Female Pilots, Male Pilots, And Their Wives

One of the forums I keep an eye on is the 99’s mailing list, and a little while ago, a subject came up that was honestly kind of sad.

A fellow 99’s posted a story about how when she was time-building, her instructor had proposed pairing her up with another student, so that they could fly together and have two heads in the plane for safety. But later, the instructor came back to her and told her that unfortunately wasn’t going to be an option.

The other student’s wife didn’t want him sharing a plane with a woman.

And this wasn’t even the only such incident for this one woman. Later, she had a mentoring relationship with a more experienced pilot who gave her career advice. That pilot’s wife also contacted her and forbade her to contact her husband.

She said that with all the resources of the 99’s available, female pilots shouldn’t need advice from someone’s husband.

Where’s that .gif of the stick man bashing his head into a bloody pulp onto his keyboard when you need it? What year are we in now? Ugh.

Seriously, I have no words. To explain why it’s stupid for a woman to forbid her significant other from associating with other women would be a pointless rant. This is nothing more than women being territorial and insecure.

One explanation was brought up though – the tendency for women taking a professional interest, or networking, being mistaken for personal interest. I think that stems from women not being seen as professionals and equals to men.

As Captain Steacy found on a flight in 2014, that sentiment can often be more up-front coming from outside the aviation community than from within. Steacy’s company and her flight crew spoke up in support of her. It was a passenger who came out with the blatant 1940’s sexist opinions.

So far in my experience, the male pilots I’ve met and spoken with have treated me with respect and thus far I couldn’t say I’ve had anyone from within the aviation community so much as imply that I didn’t belong there because of my gender. Perhaps it’s because I’m up here in Canada – I hear the sexism in the states is far worse – but the stories I do hear are far more often sexism coming from people who know nothing about aviation.

Even in other areas of my life, I’ve dealt with sexism. I’ve been in tech support for years – my co-workers know I’m good at my job, but when I have a customer on the line, they hear a female voice and they interrupt me, they refuse to believe me when I tell them my instructions will fix their problem. They cling to incorrect information provided to them by an new trainee earlier when I try to give them correct information. When I tell them I can’t get them a tech out first thing tomorrow morning, the earliest is the afternoon, they think it’s because I don’t have the authority and they demand to talk to a supervisor. I know when they say “I want to talk to your supervisor” what they really mean is “I want to talk to a man.”

And it’s not just men who do this. I’ve had a woman literally tell me “You’re not going to be able to help me, I need to talk to a man.” I’ve heard little old ladies whisper in the background that “The boys seem to be better at this than the girls, don’t they?” to their husbands when they think I can’t hear them. Women are at least equally guilty – possibly more often guilty of it, because them men usually know better than to go overboard and the women think they’re not capable of sexism because they’re women.

Let me tell you, women are more than capable of being sexist.

Multiple male co-workers hearing these stories have told me these things don’t happen to them.


It’s just terribly sad and wrong that I should feel like I need to be careful about the way I converse and network with fellow pilots, not even because the male pilots might mistake professional networking for flirting, but because they might have a wife who’ll assume I’m a home-breaking hussy.

We can do better ladies. Other women are not your enemies. We face enough struggles as women and as human beings – lets put supporting one another before petty insecurities.

Sully – Movie Review

I went to see Sully Saturday, and it was very good.

The most obvious comparison is the movie from a couple years ago, “Flight.” Both movies depict the NTSB setting their sights on crucifying pilots, even when they made the right decisions and saved people. Apparently, especially in Sully, the NTSB agents were made more into villains, for the sake of drama, and the real life investigators were considerably more objective and professional.

The big difference though is the captain in “Flight” was drunk and on cocaine in the cockpit, while Captain Sullenberger was much more like the pilots I know – diligent in being sure his faculties were not compromised while he had lives depending on him.

Other things I liked – the flight attendants were played by women who looked like actual flight attendants, not models. They looked like they might be in their forties, and not Charlize Theron fourties. Actual real people.

I liked how, when he’s being lauded as a hero, Sully acknowledges the importance of the role the rest of the crew played, including the flight attendants, who he listed by name in that scene.

When you’re doing a movie that’s trying to stay true to the original events, I imagine it can be hard to squeak in more female characters, and so very often. Obviously it wouldn’t seem right to gender swap the pilots or flight attendants, who all fit the stereotypes of pilot = male, flight attendant = female. I’m willing to bet there was likely no women at the front of the room in the NTSB hearing through, but they stuck one in anyway. Those NTSB agents are apparently made up – that’s where the movie takes the most dramatic license to up the suspense, and rather than vilify real people, the understandably made up a villain.

And then there’s the background characters that that people don’t notice are usually exclusively male. But I noticed effort put in there too. It’s probably not accurate to have had a female pilot among the simulator test crews, and considering the number of female pilots working at that level, it’s probably not even likely that they would have been able to find a female pilot available to participate, but they squeaked in female pilots in not just one of those simulator test crews, but one on each of the two – one is the first officer in the pair, and the other is the captain. That’s making an effort.

On the other hand, the cast was pretty white – I don’t know if there was so much as a black or other POC passenger on the plane.

Good movie, not horrifically long, and I enjoyed it.

Life Lessons From Flying – Be Patient With Yourself

I’m coming up to the end of my flight training; getting those last couple of ratings that will make me employable at a job that I could afford to leave my current job for. And It’s got me looking back at how much this journey has caused me to grow as a person. As I work on my Multi-IFR rating (passed the written today; just the flight test left), I thought I’d do a post to share some of the things flying has taught me.

One of the first was to be patient with myself as I’m learning.

This is my first sewing project:


It looks like one of those pictures people post of them trying to replicate some instagrammer’s DIY project and it coming out horribly wrong, I know. I remember being frustrated that the back and the front wouldn’t match up because I didn’t understand if you were going to sew them together with the velvet side out and have them match, you had to cut them out with the velvet sides together, not both layers with the velvet facing up. Mainly because I was five.

I can’t begin to imagine what my mom was thinking as I went about my business, but I bet I was adorable.She was working on something else – she’s quite the seamstress – and she showed me how to cut it out so the back and front matched. She might have even let me use the sewing machine to sew around the edges myself – I can’t remember.

It’s very unevenly stuffed. At least one leg or arm is stuffed at the end with thread, because that was the closest thing at hand to stuff it with and when the scraps of thread on the floor ran out, I started cutting lengths of thread off a spool until my mom suggested stuffing it with scraps of leftover fabric. My mom’s a freaking genius, I’m telling you. She taught me how to read a pattern even before I got to home economics in junior high. I started making three dimensional stuffed animals, and getting a feel for how adjustments to the pattern would affect the toy once it was stuffed, to make the animal less ridiculously proportioned.

As I got older though, I got to be that talented one who catches onto things quickly. Drawing, painting, playing guitar, all those things I picked up and was just good at them without a lot of effort. I forgot how to work at something, and then when I ran into something I wasn’t instantly good at, I learned to just not bother.

And I wasn’t instantly good at flying. I wasn’t a prodigy or anything. And there were definitely points when I felt like I wasn’t getting it, wasn’t progressing. Learning to land was a big one. And the instructors all just said, keep practicing, it’ll come.

I knew they knew better than I did how people learn to fly, so I kept at it, and it eventually did come. It was just a very new experience for me. It sounds ridiculous that working hard and practicing to get good at something was a new thing for me, but really, most things I can go okay, show me what to do, and then just do what I’m shown, with not more than a couple tries before I get it. I never learned to be patient with myself this way, and give myself time to learn, and to not give up after a couple of tries.

I think I started to get back in touch with that five year old that was buried, who happily stumbled though mistakes as she learned, adding tools to her toolbox of knowledge about sewing.

My Grandma Batke kept that bunny all these years though, and she gave it back to me at my wedding. This is the dress I wore:


That’s right, I sewed my own wedding dress. And I see people attempting things all around me, and being frustrated when it doesn’t come out right – their cake falls flat, or they draw something and it’s not art gallery quality, their knitting projects has uneven stitches, they build something and the boards aren’t perfectly even. The get frustrated and conclude they’re no good at it. Well obviously not, it’s only the first time you’ve tried. Or even the second or third.

Because I also see, when someone decides they’re going to learn something, and starts earnestly practicing, the people around them watch in awe when they start to see that person getting better. Peter S. Beagle wrote in The Last Unicorn “Perseverance is nine tenths of any art.”

He added onto that “Not that it helps to be nine-tenths an artist, of course.”, but I personally think to a certain extent that last tenth might just be made up of having a brain and opposable thumbs.

In any case, I know there are a lot of people out there who have forgotten how to learn, and they’re not even old enough to use the old-dog-new-tricks excuse. Maybe it has something to do with the culture of instant gratification we live in today. Good isn’t instant though. You have to work at it.


When Words Collide 2016 – Debrief

It’s been almost a week, but I’ve been back in the Seminole, working on IFR stuff, cramming two flights a day in, every day since I got back from Calgary. The last two days I’ve been hand-flying entire lessons, or at least until my instructor can tell I’m getting saturated and tells me to turn the auto-pilot on so I can absorb the last bit of the lesson. It’s exhausting, but the hand-flying has improved – even I can tell.

Where was I… right – When Words Collide!

It was awesome. I had such a great time, so much crammed into three days, very little sleep.

Friday I caught up with friends, went to panels, and kind of got my bearings. Stopped by the Tyche books table in the merchants room and said hi to Margaret Curelas, who, years ago when the press was just starting up, had sent me an ARC of their first published novel. I was tickled that she remembered me, and took some time away later in the weekend to let me pitch to her. They’ve come a long way since that first novel, and had a table full of different books. I picked up E. C. Bell’s second novel (I haven’t gotten to reading the first yet, but my husband said it was very good) and a second one, Tantamount, by Thomas J. Radford.

Saturday was more panels. I love that it’s a convention for writers, and all the panel tracks were writing related, but some spots, I agonized over which panel to attend. On the other hand, some of the panels were actually duplicates of others, just with different authors, and I’m not sure why they didn’t just combine them. Some of the YA panels were pretty good though, and while there was more than one YA panel, they were each different, one more general, one on YA and sexuality, another on how much gritty horrible reality you can put in your YA fiction, another on language (mainly how much foul language you can get away with) so they weren’t duplicates, and I think in that case, lumping them all together would have caused them to run out of time to talk about all the things to be discussed.

Both evenings there was room parties. Now, I’m usually not a big party person, being an Aspie and having a hard time with sensory overload with too many people, but you know what takes the edge off of sensory overload? Scotch. Friday night there was a Scotch and absinthe tasting party hosted by Tyche books, and I stopped there before hanging out at Rob Sawyer’s room party the rest of the evening before bed. The second night, they were finishing the scotch from the Tyche party the night before, and then when I got to the Bundoran press party, Gerald Brandt brought another bottle to share, and it was awesome.

And this is the spot where I have to fake quote some wise person who once said “It is a truth universally acknowledged, that if there are two pilots at an event, they will find each other.”

I was at the Bundoran party and found Bev Geddes chatting with a group, including author guest of honour, Julie Czerneda. Bev was kind enough to introduce me as a fellow writer and added that I was also a pilot. And Julie was like, “Oh, you need to meet my husband!” And she called her husband, Roger, over and introduced us. He and I then proceeded to drink more, and talked about aeroplanes for two or three hours, at least, until the party shut down. I had a fantastic time.

Sunday was more panels, and I fit in a pitch session with Robert Runte, of Five Rivers Press, the one my fellow critique group member, Timothy Gwyn is getting published with. I got an invitation to submit from him and from Margaret Curelas, though both are currently closed to submissions.

I also caught up with Roger Czerneda again, since Julie was on one of the live action slush panels, where first pages of stories are read, and feedback is given from the panelists. When time ran short and my submission turned out to be on the bottom of the pile, Roger informed Julie and Julie was kind enough to offer to give me feedback on it later after the convention. I had the whole opening scene on me, and she took the whole thing – both of those two are super nice, and I’m so pleased to have got to meet them!

It was pretty much back home after that, but I wouldn’t be telling the whole story if I didn’t mention that on the flight back, the guy I was seated next to on the plane looked familiar. And when I said it, he said he was fairly sure he’d met me before too, at which point, I was sure it was the guy who had signed off on my float rating last November. See the paragraph above about pilots finding each other. So I had another two hour chat with a fellow pilot on the plane home.

All said, I’m really glad I went. It was a successful trip and for an aspie that really sucks at networking, I met some awesome new people and I hope to make it out to more conventions elsewhere in the country again in the future, as well as coming back to When Words Collide again if possible. Though, from talk, it sounds like CanCon is a good one to go to, so whenever I have the money to travel again, I think I will make that one my next goal.

When Words Collide 2016

Aside from going to Keycon every year since I moved to Winnipeg, except this summer, the only big writing do I’ve been to is the Surrey International Writer’s Conference, and that was the last trip anywhere I went on since I started flying.

So, I passed on Keycon this year and decided this year would be the year I attend When Words Collide instead. I’ve got plane tickets booked and hotel room and membership all taken care of on time and I’m set to go months ago, which is good because the last two months I’ve been very much focused on getting my multi engine rating.

I booked vacation a long time ago for this, so I have three weeks off in august, and am looking forward to being able to dick off and indulge in writing related endeavors for a few days in between working on my IFR rating.

It’s going to be weird. It’s going to be the first time since I got my private licence that I’ll be on a commercial flight. I remember the last time I was on a commercial flight and how a felt on takeoff, when I realized I actually really do love flying more than normal people. The flight to the Surrey International Writer’s Conference was a triggering event on the road to me pursuing a pilot’s license, and for that, I thank Rebecca Sky and Erin Latimer for pushing me to come. Especially when I’d at first said no, Lindsay doesn’t do scary things like travel alone.


Anyway, I’m going into this convention pretty blind, so if anyone has recommendations, I’m happy to hear if there’s a particular editor who’s open to dieselpunk aviation related novels that I should track down and pitch to, or panels I shouldn’t miss.

Or for that matter, as has happened before, if I have blog followers I have not met, if you see me and recognize me, I’m usually open to people saying hi in the hallway, just be prepared for me to be an Aspie level of socially awkward as I try and figure out if I should know you or not. I’m really just stumbling into this con completely unfamiliar and ready to have a good time with whatever friends I know will be there.

The Courier, By Gerald Brandt

I’ve been so focused on multi-engine flight test prep, I’ve felt guilty about spendng any time writing blog posts, so this is me catching up.

Gerald Brandt is a local Winnipeg author, and as I’ve said before, Winnipeg authors kick butt and are amazing and don’t require the velvet glove be-nice-because-they’re-my-friend treatment.

The Courier is a near-future science fiction novel set in the California area when pretty much every city in Cali has gotten so big it’s amalgamated into one mega city, San Angeles. The setting reminded me a lot of the tv show “Dark Angel”, especially with the main character on the motorcycle.

The main character is a young woman – points already for the female main character –  who is assigned to deliver a package that puts her in really the wrong place at the wrong time.

And I’m a sucker for any plot that involves the little people rising above their oppressors, so the meta plot of the story was an easy sell for me.

But then there was the romance. And I mean, okay, it’s kind of understandable that a sixteen year old girl would fall in love with the first guy that ever was nice to her. I mean, I remember being sixteen and having a guy be nice to me in a world that was all pitted against–

Goddam it Gerald, I’m allergic to romance, and you sucked me into it!

It’s a very fast paced read – almost entirely set within two days, story wise, and the plot drives forward with barely a moment to let our poor main character sleep, as is characteristic of a thriller. I definitely empathized with the main character, and am looking forward to the sequel.

Upcoming: Avians by Timothy Gwyn

I’ve been waiting until I had a little more to link to, but I’m super excited to announce that one of my critique group is getting his novel published!

Timothy Gwyn is the pen name of Tim Armstrong, a pilot who flies out of Kenora – about – well, okay, I’ve never driven to Kenora, but it’s about 45 minutes in a Cessna 172 – east of Winnipeg.

I met Tim at Keycon – he had found my blog fairly close to the beginning of my epic journey into the world of aviation, and he introduced himself to me at my home sci-fi/fantasy convention. I think he was the first pilot I met and got to know that I didn’t meet outside of my flight school. And he was there because he had a novel he was working on.

He offered to take me on a tour of one of the King Airs he flew, and I took him up on it – that was the day I made a kick ass landing in 9G17 straight across the runway in Kenora and naturally no one ever sees when you make a good landing.

Anyway, we had a fun chat about writing and flying, and I was intrigued by his worldbuilding, so we traded novels to give one another feedback. I really enjoyed it – I mean, I’ve said this before about my fellow local writers, but you read a local writers work ready to sift through and find nice things to say, but the local writers I’ve read, I’ve been pleased to find I don’t have to look hard.

The planet his story is set on had an atmosphere so dense that  it’s uninhabitable at sea level, and the human life exists only high on the mountain peaks. Which are mostly volcanoes. Can’t think of anything that could go wrong with that? Neither can I. (/sarcasm)

Society wise, he’s got what would normally be considered an iron age, except that for reasons you’ll have to read the book to find out, there is next to no metal available to the inhabitants of this planet. Their coins, instead of copper and tin, are made of glass.

Between the sparsely situated volcano peaks on the planet, is a trade network of mysterious airships. Communication with the airships is strictly limited to accounting and commodity availability, and the closest the planet’s occupants ever get to these ships is the glider pilots that deliver goods to the ships. Glider pilots like the main characters.

I think I read the original draft in two days – it sucked me in in a way few books do, to be honest. It’s young adult fiction, and that’s definitely something I enjoy, and it was the sort of thing I’d be happy to give to my young cousins or if I had kids myself, to read. I can only imagine it’s gotten better since he’s revised it himself. When my critique group lost a member, we invited him on my recommendation to join our group, and he brought a few scenes in to us. He mentioned in a blog post when my best friend and I went over his opening thirty pages to help him get them ready to present to the editor in time. But we were really just excited to be a part of a novel that we could see was worthy of publication, and we were over the moon to hear a contract was the result.

It’s set for publication in August of 2017, from the sounds of it, and you can be damn sure I’ll remind you all.  So if aviation, and in particular alternate aviation and it’s convergence with science fiction intrigues you as much as it did me, keep your eye on his blog, where he’s posted a blurb to taunt you. He’s got a informatively created planet, with aviation focused exclusively on women pilots, and a story that more than passes the bechdel test. This novel is gonna kick ass, and I will be plugging it in the future closer to the publication date, be prepared!