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Sarina Houston

Aviation & Aerospace Blog


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MH370 Fate Confirmed, Possible Debris Found

Wednesday March 26, 2014
MH370 debris location

At a press conference on Monday, Malaysian officials announced that Malaysia Airlines flight 370, a 777 that has been missing since March 8th, has likely crashed into the Indian Ocean and all on board have perished.

Details had been obtained from new satellite data from Inmarsat that offer credibility to the idea that the aircraft's last known position was over the Indian Ocean, far from any proper landing area and without enough fuel to make it to land. Inmarsat says that with tracking methods never before utilized in an investigation, it was able to Read More...

Malaysia Airlines Flight 370: Just the Facts

Wednesday March 19, 2014

Photo © How Foo Yeen/Getty

The mysterious disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 has everyone wondering how a Boeing 777 can disappear, seemingly without a trace.

It is, after all, a rather large, ETOPS-certified airplane. And in today's age of on board technology, satellites and GPS coverage, why in the world can we not find this airplane?

I've received a number of emails and messages from people asking this question. And I have to respond by telling people that I don't actually have any insider information or knowledge about what might have happened. My guess is as good as the next guy's.

At first, I had theories of my own, but with each passing day I'm left with nothing but questions, just like everyone else. With the lack of details available regarding the fate of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, there's just no way to know.

I wonder, like the rest of the world, what could have gone so wrong.

But it's one thing to wonder and another to Read More...

Explaining Aircraft Systems the Easy Way

Friday February 28, 2014
Aircraft Maintenance

If you've ever been asked to describe the electrical system on an airplane, then you know that aircraft systems like these can be complicated to explain, even with a detailed schematic!

I learned a good technique for explaining systems during my multi-engine training years ago, and although it might be oversimplified, it's also a really good method for organizing systems knowledge into one well thought-out and thorough explanation. Check it out in my article 4 Easy Steps to Explaining Aircraft Systems.

RELATED: The ABCs of Emergency Landings
RELATED: Learner Centered Grading in the Flight Instruction Environment

Photo © Aaron Foster/Getty

Women in Aviation to Celebrate 25 Years at Annual Conference

Friday February 28, 2014

When it comes to nonprofit organizations in the aviation industry, Women in Aviation, International is one of the best accidental success stories there is. The organization will celebrate its 25th Annual International Women in Aviation Conference in Orlando next week, a milestone that countless people in the aviation industry are thankful for.

In 1990, WAI founder Peggy Chabrian conducted the first Women in Aviation Conference in Prescott, Arizona with the idea that it would be a one-time event.

The first conference had 140 attendees. These days, a few thousand people and over 100 exhibitors attend the conference each year for a chance to network, win scholarships, talk to recruiters and otherwise enjoy the company of fellow aviation enthusiasts.

This year's conference includes tours of

Modern-Day Amelia Earhart Makes A Name For Herself

Friday January 31, 2014

Amelia Rose Earhart
Photo © Fly With Amelia Foundation

When pilot and news anchor Amelia Earhart agreed to an interview with me this past week, I was pretty excited. I mean, with a name like Amelia Earhart, she's obviously destined to do something amazing, and I was eager to know what it was.

I went into the interview with the late Amelia Earhart on my mind. After all, this Amelia has a lot in common with the late Amelia Earhart: They share a name, of course, but they also share a sense of adventure and the desire to fly around the world.

So I was surprised that by the end of the interview I had all but forgotten about the infamous Amelia Mary Earhart and her ill-fated flight around the world. I had gotten to know a new Amelia, and this modern-day Amelia Earhart was her clearly her own person.


Are You an Annoying Flight Instructor?

Friday January 31, 2014

Flight Instruction
Photo © Tim Boyle/Getty

For the most part, we remember our flight instructors with fondness. Who else can we hold responsible for introducing us to the beauty of flight during private pilot training while getting us through those pesky written exams and check rides?

But have you ever been stuck with a bad flight instructor? Like one that smelled funny or grumbled a lot?

Or maybe you're guilty of being an annoying flight instructor at one time or another. (After all, as much as we try, we can't be perfect!)

I recently asked the pilots of Reddit what they hated about their flight instructors. Their answers were candid and honest and Read More...

Plane Spotting: It's in Their Blood

Monday December 23, 2013

Plane Spotters
Photo Courtesy NYCAviation

You've seen them out there, standing around the perimeter fence in terrible weather with their binoculars and telescope lenses aimed at the sky. They come from different backgrounds but they all share one thing in common: Aviation is in their blood. Just like any other aviation enthusiast, they can't help but look overhead when they hear an airplane flying. The only difference is that they usually spot them before anyone else does.

For some, plane spotting is a decided hobby. For a few, it's a fun thing to do on a day off. For Phil Derner, Founder and President of NYCAviation, an aviation news and enthusiast website, it's something he grew up with.

"I grew up watching planes at LaGuardia Airport from my house in Queens. We had a group of people that got together to spot aircraft, and eventually Read More...

The Institute for Aerospace Education: Investing in Aviation's Youth

Friday December 20, 2013

Photo Courtesy of IAE

If you're reading this, then you probably already know that the aviation industry is home to some of the best people.

I was reminded of this recently when I did an interview with Dr. Tim Smith, Founder and CEO of the Institute for Aerospace Education, a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing opportunities for young people to excel in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) areas, and specifically in aviation and aerospace.

Not only is Dr. Smith a really nice guy, but he has a particularly remarkable thing going on with the Institute for Aerospace Education. You can read more about his story here.

You see, I'm a huge advocate for getting young people interested in Read More...

Flight Planning Tips for Beginners

Wednesday December 18, 2013

Photo © Sarina Houston

For pilots in the early stages of flight training, planning a cross-country flight can be an intimidating task. Broken down into steps, though, the flight planning process isn't all that difficult. The first few times you attempt it, you might feel like it's a lot to take it, and it is. But after you plan three or four flights, you'll be a pro!

Sometimes the hardest part is knowing where to go to find the information you need. So I put together a list of resources you might decide to use during the flight planning process:

  • Start with this article: How to Plan a VFR Cross-Country Flight.
  • Check out GlobalAir.com or Airnav for airport information. GlobalAir.com provides weather information and a kneeboard printout that includes airport information like runways, communication frequencies and the current weather on one small page that you can print and put in your kneeboard.
  • Use a flight planning app like ForeFlight or AOPA FlyQ to plan your flight on your iPad or tablet.

Are you planning a cross-country flight? Have questions? Ask me on Twitter!

FCC Cell Phone Proposal: One More Reason to Buy Your Own Airplane

Friday November 29, 2013

Cell Phone
Photo © Scott Olson/Getty
When the FCC announced a proposal to allow cell phone use on board aircraft, the public was outraged. It would seem that nobody wants to sit next to passengers blabbing away on their cell phones.

I'm not sure what the chances are that this proposal will pass, but if there's truly no safety reason for the restriction to remain in place, than the restriction simply shouldn't exist.

The FCC claims that the restriction involving cell phone use on aircraft is outdated and the addition of new technology on aircraft would prevent any safety problems that arise from cell phone use. This means that it would be up to each air carrier to determine Read More...

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