1. Why flying? What attraction does flying hold for you?
As a small child, I was terrified of flying in anything, much less small airplanes. I grew up during the transition to the jet age, and the loudness frightened me. I preferred the steady humming of huge formations of B-36s flying overhead at night. When my husband and I got an airplane, he said that he needed me to learn how to fly so I could put the plane on the ground if something happened to him while flying. So I began lessons under the tutelage of a dear friend and neighbor who happened to be a flight instructor. I believe this quote best describes the attraction I developed after those first few lessons:
“Even before we had reached 300 feet, I recognized that the sky would be my home. I tumbled out of the airplane with stars in my eyes.” Geraldyn Cobb
And Leonardo da Vinci also has an appropriate description of flight:
“Once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been, and there you will always long to return.”
2. How did you get started in aviation?
My husband told me I need to learn how to fly and land our airplane if we were going to travel together.
3. Who have been your role models, or who has had the most influence on you?
My husband, my instructors John Hammons and Mitchell Inman, various local pilots who have become like brothers and sisters to me, and a long-time family friend now deceased, Dick Tucker.
4. What are your main goals as a pilot?
I want to fly for the love of it, encourage others to fly, serve as an advocate for General Aviation and for Women in Aviation in various ways. I am even exploring the idea of becoming a certified ground school instructor.
5. What are some goals that you had that were never achieved, and how did you deal with it?
I really cannot think of any that I never achieved! I’ve done what I set out and trained to do. I’ve written a book, flown a plane and written music. I have gone to Australia and Europe. I married a wonderful man, raised three beautiful children, held and spoiled four grandchildren, and fallen in love with my Saviour and have committed to sharing that love with others so they too can experience Him. There have been disappointments along the way, but so far I’ve been given the grace to stand back up, brush off the dust and go on. What lies out there that I still want to achieve? Fly the Grand Canyon while filming it. Fly to Montana and the Pacific Northwest? Can I achieve that? Maybe. If not I can write a novel, and my character “Zoe” can do it.
6. What is your greatest accomplishment as a pilot?
My whole first book is about that “Day I Grew Wings.” And just recently I GOT my wings, literally pinned to my shirt pocket!
Practical Flying Advice
1. You find your co-pilot drinking before a flight, how will you handle this?
I would excuse him from duties. He knows the 8-hour rule, and it applies to him too. He is not fit to fly an airplane. One drink on the ground acts like two in the air. It locks onto your red blood cells and floods your entire body with impaired faculties and judgment.
2. You smell smoke in the cockpit, what initial action should you take?
Immediately stop all other pre-flight procedures and look for the cause.
3. Your co-pilot tells you the smoke is normal and it will clear itself, but 15 minutes later, the condition is growing worse. Your co-pilot gives you the same response. Now, what would you do?
If you cannot find the cause readily, declare the emergency, shut down all systems, and have the passengers deplane immediately.
Remind the co-pilot you are in command, and tell him to comply with that or excuse himself from duty.
4. The aircraft is loaded way beyond gross weight. Your co-pilot tells you that he does this all the time, and the aircraft will fly. What do you do?
I won’t be explaining anything to him, except showing him the exit door.
5. You have been cleared for take-off. Upon getting airborne with the gear in the wells, what kind of conversation are you going to have with your co-pilot?
What co-pilot? I ordered him off the plane! If I did have a co-pilot, in my small aircraft I would have established that I was the Pilot in Command and I handle all operations on this aircraft. I may ask him to assist me on things but he/she is not to attempt taking control of operations without prior instructions to do so.
Pilot Personality Questions
1. What makes a great pilot?
A great pilot knows every time he/she starts the engine of the airplane it is a whole new flight. Things can happen quickly, and various piloting skills will be tested each time. Like Otto Linienthal said: “To invent an airplane is nothing. To build one is something. To fly is everything.” We take our “everything” to each flight, no matter how simple the flight will be or how complex.
2. What makes a bad pilot?
A bad pilot finds the minute details of pre-flight inspections, fuel testing, checking oil and making sure the controls are in good working order all tedium. He thinks he is too good to have to do that every time. That mind-set becomes one of sad neglect of the airplane. And when this pilot flies, he shocks his airplane out of its weakened, sickened state and forces it to perform, pushing the envelope. He overloads, he under prepares, he laughs off procedure, over banks, enters weather beyond his limitations, and immediately begins committing “pilot error” which is the cause of 70 to 80% of all fatal accidents.
3. Most people have a person in their lives who influenced their career. Who was your mentor?
My husband, who is also a pilot, suggested I learn to fly in case we were up there and something happened to him to incapacitate him in the air. My closest mentor has been John Hammons who was also brave enough to teach me over a two year period along with several other instructors.
4. What event in your life caused you to feel the way you do about aviation and flying?
One day John took me up in the towering clouds and had me fly around and among them. I truly had “slipped the surly bonds of earth” and had “reached out and touched the face of God.” From then on, I was completely hooked.
5. What are some of the limitations of your aircraft and yourself?
My aircraft is structurally limited to headwinds, cross winds and angle of bank in a turn. One must not EXCEED limitations, lest the aircraft become damaged and unflyable. Personal limitations are a bit less than the “never exceed” limitations of my aircraft. I prefer a crosswind of less than 10 knots directly across, even though my aircraft can tolerate 15 knots. I prefer an angle of bank under 40 degrees. I know my skill level. Perhaps with practice I can do more…in fact, I did more wind velocity and angle of bank on my check ride than I normally like to do! And I made it!