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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Jul 27, 2020

Skip grew up in a house that had an “airplane room”, replete with models and pictures. His father was a pilot, and was a part-owner in a Beech Sundowner airplane. On his 10th birthday, Skip got to fly in the seat and control an airplane for the first time.

Skip was recruited to the United States Air Force Academy to play soccer, and majored in physics, attending while his high school friend Robert “Cujo” Teschner was also a cadet. When he was cut from the soccer team, his grades dramatically improved, which enabled him to receive one of the limited slots for pilot training. As a cadet, he broke his arm during a parachute failure while skydiving.

Skip attended pilot training at Reese Air Force Base, and was ranked high enough to select a fighter, and received an F-15C. He attended fighter fundamentals training in San Antonio, and was then assigned to the 54th Fighter Squadron in Anchorage, Alaska. His squadron was the first to utilize night vision goggles (NVGs) in dogfights at night.

After his Alaska tour, Skip was assigned to be a T-37 IP at Laughlin Air Force Base, Texas. After Laughlin, he was assigned to Lakenheath Air Base, England.

Skip eventually became the commander of an F-15 squadron in Lakenheath. In that capacity, he led his squadron throughout Europe in exercises.

After retiring from the Air Force, Skip became a CFI for five years, and was later hired by a legacy airline, and currently instructs on the B737.

Jul 23, 2020

“It was very cold up there and the missions were tiring because they were quite long. They lasted anywhere from five to six-and-a-half hours, and when we got back to the base all we could think of doing was hitting the sack and getting some rest and being prepared for the next day’s mission,” the retired lieutenant colonel said. 

Being shot down and captured was not an option. The black Tuskegee Airmen were showing the world bigotry didn’t belong — except down below.

On April 1, 1945, hate showed its face once again.

“There were seven of us and we were going after targets of opportunity in Austria,” he said of the day his squad got into a dogfight with German fighter pilots.

“Three of us got shot down. One was able to make it back to friendly territory before he crash-landed, one was killed outright when he was shot down and the third one, his plane was damaged so badly that he had to bail out,” said Stewart.

That pilot was captured and lynched three days later by an angry mob.

“The crowd, after being agitated by the SS troops, they broke into the jail and took this downed pilot out and they beat him badly first and then hung him from a lamppost. His name was Walter Manning,” Stewart said. “He was a very dynamic person. He was, I remember, a great swimmer. Lord knows what he would have done had he been able to survive the war.”

Stewart — one of the Heroes of a Generation the Herald is chronicling — almost faced the same fate that day over Austria.

“I realized (as tracer bullets whizzed by him) somebody was shooting at me. A German fighter plane was on my tail and I thought sure that I had had it,” Stewart said.

He dove for the ground, pulling up at the last second as the German fighter on his tail crashed nose-first in a ball of flames.

“Somebody was with me. I guess it was God as my co-pilot there because that guy should have had me,” he added. “I was about to give up the ghost.”

Stewart lives in Michigan now but once trained in Massachusetts at Westover Air Force base in Chicopee and flew with fellow pilots from all over New England. He has a book coming out next week about his days as a Tuskegee Airman. It’s called “Soaring to Glory.”

It’s a fascinating tale of a teenage boy in a segregated America defying the odds and proving himself 30,000 feet above the Earth as the world was at war.

“I subdued those feelings that I might have had about racial prejudice and committed to the mission,” he said of escorting bombers. “There were 10 lives on board each of those bombers that we were protecting. So anytime we intercepted an enemy fighter and stopped them from shooting the bomber down, we potentially saved 10 lives, and that was 10 American lives, fellow Americans and I was not thinking about some of the segregation that was going on at the time back in the states.”

As the story goes, the men on those bombers quickly came to love seeing the Red Tails pull alongside.

“We were like their guardian angels,” Stewart said.

Those long missions, he added, were exercises in perseverance — a shared trait of all the Tuskegee Airmen.

“It was cold … maybe 50 to 60 degrees below zero. … And you’re trapped in the cockpit and you cannot really move,” Stewart said of his single-seat Mustang. “Sometimes coming back from a mission … I would invert the plane, turn it over on its back then so actually I was hanging by my safety strap.

“That was such a relief, to go ahead and hang from the safe strap. It was like somebody rubbing your back,” he said, remembering like it was yesterday. “I couldn’t stay in that position for too long, it was only for a second and then turn the plane back over upright again.”

Stewart is retired now from his mechanical engineering job with a pipeline company. He was recently invited back to Austria, where the townsfolk of Linz honored the memory of his fellow Tuskegee Airman.

“They wanted to make amends for what had happened, what the civilians had done to Walter Manning, and they were doing a commemoration and setting up a very nice memorial for him,” Stewart said. “It was very inspirational.”

His days as a Tuskegee Airman come back to Stewart in a dream, he said. But he’s most proud that he showed the world that patriotism transcends race.

The book about his life, Soaring To Glory, is available on Amazon.

Jul 20, 2020

Nick had his first flight at age 18 in a Stearman, and had repeatedly tried to get into the Air Force Academy, but eventually attended the Military Academy at West Point. He always wanted to go into aviation, and he accepted a position as an aviation officer.

He attended pilot training at Fort Rucker, and received an assignment to fly Blackhawk attack helicopters. He was initially assigned to Hunter Army Airfield, then deployed to Iraq as a maintenance officer and downed aircraft recovery officer. He supervised or performed eight recoveries of crashed aircraft, usually recovering human remains and injured crew members.

He then flew counter-narcotics missions in South America, intercepting boats and aircraft. Most of these missions were conducted at night, using night vision goggles (NVGs). In addition, he performed humanitarian missions.

After nine years, Nick left the Army when he did not received his desired assignment as an instructor at West Point, and transferred to the Air Force. He immediately attended Air Force Undergraduate Pilot Training (UPT), and was assigned to fly the KC-135.

Nick has owned a 1948 Navion for eight years. His wife is also a pilot, flying the C-130 in the California Air National Guard. Nick became involved in warbird flying and is currently in training in the Boeing KC-135.

Jul 16, 2020

Now more than ever, preparation is key.

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

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

Research your destination.

Don’t fly if you have a cold.

TSA bins probably filthy

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


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

Anti-bacterial wipes

Hand sanitizer

Take your temperature before leaving home

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

Put ALL medications into hand-carried bags

fanny pack even better

Wash hands after TSA screening

Bring empty water bottle – fill at filling station, not water fountain

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

cabin typically at 8000 feet

already party hypoxic

being drunk is a type of hypoxia

easier to get drunk at altitude

Bring up to 12 ounces of sanitizer – possibly screening delay

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

Direct air vent onto yourself

Pay attention to FA safety briefing

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

DO NOT bring bags with you – 

loss of life for other pax

open overhead bins pose head risk to passengers

British Airways 2276 Las Vegas

American Airlines 383 Chicago photo Jose Castillo

Emirates 521 Dubai

Aeroflot SU 1492 Moscow

Jul 13, 2020

From Flightcast Podcast:
Chris Palmer is the host of the Aviatorcast Podcast, the Angle of Attack show, and isn’t your average flight instructor. Chris is on a mission to make better pilots. Whether it’s in the cockpit, on the ground, or on YouTube, Chris’s passion is to give new pilots the skills they need to fly safely and have fun. Join us as he shares in his love of flying and what bumps in the road he encountered along the way.

Jul 9, 2020

From We Are The Mighty:

The final day of work comes upon everyone. Some people take a long lunch with coworkers to hand out gifts and going away mementos. Others choose to quietly go out as they either prepare for retirement or moving on to their next job.

Their emotional last day at a unit isn’t just celebrated like a last day at an office. Pilots stick to a tradition that’s as old as the Air Force itself: the final flight, known widely amongst aircrew members as the ‘fini flight.’

The tradition was initially celebrated to accompany milestones in the career of Airmen of all ranks and positions. To find the first documented fini flight, one would have to reach back in history as far as Vietnam, when an aircrew commemorated the completion of 100 missions.

Since then, the way final flights have been celebrated has changed, but the sentiments have remained.

“Traditions such as this are great examples of esprit de corps throughout the Air Force community,” said Steven Frank, 27th Special Operations Wing historian. “It can also help create strong bonds of camaraderie and teamwork among past, current, and future generations of Airmen.”

Today, these final flights are celebrated not for one Airman’s accomplishments but an entire crew’s across the Air Force. They’re used for all ranks and positions to honor their contributions to the unit.

Once the plane lands, it is acknowledged with a formal water salute, where two firetrucks shoot water over the plane creating an arch with plumes of water collapsing down on the plane as it taxis in.

Upon halting the plane, the pilot exits to an immediate barrage of water as their family, friends, and coworkers douse them with fire hoses. Celebratory champagne follows soon after (or whenever their peers decide they had enough water) and thus gives them time to reflect with friends and loved ones on the time they’ve had together at that unit.

Frank says it’s one of the many examples of military cultural institutions that Airmen are proud to participate in.

“Fini flights are just one example of over a hundred years of Air Force traditions and heritage that honors the sacrifices and victories previous generations of Airmen have made to secure our freedoms,” Frank said. “Every Air Force organization continues to make contributions to the Air Force story and the exploration and awareness of each unit’s past can help encourage a sense of increased pride and respect for every Airman’s career field and organization.”

Whether they’re pilots who’ve tallied thousands of hours in a particular aircraft or crew who man weapons that deliver air power, fini flights are a longstanding tradition that remain one of the most exhilarating ways to recognize the very best amongst the Air Force’s ranks.

Jul 6, 2020

Jim Ferrari has been a CFI for over 45 years. He fascination with flying started when he was nine years old, taking his first flight on a B-707 and getting an inflight tour of the cockpit. His father’s employment with NASA gave him the opportunity to see actual mission flight plans and activities.

Jim wanted to fly in the military, but bad eyes kept him out, so he worked throughout high school to earn money for flying lessons. He received his Private Pilot certificate while still in high school, and earned the rest of his certificates (CFI. Inst, MEI) in college.

After graduation he got a job flying in night single-pilot operations in the Beech-18, then moved up to twin Otters and Shorts 330 at Metro Airlines. Finally, he was hired by United Airlines.

In 1985, when he was hired, he became a member of the famous “Class of 570”, where the class was hired to be strike-breakers, but they refused to cross the picket line and were subsequently fired. They were finally re-hired after almost a year of unemployment. When he finally came back to United, he became a Flight Engineer on the DC-10. It took five years for the Class of 570 to obtain restored seniority.

Jim eventually became a B737-300 instructor at the United Airlines Flight Training Center, then worked his way up (through B767, Airbus, and B777) to B787 Captain.

Jim recently retired, and plans to continue as a CFI.

Jul 2, 2020

It takes a special type of person to be an aviation spouse. The pilot will only be working when he/she is away from home. It seems most household emergencies occur during this time. Unlike normal office jobs, pilots frequently commute to their places of work, putting them away from home for even longer periods.

And, unlike most office jobs, pilots (especially military pilots) relocate a lot. Every relocation means spouses must deal with everything that follows: finding new doctors, new schools for children, new job for the spouse.

So let’s take a few minutes to honor aviation spouses this holiday period.

My military Permanent Change of Station (PCS) and civilian moves:

  • USAFA to Laughlin AFB
  • Laughlin to DaNang AB
  • DaNang AB to Mather AFB
  • Mather AFB to Homestead AFB
  • Homestead AFB to Ubon RTAFB
  • Ubon RTAFB to Kadena AB
  • Kadena AB to Patrick AFB
  • Patrick AFB to Denver, CO
  • Denver, CO to San Jose, CA
  • San Jose, CA to Patrick AFB
  • Patrick AFB to Yokota AB
  • Yokota AB to Denver, CO
  • Denver, CO to Orlando, FL
  • Orlando, FL to Castle Rock, CO

The above list does not include Temporary Duty (TDY assignments, some lasting for several months.

Jun 29, 2020

Justin A. Schlechter is an aviation professional focused on leadership, safety, efficiency, and airmanship. He is an A319/320/321 Captain for Delta Air Lines, the Top US Airline of 2017, as recognized by The Wall Street Journal. Justin has a unique blend of airline and general aviation experience and has served in various positions with both growing aviation educational institutions as well as leading global airlines. He is an expert in airline operations, best safety practices, and crew resource management techniques.

Prior to Delta Air Lines, Justin served as a Relief Commander and First Officer with Cathay Pacific Airways, flying B747-400 and B747-8F aircraft worldwide. During this time, Justin represented his peers as a Member of the General Counsel of the Hong Kong Aircrew Officer’s Association. In this role, Justin was responsible for representing the interests of his fellow airmen and was directly involved in the collection, analysis, and presentation of industry wide pilot compensation data for use in negotiations with upper level management.

Justin is passionate about aviation education, and has been an active Flight Instructor for over seventeen years. He has taught aviation coursework as an Adjunct Professor of Aeronautics at Jacksonville University, where he was also a Flight Instructor and Standards Pilot. In addition, he was responsible for the development and implementation of the first Safety Management System put into use in the Aviation Department at Farmingdale State College in New York. Since 2003, Justin has served as a volunteer educational consultant with Barry Tech and the Nassau County Board of Cooperative Educational Services Aeronautics Program. Through this role Justin serves as a mentor to high school students pursuing careers in aviation as well as providing lifelong guidance and mentorship for graduates of the program as well.

Justin holds a BS in Aviation Operations and Management from Jacksonville University.

Jun 25, 2020

Will the future of travel be new airline seats spaced out with hygienic barriers, or saddle-style standing seats to cram more passengers on a flight?

Cleaning and social distancing have turned from health necessity to lifestyle trends, and companies are seizing the moment – but not the logic. The latest is conceptual passenger seats for airlines in a post-COVID world. The proposals are different from any economy class offering today.

Janus seat concept from Aviointeriors AVIOINTERIORS

The Janus (above) wants to introduce quasi-isolation by proposing every middle seat face backwards with shields installed between seats. The Glassafe seat (below) proposes installing a transparent plastic hood around each economy seat to limit germ flow.

Glassafe proposal from Aviointeriors AVIOINTERIORS

Don’t expect either seat to be on a plane. They appeal to current impulses but not long-term needs.

These attention-getting concepts are the norm for their designer, Aviointeriors. It’s the same company that proposed the below “SkyRider” saddle-style standing seats, which garnered global attention but not a single sale. There are doubts if regulators will even permit them on an aircraft.

As a smaller vendor, publicity raises awareness for Aviointeriors’ more ordinary seats: slim padding, little legroom, and no head rest or TV screen.


Airlines like Air Niugini and defunct Transaero use seats from Aviointeriors while Alaska Airlines, Lufthansa, Qatar Airways and others select seats from Recaro, which also makes car seats and baby strollers.

The aviation industry jokes that the German manufacturer is so in demand that airlines don’t choose Recaro – Recaro chooses them. Safran is another common supplier.

They skip whimsical concepts for practical developments: lighter but stronger metal alloys, new cushion materials, and better lighting.

Less radical concepts have failed to catch on. Air New Zealand’s “Skycouch” only found one other buyer, China Airlines, which later discontinued it. Delta Air Lines DAL was going to install the “Cozy Suite” on dozens of 767s and 777s, but cancelled the idea. It put the prototype seats up for sale last year.

Even if these new concepts were to be on an aircraft, it surely wouldn’t be before 2022. Aircraft seats have to undergo rigours strength and flammability testing to ensure they can protect passengers in a crash and withstand fire. That testing could raise problems with the seat concepts.

New aircraft seats have to withstand a 16g dynamic force. A roller coaster has forces about 4g and a Formula One car 6g. The plastic barriers have to be strong enough to remain intact, but not so hard they could cause injury if a passenger’s head suddenly crashes into it.

The barriers also add what airlines and seat manufactures always want to reduce: weight. Even a lightweight barrier adds costs when multiplied across hundreds of seats on hundreds of planes.

The barriers could impede an emergency evacuation. Regulators require passengers be able to get out of an aircraft in under 90 seconds in darkness.

There are practical problems. Will oxygen masks be harder to reach in an emergency?

Germs can move over and under barriers. Face masks are arguably more effective.

Aircraft already have better circulation than is commonly thought. Airflow on an aircraft is vertical, reducing the number of people it comes into contact with, unlike a typical air conditioner that blows air horizontally across many people, picking up and moving their germs along the way.

Airlines have a poor track record cleaning the small tray table. Will they sufficiently and regularly clean all of the new surface area the barrier introduces?

The reversed middle seat is supposed to create privacy, but passengers will face each other and there will surely be awkward eye contact, a complaint of British Airways’ former “ying-yang” business class layout.


Jun 22, 2020

From Wikipedia:

A native of The Bronx, New York, Tengesdal is a graduate from the University of New Haven with a Science Degree in electrical engineering. She was one of three women to make it through the program. After Officer Candidate School commissioning, she began a career as a Naval Aviator by flying the SH-60B Seahawk Helicopter at Naval Station Mayport, Florida. During that time, she deployed on two long cruises and multiple short cruises to the Middle East, South America and the Caribbean. After a three-year sea tour in helicopters, Colonel Tengesdal went on to become a T-34C and T-6A Instructor Pilot. After completing T-6A Instructor Training, she became one of four Navy T-6A Instructors to train Navy and Air Force students at Joint Student Undergraduate Pilot Training (JSUPT) at Moody Air Force Base, GA. Her former Navy flight instructor, Commander Ron Robinson, has said that Merryl David (maiden name) “was one of my best flight students, and it doesn’t surprise me that she’s doing so well.”

Once she completed her Navy obligation, she continued her military career by transferring over to the Air Force to fly the Lockheed U-2S Dragon Lady at Beale Air Force Base in Northern California. Tengesdal was deployed to multiple locations in support of Operations OLIVE HARVEST, ENDURING FREEDOM, IRAQI FREEDOM and HORN OF AFRICA. While stationed at Beale AFB the first time, she held the positions of 9th Reconnaissance Wing (9th RW) Chief of Flight Safety and 9th Physiological Support Squadron Director of Operations. After her tour at Beale AFB, Tengesdal continued her career by becoming the Detachment Commander of Detachment 2 WR/ALC Palmdale, California where she was in charge of flight test and Program Depot Maintenance for the U-2S aircraft. Thereafter, Tengesdal worked at the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) and U.S. Northern Command (NORTHCOM) J8 staff. As Chief of Studies and Assessments Branch, she was responsible for developing the Command’s position on capability gap assessment(s), development and integration for senior-level documents submitted to the Joint Staff. Colonel Tengesdal returned to Beale and held the positions of Deputy Operations Group Commander and Inspector General, 9th RW, Beale AFB, CA. Tengesdal’s final duty was as the Director of Inspections for The Inspector General (TIG) of the Air Force, Office of the Secretary of the Air Force, Pentagon, Washington DC. The Inspections Directorate develops, revises, coordinates, and implements Air Force inspection policy, and provides oversight and reporting of inspection programs to TIG, Chief of Staff of the Air Force, and Secretary of the Air Force on the readiness, economy, efficiency, compliance and state of discipline of the Air Force. Tengesdal is also the Executive Secretary of the Air Force Inspection System Council.

In 2017, Tengesdal retired from Air Force as a Colonel.

Jun 18, 2020

On the Ready For Takeoff Podcast web page for free videos, we are offering a great selection of FAA-produced videos, which normally sell for $24.95. These videos are available for free streaming, not just for the duration of the COVID pandemic, but FOREVER!

  • Medical Facts for Pilots
  • Aviation Physiology, Part I
  • Aviation Physiology, Part II
  • Aviation Physiology, Part III
  • Aviation Threats, Part I
  • Aviation Threats, Part II
Jun 15, 2020

Steve planned to be a professional baseball officer, but met a navy recruiter and was recruited to be an anti-submarine officer on the P-3 aircraft.

After four years as an enlisted crew member, he was commissioned and attended training in Pensacola, flying EA-6Bs.

In 2012, Steve was the Chief of Staff of a Naval Strike Group, with 33 years in the navy, and then became a teacher after his retirement. He also remained as a navy instructor in graduate school.

He also had two tours of duty in the Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) environment, working alongside air force personnel.

Steve now serves as an electronic warfare Subject Matter Expert (SME) at Nellis Air Force Base.

Jun 11, 2020

This week we continue with our offer of FREE aviation videos. Here you will find videos that will help you prepare for a career in aviation or help you prepare for your airline checkride. These normally sell for $49.95 and, once again, you can stream these for free for the duration of the pandemic.

The subjects are

  • How to Get an Airline Job
  • Airline Interview Power
  • Successful Simulator Training
  • Supercharge Your Scan
  • Turbojet Systems Made Easy
  • B737-300 Checkride Maneuvers
  • B727 Practice Oral
  • B727 Checkride Maneuvers

On to another subject: the topic of RACE, especially as it applies to African-Americans, is occupying the news. According to OBAP, African-Americans are 13 percent of the American population but only account for 3 percent of professional pilots.

Of the approximately 200 aviation professionals interviewed on the Ready For Takeoff Podcast, 18 of my guests have been African-American. That comes out to 9 percent. It’s less than 13 percent, but a LOT more than 3 percent, and I feel really blessed to have connected with these professionals. Here’s the list of the episodes, which include 2 Tuskegee Airmen.

374 Christina Thumper Hopper

366 Walter Watson

298 Keith Reeves

292 Gregory Poole

267 Beth Powell

266 Jason Harris

259 LeRoy Homer Foundation

241 Frank Macon

240 Willie Daniels

190 George Hardy

139 Otis Hooper

109 Todd Curtis

099 Lawrence Chambers

073 Brian Settles

068.5 Karl Minter

045 Dick Toliver

017 Donnie Cochran

015 Brenda Robinson

These are some amazing people, who in many cases overcame extreme prejudice and hardship. Do me, and yourself, a favor and pick one or two of these episodes to listen to this week.

If you want to reach out to any of them, you can send an email to and I’ll forward it for you.

Here’s a link to what should be an excellent town hall at 1500 Eastern Standard Time today.


Jun 8, 2020

Having the desire to fly fighter jets since seeing the movie “Top Gun,” Chandra Beckman became part of the elite group of women who have flown United States Air Force fighter jets. 

Chandra started her AF career in ROTC in 1993, the same year the Department of Defense lifted the ban on women flying combat missions, which opened the door for women to fly fighter jets. She graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Mathematics from Arizona State University in 1998. After a delay due to an unexpected pregnancy, she attended USAF Pilot Training where she earned an assignment to fly the F-15C Eagle, and was the first woman to fly that aircraft as a mother. During her time flying the F-15C, Chandra supported the defense of the homeland through Operation NOBLE EAGLE and flew combat missions during the opening weeks of Operation IRAQI FREEDOM. 

Following three years flying the F-15C, she was one of only 3 women assigned to fly the first stealth fighter aircraft, the F-117A Nighthawk. During her time flying that aircraft, she deployed in support of security operations to the Korean peninsula, coordinated with media groups to showcase the final F-117 RED FLAG, and mentored school children and Airmen of all ranks.

Taking a break from flying, Chandra was stationed in the Republic of Korea where she was assigned to the Combined Air Operations Center. While there she developed and implemented the first Operations Center training program for new personnel and worked jobs in both offensive and defensive combat training roles. Chandra then went on to be an Instructor Pilot at the Euro-NATO Joint Jet Pilot Training Program. However, health challenges that had begun while she was stationed in the Republic of Korea finally grounded her from flying. 

From 2009-2017, she earned a Master’s Degree in Aeronautical Science and held multiple jobs which included: Director of Staff for the 82 Training Wing, an organization with a permanent staff of over 3,000 people worldwide serving a student population of almost 80,000 annually; and Director of Operations for RED FLAG, the organization responsible for establishing the framework to train US and coalition nation members in the world’s most realistic air combat scenarios.

Retired from active duty, Chandra enjoys having the freedom to travel the world with her husband and be available for her children whenever and wherever they need her to be. She is a member of the Veteran Advisory Team for the National Foundation for Integrative Medicine and looks forward to helping others in that capacity.

Jun 4, 2020

After finishing my second combat tour in Vietnam, I left the service to become an airline pilot.  By 1979, I was a Systems Instructor for United Airlines with an underground following for my teaching style. With the introduction of the home VCR and video camera, one of my students approached me with the idea of creating Systems Reviews for pilots to help them through ground school — a first of its kind. 

This was the genesis of the Aviation Training Video Industry. What started as a small ad in the back of Air Line Pilot Magazine grew into a million dollar company within the span of a few years. The courses ranged from Systems Reviews, to Test Preparation, to How to Get an Airline Job — all created on the latest video technology from 1979 to 1983.

The Nolly Productions Systems Review Courses are now available free of charge during this global pandemic. These courses normally retail for $79.95, but I am offering them for FREE streaming for the duration of this pandemic. You can stream aircraft systems courses for:

  • B727
  • B737-300
  • B757/767
  • Lear 35/C-21
  • B777
Jun 1, 2020

Erik Lindbergh, a commercial pilot and certified flight instructor, is the grandson of Charles and Anne Lindbergh and son of Jon Lindbergh and Barbara Robbins. As 2002 marks the 75th anniversary of his grandfather’s Spirit of St. Louis transatlantic flight, Erik Lindbergh will recreate this 1927 milestone, illustrating the human spirit’s ability to dream, innovate and achieve one’s goals against many odds.


Though he leads an active lifestyle, Erik also suffers from rheumatoid arthritis (RA), a progressive autoimmune disease marked by pain, tenderness, and inflammation of the joints, that nearly caused him to give up his passion for aviation when he was diagnosed at the young age of 21. RA crippled Erik for 15 years and only recently has he been active again. During his worst years with RA, Erik was forced to use a cane due to the severe pain that made it almost impossible for him to walk. Today, with the help of a breakthrough biotech drug, Enbrel, Erik has his life back and is in pursuit of his dreams. Using his experience with RA, he now serves as a spokesperson for the Arthritis Foundation, working to educate others about RA.


A graduate of Emery Aviation College where he received his Aeronautical Science degree, Erik serves as a Trustee and Vice President of the X PRIZE Foundation, a non-profit organization that stimulates the creation of a new generation of launch vehicles designed to carry passengers into space. The X PRIZE is fashioned after the Orteig Prize, the aviation incentive prize won by Charles Lindbergh’s transatlantic flight in 1927, which created the now $250 billion aviation industry.


Erik is also a Director of the Lindbergh Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to furthering his grandparents belief in creating a balance between technological advancement and environmental preservation. The Foundation promotes gives grants, does educational programs and gives the Lindbergh award each year for work dedicated to “Balance” concept.

Aside from aviation, Erik is an artist and owner of Lindbergh Woodworks, which creates unique furniture and wood sculptures. He is known for his sculptures of rustic planets, spacecraft and aircraft within the community of astronomy and aviation.

May 28, 2020

Though nothing can bring back the hour

Of splendour in the grass, of glory in the flower;

We will grieve not, rather find

Strength in what remains behind:


Many of us have faced, or will soon face, employment disruptions, layoffs and job insecurity. No one can forecast what the aviation industry will look like in the future. In the short-term it will undoubtedly be different. It may be that airlines and employers go out of business, and your dream job no longer exists.

At this critical juncture, don't lose sight of what is important in your life. Your loved ones will stand by you long after your employer has cast you aside.

If you are considering suicide, please call the National Suicide Hotline 1-800-273-8255.

If you are a veteran considering suicide, visit here.

It takes an entire crew to get an airplane aloft. Don't handle this alone.






May 25, 2020

Judy helps coach pilots as they transition in their airline career paths. She has been successfully conducting interview preparation services for 17 years, including 10 years as Lead Interview Preparation Coach and Vice President, Global Strategies at

For over 40 years Judy has worked as an aviation consultant, writer and speaker specializing in the field of pilot selection and recruitment. Her career started with a American Airlines where she was responsible for facilitating the hiring of over 7,100 airline pilots. From AA, she was employed for six years as the President of a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Air Line Pilots Assn. (Universal Pilot Application Service). Since that time, she has consulted with several major air carriers along with government and industry aviation associations. She has been on two FAA Aviation Rule Making committees on pilot selection and has presented before organizations such as the NTSB, FAA, DOD and DOJ.

Author of Expert Witness: Wrongful Death and  Flight Plan to the Flight Deck:  Strategies for a Pilot Career and several magazine articles that have appeared in Aviation for WomenFlight TrainingAir Line Pilot and Airline Pilot Careers.

May 24, 2020

Armed Forces Code of Conduct:

Article I:

I am an American, fighting in the forces which guard my country and our way of life. I am prepared to give my life in their defense.

Article II:

I will never surrender of my own free will. If in command, I will never surrender the members of my command while they still have the means to resist.

Article III:

If I am captured I will continue to resist by all means available. I will make every effort to escape and aid others to escape. I will accept neither parole nor special favors from the enemy.

Article IV:

If I become a prisoner of war, I will keep faith with my fellow prisoners. I will give no information or take part in any action which might be harmful to my comrades. If I am senior, I will take command. If not, I will obey the lawful orders of those appointed over me and will back them up in every way.

Article V:

When questioned, should I become a prisoner of war, I am required to give name, rank, service number and date of birth. I will evade answering further questions to the utmost of my ability. I will make no oral or written statements disloyal to my country and its allies or harmful to their cause.

Article VI:

I will never forget that I am an American, fighting for freedom, responsible for my actions, and dedicated to the principles which made my country free. I will trust in my God and in the United States of America.


On both Memorial Day and Veterans Day, it’s customary to spend time remembering and honoring the countless veterans who have served the United States throughout the country’s history. However, there is a distinction between the two holidays:

  • Memorial Day commemorates the men and women who died while in the military service of their country, particularly those who died in battle or as a result of wounds sustained in battle. In other words, the purpose of Memorial Day is to memorialize the veterans who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country.  We spend time remembering those who lost their lives and could not come home, reflecting on their service and why we have the luxury and freedom that we enjoy today. We might consider how we can support and safeguard their grieving families and loved ones who are left behind.
  • Veterans Day is the day set aside to thank and honor ALL who served—in wartime or peacetime—regardless of whether they died or survived. Veterans Day is always observed officially on November 11, regardless of the day of the week on which it falls. Read more about Veterans Day.

May 22, 2020

Five thousand feet up, pilots are flying some very important cargo across the country. It’s not people or packages these men and women have loaded into the back of their planes: It’s puppies – squirmy, soft and sometimes sad homeless animals who need a new leash on life.

In recent years, rescue-pilot programs have taken off in the South and Northeast. Pilots, almost all of them volunteers who give their time and money to the cause on the weekends, shepherd homeless animals from high-kill shelters in states where adoption rates are usually low, like Alabama and South Carolina, and fly them miles away to animal rescues in the northeast or Central Florida. The animals, many of them young dogs, are adopted or fostered in places where more people are looking to find a furry friend to take to enlarge

Given their wings and the selfless mission to save lives, it might seem apt to compare these pilots to angels. But Michael Young, an Orlando rescue pilot who’s been transporting dogs via plane for the past seven years, says it’s all in a day’s work.

“It’s a chain of people working together and us pilots are just one cog in the big wheel,” Young says. “We’re not the angels. We’re just the bus drivers. The angels are the people who pull the dogs and the people who foster the dogs and put them up for adoption.”

Young has transported almost 1,000 dogs as a volunteer, flying the animals from Alabama to rescues around Florida. It’s a labor of love – one that doesn’t come cheap.

Pilots usually end up spending $10,000 to $12,000 a year maintaining their planes, and Young says it costs around a dollar a mile to fly due to fuel costs, although many of the expenses are tax-deductible because of the charitable cause.

Despite the cost, Young says it’s worth it to save the lives of animals who might otherwise not have a chance. Young says he even adopted two of the dogs he’s flown.

It’s this type of dedication that Kate Quinn, executive director of Pilots N Paws, a South Carolina-based organization that connects pilots with shelters looking for volunteers to transport animals, says she sees in all her pilots.

“These people are huge animal lovers. They’re so concerned with the animals and making sure they’re comfortable,” Quinn says. “We’ve learned that pilots are looking for a meaning to their flights. They’re looking for a reason to fly.”

Saving the lives of 4 to 6 million animals that would otherwise be euthanized every year sounds like a pretty good reason. Quinn says that without the planes swooping in to pick up the animals at the 11th hour, many of them would have to be put down.

There’s also an advantage to using planes as opposed to ground transportation to move the animals. When there are no pilots to help, dogs must be transported in car relays, constantly switching drivers and traveling in crates. On the planes, many pilots allow the dogs to roam freely. The trip by plane is much more consistent and comfortable for them.

“The animals do really well,” Quinn says. “People are surprised to hear how well they do in the plane. The sound of the engine seems to lull them to sleep.”

While the plane experience is better for the animals, the trips do present their own unique challenges, especially in Florida.

“Flying in thunderstorms during the summer here is a challenge. It’s like Florida has the measles if you look at the weather radar, with all the red pimples,” Young says. “But I’ve learned to do it. The best analogy is like a soccer field full of snapping turtles. … We go fast. We go around it. We don’t go through them.”

That’s not the only obstacle to getting the job done. Quinn points out that it takes a lot of hours and a lot of people working together just to save one dog.

To improve the process, Milwaukee rescue pilot Chris Roy invented a software platform to connect animal rescues with volunteers.

Doobert, named after Roy’s cat, includes a smartphone app to connect ground and airborne volunteers.

“The idea came to me because it was so difficult to keep track of which transport requests I was involved with, which animals were on which transport, and who to contact,” he says. “I kept thinking there has to be a better way to do this, and so I decided to create it.”

Even though he also works during the week as an IT project manager, Roy says that there is a major reason he and the other pilots give up their free time for this cause – to spread the puppy love.

“The pilots and ground volunteers donate their time, vehicles and gas because they know that these animals deserve a chance at a better life,” he says. “They don’t ask for anything in return.”

Young and Roy agree that the joy in the job comes from the love they receive from the animals they’ve saved. The thanks they get is spoken in the universal language of a wagging tail or a slobbery grin.

“Many people may think I’m crazy, but these animals in a rescue-relay transport know you are saving them and bringing them to a better place,” Roy says. “You can see the look of relief in their eyes, and see the smiles on their face when they meet you.

May 18, 2020

Many have called her a vanguard as one of the first women fighter pilots for the United States Air Force and the first woman to fly in the elite USAF Air Demonstration Squadron, better known as the “Thunderbirds”. Titles and accolades aside, Nicole Malachowski has lived life according to a simple mantra – “Live an unscripted life.”

Throughout her career ranging from combat fighter pilot to commander, to White House Fellow, and duty as a personal advisor to the First Lady concerning military service members, veterans and military families, Nicole sought opportunities that she had passion for, rather than ones that followed the expected progression in her career field.

While that passionate, adventurous us spirit yielded a successful military career, Nicole’s flight path was not always smooth. Along the way, she learned how to use undaunted determination to overcome adversity, break some barriers, and live with a higher compassion for humanity. Sometimes you have to yield to a big obstacle in order to be able to overcome it.

Nicole is a leader, an igniter of passion and purpose. She is an advocate for those who have chosen to serve their country and for those who have endured personal challenges, to include complex medical journeys.

In this new chapter of her life, as a retired Colonel from the U.S. Air Force, Nicole looks to share her stories and what she has learned, to help others find and ignite their own unstoppable spirits in order to succeed far beyond what they had dreamed.

May 14, 2020

When you apply for a medical certificate, you are required to complete FAA Form 8500-8. Falsifying any information on this form can subject you to a five of $250,000 and five years in prison. If you have concerns about your ability to obtain a medical certificate, I recommend consulting an advisor before applying for your medical. One such advisor is David Hale, who you met in RFT 364.

There are several situations in which a pilot can find himself/herself without a medical certificate. One such case could be where the pilot has simply allowed his/her medical certificate to lapse. Another case could be where the pilot applies for a certificate and is denied due to a medical issue that the FAA considers disqualifying. In that case, the pilot may not use any of the other strategies, such as BasicMed or Sport Pilot medical.

Even with a denial, the pilot may continue to fly with a certificated pilot acting as Pilot In Command (PIC), as long as the aircraft does not require a copilot. The pilot may operate the controls, from either seat, but the pilot without a medical is officially a passenger. Many aircraft owners who have lost their medicals use this strategy.

If there has not been a denial from the FAA, there are other avenues available to General Aviation (GA) pilots. The pilot may operate as a Sport Pilot, flying a Light Sport Aircraft (LSA). An LSA is an aircraft that:

Has a maximum gross takeoff weight of 1,320 lbs.

Has a maximum stall speed of 51 mph (45 knots)

Has a maximum speed in level flight of 130 mph (120 knots)

Has two-place maximum seating

Has single, non-turbine engine, fixed propeller, fixed landing gear.

With a Sport Pilot certificate, the pilot may use his/her driver’s license in place of a medical certificate. See more at

One step up from the Sport Pilot medical is BasicMed. Under BasicMed, pilots can get an authorization from their personal medical providers rather than from FAA Airman Medical Examiners (AMEs). The pilot completes a BasicMed Comprehensive Medical Examination Checklistand gets a physical exam with a state-licensed physician. The pilot then completes a BasicMed Online Course. That’s it – nothing else required.

Under BasicMed, the pilot may operate an aircraft with:

a maximum gross weight of 6000 lbs

up to 6 seats

capable of flying at a maximum speed of 250 knots

maximum altitude 18,000 feet


Using BasicMed, the pilot cannot operate for compensation or hire.

One additional avenue for a pilot is to fly a glider, since no medical is required to fly a glider.

Above all, common sense should prevail – if you’re not healthy enough to fly (whether or not you have a medical), don’t fly!

May 11, 2020

Captain Pamela Carel, a Dallas, TX, native, graduated from the University of Texas, Austin, in 1986 with a B.S. in Aerospace Engineering. Commissioned in December 1986, she was designated a Naval Aviator in 1988. She holds a MBA of Business and Management from Webster University, St. Louis, MO., and a M.A. in National Security and Strategic Studies from Naval War College, Newport, R.I. She completed Joint Professional Military Education (JPME) I with distinction through the Marine Corps Command and Staff College, 2008, and JPME-II at the Naval War College, 2011.


Captain Carel completed her first assignment as a Selectively Retained Graduate (SERGRAD) Instructor Pilot with Training Squadron (VT) 23. Her next two operational assignments were with Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) 34 and Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 22, flying the A-7E and F/A-18C, becoming the first female to qualify in combat in the F/A-18C. Operational tours included deployments in USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) and USS Kitty Hawk(CV 63)  for combat Operation Southern Watch.


Captain Carel served two shore tours as a flight instructor. She transitioned to Selected Reserves in 2001, serving tours in Mine Counter Measures Squadrons (MCMRON) One and Two and as Officer in Charge (OIC) of Naval Information Bureau Detachment 310. She returned to active duty for Commander, Navy Region South (CNRS) as OIC and Battle Watch Captain in support of JTF KATRINA and HURRICANE RITA (2005), subsequently serving as Commanding Officer (CO) of CNRSE ROC (West), 2006. She reported to NR COMSEVENTHFLT (C7F) where she served as OIC of Manpower and Readiness; OIC, Intelligence and Information Operations, and directly supported C7F as Maritime Operations Center (MOC) Chief in USS Blueridge (LCC-19) 2007-2010. Captain Carel completed her in-residence Master’s degree at the U.S. Naval War College, Newport, R.I. Captain Carel then served as Chief Staff Officer of Naval Reserve Naval Mine and Anti-submarine Warfare Command 0194 in San Diego, CA. 2011-2014. In her final assignment, she served as MOC Chief for COMPACFLT, Pearl Harbor, HI. Captain Carel retired 1 January, 2017.


Captain Carel accumulated over 3400 flight hours and 352 carrier landings in Navy aircraft. Her awards include the Meritorious Service Medal (3), Combat Strike Air Medal (2) and Navy Commendation Medal (2).

May 7, 2020

Leeham Co LLC was formed by Scott Hamilton in 1999 after the sale of the company he co-founded, Linkraven Ltd. Linkraven was formed in 1989 and published Commercial Aviation Report and Commercial Aviation Value Report and produced global conferences under the name Commercial Aviation Events. Commercial Aviation Report quickly became a leading source of news in airline and aircraft finance while Value Report brought to the forefront the world of aircraft appraisals. Events produced 60 conferences in 10 years, including the first aviation finance conference in Eastern Europe following the fall of the Iron Curtain; the first in Moscow; and the first in Beijing.

Leeham is a globally recognized expert in aerospace issues, focused on the Big Four airframe Original Equipment Manufacturers (Airbus, Boeing, Bombardier and Embraer) and the engine OEMs. Leeham provides aviation consulting focusing on business strategy, competitive intelligence. Clients seek industry trends and forecast for their strategic planning. The Washington State Dept. of Commerce retained Leeham in 2009 to create an aerospace policy. Leeham Co. services only the aerospace industry.

Hamilton was on the Board of Directors for the Pacific Northwest Aerospace Alliance, Seattle, from 2010-2013. PNAA is a supplier trade group servicing Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, British Columbia and Alberta. Hamilton created PNAA's first Business Plan that enabled the group to increase its revenues and cash position by 1,000 percent in three years and position the association to employ its first executive director. The annual conference attendance increased by 300%.

Leeham Co. ( also publishes Leeham News and Comment (


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