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Ready For Takeoff - Turn Your Aviation Passion Into A Career

The Ready For Takeoff podcast will help you transform your aviation passion into an aviation career. Every week we bring you instruction and interviews with top aviators in their field who reveal their flight path to an exciting career in the skies.
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Now displaying: Category: Aviation
Feb 7, 2020

Corona Virus is affecting expat employment. Cathay Pacific airlines is asking 27,000 employees to take up to three weeks of unpaid leave.

In the mean-time, 10,000 Americans have died from influenza this season.

With Corona Virus captivating the news, it's worth taking a look at travel health.

Whether you're traveling to Asia (where most cases of Corona Virus currently are reported) or some other part of the world, including domestic, you should take reasonable precautions to safeguard your health while traveling.

Buy some alcohol wipes. You can buy a 4-pack of 80-count Lysol wipes for $15. If you want individually-packed wipes, you can buy 16-count alcohol wipe packs for $1 each at DollarTree!

When you travel, wipe down everything you touch! On the airplane, that means the seat belt buckle, the arm rests, the tray table, the air vent, the safety information card, the magazines in the seat pocket, everything!

Don't shake hands with anyone - use a "knuckle-bump" instead.

When you get to your hotel, wipe down everything in your room: the telephone, the remote control, the toilet flush handle, all surfaces, and all items you plan to hold.

Feb 3, 2020

Colonel Walter Watson USAF (Retired) was born in Columbia, South Carolina. He is the oldest of four children of the late Walter L. Watson, Sr. and Mildred Platt Watson. He attended public schools in Richland School District One and graduated from C. A. Johnson High School and Howard University in Washington, DC. At Howard, he earned a Mechanical Engineering degree and commission as an Air Force Officer via the ROTC program. Colonel Watson is the Senior Aerospace Science Instructor (SASI) of the C. A. Johnson Preparatory ROTC unit (SC-065).

He entered the Air Force as an avionics maintenance officer. However, in 1973, he was selected for aviation training. This began a journey on a very diverse and distinguished flying career in the Air Force. He became a flight instructor, flight examiner, and flight commander in tactical fighter and strategic reconnaissance squadrons that flew F-4C/D/E, F-111D, and SR-71 aircraft. Colonel Watson’s distinctive and unique aviation accomplishment is that he was the first and only African American to qualify as a crew member in the SR-71, a super secret aircraft that set altitude and speed records that still stand today. The SR-71 routinely cruised at altitudes in excess of 80,000 feet at speeds over Mach 3 (2,100 mph).

After his flying career, he continued to impact the Air Force in officer production and training. As Commander and Professor of Aerospace Studies at North Carolina A&T State University, his leadership helped his unit to achieve the following production milestones: 1) 20% of all African American Second Lieutenant pilots, 2) 50% of all African American Second Lieutenant navigators, and 3) 25% of African American female commissionees in 1993.

These accomplishments led to assignments to a number of leadership positions at HQ Air Force Reserve Officers Training Corps (AFROTC at Maxwell AFB, AL). As the Chief of the AFROTC Scholarship branch, he supervised all scholarships for over 5,000 students across the nation with a budget exceeding $22 million annually.

While at Maxwell AFB, Colonel Watson was a key decision-maker for Air Force relations with the Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCO). He created scholarships aimed specially for HBCUs Science Instuctor (SASI). In 1999 Colonel Watson developed a student award program for the Tuskegee Airmen Inc. The Tuskegee Airmen Inc award recognizes superior student performance for AFJROTC cadets and impacts 744 AFJROTC unitsand 104,000 students aroung the globe. In 1998 Colonel Watson was selected Teacher of the Year for C. A. Johnson Preparatory Academy. Additionally he was twice designated by Headquarters Air Force JROTC as an Outstanding Instructor (1998-1999 and 2001-2002). The Columbia Housing Authority selected him for the Wall of Fame induction in April of 2003 because of his distinguished military service and sustained contributions to his community. In August 2003, the Tuskegee Airmen, Inc. awarded him their highest award, the Noel F. Parrish Award. This award recognizes outstanding endeavors to enhance access to knowledge, skills, and opportunities.

In addition to his Howard University engineering degree, Colonel Watson holds a Masters degree from Chapman College of Orange, CA, in Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management. He is married to Joice P. Middleton Watson. They have a daughter, Major (Select) Alexandria R. Watson, son, Walter III, and a grandson, Isaiah S. Watson.

Colonel Watson has received numerous awards, including the Meritorious Service Medal with two oak leaf clusters, Air Force Commendation Medal, Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal with two oak leaf clusters, Humanitarian Service Medal with one oak leaf cluster, and the Legion of Merit Medal.

 

Jan 27, 2020

Executive Director David Hale has over 20 years of experience in aviation and aerospace medicine.  He is an exercise physiologist, commercial pilot, licensed skydiver and he has served as a member of several aviation advocacy organizations including: the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA), the Aircraft Owners and Pilots (AOPA) and the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA).

David Hale received his undergraduate degree at the University of Oklahoma and accomplished his internship with Carolina’s Medical Center in Charlotte North Carolina. He completed post-graduate studies and certification with the American College of Sports Medicine. He served as an Exercise Physiologist in the cardiology department at Cedars Sinai Medical Center in Beverly Hills, California, and as a Registered Physical Testing and Evaluation Specialist for the California Department of Justice. He has completed extensive aeromedical training including ongoing training provided by the Aerospace Medical Association, The Civil Aviation Medical Association and the FAA. He has attended several basic and advanced courses such as the HIMS Basic & Advanced training for those who evaluate, supervise or sponsor airmen who are in chemical dependency or on antidepressants.

David Hale is a corporate member of the Civil Aviation Medical Association. He is a committee member of the Aerospace Medical Association, served on the advisory board for Spartan School of Aeronautics and he is a contributing author to several publications including: Aviation, Space, and Environmental Medicine, The Federal Air Surgeons Medical Bulletin and Twin and Turbine Magazine.

Jan 23, 2020

The FAA sent a letter on December 17 warning charter broker BlackBird Air that pilots using the company’s online platform and app to fly passengers under Part 91 “are holding out and thus are engaged in common carriage.” The agency said it is planning to investigate BlackBird’s activities and possibly also pilots flying for BlackBird. In response, BlackBird has “paused” this feature of its offerings.

 

San Francisco-based BlackBird Air is primarily a charter broker, but also offers customers the option to hire a commercial pilot and lease an airplane to travel to a destination, all under Part 91. According to Crunchbase, BlackBird has raised $15 million in venture capital funding. BlackBird’s website homepage advertises: “Defy Gravity. Rent a plane and go anywhere. How it works: BlackBird helps you fly over traffic by connecting you with planes and pilots, bringing you true freedom of flight.”

 

The FAA doesn’t agree with BlackBird that this kind of operation is not a charter, and it said that the company and/or pilots must obtain a Part 119 certificate to transport people or property for hire or compensation.

 

According to an FAA spokesman, “We haven’t taken actions in relation to BlackBird per se, but we alerted pilots that they could be violating the regulations if they’re not operating under a certificate issued under Part 119.”

 

In the letter sent to BlackBird attorney Roy Goldberg, the agency’s Office of the Chief Counsel, Enforcement Division made a case that BlackBird’s pilot-hire and airplane-lease operation under Part 91 fits all the criteria that make an operation subject to requiring a Part 119 certificate and operating under Part 135 charter regulations.

 

For its part, BlackBird had sent a letter on June 10 to the FAA outlining its business plan, explaining that it facilitates its customers with “leasing an aircraft and…separately hiring a commercial pilot to fly the aircraft the user has leased.” Because, BlackBird wrote, it doesn’t “own, manage, or maintain the aircraft and does not employ pilots…” and the customer selects the aircraft and pilot separately, “operational control of the aircraft remains with the user at all times.” In the FAA letter, the agency wrote that “BlackBird represents that it only facilitates the agreements, processes payments, and provides customer support to all three parties (user, i.e., person leasing the aircraft and hiring the pilot; pilot; and aircraft lessee).”

 

According to the FAA, BlackBird, itself, outlined the agency's criteria for determining whether an operator must hold Part 119 certification. From the December 17 FAA letter: “As BlackBird noted in its [June 10] letter, to determine whether common carriage is present, the FAA assesses whether there is: (1) a holding out of a willingness to (2) transport persons or property (3) from place to place (4) for compensation.”

 

The FAA explained that BlackBird easily met the last three criteria, but “holding out” was subject to more discussion. The FAA letter went on: “We have little trouble concluding that the pilots listed on BlackBird’s pilot database selected by the user are transporting persons or property, from place to place, for compensation. Despite BlackBird’s assertion that the pilots are not transporting persons or property, it is clear that they are being hired for that very purpose. In addition, as BlackBird concedes, the pilots are being compensated for the flight service (whether the money comes directly from the lessee or through the BlackBird platform). That leaves only the issue of holding out.”

 

That BlackBird and its pilots are holding out is supported, the FAA claimed, by two legal interpretations involving aviation ride-sharing providers AirPooler and FlyteNow.

 

Essentially, because BlackBird’s online and app platform is available to anyone and pilots on the platform [from the FAA letter] “are available and willing to transport passengers who solicit pilot services through the platform…A pilot's participation in the BlackBird platform amounts to holding out a willingness to transport persons from place to place for compensation and requires certification under part 119 prior to conducting the operation.”

 

BlackBird doesn’t agree with the FAA’s interpretation. In its June 10 letter, the company had explained its operation thusly: “[u]nlike air carriers, BlackBird is not building an operation based on crews, aircraft, or routes. BlackBird is building an infrastructure that supports all of general aviation, which includes air carriers and operators." In the December 17 letter, the FAA elaborated, "BlackBird manages two databases: one for aircraft available for lease and a second one for commercial pilots (described as ‘independent person[s] with a specific skill set [pilot]).’ BlackBird uses the databases as part of a marketplace service that serves as an aggregator of information and connects third-party service providers (the pilots) with users seeking to charter an aircraft or purchase a ticket on a direct air carrier. BlackBird asserts, ‘the ultimate business goal is to create an online platform that surfaces the many options available to users; [and] NOT to provide air transportation.’”

 

Asked about the FAA’s warning in the December 17 letter, BlackBird founder and CEO Rudd Davis told&nbsp;<strong>AIN</strong>&nbsp;that the company is pausing its Part 91 pilot-hire, airplane-lease operations. Davis sent this statement to&nbsp; AIN: “We disagree with the FAA’s interpretation and look forward to continued discussions on this topic, given that their guidance isn’t law.&nbsp;BlackBird is the largest digital aviation marketplace in the world and the one place travelers can find and instantly book all private flight options. [Part] 91 operations are the minority of our business&nbsp;and for the moment we will pause that aspect of the marketplace and continue to provide charter flights and individual seats on private [Part 135] aircraft.”

 

The National Air Transportation Association has focused increasingly on the illegal charter issue, and NATA COO Timothy Obitts sent this statement to&nbsp;<strong>AIN</strong>: “We thank the Federal Aviation Administration’s Office of General Counsel, Enforcement Division for the well thought out and articulate letter to BlackBird Air regarding non-part 135 operators' use of their platform.&nbsp;This letter is clear guidance from the FAA and confirms NATA’s understanding of the regulations.&nbsp;We hope that pilots pay heed to the FAA’s guidance. NATA, along with its Illegal Charter Task Force, will continue to work with the FAA on this very important safety issue.”

 

The FAA letter concluded that BlackBird pilots are holding out and “engaged in common carriage. Because these operations are subject to Part 119 certification, a pilot who holds an airline transport pilot or commercial pilot certificate must obtain and hold a certificate issued under part 135 or the pilot must be employed by a company operating the flight that is certificated under part 119. Accordingly, please expect further investigative activity into BlackBird's operations, particularly regarding its pilot database. In addition, we would be interested in learning of any action you intend to take in view of the jeopardy facing pilots who participate in BlackBird’s service.”

 

The BlackBird website no longer promotes the original pilot-hire, airplane-lease concept and now offers potential customers the opportunity to book flights with certified Part 135 providers, to “... fly over traffic by connecting you with charter operators.”

Jan 16, 2020

There's a famous expression, "When one door closes, another one opens". That's certainly been my experience, although it didn't always look rosy when I was in the middle of a situation.

I was furloughed from United on April 1, 1981 (April Fool's Day). It was just after midnight, and I turned in my cockpit key, my company ID, and my flight manuals, and I was unemployed. Job prospects were miserable. The only pilots who had gotten work were the ones who were furloughed first. We had to sell our home, and moved out on our wedding anniversary. It was tough. A door had closed.

Through networking, I had gotten in touch with another furloughed pilot and heard that Lockheed was hiring. I interviewed and was hired for a job no one could tell me about until I had a security clearance. So I dutifully went into work every day and sat in a processing office waiting for my security clearance to come through. And I waited. Although I was getting paid - about the same as what I made at United - I hated the one-hour drive in California traffic, and I missed flying.

One day I came across an article in the Air Force Times about the Palace Recall Program, and I called the number listed. I told the person that I had left the Air Force almost four years earlier, and I was interested in geetting back in. He said, "You're not going to get in unless you're a fighter pilot". I said I was, and he let me apply. A total of 246 officers applied for the program, and 13 were accepted. I was one of them.

I ended up flying for the entire time I was furloughed, earned the Tactical Air Command Instructor Pilot of the Year Award, and eventually became a Squadron Commander. It was great, and it wouldn't have happened if I hadn't been furloughed. A door had opened.

I've found this "door closes-door opens" numerous times in my career.

Jan 13, 2020

Hello APG fans! I am Captain Dana and would like to share a bit of my background with all of you. My first logged flight was on my seventeenth birthday in August 1987. Ever since I can remember as a child I always loved airplanes and flying. I graduated with my degree in aviation management from a small college in southeastern Massachusetts with a fairly large aviation program. While going to school I was hired by ACME JR in Boston as a customer service agent, eventually moving up to a supervisory role. Then I was offered a position with ACME and have worked in baggage service, ticketing, gates, reservations, ramp operations, supervisor, customer service operations instructor and Mad Dog systems instructor. While working full time I completed all my flight training all the way through flight instructor and started teaching on the side, bought a partnership in a PA28-161 (Piper Warrior), flew parachute jumpers and eventually became a corporate pilot earning my type rating in a Cessna Citation. I then took a position with ACME JR ATL leaving my career at ACME behind to fly the EMB120 and the CRJ200. Now I am fortunate to be back at ACME as a Mad Dawg pilot, which was my goal, since it is the aircraft I spent 3 years teaching and with the company I’ve spent most of my career. I have logged time over my flying career in 31 different civilian aircraft. I still currently hold a CFI/II and love to share my wisdom, experience and knowledge of my aviation career with anyone who listens. Thank you all for supporting Jeff, the APG crew and APG community. Fly safe.

Jan 9, 2020

Nigeria Airways Flight 2120 was a chartered passenger flight from Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, to Sokoto, Nigeria on 11 July 1991, which caught fire shortly after takeoff from King Abdulaziz International Airport and crashed while attempting to return for an emergency landing, killing all 247 passengers and 14 crew members on board. The aircraft was a Douglas DC-8 operated by Nationair for Nigeria Airways. Flight 2120 is the deadliest accident involving a DC-8 and remains the deadliest aviation disaster involving a Canadian airline.

The aircraft departed King Abdulaziz International Airport bound for Sadiq Abubakar III International Airport in Sokoto, but problems were reported shortly after takeoff. Unknown to the crew, the aircraft had caught fire during departure, and though the fire itself was not obvious since it started in an area without fire warning systems, the effects were numerous. Pressurization failed quickly, and the crew was deluged with nonsensical warnings caused by fire-related circuit failures. In response to the pressurization failure, Allan decided to remain at 610 metres (2,000 ft), but the flight was cleared to 910 metres (2,990 ft) as a result of the controller mistaking Flight 2120 for a Saudia flight that was also reporting pressurization problems due to Captain Allan mistakenly identifying as "Nationair 2120" rather than "Nigerian 2120", a mix-up that lasted for three minutes but was ultimately found not to have had any effect on the outcome. Amidst this, First Officer Davidge, who had been flying C-GMXQ out, reported that he was losing hydraulics. The crew only became aware of the fire when a flight attendant rushed into the cockpit reporting "smoke in the back ... real bad". Shortly afterwards, Davidge reported that he had lost ailerons, forcing Allan to take control; as Allan took over, the cockpit voice recorder failed. At this moment, the air traffic controller realized that Flight 2120 was not the Saudia flight and was in trouble, and directed them towards the runway. Allan subsequently contacted air traffic control multiple times, among his pre-mortem communications being a request for emergency vehicles.

When the aircraft was about 18 kilometres (11 mi; 9.7 nmi) from the airport and at an altitude of 671 metres (2,201 ft), a point where the landing gear could conceivably have been lowered, it began to experience an inflight breakup and a number of bodies fell from it, indicating that the fire by that time had consumed, at least partially, the cabin floor. Just 2,875 metres (9,432 ft) short of the runway, the melting aircraft finally became uncontrollable and crashed, killing whatever portion of the 261 occupants on board—including 247 passengers—had not already suffocated or fallen out of the aircraft. Nine of the fourteen crew were identified, but "no attempt was made to identify the passengers".

Jan 6, 2020

Last year found me teaching at Metro State and working on my podcast and my script. It was actually a fairly fun schedule, with interviews for each Monday episode and educational information for each mid-week episode.

Whenever I interviewed someone who had written a book, I would read the book before interviewing them. Altogether, I read about 30 books in 2019.

In 2019 I started doing some speaking engagements. So far, all of the appearances have been pro bono, but I'm hoping to start expanding to paid venues. My topics are "Air Combat Lessons in Leadership and Life", "Layover Security for Travelers" and "Airline Safety Improvements From Accident Investigations". In 2019 I started writing and revising books to accompany those presentations.

Podcast guests Jason Harris and Lee Ellis have been incredibly helpful in guiding me on my journey. I met up with Jason at a local Denver meeting of the National Speakers Association, and Lee and I got together later in the year when he made a speaking appearance in Denver. Lee has been incredibly helpful in referring podcast guests to me, and his presentation left he huge audience mesmerized.

In February Nick Hinch told me that United was hiring ground instructors, and I applied. I was accepted, and started Basic Indoctrination training, along with 40 new-hire pilots, at the beginning of April. I was put on the B737 fleet, and my job is to be a Groundschool Instructor, teaching systems and procedures on the B737 NG. Although I initially had hoped to go to the B777, I am thrilled on be on the 737. I get to work with new-hire pilots and new Captains, and I get to influence these pilots for the rest of their careers.

United, it turned out, is a fantastic airline, totally changed from the toxic environment that existed in 2004. I attribute this change to the leadership under CEO Oscar Munoz, who is a breath of fresh air compared to the previous CEOs.

At United, I'm working full-time, so it's sometimes a bit of a challenge deconflicting my United schedule with my Metro teaching schedule. But I love both jobs.

In May the WGF Veterans Writing Group invited me to "pitch" my screenplay to eight Hollywood producers. The outstanding mentoring I had received throughout the previous year had really helped me refine my script to something I could be proud of. It was a fun experience, but I didn't get any nibbles at that time.

But my son Steve met another producer at the Austin Film Festival and mentioned my script, and the producer said he'd like to read it. So, hope springs eternal - Steve helped me put a final polish on the script and I sent it off shortly before Christmas. I'll be totally honest: it's not GOOD, it's GREAT!

Steve came out to Colorado in July and directed and produced the audio version of my book, Hamfist Over The Trail. He also produced the audiobook cover.

I did the narration, and it was certainly not a walk in the park! Altogether we spent five days recording, and then Steve spent a lot of time editing the file. He removed every audible breath and glitch and equalized the audio files. I think we ended up with a really great product. The audiobook is now being reviewed for release at ACX, and we hope to have it available to the public very soon.

Jan 2, 2020

As we start a new decade, I'd like to share my experiences of the last decade with you.

As I've mentioned in episode 300, my employment with Jet Airways in India ended toward the end of 2009. The Indian pilots were fully up to speed, and it was time for us expat pilots to leave. So there I was, 64 years old, unemployed, and no pension.

I filed to start drawing Social Security payments and started looking for work. As so many of our podcast guests have advised, networking is the key to finding employment. In my case, I recalled reading an update from a former United pilot in our retiree newsletter. He had mentioned that he had a job performing airline audits, and I contacted him to learn more. He put me in touch with the company he worked for, ARG/US Pros. Toward the end of 2009 I visited them for an interview, and they hired me.

https://youtu.be/Xxk3IIdJ7MU

In January 2010 I attended Auditor Training, and then went on my first assignment, to Japan, in February. One of the reasons the company sent me to Japan for a month - four audits - was because I mentioned in the interview that I spoke Japanese.

Each audit was five days long, and our team of five auditors (plus myself) would look at every area of an airline's operations, and debrief the airline CEO at the end of each day. On the weekends between each audit our team would work on our post-audit report and prepare for the next audit. During the first audit I mostly was observing, although toward the end I performed a lot of the auditing duties. For the last audit, I was "cleared solo" and operated by myself.

The audit process is called IOSA - IATA Operational Safety Audit - and during an audit the team uses an IATA (International Air Transport Association) checklist to look at everything an airline does, to determine if the airline conforms to the ISARPs (IATA Standards and Recommended Practices). There are over 1000 ISARPs the team examines. It's hard work.

For the next two years, I performed about an audit each month, and eventually became an audit team leader. Since I had studied Russian some 40 years earlier, I led a team to Moscow for a few weeks. By the end of the visit I was able to conduct the debriefs in Russian. Leading the team entailed planning for each audit and writing a detailed audit report at the end of each audit. It was a great experience, but I wanted to get a bit closer to airplanes.

In 2012, through networking with some of my former Jet Airways pilots, I heard that Boeing was looking for instructor pilots (IPs), and I applied. I went out to Seattle and interviewed, and was hired to be an IP on the new B787. I started as a contract employee on the anniversary of my United new-hire date, October 16th. I went through the 787 course as a student, took a check ride and received another type rating: B787. Then I went back through the course again as an instructor-trainee. Since the 787 was not yet flying, Boeing didn't have any real airline students, so three of us instructors would practice our teaching on each other. Two of us would play student while the other instructor would go over the planned lesson in the simulator, then we would each trade places. Finally the 787 was cleared to fly and we started getting real airline students.

I really enjoyed being back in a cockpit environment, but wasn't crazy about always being away from home. One day, a Boeing check airman told me that Omni Air International was looking for B777 IPs, and they were using the United simulators in Denver for their training. I applied to Omni, had a telephone interview with the Chief Pilot and the Director of Training, and was hired on a contract basis. So now I had two contract jobs: Boeing and Omni.

Omni was great with scheduling, giving me work assignments a month in advance. Boeing operated a bit differently. Typically, I would get a call saying I had a work assignment in two more days. Sometimes I could accept the assignment, but often it conflicted with my Omni commitment. After I turned down several assignments, Boeing advised me I was no longer a contract employee. So I was all-in on Omni.

Unfortunately, the United Training Center in Denver was getting busy with internal training, so Omni had to look elsewhere for simulators. Eventually, all of the Omni training was conducted at the Delta Airlines training center in Atlanta or in the Boeing training facility in Miami.

In 2016, again through networking, I heard that a training company in Tennessee, ARCS Aviation, was looking for a B777 Subject Matter Expert (SME) for some software development. I contacted the owner, and he drove up to Atlanta to meet me when I had finished an Omni simulator period. We hit it off, and I started doing consulting work for ARCS.

After a few years, Omni decided to use only their line pilots as simulator instructors, so we parted ways, and I spent all of my time as an SME, first on the B777, then the B787, then the B747. It was a great job that I could do at home, on my computer. Finally, the software programs were complete, and my work for ARCS was over.

In 2016 I started the Ready For Takeoff Podcast at the urging of an Omni pilot, Phil Pagoria, and my son Steve. Phil became one of my first guests on the podcast, and will make an appearance again soon! Steve walked me through everything I needed to do to produce a podcast, and has been my go-to person every time I need help.

In 2018 I heard from a friend, Nick Hinch (former RFT guest) that Wheels Up was looking for pilots. I hadn't flown in nine years, but had stayed current in simulators, and figured this would be my last chance to be employed as a pilot again. But, of course, my medical certificate had expired. So I made an appointment with my Aviation Medical Examiner (AME).

And I did something really stupid. For over 30 years, I had gone to the same AME, and every time on my application I had listed all of my visits to healthcare professionals since my previous visit (6 months earlier). And for some reason, I don't know why, I simply did the same thing. I listed all of my doctor visits since seeing him last. This is important: the form only asks for doctor visits in the last three years. But I foolishly listed all of them, and some from five, six or seven years earlier, were no one else's business, certainly not the FAA's.

My AME said he needed to send my information to the FAA, and the FAA Medical Department wanted some tests. Expensive tests, over $10,000 worth of tests. I saw the Wheels Up job disappearing, and asked the FAA if I could change my application from First Class medical to Third Class. No can do. Once you apply for a medical certificate, it must be either Approved or Denied. After many exchanges of letters, mine was Denied. After a Denial, an airman cannot get ANY medical certificate, including the new BasicMed. So, the only solo flying I can legally perform is in a glider, which does not require a medical certificate.

One of my first jobs when I had retired from United in 2005 had been teaching at Metropolitan State College of Denver, in their Aviation Department. In 2018 I visited them, now renamed Metropolitan State University of Denver, to see if they needed a classroom instructor. My timing was perfect, and I started teaching Fundamentals of Aviation and Basic Instrument Flight, two days each week, as a contract employee. Eventually, I became a full-time employee with the title of Lecturer, and I still teach courses two days every week.

In 2018 I was accepted to the Writers Guild of America Veterans Writing Project, and started working on a screenplay adaptation of my Hamfist novel series. (That's my son Steve sitting next to me in the first picture that comes up on that website).

In the next RFT episode I'll visit the year 2019.

Have a GREAT 2020!

Dec 30, 2019

spacewalks to install the centerpiece of the International Space Station, the American Destiny laboratory. He has spent fifty-three days working and living in space.

After graduation from the Air Force Academy, Tom piloted B-52D strategic bombers, earned a doctorate in planetary sciences from the University of Arizona, studied asteroids for NASA, engineered intelligence-gathering systems for the CIA, and helped NASA develop advanced mission concepts to explore the solar system.

Tom is the author of several space and aviation books: Ask the Astronaut, Planetology, (written with Ellen Stofan), Hell Hawks! The Untold Story of the American Fliers Who Savaged Hitler's Wehrmacht (with Robert F. Dorr), and Sky Walking: An Astronaut's Memoir. The Wall Street Journal named Sky Walking one if its “Five Best” books on space.

Dr. Jones' awards include the NASA Distinguished Service Medal, four NASA Space Flight Medals, the NASA Exceptional Service award, the NASA Outstanding Leadership Medal, the NASA Exceptional Public Service award, Phi Beta Kappa, the Air Force Commendation Medal, and Distinguished Eagle Scout. The Main Belt asteroid 1082 TomJones is named in his honor. In 2018, Tom was inducted into the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame.

Tom served on the NASA Advisory Council and the board of the Association of Space Explorers and is a board member for the Astronauts Memorial Foundation. As an aerospace and science consultant, he focuses on the future direction of human space exploration, uses of asteroid and space resources, and planetary defense. A frequent public speaker, he appears often on TV and radio with expert commentary on science and space flight.

Dec 26, 2019

From AOPA:

When ground and sim training are complete, it’s finally time to fly the airplane! Back in the day, the first step was to get some landings in an actual airplane, usually conducted in the middle of the night at a small outstation under the guidance of a specially trained pilot. Those days are largely gone because of cost and safety concerns (mostly cost). Simulators are now so good that the airlines and the FAA agree that “familiarization flights” are no longer needed.

Initial operating experience (IOE) is the term used to describe your first trip of several in an airplane under the watchful eye of a check airman (sometimes called a line check airman, or LCA). IOE is an exciting yet nerve-wracking experience. You’ll go to the airport, find the crew room, and go through the entire preflight routine. It will feel like you have no time at all to get everything you need to do done, but in no time you’ll be able to do it all with time to spare.

The LCA will be talking a mile a minute, trying to teach you as much as possible in as short a time as possible. At the gate, you’ll do a supervised walk-around, and then get in the cockpit and do your routine as you’ve trained for it in the sim. However, now you’ll be bombarded by other distractions that you didn’t have before, such as flight attendants who want to say hello or need you to order something they’re missing in the cabin. Mechanics may be nosing around, and ticket agents usually come down to see if you’re ready. It doesn’t help that you still haven’t perfected the routine, and you feel as if you’re running in mud. Meanwhile, the LCA keeps talking, and he’ll take over a lot of the little stuff to try to achieve an on-time departure.

You’ll be thinking about the fact that you’ll be flying the airplane for the first time with a cabin full of passengers who have no idea that you’ve never actually flown this airplane, but you can’t dwell on it. Time will feel very compressed as you’re dealing with ATC, busy frequencies, and weather you don’t see in the sim (especially good weather). Your first night in the hotel will probably be one of the best nights of sleep you’ve ever had, thanks to the exhaustion.

IOE is a lot of fun in addition to being a steep learning curve. You’re putting all of the pieces together and realizing the culmination of your dreams. At times it’s frustrating because you don’t realize going into it how much you still have to learn, and landing the airplane is totally different than the sim. But over a few trips, with several LCAs, it starts to fall into place. And no matter how many times you go through IOE in the future, it will never be as overwhelming as the first time. Nor will it be as fun.

Dec 23, 2019

Hey, we’re Dylan and Max. We met at flight school many years ago and have remained friends while navigating our careers as professional pilots. If you know a pilot, then you know they love to talk about aviation (probably a little too much). We both love radio and podcasts and are huge fans of some of the real pros in the business: Howard Stern, Joe Rogan and Bill Simmons, just to name a few. We saw an opportunity to create something that professional pilots would enjoy, and we're striving to produce a show that’s interesting, informative, and doesn’t take itself too seriously.

Because we both have varied backgrounds in business aviation and the airlines (plus our days as CFIs), we offer an interesting perspective to our listeners. Whether you’re a new instructor, a line pilot at a 121 carrier, or a 135 charter road warrior, our hope is that you'll find the show engaging.

As for the name? 21.Five refers to the emergency frequency, 121.5 - a place where pilots go for assistance or lend a hand to a fellow airman in need...and of course get a laugh at the guard police and meows. Is it the best name ever? No, but here we are anyway.

Dec 19, 2019

An emotional support animal (ESA) is a type of assistance animal that alleviates a symptom or effect of a person's disability. An emotional support animal is not a pet and is generally not restricted by species.

An emotional support animal differs from a service animal. Service animals are trained to perform specific tasks (such as helping a blind person navigate), while emotional support animals receive no specific training, nor even, necessarily, any training at all. (It therefore stands that in the setting of mental illness, whether or not the animal is a "service animal" vs. an emotional support animal would hinge on whether or not it is formally trained to do something specific to mitigate the mental illness.) Any animal that provides support, well-being, comfort, or aid, to an individual through companionship, unconditional positive regard, and affection may be regarded as an emotional support animal.

In the U.S., people with emotional or mental disabilities can be exempted from certain federal housing and travel rules if they own an emotional support animal. To receive that exemption, they must meet the federal definition of disabled, and they must present a letter from a certified healthcare provider, stating that the animal provides emotional support that alleviates one or more of the symptoms or effects of the disability.

Emotional support animals are typically cats and dogs, but may be members of other animal species. In relation to whether or not an emotional support animal should be allowed in a rental property, it is thus necessary to perform an individualized assessment of the specific assistance animal to determine if it poses a direct threat of harm or would cause substantial property damage, and not to assume that an animal is excluded based upon breed or species. Although a wild or exotic animal that poses an increase risk of disease or potential attack upon other people may potentially be excluded, courts have recognized species including guinea pigs and miniature horses as emotional support animals.

Laws and regulations that allow service animals to be taken into businesses or onto aircraft may give the service provider discretion to deny admission to unusual service animals. For example, under the Air Carrier Access Act, airlines are never required to accommodate unusual animals such as ferrets, rodents, snakes and other reptiles, or spiders within the passenger cabin of an airplane.

In 2018, Delta Air Lines banned pit bulls and similar breeds of dogs from the passenger compartment of their aircraft as emotional support animals, after a pit bull traveling as an emotional support animal bit two employees.

Most airlines will allow emotional support animals, with proper documentation from a veterinarian and/or mental health counselor, and small animals such as cats and dogs can be held on the passenger's lap during the flight.

There is no requirement under federal law for emotional support animals to wear a tag, harness, or clothing of any type indicating they are emotional support animals.

Emotional support animals do not need to have any special training.

There are no training requirements for emotional support animals. Emotional support animals typically have no training beyond what would be expected for the same type of animal. Emotional support animals need not perform any tasks other than what a pet of the same species would perform, and may display unwanted behaviors, such as defecating or urinating in inappropriate places, growling and barking at people, or biting them.

Both poorly trained emotional support animals and poorly trained pets that are being fraudulently passed off as emotional support animals represent a threat to the health, safety, and function of both people and trained service animals.

To qualify for an emotional support animal in the US, its owner must have an emotional or mental disability that is certified by a mental health professional such as a psychiatrist, psychologist, or other licensed mental health care provider. These may be invisible disabilities.

The owner's mental health impairment must be substantial enough to produce disability, rather than discomfort or a desire to have a pet. Furthermore, for the provider to certify the animal, non-fraudulently, the emotional support animal's presence must provide a significant benefit, that makes the difference between the person functioning adequately and not.

An emotional support animal letter, or an ESA letter, is a document that qualifies people to be accompanied by a support animal in contexts in which pets might not be permitted, such as in rental housing or mass transportation. The letter must be issued by a psychiatrist, qualified mental health professional, or physician. The professional who issues an ESA letter need not be the recipient's primary care physician, and some doctors may refer patients who are seeking an ESA to psychologists or other professionals.

Under US Department of Transportation, rules, the doctor or mental health professional who issues the letter must be currently providing treatment to the passenger. Airlines are not obligated to accept certificates or letters that are more than one year old, and may require that the certification be provided on the letterhead of a licensed mental health professional or doctor who is specifically treating the passenger's mental or emotional disability.

ESA owners are currently permitted to have their animals with them on commercial flights in the US, with the proper papers saying they are under the care.

While there do not seem to be any cases dealing with the issue of multiple emotional support animals, the basic requirements for this accommodation would be the same. Thus, if a disabled person claimed to need multiple emotional support animals, he or she would need documentation supporting this claim from his or her psychologist or other licensed healthcare professional. The practitioner would need to provide documentation that each support animal alleviated some symptom of the disability.

As of 2018, Delta Air Lines limits free travel for emotional support animals to one animal per ticketed passenger.

The ability to avoid extra costs, such as paying damage deposits for pets in a rental apartment or extra baggage fees for taking an animal on an airplane, has resulted in some people misrepresenting their pets as ESAs. Following a 2018 incident in which a woman tried to board a flight with her peacock, airlines have tightened their requirements for flying with an ESA.

In some US states, providing a letter, registry, or certificate to a person who is not disabled is a crime. Many states have made it a criminal misdemeanor to make false claims stating that their animal is an assistance animal or to say they are a handler training an assistance animal. States that have passed laws criminalizing the misrepresentation of service and assistance animals include Alabama, Arizona,California, Colorado, Florida, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Texas, Utah, Virginia, and Washington State.

Dec 16, 2019

Tim Donohue attended college on a naval ROTC scholarship and earned his ratings and worked his way through college as a CFI.

After college, he attended pilot training at Pensacola, then flew the A-4s at Miramar. Following four years in the A-4, Tim went to Pensacola as a flight instructor, this time flying T-39s.

After the Navy, Tim interviewed with several airlines and was hired by Eastern Airlines. At Eastern, he started out as a B727 Flight Engineer. It took six years for him to be promoted to Copilot.

When Eastern Airlines went out of business, Tim was hired by United Airlines, starting over as a new-hire. He became a Captain after six years, and retired in 2014.

He stayed active in aviation after retirement, and kept his CFI current. He still flies, and recently was awarded the Wright Brothers Master Pilot Award.

Dec 12, 2019

Always adhere to the IMSAFE checklist:
I - Ilness
S - Stress
A - Alcohol
F - Fatigue
E - Eating/Emotion

Dec 11, 2019

Bob Shumaker was born in New Castle, Pennsylvania in 1933.  His father was a lawyer and his mother a writer.   After graduating from public schools he attended Northwestern University for a year and then the United States Naval Academy where he was a boxer, a cross-country runner and a scholar.  After flight training he joined VF-32, a fighter squadron in Jacksonville, Florida flying F8 Crusaders.  He was a finalist in the Apollo astronaut selection, but a temporary physical ailment prevented his selection.  In 1964 he earned a masters degree in aeronautical engineering and then joined VF-154 in San Diego, California.  About this time he married Lorraine Shaw of Montreal.  In February 1965 he was shot down on a mission over North Vietnam and spent the next eight years as a POW.  After eight years of imprisonment and having suffered multiple tortures and solitary confinement, he was repatriated and returned to school to earn a doctorate degree in electrical engineering.  As a Captain he was the government project manager for tactical missiles such as HARM, HELLFIRE and MAVERICK.  In 1983 he was promoted to the rank of Commodore and became the head of the Naval Postgraduate School.  At the Pentagon, as a Real Admiral, he was responsible for coordinating the research efforts of the Navy’s air, surface, electronics and space activities.  He retired from the Navy in 1989 and became an assistant dean at the George Washington University and later served as an associate dean at the University of North Dakota.  He retired in 1991 and then built an experimental aircraft which he’s flown to Alaska and other exotic locations.

Admiral Shumaker’s military awards include the Distinguished Service Medal, two Silver Stars, four Legions of Merit, the Distinguished Flying Cross, a Bronze Star and two Purple Hearts.  In 2011 he was honored with the Distinguished Graduate Award from the United States Naval Academy.  In 2016 he was awarded the Lone Sailor Award along with Senator John Glenn.  His POW experience has been documented in a book entitled “Defiant” by Alvin Townley.  He and his wife Lorraine live in Fairfax Station, Virginia where his hobbies are golfing and flying.  

Dec 9, 2019

Bob Shumaker was born in New Castle, Pennsylvania in 1933.  His father was a lawyer and his mother a writer.   After graduating from public schools he attended Northwestern University for a year and then the United States Naval Academy where he was a boxer, a cross-country runner and a scholar.  After flight training he joined VF-32, a fighter squadron in Jacksonville, Florida flying F8 Crusaders.  He was a finalist in the Apollo astronaut selection, but a temporary physical ailment prevented his selection.  In 1964 he earned a masters degree in aeronautical engineering and then joined VF-154 in San Diego, California.  About this time he married Lorraine Shaw of Montreal.  In February 1965 he was shot down on a mission over North Vietnam and spent the next eight years as a POW.  After eight years of imprisonment and having suffered multiple tortures and solitary confinement, he was repatriated and returned to school to earn a doctorate degree in electrical engineering.  As a Captain he was the government project manager for tactical missiles such as HARM, HELLFIRE and MAVERICK.  In 1983 he was promoted to the rank of Commodore and became the head of the Naval Postgraduate School.  At the Pentagon, as a Real Admiral, he was responsible for coordinating the research efforts of the Navy’s air, surface, electronics and space activities.  He retired from the Navy in 1989 and became an assistant dean at the George Washington University and later served as an associate dean at the University of North Dakota.  He retired in 1991 and then built an experimental aircraft which he’s flown to Alaska and other exotic locations.

Dec 5, 2019

From Wikipedia:

Deicing fluids come in a variety of types, and are typically composed of ethylene glycol (EG) or propylene glycol (PG), along with other ingredients such as thickening agents, surfactants (wetting agents), corrosion inhibitors, colors, and UV-sensitive dye. Propylene glycol-based fluid is more common due to the fact that it is less toxic than ethylene glycol.

  1. Type I fluids have a low viscosity, and are considered "unthickened". They provide only short term protection because they quickly flow off surfaces after use. They are typically sprayed on hot (130–180 °F, 55–80 °C) at high pressure to remove snow, ice, and frost. Usually they are dyed orange to aid in identification and application.
  2. Type II fluids are pseudoplastic, which means they contain a polymeric thickening agent to prevent their immediate flow off aircraft surfaces. Typically the fluid film will remain in place until the aircraft attains 100 knots (190 km/h) or so, at which point the viscosity breaks down due to shear stress. The high speeds required for viscosity breakdown means that this type of fluid is useful only for larger aircraft. The use of Type II fluids is diminishing in favor of Type IV. Type II fluids are generally clear in color.
  3. Type III fluids can be thought of as a compromise between Type I and Type II fluids. They are intended for use on slower aircraft, with a rotation speed of less than 100 knots. Type III fluids are generally bright yellow in color.
  4. Type IV fluids meet the same AMS standards as Type II fluids, but they provide a longer holdover time. They are typically dyed green to aid in the application of a consistent layer of fluid.

 

From NASA:

There are four standard aircraft de-icing and anti-icing fluid types: Type I, II, III, and IV.

Type I fluids are the thinnest of fluids. As such, they can be used on any aircraft, as they shear/blow off even at low speeds. They also have the shortest hold-over times (HOT) or estimated times of protection in active frost or freezing precipitation.

Type II and IV fluids add thickening agents to increase viscosity. The thickeners allow fluid to remain on the aircraft longer to absorb and melt the frost or freezing precipitation. This translates to longer HOT, but it also means a higher speed is required to shear off the fluid.

Type III fluids are relatively new and have properties in between Type I and Type II/IV fluids. Type III fluids also contain thickening agents and offer longer HOTs than Type I, but are formulated to shear off at lower speeds. They are designed specifically for small commuter-type aircraft, but work as well for larger aircraft.

*Note: Holdover Times (HOT) are published in a range to account for variations in precipitation intensity: shorter time for heavier intensity, longer time for lighter intensit

Type I fluids are always applied heated and diluted. For de-icing, it is the heat and hydraulic force that accomplish the task. For anti-icing, it is primarily the heat imparted to the airframe that accomplishes the task. Caution: Type I fluids have the shortest HOT. When a Type I fluid fails, it fails suddenly.

Type II and IV fluids may be applied heated or cold, and diluted or full strength. In North America, typically Type IV fluids are applied cold, and only for anti-icing. In the UK, typically Type II or IV fluids are applied heated to accomplish de-icing as well as anti-icing.

Dec 2, 2019

Richard Kolodey grew up near a small airport in Dallas, Texas, and had taken numerous flights in general aviation aircraft. He signed up for the marines at age 17 as soon as he graduated high school, five months after the attacks on Pearl Harbor. He attended training in San Diego, and was one of only two recruits selected for flying.

In this podcast, he describes his training as a gunner. His actual firing from an aircraft didn't occur until he was overseas. His first combat mission occurred over Guadalcanal in August of 1943, bombing a landing strip to allow the navy CBs to repair the strips for American forces. His aircraft was escorted by F-4U aircraft. His group shot down 10 planes and sunk 35 ships.

He served on the TBM, which had a crew of three - pilot and two gunners. During his overseas tour, his aircraft took numerous hits, but he never had to bail out. His mission was to island-hop through the Solomon Islands, securing the islands for American planes to get close enough to Japan to launch missions.

After he returned from overseas, he attended flight training to become a pilot when the war ended.

Nov 28, 2019

TWA 514 crashed into terrain while attempting to land at Washington Dulles International Airport. from Wikipedia:

"The flight was being vectored for a non-precision instrument approach to runway 12 at Dulles. Air traffic controllers cleared the flight down to 7,000 feet (2,130 m) before clearing them for the approach while not on a published segment.

The jetliner began a descent to 1,800 feet (550 m), shown on the first checkpoint for the published approach. The cockpit voice recorder later indicated there was some confusion in the cockpit over whether they were still under a radar-controlled approach segment which would allow them to descend safely. After reaching 1,800 feet (550 m) there were some 100-to-200-foot (30 to 60 m) altitude deviations which the flight crew discussed as encountering heavy downdrafts and reduced visibility in snow.

The plane impacted the west slope of Mount Weather at 1,670 feet (510 m) above sea level at approximately 230 knots (265 mph; 425 km/h). The wreckage was contained within an area about 900 by 200 feet (275 by 60 m). The evidence of first impact were trees sheared off about 70 feet (20 m) above the ground; the elevation at the base of the trees was 1,650 feet (505 m).

The wreckage path was oriented along a line 118 degrees magnetic. Calculations indicated that the left wing went down about six degrees as the aircraft passed through the trees and the aircraft was descending at an angle of about one degree. After about five hundred feet (150 m) of travel through the trees, it struck a rock outcropping at an elevation of about 1,675 feet (510 m). Numerous heavy components of the aircraft were thrown forward of the outcropping, and numerous intense post-impact fires broke out which were later extinguished. The mountain's summit is at 1,754 feet (535 m) above sea level."

As a result of this accident, air traffic controllers now assign an altitude to fly until intercepting a segment of a published approach.

 

Northwest 6231 crashed after encountering an aerodynamic stall. From Wikipedia:

"The flight was chartered to pick up the Baltimore Colts in Buffalo after the aircraft originally earmarked to transport the team was grounded by a snowstorm in Detroit.

The Boeing 727-251, registration N274US, departed New York City's John F. Kennedy International Airport at 19:14 for a ferry flight to Buffalo. As the craft climbed past 16,000 feet (4,900 m), the overspeed warning horn sounded, followed 10 seconds later by a stick shaker stall warning. The aircraft leveled at 24,800 feet (7,600 m) until it started to descend out of control in a spin, reaching a vertical acceleration of +5g. At about 3,500 feet (1,100 m), a large portion of the aircraft's horizontal stabilizer separated due to the high G-forces, making recovery impossible. Flight 6231 struck the ground in a slightly nose down and right wing-down attitude twelve minutes after take-off, at 19:26."

The accident board determined that the pitot heat had been inadvertently turned OFF prior to takeoff, and as the aircraft climbed through clouds the pitot tubes froze, causing altimeter effect on the airspeed indicator, in which an increase in altitude will cause indicated airspeed to increase.

On many aircraft today, the pitot heat will automatically be turned ON when the aircraft is airborne.

Nov 25, 2019

Mike "Sooch" Masucci has over 9000 hours in 70 different aircraft. He was accepted into the Air Force Academy, and took flying lessons while at the Academy and earned his Private Pilot certificate, and majored in Astronautics.

After graduation, he attended Undergraduate Pilot Training at Vance Air Force Base and then remained there as a T-38 instructor pilot as a First Assignment Instructor Pilot (FAIP).

After three years as a FAIP, Mike was selected to fly the U-2 high-altitude long-endurance airplane in the special duty assignment. He eventually became in an instructor in the U-2 as well as the T-38, while still being serving in deployments. His longest mission was 12 hours (13 hours in a space suit).

After 3 years he was selected to attend Test Pilot School, and then became a U-2 test pilot. After a few years as a U-2 test pilot during major aircraft upgrades, he returned to Test Pilot School, this time as an instructor. In that role he flew the T-38, the F-16, gliders and glider tow ships.

He again served in the U-2 and retired from the Air Force in that role.

He owned a 1946 Cessna 120 while in pilot training but - in Sooch's words - traded it in for an engagement ring. He now owns a 1964 Beechcraft Travel Air.

After the Air Force he flew a Citation X for several years, accumulating 750 hours every year in Part 135 operations. He did that for several years, then received a call from Virgin Galactic and was invited to apply.

He is multi-current, flying the White Knight as well as the space ship. Both aircraft have identical cockpit designs. Mike was selected to fly the second mission into space, and earned astronaut wings on February 22, 2019.

Nov 22, 2019

What is a Runway Incursion?

Any occurrence at an aerodrome involving the incorrect presence of an aircraft, vehicle or person on the protected area of a surface designated for the landing and take off of aircraft.

What is a Surface Incident?

A surface incident is an unauthorized or unapproved movement within the designated movement area (excluding runway incursions) or an occurrence in that same area associated with the operation of an aircraft that affects or could affect the safety of flight.

There are four categories of runway incursions:

Category A is a serious incident in which a collision was narrowly avoided.

Category B is an incident in which separation decreases and there is a significant potential for collision, which may result in a time critical corrective/evasive response to avoid a collision.

Category C is an incident characterized by ample time and/or distance to avoid a collision.

Category D is an incident that meets the definition of runway incursion such as incorrect presence of a single vehicle/person/aircraft on the protected area of a surface designated for the landing and take-off of aircraft but with no immediate safety consequences.

Nov 18, 2019

Juan Serrato came from an aviation family, and was immersed in flying from an early age. His father was a Vietnam era helicopter pilot, and took him flying often. Juan attended a school as a teenager where aviation was part of the academic curriculum, and earned his Private Pilot certificate.

After high school Juan attended A&P school, and then was hired servicing airplanes. He then entered an ab-initio program with Mesa Airlines, barely making the cutoff because he had 148 hours and the limit was 150 hours. While attending the program, he worked as a mechanic on aircraft.

He became a first officer on the Beech 1900 with Mesa as a US Air Express copilot. He flew as many as 13 legs per day. He flew the 1900 for a little over a year, then became a first officer in the RJ (regional jet). He flew the RJ for two years, then became an EMB 145 captain, flying his first trip on September 11, 2001. He was inflight when all aircraft were ordered to land immediately due to the national emergency. He landed at Raleigh, NC. He was stuck there for three days, until his girlfriend drove down to pick him up.

At Mesa, he became an accident investigator, on scene for a fatal accident investigation for the powerplant division. He also became a simulator instructor and line check airman.

After nine years at Mesa, he was hired by Gemini Air Cargo on the MD-11, flying all over the world. After about a year, the airline went out of business, and Juan was hired by Southern Air on the B747 as a first officer, flying freighters. He flew a lot of trips out of Ethiopia on a 20-on, 10-off schedule. After two years, he was furloughed as a pilot, but worked in their headquarters on documentation.

After five years with Southern, he was hired by Atlas Air, flying several versions of the 747, including the LCF (large cargo freighter). He was at Atlas for four years, then was hired by a legacy carrier, where he works now as a flight instructor on the B737.

Nov 15, 2019

A single personal electronic device with a lithium battery that overheats and catches fire in the cargo hold could potentially down a commercial airliner.

That’s what the US Federal Aviation Administration found in its latest research.

Regulators had originally thought that the fire suppressant systems in cargo holds would be able to extinguish flames if they were to arise from an overheated lithium-battery-operated device. However, the most recent study has shown that the systems don’t actually have the power to put out the flames caused by an overheated lithium battery, commonly found in laptops, cell phones and a wide range of other devices, when combined with other flammable substances, such as gas in an aerosol can or cosmetics.

“That could then cause an issue that would compromise the aircraft,” said Duane Pfund, international program coordinator at the US Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration.

The FAA forbids passengers from checking spare (uninstalled) lithium metal batteries, requiring them to be carried on. In addition, the FAA says that “all spare lithium batteries must be removed from the bag and kept with the passenger in the aircraft cabin,” when a carry-on bag is gate checked.

Lithium batteries are a type of rechargeable battery most commonly found in cell phones and laptops. Carrying them on board and in carry-on luggage doesn’t pose the same threat as if they were to be checked in the cargo hold. In the hold, bags — and therefore the potential fire — is not reachable, however, experience has shown that they can be extinguished with water, according to Bloomberg, and therefore, they’re more safe when flying in the cabin.

Bulk shipments of rechargeable lithium batteries are banned from passenger planes. However, the FAA hasn’t imposed any new restrictions on what passengers are allowed to check in their bags. In a notice to airlines in 2017, the FAA said they should consider conducting safety checks to determine what else could be done to prevent battery fires in the cargo hold.

“One way or another, we have to deal with these hazards,” said Scott Schwartz, director of the Air Line Pilots Association’s hazardous goods program.

The last few years have seen a string of incidents with batteries exploding in aircraft or near airports — including on a Delta aircraft, in a TSA checkpoint line and China Southern flight.

Nov 11, 2019

Smitty Harris was born in 1929 in Parkersburg, West Virginia. He enlisted in the U.S. Air Force on January 2, 1951, and made Sgt before entering the Aviation Cadet Program on August 10, 1952. Harris was commissioned a 2d Lt and awarded his pilot wings in September 1953, and then completed advanced flight training in the T-33 Shooting Star and F-84 Thunderjet. His first operational assignment was as an F-86F Sabre pilot with the 45th Day Fighter Squadron at Sidi Slimane AB, French Morocco, followed by service as an instructor pilot at Greenville AFB and then with the 3306th Pilot Training Group at Bainbridge AFB, Georgia, from January 1956 to August 1960. Capt Harris then served as Chief of the Promotions and Flying Status Branch at Headquarters Air Training Command, Randolph AFB, Texas, from August 1960 to November 1962. His next assignment was flying F-100 Super Sabres and then F-105 Thunderchiefs with the 561st Tactical Fighter Squadron at McConnell AFB, Kansas, from November 1962 to November 1964. Capt Harris transferred to the 67th Tactical Fighter Squadron at Kadena AB, Okinawa, in December 1964, and began flying combat missions in Southeast Asia in March 1965. He was forced to eject over North Vietnam while flying his 6th combat mission on April 4, 1965, and was immediately captured and taken as a Prisoner of War. After spending 2,871 days in captivity, he was released during Operation Homecoming on February 12, 1973. Col Harris was briefly hospitalized to recover from his injuries at Maxwell AFB, Alabama, and then he remained at Maxwell to attend the Air War College there from August 1973 to August 1974. He remained on the faculty as Chief of Curriculum Planning until his retirement from the Air Force on July 31, 1979. After retiring from the Air Force, Smitty completed law school and joined the Mississippi Bar in December 1981. He and his wife Louise have three children. Smitty Harris was the 3rd Air Force pilot shot down and taken as a Prisoner of War during the Vietnam War.

His 2nd Silver Star Citation reads:

For the Period March 1968: This officer distinguished himself by gallantry and intrepidity in action in connection with military operations against an opposing armed force during the above period while a Prisoner of War in North VIetnam. Ignoring international agreements on treatment of prisoners of war, the enemy resorted to mental and physical cruelties to obtain information, confessions, and propaganda materials. This individual resisted their demands by calling upon his deepest inner strengths in a manner which reflected his devotion to duty and great credit upon himself and the United States Air Force.

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