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5 Life Lessons I learned from Bob Hoover October 25, 2016

Posted by Abingdon in Flight, Uncategorized.
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Today a legend in the aviation world passed away. He was known as the greatest pilot that ever lived. He was also a standup human being. I had the pleasure of knowing Bob for the last four years. Through every interaction with him, I came away a better person. He was a leader in life, not only for his flying skills, but also his character. The world has lost a true gentleman. 

Bob, Colleen, and I at the Opening Ceremony of the Santa Monica Museum of Flying

Bob, his lovely wife Colleen, and I at the Opening Ceremony of the Santa Monica Museum of Flying

Here are 5 lessons I’ve learned from knowing Bob Hoover that have helped me be a better person. 

1. Always be learning. I remember coming back to Los Angeles from ferrying a Twin Commander to Australia. I was going to an event at the Jonathan Club in downtown LA to honor Clay Lacy (another living aviation legend). It was a formal event. When I arrived, a few friends of mine were asking me how my ferry trip had gone. Word got around the party that there was a young girl who just flew an airplane to Australia. Bob asked to speak to me privately. I went over to his table and sat down with him. He recognized me right away and asked how I was. Then he wanted to know all about my trip. How did I transfer fuel? How was the HF radio hooked up? What was my speed and how long did it take to fly such a slow plane from California to Hawaii? He loved learning, and though he was clearly the better pilot in the conversation, he was learning something from me. I don’t know if I taught him anything that night, but it was such an amazing thing to have such a great aviator eager to learn something new. 

2. No matter how great the world thinks you are, be gracious. Bob Hoover is known as the greatest pilot to have ever lived. And after seeing countless videos on YouTube of his air show performances and hearing him tell the stories that he’s had in his flying career, I agree. Aviation lost a legend – nobody will deny that. But he wasn’t just a legend for his skills in an airplane. He was a legend because he kept it classy. Always kind and gracious, I would see him at different events throughout the years from private functions to the famous Oshkosh AirVenture and he always had people coming up to him asking for photos or wanting to tell him how they were influenced by him. He would always lend his ear to them. He would always pause and gave them time. He probably heard the same stories over and over and over from thousands of people young and old, and yet he still smiled, still listened, and still engaged with them. It didn’t matter how amazing everybody told him he was, he still kept it down to earth and was one of the most gracious celebrities I have ever met.

3. Write your own rules. This is a man who, in World War II stole a German airplane and flew back to Holland to get back to safety. This is a man who picked up a fellow soldier who had crashed his plane in Northern Africa.  He put his friend behind him in the same seat in a tiny cockpit and flew hours back to the base, saving the soldier’s life. This is a man who helped another pilot get his stuck landing gear down by talking to him over the phone and giving him tips on how to manipulate the airplane to force the gear down. There was never a rule book for Bob. Throughout his life, he wrote his own rulebook.

4. Tell stories. I never had a chance to see Bob fly at an airshow, but I did hear dozens of stories from him. Entertaining, exciting, thoughtful, and valuable, I could listen to him talk for hours. What made Bob so magnetic is that he brought you into his world. He was passionate about the way he spoke. He always spoke from the heart. It is through his stories that people connected with him. We lived with a legend that was still alive, and through him sharing his life stories with us, we felt connected to greatness. 

5. You can pour a glass of iced tea while doing barrel rolls. The video tells 1000 words. Rest in peace Bob. Bob Hoover pouring tea in a barrel roll

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My First REAL Airline Flight October 6, 2015

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Remember the last time something happened to you or you accomplished something that made you so giddy inside you were ear to ear grinning? You just couldn’t help it. There was no way anyone was going to wipe that smile off your face. It’s such a great feeling and I hope it happens to me many many times in my life. Such an event happened last night when I took my first CASS flight in the cockpit of an Airbus. 

If you not familiar with the airline industry, the industry helps out airline pilots by providing travel benefits through a system called CASS. If the flight isn’t full, and you ask the crew nicely if you can board their ship (very important), then you could sit either in the main cabin or the cockpit and get a ride to wherever you need to go. Last night, I took such a ride – and I was so giddy after the flight, I wanted to stand up and applaud the captain and first officer for such an amazing experience.

 

Best seat in the ship! just watch, listen, and be quiet.

 
It was night. Thunderstorms were all around, and the entire flight was full. There was one seat left in the aircraft behind the captain’s seat. And it was mine. 

In order to not distract the crew, I sat quietly in my little jumpseat drinking my water and watching everything the captain and first officer did. It was a bumpy flight full of lightning, dark thunderstorm clouds, and lots of blinking, flashing lights from the cockpit. The lights outside the airplane were reflecting off the clouds and filling the entire cockpit with flashes of light that simulated what light speed looks like in Star Wars movies. We were getting rocked the whole flight. It was better than a roller coaster and to see it from the view of the pilots made me feel like I was part of a secret club that only a few people would ever experience. I felt like I was in a movie.

 

night storms, turbulence, & cockpit lights – loved it

 
The lights! That sounds! The turbulence! The exchanges between the captain in the first officer! This is what flying is all about. This is how to enjoy an airline flight. 

No smelly people sitting next to you. No screaming babies or kicking kids behind you. It was nice, quiet, relaxing, and fun – even though the weather was chaos outside. I was smiling from take-off to touchdown, and like I said at the beginning, I would’ve stood up and applauded the captain and first officer after the flight if I felt it were appropriate. I hope they realize how great of a job they have and never take it for granted. 

AirAsia 8501 – My Experience Flying into that Fateful Airport January 21, 2015

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Flying to SurabayaBeing in aviation is tough sometimes. Like when I read the article by Bloomberg Business Week about how it is unclear how many hours a pilot who flies Airbus jets has at or above 34,000 feet (FYI, Bloomberg: most of his 6,000 hours are above 34,000 feet – the only hours not at 34,000 feet are the cumulative hours it takes him to climb to 34,000 and descend from 34,000 feet. Otherwise, he will fly at or above 34,000 feet 90% of the time).

So I thought I’d share my experience with my most recent ferry trip to Indonesia. I – along with three other pilots – flew about 70 hours each in small prop planes from California to Surabaya – the same airport where AirAsia QZ8501 departed on its fateful day. I must admit I was a little nervous flying into the airport where AirAsia 8501 had just gone missing – it didn’t help that I had also watched Unbroken 4 days before I launched either (Note to self: don’t watch movies with ocean plane wrecks before ferrying an airplane over 50 hours of water). But as Zamperini says, “If I can take it, I can make it.”

Surabaya airport (SUB) is located about midway through the archipelago of islands that make up Indonesia. Flying over Indonesia is one of the most breathtaking island flights one could ever do. Beautiful crystal clear blue waters, trees and beaches for days, and small little pockets of villages that make it look like maybe only a handful of people live in this remote part of the world.

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Out of the four airplanes being delivered to Surabaya, I was number three in line. About an hour before our estimated time of arrival, we were informed by Bali approach control that Surabaya would be closed for four hours. We needed to divert to another airport or fly in a circle for four hours (definitely not my cup of tea since I had already been in the airplane for seven hours.) Apparently, they were filling a hole in the runway. Fair enough. Our airplanes could easily land in 1/4 the length of the runway, but safety measures were in place, and try as we might, there was no budging the officials to allow us to land at SUB.

Therefore, we landed at an airport 20 miles away and waited for Surabaya to open. When it did, we flew in together landed and were welcomed by fantastic welcoming party. I could see AirAsia flights taking off and landing along with multiple other airlines. It just seemed like business as usual at any other international airport.

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I commend Indonesia and the town of Surabaya. They went through such a devastation, yet they handled it and carried on. When I left Indonesia to fly back to the states, security was efficient and pleasant. I was greeted warmly by everyone from the ticket counter to the gate agent. Hopefully next time I come to Indonesia, I’ll be able to stay for longer than a day and do some sightseeing.

2015 It’s About Time Scholarship… It’s Here!! January 14, 2015

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Send your applications to info@theabingdonco.com

Send your applications to info@theabingdonco.com

I love this time of year. The holidays are settled down, people are still glowing from post-eggnog bliss, and the mail room is bustling with entries for my company’s annual scholarship.

The It’s About Time Scholarship is all about bringing in 1 more female to aviation. The winner gets an all expenses paid trip to the Women in Aviation Conference (this year held in Dallas): airfare, hotel, food, the whole works. And you can be from the US or Zimbabwe, it does not matter. Once at the conference, you will be introduced to key people in the industry who do everything from flying to engineering, military to civilian, business to pleasure. Oftentimes, when we have an idea to be something, we don’t always know the best road to accomplish that goal. This scholarship will take your hand and walk you down all of those roads so you can see which one fits you – or IF one fits you. The goal is to introduce a woman to the aviation industry.

It’s all about how badly do you want an all expenses paid trip to the conference? You may meet your next employer there, your new best friend, an amazing mentor or contact, who knows! I love going to conferences like WAI because you not only get to catch up with friends, new opportunities pop up at every conference – some can be a game changer. What I like about this scholarship is the entry. The entry criteria focuses on your talents. What do you enjoy doing or what are you good at? We are not all exceptional essay writers, so we don’t want to limit your entry to writing only. But if you are a writer, write in your entry!  Last year, Orla O’Dea, – a videographer – won by creating a video commercial for the scholarship. Another year, Maria Batlle – a graphic designer – created the famous “Ladies, it’s time to fly…” sticker that is now included in every watch that goes out. What can you create to help build The Abingdon Co.? In return, I’ll bring you to Dallas with me this March! Deadline is January 31st.

AOPA Forgets Us Women Pilots… Again December 29, 2014

Posted by Abingdon in Flight, Watch.
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This month's edition features an article on the history of pilot watches, but fails to include the ladies.

December’s edition features an article on the history of pilot watches, but fails to include the ladies.

The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association. They are the largest advocacy/lobby group for aviation and the most frequent sender of solicitations to my physical mail address. Next year will be my 8th year as a female AOPA member and as a valued member, I get their magazine each month.

December’s edition included an article titled, Time Flies, written by Tom Horne. It is an article written about the history of pilot’s watches and what is offered today. Where was any mention of women flying or watches for women pilots? Why perpetuate the stereotype that women don’t fly by not including them in every corner possible? This same edition of AOPA Pilot Magazine had a letter from the president, Mark Baker, saying, “This is a time when GA desperately needs to grow.” Hello? We’re here. We’re female. We make up 51% of the population. And we like to fly!

Let’s look at the stats, AOPA – women make up 6-7% of the aviation industry. If the industry is in desperate need of growth (which I agree with you, Mr. Baker), then why not be an advocate for women in aviation in your publication? And not just during March, the only month of the year when everyone focuses on women in aviation, but during the whole year round. Every so often, AOPA includes an article on some group working to grow women in the industry as if the organization is trying to appease us ladies with a small apologetic token of an article. I shouldn’t have to feel like my industry is against me, so why does AOPA make me feel like this?

Confession is that yes, I do feel slighted for never having been approached by Mr. Horne for this article, but for good reason. I started The Abingdon Co. because of a complete omission of aviation watches for female pilots – by all of the companies listed in Mr. Horne’s article. However, I continued my company in order to bring recognition to women in the aviation industry with the effort to grow women in aviation. This is one of the reasons I have created the It’s About Time Scholarship – dedicated to introducing women to aerospace. This is why I agreed to be on Flying Wild Alaska as Ariel Tweto’s flight instructor – to show women teaching women how to fly. If I can attract a girl who likes the style of Michael Kors, but sees more function in an Abingdon Watch with the same look as the MK watch on her wrist, then I have done my job bringing awareness to women in aviation.

So let’s remind AOPA to be an advocate for us women pilots too. Write a Letter to the Editor at pilot@aopa.org and CC Tom at tom.horne@aopa.org. I’m writing mine tonight. Mr. Horne, you had a watch company that is not only dedicated to women in aviation, but was founded by AOPA member #5819607.

Starting the Week Pissed Off September 28, 2014

Posted by Abingdon in Flight, General Ramblings, Politics.
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Bomb the hell out of sexual harassment, Major.

Bomb the hell out of sexual harassment, Major.

“Boobs on the ground?” WTH? (Rolling my eyes) I’ve been in aviation now for eight years and I’ve been subject to sexual-harassment since I was a student pilot. People are still instinctually thinking that girls don’t fly and that flying is for boys – not all, but many. Though this is obviously not the case, it’s something that is still apparent in today’s America. The silver lining to this dark cloud is that that mentality is not very well accepted.
So what do I do when I’m being questioned about my abilities as a pilot because of my gender? I kill it with kindness and skill. I study harder. I fly more precise. I treat people with respect even when I’m not being treated with respect. I never speak ill of somebody even when they speak about me negatively. Respect is something that is earned and unfortunately as a woman in aviation I have to earn it sometimes double or triple times. But that’s okay if it changes people’s minds about women flying. And yes, I can fly and after I land my aircraft, I can park it just fine, Greg Gutfield. And as for you, Eric Bolling, apology accepted.

The Danger of Flying Around the World July 23, 2014

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It is with great sadness that I am writing about a young man and his father who attempted to do something that I do all the time and didn’t survive. Haris Suleman was flying around the world with his father and in the Pacific Ocean near American Samoa, they had some type of accident and it appears that both father and son perished. From these early reports, it appears like something happened shortly after takeoff from Pago Pago international airport. (more…)

99’s Female Pilots Fly “For the fun of it” July 10, 2014

Posted by Abingdon in Flight, General Ramblings.
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  This week is the 99’s International Conference which is being held in New Orleans, Louisiana. I’ve never been to the international conference so this week is very exciting for me for two reasons: this is my first trip to New Orleans and it is my first international conference.

  The 99’s are unique group of women because they really are pilots who fly for the fun of it. The whole idea started in 1929 when Amelia Earhart and 98 other women decided to (more…)

Best Pilot Shop on the East Coast April 21, 2014

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Abingdon Display in Banyan Pilot Shop, Fort Lauderdale, Florida

Florida is one of the most popular places to fly, and for good reason. The weather is always sunny, the land is flat, and there are some really beautiful places to visit including the Keys, the islands, and all over Florida (Congratulations to my friend Justine who just flew all over the Caribbean for the first time!). Of course, when you are flying around, you need a good FBO. Well, back in 2008, I flew into Banyan FBO in Fort Lauderdale and was hypnotized. (more…)

Think Globally April 6, 2014

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Yesterday was the long anticipated launch of Captain Judy Rice and Navigator Fred with a non-profit organization they started called Think Global Flight. They departed an airshow, Sun N Fun, at Lakeland, Florida in a small airplane called a Cirrus and will be flying all over the world (yes, around the world!) in the next three months. I have been a friend of Judy and Fred’s for a couple years now since I met them in Wisconsin a couple summers ago. If you don’t know yet about their movement, you must check it out.

Think Global Flight is all about promoting STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) education to kids. They have 1000’s of schools that are going to follow them online during their 3 month around the world flight. (more…)