Monday, April 30, 2012

Nigeria: Air Force decorates first female pilot

From Business Day: Air Force decorates first female pilot
The Nigerian Air Force on Friday in Abuja decorated its first female pilot, Flying Officer Blessing Liman, along with 29 other male pilots.

Decorating the officers in Abuja, the Minister of Defence, Dr Bello Mohammed, said that the Air Force had justified the vision of its founding fathers as a veritable tool for nation building.

Represented by the Minister of State, Defence, Mrs Erelu Obada, Mohammed said ``the contributions of the Air Force to national development had been attested to beyond our shores.''

He said that ``the business of ensuring adequate security in the country today cannot be left to any single service of organisation, it is a collective effort. ``I need to reiterate here that the ultimate aim of President Goodluck Jonathan's Transformation Agenda is to guarantee the security and welfare of the entire citizenry.'' The minister urged the armed forces to focus more on security and safety of every Nigerian, regardless of tribe, religion or creed.

He commended the Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Mohammed Umar and his team for maintaining consistent and significant strides in the pursuit of greater heights for the Air Force. Mohammed called on the new pilots to strive for hard work and improved service. ``For the female pilot in your midst, as well as every woman serving in the Armed Forces of Nigeria, let me state that you represent independence, power, equal rights and obligations. ``I want to add that you are a significant part of the success story of Nigeria since the advent of the current democratic dispensation. I, therefore, urge you to remain an outstanding example.''

Earlier, the Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Mohammed Umar, had said that the decoration was another milestone in the policy thrust of the current leadership of the Air Force.

This, he said, was to position, transform and strategise toward making the service relevant in the nation’s quest for stability and development. Umar noted that as part of the President's Transformation Agenda, the armed forces were directed to produce female combatants in order to give impetus to the 35 per cent affirmative action for women.

In the Air Force, women are welcomed to serve in any capacity where they can serve and contribute to operational activities. ``In this regard, I am pleased to announce that the first female pilot in the Nigerian Air Force, the first female military-pilot in West Africa is part of the new pilots that will be winged. ``To the young pilots, I want to state unequivocally that you have every reason to be proud of your accomplishments. ``By earning your wings today, you are inheriting a tradition of excellence and in fact, privileged to be joining `men of wings’ who have committed themselves to the service of their fatherland not only within our shores but internationally.''

The chief of air staff, however, told the new pilots that ``the nation looks upon you as combatant-pilots to measure up to the high expectations and confidence it has on you.'' In an interview with newsmen, Flying Officer Blessing Liman said she was happy that the Air Force was encouraging women to enlist ``because it believes that women too can contribute their quota to nation building.''

She said that joining the force was a way of serving the nation, noting that although it had been challenging, she had always maintained hard work as her watchward.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

1st female to fly globe solo to get statue in Ohio

From LancasterEagleGazette: 1st female to fly globe solo to get statue in Ohio
COLUMBUS, Ohio (WTW) — Admirers of the first woman to fly solo around the world are raising money to install a bronze, life-sized statue of her in her central Ohio hometown.

Geraldine "Jerrie" Mock's historic flight ended in Columbus 48 years ago, and supporters plan to honor her with the statue at a history center in Newark.

Mock, 86, told The Columbus Dispatch (http://bit.ly/IKjeT6 ) she's surprised by the plan.

"I guess I don't think about women and statues," she said. "They're for generals or Lincoln."

Mock now lives in Quincy, Fla., but her sister Susan Reid remains in Newark and believes that people had largely forgotten about Mock's accomplishment and that the local honor is overdue.

"I never gave it a thought that she wouldn't be successful," Reid said. "We knew she was a great pilot, lots of guts. And this was a pretty gutsy thing to do."

Media in the 1960s had described Mock, who first flew at age 12, as a "petite Bexley housewife" as her adventure was tracked by people around the world who wanted to see if she could accomplish the feat Amelia Earhart attempted as she disappeared over the ocean.

Upper Arlington resident John Ross said he remembers following the end of Mock's journey in Columbus when he was a 9-year-old would-be journalist.

"I was there when her plane taxied in," Ross recalled. "It was a great event."

Mock said despite the Vietnam War, she thinks "the world was very safe" in that era compared with today, and she believes a modern-day solo flight would be more difficult.

Her single-engine Cessna — flown nearly 23,000 miles — hangs in Dulles International Airport near Washington, D.C., and her trip is commemorated with a plaque on the Tallahassee Regional Airport's Aviation Wall of Fame in Florida.

Reid said supporters have raised about half of the $45,000 needed for the Ohio statue project. She's hopeful Mock could visit Ohio for the unveiling but said Mock wouldn't fly into town on a commercial airline.

"She wants to know the pilot," Reid said

Monday, April 23, 2012

Emotions high as blast-hit Qantas plane returns

From the Himalayan: Emotions high as blast-hit Qantas plane returns

SYDNEY: Qantas chief Alan Joyce said it was an emotional moment to see an Airbus A380 that lost an engine in a mid-air blast off Singapore in 2010 finally back in Australia.

More than 500 days after the incident that led to the temporary grounding of the Australian flag carrier's entire fleet of A380 super jumbos, the plane touched down at Sydney's Kingsford Smith Airport.

Joyce said seeing the jet, which was the first double-decker superjumbo to join the Qantas fleet and named Nancy Bird-Walton in honour of Australia's first female commercial pilot, back on home base was special.

"It's very emotional," he told Australian Associated Press on board the plane, which flew from Singapore after repairs that cost Aus$139 million ($144 million) and involved the replacement of all four engines.

"It shouldn't be -- it is only an aircraft, as somebody said to me -- but I think it is more than an aircraft. It's our reputation, our history.

"Anybody that knew Nancy Bird-Walton knew what an amazing aviation legend she was.

"She was there for the naming of the aircraft, so for us I suppose it was very emotional getting this fixed, getting Qantas's flagship back in the air."

After an engine exploded over the Indonesian island of Batam in November 2010, pilots managed to guide the plane back to Singapore's Changi airport, where it landed trailing a plume of smoke.

Australian safety investigators have said an oil leak in a turbine caused the blast, which left debris scattered over Batam.

All four engines were replaced as advised by Rolls-Royce. The repairs, which involved 170 Airbus staff from eight nations, were carried out at the hangar of SIA Engineering, a subsidiary of Singapore Airlines.

Joining Joyce on the journey to Sydney were pilots Captain Richard de Crespigny and Captain Dave Evans, who were on the blast-hit flight, as well as 16 of the 22 cabin crew from that flight.

AAP said there were cheers and tears on board as the plane landed and passed through a water cannon salute on its way to the arrival gate.

The plane will make its first commercial flight on April 28 from Sydney to Hong Kong.

"I have absolute, complete confidence in this aircraft," said de Crespigny.

PLA female army aviation maintenance soldiers make debut

From the People Daily, China: PLA female army aviation maintenance soldiers make debut

The emerge of the first batch of female army aviation maintenance soldiers not only meets the real needs for the improvement of the structure of army aviation maintenance talents and the army aviation maintenance support capability, but also is an important attempt for the Army Aviation Institute in the aspect of talent cultivation. By Tao Binglan, president of the Army Aviation Institute of the PLA

In the early spring, the first batch of female army aviation maintenance soldiers joined the training group for technical soldiers at the Army Aviation Institute of the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) and began their half-year-long professional training on army aviation maintenance.

The tasks of the maintenance soldiers, also known as the "nurse" of helicopters bearing significant responsibility, are elaborate and complex. In light of the female's meticulous-thinking characteristics, the Army Aviation Institute recruited female maintenance soldiers for training for the first time in a bid to actively explore channels for talent cultivation.

90% are college graduates or above

The Army Aviation Institute also selected the trainees from the female army aviation soldiers with at least one-year service time in the army aviation troops. These female maintenance soldiers are currently 21 years old on average, and 90 percent of them are college graduates or above and one third of them are in service for over one year in the military.

Casting off effeminacy and practicing skills hard Besides the nearly ten theory courses including "Introduction to aviation", "Electrical engineering" and "Fundamentals of Electronic Technology", the trainees have to undergo an hour of physical training per day, an intensified training per week and a comprehensive examination and assessment per month. Moreover, one third of their courses are field practice ones.

It can be predicted that an excellent team of female maintenance soldiers will rise soon in the future helicopter-maintenance frontline.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Wine and Cheese Party at the IWASM, May 4, 2012



May 4, 2012
6 pm

Enjoy an evening of wine and cheese at the International Womens' Air and Space Museum
Burke Lakefront Airport
1501 N. Marginal Road
Cleveland, Ohio
216-623-1111
www.iwasm.org

Come take a behind-the-scenes tour of the museum. IWASM Collections Manager Cris Takacs will be showing some of the museum's treasures not on display.

Tickets are $15 for members, $13 for non-members.
RSVP by April 27, 2012

This is your chance to explore the museum, learn about what we do and find out what's tucked away in the boxes.

Learn about the collection, meet new people, and enjoy wine and cheese.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Spitfires buried in Burma during war to be returned to UK

From the Telegraph: Spitfires buried in Burma during war to be returned to UK
The Prime Minister secured a historic deal that will see the fighter aircraft dug up and shipped back to the UK almost 67 years after they were hidden more than 40-feet below ground amid fears of a Japanese occupation.

The gesture came as Mr Cameron became the first Western leader to meet Aung San Suu Kyi, the Burmese democracy campaigner held under house arrest for 22 years by the military regime, and invited her to visit London in her first trip abroad for 24 years.

He called on Europe to suspend its ban on trade with Burma now that it was showing “prospects for change” following Miss Suu Kyi’s election to parliament in a sweeping electoral victory earlier this year.

The plight of the buried aircraft came to Mr Cameron’s attention at the behest of a farmer from Scunthorpe, North Lincs, who is responsible for locating them at a former RAF base using radar imaging technology.

David Cundall, 62, spent 15 years doggedly searching for the Mk II planes, an exercise that involved 12 trips to Burma and cost him more than £130,000.

When he finally managed to locate them in February, he was told Mr Cameron “loved” the project and would intervene to secure their repatriation.

Mr Cundall told the Daily Telegraph: “I’m only a small farmer, I’m not a multi-millionaire and it has been a struggle. It took me more than 15 years but I finally found them.

”Spitfires are beautiful aeroplanes and should not be rotting away in a foreign land. They saved our neck in the Battle of Britain and they should be preserved.”

He said the Spitfires, of which there are only around 35 flying left in the world, were shipped to Burma and then transported by rail to the British RAF base during the war.

However, advances in technology and the emergence of more agile jets meant they were never used and in July 1945, officials fearing a Japanese occupation abandoned them on the orders of Lord Louis Mountbatten, the head of South East Asia Command, two weeks before the atom bombs were dropped, ending the conflict.

“They were just buried there in transport crates,” Mr Cundall said. “They were waxed, wrapped in greased paper and their joints tarred. They will be in near perfect condition.”

The married father of three, an avid plane enthusiast, embarked on his voyage of discovery in 1996 after being told of their existence by a friend who had met some American veterans who described digging a trench for the aircraft during the Allied withdrawal of Burma.

He spent years appealing for information on their whereabouts from eye witnesses, scouring public records and placing advertisements in specialist magazines.

Several early trips to Burma were unsuccessful and were hampered by the political climate.

He eventually met one eyewitness who drew maps and an outline of where the aircraft were buried and took him out to the scene.

“Unfortunately, he got his north, south, east and west muddled up and we were searching at the wrong end of the runway,” he said.

“We also realised that we were not searching deep enough as they had filled in all of these bomb craters which were 20-feet to start with.

“I hired another machine in the UK that went down to 40-feet and after going back surveying the land many times, I eventually found them.

“I have been in touch with British officials in Burma and in London and was told that David Cameron would negotiate on my behalf to make the recovery happen.”

Mr Cundall said sanctions preventing the removal of military tools from Burma were due to be lifted at midnight last night (FRI).

A team from the UK is already in place and is expecting to begin the excavation, estimated to cost around £500,000, imminently. It is being funded by the Chichester-based Boultbee Flight Acadamy.

Mr Cundall said the government had promised him it would be making no claim on the aircraft, of which 21,000 were originally produced, and that he would be entitled to a share in them.

“It’s been a financial nightmare but hopefully I’ll get my money back,” he said.

“I’m hoping the discovery will generate some jobs. They will need to be stripped down and re-riveted but it must be done. My dream is to have a flying squadron at air shows.”

Sunday, April 8, 2012

IWASM Raffle: Win two Southwest tickets to anywhere they fly!

Support the International Women's Air and Space Museum- Buy a raffle Ticket!

Call 216-623-1111 or visit their website: http://womensairandspacemuseum.com/eshop/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=31&products_id=522

IWASM is raffling off 2 round-trip tickets courtesy of Southwest Airlines to ANYWHERE they fly!

Tickets are $20 and can be purchased by calling IWASM. (Only 300 tickets will be sold, so buy yours today!)

Drawing will be held June 29th, 2012 at the Mary Feik/ Patricia Hange Dinner.

You have a 1 in 300 chance of winning!

Tickets are valid through April 30, 2013. There is a $1 processing charge for online orders. You may also purchase in person at the gift shop for $20.00.

Monday, April 2, 2012

PR: Redbird, Instituto Arruda Botelho Announce >$1million Flight Training Device Deal

Lakeland, Florida, March 31, 2012: Redbird Flight Simulations, Inc., and the Instituto Arruda Botelho (IAB) announced today what is probably the largest non-aircraft deal at Sun 'n Fun, a million-dollar+ sale of dedicated and flexible flight training devices (simulators), including specifically-configured units for the Cessna Caravan, King Air C90, and Piper Matrix, plus a total of three X-Wind trainers, two FMX units, and seven total TD2 table-mounted FTDs; all will be equipped with the Parrot autonomous ATC feature, to teach and reinforce proper ATC English.




As these units come on line at their new home at the BROA facility in Brazil, they will be the core of the largest General Aviation flight training facility in the Americas, outside the United States. “This is a very important addition to our facility in Itirapina,” said Fernando de Arruda Botelho, head of the IAB and himself a pilot and aircraft collector, restorer, and proponent of Brazilian aviation history. “We really like the idea that the Redbird simulators are geared beyond merely meeting the minimum FTD requirements, and help teach how to actually fly the airplane, under VFR as well as IFR conditions. Much of this equipment will be operational by the time of our BROA Fly-In [in late June, near São Paulo, Brazil], and I expect we will build on the convenience of our school and add to enthusiasm for training, for pilots from Europe and both Americas.”

Jerry Gregoire, Owner of Redbird Flight Simulations, said, “We are pleased to have this opportunity to expand into the fast-growing Brazilian and Latin American market, and we are happy to be part of this great modern facility. The Botelho name and reputation are well-respected in Brazil, and in aviation internationally; and Fernando Botelho's support and involvement in this project will go a long way to ensuring its long-term success.”

Ana Fontes, Brazil-US liason for Botelho and a facilitator for aviation companies in both nations, added, "This commitment illustrates the tremendous potential Brazil sees in aviation expansion. I hope the industry seizes this opportunity to utilize this facility, and to explore (and exhibit in) the greatest GA show in Brazil , the 12th BROA Fly-In, this June 22-24."

For information on the BROA Fly-In, for both attendees and exhibitors,
contact Ana Fontes: anafontes@anafontes.com

Fort Campbell aviator stays personally grounded

From the Leaf Chronicle.com: Fort Campbell aviator stays personally grounded

FORT CAMPBELL, KY. — Capt. Donna Buono is on the small side physically, but at the helm of an attack helicopter, she packs a mean wallop. And as the commander of a company of AH-64D Apache helicopters, she can level the playing field for U.S. forces in a heartbeat, by literally leveling the field.

She still marvels at the power at her fingertips in the form of a 30 millimeter chain-gun, Hellfire missiles and Hydra 70 rocket pods, amounting to nearly the combined firepower of a company of soldiers. And while commanding eight or more of those lethal weapons platforms in combat would be a heady thing for anyone, male or female, many would expect that Buono would be acutely aware that she is a “she,” and that she would naturally take pride in the fact of her gender.

However, she makes it abundantly clear in the course of conversation that her pride stems first and foremost from being a soldier, and not from being a female soldier, despite the fact that women in her field are about 10 percent of the force, or about one or two female pilots per company.

“The outside perception,” she said, “is, ‘You’re a female. You work with all men. What’s that like?’

“Honestly, for me, I have never felt a separation between gender. The bond I have is as equal with the men I work with as it is with the women.”

Buono – who is the commander of Bravo Company “Blue Max,” 3rd Battalion, 101st Aviation Regiment of the 159th Combat Aviation Brigade, 101st Airborne Division – has been in the world of attack helicopters since she first left flight school for her first assignment.

As an introduction to the “real Army,” hers was about as straight-up as it gets.

Into the fire
As a young 22 year-old 2nd Lt., she went straight into the fire as a platoon leader in Iraq in 2006. She didn’t even have a chance to acclimate with her unit through a training cycle, coming into the position as 3/101 was already halfway through its deployment during a very stressful year in Iraq, and she blesses the fact that it happened that way.

(Page 2 of 3)


“The company I got attached to was A/3/101, whom I love still, and they hadn’t had a female in their company in, like, 15 years,” she said, “so there was anxiety, but not so much about being female. It was more about being a new PL (platoon leader), meeting a unit that was halfway through their rotation, so it’s that newness that any PL, any lieutenant goes through.

“You’re getting ready to do your first deployment and you don’t know anything really, and then you’re going to the 101st Airborne Division, one of the premier units in the Army in terms of history and lineage, so I was anxious about how that was going to go.”

When she found out the unit had not had a female member in years, she prepared herself for the possibility that there would be an adjustment for them. That she would have the maturity at 22 to focus on that aspect, rather than on herself, may have been a key to her subsequent success.

“I think it was the best way I could have done it,” she said, with not a trace of artifice in her voice. “It (coming into a combat deployment) gave me an opportunity as an officer and a leader, right off the bat, to be 100 percent mission-focused and to prove my ability on the work side, as a PL and as a pilot ... I was in an environment where I could just perform.

“I would not change anything about my time as a platoon leader. It was a phenomenal company and the bond that we all had was pretty great. It was as positive as it could have been.”

Lest anyone thinks she is looking back with rose-colored glasses, ask any platoon leader who has done it, what it’s like to come in as a new PL with a unit that has just come back from a combat deployment, when every private has a combat patch and a few medals to balance against the new PL’s “welcome to the Army” rainbow ribbon. Now that is a tough row to hoe.

Mission-focused edge
Is it easier to integrate into a unit with a solid mission focus, where the gold standard is performance?

Buono mulled that one over, and admitted that she doesn’t have a point of comparison. “I did my PL time, my staff time and my company command time all within the 101st (101st Aviation Regiment), so I know what this unit does.”

(Page 3 of 3)


However, she has a friend who flies for a unit whose mission is to fly VIP’s – an important mission, she said, “but it is so different than what goes on in the 101st.

“Here it has always been, since OEF I (Operation Enduring Freedom I in Afghanistan, 2001-2002) and Operation Anaconda, we are always in a training cycle getting ready to go, or we’re gone.”

As to the bonding that is so important in integrating into a unit, among her fellow pilots, she said, “The bond is, you’re pilots. You go to war together and you fly together.

“I always felt like part of the family. Here, I’m judged 100 percent by my ability, absolutely, and I feel fortunate that it is that way.”

In the last deployment as commander of Bravo Company, 7th Squadron, 17th Cavalry, she estimates she flew 250 missions, but ask her if the luster has worn off and she brings the conversation to a place to which a lot of long-time soldiers can relate.

“At first, everything did have this luster because it was so different from what I had ever done or anything my friends had done. I think that,for a 22 year-old, just out of college, the realization of that was pretty huge and pretty cool.

“Ever since then .. I felt the purpose that is being in military service. You have your good days and your bad days, but there is something that you can all relate to, which is that there’s a little more to what you do than what the rest of the population does.

“It’s the tie that binds.”

“The company I got attached to was A/3/101, whom I love still, and they hadn’t had a female in their company in, like, 15 years,” she said, “so there was anxiety, but not so much about being female. It was more about being a new PL (platoon leader), meeting a unit that was halfway through their rotation, so it’s that newness that any PL, any lieutenant goes through.

“You’re getting ready to do your first deployment and you don’t know anything really, and then you’re going to the 101st Airborne Division, one of the premier units in the Army in terms of history and lineage, so I was anxious about how that was going to go.”

When she found out the unit had not had a female member in years, she prepared herself for the possibility that there would be an adjustment for them. That she would have the maturity at 22 to focus on that aspect, rather than on herself, may have been a key to her subsequent success.

“I think it was the best way I could have done it,” she said, with not a trace of artifice in her voice. “It (coming into a combat deployment) gave me an opportunity as an officer and a leader, right off the bat, to be 100 percent mission-focused and to prove my ability on the work side, as a PL and as a pilot ... I was in an environment where I could just perform.

“I would not change anything about my time as a platoon leader. It was a phenomenal company and the bond that we all had was pretty great. It was as positive as it could have been.”

Lest anyone thinks she is looking back with rose-colored glasses, ask any platoon leader who has done it, what it’s like to come in as a new PL with a unit that has just come back from a combat deployment, when every private has a combat patch and a few medals to balance against the new PL’s “welcome to the Army” rainbow ribbon. Now that is a tough row to hoe.

Mission-focused edge
Is it easier to integrate into a unit with a solid mission focus, where the gold standard is performance?

Buono mulled that one over, and admitted that she doesn’t have a point of comparison. “I did my PL time, my staff time and my company command time all within the 101st (101st Aviation Regiment), so I know what this unit does.”

However, she has a friend who flies for a unit whose mission is to fly VIP’s – an important mission, she said, “but it is so different than what goes on in the 101st.

“Here it has always been, since OEF I (Operation Enduring Freedom I in Afghanistan, 2001-2002) and Operation Anaconda, we are always in a training cycle getting ready to go, or we’re gone.”

As to the bonding that is so important in integrating into a unit, among her fellow pilots, she said, “The bond is, you’re pilots. You go to war together and you fly together.

“I always felt like part of the family. Here, I’m judged 100 percent by my ability, absolutely, and I feel fortunate that it is that way.”

In the last deployment as commander of Bravo Company, 7th Squadron, 17th Cavalry, she estimates she flew 250 missions, but ask her if the luster has worn off and she brings the conversation to a place to which a lot of long-time soldiers can relate.

“At first, everything did have this luster because it was so different from what I had ever done or anything my friends had done. I think that,for a 22 year-old, just out of college, the realization of that was pretty huge and pretty cool.

“Ever since then .. I felt the purpose that is being in military service. You have your good days and your bad days, but there is something that you can all relate to, which is that there’s a little more to what you do than what the rest of the population does.

“It’s the tie that binds.”

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Feet on the Ground, Dreams in the Air

From the Ramona Sentinel: Feet on the Ground, Dreams in the Air
Once upon a time, a young girl with a dream of flying took to the skies. The girl did great things. She learned to pilot an aircraft by herself. She set a world record.

But the girl had, almost literally, a broken heart.

Physically, her heart has been repaired, but by keeping her from flying on her own, the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) seems determined to keep her heart forever broken.

Rachel Carter was only 9 years old in 1994, when she piloted an airplane by herself, with her father as her copilot, from coast to coast.

“I’ve been flying and taking lessons since I was 7 years old,” she said. “My dad, Jimmy Carter, is a flight instructor and I lived at the airport. I grew up in the backseat of an airplane.”

She laughed, “I was always asking ‘Can I fly now? Can I fly now?’ when dad was giving other people their lessons. I must have driven them crazy.”

Her goals changed to more than just flying when she saw another youngster, Vicki Van Meter, make headlines by piloting a plane across the country at 11 years of age.

“I wanted to do the same thing,” said Carter.

And she did, becoming the youngest person to ever fly across the country piloting a plane on her own.

“I think of it now, looking back on it, that my dad made it happen,” she said. “We didn’t have the money for that kind of trip, but he found sponsors and made all the phone calls.”

While thrilled to have set the world’s record, Carter is disappointed that that no other young person will have the chance to set their own record in the history books. Further, Carter’s flight isn’t listed in “The Guinness Book of World Records.” They ceased to recognize the “youngest pilots” category, hoping to avoid encouraging unsafe flight attempts.

“It’s the coolest thing ever and I’ll never forget it, and a great bonding experience with my dad,” she said. “But records are made to be broken, and now no one else will get that chance.”

Meanwhile, Carter has continued to face some monumental challenges in her young life, including the issue of her “broken” heart.

“I’ve had a heart problem, since I was 3 years old. My heart was fine for the longest time. But in 2003, I got a bacterial infection, and when I woke up Christmas Day, I couldn’t walk on one of my legs.”

Carter faced emergency open heart surgery the next day, and found that, not only was her weak heart valve in trouble, but so was her other one.

“My mitral valve took such stress that both it and my aorta had to be replaced. One is now a pig valve and one a cow, and, ironically, I looked at my chart when the nurses weren’t around and found out one of the valves came from Ramona,” she said with a laugh.

But there was to be no laughing when it came time that year for her license renewal, which the FAA denied.

“Since I’ve had a double valve replacement, FAA regulations won’t allow me to pilot a plane by myself,” she explained. “But I am still fighting for my license. I was 19 years old when I had the surgery; that was 8 years ago. My cardiologist says I’m OK to fly. And most of the people around with double-valve replacements are 60-plus years old. There should be some consideration for my age.”

Carter can’t even get a sport pilot license, since the FAA denied her a license.

Saying, “Flying is my ultimate freedom,” Carter has done what she can to continue her passion in the years since the FAA grounded her.

“I got a degree in aviation management, and now am assistant manager at the Ramona Airport,” she said. “I’m partial to this airport — it’s my favorite airport — and this is my home. It’s kind of neat that I grew up here and now I’m working here.”

The job isn’t necessarily glamorous, but Carter handles all of it with an easy grace. She fills in for Airport Manager Bo Donovan, and her tasks include everything from picking up trash blown along the fence to answering phone calls, handling reports, and taking requests from all over the world.

When not filling in for Donovan, Carter keeps her plans in the air; she also became a flight attendant for a private jet.

Meanwhile, despite her heartache over being unable to pilot a plane by herself, Carter chooses not to dwell on the negative.

“I take the little victories in life,” she said. “I believe people can do what they set out to do. This is an obstacle and I can beat this. I love flying and talking to pilots and spending time with people that share the passion. It’s my calling. It’s about enjoying my time here.”

And when the anniversary of her record flight comes around, she plans to use the publicity around the event to continue her fight.

“You only live once,” she said. “Flying for me is exhilarating. I feel free. I’m going to do whatever I can to keep flying.”

Stratton VA adds services for women vets

From Times Union : Stratton VA adds services for women vets
Stratton VA adds services for women vets
Women's wellness center answers needs of female veterans as ranks grow

Lillian Yonally, one of two remaining World War II WASPs and recipient of the Congressional Gold Medal, listens as Congressmen Chris Gibson speaks during a grand opening and ribbon cutting of a new Women Veteran's Wellness Center at Stratton VA hospital in Albany N.Y., [in photo not shown here].

Four decades ago, Christine Hazuka came to the Albany Stratton VA Medical Center bleeding uncontrollably.

The Air Force veteran got her health care at the veteran's hospital, but that day in 1974, doctors told her the they didn't have a gynecologist and sent her home.

Hazuka nearly died from blood loss before she sought treatment at another hospital where she learned she had cancer.

"We were cast outs," Hazuka said of the treatment of women at the veteran's hospital. Hazuka, 65, of Albany, is now a medical clerk at the VA.

Women vets said they were treated like mental patients at the VA, there were no women's bathrooms in patient wings, the pajamas were made for men, and staff inevitably called them "Mister."

While care of women vets has improved, hospital leaders admit that the male-dominated setting still lacks sensitivity to women's issues. Until now.

The hospital celebrated the grand opening of a new Women Veteran's Wellness Center on Friday, hoping to reverse years of treating women veterans as outsiders by giving them a place of their own.

The newly renovated wing on the 8th floor has yellow walls, wood laminated floors, a lactation room, a large women's bathroom, purple gowns and female staff, including counselors, housekeepers, a primary care doctor and, yes, a gynecologist.

"Finally, we get a floor strictly for us," said Sharon Wheeler, 53, an Army veteran from Oneonta, Otsego County. "We won't be called 'Mister' anymore."

About 1,300 women veterans receive health services at the Stratton VA, but hospital officials believe it is only a small fraction of the women eligible to get care there.

"They think the VA is a place for old men," said Jane Weber, women veteran's program manager at Stratton.

The military is now 16 percent female and women account for 14 percent of veterans.

"Not too long ago, the average age of a woman veteran using the VA was around 60 years old," said Linda W. Weiss, administrator of Stratton VA. "The average age has now dropped radically to 40, with our fastest growing group between 20 and 30, women who are in their childbearing age."

As she spoke, Weiss turned toward 27-year-old National Guardswoman Randelle McUmber, of Delaware County, who is nine months pregnant. The crowd of about 50 people clapped.

Several elected officials attended the event including Albany County Executive Dan McCoy, Congressman Chris Gibson, both veterans, and Congressman Paul Tonko.

"The VA is not perfect," Gibson said. "But they are always trying to get better."