Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Meet B-29 pilot Debbie Travis King


(Photo: Photo by Connie Roper via EAA)

Debbie Travis King is the only woman in the world since 1943 authorized to fly the Boeing B-29 Superfortress, which she pilots aboard the Commemorative Air Force's FIFI, the only airworthy B-29 left.

She will be the keynote speaker for the WomenVenture Power Lunch at AirVenture on Wednesday (July 30) at 11:30 a.m., at Theater in the Woods.

The daughter of an American Airlines pilot, she said a career in aviation came naturally. The Dallas native grew up around airplanes and was always working on them with her father.
"I was always in aircraft and never knew a life without it," she said.

Travis King began earning her flight certificates in high school and finished them in college at Texas A&M University. She earned her CFI and CFII directly after and later earned her jet ratings and Air Transport Pilot certificate. She flew corporate jets as an on-demand charter pilot, and now tours with the CAF B-29.

The freedom from everything on the ground drives her love of flying, as well as how it's black and white – and unforgiving. The rules and boundaries of the aviation industry fit with her personality, she said.

She pilots the CAF's B-24 Liberator Diamond Lil as well as its B-29, and flies the Falcon 20, 50, 900, 900B and 900EX jets among many other aircraft. At 45 years-old, Travis King has at least 3,600 flight hours under her wings.

She said the Superfortress is her favorite to fly because of its historical significance.

"It's not very often one single aircraft changes the course of history," Travis King said. "And, the fact that two women were incorporated and necessary for that change."

As a woman in what she described as historically, exclusively "man's territory" – besides the Women Airforce Service Pilots during World War II – she said a lot of pressure and attention comes with being the only female today flying the B-29.

"It takes a strong personality and thick skin to be able to withstand the credulation that you have to go through and the speak you have to listen to," she said. "I'm one of those people that you can't keep me down."

However the field is changing with more and more women finding their passion in aviation. Though it's a slow change, she said, Travis King is a prime example of how the field is becoming more inclusive to women.

She said she's excited to speak to those women at WomenVenture and share for the first time why she does what she does.

"I've never really fully explained why I do what I do and what my inspirations are," she said, adding she also wants to kindly explain how it's not exactly easy for women in the field.

"I can't say it is easy," Travis King said. "These are the things you're going to have to buckle up for… and we can do it."

Having gone to AirVenture since the 1990s, she said every time it's just like coming home.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Phoenix Home to Arizona's Only Female Law Enforcement Pilot

From News Talk KFYV:

PHOENIX (KSAZ) - Tracking down criminals from the air. You've likely seen the Phoenix Police Department's helicopter around the valley. The pilot is a valley born and raised woman, the only one in the State of Arizona.

"When people wanted to be astronauts, people wanted to be this or that, what I wanted to do was this, I wanted to chase bad guys from a helicopter," said Officer Corynn Wittrock.

And that is what she loves to do, years later.

"When I was a small kid I had the opportunity to know some of the county deputies, they took me on a ride along, and from then on out that is all I wanted to do," she said.

You may see her flying above the skies of Phoenix and all over the valley for the Phoenix Police Department. She's worked ten years with the department, 6 1/2 years on the street and 4 1/2 on patrol.

"There's been a lot of rewarding and scary things. We've all had to work on the streets, we've all had our own personal stories about working on the streets, where you were at the time of a foot pursuit or something," said Wittrock.

Snapping a seatbelt is second nature as Wittrock puts it, in addition to chasing the bad guys, she also helps in tactical rescue operations. She has advice for girls wanting to be police pilots.

"Keep persevering, I didn't get her by myself so surround yourself with positive people that influence you in the way you want to go, and help you follow your dreams," she said.

The Airborne Law Enforcement Association Conference started in Phoenix Thursday. It welcomes law enforcement pilots from across the country to the valley.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Diversity drive: Air Force command nominee is 1st woman, non-pilot

From the Washington Times:

The military also is preparing to put women in direct land combat units.
The Navy promoted its first woman this month to four-star rank: Adm. Michelle J. Howard, a surface warship commander, to vice chief of naval operations, the Navy’s second-ranking officer.
The Air Force promoted its first woman to four-star rank in 2012, when Gen. Janet C. Wolfenbarger took over Air Force Materiel Command at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio.
The Army’s first female four-star general, Ann Elizabeth Dunwoody, has retired.
To observers, the twin moves to promote a woman to vice chief of naval operations and to place a woman in charge of a major combatant command Air Force means that female officers are destined to be elevated to the six-member Joint Chiefs of Staff, which comprises the four service chiefs, a chairman and a vice chairman.
Women make up 14.5 percent of the active force but only a small percentage of combat pilots, 21 years after the Pentagon lifted the ban on women in those jobs.
Of 3,714 Air Force fighter and bomber pilots last year, 85 — or about 2 percent — were women at the rank of lieutenant colonel and below.
I just hope the women they're promoting are competent.

Obviously there is no reason why they wouldn't be competent, except when they *have* to make promotions because of's just like Affirmative Action - did they earn their way, or were they chosen because they had to be?

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Do you like candles?

I've been surfing the web a lot, lately (not because I have free time but for my work!)

But while I'm  working I also make note of websites that I want to return to on my free time and perhaps make some purchases, and one of these is Chris's Country Essence.

It's a little e-commerce store that sells things like beeswax candles, from candles in the shape of little teddy bears, or bees, or beehives, to beeswax pillar candles. They also offer a lot of other things, of course, pure honey, and products made from honey - or beeswax - like shampoos, body washes, stuff like that.

I rather like the idea of supporting a business that has a symbiotic relationship with our little buzzing friends.

Honeybees are an interesting creature - so interesting that animals make things that taste good and are edible to humans...

Anyway, if you're in to cute stuff, check out the beeswax candles and beeswax pillar candles here.

Not to mention the other products they've got on offer, of course!

Ukraine woman pilot Savchenko in middle of media war

From the BBC:

"Ukraine's GI Jane" and "national hero", or a "Killing machine in a skirt"?
There are two starkly opposing views of the female Ukrainian air force pilot current being held in Russia, in what has become another battle in the ongoing Russian-Ukrainian media war.
This latest information clash - played out mainly on social media as well as mainstream, pro-Kremlin media in Russia - typifies the way the conflict is being fought through opposing media narratives.
In the middle of it all is fashion designer-turned-air force helicopter pilot Nadiya Savchenko, 33.
Reportedly a member of a volunteer battalion fighting pro-Russia separatists near Luhansk in eastern Ukraine, the Russian authorities have charged her with complicity in the killing of two Russian TV journalists while taking part in a rebel checkpoint.
Ukraine accuses Russia of abducting her and has demanded her release.
'Save our girl' The pilot's cause has become the subject of an impassioned Ukrainian social media campaign portraying her as a national hero.
Screengrab of tweet in support of Nadiya Savchenko Support for Ms Savchenko is widespread on Ukrainian social media
Since news of her arrest first surfaced on 19 June, the hashtag #SaveOurGirl has generated more than 15,000 of tweets - apparently inspired by a worldwide campaign in support of Nigerian schoolgirls captured by Boko Haram militants.
Most outrage seems to focus on her mysterious appearance in Russian custody after being captured by separatists on Ukrainian territory.
"How dare the Kremlin kidnap people out of Ukraine?!" one pro-Ukrainian Twitter user fumed, to which a pro-Russian crudely responds: "Shoot this bitch like a dog".
A video showing the captured Nadiya Savchenko being interrogated by the pro-Russian insurgents has been viewed more than 580,000 times and has attracted a wave of comments commending her courage.
"There is no fear in her eyes, only disdain for the interrogator... A true hero," one commenter says. Another adds: "All of Ukraine is proud of you."
Nadiya Savchenko speaks to a reporter while serving in Iraq in 2005, in a still image of footage used in a feature report by Ukrainian Defence Ministry TV The 2011 defence ministry documentary includes footage of her service in Iraq
Popular Ukrainian TV channel 1+1 has launched a slickly-designed webpage aimed at publicising the "injustice" of Ms Savchenko's arrest.
A profile on the page describes her as a pilot, with 10 years in the armed forces, who served in Ukraine's troop contingent in Iraq.
It also says she was captured while trying to help "wounded comrades" in her volunteer battalion in eastern Ukraine.
"Nadiya Savchenko is a Ukrainian national hero who has to be saved," is its simple tagline.
Nadiya Savchenko speaks in a feature report by Ukrainian Defence Ministry TV In the 2011 film, Ms Savchenko speaks passionately about her chosen career path
Her sudden fame has also revived an obscure 2011 documentary about Ms Savchenko and her military career by Ukrainian defence ministry's Ukrainian Forces TV, which has now attracted more than 180,000 views on YouTube.
"I cannot explain this feeling. It is as if you are in heaven," a stylishly-dressed Ms Savchenko says in the video of her love of flying.
The film includes footage of her serving in Iraq in 2005, and describes her personal motto as "I see the goal - not the obstacles", but also highlights her other, more "feminine" interests, such as designing clothes and embroidery.
'Satan's daughter' Her image on Russian media sources loyal to the Kremlin could not be more different.
Still of reports attacking captured Ukrainian fighter pilot Nadiya SAvchenko on pages 1 (l) and 5 (r) of Russian tabloid Tvoy Den Tvoy Den's depiction of Ms Savchenko is particularly harsh, calling her "Satan's daughter" (bottom left) and "Bullet-fool" (top right)
Most put forward the Russian authorities' version of events, but some go even further.
Crude, and at times sexist, innuendo is used to demonise Ms Savchenko.
On its front page, tabloid Tvoy Den calls her "Satan's daughter", while another tabloid, Komsomolskaya Pravda alleges that Ms Savchenko was known as a "killing machine in a skirt".
State-run Rossiya 1 TV news takes a dim view of her political views.
"Nadezhda has obviously been turned into a zombie and has a very negative attitude to all Russia-related things," the channel's reporter says.
Nadiya Savchenko, 33, speaks to journalists shortly after her capture in Luhansk, Ukraine, 19 June Pictures of Ms Savchenko in detention have been widely disseminated by Russian media
Pro-Kremlin news website Ridus warns her: "Judging by the bloody trail left by Ukrainian gunner Savchenko, she may well face other charges".
However, on Russian-based social media the picture is more nuanced, with several Twitter users mocking perceived oddities in the Russian authorities' version of events, in particular their claim that she entered the country as a refugee.
"Savchenko fled to Russia in the guise of a refugee from a bloody fascist junta and ended up in the tight embrace of brotherly democracy," one anti-Kremlin user jeers.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Air Race Classic to visit Scottsbluff during June 16-19 race


Aviation enthusiasts can get a glimpse into one of the oldest air races as the annual Air Race Classic visits Scottsbluff next week.

For more information visit

A total of 52 planes will fly this year as they take part in the 2014 ARC that will be held June 16-19. The all-female pilots will make 10 intermediate stops throughout the race with one stop scheduled at Western Nebraska Regional Airport in Scottsbluff. ARC Stop Chairman Sherry Fisher said, depending on the weather, a few planes are expected to arrive at the airport on Monday night with others coming in throughout the day on Tuesday.

The four-day competition will begin in Concord, Calif. and will travel 2,338 nautical miles to New Cumberland, Pa., with all racers competing for the fastest time. The ARC began when aviation legend Amelia Earhart held the first Women’s Air Derby in the United States in 1929. Since it was forbidden for female pilots to race against male pilots, Earhart and 19 other women took matters into their own hands and created the first all female race.
Today, women from 17 to 90 years old start with a race team of two pilots that must fly by the Visual Flight Rule of only flying during daylight hours. Pilots are also given four days to make the flybys at each en route timing point and then land at the terminus.
“The participants will fly sun up to sun down,” Fisher said. “They will start at 6:30 in the morning until 8:30 at night.”
In preparation for the event, pilots will undergo briefings, flight planning and a fly-by study prior to take off. Pilots will race against their own best speed time in a small airplane of their choice. The aircraft must be a stock model and have their handicap speed identified with a check pilot.
These female pilots will also be building up their experience and refining their flight skills since the route changes each year to make the competition even more challenging.
“It’s just like the Sugar Valley Rally, but it’s done with airplanes,” Fisher said.
WNRA will be the fourth stop of the race. Local residents will also be able to visit with the pilots free of charge at the airport during the pilot stops. After the pilots take a brief break, they will travel on to Norfolk Regional Airport. WNRA Chairman Don Overman said everyone at the airport is enthusiastic for the ARC to be making a landing in Scottsbluff.
“I’m pleased that they (ARC) chose Scottsbluff,” he said. “It will be exciting for people to come out and meet the pilots.”

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Facebook for my Women in Aviation Mini-Museum Project

Next year, I'm going to be putting a bit of my women in aviation collection into an exhibit at the Laramie County Public Library, here in Cheyenne. I've got a year to get all the pieces mounted properly for exhibit. Of course once I get the exhibits all ready to go, I want to share them with other people, and what I'm thinking of is creating a Mini Museum - renting a store front here in town and putting the collection on display.

I'm doing research into how I can popularize this idea and get people to come to Cheyenne to see the museum. (Of course, they'd come here for other reasons first - nice as I hope my mini-museum will be I seriously doubt if someone in Florida will travel to Cheyenne just to see it!)

Publicity is so important - if no one knows about it, no one will come.

I've been looking at putting bits of it online as a virtual museum, and putting links to the various social media on each page, so that if someone on Facebook visits a page and likes it, they can "share" it with their entire network - which of course would be a big win.

So I've been looking into how much Facebook shares cost.  Shares as in "page shares" - not stock shares! There are businesses that can do this for you - but of course getting Facebook shares cost money. So if you've got a business that you're trying to popularize, check out such websites as and see what they can do for you.

Meantime, I've got to start doing some serious work on my mini- museum idea!