Unforgettable: A Review

After a rejuvenating Young Women in Engineering Event, meeting and networking with high school girls, I was reminded of what inspired me.

First posted in 2003.

From Fall of 2000. Enjoy!


Yes that is how every memory we make is.

Unforgettable by Lane Wallace is a book about flying. It is about Lane’s ten best flights. From the Swiss Alps to Key West, from Alaska to Sudan to Mexico and even to the edge of space.

Unforgettable is also about the passion and the joy of flying: be it in a piper cub, a U-2 space plane,  a blimp or a Grumman Cheetah.

Unforgettable is also about the wonder of flying: the emotions that race through the authors mind as she experiences and explores the world.

Each experience is unique and unforgettable and provides valuable insights into life, living, the joy of flying and the incredible resilience and fortitude of the human race for survival and happiness. Ultimately you must feel it personally to experience any connection with the author’s view. If you are passionate about flying, and enjoy the simple joy of it, Unforgettable is a must read.

One fine October day, several years ago, I had the distinct pleasure to attend an event that left a tremendous impact on me. I had just soled and was flying my first cross country to Santa Barbara (SBA) with my flight instructor. As we landed after the cross country flight, my instructor had said:

“I have an extra ticket to the SLO99s banquet, do you want to go?”

“Sure”, I responded, even though I was excited and tired after our flight. Although I had heard about the 99s, in those days, as a future women pilot, I was not eligible for membership.

As I listened to the calm, quiet voice of Lane and her passionate exposition on the wonder and joy of flying, my own enthusiasm and passions were sharply awakened. Writing was something I had yearned to do since I was in high school. Here and now was a voice I could relate to. The emotions, the excitement and the passions that Lane described appeared so inline with my own views and passions about flying. That unforgettable day, rekindled the fires within me to write.  In actuality my flying adventures are the fodder to my writing. Since that fateful day, I have devoured the Flying Magazine (i.e. until recently :-)). The first article I always read was Flying Lessons by Lane Wallace. More recently my copy of the Sport Aviation Magazine actually started to see some wear. Unfailingly, on the day I receive it, I swiftly open it to get my fill  of Flying Lessons by Lane Wallace.

You can learn more about Lane by visiting her personal websites:

Lane Wallace
No Map, No Guide, No Limits

Find the book on Amazon or Sporty’s.

Book Review: Flight To Success

Words on Wednesdays

I originally intended to keep the Wednesday slot for book reviews and pondering on ideas and thoughts about my progress with writing my  first fictional novel, which has been in progress for a while now. But time flies.

Secrets of Success

It was while reading, Karlene’s new book: Flight To Success and especially her chapter on Habit, I started to think – that is what I need to create: a daily habit to sit down and write. It is already May and I need to get cracking if I want to finish my book this year:-)

Then there is the chapter on Identity and the best quote from there is: This is your life. Own it! How very true. Most people are obsessed with what others might think or want, rather than what they want or are confused with what they want. Thoreau said “Most men lead lives of quiet desperation.”  Don’t be that person, instead to quote Dr Seuss (as quoted in the book): “Be what you are and say what you feel because those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.

The book covers examples from real life and other events to inspire the reader to pursue his or her dreams, to become the person they were destined to become. Starting out with overcoming fear, to identify oneself, to set goals, to manage time and create habits to achieve those goals, to seek the truth about oneself, and to never miss opportunities, it attempts to inspire and galvanize the reader to be more an active participant in his or her life, to develop strategies, build on one’s strengths, focus, evaluate, build confidence, and be committed to achieve life’s successes.

I’ve never been an avid reader of motivation books. People inspire me. Innovation and technologies inspire me. Actions inspire me. Inspiration to me, always comes from within foremost. So I was slow to acquire this book and slow to read it. There is some insightful advice in the book. If motivational books reach out to you, then this one might definitely move you.

Flight to Success is the third book by Karlene Pettit. Her first two books were fictional and you can read my reviews : Flight for Control and Flight for Safety.

You can purchase this book on the author’s website or on Amazon among others in Kindle, Hardback and paperback editions.

See Also:

Flight for Control

Flight for Safety

West with the Night

I learned to watch, to put my trust in other hands than mine. I learned to wander. I learned what every dreaming child needs to know — that no horizon is so far that you cannot get above it or beyond it. These I learned at once. But most things come harder.

Beryl Markham, West with the Night

How is it possible to bring order out of memory? I should like to begin at the beginning, patiently, like a weaver at his loom. I should like to say, “This is the place to start; there can be no other.”

But there are a hundred places to start for there are a hundred names…

So the name shall be Nungwe:

Date: 16/6/35
Type of aircraft: Avro Avian
Journey — Nairobi to Nungwe
Time — 3 hrs 40 min
Pilot — Self

So begins, West with the Night by Beryl Markham.

It was one of the first books written by an Aviatrix, that I read after I obtained my private pilot license. Not the least because, there is some overlap with people and places, with the book that became a popular movie, “Out of Africa” written by Isak Dinesen.

Flying in early 20th century was precious. Being a women, and flying in early 20th century was incredible!

The book, West with the Night,  covers the authors experiences of living and flying in Kenya, Nairobi, Tanzania and more. If you are a fan of the movie Out of Africa or the BBC TV series In the Heat of the Sun, this might be the book for you.

On September 4th, 1936 Beryl Markham took off from Abingdon, England and after a 20 hour flight, crash landed in Nova Scotia, Canada. She was the first women to cross the Atlantic solo. She was the first women to fly from England to North America, non-stop, from east to west.

You can read all about the adventure in the book.

The book can be purchased as hardcover, paperback, audio or Kindle edition. Here is the description from Amazon:

Beryl Markham’s life was a true epic, complete with shattered societal expectations, torrid love affairs, and desperate crash landings. A rebel from a young age, the British-born Markham was raised in Kenya’s unforgiving farmlands. She learned to be a bush pilot at a time when most Africans had never seen a plane. In 1936, she accepted the ultimate challenge: to fly solo across the Atlantic from east to west, a feat that fellow female aviator Amelia Earhart had completed in reverse just a few years before. Her successes and her failures—and her deep, lifelong love of the “soul of Africa”—are all chronicled here with wrenching honesty and agile wit. Hailed by National Geographic as one of the greatest adventure books of all time, West with the Night is the sweeping account of a fearless and dedicated woman.

It’s OK

It’s OK to make a go-around if you do not like the way a landing is shaping up.
It’s OK to refuse a clearance that a controller gives you if you don’t feel safe complying with it.
It’s OK to lean the mixture any time you are in level flight, at any altitude.
It’s OK to declare an emergency when something goes wrong, or if there is something going on that doesn’t make sense.
It’s OK to tell that overbearing, impatient jerk of a passenger that the weather is just plain too bad to make the flight, and that it maybe tomorrow or the next day before you can go.
It’s OK to take a flight review every six months or annually

— The Thinking Pilot’s Flight Manual

And the list continues in the chapter titled It’s OK in the book The Thinking Pilot’s Flight Manual or, How To Survive Flying Little Airplanes and Have a Ball Doing It  by Rick Durden.


I came across a review of the book a few months back and was curious to read it.

The book is an interesting read touching on topics from preflight to advanced flying, from 2-seat trainers to seaplanes, tailwheels, antiques, ski-planes, aerobatics and more advanced airplanes. The book attempts to answer questions that might arise in a pilot’s mind after obtaining his/her license and presents ideas on how to become better pilots through conscious decision making and better understanding of the pertinent information about the aircraft and systems. A chapter titled Staying Alive in the Real World provides a guide to surviving emergency situations and a complete chapter on Tailwheel covers basics of learning and teaching tailwheel flying.

A whole chapter on Finesse – The Thinking Pilot attempts to debunk common myths such as there is no magic altitude such as 3,000ft or 5,000ft below which you can’t lean the mixture or straight-in approaches at non-towered airports are not a violation of FARs or that men are better pilots than women and more.

The synopsis from the back cover reads:

In a provocative and sometimes controversial style, this guide starts where standard-issue flight training manuals leave off. The Thinking Pilot guides you deeply into topics that weren’t taught in flight training-everything from how to really do a preflight, through keeping your passengers happy, scud running, precautionary landings, and how to survive a crash. It includes a detailed introduction to flying floats, skis, aerobatics, and classic airplanes; probes some of aviation’s dirty little secrets, explodes myths, and presents the best, most succinct guide to flying tailwheel airplanes ever written.

 The book can be purchased on kindle or paperback.

Book Review: Flight for Safety

A few weeks ago AOPA released an app: Flight Risk Evaluator. One can input aircraft, pilot and flight plan information to get feedback on the flight risk involved to aid with the decision making prior to departure. The app uses terrain, weather information at origin, destination and route of flight as well as recent currency information for the pilot such as total hours, number of landings within the past 90 days, and provides an assessment of risk factors involved.

Just for fun, I input all the information prior to my upcoming flight to the Bahamas. I was current not only for day VFR and IFR but also had the night currency requirements. As it turns out only the barest minimum. For the number of landings in the last 90 days, I had input 4. The result: the Flight Risk Evaluator told me I should go and fly with an instructor before my upcoming flight 🙂

Considering the cost of flying, the time I can allocate to flying, in addition to all my other interests, I fly barely once a month. So I rarely expect to have more than 3-4 landings in any 90 day cycle! I do know, how rusty I feel sometimes, when I get in the air after more than a month of not flying, assuredly still legal, but less confident, and a little behind the curve. I know, how it feels to fly in an aircraft, with barely the minimum needed to stay current. Fortunately, I always tend to fly with another pilot or carry a single passenger. Or make sure I fly with an instructor when I know I needed more training. Always making sure I can fly safely. But what if you carried 200 or more passengers?

So  imagine, you are in an airline headed out maybe on a business trip, a vacation or just to visit family and friends. What if you knew that the pilot flying your aircraft had barely the sufficient recent currency training to fly the aircraft type? That to in a simulator? What if you knew that automation was considered a prerequisite to reducing the required training necessary to keep pilots flying safely?

Flight for Safety continues a few years after Flight for Control, and asks the question: Can you handle the truth? 

photo(36)I per-ordered my book, a few weeks ago. Reading a hard copy edition is so much more fun than reading an electronic version. Don’t you agree?

My copy arrived mid last week and I couldn’t wait to get started.

Flight for Safety follows the lives of the three chief characters: Kathryn Jacobs, Darby Bradshaw and Jackie. It attempts to find an answer as to how to keep aircraft safe in the air. How to continue to give the pilots the necessary training, to continue to fly safely.

Automation is here to stay. The best we can do, is to continue to train pilots to fly safely. As we have always done.

Good books are hard to find. Good aviation books are even harder to find. Flight for Safety is a good book to read if you are interested in aviation.

As a final note: profanity has always bothered me. Profanity is popular among the current generation and hence it seems among the current authors. Flight for Control was a riveting read. I was willing to let the sleazy sex scenes by. Flight for Safety is a good read, but I must admit the profanity irritated me. There are less than plausible scenes in the plot line.

If you are an aviation enthusiast it still is a good read.

Book Review: 13,760 ft: My Personal Hole in the Sky

I was not really as aware or conscious of the TWA crash, back in 1996. It was years later, after I got my private pilot license (PPL), that I accidentally stumbled across the crash information. I remember spending hours digging into the details of the crash. With internet access, you see this was all possible now. It was spectacular in a way: since it was the third deadliest crash in the US.

Last year when AOPA offered a day long safety seminar with a visit to the NTSB facility up in Northern Virginia,  which still houses the reassembled Boeing 747 recovered from the TWA 800 crash site, I had signed up with the hope that I could take the day off and attend. Unfortunately, I regret, that I let that opportunity slide, due to work commitments.

I first came across Mark Berry’s autobiography titled 13,760ft My Personal Hole in the Sky on Karlene’s Friday’s Fabulous Flier a few days ago.

What really happened with the TWA crash might never be known. Reading Mark Berry’s autobiography does provide some insight into the mind of a TWA pilot, who was very closely associated with loss, not only at the personal level (through the loss of his fiancee) but also professionally (through the loss of fellow pilots in his extended family) being a TWA pilot at that time.

The book also does have other information on becoming, maintaining and the challenges associated with  being an air transport pilot (ATP) with a major airline.  It also provides  insight into the world of Air Carrier operations and the life of an Air Transport Pilot.

The book also is about soul searching, and recovering from the worst tragedies that life throws at you. Tragedy can strike you at any level. Aviation or otherwise. That we recover or can recover is uncertain.

Kudos to Mark Berry to finally get past the worst tragedy in his life and finally find himself!

Book Review: Flying South – A Pilot’s Inner Journey

When I think about flying, I only regret not learning it sooner.

— Barbara Cushman Rowell

I have always been fascinated about flying to new and unexplored (that is not necessarily piloted by me, but if I can, so much the better) countries and continents. I love to at the very least do a scenic flight: be it over the skyline over Sydney, Australia; in a helicopter over Cairns, Queensland , Australia flying over the Great Barrier Reef;  in a seaplane over Vancouver, British Columbia,Canada, or over San Juan Islands, Washington, USA to name a few. Every time I travel to a new city, country or continent,I research opportunities for aircraft checkout, aircraft rental and places to fly in a small plane. I like to squeeze in flight time if I can.

I came across the book Flying South by Barbara Cushman Rowell through my friend Camille Nelson, who initially loaned me the book to read. Since then, I have procured my own copy of the book. I remember learning about South America in high school. How cool to be able to fly through Chile, Argentina, Patagonia and the exotic South American continent!

IMG_0105Flying South is a book about adventure, a pilot’s inner journey of self discovery and a trip of a life time. Over a period of two months, Barbara Cushman Rowell, her husband Galen  Rowell (famous National Geographic photographer) and brother Robert Cushman fly south from Oakland, CA through Mexico, Chile, Argentina, and the South American continent, back north over the West Indies, Dominican Republic, Florida and west across the United States back to Oakland, California.

If you like adventure, a chance to explore new continents, a chance to fly over uncharted territory, then Flying South offers just that: a journey through South America, the unexplored world of Durango, Gautemala, Costa Rica, Patagonia, the Andes mountains, and the Amazon

Barbara Cushman was the President of Mountain Light Photography and Galen Rowell was a world renowned nature and adventure photographer. Unfortunately on the eve of the day that Flying South was published, Barbara Cushman Rowell and Galen Rowell were killed in an aircraft accident in a charter plane when their pilot was attempting to land at Bishop, CA.

Here’s a description from Amazon.com for the book:

Call it love at first flight. Barbara Cushman Rowell was already a powerhouse by anyone’s measure, but it wasn’t until she tried flying that she found the inner fulfillment and sense of self she’d longed for all her life. As the driving force behind husband Galen Rowell’s business success, Barbara’s adventures and accomplishments had always been the byproduct of her husband’s career.Until, that is, she took off and sailed into a strata all her own.

FLYING SOUTH is the hair-raising, reflective, and ultimately inspiring story of Barbara’s trip of a lifetime—a 25,000-mile, 57-leg journey through Latin America and the recesses of her soul, discovering unrealized self-confidence, irrepressible resourcefulness, and vast reserves of emotional and physical strength she never knew she had. And what a journey it was. She recounts landing in the middle of a coup in Panama, narrowly escaping disaster when key flight instruments failed over Peru, flying herself to an oral surgeon after a mouth-smashing rafting accident on the Bio Bio River in Chile, fighting plane-shredding winds over the Andes, and surviving a life-threatening and disorienting tropical storm off the coast of Brazil—all while navigating the pervasive and demoralizing chauvinism of the aviation world. But much more than a harrowing page-turner, Barbara’s tale of finding herself through flight inspires us all to go after the experiences we long for, and to live the lives we only wish for.


Flying South