Flying Lessons Blog

After 32-Years, Maker of Bomb that Felled Pan Am 103 is Charged

December 21, 2020

December 21st, the darkest day of the year in the northern hemisphere, has been a day of grief for 32 years for the people who lost loved ones  in the bombing of Pan Am flight 103 on this day in 1988. While there were terror attacks on airliners before 1988 and there would be again, the loss of 270 people in the air and on the ground in Lockerbie, Scotland holds a unique place in aviation history. Today, US Attorney General William Barr announced that criminal charges will be brought against a third man, Abu Agila Muhammad Mas’ud Kheir Al-Marimi, referred to as Mas’ud.  Law… Read More…


Aviation Lawyer Added to 737 Max Cast of Villains

December 15, 2020

An attorney whose work defending the environment 30-years ago was the subject of the Hollywood movie Erin Brockovich,  has been cast as the latest villain in the never-ending-drama of the Boeing 737 Max. Tom Girardi, of Girardi Keese in Los Angeles, has been fined, the assets of his firm frozen and he appears to be the subject of a federal criminal investigation. The once-respected attorney is accused of stealing the money Boeing sent to him to settle several suits in the October 2018 Lion Air crash. In a lawsuit filed in Northern District of Illinois Federal Court, Chicago attorney Jay Edelson compares Girardi to the… Read More…


Holiday Gift Ideas For Aviation Buffs (And Some That Give Back)

December 8, 2020

  On a chilly afternoon a week or so ago, I intended to do a little Christmas shopping at an antiques and collectibles shop in Winsted, Connecticut. I can’t tell you what I was looking for without showing my cards to someone on my Christmas list, but I will admit that the only present purchased at A Step Back in Time, was the one I bought for myself. My little wind-up aluminum BOAC Boeing 707 has given me hours of pleasure already.  And I bet you know someone who would enjoy an aviation-inspired something under the tree. Without respect to cost or convenience, I’ve prepared… Read More…


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…


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…


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