Category Archives: Flight

Stories of kife lessons from fliying and the control of flight

A Return to Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF)

This will re-publish as I make a return trip to Mission Aviation Fellowship -MAF.  This time I am staying for  a few days to volunteer in the fabrication shop.  I am excited.  Following is the background for this trip from a previous post.
Many of the things that form our lives rest in the background.  They crisscross our paths making significant deposits in quiet ways.   On a trip to the northwest last year, we took time to visit the headquarters of Mission Aviation Fellowship in Nampa, ID.  We have been supporters of MAF for over 20 years, but my connection to this organization goes back much further.
After our visit, I began to reflect exactly how far back this connection does go.  It, in fact, it goes back to my father. As I wrote about my father’s interaction with short-term mission trips in Costa Rica, I recalled something.  When daddy first became a pilot, he looked into becoming a missionary pilot.  He loved flying and wanted to serve using this passion and his piloting skills.
He was also a skilled mechanic and had an instinct for getting things to work.  It seemed a perfect fit.  He made inquiries thinking there might be a way to do short-term flying missions.  MAF mission did not have a provision for short term pilots.  In addition, he was not a certified air-frame and power-plant aircraft mechanic, nor a certified flight instructor nor did he possess a license for instrument flying.  These are all requirements to serve on the MAF piloting team.  Daddy found another way to serve in short-term missions but, as a result of our conversations about this, the seed of aviation as a mission tool was planted inside me.

Continue reading A Return to Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF)

second amendment

Old Airports and Second Amendment Rights

“Your connections to all the things around you literally define who you are.”  – Aaron D. O’Connell
“They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.” – Benjamin Franklin, Historical Review of Pennsylvania, 1759
Over the years as I drove to and from the east side of Wichita on 13th street, I passed an odd building on the north side of the street next to the Ken-Mar shopping center.  For a while it was something called Sky Bowl, a bowling alley, but has since morphed into a furniture store.  At some point I discovered the building had begun its’ life as an airplane hangar on the now closed Wilson/ Ken-Mar airport. This made sense of the building itself and of the name “Sky Bowl”.  I was fascinated yet sad that a little airport was no more.
Lost Airports

second amendment

There are, in fact, dozens of these stories in an around the Wichita area and well beyond.  I am in possession of a copy of the 1949-1950 Kansas Airport Directory listing the Kansas airports of that time.  The Ken-Mar Airport’s last listing is in this edition, as it was closed around 1950.  What is known of its history, and the history of many other lost airports, can be found at a site:  Abandoned & Little Known Airfields.  The site is maintained by Paul Freeman and a group of other “aviation archaeologists” , on a donation basis.  A true labor of love.
The Second Amendment and An Airport Converge
My husband and I go to the Ken-Mar area for two reasons:  first, one branch of one of our bank is located there and second, it is also the location of the shooting range we are members of:  The Bullseye.
The latter reason is directly related to the Ken-Mar airport since The Bullseye is located in one of the other former airplane hangars.  In 2016 we fulfilled a long-time desire to exercise our second amendment rights.  We acquired concealed and carry permits for handguns.  We gifted each other the class, handguns and the necessary equipment for Christmas. Periodically, we dutifully clean our guns and head to the former airport now shooting range to stay proficient.
When one drives into the residential area, behind the shopping area, the cluster of 1940’s concrete structures makes sense once you realize you are at the southwest corner of what was once the 2600′ north south runway of the old Ken-Mar airport.  I can’t help but look up as we enter hesecond amendment structure and imagine Piper Cubs landing or taking off.  As a private pilot and an American citizen, who cherishes both our freedom to fly and right to bear arms, I find a comforting connection between the two at the Ken-Mar location.
At Risk
I also find it interesting that these two freedoms, rights and privileges are constantly at risk.  They are unique to this nation with roots as deep as her birth and inspired from a profound place.  Exercising these privileges by taking to the sky and through target practice is my personal stand for these privileged freedoms.
Now please excuse me while I go clean my gun and head to the old airport.
Take time today to reflect on one or two freedoms you cherish.  What will you do today to exercise those freedoms?  Please comment below. 

“I Can Do that” – Words To Succeed By

To Succeed – “I can think. I can sleep. I can move. I can ride my bike. I can dream.” Bill Walton

succeedWhen I was accepted into the the Federal Aviation’s Administration’s Air Traffic Academy in 1976, I knew I was on the right path.  At the same time, I had no idea what I had signed up for.  It was daunting in every way.

I remember, after having passed the first phase of academics, challenging in itself, my class of 16 was now headed to the dreaded non-radar labs.  “Phase III” of a thirteen phase program known to be a phase in which “50% will not make it”.  I don’t mind saying it, I was nervous, partially because I was not aware of the process.

On the first day of labs, the Air Traffic Academy Superintendent passed by our class, first to congratulate us for passing Phase II and then to encourage us as we entered Phase III. However, the superintendent said something that gave me courage.  It was something like: “You have been tested and accepted into this program, so we know you have the aptitude to do this job.  All you have to do is apply yourself”.  I thought, “I can do that”.  Ahhh hope.  I trusted what the superintendent said and in the process behind all the uncertainty.

The Process – “I Can Do that”

At that moment, I knew I would not be distracted, party instead of study, or otherwise drop the ball. I had been told I had it within me to succeed and I determined to give this opportunity my full attention.  Still, it was not easy and there were obstecles.  For instance, we were not allowed to miss any days or be late for any reason.  Not even illness.  It was winter in Oklahoma, I was not eating right, nor sleeping well and there was just a bit of stress (sarcasm). Yes, I managed to get the flu.

Succeed By Showing Up and Staying the Course

I have an audio recording of a graded pass/fail lab problem while hosting a fever of 102 degrees.  I did not pass, managing to score a whopping thirteen “conflictions*  (you were not allowed any to pass a graded problem).  But  I was there and I finished.  Fortunately you were allowed one failed graded problem and still pass the course.  It was also a Friday, so I had the weekend to get over the creeping crud.  Ultimately, I graduated.  I trusted the process.

There were many more challenges and not a few moments in which I really wanted to walk away.  Even after becoming a journeyman controller, there were moments, even days when I wanted to disappear.  Invariably, t\someone or something  would remind me to trust the process and keep putting one foot in front of the other.

Most of the time it was that still small voice inside that said “I will never leave you..” that I have come to recognize as the voice my Father God.  Now that I have retired from the life of telling pilots where to go, I have been employing the same “trusting the process” in developing my second wind for this season of life.

“I Can Do That”

Micheal Hyatt was made known to me as a virtual mentor through hearing him interviewed by Dave Ramsey.  Micheal’s book, Platform – Get Noticed in a Noisy World, had just come out and they were discussing the book in the context of the whole entrepreneurial thing.  I bought the book and just like those many years ago, I thought, “I can do that”, and so it started.  I am still figuring it out as I go, putting one foot in front of the other,  learning, studying and trusting the process. This BLOG is one aspect of this new life.

Another aspect is an intentional personal development or a personal growth plan (PGP). One element of my PGP is reading books.   Yes, good old fashioned reading.  I was inspired to be intentional about this through Mr. Hyatt as well.  In both his BLOG and through podcasts he talked about the benefits of consuming a balanced diet of books:

1. Reading makes us better thinkers
2. Reading improves people skills
3. Reading improves our communication skills, including speaking and writing
4. Reading helps us relax
5. Reading keep us young (I am all for that!)

Process  – A Personal Growth Plan

I thought, “I can do that”.   So in my  annual PGP I set a goal to read or listen to 3 books per month. I endeavored to divide these between fiction and non-fiction with some in an audio format.  You can see the list of books completed on my Pinterest 2017  Book reading list.  I set aside a minimum of 20 minutes each morning as a part of my quiet time and 20 minutes before bedtime for this activity.  Fiction reading is reserved for my evening routine.

Instead of going out and spending money on books I did not know if I wanted to keep on my shelf, I have been giving my local library a serious workout.  It has been wonderful. There are a few I ended up purchasing as I wanted to mark them up and keep for future reference, but for the most part the public library has been a great partner in this goal.  I have been surprised at how much I have enjoyed this activity and its benefits.

So once again, by trusting the process, in other words, taking someone’s advice even if you can’t see or understand the rationale, I have found myself in a better place.

*a confliction meant that two aircraft got closer than the required margins allowed. Opps!

Is there some process you have simply taken someone’s word on?  How did it work out?  Please share it in the comments below!

Making Difficult Choices – How They Become Easier

When your values are clear to you, making choices becomes easier. – Roy E. Disney

From the moment we became aware of more than our need for food, water and a warm cuddle from our parents, we have been faced with the awesome and sometimes bothersome privilege we have as humans:  making choices.

choicesAt first we had a lot of help from our parents and others who influenced our formation  in making those choices.  Ideally, we were introduced to solid values from which to make choices:

  • Values that go deeper than our mood on any given day
  • A plumb line that provides objectivity for decisions in situations that arrive in subjective, feeling based moments.

This privilege of making choices by stepping outside of ourselves is one of the many things that sets us apart from the rest of creation.  We have free will.  It is the part of our soul on which our life and its activities pivot.

We all have had situations thrust upon us in which we were faced with a decision we did not want to make.  We did not necessarily choose to be in that place, at least not directly.   After all, the free will of others comes into play in our lives as well as our own.  It is in those unwanted places where the first crucial choice is made:  will I be a victim of other’s choices or will I make the choice right for me and for the right reason?
This is subtle, because the action and the outcome in either case may be the same, but the reason, the heart behind it come from different places.  It is a place of respecting the right of others to make their choices while retaining my choice as to whether I will participate. Then to live with the outcome, whatever that might be.
 Remembering A Hard Decision
This comes to my mind each summer, because in August of 1981, actually the months leading up to that time, I was faced with a hard choice:  whether or not I would strike against the government of the United States of America.  I was
  • in my 5th year and final stage of radar training to become a journeyman air traffic control specialist.
  • a non-active and reluctant member of PATCO, the Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization.
I really enjoyed my job.  The training was challenging and the testosterone dominated culture somewhat unkind to this twenty something. blond. no-previous-experience. female.  But I was in my element.  Spending 40 hours a week telling pilots what to do and where to go – what could be better?  Seriously!
Unpopular Choices
As a radar developmental, my information regarding the issues on which the PATCO contract negotiations were based were rather one-sided.  I did not know much about labor laws and negotiations at that time, and was not aware that staff and management were restricted on what they could say.
As things heated up and the talk of a strike escalated, I was feeling pressure.  Pressure from my fellow teammates who inferred that should I choose not to strike, my attaining of journeyman status would be in jeopardy.  Although not the ones who would sign off on my certification, as my trainers they had a great deal of influence and input into the process. They had the power to withhold support.  To simply declare that I couldn’t do the job and therefore prevent me from having the opportunity to demonstrate otherwise.
Choices by Others
Thankfully,  there were a couple of colleagues that shed some light on the situation to me.  One let me in on the contingency plan in place by the FAA in the case of a strike.  He was convinced that if a strike occurred it would be broken.  I was relieved to know that management was doing something but was not convinced any contingency plan would prevail.
Another friend made his position clear, it was too good a job to put in jeopardy and what ever happened he was not going to participate.  When I finally got above the pressure, other’s opinions and looked at the situation from outside myself, it came down to this,
  • I had taken an oath.
  • I had given my word.
  • therefore, could not participate in any action to bring the USA “to its knees”.
It was on that basis I made my choice.  If the strike prevailed I knew my working life would be made a living hell as a “scab”.  I had to be willing to face that or to walk away on my own terms from a career that I truly enjoyed and from a salary I had never dreamed of earning.
Choices In Hindsight
It has been 36 years since the 1981 PATCO strike.  The strike was broken, air traffic continued and I went on to have a wonderful career.  But that is not the point.  I was not the only one who made choices on this issue.  There were thousands who made choices during this time.  They made them for their own reasons.
I had made peace with my choice before the outcome was known and whatever the outcome, I was OK with it.  You see, the time to make choices is before the situation occurs.  In this case, I decided years before when the value that my word is my bond was instilled in me.  I had sworn an oath.
You have a free will
Your ability to choose daily, even moment by moment is precious.  In your Stonebridge journey, avoid yeilding to the “I had no choice” thought process.  What you are really saying is, “within my set of values, this was the choice I made “.  Own that.  Should that ownership not fit, then make a different decision.  Review the values you have bought into.  It is your choice.  The outcome, whatever it may be, is easier to face.
What one decision have you made that was both hard but the right one to make?  Awesome!  You are a hero.  Please share in the comments below. 

How to Rest – Maintaining a Dynamic Balance

restGet away and unplug. You’ll come back stronger than ever.  – MICHAEL HYATT
Summer is halfway over for most of us.  A season that promises recreation, relaxation and rest.  We let go of the frantic demands and structures of the other seasons, and just breathe, right?
As a person who retired from a 38 year civil servant career, most of which was spent in front of a radar screen as an air traffic controller, shucking off structure and stress was my idea of heaven on earth.  It still is, yet at the same time, I was not naive enough to believe the illusion that this kind of place really exists.  At least not for any length of time.  The evidence is everywhere.
For instance, after years of telling airplanes where to be and not to be, I found that true freedom lay in all parties, pilots and controllers, taking intentional actions within a structure is what created a non-stressful air traffic flow.
I find the same to be true in our financial life:  Intentionally creating a budget in anticipation of projected income and adhering to that budget takes the stress out of cash flow.  I am also finding this to be true with time.  Yes, even summertime after retirement.
In all of these examples one must be flexible, and make adjustments for the unanticipated. Building in appropriate margins make even those events a bother rather than a crises.  Why?  There are forces at work to put pressure on the best intentions:

Continue reading How to Rest – Maintaining a Dynamic Balance

A Solo Flight – Celebrating Milestones

milestones

I enjoy being a pilot, aircraft and hanger owner, but these joys are accompanied by a fair amount of responsibility.  Even as a private pilot, periodic flight reviews (BFR) and medicals come with the privilege.  This was the month for both of those activities.  Since I inherited my Dad’s 1961 Forney Aircoupe, I have flown my BFRs in that craft, but this year I decided to have it done in a Cessna 150, the airplane in which I learned to fly, solo and certify in as a pilot in 1992.
I was able to find one to rent at Westport Airport, a wonderful place in the heart of Wichita, KS.  I have a long history with 71K, aka Dead Cow International, where the Jayhawk Wing of the Commemorative Air Force is based, so I was pleased for this occasion.  Westport should be on your list of places to visit if you come to Wichita.  A quaint oasis of the past meets the present if there ever was a place.  If you are really fortunate  you will meet Earl Long and many other aviators that make up the back-drop of the aviation fabric of the Air Capitol.
Milestones By Comparrison
The Forney Aircoupe  and Cessna 150 are very close in performance, but after flying, almost exclusively, my Coupe for 20+ years, I felt quite out of place.  There are differences that change how one interacts with the plane:
  • The Coupe is a low wing, the Cessna a high wing, thus visibility is quite different.
  • Although my Coupe has rudder pedals (early models do not) they are less critical than in the Cessna, because….
  • The Coupe’s engine is mounted to compensate for the “P” factor, pulling the aircraft to the left, where as one must use rudder to compensate in the Cessna
  • The Coupe uses a hand brake, the Cessna, toe brakes integrated into the rudder pedals
  • The Coupe is about 300 pounds lighter than the Cessna and has a much lighter touch in the controls
  • The trim on the Coupe has less impact on how the aircraft flies than on the Cessna
The best comparison I can give is the difference you feel when getting into a rental car versus your own, it just feels foreign – times ten!
My BFR instructor gave me ample time with the Cessna to get reacquainted, going over checklists, locations of various instruments and gages, etc.  on my own.  I  was as ready as I would be, but still felt a fish out of water for most of the flight.  On top of that, it was less than smooth and I had to fight thermals the entire flight.  It was less than a stellar performance, but my instructor was kind and decided I was not a hazard to myself or others, signing me off for two more years.

Continue reading A Solo Flight – Celebrating Milestones

Daddy – An Airport Story in Three Parts

“Hold fast to dreams, For if dreams die
Life is a broken-winged bird, That cannot fly.”  – 
Langston Hughes

This is the last of three installments of a short story about vision, an airport and flying. 

I soloed January 10, 1992 and received my single engine land private pilot  license in June.

daddy
Rooks County Airport DedicationVision and Dreams

On July 4, 1992, I flew the Aircoupe to the national Ercoupe convention being held in Newton, KS, just north of Wichita.  My family was also there, and I flew Daddy as my first passenger, in the Aircoupe, and as a licensed pilot that day.

Daddy ‘s piloting days may have been over but his vision for an all-weather airport lingered.     During the years I worked at Wichita, Daddy and I had several conversations about the FAA airport trust fund that was available for communities to develop local airports as a part of the national transportation system.

Moving Away

In 1995, My FAA career took me to Brussels Belgium during which time the coupe was tucked safely away, looked after by friends and family.  Mom and Dad moved to Wichita where they cared for our home during our stay overseas and to help with their transition to retirement.  I flew each time I was back for a visit.  In 1999 I returned to the states.   I was assigned to the air traffic safety office in Fort Worth Texas.  Daddy’s health was failing.

I found a living situation at an airport near Fort Worth where I was able to acquire a hanger with an apartment. In this space I could keep the coupe, my car and have a home away from home for this last season of my career.  I looked forward to having Daddy visit our hangar home, but that was not to be.  In March of 2000, Daddy died from multiple melanoma cancer having only seen pictures of the Coupe in her newest home.  As far as I know, He was not aware of the new plans underway for the airport he had envisioned.  Yet the seeds of the vision and dream were growing. Continue reading Daddy – An Airport Story in Three Parts

Dreams – An Airport Story in Three Parts – II

“Worse than not realizing the dreams of your youth would be to have been young and never dreamed at all.”  Jean Genet

This is a continuation of a previous post.  Enjoy!

“The day arrived and on September 14, 1969,  Daddy became a certified private pilot.  He logged 1114.45 hours of flying time over the span of 19  years and one month, almost to the day.  His first lePaul Hancock Pilot Certifcationsson was at the Phillipsburg, KS airport in a J-3 Cub on October 14, 1962 and his last logged flight was from the Plainville airpark on September 21, 1981.  Most of the hours flown were in Aircoupe N3052G.  In high school, I was a frequent flyer passengers.

The coupe became Daddy’s transport, companion and therapy; his place to dream and escape. It would be years before I understood the relationship he had with that little plane. The coupe remained at the Plainville Airpark until 1991.

Dreams Fade

In the late 1960s and into the early 70s, in addition to running his auto parts business, Dad became involved in local government, both as councilman and later as mayor.  So as time progressed, the coupe’s time in the air began to dwindle.  In the mid to late 70s, economic downturns and health issues, infringed further on Daddy’s ability to spend time in the air.  There were rumors that Dad had offers to sell the plane, but he needed to keep her close, even if she had to sit quietly on the ground looking south from her open hangar.

Activity at the airpark came and went.  The one major issue:  water.  The field was well drained and a perfectly fine grass strip but rain, snow, ice and other kinds of moisture hampered consistant use.  In fact, there were no all weather airports in all of Rooks County.  In 1978 he and several others began to work on a plan to correct this.  The vision was modest:  simply black top the airpark runway.  Plans and proposals were made with rationale far beyond just a few guys with a hobby.  As mayor, he could see it as an extension of main street for business, as well as providing access to medical flights, and other emergency needs.  Perceptions, costs, and local politics got in the way and plans ended up on the shelf. The time was not yet.

Dreams Transition

In the meantime, I had left home, married and began a career with the FAA as an air traffic controller. When that career brought me to Wichita, KS in 1988, I decided to finally get my private pilot’s license.  I had wanted to do this since I first flew with Daddy, and had even begun training at one point, but the right time had finally arrived.

In a phone conversation with Dad, I asked if the Coupe was flyable. His answer was evasive:  “it was flying when I last parked her in the hangar”.  I asked how long it had been.  “A couple of years”.   I asked if I could use it to build the hours I needed to get my license, his response after thinking it over, was “if you can fix it, you can fly it”.  I had no idea what was invdreamsolved.  I later discovered it had been 11 years since her last airworthiness check.  It was going to be work.

My flight instructor and I flew his plane to Plainville to assess the situation in the fall of 1991.  She was in sad shape. It took two more trips with different assortments of mechanics before,  on a cold March day in 1992 she departed Plainville Airpark on a ferry permit for her new home in Wichita.

In the meantime, I had continued my flight training and realized the Coupe would not be the plane I would build my flight hours in. The plan had shifted.  Daddy was ready to share her with me, and so we took joint ownership.  When I was not supervising a shift at the Wichita air traffic tower/TRACON or working on some aspect of my pilot training, I was assisting the team of mechanics bringing N3052G back to an airworthy condition.”

Comments Please!

I know, this was more about an airplane than an airport, but one exists for the other! The  final installment of this airport story and vision next time.

Dreamers – An Airport Story in Three Parts

“Walk with the dreamers, the believers, the courageous, the cheerful, the planners, the doers, the successful people with their heads in the clouds and their feet on the ground. Let their spirit ignite a fire within you to leave this world better than when you found it…”   ― Wilferd Peterson

“I turned left onto a half-mile final for a south landing.  There it was, five thousand feet of new concrete; an airport thirty years in the making, carved out of farmland in rural Kansas.  My Kansas.   My roots.  My spirit welled up as I made my final traffic call, “Rooks County Regional Airport traffic, Aircoupe three zero five two golf, on short final for runway one-eight. “  The little red coupe seemed to perk up as I trimmed her to follow the visual glide path to a flawless, slightly cross-wind landing.  I could almost hear Daddy smile from that great cloud of witnesses as we taxied off the runway onto the ramp toward the waiting crowd.

dreamersI had been following the progress of the new Rooks County Regional Airport (KRKS) since I learned, during a 23 year high school class reunion in 2006, that plans were back underway for an all weather airport near my hometown.  So when I was invited to the dedication by a former classmate, I knew I had to fly the     Aircoupe back “home”. Continue reading Dreamers – An Airport Story in Three Parts

The Joyland Carousel – Exposing Hidden Connections

 Joyland
I have never been to the Joyland Amusement Park founded by the Ottoways in 1949.  Although still active until 2004, I simply never had a reason to check it out.  As a child, my amusement park exposure was limited to school playgrounds,  county fairs and carnivals, but I loved the carousels.
I also love seeing lost things found and restored.  So when the Joyland carousel was donated to Botanica, my ears perked up.  As a member of Botanica, I have been following the plans to relocate and restore this wonderful icon.  It seems her new life will be as close to heaven for a carousel as it can get:  In the midst of well tended gardens in a secure protected structure.  Bravo!
Hidden Connections
Even though any direct personal experience with this carousel and Joyland is non-existent to date, I feel a connection on several levels.  Levels that, to the non-discerning eye, are not even there.
First, as as I said, I love seeing things of value restored.  Value, not just in monetary terms, but value at a deeper more visceral level.  Thus our passion for restoring our historic home, Maison Steinbuchel.
Second, as written about in a previous post, the land Botanica sits on was originally a part of the Stackman-Steinbuchel-Hahn homestead, the family for whom our Kansas Historic home is named.
Third, the the connection to the Chance family.  This family is behind the Chance manufacturing company.  It was the Joyland train that sparked the emergence of this Wichita based enterprise.
Aviation, Flight and Air Traffic Control
This connection too, is more visceral than direct, but it is special.  You see, I knew Mary Chance Van Scyoc, but not in the way you might think.  It was not through the amusement park connection but rather through air traffic control.
I met Mary in the 1990s through my local Kansas 99s chapter, a global women’s pilot organization founded by Amelia Erhart.  Mary was an accomplished private pilot and quite a personality.  It was later I discovered she had been the first woman air traffic controller at Denver Airways Control Center, the predecessor to the Denver Air Route Traffic Control Center where I began my air traffic career.  She was also the first woman controller at the Wichita Airport Traffic Control Tower, where I later worked on staff and in supervision.  Mary paved the way for me.  She was an inspiration not only as an air traffic controller, but as an early woman pilot, even learning to fly helicopters in her late 60s!  The last time I spoke with her, she was still active and overflowing with life.

Continue reading The Joyland Carousel – Exposing Hidden Connections