Sunday, October 31, 2010

Who’s upset? The blogger gets an upside down view of decision making.

Gil Monti Chief pilot at ATCA in Phoenix before our flight
     After days of flying with novice pilots, I should have felt completely confident with Gil Monti at the controls of the Beech Bonanza on Friday afternoon. So why was I saying my prayers double-time as we took off from Phoenix Goodyear Airport? Well for starters, both of us were wearing parachutes. 

Friday, October 29, 2010

Daniel's Flying Lesson - In Which the Blogger Refrains from back-seat flying

Daniel Wies practices cross-country flying in Phoenix
Who is more courageous? The journalist who climbs into the back seat of a single engine airplane piloted by a baby-faced student pilot with less than a month's flying experience or the pilot, who with a grin and plenty of grace allowed this inquisitive matron to layer another distraction on to his overloaded plate?

I vote for the pilot. And since I am back in my dorm room at the Airline Training Center Arizona, with photos and an account of the flight, you know how it all turned out. We landed safely - all of us the wiser for the two hours we spent in the air over Phoenix. But I'm going to tell you what the photos won't show.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Flying Lessons - In Which the Blogger Attends Flight School - Episode One

Lufthansa student pilot Katharina Spilles
practices in the flight simulator

A half dozen beaming faces greeted me as I entered the dormitory at Lufthansa’s flight school at Phoenix Goodyear Airport in Arizona last night. This was a warm welcome from these heart-breakingly young student pilots.
Now that I'm on the scene consider what they will have to put up with. A woman old enough to be their mother will now be hangin’ with them in the student lounge, peering over their shoulders in the simulator, and saying a fervent prayer as I join them in the school's single-engine Bonanzas. Them bein’ pilots and all, I’m not expecting to have to tell any of them to pipe down upon returning to quarters at three in the morning after a late night of carousing but who knows?

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Pilot refuses scan, yada, yada, yada

Unidentified airline pilot after TSA screening
at Miami International Airport
Ok, I got Michael Roberts story in my inbox too. Yep, that Michael, the ExpressJet pilot who pulled a Howard Beale at Memphis International Airport earlier this week - stamping his dress shoed feet (oh wait, perhaps he was in stocking feet) at TSA officers because he was fed up, that's right, fed up and not going to take it any more.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Ground Ops Not as Easy as it Looks

Sometimes I read about a television program and get all excited then forget to watch it. Afraid that would happen with Sunday night's episode of Undercover Boss, I set an alarm just to make sure I didn't miss the head of Denver-based Frontier Airlines learning how his airline really gets off the ground.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Following the Money in Air Ambulance Services

I have more news on the underpinnings of the helicopter ambulance industry. Over the past five years I’ve been focused on the aviation side, the operational stresses that cause emergency medical aviation to be the most dangerous kind of commercial transport in America. You can read more about my work with Patrick Veillette on that subject here.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Selling those helicopter ambulances in Texas

The busy bees marketing the services of emergency helicopters have been spreading the pollen in Texas. I've wondered if the industry's sales force was pitching the need for speed to summer camps ever since I blogged about the father of one camper in Texas who got hit with a bill for $16,000 after his daughter slipped in the shower and was airlifted to a children's hospital with little more than a bump and a scare.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Women in Aviation We're Dancing as Fast as We Can

It was a phenomenal transformation from wild debauchery in the shadows of Boston's glittering skyline on Thursday night, to the buttoned up, proper-lady executives in the ballroom of Boston's Taj Hotel today. Okay, both characterizations are slight exaggerations. Still, I'm here to say, the gals of the International Aviation Womens Association have the secret to balancing playfulness with power.

The clam bake was sponsored by Fed Ex, so let me direct this thought to them right now, "Holy smokes, you sure know how to throw a party!"

At last night's get together at Thompson Island in Boston Harbor, boldfaced aviation names tossed back the steamers, the lobsters, the champagne and the pie, then worked it all off with an exuberant, marathon-length dance session, that had the few men in attendance (bartenders and wait staff) using both hands to haul their jaws up off the floor.