Category Archives: Advocacy

The myFlightCoach Podcast | Episode 13 | Interview with Karlene Petitt

Karlene Petitt, airline pilot for Delta, author, speaker, and advocate for women in aviation.

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Feedback: or call 615-669-2359

I’m so excited about this week’s show.  Karlene Petitt is a remarkable pilot with an extraordinary story.  This interview is about so much more than flying, but about perseverance, tenacity and pursuing your dreams.

She is an Airbus A330 pilot for Delta and has flown for 8 airlines, has 7 type ratings, and 2 masters degrees.  She has recently finished her first novel.  Additionally, she is an enthusiastic champion of women in aviation.  This conversation was a lot of fun to record and I think you’ll find it both informative and inspiring.

Please be sure to pass this show along especially to any women you know who are pilots or aspiring pilots.

Resources from Today’s Show:

Karlene’s Blog “Flight to Success”

The Airbus A380:  The plane Karlene flies for Delta

Women in Aviation

The Ninety-Nines

The Women of Aviation International



What Will You Remember?

Sunset west of Nashville, 4/2/2011

Yesterday I was flying with a student and we were privy to an awesome Tennessee sunset.  The air was smooth and had calmed remarkably from the gusty conditions early in the day.   In those few minutes I thought about the privledge of flying and how, were I not a pilot, I would never see such an incredible view.

I recalled a student who had just finished a solo cross country.  I was at the airport when he landed and I was a bit impatient.  He was running later than I’d hoped and I had been pacing in the FBO as I watched the sun begin to sink.  Finally I heard him announce his position and enter the pattern.

When he landed he was practically ecstatic.  As I helped him push the airplane into the hangar, he talked about all he had seen and experienced on his flight.  He talked about how freeing it was to be in the plane, navigating and flying with confidence.  I smiled as I remembered his first few flights and how, like many students, he had struggled to manage all the tasks of flying.  Moments like that are just gold to me as an instructor- seeing the undeniable progress of a student.

As the hydraulic hangar door closed, I mentioned to him that for me flying is an adventure every time I leave the ground.  I was glad he was finding that to be the case also.

I thought about these 2 experiences as  I drove home last night and how someday, years from now, when I’m old and my flying days have long since passed, I’ll remember the feel of the controls in my hands.  I have no doubt I’ll smile when I recall the first-solos I’ve seen and the satisfaction of a well-made landing.  Undoubtedly, my heart will race remembering shooting an ILS approach and breaking out of the clouds as the runway appeared through the haze right where it should be.

In the twilight of my life, of all the experiences I may have (with the exception of my family) I think I’ll treasure the hours spent flying the most.  And of all those hours I think I’ll always treasure the sunsets.

What will you remember?

Episode 9 | the myFlightCoach Podcast

Chris Holub after his first solo.

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Today’s show features an interview with Chris Holub, a student pilot from Peoria, AZ who is learning to fly at one of the busiest general aviation airports in the country.  One thing I just love about Chris is that he is so passionate about flying and very involved in helping other people discover flying as well.

He’s videoed almost his entire flight training process and you can view these on YouTube (see my show notes).  He is also part of a great podcast roundtable  of other students in the process of learning to fly called “In the Pattern”.

He began by flying RC (Radio Controlled) planes and this just led him to learn to fly the real thing.  He’s learning in a great airplane, a Piper Archer III.  The greatest feature to me is the fact that it has Air Conditioning!

Chris and I talk about how he got into flying, what he wishes someone had told him when he started, and some adventures he’s had along the way.  Hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

Please email me at or call the brand-new number (anytime 24/7) at: 615-669-2fly  (615-669-2359)

Resources from today’s show:

Chris Holub’s “In the Pattern” Podcast

Chris Holub’s You Tube Channel with all of his flight training videos

Piper Archer III

Deer Valley Airport

Flying Costs Got You Down? It Could Be Worse.

In this month’s AOPA Pilot (Feb 2011) the “Pilot Briefing” column provides us with some sobering statistics from across the pond.  I recently did a podcast talking about the price of learning to fly in the U.S.   I commented that while the cost is high to many pocketbooks, it isn’t likely to decrease and I offered some ideas on reducing the cost of training.

But compare American aviation prices with that of our English counterparts and you begin to thank your lucky stars you’re learning to fly in the States.  Check out these prices:

A Cessna 172 (simple 6-Pack) $164/hour.   PLUS

VAT (Value Added Tax) of $36 PLUS

A per-circuit (touch-and-go) fee of $12.21 PLUS

Full Stop Landing Fee of $36.84.

And fuel is $9.75/ gallon.

Therefore the hourly cost with one touch-and-go is…. $268.64

Instrument students?  An ILS has a fee of $78.  So just an approach to a full stop is $114.84 and you haven’t even paid for the plane (and all those fees) and your instructor.

While it’s not “cheap” to learn to fly….hey, it could be worse…a LOT worse.



Pinch Hitting

Melissa and I pose for the camera after our flight.

Last Saturday I had the privilege of doing the first part of a “Pinch Hitter’s Course” with a friend of mine’s wife.  This type of instruction is for those who are not pilots but who fly frequently with family or friends who are pilots.  They may not want to take lessons or earn their license, but they would like to learn to satisfy their own curiosity and do what needs to be done “in a pinch”.  In many ways knowledge is power, or in this case knowledge is peace.  Understanding the basics of the plane’s operation and systems gives a good bit of peace to these frequent fliers.

Melissa, my friend’s wife, has been flying with her husband but always experienced a good bit of anxiety.  It’s not his flying, I’ve flown with him and he’s a very good pilot.  He’s proficient, safe, and methodical.   But as I talked with them both, it seemed that what she really needed was an instructor to talk her through the basics and give her the information and experience of seeing for herself what flying was all about.

I spent some time in the cockpit with her going over the basics of the instruments and the radios.  We took off and the first thing I demonstrated was stability.  A trimmed-out airplane is remarkably stable and when I removed my hands from the controls she seemed concerned for just a moment.  Then I saw it register with her that the plane was doing just fine, flying along quite nicely.  I then demonstrated how even if I push on the yoke, the plane will try to return to level flight (dynamic stability).   And it did.

At that point I showed her straight and level flying and basic turns.  That was the last time I flew the plane!   She flew it for the remainder of the flight until we came back into the pattern for landing.  It was exciting to see her go from being reluctant to touch the controls to holding straight and level and making turns to headings on her own!

The next day her husband sent me an email which said:

“We’ve created a monster.  Melissa is actually excited to go up again and start phase 2 of her pinch hitter course.  You are a great teacher and have the right level of patience to feed information at an appropriate rate. She’s definitely  going up again (her words).”

That’s what it’s all about  –sharing the gift of flight!  I can’t wait to fly with Melissa again and see her grow more and more comfortable with flying.   It is great to see how this ‘flying family’ can really share the joy of flying together.


MyFlightCoach Podcast | Episode 1

The first regular podcast of myFlightCoach is here!

I’m going to offer a variety of news, topics, advice, interviews ranging from flight training, to marketing, to featuring new and innovative businesses.  I welcome your ideas and input.  Please send questions also that I can answer on the air!

Email me at

Listen to the podcast:

Direct Download


Pic of me on my first flight…ever. I think I was 9 or 10.

AOPA Student Pilot Summit and News

National Association of Flight Instructors

Kershner’s Student Pilot’s Flight Manual

Be Ready for Your Bienniel Flight Review

Chris’ Book, You Can be a Pilot

Chris’ Email:

“I’ve Earnt My Wings!”

Rachel Charlize  is a friend of mine at Corporate Flight Management in Smyrna, TN and has just earned her private license.  She has chronicled her journey to her license here >>> This is a reprint of her latest article from Her enthusiasm and love of flying is contagious!   Congrats Rachel!  –Chris


I was just reading through some of my past blogs, and realized that I have gone through an enormity of ups and downs in my journey to becoming a pilot.

A PILOT!  I’m a PILOT!  It’s still seems surreal at this point.  Probably because the elation has not yet worn off.  But I did it.  I realized a dream.  And it’s a wonderful feeling.

It was a long time coming.  One year, and 19 days.  There were some obstacles which were unavoidable, like weather of course, but also the fact that I had to switch from the Cessna 152 after 10 hours of flying, to the Katana DA20 (with 7 months of no flying in between) because of an engine issue.  But looking back, switching to the DA20 was the best thing that could have happened to me.  It has a GPS!  And is a joy to fly.

The weeks leading up to my final test (check ride and oral) were the hardest I’ve had to endure in a long time.  The stress was building, knowing I would have to sit with my examiner while he asked me questions which, at the time, I was not sure I would be able to answer.  Why would anyone voluntarily submit themselves to this much pressure, I wondered.  My fear was that I would not retain all of the information that I was forcing into my head.  But my instructor went above and beyond and spent hours going over what he thought were my weak spots.  This helped enormously, and built my confidence to a point which allowed me to push on.  It’s amazing how a glimpse of success motivates you to push through the tough times.  Looking back, it’s moments like those which make me proud of the tenacity I showed.

I’m not sure how it all came together, but it just did.  I have to give thanks to my Instructor Kirk, who spent hours teaching me to aviate, navigate, and communicate.  I said it in the beginning and I will say it again, choosing a good instructor is invaluable.

So if your instructor signs you off as ready for your check ride, then you probably are.  Have faith in that.

These are some things which I found extremely useful in the lead up to my check ride:

–          Work on your weak areas – of theory, and in the airplane.

–          Fly as often as you can in the week before your check ride to be completely comfortable.  Leaving a week in between shouldn’t matter too much, but I was glad to have gotten in a few good mock check rides before the big one.

–          Nice segway:  Do mock check rides with your instructor.  This will allow you to feel comfortable with the process and to see the order of how things will likely go along.

–          If you can, do a mock check ride with a different instructor – sometimes something that they do differently may help you in your learning process if something is not sticking.

–          Know your aircraft – where everything is, and how it works.  And how it flies best (e.g trim, speeds, etc)

–          You won’t know the answers to all of the questions the examiner will ask you, but know where to find them.  Tab your books if you have to.

–          Know the area – if you can find your first few points on your mock check rides, this will take the pressure off a little so you can ensure you will not miss them.

So I did all of these things, but still, everything did not go perfectly.  But I’m happy to say I wasn’t a complete bumbling fool in the oral.  Somehow, I was able to dig the answers out of my brain.  I guess they did stick!

And just like clockwork – the weather came down after my oral.  So we deferred the flying portion to a better day.  Four days later, weather and I had coincided.

Right before my Examiner arrived in the FBO on the day of my checkride, I was sitting, looking for the millionth time at my flight navigation log, nauseous from anxiety.  Within ten seconds of Reece arriving, he had put me at ease.  I gulped and just decided to do what I had done many times before.

I went through my navigation log and my first leg to Chattanooga, explaining my check points, my heading, my altitude, the weather.  This was nowhere near as scary as I thought it would be.  Feeling ok with my paperwork he said “Let’s go terrorize the skies”.  Ok, lets!

I flew well, but they were definitely not the best take-offs or landings I’ve done.  But they were to standard.  My steep turns were great, my power on and power off stalls were pretty darn good, and I even used the VOR without messing up.  The entire check ride turned out to be fun, which was very unexpected.

It was an unbelievable experience which I will never forget.  Taxiing in along Alpha and Juliet to the ramp I could see Reece signing “S” in the columns to the right.  I can only assume “S” was for satisfactory, which would mean I had passed.  When I turned off the engine he smiled at me and said “you did it”.  Nothing could have made me happier than hearing those words.

I did it.  I am a private pilot.