Ready For Takeoff - Turn Your Aviation Passion Into A Career

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








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Apr 23, 2020

If you plan on having a career in Aviation, it would be a wise move to have an alternate way of generating income, a Plan B. In this episode, General Borling shares an aviation story of his Plan B during a challenging overwater flight. One possible avenue of additional income is through the SOS America program of County Chairmen. General Borling explains how the program works and describes the potential for an additional source of income.

Apr 20, 2020

Linda Maloney is an award winning author, business owner, leadership development professional, speaker and former military aviator and officer. She spent 20 years in the Navy, first as an enlisted air traffic controller and then as a Naval Flight Officer, flying both the A-6 “Intruder” and EA-6B “Prowler.” She was one of the first women in U.S. history to join a combat military flying squadron and received numerous military awards, including the distinguished air medal for combat, awarded for flights flown over Southern Iraq in support of the no-fly zone during her deployment to the Arabian Gulf. She also was the first woman to eject from a Martin Baker ejection seat from her A-6 aircraft in 1991 over the Atlantic Ocean. Linda speaks throughout the country on topics such as Passing Down a Legacy, Leadership & Women, Women & Non-traditional Careers, Margin & Life Balance, Transitioning from Military Leadership to Business Leadership, and Aviation for K-12 Groups.

Linda established Women Veteran Speakers in December 2015, inviting exclusively women military veterans – speakers, coaches, trainers, and facilitators—from emerging up-and-comers to polished experts, covering a wide array of business, corporate, military and defense expertise.

Linda’s award winning book—Military Fly Moms ~ Sharing Memories, Building Legacies, Inspiring Hope [Tannenbaum Publishing], was published in 2012, and is a biographical collection of the inspiring true stories and photographs of seventy women who shared the same two dreams—becoming aviators in the military, and being moms.

Apr 16, 2020

SOS America (Service over Self) is a patriotic, membership organization that supports a military service program for our young adults. It will require broad public support (polling is very encouraging). Congressional legislation (previous draft legislation died in committee) and Executive Branch support are required. The plans for 2019 address all these matters.

Increasingly, the high costs of the All Volunteer Force (AVF) raise legitimate questions as to shortages in many career fields and the need to have such highly qualified people in the many support roles. SOS America contends that a specialized one-year enlistment program can be of great benefit to our young adults and the nation. Designed to augment the AVF, it would have these characteristics:

Its name is: The United States Military Service Corps (USMSC)

  • It will take advantage of small unit identity and loyalty.  Volunteer recruits will enlist, train and serve together in small units.
  • The Units (roughly 100 recruits) will be led by 6 active duty personnel–2 officers and 4 experienced sergeants.
  • Open to recruits ages 18-25–the units will mix geography, ages, economic and educational backgrounds.
  • Physical and Mental requirements are based on the ability to ‘take care of (look after) oneself’ vs current AVF requirements that eliminate an estimated 85% of our young adults.
  • Yearly recruit numbers will be based “on demand.” The Services, Guard and Reserve plus Federal and State Agencies will forecast their needs to allow for planning and accession.
  • Proposed legislation will identify the Department of Defense as the executive/responsible agency.
  • The selective service system will be used, in part, to help administer the program
  • The program is highly encouraged but voluntary for young men and women (18-25).
  • The costs of the program, part of the Defense budget, will return 3 to 4 times program cost investment in a given year.
  • Recruits will be subject to the Uniformed Code of Military Justice.
  • Recruit remuneration will be at a basic enlistment rate.
  • An educational (mustering out) stipend will be awarded upon honorable completion of the year of service.
  • The honorable year of service should also secure citizenship (if needed), expunge police records, ensure English language and GED or better achievement and like benefits.

These program characteristics are essential elements of the proposed program and legislation.

Apr 13, 2020

Neil Hansen began his aviation career as a pilot for Teamster boss Jimmy Hoffa. He spent more than a decade in Southeast Asia during the Vietnam War era as a captain for Air America, the CIA's airline that operated there during the Vietnam era and the 'Secret War' in Laos. Neil reveled in the risky flying that fed his adrenaline addiction.  Upon returning to the States, ultimately unable to find work and unable to let go of the Air America exhilaration rush, he saw the profession he loved come to an end when his trajectory veered off course.


Neil Hansen's engrossing memoir FLIGHT avoids the standard pilot cliches -- there is nothing stereotypical about the exciting "war stories" deftly recounted in this book.  Hansen's riveting prose describes his adventures as an Air America civilian pilot for the CIA's clandestine Southeast Asia airline during the 1950--76 "secret air war" in Laos and Cambodia -- officially neutral countries, but the scene of countless U.S. covert operations. There is "an allure so mystical it borders on madness for those who play the game of war with abandon," he writes.  "Machismo propelled those whose existence was spurred by the bursts of excitement that pushed life to its apex." Hansen flew for Air America from 1964 to 1975, logging 29,000 hours (9,000 of those dodging anti-aircraft fire in the secret combat zone).  He was nicknamed "Weird" by fellow pilots for his bizarre behavior (although in the cockpit Hansen was "all business, all the time"), and his irreverent memoir certainly validates that sobriquet. Co-authored by veteran aviation writer Luann Grosscup, FLIGHT offers readers Weird's detailed page turning account of flying undercover "spook" missions with "a motley crew of aviators in Southeast Asia. "FLIGHT also recounts Hansen's "descent" as he struggled to return to "normalcy" in the States.  He couldn't cope with the sudden lack of his daily adrenaline fix.  "I didn't learn about the idea of adrenaline addiction until much later, when the damage had already been done." FLIGHT is a wonderful slice-of-life book, filled with dark humor that allows us to psychologically endure bad things that happen, mundane and boring bits we put up with, and the moments of stark terror that confront us.  Some 240 Air America pilots and crews died in the secret war in Indochina.  Hansen's memoir is a tribute to all those civilians who fought on the war's "spook side" in now-forgotten places our government prefers to ignore.

Apr 9, 2020

Major General John L. Borling is the chief of staff, Headquarters Allied Forces North Europe, Stavanger, Norway. As the principal architect for this new tri-service and integrated North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and Norwegian National Command, he is responsible for assets in excess of $500 million and 600 people. He also serves as the senior United States military officer in Scandinavia and NATO's Northwest Region.

Born in Chicago, General Borling studied at the University of Illinois and Augustana College prior to graduating from the U.S. Air Force Academy in 1963. He received his pilot wings in August 1964, then completed F-4 fighter training. In 1966, after 97 combat missions in Southeast Asia, he was shot down by ground fire northeast of Hanoi, North Vietnam. Seriously injured, he was captured and spent 6 1/2 years as a prisoner of war. He returned to the United States and resumed his military career to include command of fighter, bomber, tanker, missile and support units at squadron, group and division level. He is a command pilot and has flown many different aircraft. High level staff experience includes the White House, the Pentagon, Strategic Air Command as director of operations for the conflicts in Panama and Iraq, and Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE).

Apr 6, 2020

John Borling was a fighter pilot during the Vietnam War, where he was shot down by ground fire. Seriously injured in his crash, Captain Borling still attempted to commandeer a Vietnamese supply truck for his escape. He was able to gain control of a supply truck, but the truck was carrying Vietnamese regulars.[3] Borling was soon overpowered by the soldiers and would spend the next 6½ years as a prisoner of war in Hanoi.[2] John Borling was released on February 12, 1973.

Subsequent to his return, Borling was an F-15 Eagle fighter pilot and commander of the "Hat in the Ring" squadron. He was an Air Division commander at Minot AFB, and Head of Operations for Strategic Air Command (SAC) in Omaha. In that position, he directed SAC's support of hostilities in the first Gulf War and Panama and was charged with execution responsibilities for the nation's nuclear war plan. At the Pentagon, he led CHECKMATE, a highly classified war fighting think tank and was Director of Air Force Operational Requirements helping initiate a new family of guided weapons. In Germany, he commanded the largest fighter and support base outside the United States and later served at NATO's Supreme Headquarters in Belgium working directly for the Supreme Commander and Chief of Staff. He was central to the creation of HQ North in Norway and served as Chief of Staff of that integrated NATO/National command.

Apr 2, 2020

Major General John Borling shares his thoughts about resilience and dealing with adversity, based on his experiences as a Prisoner of War (POW) in North Vietnam. His views help put our current situation in perspective.

As a POW, he composed (and memorized) poems, which have now been published in his book, Taps on the Walls.

Mar 30, 2020

Major Lee has 9 years of experience flying both the F-16 and F-35. In 2016, he was selected as the 'Top Instructor Pilot of the Year' for the Air Force's largest F-16 Combat Wing. In 2017, he returned from Afghanistan where his squadron dropped the most ordnance since the opening days of the war. He's flown 82 combat missions and has 4 Air Medals.

He also hosts a '2019 Top Podcast' called "The Professionals Playbook" where he interviews world-class experts on their keys to success.

Major Lee also speaks on human-performance, decision-making, mental-toughness, and how to debrief.

Mar 26, 2020

Major General John Borling has flown the f-4, F-16, SR-71, U-2, B-52 and B-2. In this episode, General Borling shares another hangar flying story you're going to love!

Mar 23, 2020

Interview expert Kirsty Ferguson is a dynamic business writer and inspiring interview coach. She was awarded the 2005 Telstra Micro Business Award for her work in Recruitment. In 2000 Kirsty created Pinstripe Solutions solely to support job seekers. She brings a diverse business background in advertising, publishing, recruitment and in a much earlier life as a government employee. Her first client was a 23-year old pilot with zero interview experience who struggled to string a sentence together. His interview was with elite airline, Cathay Pacific. Yes, with her help he got in!  From there she became a specialist in aviation, but quickly expanded the business to support Professionals from diverse industries; Finance, School Leavers, Emergency Services, Government, ADF and Pharmacy candidates, to name a few. Her ability to build confidence, finesse communication skills, develop unforgettable CV’s and propel candidates into the employers spotlight has to be experienced to be believed.

Mar 19, 2020

Major General John Borling has flown the f-4, F-16, SR-71, U-2, B-52 and B-2. In this episode, General Borling shares a hangar flying story you're going to love!

Mar 16, 2020

Tom Carlin started his aviation career as an Air Force navigator, flying KC-135 airborne refueling tanker aircraft. On his own, he obtained a Private Pilot certificate and bought an airplane.


Often, his commander needed tom’s assistance with air transportation issues that oould not be accommodated with Air Force aircraft, and he quickly became the “hero” of the unit. this visibility was instrumental in his getting an assignment to Undergraduate Pilot Training (UPT).


Following UPT, he remained as an Instructor Pilot, then became an Aircraft Commander in the C-141. He had numerous missions that involved air refueling and extended crew duty times, sometimes exceeding 24 hours.


Later, he flew the RC-135, again on extended missions.


After Air Force retirement, he started his airline career with a major airline, and purchased another airplane, this time a retired Air Force T-41 Mescalero trainer. It turns out this is the EXACT airplane your humble podcast host flew as a student pilot in Air Force UPT at Laughlin Air Force Base in 1967!

Mar 12, 2020

World Health Organization designates COVID-19 a pandemic.


Stock market tanks, enters bear market territory.


Tom Hanks and wife Rita Wilson test positive for COVID-19.


A passenger on a JetBlue flight tested positive for COVID-19, and fellow travelers were not quarantined!


NBA suspends season after one player tests positive.


Schools closing.


Colleges transitioning to online only.


All travel from Europe suspended for 30 days.


Some airlines canceling new-hire classes until Summer.


Unrelated: oil prices tank.

Mar 9, 2020

Juan Browne started his flying career as a teenager. He bought his first airplane when he was 15 years old, and has bought and sold dozens of airplanes since.


He earned his A&P license right after graduating high school, then attended college on a ROTC scholarship. After graduation, he was commissioned in the Air Force and attended Undergraduate Pilot Training (UPT) at Williams Air Force Base.


After UPT, Juan became a T-37 Instructor Pilot at Mather Air Force Base. His next assignment was flying the C-141, and he quickly rose to Aircraft Commander, flying all over the world, nonstop using air refueling.


He next flew C-130 aircraft with the Reno Air National Guard, and finally secured a job as an airline pilot.


Juan hosts the Blancolirio YouTube channel, with over 1000 videos uploaded.

Mar 5, 2020

The B737 has an interesting stabilizer trim system, which operates at four different speeds.


Main Electric Trim

   Flaps Up: .2 units per second

   Flaps Down: .4 units per second

   Autopilot Trim

   Flaps Up: .09 units per second

   Flaps Down: .27 units per second


On the -300 and later models, there is a system called Speed Trim, which provides trim inputs during low speed operations with low gross weight, and aft center of gravity. It is most frequently observed during takeoffs and go-arounds. Conditions for the system to operate are:


  Airspeed 100-300 KIAS


10 seconds after liftoff


  5 seconds following release of trim switches


  N1 above 60%


  Autopilot not on


  Sensing of trim requirement

Feb 29, 2020

Christina “Thumper” Hopper grew up in an Air Force family where both of her parents enlisted and served.  Her parents’ interracial marriage encountered harsh discrimination and Thumper experienced the demoralizing effects of racism on her first day of kindergarten. The shame and rejection she felt from this left a mark on her life that forever changed her.  She could have become bitter, depressed, and victimized, but instead through the wisdom, support and love of her parents, she developed a deep faith in God and the power of love, joy and purpose to overcome great obstacles.  

When the opportunity to fly combat fighter aircraft opened for women, Thumper was in college.  She had never considered an aviation career and didn’t think it was an option for her, but her ROTC Commander encouraged her to apply for a pilot slot.  After having a vivid dream about flying, Thumper took a step of faith and applied to pilot training where she earned an assignment to the F-16 Fighting Falcon and blazed a historic trail for women in aviation. She was among the first generation of women in fighters, one of only two black female fighter pilots in the Air Force, the first black female fighter pilot in a major war and the first black female fighter instructor pilot.  She served in combat during Operation Iraqi Freedom and earned 4 Air Medals. Her story appeared in multiple media venues including the Harry Connick Jr. Show, 700 Club, and Good Housekeeping, Glamour, and Ebony magazines. She was also featured in Family Circle magazine as one of the Top 20 Most Influential Moms of 2018.  

Sport also played a huge role in shaping Thumper’s life.  At a young age, she took up competitive swimming and developed a strong sense of self worth, drive and discipline through competition.  Her success in swimming enabled her to compete at the collegiate level and set the stage for her ongoing competitive endeavors. After having three children, Thumper took up long distance running and triathlon at age 34.  She completed the Boston marathon twice, conquered IRONMAN Kona and the half-IRONMAN World Championships, and she currently competes as part of the Air Force triathlon team.  Through sport, Thumper learned to do hard things, overcome adversity, and make “impossible” things possible. 

Today, Thumper continues to inspire the next generation of fighter pilots as a Reserve T-38 Instructor Pilot.  She also flies for a major airline and raises three beautiful children with her husband Aaron, a retired Air Force F-16 pilot and airline pilot.  Doing hard things pervades every aspect of the Hoppers lives including their efforts to balance work, life, sport and giving back to the community.  

She also volunteers for Sisters of the Skies.

Feb 27, 2020

From CNN Travel:


A woman who's become an icon in the debate over whether it's OK to recline your airplane seat said she was "scared to death" by how a flight attendant handled her painful ordeal.Wendi Williams, who said she's a teacher in Virginia Beach, tweeted footage of a man repeatedly hitting the back of her reclined seat with his fist during an American Airlines flight in January.But what viewers saw in the video wasn't even the worst of it, Williams told CNN's "New Day.” A passenger filmed a man repeatedly pushing her reclined seat with his fist. Who's wrong here? Before she started shooting, the man behind her "started punching me in the back, hard," Williams said Tuesday."I tried to get the flight attendants' attention. They were not paying attention, so I started videoing him. That was the only thing that I could think of to get him to stop."Earlier in the flight from New Orleans to Charlotte, Williams said the man behind her asked "with an attitude" to return her seat to the upright position so he could eat from the tray table, she said.She obliged and moved her seat back up. But when the man was done eating, Williams said she reclined her seat once again.That's when he started "hammering away," she said. "He was angry that I reclined my seat and punched it about 9 times - HARD," Williams tweeted.


She also tweeted that she was injured, and that the incident caused pain."I have 1 cervical disk left that isn't fused," she wrote."I've lost time at work, had to visit a doctor, got X-rays, and have has [sic] horrible headaches for a week."After she started filming the man, "he did stop punching as hard," she told CNN. "So it did work to a certain degree."But Williams said she was stunned by what happened when she tried to get a flight attendant to help.She said she tried to alert a flight attendant as soon as the punching started. But the employee "rolled her eyes" at Williams and offered the man she accused of hitting her seat some complimentary rum, Williams tweeted.<a href=""></a>The great reclining debate: Is it OK to push your seat back?After that, the flight attendant handed her a stern form letter, titled "Passenger Disturbance Notice.""Notice: YOUR BEHAVIOR MAY BE IN VIOLATION OF FEDERAL LAW," the letter reads."You should immediately cease if you wish to avoid prosecution and your removal from this aircraft at the next point of arrival.""It was shocking," Williams told CNN."I think the more calm I remained, (the flight attendant) got angrier and more aggravated. So she said, 'I'm not talking to you anymore. I'm done with you,' or 'I'm done with this,' something to that effect, and then handed me this passenger disturbance notice."After that, the flight attendant told her, "'I will have you escorted off the plane if you say anything else. Delete the video,'" Williams said. "And I was scared to death."She said she's looking into possible legal action.In a statement to CNN, American Airlines said it was aware of the January 31 "customer dispute" aboard American Eagle flight 4392, operated by Republic Airways.<a href=""> </a>"The safety and comfort of our customers and team members is our top priority, and our team is looking into the issue," American said. Airline passengers are entitled to "fly rights," outlined by the US Department of Transportation, when they buy a plane ticket. Those ensure airlines will do things like provide passengers with water when delayed on the tarmac or, if overbooked, ask passengers for volunteers before others are bumped off involuntarily.But comfort and personal space are not among those rights.Air travel dos and don'ts are wildly divisive and regularly broken. Everything from who has ownership over the armrest (etiquette experts told CNN in 2014 the passenger in the middle seat gets both) to which animals qualify as "emotional support" creatures (a new federal proposal would ban ESAs like peacocks, potbelly pigs and iguanas from flights) have ignited fierce debate.Still, there's an expectation that when you fly, you'll respect other passengers and make the best of your cramped surroundings.Punching the back of a passenger's seat is impolite, according to many of the people who responded on Williams' Twitter feed. But was Williams in the wrong, too, for encroaching on the man's already limited personal space?Lilit Marcus, CNN Travel's Hong Kong-based editor, wrote in November that reclining should be reserved for "special occasions.""Reclining is a way of asserting that your travel needs, and only yours, matter," she wrote. "People are fine with doing it, but no one likes it when it happens to them.”


Delta CEO gives advice on seat reclining. Several of them told CNN in December that reclining is rude, particularly for passengers seated in economy class who already have restricted leg room. One reader said that because of her body type, if the passenger in front of her reclines their seat, she loses the ability to use the tray table to work while flying. Even Delta Air Lines' CEO has weighed in. In April 2019, Delta retrofitted many of its jets to reduce how far the coach and first-class seats could recline. A spokeswoman told CNN it was part of the airline's "continued efforts to make the in-flight experience more enjoyable." "It's all about protecting customers' personal space and minimizing disruptions to multitasking in-flight," the spokesperson said at the time. In an appearance on CNBC, company CEO Ed Bastian said while he doesn't recline his seat in the sky, people should have the right to -- as long as they ask permission."If you're going to recline into somebody, you ask if it's OK first," Bastian said. "I never recline, because I don't think it's something as CEO I should be doing, and I never say anything if someone reclines into me."

Feb 24, 2020

From Pasadena Now:


United States Air Force Lt. Col. Nicola “Rogue” Polidor makes history in Pasadena on New Year’s Day as the first female pilot ever to fly the B2 Stealth bomber over the opening of the Rose Parade. The 8:03 a.m. B-2 flyover kicks off the Parade and Pasadena’s first day of a new decade.




Polidor told Pasadena Now she and her crew “are honored to conduct these flyovers and we will remember it for the rest of our lives.”

Her career achievements embody the theme of the 2020 Rose Parade, “Power of Hope.”

The B-2 flyover has become a 15-year annual highlight as the Rose Parade steps off. This year’s 8 a.m. “Opening Spectacular” performance featuring Latin Grammy winner Ally Brooke of Fifth Harmony, and Puerto Rican singer-songwriter Farruko, along with 19-time Grammy winner Emilio Estefan and the Chino Hills High School drumline, will be followed by the flyover.

The 509th Bomb Wing, based at Whiteman Air Force Base in Missouri, announced Polidor will be piloting the B-2 with Maj. Justin “Rocky” Spencer.



Chelsea Ecklebe, Chief of Command Information said, the B-2 takes off from Whiteman and flies over Pasadena twice today, once for the parade at 8:03 a.m. and then at 2:04 p.m. for the game.

“We will fly the B-2 for a 13-hour mission in order to conduct the two flyovers,” Ecklebe confirmed.

A California native, Polidor, who goes by the call sign “Rogue,” became an aviator in 2004 a few months after graduating from the U.S. Air Force Academy. In 2011, she became the sixth woman to pilot the B-2 bomber, the world’s most advanced aircraft.

Polidor recalled that she wanted to fly since she was a little girl. When she was 12 years old, her and her mother toured Edwards Air Force Base.

“I was captivated when I saw the SR-71. It was such a unique airplane that represented technology and speed. When the B-2 was designed it was on the cutting edge of technology. It is very exciting to be part of a team that combines that with combat capabilities at the tip of the spear.”

Polidor started taking a serious interest in flying as a teenager, and had hundreds of magazine cutouts taped all over her bedroom walls – not of boy bands or heartthrobs from popular TV shows, but of airplanes!

She had pictures of small, big, commercial, military, all types of aircraft, she recalls.

“The fast, elusive military jets really captivated me,” she said in a profile statement released by her unit.

She actually started flying lessons at 14, and was soon flying a Cessna, taking instructions from a Finnish woman who was an Alaskan bush pilot by trade.

“She had a profound influence on me,” Polidor says. “I’ll never forget being able to solo a Cessna because of her guidance. The fact that she was a female, professional pilot, especially given her generation, was an unspoken, subtle inspiration that I could do anything I wanted.”

Throughout the B-2 bomber’s 30-year history, only 498 pilots have qualified to fly the long-range stealth aircraft. Only 10 of those pilots have been female, from the first, retired Lt. Col. Jennifer “Wonder” Avery, who was the 278th pilot to qualify and the only female to have flown the stealth bomber in combat, to Capt. Lauren Kram, who graduated from Initial Qualification Training in October.

Lt. Col. Polidor is currently Commander of Detachment 5, 29th Training Systems Squadron at Whiteman AFB. Three other women who are B-2 pilots are assigned to the 393rd Bomb Squadron at Whiteman, making this the highest number of female B-2 pilots that have been assigned to Whiteman AFB at one time.

There are several ways to become a B-2 pilot, Polidor pointed out, but generally speaking, it takes about 2 years to qualify in the B-2, including Air Force pilot training, Whiteman T-38 training, and B-2 initial qualification training.

Every B-2 pilot is a graduate of a rigorous six-month training program. The Initial Qualification Training program includes 266 hours of academics, 30 exams, 46 simulator missions and 10 flights in the B-2 Spirit. After graduation, the newly minted stealth pilots continue with Mission Qualification Training, a program designed to train aviators in tactically employing the aircraft.

When she first began flying, Nicky Polidor said she just tried to fit in. Today, she is treated like any other pilot, but she is more aware of workforce dynamics and the role gender plays when it comes to policies, pay and retention.

“I am encouraged to think that society is evolving, and one day soon the reaction to me saying, ‘I fly the B2’ isn’t ‘They let women do that?!’ anymore,” Polidor said.

Aside from the B-2 bomber, Polidor has also flown the DA-20 light aircraft while training at the Air Force Academy, and later the T-37 and T-38 jets. She has also flown the B-52 Stratofortress at the time she was assigned to the 96th Bomb Squadron at Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana. Not including her cadet training time, Polidor has accumulated over 1,500 flying hours among these different aircraft types.

Looking towards the future, Polidor said, “I am personally very interested in space flight and working at JPL would be wonderful!”

In 2015, Lt. Col. Polidor was selected as an Olmsted Scholar where she earned a Master of Social Sciences in China and Asia Pacific Studies in Kaohsiung, Taiwan. In her last assignment, she served as Chief of Safety for the 509th Bomb Wing at Whiteman AFB.

When Polidor’s B-2 flies over the Rose Parade and the Rose Bowl Game, a team of officers from the Pasadena Police Department’s Air Operations Unit coordinate with the pilots and the U.S. Air Force ground crew to make sure communications are working and the airspace above the parade and the game is “de-conflicted,” meaning the space is clear from all other aircraft.

“This has been the procedure for several years,” Pasadena Police Lt. Bill Grisafe said. “Additionally, a Temporary Flight Restriction (TFR) has been put into place above both events so as to assist in securing the airspace.”

Speaking during the International Women’s Day celebration on March 8, Nicky Polidor said:

“What I would like to pass on to my daughter is that she can accomplish anything she sets her mind to, much like my mother taught me. My children see both of their parents put on flight suits every day and go to work. I want them to grow up in a world where that is normal and that they can accomplish whatever they strive for.”

Feb 21, 2020

The CI is the ratio of the time-related cost of an airplane operation and the cost of fuel. The value of the CI reflects the relative effects of fuel cost on overall trip cost as compared to time-related direct operating costs. In equation form: CI = Time cost ~ $/hr Fuel cost ~ cents/lb.. The flight crew enters the company calculated CI into the control display unit (CDU) of the FMC. The FMC then uses this number and other performance parameters to calculate economy (ECON) climb, cruise, and descent speeds. For all models, entering zero for the CI results in maximum range airspeed and minimum trip fuel. This speed schedule ignores the cost of time. Conversely, if the maximum value for CI is entered, the FMC uses a minimum time speed schedule. This speed schedule calls for maximum flight envelope speeds, and ignores the cost of fuel.


In practice, neither of the extreme CI values is used; instead, many operators use values based on their specific cost structure, modified if necessary for individual route requirements. As a result, CI will typically vary among models, and may also vary for individual routes. Clearly, a low CI should be used when fuel costs are high compared to other operating costs. The FMC calculates coordinated ECON climb, cruise, and descent speeds from the entered CI. To comply with Air Traffic Control require­ments, the airspeed used during descent tends to be the most restricted of the three flight phases. The descent may be planned at ECON Mach/Calibrated Air Speed (CAS) (based on the CI) or a manually entered Mach/CAS. Vertical Navigation (VNAV) limits the maximum target speed as follows: n 737-300/-400/-500/-600/-700/-800/-900: The maximum airspeed is velocity maximum operating/Mach maximum operating (VMO/MMO) (340 CAS/.82 Mach). The FMC-generated speed targets are limited to 330&nbsp;CAS in descent to provide margins to VMO. The VMO value of 340 CAS may be entered by the pilot to eliminate this margin. n 747-400: 349 knots (VMO/MMO minus 16 knots) or a pilot-entered speed greater than 354 knots (VMO/MMO minus 11 knots). n 757: 334 knots (VMO/MMO minus 16 knots) or a pilot-entered speed greater than 339 knots (VMO/MMO minus 11 knots). n 767: 344 knots (VMO/MMO minus 16 knots) or a pilot-entered speed greater than 349 knots (VMO/MMO minus 11 knots). n 777: 314 knots (VMO/MMO minus 16 knots) or a pilot-entered speed greater than 319 knots (VMO/MMO minus 11 knots). FMCs also limit target speeds appropriately for initial buffet and limit thrust. Figure 3 illustrates the values for a typical 757 flight. Factors Affecting Cost index As stated earlier, entering a CI of zero in the FMC and flying that profile would result in a minimum fuel flight and entering a maximum CI in the FMC and flying that profile would result in a minimum time flight. However, in practice, the CI used by an operator for a particular flight falls within these two extremes. Factors affecting the CI include timerelated direct operating costs and fuel costs.


The numerator of the CI is often called time-related direct operating cost (minus the cost of fuel). Items such as flight crew wages can have an hourly cost associated with them, or they may be a fixed cost and have no variation with flying time. Engines, auxiliary power units, and airplanes can be leased by the hour or owned, and maintenance costs can be accounted for on airplanes by the hour, by the calendar, or by cycles. As a result, each of these items may have a direct hourly cost or a fixed cost over a calendar period with limited or no correlation to flying time. In the case of high direct time costs, the airline may choose to use a larger CI to minimize time and thus cost. In the case where most costs are fixed, the CI is potentially very low because the airline is primarily trying to minimize fuel cost. Pilots can easily understand minimizing fuel consumption, but it is more difficult to understand minimizing cost when something other than fuel dominates.


The cost of fuel is the denominator of the CI ratio. Although this seems straightforward, issues such as highly variable fuel prices among the operating locations, fuel tankering, and fuel hedging can make this calculation complicated. A recent evaluation at an airline yielded some very interesting results. A rigorous study was made of the optimal CI for the 737 and MD-80 fleets for this par­ticular operator. The optimal CI was determined to be 12 for all 737 models, and 22 for the MD-80. The potential annual savings to the airline of changing the CI is between US$4 million and $5 million a year with a negligible effect on schedule.


CI can be an extremely useful way to manage operating costs. Because CI is a function of both fuel and nonfuel costs, it is important to use it appropriately to gain the greatest benefit. Appro­priate use varies with each airline, and perhaps for each flight. Boeing Flight Operations Engineering assists airlines’ flight operations departments in computing an accurate CI that will enable them to minimize costs on their routes. 

Feb 17, 2020

Captain Charlie Plumb has lived what he believes to be the American Dream. As a farm kid from Kansas, he fantasized about airplanes, although he felt certain he would never have the opportunity to pilot one. It would be the United States Navy who afforded Plumb the opportunity to live out that dream.

After graduating from the Naval Academy, Plumb completed Navy Flight Training and reported to Miramar Naval Air Station in San Diego where he flew the first adversarial flights in the development of what would be called The Navy Fighter Weapons School, currently known as “TOP GUN.” The next year, Plumb’s squadron the Aardvarks launched on the Aircraft Carrier USS Kitty Hawk with Fighter Squadron 114 to fly the Navy’s hottest airplane, the F-4 Phantom Jet. Code named “Plumber,” Charlie Plumb flew 74 successful combat missions over North Vietnam and made over 100 carrier landings.

On his 75th mission, just five days before the end of his tour, Plumb was shot down over Hanoi, taken prisoner, tortured, and spent the next 2,103 days in an 8-by-8 foot cell as a Prisoner Of War. During his nearly six years of captivity, Plumb distinguished himself as a pro in underground communications. He was a great inspiration to all the other POWs and served as chaplain for two years.

Following his repatriation, Plumb continued his Navy flying career in Reserve Squadrons where he flew A-4 Sky Hawks, A-7 Corsairs and FA-18 Hornets. His last two commands as a Naval Reservist were on the Aircraft Carrier Corral Sea and at a Fighter Air Wing in California. He retired from the United States Navy after 28 years of service.

Since his return home, Plumb has captivated more than 5,000 audiences in almost every industry around the world with stories that parallel his POW experience with the challenges of everyday life.

To this day, Captain Plumb continues to fly left seat at every opportunity. The most treasured plane he owns and flies is a WWII PT-19 Open-Cockpit antique which is currently on loan to the Commemorative Airforce Museum in Camarillo, CA. He also owns a Rutan-designed experimental single-engine Long-Eze.

Feb 13, 2020

Be sure to listen in on my interview on the 21Five Podcast!

On two separate recent occasions, A-350 aircraft have experienced engine failures following liquid spills on the cockpit pedestal. In another case, an aircraft had to divert from an oceanic flight due to a liquid spill.

This is not a new problem. It was described in Ernest K. Gann's novel Fate Is The Hunter, and dramatized in the 1964 movie of the same name (below).

I experienced a similar situation when I was a B737-200 First Officer. The flight attendant brought up two cups of coffee on a night flight to New Orleans, and handed them to us over the pedestal. I carefully carried my cup to the cup-holder next to the sliding window. The Captain was not so lucky. As he turned to thank the flight attendant, he spilled the entire cup of coffee onto the pedestal. The flight attendant brought up some napkins, and we dried up the mess.

A few minutes later, the number one VHF navigation receiver failed. We were in instrument conditions, and fortunately the other navigation receiver continued to operate.

Back then, cockpit cups were not provided with lids. Today they are.

To avoid cockpit spills, adhere to some common-sense rules:

Instruct flight attendants to always put lids on cups.

Instruct flight attendants to never pass liquids over the pedestal or any "glass cockpit" controls.

Secure all beverages away from instruments during periods of turbulence.

Feb 10, 2020

Sharon “Betty” Preszler was hand-picked as one member of the initial cadre of women fighter pilots in the United Stated Air Force.  She was the first woman to fly the F-16 (a single seat, single engine fighter), the first woman to fly combat missions and instruct in the F-16.  Betty has over 1300 hours in the F-16, including over 50 combat hours in Iraq and one ejection, due to electrical failure. In her 20+ years of service in the US Air Force she was also a navigator, piloted a Lear Jet, and spent time in North American Aerospace Defense Command writing our homeland defense plans after the terrorist attacks on 9/11, plans that are still in use today.  

After retiring from the Air Force, Betty went to work for Southwest Airlines, where she has flown over 8,000 hours in a Boeing-737.  When she isn’t flying, Betty is traveling or scuba diving with her husband and son, volunteering at a local animal shelter, or hanging out at home with her two dogs.

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.


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