Tag Archives: air traffic control

Happy Birthday Mom – A Love Letter

love letter

With long life will I satisfy him, and show him my salvation. – Psalms 91:16

 And the Lord said, My spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh: yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years.  Genesis 6:3
I write a bit about my paternal DNA, the connection I have with my dad through:
  • aviation
  • my mechanical bent
  • and writing
I am aware I do not write about my mother, unless it it is in reference to her family ancestors, the Rightmeiers.  This has nothing to do with a preference for my dad over my mom but purely out of respect for her privacy.  Mom is still alive and well.  Dad passed on in March 2000.  I endeavor to be respectful of all of my family, living or not, but also know that privacy for those still living is another facet of respect.
Birthday’s Are For A  Love Letter
I am making an exception with this post.  My mother’s birthday is in the month of February and I want to honor her.  She is in her 80s and just as beautiful as ever.  She is alert, strong and active.  I am grateful to have her DNA woven into mine.   If I got my sense of adventure from Dad, Mom taught me how to prepare and plan.  Mom imparted to me great organization skills which have served me well from housekeeping to organizing air traffic. She instilled in me not just the sense of beauty but how to bring it into reality – on a budget. If Daddy was a visionary, mom made it happen.
A Trip To Remember And A Daily Love Letter
A trip we took to Seattle for a family wedding comes to mind.  My father was to walk his youngest sister down the aisle.  I was five or six, my next sister around two and my youngest at the time a baby.  We were driving.  Two days up, two days back and a few days on site for the wedding.  I was the ring bearer or flower girl and I think my younger sister was the other.  Details escape me, but I do remember this:

Continue reading Happy Birthday Mom – A Love Letter

Wedding Anniversary Adventures – Forty Years!

anniversaryA wedding anniversary is the celebration of love, trust, partnership, tolerance and tenacity. The order varies for any given year.   Paul Sweeney
This month my husband and I will be married 40 years.  When he asked me to marry him, we had planned a June wedding after his first year of ministry school at Melodyland School of Theology in Anaheim, CA .  I was in Denver and progressing in my air traffic training program.  A June wedding would have been at a more routine phase of my training and would include the option of taking some time off.
However, the first part of October, just as I was entering a critical phase of training with no option of time off, David called.  He said “I think we should get married when I am home for Christmas break”.  We had not planned a big to-do, just a family and friends day church wedding with a cake and punch reception, but still 10 weeks?  Seriously?
There were some logical reasons for this request, which are beside the point right now, and in spite of all of the reasons to the contrary, I said OK.  It only meant:
  • getting a dress – which I ended up making
  • assembling an invitation list
  • ordering invitations and a cake and flowers
  • Oh and bridesmaids dresses, tuxedos
  • and of course, continuing my studies in air traffic
  • with absolutely no money saved

But still, why not?  Indeed….

Celebrations Need Help
Fortunately, God gave me an awesome friend, Beverly, to pull it together.  We also had a strong church family of talented musicians, cake makers and decorators, as well as family on both sides who rallied to make sandwiches, mints, punch and, of course dresses.  My sister, my matron of honor, became the seamstress for the wedding party.
I made a trip to California on a long weekend, to see David where we bought our rings on sale at J.C. Penny.  I also bought material (on sale) and, with the help of my great Aunt Eunice, with whom I was staying, we made my dress and veil.  David arrived back in Colorado a few days before the wedding and with medicals in hand we got our license.  On December 17, 1977 we were married over the weekend at The Happy Church with family and friends to witness.  We had 24 hours to celebrate at the Broadmoor Hotel in Colorado Springs.  I was then back to work learning how to keep airplanes from colliding.
Celebrations and Obstacles
It sounds like all went off without a hitch, but there would be no story if that were the case. The wedding was scheduled on a Saturday between my high altitude and low-altitude pass-fail non-radar problems at Denver Air Route Traffic Control Center.  (did I say pass/fail?) I had been through this process once before at the FAA academy, but that did not make this phase any less daunting.
As with each of the 13 stages of training, I had to pass this one or I would be out of a job. That meant at least one of the two final graded problems for the low and high altitude sectors had to be flaw-less.  If I passed the first graded, which was on a Thursday, I would not need to take the second one on Friday and could take the day of to be a bride.  But….
…I failed.  Two of the 30+ aircraft got closer than required 10 minutes apart .  Ten minutes that changed everything,   I would have to go in ant take the last problem on Friday morning and pass or our wedding would take place under a cloud of uncertainty regarding my employment situation.
Celebrations in Spite of….

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Giving A Voice To The Voiceless – The Christmas Shepherds

The one thing that you have that nobody else has is you. Your voice, your mind, your story, your vision. So write and draw and build and play and dance and live as only you can. – Neil Gaiman

voiceThe story of the nativity would be incomplete without the shepherds “keeping watch over their flocks by night”.  They were the first to hear the announcement, beyond the immediate family, that something extraordinary had occurred.   A very special baby boy had been born.

I have heard this story for as long as I can remember.  As a child we read the Christmas story in our home every Christmas Eve, heard it at church and even reenacted it as a drama to the best of our ability.  But who were these men?  Why shepherds?

Without A Voice
Shepherds have an ebb and flow of status in the Bible.  In the early days of the Patriarchs they held an important place.  Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (renamed Israel) were all nomadic and owned large herds and flocks.  Along with provision and lively hood, these were a sign of wealth of the day.  However, their neighbors, the Egyptians, did not hold shepherds in high regard at all, and when Israel devolved into slave status in Egypt, it seems this attitude toward shepherding remained with them even after their exodus.
The Shepherd Psalmist King’s Voice
Still there were shepherds.  In the time of David, he was found tending sheep when anointed to the King.  The fact that he was the youngest and his station in the family not highly regarded, indicates the low status of those who tended these woolly necessary creatures.  As David rose to Kingship, so did the status of the shepherd for a time.
However, at the time of the birth of Jesus,  shepherds were regarded about the same as the tax collector (think IRS).  They were not allowed to even speak in a court of law.  They had no voice.  The particular shepherds on that special night, were tending the flocks for the temple.  These were the sheep used in the daily required temple sacrifice.  One would think they would have some kind of status, but apparently not.
A Voice Is Who We Are

Continue reading Giving A Voice To The Voiceless – The Christmas Shepherds

Thanksgiving Thoughts From Maison Steinbuchel

Thanksgiving is an emotional holiday. People travel thousands of miles to be with people they only see once a year. And then discover once a year is way too often. – Johnny Carson

The day before Thanksgiving is the heaviest travel day of the year.  This true of all modes of transportation, but none more filled with tension than air travel.  During my years in air traffic I worked many of these days.  From the inside, it was serious business.  I arrived to take my position at the radar in the Los Angeles Center with coffee at hand, my mind focused and with a bit of apprehension for the task at hand.  It was fun and awesome at the same time.

Those days were also days of honor, where I could serve the travelers of this nation, even the world, so they could get home to be with family and loved ones.  I was aware of what was at stake:

  • hugs and tears of welcome
  • reminiscence with family and friends
  • reminders of those no longer with us
  • grandparents seeing grandchildren, perhaps for the first time
  •  And even some reluctant endurance of bad memories

Whatever awaited at the end of each passenger’s voyage, we did our best (really) to not add to the stress of the travel.

Sending Thanksgiving Peace

Today, I have to admit, I don’t miss the tension and stress.  Yet, neither do I regret having served in this way.  As I said, it was and honor.

The video above is sent to provide you a moment of peace, respite or even escape, if needed.   The Music is from David Cullen – not the one I am married to.

So from Maison Steinbuchel we sent our warmest prayers for a day filled with peace, good food, and fellowship, wherever you may be.  For those serving our country in the military,  public safety, air traffic or any other civil service, we send our thanks.  thanksgiving

If you are serving in some way away from friends and family, please let me know in the comments below.  I want to thank you personally.   If not, where will you spend your Thanksgiving this year?

The Adventure And Risk of Transitions

Times of transition are strenuous, but I love them. They are an opportunity to purge, rethink priorities, and be intentional about new habits. We can make our new normal any way we want. – Kristin Armstrong

transitions

We just had the first hard freeze of the season.  Although summer ended and autumn officially began September 21, October is the time of year the seasonal change starts to show in my part of the world.

External changes appear as:

  • a burst of growth in the annual potato vines and other bedding plants in the garden
  • the kitchen garden also has its last burst of production
  • a subtle tinge of yellow appears in the ash tree on the property
  • daylight hours slowly beginning to wane

The latter triggers some internal changes for me:

  • my energy level starts to wane with the daylight and adjustments are made in my diet to compensate
  • attention is given to getting things in order for the holiday and winter season.  I guess it is a sort of fall sorting and cleaning.
  • I begin to think about the closing out of one year and beginning a new – yes, already.
Routine Transitions

All  of this in response to a seasonal transition.  But what about the broader scope of transitions?  In some ways we are always in transition.  We:

  • arise in the morning, live out a day, then head back to sleep
  • go to work, move from one activity to another, then back to our nests at home
  • get in our cars, drive somewhere, take care of business then return

Most transitions are routine, efficient, even mindless with little risk.  However, what about transitions:

  • from a familiar routine to a new one?
  • that involve more than just you?
  • that involve some or a lot of risk?
  • that a moving into an unknown situation?
Transition Risks

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Chance Encounters, Connections and History

encounters

Recently while my husband was blowing off our sidewalks, he spotted a gentleman looking over our house from the curb.  This is not an uncommon occurrence, since the house, even in its current “need for a redo state”, is quite striking.  A conversation was begun that lasted, again not uncommonly, for a while. Chance encounters making connections.
It turns out this man had known Dorothy Elisabeth Steinbuchel Wilson Gouldner in her later years as a neighbor.  He was currently reading her book, A Living Gravestone, about the family and the house.  We do not have a house number – this would not have been a part of its original decor – so he wanted to ensure he had the right location.
We shared stories and information and told him of the research I was doing to update and even validate the information in the book.  The Foundations pillar of this BLOG is devoted primarily to that endeavor along with a place to share progress on the historic restoration  when it begins in earnest.
Encounters With New Details
The visitor said Elisabeth was very proud of that book.  In addition, he mentioned that Olive Ann Beech’s daughter helped her to get it to publication.   Hummmm, a detail I was unaware of before, since there is no mention of this in the book by way of  acknowledgment.  I am aware, however, from the book The Barnstormer and the Lady, that Elisabeth’s brother-in-law, Rene Goulnder was Walter Beech’s personal physician.  His signature is on Mr. Beech’s death certificate. Thus the probable connection.

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picnic

A Family Summer Picnic, A Castle And Providence

This weekend I will be joining my mother, her brother and members of three of the seven branches of my maternal grandfather’s siblings for a family picnic near Boise Idaho.  Sometime in the 40s or 50s three of  my grandfather’s six siblings moved from Kansas to this area so I only knew them by name.  A large reunion of the Rightmeier clan in Kansas in 2005 and the advent of Facebook reinstated relationships  geography had eroded.

This picnic gathering has me thinking about this branch of my family tree’s German roots.  It centers around a small village in the northern District of Lippe Germany:   Varenholtz.

A Castle

When my husband and I had an opportunity to visit Varenholtz in 1998, we found a landmark never mentioned in any of the family stories:  Schloss (Castle) Varenholz.  The castle location was the seat of a family of Knights , under Heinrich the Lion. Built to its current size in 1596 by Simon VI, the son of a staunch Catholic Count, who ruled the region and fiercely resisted the Protestant movements in the area.

When the elder Count died, the care of Simon VI, his son, was left to Phillip of Hessen.  Although the Count gave strict orders that his son be educated in the Catholic faith, Phillip did not adhere to this request and Simon was educated as a Lutheran, and later studied “at a reformed school in Strasbourg” where he became a follower of John Calvin (1503 – 1564).  It was in this way that Lippe became a mix of Lutheran and Calvinistic influence.

Regetmeir to Rightmeier

My maternal great great  grand-father, Frederic Regetmeier,  immigrated to the United States in 1864 at the age of 14. During this period, a long-term drought, along with political and religious unrest made living conditions in Lippe quite desperate.  In other words the feudal system was breaking down.

The life they knew was disappearing.  Word of the opportunities in America sparked by desperation, drove young Frederic and his brother August  to make the voyage.   In reality the brothers were stowaways on a ship to New York.  It is said they jumped ship in New York harbor and swam ashore.

Continue reading A Family Summer Picnic, A Castle And Providence

“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. 

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.