All posts tagged 'pilot' - Page 5

So You Think You Want To Be A Pilot

     I first believed in myself when I discovered my plan. Childhood came and went, as did my youthful dreams of one day becoming a Veterinarian. My teenage years brought a whole new light to the subject and before I could turn around and blink three times I was out of the veterinarian stage and driving off to fill out applications to culinary schools. Needless to say, a few years behind the swinging kitchen doors of a TGI Friday’s were more than enough for me to come to the clear realization that my days of working as a chef were limited. During my first two years of college I was waitressing tables at a local restaurant, while and attending classes part time at a local community college roughly studying Nuclear Medicine. I noticed that I no longer had the same spark of certainty that I had once possessed and I longed to rekindle the same passion that I once had to become a veterinarian. Everything changed the moment I stepped into Ron Biddle’s Diamond DA 40 XL. Suddenly I realized that every negative thing that I had ever experienced in the career world had been leading me to that very moment. I spent a long time searching and never once felt right or certain about anything until that day I experienced Ron’s Diamond for the very first time.

     One day, my boss called me into the conference area for our routine meeting. This gathering was nothing out of the ordinary, but what struck me as dissimilar was his rather new interest in my thoughts for the future. He inquires on what I plan to do with my life by asking me what I want to be when I grow up. This question required absolutely no thought on my part at all as I lucidly exclaimed that I want to be a pilot. His reaction left me puzzled; I was under the impression that everyone knew this about me already. As calmly and collected as ever he looked at me and said, “No you don’t.” His tone was gruff like, completely sincere as if he knew my best intentions. Of course, being the stubborn and fussy woman that I am, I immediately wanted to dispute this opinion; but before I could internally prepare myself for battle he offered a truce. “So write about it” he stated. The pressure was on; he was challenging me!

     Okay pilots, here is what I intend to do - I intend to create a short series about the different types of careers that can evolve from a job as a pilot. Therefore I am asking for help from my readers. If you are a professional pilot of any sort, please contact me. I would love to learn about you! Just send in a quick email to [email protected] explaining what your career is and your name. My plan is to then choose several different types of pilots to interview and write about. Everyone has a great pilot story, we want to hear yours!

Achievement Unlocks Great Success

     On a warm spring evening in South Vietnam all is quiet on December 25th. The year is 1966 and a “48 hour ceasefire” has been called and negotiated with the people of Vietnam. Many American Marine Soldiers gather in celebration of Christmas day, and as the officers assemble they share laughter and memories. The soldiers wash away all fears and sadness with merriment, good food and beverages. As the night progresses, the beverages grow stronger while the American Marine Military base grows weaker and more vulnerable against the foreign land. The year is 1966 and America is at war fighting for peace in the Vietnamese nation. Sometime later into this Christmas celebration an American spotter plane is seen passing over the Marine’s camp. The Pilot, fully aware of the temporary “ceasefire” continues north toward the territory known as the Demilitarized Zone (also referred to as the DMZ) when all at once he spots and observes large numbers of North Vietnamese troops on a southbound march. Clearly this is not a march with good intent. The troop’s intentions are blatant and they are not stopping short on such a lucrative target.

“The DMZ! Come in! Thousands of North Vietnamese soldiers are coming across the DMZ!” The spotter pilot’s voice came in loud and clear as he bellowed through the radio frequencies. This man sounded alarmed and utterly distraught as he alerted the Marine Base of the North Vietnamese troops and their foul play just miles ahead of them.

     By this time the Marines were completely exposed and unprepared. Most of these men would be unable to drive a car due to their levels of intoxication, let alone prepare, control and maintain a fully armed aircraft. Alcohol aside, the Vietnamese troops would not disarm the “ceasefire” regulation; it was very much still in effect. Nonetheless, these troops were headed straight for the camp and the Marines were rapidly running out of time. If this were to go uncorrected it would surely mean a Christmas day Massacre; the Marine base had no choice but to send up a pilot. In minutes a clear minded and sober pilot revealed himself. This brave and noble man was an F-4 Phantom pilot and he was prepared to serve his country by protecting his camp. The sober pilot moved quickly on his feet as he grabbed what he needed off the ground. Within moments he and his copilot were off the ground and traveling at 700 miles per hour. The weather was terrible, spitting an awful rain and offering low cloud coverage. The pilot would not have much time to detect the troops and correct the threat. Shooting to kill would be difficult in and F-4 Phantom with a one thousand foot ceiling and it would be doubly difficult to pursue the target enemy with napalm and rockets. Nonetheless, he would do the best he could with what he had. As the pilot approached the enemy he SHOT! Again and again, then he watched as grease spots began to appear on the earth below him. He was instantly filled with sheer pleasure as the enemy troops fell to the ground. Unfortunately, at this point the pilot and his right hand man had officially broken the “cease fire” without hesitation they were advised to continue north to Ubon, Thailand. As the Pilots landed, they were congratulated thoroughly. Due to their wild courage and bravery, the pilot and his co pilot had successfully saved their home camp from the Christmas day massacre.

     It is said that a hero is born among a hundred, a wise man is found among a thousand, but an accomplished one might not be found even among a hundred thousand men. The question is, at what point does an achievement become an accomplishment? Is it enough just to follow your dreams? Is it enough to succeed? What is an accomplishment? For Ronald J. Biddle the answer was simple. In May of 1967 Ron Biddle was awarded with his second Distinguished Flying Cross for heroism and extraordinary achievement in aerial flight; thus accomplishing more than he could have ever wished for.

      Ronald Biddle was born in 1940 in Louisville, Kentucky. During Ron’s high school years he took part in an exam which later led him to a full-ride scholarship to the University of Louisville’s Speed School via NROTC. It was here that he completed his first success as he carried through and eventually accepted a Bachelor’s degree in Chemical Engineering. Prior to Ron’s completion however, he was required to take three summer cruises with the Navy on an aircraft carrier. During Ron’s third cruise he was given a choice, at this time he could make a decision between The Navy and The Marines. Ron, similar to many young and talented men of his age was interested in speed and aerial flight so he chose the second option and became a United States Marine Soldier. During his senior year at The University of Louisville Speed School Ron was sent to Kentucky Flying Services located at Bowman Field where he studied and obtained his private pilot’s license with Dick Mulloy. In 1963 Ron graduated college and was sent to Quantico, Virginia for basic infantry training and then eventually Pensacola, Florida where he completed a rigorous eighteen month flight training program. As Ron continued in his training he was offered the first pick of aircraft for being at the top of his class and in time he entered his very first jet; a T-2 Buckeye. The Buckeye was soon followed by an F9F Korean War Fighter. Shortly thereafter Ron graduated from aerial flight training and was sent to South Vietnam where he was to complete a thirteen month mission. It was in Vietnam that he was trained to fly and fight in fully armed F-4 Phantom jets in which he successfully completed several hundred combat missions.

      Six and a half months into Ron’s thirteen month tour he was placed on the ground to complete his mission in infantry combat on foot. In no time at all he was promoted to an Infantry Company Commander and made great used of his previous infantry training. It was during his time on foot that Ron Biddle earned his purple heart.

      Once Ronald had successfully completed his thirteen month tour in the Vietnam War he came back to the United States and was chose to be removed from the active duty Marine Corps. After leaving the military, Ron served as a flight instructor working for Dick Mulloy at the Kentucky Flying Service that is now known as Louisville Executive Aviation. Ronald J. Biddle resides in Louisville, Kentucky today and continues to fly as he is a proud owner of a Diamond DA XL 40.

      It is said that a little bit of hero resides in all of us, just be strong enough to find it. If a hero is born among a hundred, a wise man is found among a thousand, and an accomplished one will be found among a hundred thousand men. I would place Mr. Ron Biddle into a category of a hundred thousand men. His dedication became his achievement and with years of hard work I would venture to say that he found accomplishment in his life. It is enough to follow your dreams and it is enough to succeed.

So I dare ask the world one question “what is your greatest accomplishment?”

Pilot to Executive Speak

I think a requirement for being called a profession is to develop a set of buzz words and acronyms that only insiders, those of us in the loop, can know. Sort of the equivalent of a secret code so that we can identify each other. To a pilot, FAR, IFR and VFR all have very specific meanings. But a government contracting officer, FAR means Federal Acquisition Regulation. To a military researcher, FAR means Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias, Cuba’s military forces! To most people, FAR means a long way to go.

While acronyms facilitate communication within the loop, it obfuscates things for "outsiders." In aviation, most of our customers are outsiders: the executive, the accountant, the aircraft owner, etc.  To them, aviation folks might as well be teenagers texting - ROFL!

Effective communication depends on the sender and receiver being on the same frequency. It is all to common for us to misunderstand what was said, and also too common to remain silent rather than ask someone to restate it in plain English. Here are a three tips to help communicate airplane speak into common English.

Tip #1. Keep It Simple (Stupid) KISS.
If two pilots are talking about the weather, you can throw in acronyms to make the discussion clearer, and fast. But when the passengers get on board, you need to soften it a lot. You may need to explain what the term alternate airport means. "Because the weather is poor at our destination, we need to carry extra fuel in case we need to land somewhere else. Today, that alternate if further away than normal, so we need to carry even more fuel." This may ease the pain of the request to offload baggage or a passenger or re-plan the trip in extreme cases.

Tip #2. Be wary of the word "safety".
All our flying is "safe." But, sometimes, we need to or have to operate to different levels of safety. A Part 91 flight has more flexibility in what the rules call safe than a Part 135 flight. Excuse me: Part 91 means flights that are privately flow and not flown for hire, such as a corporate flight department's trip or an owner-pilot flight. Part 135 applies to charters and similar flights. Different rules, different requirements. Both are safe. In the case of in-house rules, the boss/aircraft owner needs to understand that your rules may be different than another operator's rules even though they may have the same aircraft.  When safety is the issue, by all means use that term. In other cases, maybe "margin for error" is a better term?

Tip #3. Understand that the same term may have different levels of meaning to the non-flyer.
An owner just had his plane in for a 2400 hour airframe check. During the check, the maintenance facility found corrosion in the tail. To the pilot or mechanic they know the corrosion is small, perhaps even invisible to the naked eye. The aircraft owner, however,  may think of a rusted bumper on a old car! So when explaining the corrosion to the aircraft owner, we need to explain that, for an aircraft, any corrosion is too much. We don’t want the owner to think the aircraft is about to fall apart in flight (thus violating Tip #2 above).

Why do you think those "Dummies" books sell so well? They take complex subjects and remove the acronyms and jargon to explain the basics in a refreshingly simple manner. In aviation we need to communicate with non-aviators on a daily basis. Technical jargon can confuse those who don't have the training and knowledge to interpret it. We need to explain what it means to them in terms that make sense - to them. Explain things in terms that your listener will understand in terms of their own experience.

(Please feel free to print this off and bring it to your next Doctor’s visit)

Pietenpol (Home-Building) Instructions: Step One - You Gotta’ Have Faith


         On a chilly Friday in October, I met a man with ambitions unlike anyone I have ever met before. Building an aircraft completely by hand from the ground up might not seem so astonishing at first; so marinate on that for just a minute. For 10 years, Jeffrey Faith has owned and traveled by way of a 1947 Cessna 120. This aircraft is fast enough for long distance travel says Mr. Faith, and with clear certainty he states that it is absolutely a blast to fly, nonetheless it bores him. So, in an eager search to rekindle his passion for flight, Jeffrey pursues a mission to once again find the adrenalin in which he seeks.


                   In 1928 Bernard H. Pietenpol designed a homebuilt version of the parasol fixed wing aircraft. The very first prototype became known as the Air Camper and it has proceeded to become an absolute sensation; one of the very first successful homebuilt airplanes ever created. By 1932 Bernard’s success was published in Flying and Gliding magazine, incorporating a step by step manual and reprints provided by the Experimental Aviation Association (EAA) on how to build your own Pietenpol aircraft at home. In the 1920’s, although production throughout the United States was moving quite rapidly, we did not yet have means to make an aircraft from ideal or modern materials that might be seen in production today. The Air Camper was designed with an all wood airframe and it was typically composed of Sitka Spruce with either Birch or Mahogany plywood; this was developed to be considered a “value” aircraft (if you will). One of Bernard H. Pietenpol’s original goals with this airplane was to create a masterpiece that was not only affordable but also easy to construct and original. The Pietenpol Air Camper is not available in a kit; therefore each piece of plywood must be made by hand. As one might imagine, this is certainly no walk in the park. In order to produce an aircraft such as this, basic woodworking skills, hand tools and patience are nothing less than necessary.

         Originally the Pietenpol Air Camper was designed to be powered by a Ford Model-A automobile engine; however, since 1929 several hundred have been built, and various engines have been procured and used. Due to the design of the aircraft, the Pietenpol Air Camper is typically considered to be “low and slow” with an average cruise speed of 65 mph.


              In 2010 private pilot Jeffery Faith keeps himself busy and keeps his passion alive by building and producing handmade transportation. This includes a refurbished and modernized 1930’s model truck that he has since sold. This also includes an open-cockpit biplane known as a Ragwing Special. In fact, it was in this very biplane that Mr. Faith first soloed and acquired his license to pilot. He has since sold this masterpiece as well and is in hot pursuit for his next big project. As the pieces of Jeffrey’s puzzle were beginning to fall together he found a copy of the 1932 Flying and Glider Manual Magazine providing the EAA reprints for the Pietenpol Air Camper. Coincidentally, his neighbor had a spare Ford model-A engine; all Jeffrey could do at this point was to give the Pietenpol Air Camper a go. He missed his open-cockpit biplane, so let the games begin!

         On average, the Pietenpol Air Camper generally tends to take most home builders anywhere from five to ten years to complete. This is primarily due to the time intensive labor that goes hand in hand with this aircraft being entirely handmade. Jeffrey Faith glued the very first ribs of his Pietenpol together on Nov 1 2010 and is now officially in the home stretch of completion; finishing in an astonishing two years. Along with completing his aircraft in such a timely manner, he also did his best to keep his purchases local. Mr. Faith built this aircraft directly out of the magazine and he primarily used the AC4313 FAA handbook as his reference. This was his guide for finding and grading different characteristics of wood and it was because of this book that was able to find wood strong enough for his future fuselage. Generally speaking, the ideal wood of choice would be spruce wood that comes out of Alaska, however, since Mr. Faith chose to go local he was opted out of choosing this particular wood and had to research in order to find a commendable substitute.  What he found was Light Popler Douglas Fir and White Fir. Once he had acquired the necessary quantity of wood he used a 100 year old band saw and hand tools to hand carve the propeller.
          As of October 22, 2012 Jeffrey Faith has completed his aircraft almost entirely. Within the month he plans to receive an FAA regulated inspection as well as airworthiness certificate. Once these mandated regulations have been completed Mr. Faith’s Pietenpol will be complete and ready for takeoff. - Yes he plans to show off his masterpiece! Every year, the weekend before Oshkosh there is an annual Pietenpol fly located in Brodhead WI. This fly in usually incorporates anywhere from fifteen to twenty Pietenpol airplanes along with multiple airplane people who are interested in and fly the Pietenpol aircraft. This just one of Jeffrey’s many plans for the future of his most recent masterpiece.

          For anyone who may be interested in building an aircraft of their own, don’t worry, I’ve done the question asking for you. When asked what he might say to fellow plane builders, Mr. Faith states that “anyone can build an airplane. The thing to remember is, work on it every day. Never look at the big picture it will only discourage you; look at the little pictures all and along the way and one you will look up and see your finished product.” Most importantly, Mr. Faith advises the builder to enjoy every minute of it and if you’re anything like Mr. Faith, you might just “like the building part more than the flying part!”

         “I call it Piet (Pete)” says Mr. Faith. There you have it fellow pilots, this is the trick! When the Cessna 120 gets boring, build a Pietenpol Air Camper! The best part is, according to Mr. Faith, “contrary to popular belief, there is no black magic involved in the building of the Pietenpol!” So here it is, this is the spark that Mr. Jeffrey Faith has been seeking all along; the same spark that he seeks to revive his passionate flame for flight.

To see how very personalized the Pietenpol Air Camper can be visit: Mr. Faith says that the coolest part about this aircraft is the originality and the personalization involved. By visiting this website you will get the opportunity to see previously developed Pietenpol aircrafts and view their cosmetic differences such as paint, engines, landing gear, etc.

Question to my readers - Rumor has it that the Pietenpol Air Camper handles similarly to a Piper Cub. If you have ever flown in one of these, please let us know! We would love to hear your input!

Aviation Advocates Criticize Obama Remarks

Article By: Mary Grady, Contributing Editor
In last week's presidential debate, President Obama said people who operate business jets shouldn't be entitled to an accelerated-depreciation tax break. "My attitude is, if you got a corporate jet, you can probably afford to pay full freight, not get a special break for it," President Obama said. Jack Pelton, former Cessna CEO, was quick to respond with a letter to Carl Brewer, the mayor of Wichita, Kansas.
"We cannot continue to be reflected by the President as an industry that is 'bad,' " Pelton wrote, according to the Wichita Eagle. “If this is the theme for the campaign, you can guarantee Wichita will suffer beyond what we have seen to date." More than 13,000 aviation workers in Wichita lost their jobs dung the economic downturn

Ed Bolen, president of the NBAA, responded the day after the debate with a letter to the White House. "I'm writing to convey my frustration at your disparaging remarks about our industry during last night's debate," Bolen wrote. "Your comments seemed to illustrate a complete lack of understanding about the importance of business aviation in the U.S., and appear to be at odds with your stated interest in promoting job growth, stimulating exports, driving economic recovery and restoring America to its first-place position in manufacturing." NBAA and other advocates have also protested the administration's user-fee proposals.

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