Flying Lessons Blog

When the Stars Align an Airline Pilot Finds his Action Photo

July 12, 2022

The subject of Jim and Patty Doyles’ late-night photography session was supposed to be May’s lunar eclipse. Because, as the world was told, this wasn’t just the earth casting its shadow on the moon, it was a total eclipse of a blood moon. Well in advance of the start time in Connecticut, where the Doyles live, they were setting up their equipment. “I had the tripod set and was getting the light just right when I saw something flicker,” Mr. Doyle said. On impulse, he clicked the shutter, capturing an airliner, perfectly silhouetted against the moon’s still pale yellow orb.  “As soon as I got… Read More…


He Made History 5 Years Ago – Now, AA Mechanic Checks 80 Years O.T.J.

July 7, 2022

For people in the northern hemisphere, summertime brings excitement, nostalgia, and sometimes both. It is the season young people join the world of work and those already steeped in that world may recall their anticipation as the journey started. For American Airlines mechanic Azriel (Al) Blackman, who this summer will have spent 80 years at the airline where he started his career, July 18 is not a work anniversary but a celebration of doing the thing he loves for so long. “If you like what you do, it’s not work,” he told a reporter a decade ago. That was the year American brought a DC-3… Read More…


AA Finds $1 Million Ways to Say “Goodbye” to Beloved Executive

June 27, 2022

American Airlines announced today that it would put $1 million in pilot academy scholarships to honor Elise Eberwein, a much-loved executive who retires at the end of June from her position as executive vice president of People and Global Engagement. Despite the awkward title, Eberwein is known for her straightforward style and her rise to the C-Suite from humble beginnings as a flight attendant, where she began her career at TWA in 1986. American Airlines, as I reported recently for The New York Times, has joined airlines from around the world in opening its own pilot training academy. There are several reasons for this, the… Read More…


Delta Pilots ‘Need to Know’ Judge Says

June 7, 2022

In the next 30 days, Delta Air Lines must notify 13-thousand pilots of its misbehavior,  in the case of the whistleblower pilot it punished for reporting safety violations. A psychiatrist hired by Delta declared first officer Karlene Petitt, bipolar in a diagnosis that left her grounded until it was disputed by a number of other psychiatrists. Without further delay, the details of the case should be emailed and posted at flight stations for 60 days, under the ruling by Administrative Law Judge Scott Morris. Several years earlier Judge Morris had warned Delta to settle with Petitt. You must decide if “you want all this laundry… Read More…


Black Boxes Pulled as French Open Probe into Air France Go-Around

April 6, 2022

  Frances’s air accident investigation office has opened a probe into Tuesday’s near-disaster of an Air France flight from New York to Paris.  Flight 11, a Boeing 777 was on final approach and descending when air traffic control heard a transmission from the cockpit of human grunting and alarms. The controller repeated the runway clearance information several times before the crew answered. Controllers saw that as the plane continued its descent it veered off the flight path and to the left. At this point, the pilots initiated a go-around. In the ATC tape of the episode which can be heard via the Airlive YouTube channel… Read More…


United 767 Makes Emergency Landing as Engine Quits on Zurich Flight

March 28, 2022

This post has been modified to reflect a wise reader’s observation that the age of plane is less relevant than the age and most recent maintenance of the PW4000 engines, which this person believes must be considerably younger. I do not have this information as Pratt & Whitney and United declined to answer questions. Passengers boarding United’s Sunday flight from Newark to Zurich had to be pleasantly surprised to discover the cabin was only half full.  That is unusual as airlines struggle to keep up with post-pandemic passenger demand. But the good news stopped before the Boeing 767-300 had even crossed the Atlantic, as the… Read More…


New Recorder Find Should Narrow List of Theories in China Eastern Disaster

March 27, 2022

Officials looking into the fatal crash of China Eastern Flight 5735 told reporters Sunday morning that they had located a critical piece of wreckage from the main debris site, the Boeing 737’s flight data recorder. The find was made by one of several teams of local fire and rescue personnel in an area determined to be a likely spot based on where other key debris was found. Mao Yanfeng head of aircraft investigation at the Civil Aviation Administration of China board told reporters the FDR will provide a raft of “real and objective” information for determining what caused the crash. Included in this list, Yanfeng… Read More…


Jetliner Debris Found Miles from Crash Scene May Indicate Pre-Crash Breakup

March 24, 2022

Chinese authorities say they have found a piece of the China Eastern airliner, six miles from the area where the Boeing 737 NG crashed on Monday. While the main debris field is concentrated as a result of the plane’s near-vertical plummet from the sky, this separate piece, a distance away, indicates that prior to the crash the airplane was shedding parts. Whether the piece coming free of the plane triggered the disaster or if it was a consequence of the high-speed dive is not known but is certainly a question the investigators will try to answer. An airliner dropping nose down so dramatically and rapidly… Read More…


China Eastern Crash and What You Don’t Know About 737 NG

March 21, 2022

News bulletins today related to the crash of China Eastern Flight 5735 include the disclaimer that the Boeing 737 that plunged to earth killing 132 people, is not the notorious 737 MAX. Most news consumers, indeed most air travelers, know at least a glimmer of the story of the MAX, a flawed Boeing product that produced two fatal crashes in 2018 and 2019. They know less about the 737 NG. What remains practically a secret, is that the 737 NG was the subject of a decade-long series of court cases filed by Boeing whistleblowers who say the NGs are poorly constructed and at risk of… Read More…


FAA Officials Channel Perry Mason – Tell Prosecutors of Mark Forkner in 737 Max Case, “You’ve Got The Wrong Man”

February 15, 2022

So who are these FAA officials who want to tell the truth about former Boeing test pilot Mark Forkner and the 737 Max? I don’t know their names, but I wish I did. Even more, I want to know why the Federal Aviation Administration lawyers spent weeks and weeks trying to keep them from talking to Forkner, the only individual to be criminally charged in the 737 Max debacle. This is important because these folks say that Forkner is a scapegoat. So wouldn’t anyone interested in the truth want to know why FAA insiders think that? Last fall, the unidentified four gave a PowerPoint presentation… Read More…


Enter to Win

Want to receive some free swag from Christine? Sign up for the mailing list!