Author Archive

Boeing 737 Max Will Fly Again – But When and With What Name?

November 18, 2020

After nearly 2 years on the ground, Boeing’s beleaguered 737 Max is set to re-enter service now that the Federal Aviation Administration has deemed the plane safe to fly. This news matches in significance the other big story; that a vaccine for Coronavirus is on the near horizon. Promising developments dare us to imagine that we may in 2021 return to life something like what we knew it to be in 2019. Hobbled and moving slowly following a foot injury, I have spent my pre-Thanksgiving days baking and freezing bread and cookies for the upcoming holiday dinner. Over the past few months, Max operators, nursing… Read More…

Doc Who Called Delta Pilot “Bipolar” Surrenders Medical License

November 13, 2020

The physician who came close to ending a Delta pilot’s 30-plus year flying career by diagnosing her with bipolar disorder has permanently surrendered his license to practice medicine in Illinois. Dr. David Altman was working for Delta in 2016 when he was assigned to determine if Karlene Petitt, 58, was fit to fly. Two other doctors said the diagnosis was erroneous. But the forced exam and Petitt’s near 2-year grounding associated with it is the subject of her whistleblower lawsuit against Delta. She claims her employer punished her for challenging the airline’s safety practices. A ruling in the case is pending. Even before Petitt had… Read More…

More than 100 Women Travelers Could Have been Strip Searched in Qatar

October 28, 2020

The Qatari government may have performed one hundred or more involuntary gynecological examinations on women travelers awaiting departure from Doha’s Hamad International Airport earlier this month. My estimate is based on news that 10 airliners were delayed in the search for the person who left a newborn baby in an airport trash can. It greatly expands the scope of the case that Human Rights Watch is calling “sexual assault”. Last weekend, news broke in Australia that 18 women awaiting departure on a Qatar Airways flight to Sydney were escorted off the flight, taken to ambulances in an underground parking lot and told to strip so… Read More…

Qatar’s Strip Search of Women Travelers Shows Frightening Possibility in Some Hub Cities

October 26, 2020

At least 13 Australian women and others of different nationalities, were forcibly removed from a Qatar Airways flight early this month and subjected to bodily inspections by Qatari authorities looking for the person who left a newborn in an airport bathroom. The bizarre story underscores an uncomfortable reality. The rights enjoyed in one’s home country don’t travel with them. Whether it’s a final destination or changing to an onward flight, local authorities call the shots. In the case of Qatar, that evidently meant gynecological exams could be carried out on scores of travelers who were plucked off the airplane and escorted without explanation to ambulances… Read More…

Old and Bold, WW2 Hump Pilot Turns 106

September 28, 2020

“There are old pilots and there are bold pilots, but there are no old, bold pilots,” or so the saying goes. Then again, there is Pete Goutiere who turns 106 today. From 1943 until 1947, Capt. Goutiere was one of the American pilots for China National Aviation Corporation (owned in part by Pan American World Airways) who was helping to bring into China, troops, food, fuel and other supplies after Japan severed China’s only land supply routes through Burma. Pilots of these flights were required to fly between India and China, over the Himalayans in heavily-loaded, unpressurized airplanes, at altitudes that barely skimmed the rugged… Read More…

Like A Greek Tragedy, Congressional Report on 737 Max Disasters Replete With Tales of Chicanery and Hubris

September 16, 2020

  Over the course of 7 months in 2011, Boeing did an about-face. While in January it eschewed the idea of putting new engines on its 44-year old workhorse, the 737, by July, executives embraced the idea. The change in attitude was in response to the re-engined Airbus A 320 neo, which was racking up orders for the Toulouse-based planemaker, including some from formerly loyal Boeing airline customers. The calculation that it would be cheaper and faster to tweak an old model than to design a new one, led to the Boeing 737 Max. Like a Greek tragedy, with all of the sorrow, the intrigue,… Read More…

Finding Travel Treats Close to Home

September 8, 2020

The virtual traveler may be all the rage, but for those of us working at our computers during the coronavirus, more time in front of a screen seems like the opposite of a getaway. So on a recent walk not five miles from my home in Greenwich, Connecticut, I was delighted to find the ruins of a mansion hidden deep in the woods off the trail of a city park. I’m a sucker for the large historical artifact, which I wrote about in this article for The New York Times. I’ve written about my visits to historic sites in Iceland, England, Germany, Turkey and Syria…. Read More…

Is the 737 Max Awaking from Hibernation “Sleeper” Style?

September 1, 2020

American Airlines flew its last Boeing 737 Max airliners home to its maintenance base in Tulsa, Oklahoma last week, bringing to 24 the number of grounded planes still awaiting their wake-up call. Am I the only one who is reminded of the Woody Allen movie Sleeper? Back in 1973, Allen played Miles Monroe, a health food store proprietor and jazz musician who dies unexpectedly on the operating table. He is preserved, frozen until 2173 when a more scientifically advanced society brings the sleeper back to life.  He quickly discovers things have changed. America is now a police state ruled by a dictator. (Need I say… Read More…

Jeffrey Epstein / Dean Kamen Connection Through Aviation Influencer

August 14, 2020

Nadia Marcinko, a celebrity pilot whose adolescence was spent in the company of the now-dead pedophile Jeffrey Epstein and the now-incarcerated Ghislaine Maxwell, had a curiously close and previously undisclosed years-long relationship with Dean Kamen, inventor of the Segway. This is according to people familiar with her activities during her time in New Hampshire and public records. In 2008 and 2009, Epstein was locked up for the first time for engaging in sex with underage girls in Palm Beach, Florida. Marcinko, who lived with Epstein and was accused by victims of participating in some of the sexual assaults, spent the period of Epstein’s incarceration visiting… Read More…

Controversial Doctor Who Identified TWA 800 Victims Dies

August 2, 2020

Charles Wetli, the medical examiner responsible for identifying all of the 230 people killed in the 1996 crash of TWA 800 in July 1996, died last week at the age of 76. The flight from New York to Paris exploded shortly after takeoff from John F. Kennedy Airport and fell in pieces into the Atlantic Ocean. Among his peers, Dr. Wetli was lauded for using an array of new technology to successfully identify dismembered and decomposed corpses submerged underwater for extended periods. Even so, Dr. Wetli was less than a hero to many of the victims’ family members. They claimed his office worked too slowly… Read More…

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