Picking Up The Pieces

“Tears filled her eyes, as the faces of the flight crew stared at her from her kitchen table, smiling, knowing the secret, but unwilling to tell.”

Flight For Control


Karlene Petitt



I was working at a summer camp during the evening of July 17th, 1996, having just returned from my introduction to commercial aviation and international travel, when I received a phone call from my mother to inform me that TWA Flight 800 had crashed near the coast of Long Island.



PICKING UP THE PIECES: A Tribute to TWA Flight 800


The quote above from Flight For Control comes to mind as this is not only one of the deadliest aviation catastrophes it is also one of the most complex.  I remember watching a documentary on the N.T.S.B. investigation of this case and I remember the millions of recovered pieces rescued from the site of impact and each and every detailed piece that was placed back as if it were a true scale sized model airplane (as best as possible into their original positions in order to draw any new information.)



PUTTING THE PIECES TOGETHER: Resurrecting the damaged plane



As in any air crash case, answers were needed and fast.  Time was of the essence and grieving families wanted answers.  Investigators wanted to know something so that not only would they be able to answer the victims’ families and loved ones, but to try and implement a solution to the problem.



N93119 – Boeing 747-131



The N.T.S.B. came out with the official report of the crash on August 23, 2000, probable cause being:



“[An] explosion of the center wing fuel tank (CWT), resulting from ignition of the inflammable fuel/air mixture in the tank. The source of ignition energy for the explosion could not be determined with certainty, but, of the sources evaluated by the investigation, the most likely was a short circuit outside of the CWT that allowed excessive voltage to enter it through electrical wiring associated with the fuel quantity indication system.”


What is most scary about the outcome is not knowing the source of the short circuit outside the CWT. Despite the N.T.S.B.’s closing of the case, so many theories remain.  Also, all so troubling, is nearly two years later, a somewhat similar ignition catastrophe occurred on September 2, 1998 on board Swissair Flight 111, a McDonnell Douglas MD-11 (HB-IWF).  The right side ceiling above the flight deck caught fire due to faulty flammable material and spread rapidly destroying aircraft systems which led to the its unfortunate demise.  Fourteen crew and two hundred fifteen passengers perished into the Atlantic near St. Margarets Bay in Nova Scotia.



HB-IWF – McDonnell Douglas MD-11



So many unexplained aviation catastrophes have happened before and since because of fault maintenance.  It is not a mystery why the fear has been etched in stone for so many to step inside an airplane, especially a commercial one.  How much will it take for one human being to realize the life’s worth of another, if not lives?  What is even more scary is that it could have been you on that plane, less alone me.


My mother told me over the phone that evening, that as a result of the tragic event of TWA Flight 800, my former school district was suspending programs for students to travel internationally and for good reason.  One of the reasons was there was a group of foreign language students on board TWA 800 as a part of a class trip to Paris.  My first aviation and international travel experience was one of the last, if not the last, to take place for our district.


This case should not have to be.  Everyone should have the luxury of being able to fly, travel, and to feel safe doing so.  How much will take take to dive deep in the minds behind the aviation industry and pick up its broken pieces that have been shattered? 



The coast of Long Island. May every soul rest in peace and may all the pieces of our broken industry be rescued…. (Photo courtesy of one of my students)



In my humble opinion, the aviation industry is no longer on the verge of crashing, it has crashed.  The faulty maintenance of aircraft, pilots, cabin crew, and even I am sorry to say passengers is beyond astronomical.  The pieces need to be picked up so that we can not only be strong for the victim’s families, we can repair an industry that has been such a tremendous asset to our world. 


We can pick up the pieces to make a tribute to the victim’s whose lives those faces sitting across the table from you who were taken so untimely…



TOWER TALK, Part Dois (2)

You could be a student with only ten hours on your log or an experienced Captain/Check Airman.  No matter what you are, reviewing and pre-briefing yourself before you click to contact the radios you must review the following per my instructor.



THE 4 “W”s of RADIO



WHO are you calling?

Are you calling the Tower, Ground, ATIS?



Grand Rapids (GRR/KGRR) Tower




Soar OneFive Heavy, Cessna Skyhawk November Three-Four Hotel-Delta, Landmark FourThree Heavy, etc..



WHERE  are you?

Which taxiway, Terminal, Gate, Holding /Landing Pad, ECHO ramp,   Know exactly where you are.  (There have been occasions at a major international airport in my neighborhood where a major international carrier almost caused serious collisions because they did not know how to communicate their information properly.)



WHAT is your request?

What do you need from the person you are contacting?  Taxi?  Takeoff?  The time? 


Each of the above is essential as your life and the lives of your crew and passengers depend on it.





This post is in response to an interview posted on Flight To Success dated Friday June 22nd, 2012.



When I read this article it hit home to me in a very huge way.  Not only did Ryan Humphrey attend Western Michigan University which is only a 2 hour drive away from my alma mater Central Michigan University, but he also was forced away from his passion to fight a battle that I experienced through my father.  The obstacles both through health and medical bills are astronomical.  Ryan was diagnosed with an angiosarcoma in August of 2009.  The FAA may have grounded both his medical and his ability to fly commercially, (after experiencing health issues in July of 2009), however, they did not ground his passion to fly.  To fly through the skies of life and through all the challenges within.  Had he known that these issues were going to arise, he wouldn’t have cancelled his medical insurance in April of 2009.



HAPPY BIRTHDAY BOEING! – (Inbound Tokyo-Narita from Seattle)



I am posting this as I urge everyone to support this cause because he is still flying in the air and we are all his tailwind helping him get to where he needs to be in record time.   I urge everyone to visit his family’s website to learn more about his cause:






We are his aviation family, helping him keep his passion airborne..


A Very Special Day Has Taken Off


Good morning to each and every one of you,

As you can see above, today is a very special day for this website.


Because we are about to do or extend what we’ve been doing for the past several months taking it to a new flight level.

Karlene Petitt author of Flight For Control has been an avid supporter of this website, taking time out of her very busy schedule to offer words of encouragement, support, and expertise at what she does: being an awesome person who knows how to have fun. Both in the skies and on the ground. She always mentions how she has the world in her backyard, literally, but what she fails to mention is that she has the world in her heart and that she only wants to share it with everyone.

Because this website is so endebted to her, I have decided to continue giving back to her but even more so on a higher level to promote her talent, her giving the world to everyone through her novel.

We are taking on this opportunity here on the flight deck to show our appreciation. I encourage, if you haven’t purchased the novel, to do so. Please do not forget to include the code

“Jeremy Sent Me”

On behalf of this website I wish to not only thank Karlene herself but to all of my followers and readers for your continued support.

May your wings take you only to success,


Flushing Park

Flushing Meadows – Corona Park, yet another place I call home. This 1,255 acre property contains the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, CitiField – home to the NY Mets, the NY Hall of Science. The list goes on. It was also the site of the 1964/65 NY World’s Fair and if you’ve seen the motion picture, “Men In Black” this place should look all too familiar. Most of all this park is home to my wingflex.

You will catch me throughout the week either walking, running,  and jogging along the waters of its lake starring at the sky spotting the inbound 31 expressway visuals into LaGuardia. All of this right in my own back yard…

Please sit back, relax, and let the photos do the talking.





Sunset from last night


The sun always sets for Brasil..







Only seven more weeks until tennis stars and fans will pack Authur Ashe Memorial Stadium for the U.S. Open


Independence 2012

It’s so easy to be unbelievable that this August will mark my twelfth year in New York City. As much as I’ve been having a love/ hate relationship with this place, it continues to set an example of the melting pot that the United States of America has become. Whenever I travel to another U.S. city, it seems now that I’m traveling to a foreign country and not vice versa..

Probably the most memorable moment in my life where I have seen so many Americans come together to show what we are made of happened to be one of the most horrific days in world history. It is a shame that it had to take that one day to bring us together, however, it did..  From then on September 11, 2001 set a new tone , or perhaps reinforce, what we stand for. It is to echo what history has taught us from previous conflicts and wars with other nations in order to show what we are made of: equality, liberty, and justice for all.

All one has to do is look at the turmoil other nations are going through, especially in the Middle East, to realize and be thankful for what we have as Americans. Not only that, but to be thankful that our focus is to improve constantly our standards of living through technological development and the strive to always make a better life for ourselves.


Boeing, U.S. Aviation pride based to release their Triple Seven -300ER to American Airlines this year.

I wish to thank every member, veteran, and martyr in the United States armed services who have have risked their lives to give us the freedom that we embrace today. Your commitment and service to our beloved nation is paramount and has kept us strong. I personally am forever greatful as I’m sure millions of other Americans are.

While we enjoy our July 4th feasts, celebrations, and summer activities, please keep in mind the simple fact that we are able to have such an event in our lives to celebrate with family and loved ones. 


If your loved ones are stationed overseas, they should serve well, and return home to you safely knowing that they took part in the history that we are celebrating this very day.

Happy Independence Day!