the first officer of National Airlines Flight 16, holding 1,000 feet higher in the same holding pattern, radioed, "Clipper 214 is going down in flames." The aircraft crashed at 8:59 p.m. in a corn field east of Elkton, Maryland, near the Delaware Turnpike, setting the rain-soaked field on fire. The aircraft was completely destroyed, and all of the occupants were killed.

The aircraft was the first Pan American jet to crash in the five years since the company had introduced their jet fleet.

A Maryland state trooper who had been patrolling on Route 213 radioed an alert as he drove toward the crash site, east of Elkton near the state line. The trooper was first to arrive at the crash site and later stated that "It wasn’t a large fire. It was several smaller fires. A fuselage with about 8 or 10 window frames was about the only large recognizable piece I could see when I pulled up. It was just a debris field. It didn’t resemble an airplane. The engines were buried in the ground 10- to 15-feet from the force of the impact."

It was soon obvious to firefighters and police officers that little could be done other than to extinguish the fires and to begin collecting bodies. The wreckage was engulfed in intense fires that burned for more than four hours. First responders and police from across the county, along with men from the United States Naval Training Center Bainbridge, assisted with the recovery. They patrolled the area with railroad flares and set up searchlights to define the accident scene and to ensure that the debris and human remains were undisturbed by curious spectators.

Remains of the victims were brought to the National Guard Armory in Philadelphia, where a temporary morgue was created. Relatives came to the armory, but officials ruled out the possibility of visually identifying the victims. It took the state medical examiner nine days to identify all of the victims, using fingerprints, dental records and nearby personal effects. In some cases, the team reconstructed the victims' faces to the extent possible using mannequins.

The main impact crater contained most of the aircraft's fuselage, the left inner wing, the left main gear and the nose gear. Portions of the plane's right wing and fuselage, right main landing gear, horizontal and vertical tail surfaces and two of the engines were found within 360 feet (110 m) of the crater. A trail of debris from the plane extended as far as four miles (6 km) from the point of impact. The complete left-wing tip was found nearly two miles (3 km) from the crash site. Parts of the wreckage ripped a 40-foot-wide (12 m) hole in a country road, shattered windows in a nearby home and spread burning jet fuel across a wide area.

The Civil Aeronautics Board was notified of the accident and was dispatched from Washington, D.C. to conduct an investigation. Witnesses of the crash described hearing the explosion and seeing the plane in flames as it descended. Of the 140 witnesses interviewed, 99 reported seeing an aircraft or a flaming object in the sky. Seven witnesses stated that they had seen lightning strike the aircraft. Seventy-two witnesses said that the ball of fire occurred at the same time as, or immediately after, the lightning strike. Twenty-three witnesses reported that the aircraft exploded after they had seen it ablaze.

The aircraft was a Boeing 707-121 registered with tail number N709PA. Named the Clipper Tradewind, it was the oldest aircraft in the U.S. commercial jet fleet at the time of the crash. It had been delivered to Pan Am on October 27, 1958 and had flown a total of 14,609 hours. It was powered by four Pratt & Whitney JT3C-6 turbojet engines and its estimated value was $3,400,000 (equivalent to $28,700,000 in 2020).

In 1959, the aircraft had been involved in an incident in which the right outboard engine was torn from the wing during a training flight in France. The plane entered a sudden spin during a demonstration of the aircraft's minimum control speed, and the aerodynamic forces caused the engine to break away. The pilot regained control of the aircraft and landed safely in London using the remaining three engines. The detached engine fell into a field on a farm southwest of Paris, where the flight had originated, with no injuries.

The plane carried 73 passengers, who all died in the crash. All the passengers were residents of the United States.

The pilot was George F. Knuth, 45, of Long Island. He had flown for Pan Am for 22 years and had accumulated 17,049 hours of flying experience, including 2,890 in the Boeing 707. He had been involved in another incident in 1949, when as pilot of Pan Am Flight 100, a Lockheed Constellation in flight over Port Washington, New York, a Cessna 140 single-engine airplane crashed into his plane. The two occupants of the Cessna were killed, but Captain Knuth was able to land safely with no injuries to his crew or passengers.

The first officer was John R. Dale, 48, also of Long Island. He had a total of 13,963 hours of flying time, of which 2,681 were in the Boeing 707. The second officer was Paul L. Orringer, age 42, of New Rochelle, New York. He had 10,008 hours of flying experience, including 2,808 in Boeing 707 aircraft. The flight engineer was John R. Kantlehner of Long Island. He had a total flying time of 6,066 hours, including 76 hours in the Boeing 707.

The Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) assigned more than a dozen investigators within an hour of the crash. The CAB team was assisted by investigators from the Boeing Company, Pan American World Airways, the Air Line Pilots Association, Pratt & Whitney, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Federal Aviation Agency. The costs of the CAB's investigations rarely exceeded $10,000, but the agency would spend about $125,000 investigating this crash (equivalent to $1,060,000 in 2020), in addition to the money spent by Boeing, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), Pratt & Whitney, and other aircraft-part suppliers during additional investigations.

Initial theories of the cause of the crash focused on the possibility that the plane had experienced severe turbulence in flight that caused a fuel tank or fuel line to rupture, leading to an in-flight fire from leaking fuel. U.S. House Representative Samuel S. Stratton of Schenectady, New York sent a telegram to the FAA urging them to restrict jet operations in turbulent weather, but the FAA responded that it saw no pattern that suggested the need for such restrictions, and Boeing concurred. Other theories included sabotage or lightning, but by nightfall after the first day, investigators had not found evidence of either. There was also some speculation that metal fatigue as a result of the aircraft's 1959 incident could be a factor, but the aircraft had undergone four separate maintenance overhauls since the accident without any issues having been detected.

Investigators rapidly located the flight data recorder, but it was badly damaged in the crash. Built to withstand an impact 100 times as strong as the force of gravity, it had been subjected to a force of 200 times the force of gravity, and its tape appeared to be hopelessly damaged. CAB chairman Alan S. Boyd told reporters shortly after the accident, "It was so compacted there is no way to tell at this time whether we can derive any useful information from it." Eventually, investigators were able to extract data from 95 percent of the tape that had been in the recorder.

The recovery of the wreckage took place over a period of 12 days, and 16 truckloads of the debris were taken to Bolling Air Force Base in Washington, D.C. for investigators to examine and reassemble. Investigators revealed that there was evidence of a fire that had occurred in flight, and one commented that it was nearly certain that there had been an in-flight explosion of some kind. Eyewitness testimony later confirmed that the plane had been burning on its way down to the crash site.

Within days, investigators reported that the crash had apparently been caused by an explosion that had blown off one of the wing tips. The wing tip had been found about three miles (5 km) from the crash site bearing burn marks and bulging from an apparent internal explosive force. Remnants of nine feet (3 m) of the wing tip had been found at various points along the flight path short of the impact crater. Investigators revealed that it was unlikely that rough turbulence had caused the crash because the crews of other aircraft that had been circling in the area reported that the air was relatively smooth at the time. They also said that the plane would have had to dive a considerable distance before aerodynamic forces would have caused it to break up and explode, but it was apparent that the aircraft had caught fire near its cruising altitude of 5,000 feet.

Before this flight, there had been no other known case of lightning causing a plane to crash despite many instances of planes being struck. Investigators found that on average, each airplane is struck by lightning once or twice a year. Scientists and airline-industry representatives vigorously disputed the theory that lightning could have caused the aircraft to explode, calling it improbable. The closest example of such an instance occurred near Milan, Italy in June 1959 when a Lockheed L-1049 Super Constellation crashed as a result of static electricity igniting fuel vapor emanating from the fuel vents. Despite the opposition, investigators found multiple lightning strike marks on the left wing tip, and a large area of damage that extended along the rear edge of the wing, leading investigators to believe that lightning was indeed the cause. The CAB launched an urgent research program in an attempt to identify conditions in which fuel vapors in the wings could have been ignited by lightning. Within a week of the crash, the FAA issued an order requiring the installation of static electricity dischargers on the approximately 100 Boeing jet airliners that had not already been so equipped. Aviation-industry representatives were critical of the order, claiming that there was no evidence that the dischargers would have any beneficial effect, as they were not designed to handle the effects of lightning, and they said that the order would create a false impression that the risk of lightning strikes had been resolved.

The CAB conducted a public hearing in Philadelphia in February 1964 as part of its investigation. Experts had still not concluded that lightning had caused the accident, but they were investigating how lightning could have triggered the explosion. The FAA said that it would conduct research to determine the relative safety of the two types of jet fuel used in the United States, both of which were present in the fuel tanks of Flight 214. Criticism of the JP-4 jet fuel that was in the tanks centered around the fact that its vapors can be easily ignited at the low temperatures encountered in flight. JP-4 advocates countered that the fuel was as safe, or safer than, kerosene, the other fuel used in jets at the time.

Pan American conducted a flight test in a Boeing 707 to investigate whether fuel could leak from the tank-venting system during a test flight that attempted to simulate moderate to rough turbulence in flight. The test did not reveal any fuel discharge, but there was evidence that fuel had entered the vent system, collected in the surge tanks and returned to the tanks.[1](p9) Pan American said that it would test a new system to inject inert gas into the air spaces above the fuel tanks in aircraft in an attempt to reduce the risk of hazardous fuel-air mixtures that could ignite.

On March 3, 1965, the CAB released its final accident report. The investigators concluded that a lightning strike had ignited the fuel-air mixture in the number 1 reserve fuel tank, which had caused an explosive disintegration of the left outer wing, leading to a loss of control. Despite one of the most intensive research efforts in its history, the agency could not identify the exact mechanics of the fuel ignition, concluding that lightning had ignited vapors through an as-yet unknown pathway. The board said, "It is felt that the current state of the art does not permit an extension of test results to unqualified conclusions of all aspects of natural lightning effects. The need for additional research is recognized and additional programming is planned."

Accident Report

Safety Recommendations

The following recommendations for your consideration are submitted:

  1. Install static discharge wicks on those turbine powered aircraft not so equipped.
  2. Reevaluate problems associated with incorporation of flame arrestors in fuel tank vent outlets. We believe positive protection against fuel tank explosion from static discharge ignited fuel/air mixtures at fuel tank vent outlets can be provided by flame arrestors having sufficient depth.
  3. A possible alternative to No. 2 that may be considered is to render the mixture emitting from the vent outlet non-ignitable by the introduction of air into the vent tube.
  4. We believe the surge tanks located just outboard of the reserve tanks, by virtue of their location near the wing tip, are vulnerable with respect to lightning strikes. Burn marks on the skin in the tip area of N709PA substantiates this belief. This being the case, it is believed a measure of protection will be attained if the wing skin is not utilized as part of the surge tank walls. This could be accomplished by providing an inner wall with an air gap between it and the wing skin to form the surge tank. It is recommended that this concept be considered. Another alternative appears to provide sufficient thickness of the skin in this area to prevent burning through by lightning strikes.
  5. Suggested for consideration is the requirement that only Jet A fuel be used commercially. Vapor flammability temperature charts provided by Esso show that much less of the operations would occur with the vapor in the flammability range while using Jet A fuel as compared with Jet B fuel.
  6. Finally, it is recommended that every effort be expanded to arrive at a practical means by which flammable air/vapor mixtures are eliminated from the fuel tanks. There appears to be at least two approaches to accomplish this act. There is the possibility of inerting the space above the fuel by introduction of an inert gas. An alternate approach is to introduce sufficient air circulation into the tanks to maintain a fuel/air ratio too lean for combustion. There may well be other approaches to attain this goal; if so, they should be explored. Other problems of like complexity have been resolved and we feel the resolution of this problem is likewise attainable at a cost commensurate with the benefits. We recommend that FAA/CAB solicit the aid of the aviation and petroleum industry as well as government and defense agencies to provide a solution to this problem that is applicable to aircraft in service as well as new aircraft.
Jul 26, 2021

FlightSafety International, a Berkshire Hathaway company

Ron was named the President, FlightSafety Services Corporation (FSSC), in January 2014. FSSC provides turnkey aircrew training systems (ATS) and contractor logistics support (CLS) to its military customers. It includes aircrew training, courseware, advanced technology training devices, computer based training workstations and support for simulators at 18 U.S. military bases. Current programs include the development and fielding of the ATS for the new KC-46 aircraft., CLS for T-1 and T-38 training devices, instruction and CLS for KDAM ATARS (special operations) and the KC-10.

Ron joined the FlightSafety International team as the Director of Military Business Development, FlightSafety Simulation, in October 2011. His responsibilities included finding first-class training and simulation solutions for its military customers. This covered the spectrum from part-task trainers to high fidelity, full flight simulators. He was then named as the Vice President of FSSC in October 2013.

He previously served in the U.S Air Force obtaining the rank of Major General. He commanded the first squadron operating the new C-17, a C-141 operations group and a KC-135 air refueling wing. He also led the Air Force’s center that directed worldwide flights of its fleet of 800 cargo and tanker aircraft – about one takeoff every 90 seconds. Ron’s interagency experience includes international contingency planning as the senior Air Force officer at the Department of State. His Pentagon experience includes planning and budgeting about $30 billion to support Air Force logistics. He also ran the Air Force’s accredited Staff College. Finally, Ron’s Air Force career culminated with leading 17th Air Force which directed all Air Force activities in Africa to include anti-terrorism, anti-piracy and disaster relief operations. Ron has about 4,800 hours as a pilot and instructor flying C-141A/B, C-17A, KC-135R (Boeing 707) and C-21 (Lear 35) aircraft.

His formal education includes a degree in Engineering Mechanics from the U.S. Air Force Academy, a master’s degree in Business Administration from Webster University a degree from Air Command and Staff College and a master’s degree from the Industrial College of the Armed Forces. Ron also attended the Kenan-Flagler Business School, University of North Carolina, and the John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University.

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