Aviation for Women

JAN-FEB 2018

Aviation for Women is the flagship member publication of Women in Aviation International. Articles feature women who have made aviation history, professional development ideas, and current-topic articles.

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J A N U A R Y / F E B R U A R Y 2 0 1 8 AviationforWomen 35 to land. On final approach, every- thing happens fast and I made some quick adjust ment s wit h my angle of attack and added a notch of flaps, and he said calm- ly, "We're a little fast, but we're okay, this is a big space up here— there's lots of room." We landed on the soft cushion of the snow-covered glacier. I add- ed quite a bit of power to taxi up and turn around to our take off spot that pointed downhill. Since it was February and Alaska win- ter days are short, we didn't have time to practice a bunch of take- offs and landings. I pulled the mixture, and we exited the plane. He made the important point of remembering where the mixture setting needed to be for startup because of our 7,200-foot altitude. When I stepped out of the plane, the beauty hit me with a wave of emotion as I made my first steps on the Swiftsure Glacier. We threw on the cowling cover and snow- shoed over to a spot that would be his cabin site. I am no stranger to beautiful mountains of the world, and this particular view was abso- lutely breathtaking. We had our eye on a silk tie on a stick that serves as a windsock, and when Don said we ought to get go- ing, I obliged. While adding power for takeoff, the sensation of leav- ing the ground as the sloping ter- rain dropped beneath us felt like an amusement park ride. He remind- ed me to keep the nose down and build airspeed before starting to climb. I also checked my airspeed and VSI instruments and made a mental note of the difference from taking off from a flat surface. He reminded me to keep my wings level with the sloping terrain. One year later, I almost put myself in the same spot of going up to the glacier without the proper glacier flight training. I sat in on one of Don's flight instructor's ground school and listened closely to Melissa's advice. She looked at me as an experienced flight instruc- tor who could just follow them up to the glacier in my plane. Even though I had flown with Don to the glacier, it was one landing and I still wanted some more practice with a flight instructor on board. Melissa and her client were going to take a flight around Denali and then go to the glacier the following day. Don's other instructor, Brooke Roman, was able to join me in my Piper Cub on skis. A s we f lew to the glacier, Brooke covered much of the same information that Don had shared wit h her a bout mountain flying. It was great to be ref re shed a nd before we knew it, we were crossing over the last ridgeline, my fo- cus narrowed on t he la nd- ing ahead. Once again, I felt we were high and fast on fi- nal, but Brooke said we were perfect, so we landed. I kept in quite a bit of power to taxi up t he glacier to our t ur n around spot, and as soon as we were facing downhill she told me to add full power and take off again. Even wit h t he higher al- titude, the Super Cub performed well, and we were quickly air- borne. As the terrain fell away, Brooke urged me to keep the nose down to gain airspeed. Later as we were flying back, we discussed how glacier landings and takeoffs are counter-intuitive. When you take off, you have to keep the nose down, wings level with the terrain, and avoid climbing too soon, which could put you close to a stall. This time, I had really grasped the concepts and was now confident to head out on my own. The later part of March 2017 was exceptional in Alaska with endless days of clear skies and high ceilings. Earlier that month, high winds had battered a majority of the snowscape into packed drifts that made for rough landing conditions, which limited places for landing. The glacier had also been drifted, but there was enough new snow to make it a wonderful surface for ski flight training. Brooke invited me to join a group of friends who were headed to the Swiftsure Glacier, this time I felt well informed. With the proper amount of glacier flight training, I enjoyed my flight into the mountains. As we approached the ridge and did a pass over the glacier to check the winds, I was confident about my approach speed and landed softly on the glacier and taxied up to the other planes. I decided to let my friend out, so that I could set out for some practice takeoffs and landings. I like the expression, "Know fear." There is a great satisfaction in facing one's fears and overcoming them so that you can contin- ue to add to a lifetime of piloting skills. Even the most experienced pilots have their days of being humbled. Whether it's deteriorating weather, high winds, or days when you are just not on top of your game, it's the humble attitude that will keep you out of trouble in the long run. ✈ . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Katie Writer, WAI 11711, enjoys painting, photography, playing with her two children, and exploring Alaska. She's writing her first book and can be reached at akktwriter@gmail.com. MARCH 22-24 2018 Reno WAI 2018 Katie Writer will be speaking about photograph and float ng at the 2018 Reno Conference during an education session on Saturda , March 24, 2018, from 3-4 p.m.

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