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Don't Hold it to Yourself - Share!


3pm in Vancouver International on a rainy February 2009 and KLM announces the boarding of its direct flight to Amsterdam. A young lady comes to the service agents of the flight, asking if she could back seat the flight from the cockpit. The elderly lady at the front desk almost seems to be offended by such request, and throws out a firm NO. How could someone even imagine something like this would be allowed - now! - after September 11! But the determined young woman does not takes a no for an answer. The insists on talking to the captain. Five minutes later, with the charming smile, touching story of a single mom student pilot and the sparkle in the eyes, she got her pass into the jump seat granted!

You think first class is cool and you pay nine grants to seat in it? Try the hard jump seat with a five point attachment harness - there's no better place to be in this plane, other than maybe the captain's seat itself!
Now the adventure begins. Seeing - and hearing! - first hand clearances, taxi instructions, de-icing fluid shower, and the takeoff roll feels totally unreal after her routine little airport Piper Warrior local flights. The captain and the first officers are cool and very patient answering tons of stupid questions that seem to never end. By the way, what happens if i push this red button? (just kidding).
Leveling off at 35'000 feet and turning autopilot on seems like a good cue for taking a nap in her economy 35A seat. But only until the flight attendants gently wake her up to invite back in the cockpit: the crew is starting the descent to Amsterdam. She just made in it time for the crew briefing, weather report, and then commencing the ILS approach, breaking out of Dutch clouds 500' AGL, and a solid landing of this Airbus 330.
Little surprise from the flight attendants as the young woman was leaving the cockpit: a personalized KLM crew coffee mug to keep from the flight with a cute napkin bow on it. That was so sweet!
What happened next is history. As an afterthought, this captain might have even got heck for letting a total stranger back seat a flight with 300+ passengers on board. I sure hope it was not the case. But now, only 5 years later, this student pilot is the class 1 instructor, teaching instructors who will teach new pilots - after training many dozens of new pilots herself. She is also the only Canadian female aerobatics airshow performer. She is running a flying school as a partner, and inspires many new pilots, male and female, to join this exciting world of flying.
Dear fellow aviators, PLEASE! If you are an airline pilot of a major operator or just about to hop in your private cherokee for a fly-in lunch, and you have a young aviator soul around - share! inspire! invite aboard! encourage! smile if nothing else! You truly never know what ripple effect it might have and how many lives it may transform.

With great thanks to the kind KLM crew of that Vancouver-Amsterdam flight, and all those who never keep flying to themselves,
Aeronautical Terms Redefined
Always ask, never assume!!!


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Sunday, 02 October 2022

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