Monthly Archives: October 2012

Women Fighting for Freedom

While women are fighting for freedom in their fighter jet aircraft they will also be fighting for freedom in their voting booth. In the last 50 years the advancement of women’s rights has been so profound that that they have been allowed to become commercial pilots as well as military fighter pilots.  Although the women’s suffrage movement started in Seneca Falls, New York in 1848, it was not until 1921 when women were first allowed to vote. The tenacity of the female Homo Sapiens should not be underestimated

Despite the fact that our government leaders have never passed the Women’s Bill of Rights the ladies have extricated themselves from the kitchen and laundry room to excel in many endeavors that were previously only available for men. And now the men— more specifically the white Republican right wing ideologue men— are in the process of rolling back the incredible gains that women have experienced in the last half century. Many of these men are still espousing the premise that women should be, “barefoot in the winter, and pregnant in the summer.”

Many Republican state legislatures have recently passed laws that greatly restrict women’s rights to contraception, abortion, cancer screening and even basic gynecological health care. In recent weeks numerous candidates for the United States Senate, along with presidential candidate Mitt Romney and VP candidate Paul Ryan, have come forth, and expressed a desire to promote even more onerous and  draconian laws that will be highly detrimental to the health and well-being of all women.

Luckily, many women have become very aware of the attitudes of these current and prospective legislators and they will be voting in droves for their opponents. As women become more successful in many of the professions that were once dominated by men, a misogynist backlash has occurred. Women are outshining men in college graduation success and most phases of academia. Author Hanna Rosin has just published a book titled The End of Men, subtitle: And the Rise of Women. This book quantifies the many gains that women are making.  Women will not be tolerating the demeaning premise of narrow minded politicians who state that the rape of a woman is “God’s will.”

As an ex-macho fighter pilot who enjoyed the status that came with it, I can only say to the many women that are rapidly accelerating to a higher status, “you go girl.” Let the 21st century be the “century of the world’s women.” Let the men tend the hearth and nurture the children while they hold their head high for a job well done.

This blog is pepared by Allen Morris/ a.k.a. Ace Abbott, author of The Rogue Aviator   ( and Dead Tired: Pilot Fatigue-Aviation’s Insidious Killer ( www.deadtired pilots)



Female Fighter Pilot Breaks Gender Barriers

Col. Jeannie Flynn Leavitt is not only a decorated fighter pilot; she has broken
through gender barriers few thought possible. She was recently named the Air Force’s
first female wing commander, commanding 5,000 airmen at Seymour Johnson Air Force
Base in North Carolina.
Twenty years ago, when she had completed part of her training, she was told that
if she wanted to be fighter pilot, she would be the first and would draw attention.
“I said, ‘Well, I don’t want the attention, but I want to fly fighters more than
anything,'” she responded.
She knew she was entering a world dominated by male swagger. Think “Top Gun” – “The
plaque for the alternates is down in the ladies room.”
And that attitude was not just in the movies. Even the Pentagon brass once argued
that male bonding was critical.
“If you want to make a combat unit ineffective, add some women to it,” retired Gen.
Robert Barrow, the former commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps, had said at a 1991
hearing before Congress.
Like it or not, though, they were ordered to change by the Secretary of Defense.
And now, Leavitt and others have inspired a new generation. There are currently
700 female pilots in the Air Force and 60 female combat pilots.
“Regardless of your gender,” Capt. Patricia Nadeau said. “I think everyone’s goingto look up to her.”
Leavitt, 46, has logged more than 2,700 hours – 300 in combat over Iraq and Afghanistan
-andd dropped bombs on enemy targets and avoided enemy fire.
Along the way, she married a fellow fighter pilot – who’s now stationed “only” three
hours away – and had two children, Shannon and Michael.
She now trains others for combat, commanding a 5,000-member fighter wing. On one
particular day, she led a mock bombing raid in the skies over North Carolina.
“You know gender, race, religion, none of that matters, what matters is how you
perform,” Leavitt said.  (Excerpt from a Curtis Lewis newsletter on 10/11/2012)

Pretty Female Fighter Pilot

Some 45 years ago when I was in pursuit of the lofty status of a combat ready jet fighter pilot, the thought of the female fighter pilot was inconceivable. During that period of time (1967), there were no commercial female pilots and the possibility of a woman becoming a military fighter pilot was nihil. It was a very elite fraternity and the male macho persona wanted nothing to do with “a little lady,” clouding the waters by entering their cockpit— women were still supposed to be cheerleaders and had to sit on the sidelines and watch the machismo pilots strut around the base. Air Force pilots, particularly in the glory years of the Vietnam War era, soon learned that the flight suit was a magnet for women, and would not hesitate to wear it off base. With the sleeves rolled up, an unzipped flight suit showing a hairy chest, and an alpha male mustache, the fighter pilot of that era reeked of testosterone.

My best friend, Marylee Bickford, is a female pilot who worked with me at four different airlines. She started her aviation career as a line girl, pumping gas during the winter months in Maine. At age 23 she became a Boeing 727 flight engineer— a job that entailed getting down and dirty during the external pre-flight (walk-around) and sometimes returning to the cockpit, smelling of hydraulic fluid and jet fuel. Her total persona exuded femininity, yet she would not hesitate to perform those traditionally male tasks in order to achieve her goals. She eventually became a Boeing 737 Capt. at Carnival airlines. She was also a major impetus that led to my aviation memoir, The Rogue Aviator: in the back alleys of aviation ( She is the major female protagonist in this improbable aviation saga.

Most of us will agree; if the lady can do the job, forget about antiquated traditions and put her right over there in the captain’s chair. From fighter pilots to airline captains and aviation entrepreneurs such as Denise Wilson of Desert Jet (, allow the ladies to barge right through that glass ceiling. The amazing subchapter of the Col. Jeannie Flynn Leavitt story is that she also does function as the proverbial “little lady,” since she is also married to a fighter pilot. And furthermore, she is the mother of two sons. She has taken the expression, “the right stuff,” to a much higher level.
This blog is prepared by Allen Morris/a.k.a. Ace Abbott, the author of The Rogue Aviator; in the back alleys of aviation ( and Dead Tired; Pilot Fatigue- Aviation’s Insidious Killer (


Every veteran pilots favorite airplane- the magnificent Boeing 727

Aviation’s most recent apocalypse, the sad demise of American Airlines, seems to intensify daily. I remember well the collapse of Eastern Airlines and the horrific operational chaos that accompanied it. It now appears that the AA bankruptcy saga will display a comparable level of animosity between management and labor. Having been through far too many airline bankruptcies, I can attest that the safety quotient of an airline in the Chapter 11 phase of bankruptcy is severely reduced. The laundry list of operational problems that contribute to the reduced safety factor are too lengthy to mention.

The disintegration of the relationship between labor and management has many of the elements of an angry divorce. Most of the AA employees had, at one time, been infatuated and exhilarated with their status as an American Airline employee. The antipathy and the emotional trauma that comes with this ugly, and bitterly contested divorce will seriously jeopardize the possibility of AA to provide their customers with quality service. The following snippet is from a recent article in Business magazine and sheds additional light on the situation.

In Bankruptcy, American Airlines Looks At All Options

Pat Henneberry is an airline’s dream customer. She flies all week, every week, and buying an $800 ticket so that she can have full flexibility is standard operating procedure. She’s an American Airlines platinum customer. But she is fed up with the endless delays and cancellations.

“On Monday I didn’t get on

Henneberry says that not making her meetings is not an option.

“Next week I have five flights that I’m on with American. If I don’t get where I’m going — I own my own business — I don’t get paid,” she says.

American has been forced to cancel hundreds of flights, and its on-time performance has collapsed to a little more than 50 percent. The airline says its pilots are to blame.

“We’re talking about write-ups for things like broken coffee pots, inoperative passenger reading lights and torn seat pockets that are causing delays. They’re calling maintenance out to have those things checked and are causing delays. And those were up more than 34 percent,” American spokesman Bruce Hicks says.

In 2003, with American on the verge of collapse, the pilots, mechanics, ground crew and flight attendants gave back nearly $2 billion in concessions. Later, it emerged that the airline’s top managers quietly awarded themselves millions in bonuses, and tens of millions more when they retired. The workers have never really gotten over that betrayal.

“The history is the history,” Hicks says. “The fact is that all of our labor groups and management and non-union groups in 2003 made significant concessions to keep American Airlines out of bankruptcy. And we worked very hard to stay out of bankruptcy, but in fact we lost $10 billion over the next 10 years — $10 billion.”

On Wednesday night, it looked like there was progress. The pilots met and voted to go back to the bargaining table. After all, they’ve been without a contract since 2003 and are still working at their 1993 pay rates. But after the vote, a letter arrived from American management threatening to take the union to court if the pilots didn’t stop delaying flights.

“Within 24 hours of being invited back to the bargaining table by this management team, they fired off a letter that essentially threatens legal action against the pilots,” says Tom Hoban, who flies a 777 for American and is an officer in the union. “In that regard, it’s like a baseball bat with an olive branch wrapped around it, and they just hit us up the side of the head here. It just doesn’t make any sense.”

Now the pilots are furious; they see executive duplicity once again. And as of Thursday afternoon, they’re not going back to the bargaining table. Instead, they’re meeting with their lawyers about management’s letter.

“This corporation has taken this airline from first to worst. There simply is no faith in the current leadership of this management team, which is why we’re pressing hard for a merger with US Airways and a change in leadership,” Hoban says.

And what’s American Airlines customer Pat Henneberry going to do?

“I won’t happily go back at this point. I have lived through a few of these with American Airlines. And to be honest, I’m having an incredible experience on Delta. You know, I have to do business,” she says.

Delta Airlines has cleverly matched the platinum status Henneberry has with American. So while American management fights to the death with its pilots union, its best customers are wandering off.

This blog is prepared by Allen Morris/aka Ace Abbott author of The Rogue Aviator ( and Dead Tired: Pilot Fatigue-Aviation’s Insidious Killer (