Here Comes The Future

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Every year around this time, when the days are short and nights are long and cold, we can’t help spending some time thinking about the future. A new calendar provides the illusion of a fresh start, though in reality the Earth continues its elliptical orbit, as it has for millions of years, oblivious to our human concepts. December 31 rings out the old, and January 1 arbitrarily rings in the new, regardless of astronomical realities.

So what does the future hold? We all know that we don’t know. But we choose to prognosticate anyway. And here’s my contribution — I think the two aviation stories to watch in the new year will be autonomy and women.

The pilot community seems to be warming up to the idea of flying airplanes that are smarter than us. Many of us still remember the days of stick and rudder, islands in the sky and dead reckoning. But even many diehard old-style pilots, who believe nothing beats the hands-on flying in a DC-3 or Cub, appreciate that technology that makes flying safer isn’t really a bad thing. And the safer it gets, and the easier it gets to be a safe pilot, the more people will be interested in learning to fly.

The idea of a “flying car” isn’t really about having a machine you can park in your garage and drive to the airport. It’s about having an airplane that’s as simple and safe to operate as an automobile. And with autonomy surging in the automobile world, “as safe as driving” is going to change … cars driven by humans aren’t all that safe, but autonomous cars are. Autonomous, or semi-autonomous, airplanes will indisputably reduce the risks in GA flying. Already, the NTSB has reported that 2016 was the safest year in 50 years for general aviation. I’ll go out on a limb and guess that’s not because pilots are being more careful and training harder. It’s because more airplanes are better equipped with safety gear, from AOA indicators to envelope protection to parachutes.

As autonomous systems take over more and more of the chores of flying, and eliminate more of the risk, interest in private flying will soar. And that takes us to the next story — women. Aviation has been failing to inspire half the population, for decades now. The reasons for that are legion, but let’s not debate that. Let’s say that if the career track is there, for the airlines — and I think it is, especially now, with pilots in short supply — then there’s something in society that needs to change. And that’s the reality that it’s harder for women to combine an airline career with family life than it is for men. If that’s going to change, men are going to have to be willing to step up at home. Will that happen? Will we look back someday at 2018 as a turning point? Hard to say, but it’s a New Year. The shortest days of winter are over, and hope for the future reigns, at least for today.

Comments (50)

Question; are you related to YARS? And Happy New Calendar Year to you and to the AVweb staff.

Posted by: Rafael Sierra | December 31, 2017 10:13 PM    Report this comment

Good one, Raf.

Given the dueling topics of this blog, I HAVE to say it ... tongue in cheek. So if airplanes are getting "smarter' -- ergo safer -- due to automation ... is THAT the reason more women are now going to step up to the plate, be "inspired" and become pilots? I had no idea those little blue buttons, red handles and GPS' would have THIS big an impact. Yars ... you'd better open a flight school ! :-)

Seriously, let's all wish for a happier 2018 for GA.

Posted by: Larry Stencel | January 1, 2018 4:59 AM    Report this comment

Part of the excitement of flying is the challenge of learning how to fly including the excitement of managing ever present and changing danger that flying currently entails. The continuous learning, every rating, add on's, the preparation every flight requires is not equalled in any other human endeavor. The freedom of flight as it currently exists is virtually limitless. Autonomy takes all of that away. Through autonomy you don't have to learn anything, know anything or do anything. Autonomy provides for all intents a 100% safe environment. All of your decision making has been eliminated and given to "Big Brother." You probably won't even have to push a button, everything will be voice activated and eventually even thought controlled. Autonomy essentially will destroy flying as we know it. Yes, more people will fly because it will become so safe and easy. I can't think of anything more boring than flying becoming autonomous. I don't fly an Aerostar because I like to be bored.

As for women flying, yes, I definitely would love to see more women flying, they are so much nicer to look at than guys. But, there are choices and sacrifices that have to be made. No, you can't have it all, that's not how life works. There's a reason men are men and women are women. Get over it, deal with it and move on.

Posted by: Thomas Cooke | January 1, 2018 5:47 AM    Report this comment

I can see it now "Pajama Boy Autonomous Airlines." Geesh

Posted by: Thomas Cooke | January 1, 2018 11:12 AM    Report this comment

Good section on gender at the end of this story. While organising girls' fly days, and open houses supporting the 99s, celebrating female role models, etc is all good, you're right that it's not enough--as long as women have a steeper hill to climb to get into the pilot's seat, we'll be missing out on too many great fellow aviators.

Posted by: David Megginson | January 1, 2018 1:49 PM    Report this comment

Tom ... if PBAA flies autonomous airplanes, why do we need ANY pilots ... male OR female. And if there's only one pilot aboard ... will there be a safe space for he or she to retire to if the computer 'yells' at 'em ?? What a brave new world 2018 is gonna be ...

Posted by: Larry Stencel | January 1, 2018 2:44 PM    Report this comment

I just read an article in the local newspaper that said automation and robotics may take over as many as 1/3 of the jobs in the U.S. within the next few years. Odd to think that pilots may be in that category, but they may be one of the earlier casualties. However, it won't happen all at once and GA will probably be one of the last to go. The legacy GA fleet may get new and very capable autopilots, but complete automation is unlikely. While I would not necessarily recommend that women pursue aviation as a career, I would definitely encourage them to become pilots. Most of us do not fly for a living (flight instructors excluded), but still find it enjoyable and addicting. Why should guys have all the fun?

Posted by: John McNamee | January 1, 2018 3:34 PM    Report this comment

My resolution is for the members of GA to necessarily make a turn toward kindness, understanding and compassion for the mistakes and various levels of awareness with pilots and people looking to learn to fly, and drop the constant pissing contest about piloting. Oh, and screw the accident stats. Or, lovingly look toward autonomous aircraft, if you need to.

Three weeks along now and this new series of blogs on Fridays citing 'stupid' 'dumb' 'idiot' 'stupid student' 'boneheads' etc. using cutesy sarcasm to entertain about pilots who have revealed errors in judgement or other misfortunes does what exactly to promote GA and women pilot starts?? Let's save the pietistic one-upmanship for the hangar talks, eh?

Everyone already generally thinks pilots are cool - isn't that enough? And being 'nicer to look at'? Are the women lining up at the flight school door yet from that observation? Good grief.

As to autonomous aircraft, I'll leave that to Mary's and Yar's great-great-grandchildren to enjoy. I couldn't be more indifferent to whether my car parks itself or my airplane flies itself or my 15' West Wight Potter sails itself. And no, I didn't get coal in my stocking last week. We don't wear stockings in Phoenix.

Posted by: Dave Miller | January 1, 2018 6:36 PM    Report this comment

Automation in aviation might eliminate aviation jobs? Quick, tell the navigators and flight engineers that their jobs might be in danger! Interesting how as we've INCREASED automation and the number of people in the cockpit, we've DECREASED the number of accidents. We have met the enemy and it is us!

As aircraft get easier to fly: improving aerodynamics to make the airplane more stable, reduce chances of stall, make it impossible to spin, make it easier to find where you are and where you're going, make it less likely to run into someone else, etc. we'll see MORE people take up aviation for more than just fun: it will be a genuinely useful form of transportation!

Here's to a new year, better airplanes, more pilots, and new ways to use the air for enjoyment and utility!

Posted by: JEFFREY SMITH | January 1, 2018 6:40 PM    Report this comment

Just for the record, "semi-autonomous" is an oxymoron, akin to "just a little bit pregnant." Autonomous means "in charge," and we all know what happens when it's unclear who - or what - is in charge. Autonomy is not an evolutionary procrss. It's marked by a clear, bright line. Autonomous systems don't "take over more and more of the chores of flying." They are in total control of ALL of the chores of flying. That's what autonomy means.

Happy New Year, everybody!

Posted by: Tom ("YARS") Yarsley | January 1, 2018 8:53 PM    Report this comment

Before we get all giddy about autonomous aircraft, just remember there is one big fly in the ointment. More like an elephant sized fly. That is the FAA. How long has it taken the bureaucracy to get the lead out? Oh wait, we are still stuck with 100LL.

Re: women in aviation, yes we need to do a better job of marketing to women, so that they will start thinking " I can fly." The airplane doesn't care who is at the controls, however, in many cases the trolls in the pilot lounge are sure not going to be helpful to someone who is not exactly like them. We all need to be ambassadors of GA. Over the years, I have managed to suck in a few students, by offering an on the spot discovery flight to someone who was just asking about learning to fly. Let us all try to infect as many people as possible with the flying bug.

Happy New Year

Posted by: Leo LeBoeuf | January 1, 2018 9:04 PM    Report this comment

Take away the mental, physical and demanding segments of aviation to this 50+ year aviator, the joy of flying will be reduced to nothing more than taking a taxi cab to the movies.

Just as the flying car in every mans or woman's garage was the elixir some decades ago, so is the notion that fully automated flight will bring an uptick to general aviation.

Posted by: Hans Miesler | January 2, 2018 1:26 AM    Report this comment

Obtaining and maintaining a pilot certificate is a Barrier To Entry for general aviation. Power brakes, power steering, and automatic transmissions didn't reduce participation in automobile use; the obsolescence of elevator operators didn't result in a decline in the construction of high-rise buildings.
The open access that autonomous aircraft will provide undoubtedly will increase participation. Pilots should welcome this democratization; not scorn it.

Posted by: Tom ("YARS") Yarsley | January 2, 2018 4:10 AM    Report this comment

"Pilots should welcome this democratization; not scorn it."

I'll welcome it for those who would WANT to fly--no, ride in--an autonomous aircraft, just so long as it doesn't become mandated that all aircraft in the air are autonomous. Because should that happen, I will no longer be interested in aviation.

And sometimes safety features have unintended consequences. For instance, anti-lock brakes are great...except on snow or sand or gravel where locking the brakes will actually result in a shorter (if not messier) stopping distance. Or Cirrus' CAPS that sometimes unintentionally encourages pilots to fly in conditions they wouldn't otherwise "because the CAPS will save them".

Also, I take the term "semi-autonomous" to mean that the computerized decision-making component can be taken offline and/or overridden by the human pilot in the vehicle. A fully-autonomous vehicle to me means that the only thing the human can do is tell the system where to take him/her. Beyond that, they're just along for the ride.

" many cases the trolls in the pilot lounge are sure not going to be helpful to someone who is not exactly like them"

I believe that's it exactly why there aren't more women in aviation. Even if those trolls don't say anything out-loud to the would-be female pilots, they still make disapproving/doubting glances to the would-be pilots. Nothing short of full enthusiasm in welcoming new pilots (male or female) will be enough. Sure, there needs to be enough self-motivation in a student to make it through training (at least, in non-autonomous aircraft), but all the enthusiasm in the world isn't enough if one is constantly treated as a second-class member of the aviation community.

Posted by: Gary Baluha | January 2, 2018 8:22 AM    Report this comment

Dave, question; are you related to Pajama Boy? And Happy New Calendar Year to you and to the AVweb staff.

Posted by: Thomas Cooke | January 2, 2018 9:04 AM    Report this comment

HEY ... Six degrees of separation in THIS blog !!

Mary is related to Yars and Dave is related to Pajama Boy.

... and I'm the curmudgeon who lights up the New Years Eve parties. :-)


Posted by: Larry Stencel | January 2, 2018 9:48 AM    Report this comment


I live not far from Pikes Peak. There are alternate ways to reach the peak. One can drive up or buy a ticket on the cog rail and effortlessly join the summit or one can climb from either the east or the west side. Ultimately all three methods will achieve reaching the summit.

Your preferred method I assume, which I have found by reading your prolific responses on various forums, would be to take the cog rail.

Indeed, the numbers clearly show that more people reach the summit by car or cog rail than climb so your argument for autonomous flight within the general aviation sector may very well occur.

I on the other hand, prefer to be in the column of people that have climbed this summit just as I prefer to be in the column that loves aviation for it's three dimensional and provocative exercise.

To that end I employ my very basic RV4 and Pitts S1S. At 70 I hope to enjoy at least another 10-15 years without the encumbrance of the masses cluttering up the skies in their autonomous flying carpets.

As one respondent elsewhere asked, are you an aviator? The name could not be found in the FAA registry. Just curious.

Posted by: Hans Miesler | January 2, 2018 11:09 AM    Report this comment


I would prefer to drive my 'Vette to the summit. But I'm glad that there IS a cog available for others, who can't or won't do it my way. Ain't technology grand?

I didn't see that "are you an aviator" comment. Indeed, I am. I just renewed my instructor certificate; IACRA had no trouble finding me in the FAA's Airman Registry. I hope I'm not having a Bruce Willis "Sixth Sense" moment... ;-)

Posted by: Tom ("YARS") Yarsley | January 2, 2018 1:11 PM    Report this comment

Not sure what you're driving at Hans. Regarding Pikes Peak, it all depends on what I feel like doing as far as the preferred method of getting to the peak is concerned. I'm not really in favor of autonomous flight, however, I do accept it as being inevitable. I currently fly an Aerostar, I did have a Diamond 40 and sometimes I fly a 172, SR22 or a CTLS. Like climbing the mountain, it just depends on how I feel like getting there. I am 64 Hans, I hope I can get another 20 maybe 30 years of active flying. We'll see. Am I an aviator? I'm not sure what you are asking. I am in the registry, check again.

Posted by: Thomas Cooke | January 2, 2018 1:13 PM    Report this comment

I think I got myself confused with the other Tom. I think. Someone correct me if I did, or didn't.
Han's I thought you were being sarcastic regarding the "prolific" statement. Now it makes sense.

Posted by: Thomas Cooke | January 2, 2018 1:18 PM    Report this comment

I became an aircraft mechanic 30 years ago when there were still quite a few folks who remembered the contribution of women during WWII. It wasn't the older folks who discouraged me, but the ones closer to my own age. Seems in some ways we still need to prove ourselves.

I warn women who might be interested in some aspect of aviation that they will be scrutinized because they are outside the norm. Attracting attention is a double edged sword, welcome if you're having a good day and obviously not so welcome if not. Being under a bit of a microscope can be intimidating, but I've come to realize that it's inevitable and in no way reflective of any malice on anyone's part.

Just don't call me a "girl mechanic", and I won't call you a "boy mechanic"!

Posted by: Evelyn Greene | January 2, 2018 1:42 PM    Report this comment

My comment was addressed to Mr Yarsley. Sorry about the confusion Mr. Cooke.

The IACRA acronym is not commonly found when on looks for the "FAA pilot registry".

My sincere apology for looking and not finding the information in the latter format.

Flight instruction based on autonomous flying vehicles should then be reduced per student but increased by the sheer volume of new entrants.

Best of luck,


Posted by: Hans Miesler | January 2, 2018 2:04 PM    Report this comment

Evelyn ... well put.

A few years ago I stopped at the airport's restaurant to have a beer or two -- "Thirsty Thursday" -- after working in my hangar. A nice looking gal comes in, sits down next to me and is acting kinda frantic on her cell phone. Finally, I ask her what's up? She tells me that she's trying to find a dog sitter because she has to fly someplace for a few days. Being a dog person -- currently dogless -- I volunteer but she tells me there's two of 'em, they're a handful, it might be more than a few days and it's too much to ask. So I ask her where she's flying.

Are ya ready ...

She tells me she's a B747-400 Captain and has to fly a short notice flight from Chicago to Japan.

After I put myself back onto the bar stool, red faced and hyperventilating ... we're off to the races with me mostly wanting to learn how she did that. Answer: She went to ERAU, carried suitcases around for a while and instructed and her timing was later right. Moral: Where there's a will, there's a way. I never once thought of her as a 'girl' pilot ... I wanted to know how she did it and was hapy for her accomplishment. She wanted to be a pilot ... and did just that. When done, I asked if I could kiss her pilot ring! :-))

Frankly, I'm TIRED of minorities and others using the 'whatever card' to gain leverage over others. Dr. Ben Carson would be another fine example of someone who "did" it against substantial odds. I could recite a litany of others, as well. I know of an example within one family where one child is successful and the sibling is not. I'm not saying that there isn't bigotry or hills to climb but -- as others have said -- it can be done. Think of all the energy wasted which could have been used in more constructive ways achieving the goals one desires vs moaning. Those successful people didn't waste any time complaining. They set sights on a goal and used all their energy attaining it. Period. I wish more people would do that. Could it be that there aren't more female pilots because they're just not interested? I doubt seriously if misogyny -- to any disrupting level -- is the more women don't fly.

When I was 22 years old and earning peanuts in the USAF, I decided I wanted to fly and did just that. Less than a year after I started in the Aero Club system, I had a commercial multi ticket. Nuff said.

Posted by: Larry Stencel | January 2, 2018 2:30 PM    Report this comment

Thanks Larry, good story!

I don't know why there aren't more female pilots, or mechanics, for that matter. I think more girls should be introduced to it early on. My first flight was in a 172 when I was 6 years old. Twenty five years later I finally got my certificate. I took a ride in a T6 in 1990 and decided I needed an antique aircraft. Twenty five years after that I got a Stearman. It's about never letting go of your dreams, no matter what it takes!

Posted by: Evelyn Greene | January 2, 2018 2:46 PM    Report this comment

To ease the corn-fusion, I edited my screen name.

Posted by: Tom ("YARS") Yarsley | January 2, 2018 3:24 PM    Report this comment

If aviation fails to inspire "women", I could care less.
If ANYONE (male or female) does NOT have a burning desire for aviation then why coerce them into something that is NOT their passion? That's nuts.

You want to fly, flyers will support you.
Anyone who suggest that aviation does NOT support those with real desire don't really know people in aviation.

Posted by: Mark Fraser | January 2, 2018 10:26 PM    Report this comment

Congratulations to Larry Stencel for his outstanding motivation and success. I'm sure he's better than most of the rest of us. But frankly, I'm TIRED the people on top using the 'I made it, so can everyone else if they have enough drive and energy' card to justify the leverage that's used against minorities and others. Sure, extraordinary people with a burning passion have a better chance of succeeding in their goals. But we ( i.e., GA, the economy, society) need more than a small number of superheroes to thrive. We need the contributions of the merely very good, the talented, the good, even the mediocre. Think of all the energy wasted in excluding or throwing up roadblocks to outsiders that could have been used in more constructive ways to seek out and encouraging talent vs. bellyaching about non-existant free rides.
Aviation is tough enough as it is, with the usual challenges. Women in aviation don't need the added barriers of condescension of guys like Thomas Cooke, or the complacency of people like Larry Stencel who don't see or care about the day-to-day misogyny, or the excess scrutiny that Evelyn Green experiences. It's the norm, but it shouldn't be. We alpha males have the advantage of automatic membership in the Old Boys' Network, with all the rights and privileges pertaining thereto. Women and other outsiders have the extra workload of the disrespect and distrust that they're treated with. We all know that reducing pilot workload promotes safe and efficient flying; let's make sure it applies to our attitudes toward others.
I don't know why there aren't more women in aviation. But marketing, mentoring, and support are key to getting people involved in any activity. And a feeling of being welcomed rather than discouraged.

Posted by: Rollin Olson | January 2, 2018 10:56 PM    Report this comment

Let me add some base to the acid. Is there a reason that we don't seem bothered by the OVER-representation of women in fields like teaching and nursing? Try not to read between those lines; what's on them is sufficient.

Posted by: Tom ("YARS") Yarsley | January 3, 2018 4:54 AM    Report this comment

(YARS), actually there are people who are bothered by those very things.

Evelyn, A&P and a Stearman, damn good!

Posted by: Richard Montague | January 3, 2018 7:17 AM    Report this comment

Rollin, There ARE NO ROADBLOCKS for women in America to be in aerospace.
Why is it a bad thing that there is free will and choice and that free will and choice never comes out "even"? People are living their own lives and that seems to bother you to the point of you wanting to change that free will and personal choice.

What aren't there more women in aviation?
I don't worry about it nor should I.

Posted by: Mark Fraser | January 3, 2018 9:36 AM    Report this comment

'People are living their own lives and that seems to bother you to the point of you wanting to change that free will and personal choice. '

Because when you get to it, free will is an illusion. Genetics, IQ, and inborn talent actually determine the parameters for the so-called exercise of free will. Even science operates in a relative hamster cage of space and time.

Study identical twins separated at birth and reunited decades later. Studies have shown genes - not parenting or environment - have the most significant influence on ambition, aggression, optimism and traditionalism.

Rollin is correct to point out this inequality in society.

Posted by: Dave Miller | January 3, 2018 11:16 AM    Report this comment

"Wh[y] aren't there more women in aviation?"

Why aren't there more people in general joining aviation?

It seems to me that if we just focus on getting men into aviation, we're leaving more than half of the population untouched. And I say we're focused on just men, because aviation is still treated somewhat as a thrill-seeking hobby. While there are thrill-seeking women, there just aren't as many of them as there are men.

Maybe show how aviation can be (and should be) more than just thrill-seeking, but also a unique challenge to work toward. Show how it takes hard work and dedication to become good at it, but that those same skills of learning how to overcome a challenge can translate into everyday life. And how flying (especially single-pilot IFR) requires learning how to prioritize tasks and filter out unimportant inputs (ignoring what your inner ear says when the instruments agree on something else, ignoring audio transmissions that don't apply to you, etc). Show how mastery of a vehicle that operates in an environment that humans are not naturally suited for can give you confidence in your ability to accomplish something unique. These are just some of the aspects a lot of us forget to sell about aviation, beyond just the "romance" and fun of it.

If we work to sell aviation beyond just the physical aspect of it, we won't have to worry about selling it specifically to women, because women aren't the only ones who can appreciate the other aspects.

Posted by: Gary Baluha | January 3, 2018 11:20 AM    Report this comment

Gary, every time I have to put up with airport security, barbed wire fences, TFR's, medicals, annuals, equipment upgrades, parts, maintenance, AD's, pitot-static checks, hanger rent, staying current, expensive fuel and deal with the FAA/NTSB if anything goes wrong...... I begin to think "why" would I try an sell this mess to someone who can live a normal fun life without the expense and hassle?

If you're suggesting we need to downplay the romance and the pride of surviving all those extra-ordinary trials that aviation has and then "sell it" as easy, you'll lose some men and dupe some women. It's neither easy nor inherently safe nor even lucrative. Selling it as otherwise is morally wrong.

Posted by: Mark Fraser | January 3, 2018 12:25 PM    Report this comment

""sell it" as easy, you'll lose some men and dupe some women. It's neither easy nor inherently safe nor even lucrative"

I never said that it was "easy". In fact, I made several references to how the pride comes in overcoming the difficulty of the task. But if you try to sell just the "romance" of flight, GA will continue to die a slow death.

What was important to pilots of previous generations simply isn't as important to today's generations, and they're even less interested in hyped up "romance of things past" or how things once were. When all they hear is complaining about barbed wire fences, TFRs, medicals, annuals, etc, why would anyone want to participate. It's because of the fun, the challenge, the pride in becoming a better pilot that we're all in GA. Focus on the negative, and you won't get new people. Focus on all of the positives, and GA might still survive.

Optimism doesn't equate to sugar-coating things.

Posted by: Gary Baluha | January 3, 2018 2:15 PM    Report this comment

"Because when you get to it, free will is an illusion. Genetics, IQ, and inborn talent actually determine the parameters for the so-called exercise of free will."

Ah, determinism, a most handy philosophy. Underlies the morphing of mandates for equality of opportunity into their most common implementation as mandates for equality of outcome. Opportunity, you understand, implies the exercise of free will might be an element in the process. Critical also in the exercise of apologism, under which personal guilt is removed from criminal behavior and transferred elsewhere, e.g. to a gun manufacturer, or "society".

What has this to do with women in aviation? I dunno, but I do see a lot more women up in the front office when I travel, and that's a good thing.

Posted by: John Wilson | January 3, 2018 2:32 PM    Report this comment

"When all they hear is complaining about barbed wire fences, TFRs, medicals, annuals, etc, why would anyone want to participate."

All those things are real, and so is the mortal danger if one is careless.
One bad mistake (or a series of small mistakes) and you die.
Women in general are less likely to accept that risk.
What you're saying is that women are wrong and need to change their natural behavior.

Posted by: Mark Fraser | January 3, 2018 3:04 PM    Report this comment

"What you're saying is that women are wrong and need to change their natural behavior."

No, I'm not. I don't mean to be nasty, but that's the second time you put words in my mouth that I didn't say (or rather, type). In fact, I said the exact opposite that the GA community needs to change *its* natural behavior.

There's nothing about aviation that makes males more suited to the task than females, but we only focus on the things that interest males (and a small subset of females). If we also focus on the other aspects (without excluding the cold facts of how it can be unforgiving at times), we might just attract the younger generations into GA, females included.

Posted by: Gary Baluha | January 3, 2018 4:55 PM    Report this comment

So you only want MEN to change their natural interest and behavior?

Posted by: Mark Fraser | January 3, 2018 5:54 PM    Report this comment

That some view natural, individual inequality as 'determinism' or 'apologism' merely shows a focus on the use/misuse of power. A tedious exercise, having nothing to do with my evidently missed point.

But indeed, it's heightened political times, these. Can't say that's an alternative fact.

Posted by: Dave Miller | January 3, 2018 5:59 PM    Report this comment

Whether it's difficult or easy, I've seen no evidence that learning how to fly requires "a change of natural interest or behavior" - regardless of gender or "gender identity."
I say that with acknowledgement that "learning is a change of behavior that occurs as a response to experience." I also acknowledge my status as an outlier, in that I have absolutely no interest in playing the game of golf.

Posted by: Tom ("YARS") Yarsley | January 4, 2018 5:32 AM    Report this comment


Posted by: Thomas Cooke | January 4, 2018 6:28 AM    Report this comment

Yars, flying, like riding a motorcycle, is a risky proposition. Anyone can put down the cash and learn to do it BUT very few women have any interest in doing so. Advertisements to "sell" motorcycles to women has not changed their natural interests to avoid that risky form of transportation.. It's irrational to suggest that if we try "selling" planes specifically to women because they are now "safer by automation" that women will suddenly convince women that flying is safer. Good for them because I don't think automation removes the underlying risk either!

Posted by: Mark Fraser | January 4, 2018 7:09 AM    Report this comment

Fret not, oh fellow conservative male (ergo misogynistic) aviators ... happy days are here again for women !

Unknown to us while we've been bloviating here, our all-knowing Government -- recognizing that a vast inequity has been allowed to fester in aviation -- has stepped in mere days ahead of their all-important Christmas break to address the problem. Due to their diligent efforts, everything will be wonderful for women as the intolerably high barriers keeping them away from our cloistered cockpits and maintenance facilities are about to fall:

Recognizing that the Women in Aviation International (WAI), the 99's, the Whirlygirls (maybe they should rename themselves the WhirlyWomen?) and a plethora of other dominant female groups have been unsuccessful in luring sufficient numbers of woman into aviation, Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME)(Chairwoman of the Senate Transportation Appropriations Sub-Committee) and Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) have introduced the Promoting Woman in the Aviation Workplace Act of 2017 (S. 2244) while Representatives Elizabeth Esty (D-CT), Jackie Walorski (R-IN), Cheri Bustos (D-IL), and Mimi Walters (R-CA) have introduced the companion legislation in the House of Representatives (H.R. 4673).

More important than providing their minions (that would be us) with a Federal budget (v. a CR), dealing with foreign enemies bent upon our destruction, decay of our urban areas or dealing with massive drug problems, this hardworking underpaid bipartisan group of female politicians has stepped in to make everything right for women who have been clamoring to gain access to our "Boys Club" in sufficient numbers. Oh joyous day. Another successful Government program.

I gotta tell you'se guys ... I am going to be whistling all day now, armed with this knowledge. I'm gonna go see if I can find that B747-400 Captain and not only kiss her ring but genuflect, too. It's only right ... I have to make up for all the misogynistic complacency in my personal aviation endeavors over all the decades ... don't ya know.

Posted by: Larry Stencel | January 4, 2018 8:20 AM    Report this comment


Posted by: Thomas Cooke | January 4, 2018 9:32 AM    Report this comment

Mark, I'll bet if paint the airplanes pink you'd sell a whole lot more of them to women.

Posted by: Thomas Cooke | January 4, 2018 9:34 AM    Report this comment

"Two pilots employed by Indian airline Jet Airways have been grounded after having an alleged fight while the plane was in the air with 324 passengers on board on New Year's Day. Airline officials are investigating claims the male pilot slapped his female colleague during an argument, as well as that the two left the cockpit unattended--and no one at the controls--while en route from London to Mumbai. According to several reports in the Indian press, the female pilot had to be persuaded to go back in by cabin crew because she was in tears. "A misunderstanding occurred between the cockpit crew," the airline said in a statement. "However, the same was quickly resolved amicably and the flight... continued its journey to Mumbai, landing safely.""

YARS, I'm joining your autonomous aircraft club.

Posted by: Rafael Sierra | January 4, 2018 10:40 AM    Report this comment

"...the incident occurred after the male pilot allegedly slapped the female pilot."

It's not the first time that a 1st officer ever felt the urge to take a swing at a captain.

Posted by: Mark Fraser | January 4, 2018 11:05 AM    Report this comment

I debated about adding another comment, but I question why I'm the only female on this thread.

As I said before, as anomalous, women in aviation will be singled out. There's no point for the article from India to include the gender of the pilots, why not include their height, or hair color. If we agree that gender does not affect piloting ability, then don't bring it up. Same goes for other gender heavy occupations. As to a previous point, we seem to refer to nurses who are men as male nurses. There's no point to that either but the problem goes both ways.

I've had good experiences as a mechanic, but I'm good at what I do and am neither easily offended nor inclined to allow silliness. My coworkers may tell me to smile more, or wear some make-up because I'm too plain, or chuckle when I ask for a longer screw (all things that have happened to me) but they only do that once and I'm quite sure this kind of behavior is not restricted to aviation. It takes awhile for men to get used to working with me and treating me as a mechanic, and not a female mechanic, but I'm used to working around all men and have realized some folks just take longer to learn things than others.

Of course, I am a thrill seeker.

Posted by: Evelyn Greene | January 4, 2018 2:39 PM    Report this comment

Evelyn, good on you for sticking with it and helping fill the void that will surely come with the retirement of many mechanics both GA and airline.

Flying the line I experienced excellent female F/O's and became acquainted with some of our female line maintenance personal also. I found the gals are a bit more detail oriented than guys and lent another perspective on our rather pleasurable career. Percentagewise, the numbers probably were similar in a few on both sides that did not measure up.

Today at my local yokel aerodrome, a friend soloed a young lady of 19 in her father's Mooney. Old avionics, manual landing gear and C/S. I listened to her radio calls while flying my Pitts a distance from the runway and she sounded like a pro. Her brothers all within close age range already have their PPL and so does her father. She admitted to me that while I took her up in the RV4 for a celebration ride, the dad and brothers had a strong influence on her participating in guy stuff.

Her first time in a tail dragger and a stick for conrols, she took to steep turns, G's and doing her own rolls like a duck to water. With a natural ability and desire to learn, I don't doubt if she chooses aviation for a career and or hobby, she'll do very well.

Posted by: Hans Miesler | January 4, 2018 8:18 PM    Report this comment

Evelyn ... it's natural for society ergo people to categorize things. Republicans and Democrats, good and bad, day and night, hot and cold, Packers v. Vikings, qualified and not qualified ... and so on. So recognizing women and men doesn't automatically portend something negative ... just a difference that's easy to see and pigeon hole. Noticing that there's a woman pilot doesn't make the person who notices a misogynist; noticing a person is black doesn't make the person who notices a racist, either. But THESE days ... that's the modus operandi. We're 'spring loaded' to categorize things but when you do ... it's automatically assumed to be negative. We're gonna notice differences and maybe bring it up ... so what. Your laughing about the double entendre 'longer screw' is the correct way to deal with it. It's time for everyone to lighten up.

Since women are only 8% of the pilot population v. 50%+ of humans in total, they stick out in aviation. That doesn't automatically mean something bad when you happen to notice. My B747 Captain story -- for example -- wasn't meant to make anything more out of it other than she was part of the 8%. In fact, I intended it to be positive ... that she had "climbed a steeper mountain" and arrived at the pinnacle. Great. The impression it left with me was much higher, as a result.

If women are underrepresented in aviation ... it isn't because of misogyny in MY mind ... that's an excuse. Maybe it's because they just ain't interested. Or, maybe they haven't been exposed to it. We give kids "Young Eagles" rides to do just that ... expose them to aviation. If a person grows up in a family where aviation is important -- and gets that exposure -- they're far more likely to take it up as an adult ... per Hans' story above. It's a mistake to take the position that everyone should be equal in all things and start turning it into laws, Statues or SPECIAL accommodation.. There should be equality of opportunity but not at the expense of then inventing quotas to attain it. The Supreme Court recently took that position in college admissions, didn't they. I don't know of ANY FAR or FAA certification which excludes women ... do you?

Mary was right in her name for this blog ... "Here Comes the Future" But ... [sound of a sigh].

Posted by: Larry Stencel | January 5, 2018 10:23 AM    Report this comment

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