Thoughts On The Agent Search

There was a time when I had someone (an abuser) accusing me of lying constantly, of thinking things I didn’t think, and so on. In that time, I felt like there was two people living inside me. The person doing all the things that person was projecting onto me, and myself.

I don’t know if it’s just normal, or if that split just stayed with me, but I feel it again. Like there’s two people living inside my body. The first is the one who’s worked on honing her writing craft for the last sixteen years, has gotten to the point where she knows she’s got something good to show for it, and deserves to make it.

And the second is a weepy thing who’s no better than anyone else, and why should she get to live her dream when so many around her still struggle? Why do I deserve to succeed?

Sometimes it’s hard to remind myself of all the hard work I’ve done on this. Thank the gods, I have my husband, who’s seen at least nine years of it. He reminds me.

I’m not sure how much I should say about the status of my manuscript. I’ve gotten past the query stage. I have nothing to announce yet, but I know this manuscript is the best I’ve sent out, and it’s worthy. I think I’ve had publishable novels that I’ve sent out in the past, but while I think they were good enough to be published, they weren’t as good as this one. No one who’s read the manuscript disagrees. I’m confident. I feel like…

Okay, here’s the metaphor I used describing it to my husband: it feels like stall practice. Not so much like being on the takeoff roll – there, you hit takeoff speed, you pull back on the control stick, and the plane lifts off, right there, the moment you  give her her head.

No, you don’t have that kind of control here. It’s more like stall practice. That moment when you’ve got the airspeed down near stalling, and the stall horn is blaring. That moment before the stall, just waiting for the nose to drop….

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General Update Because I’ve Been Busy

Everything’s happening at once.

We’re moving, and it might be sooner than we’d planned, which is good, but stressful. Still, just as well to get things over with, if it’s going to happen. We found a place where we won’t have to hide the cats, and we just need to find out if we get approved, thanks to a friend who spotted the rental listing on facebook.

I’m putting off rewriting that one section of the commercial exam because there’s just too much going on right now to deal with it.

Women In Aviation Week: that happened, and it was big, exhausting day for this aspie. We had fifteen women interested in flying out at Lyncrest, though, with limited planes that had skis, we only managed to get a couple of them into the air. We had lots of time to chat though, which is cool, because my husband gets tired of listening to me talk about flying…

Four year old asks the tough questions: I was over at my critique partner’s house (she gets mad when I call her my BFF) and her nephew, who likes planes and has been told about me, asked “Are you really going to be a pilot?”

I said “I already am.” He seemed very confused. I assumed perhaps he didn’t understand what a pilot was, so I elaborated, “I fly a plane.”

He still looked confused, and finally he asked “If you have a plane, then why do you have a car?”

Valid question. I tried to explain that the roads weren’t really wide enough.

Writing: Been querying. There have been developments. I don’t see a lot of people talking about getting requests for full manuscripts, so I don’t know if that’s because it happens so infrequently, or if it’s because there’s some faux pas about saying when you’ve got an agent looking at your manuscript, but there have been developments. I am hopeful. Cross your fingers for me.

Like I said, everything’s happening at once.

A Note From David In 12E (rant warning)

So, there are still people like this in the world, and in Canada no less.

I’ve said before, that the welcome I’ve got once I got into the aviation community was overwhelmingly positive. There’s been no one within the industry that has shown any hint that they disapproved of women flying. And I’ve said before, the dissent and discouragement does not come from people who know anything at all about flying.

I have to say, that discouragement was one of the reasons I didn’t take it up earlier in my life. I knew it would be there. I think I’ve been lucky not to have encountered more than I have – my close family has been behind me a hundred percent, as have my friends. Also, I have to keep in mind that the airport I fly out of hold the title of “Most Female Friendly Airport” that they won last year during Women in Aviation Week.

Ultimately, I decided the sexism I would encounter would be no worse than what I encounter at work in tech support every day. Again, not from my colleagues or supervisors, but from the customers who don’t believe women can be good at technology. Little old ladies whisper to their husbands “The boys seem to be better at these things than the girls, don’t you know?” when they think I can’t hear them. There was one woman, not even an elderly one, who told me “No offense, but I would like to speak to a man.” That one was a pretty epic call, because I made her apologize. I told her “You can say ‘no offense’ all you like, but I am very much offended that you think I can’t help you because I’m a woman.”

Some people are excited to get a woman tech support rep, and pleased. Some people know women tend to be friendlier and more patient, and are happier to work with a woman. But more often than that, when I answer the phone “Tech support, this is Lindsay, how can I help you?” a customer answers “Oh, I thought I’d called tech support.” Because they’re confused. They’re talking to a woman, and therefore they must not have reached tech support. Yes, even after I begin the call with “Tech Support.” They explain their issue and I say “I can help you with that,” and sometimes even after that I still get, “No, no, you don’t understand, I need to talk to tech support.

There are a lot of men out there that just don’t believe this happens. They think it must not be true because they don’t say those things or believe those things. They treat women as equals, or at least they believe they do, therefore it must not be happening. The law, for the most part, treats women as equals.

But even with all of that (and we do appreciate you men who do treat us as equals and encourage us to spread our wings, so to speak) we run into sexism like this every day of our lives. Men don’t see it often because it’s not directed toward them. If a woman is with a man, in fact, her man’s presence will often stop it from happening. Though, on the other hand, I’ve known some men to brush off a woman if she’s with a man, and speak to the man instead of the woman even if it’s the woman who is in charge or making the purchase. That’s another thing men don’t notice, because they’re not being brushed off themselves.

These people are the reason we still need organizations like the Ninety-Nines, and Women In Aviation International. It’s why things like the C-FLUG project are important.

But the nastiness in that letter to Captain Steacy…yeah, I’m with her and the flight attendants – I don’t know what to say. This guy needs to drag his sorry butt out of the eighteenth century. If someone walked up to me and said something like that, I would be looking at them like they had a squid on their head.

And then I’d be pulling out my smart phone and asking him to say it again for the camera so I can put it on youtube, because that shit is hilarious. I bet this guy had no idea how fast sexist buffoonary like his can go viral on the internet. I saw two different articles linked from two different social media sites, within hours of the articles going live on the news sites. I hope someone makes sure he knows how hard people are laughing at him right now.

Plane Crashes

Someone posted a bit of a rant on a facebook group today about how the general public views plane crashes, and how little they understand about them. This is compounded by the lack of understanding among reporters. One person responded with a link to this article. The plane had gone down between two trees that ripped the wings off. Media reported that the pilot had detatched the wings voluntarily. Laughable.

The original poster had pointed to this article, about engine reliability in small single piston engine aircraft. The author gives an example of a typical media report of a plane crash:

“A light plane crashed in an open field on Sunday, only 17 miles from a school yard where middle-school children might have been playing if it hadn’t been late July. The accident site was also only 235 miles from a nuclear powerplant that was closed in 1995. The plane, a single-engine Cherokee Skylane, made a successful landing as the pilot apparently remembered to extend the landing gear at the last second, but both propellers were nevertheless damaged. Both occupants escaped injury, and there was little other damage to the eight-seat aircraft (that wasn’t equipped with a parachute). The FAA confirmed the pilot had not received a weather briefing for his planned 78-mile flight and had not filed a flight plan, so he had no idea where he was.”

Lets run through this line by line.

A light plane crashed in an open field on Sunday, only 17 miles from a school yard where middle-school children might have been playing if it hadn’t been late July. – 17 miles is quite a ways, and whoever wrote this seems to be under the impression that the moment a plane’s engine fails, we no longer have any control over where the plane comes to the ground. The accident site was also only 235 miles from a nuclear powerplant that was closed in 1995. – Only? Really? That’s hours of flying time. This is not even relevant. The plane, a single-engine Cherokee Skylane, made a successful landing as the pilot apparently remembered to extend the landing gear at the last second, but both propellers were nevertheless damaged. – I’d like to see “last second” defined here. Also, extending landing gear creates drag – if the pilot saw he was on the edge of making his chosen landing field, it’s logical to leave the landing gear up as long as was safe, to make sure he made it to the field and over any obstacles. Both occupants escaped injury, and there was little other damage to the eight-seat aircraft (that wasn’t equipped with a parachute). – 747 passenger jets going across the pacific are not equipped with parachutes. The FAA confirmed the pilot had not received a weather briefing for his planned 78-mile flight and had not filed a flight plan, so he had no idea where he was. – Had no idea where he was? The grammar here implies that filing a flight plan provides the pilot with information on their current location, which is just not the case.

I think this report was made up, but it sounds familiar, and it’s things that have been seen in media reports of crashes. The general public is under some false impressions that the media reinforces. I’ll try and dispel a couple.

1: Small planes should be equipped with parachutes: People can rationalize that equipping a 747 with parachutes might not be practical for a number of reasons – if you’re bailing at 40 000 feet, you can’t breathe outside, and you’ll pretty much freeze to death before you hit the ground if you’re not in Gortek equipment anyway, and besides, they almost never crash, right? But small planes crash more often and their engines aren’t as reliable, so we need parachutes in them. But really, parachuting without training: dangerous. It’s really safer, unless the plane has lost a wing or something where the pilot can’t control the plane at all, to stay in your seat with your seatbelt on, and let the pilot deal with the situation. They’re trained to located the safest place to land within gliding range, and bring the plane down as safely as possible. We drill on that. It’s part of the flight test.

2: The engine stalling thing: When people hear the plane’s engine sputter and fail, they say the engine stalled. What they’re referring to is something that happens in a car. I suppose it could happen in a piston aircraft engine, but it’s very rare, because it’s most often caused by problems in gear shifting, and an aircraft engine doesn’t shift gears. It doesn’t have gears. There can be a lot of different reasons an aircraft engine might sputter and die, but there’s one reason that’s more common than any other: You done runned outta gas. Statistically speaking, the most likely reason that engine sputtered and died is the pilot failed to correctly calculate how much fuel they would need for the trip. A lot of them pilots hailed as heroes for making a successful forced landing with no damage to the plane or it’s occupants, really shouldn’t be called heroes – they’re the losers who didn’t fill the tanks before taking off. Aircraft engines, even those of small, general aviation aircraft, are phenomenally reliable. If properly cared for. That’s fuel and oil, everyone. This is why most plane crashes are chalked up to pilot error. It usually is. And this is why I constantly have “don’t be that guy” running through my head when I’m doing fuel calculations.

3: Engine fails, plane plummets from the sky: No. The physics of flight don’t automatically stop working the second the engine stops providing thrust. The plane becomes a fancy glider at that point. The pilot very much does have control over where the plane is going to touch down, though they’re limited to how far the plane can glide without power. We can no longer climb, but we can turn, and adjust our glide path with several different methods. The choice of field to land in is not random. We’ll make that choice based on what’s available, and depending on the time of year. In winter, it’s likely to be safer to land on a dirt road than in a field with an unknown amount of snow on it. We’ll avoid a situation where we’re having to overfly buildings or people, but also favour someplace that will get us walking distance from some habitation where we can go for help.

So, hopefully that helps clear some things up a bit. Or at least convinces some people that small planes are not just death traps. Or maybe convinces a reporter to get their article proofread by a pilot to make sure it, you know, makes sense, and won’t have every pilot who reads it laughing their ass off at the reporter’s lack of understanding.