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Pilots

Fall 2013

If You Don’t Snooze, You Lose

About an hour before sunrise on August 27, 2006, Comair Flight 5191 was approaching 120 miles per hour on its takeoff from the Blue Grass Airport in Lexington, Kentucky, when co-pilot James Polehinke noticed something strange about the runway.

“That is weird,” he said in a conversation captured by the flight recorder. “No lights.”

“Yeah,” said Capt. Jeffrey Clay.

Sixteen seconds later, their 50-seat commuter jet ran out of runway. Polehinke just managed to get airborne but not enough. The plane hit an earthen berm, clipped a fence and a clump of trees, and went down in a ball of flames.

The pilots had gone … » More …

Cloyd and Audrey Artman
Fall 2018

Soaring history

Aviation lifted off the ground in the early twentieth century, but few had the guts to explore the uncharted territory of human flight. Two courageous souls willing to glide into the challenge were Washington siblings Cloyd and Audrey Artman.

Humans fantasized for thousands of years about transcending the realm of the birds. We emulated the techniques of flying animals and insects, strapped ourselves to oversized kites, or jumped off great heights while donning makeshift wings, yet gravity won over centuries of trial-and-error.

 

German aviation pioneer Otto Lilienthal, though, soared with his successful heavier-than-air glider experiments in the late 1880s. He made over 2,000 glider … » More …

Devon Meister. Photo Drew Tarter/Tarter Photographic Services
Winter 2016

Storming the clouds

Flying into a hurricane might be the stuff of nightmares for the average person, but for Devon Meister ’14 MBA, it’s just another day on the job.

A meteorologist and pilot in the U.S. Air Force Reserves, Meister routinely flies a WC-130J into the heart of some of nature’s biggest storms, where the best data can be collected and used to help save lives.

But nothing prepared her for the danger of her first hurricane mission.

Flying at night, Meister and the crew were headed toward Hurricane Rafael in 2012. But because meteorologists have limited ability to analyze satellite data during darkness, there was no … » More …

Fall 2010

Jeanne Lewellen Norbeck ’33—Recognition at last

In March of this year, a special Congressional action signed by President Obama awarded the Congressional Gold Medal to the Women Airforce Service Pilots, the “WASPS” of World War II. Jeanne Lewellen Norbeck ’33 was awarded the medal posthumously.

Jeanne graduated from Washington State College with a degree in English. President Roosevelt had funded the start of construction on the Grand Coulee Dam, and Jeanne was an early hire. She married a young engineer on the project, Ed Norbeck.

Later, Jeanne and Ed became managers of a large plantation in one of the outer islands in the Hawaiian chain. Given the lack of transportation … » More …