Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Reflecting Upon Women's History Month

Since this is National Women’s History Month, I think it’s only appropriate for me to look back over my many (now 33+) interesting, exciting, challenging and rewarding years of flying commercially (not to mention the previous 9 years it took to accumulate enough flying time to get hired at a major airline).

Yes, “we’ve come along way, baby,” as the saying goes and it’s interesting to note some of the yardsticks that remind me of just how far we’ve come. I won’t have time to describe all the major accomplishments of women in various fields, including space, science, medicine, sports and technology, just to name a few, but what I notice is the natural acceptance of women in what is really a gender-neutral field. In the past I used to quip to myself, when an occasional passenger would give me a shocked look as he (or she!) deplaned, “Why should you care who’s flying this bird? When you find an airplane that can tell you the sex of the person who’s flying it, I’ll stop!” These days, most everyone is in the “thumbs up” mode when they learn a woman is at the controls. They know that our skills are equal to or (many cases) better than our male counterparts, due to the constant scrutiny we get from our peers, regulators and the public. All female crews are not uncommon, although I rarely have the opportunity to fly with another woman.

Being one of the first female airline pilots, I have seen everything from “don’t touch any switches, just sit there” commands from narrow-minded captains, to a round of applause from my passengers when we landed safely after a turbulence-filled and weather delayed flight. I enjoy seeing women move up the seniority ladder in my profession and their surprise at knowing there was a time when airline management actually asked the women pilots NOT to make pubic address announcements on the airplane for fear of scaring the passengers! I certainly hope more women will accept the challenge and follow their passions, whatever their dream may be.
My book, Flight Guide for Success, outlines the keys to moving forward quickly along your chosen path. Your goal is to find someone who will guide you and help you make that journey a smooth one. Your challenge is to show them that you ARE worth helping and that you will put their assistance to good use. My numerous tips for networking, finding jobs, marketing yourself, resume-writing, completing job applications, and interviewing apply to anyone (not just pilots) wanting to be successful in their career.

Having achieved my own dream, my goal is to help other young (or young-spirited) people by giving them the essential tools necessary to succeed in any field. I see only blue skies for today’s women if they will learn to be proactive on their own behalf. To purchase a copy of my book, Flight Guide for Success, visit my website at www.captainkarenkahn.com/order. If you’d like an autographed or personalized copy, just let me know.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Receiving the 1st Annual WISE Woman Award

I was delighted and honored to read February’s edition of WISE magazine. For those who don’t know, I was a winner of the magazine’s first annual WISE Woman Awards which recognize inspirational women and their achievements. Reading through the WISE award recipients’ profiles was most impressive. Being one the recipients of this award, when they had such a large collection of good candidates to choose from, was a most rewarding experience. I appreciate having my own personal achievements equated in the same light as the achievements of the award recipients.

I found that the WISE awards provided an opportunity to showcase deserving women whose achievements can serve as motivational tools for all of us. The WISE Award was created to recognize women who are inspirational, tenacious in their pursuits and serve as role models for society. I’m proud to be a member of such a distinguished group. My heartfelt thanks you to all of you who voted and supported me in this endeavor.

To read my feature article, visit www.captainkarenkahn.com/news.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

My Christmas in Antigua

It certainly wasn’t a white Christmas this year for me although is was bit chillier than I had planned. I have friends from high school who are working with a non-profit organization (www.semillasparafuturo.org) helping the villagers of Chocolá to become self-sufficient in their cacao, coffee and vegetable farming and it was my pleasure to visit them for a few days of R&R. I flew to Guatemala City, arriving late at night where upon I immediately had a chance to practice my high school Spanish with my driver, Ernesto, who drove me to Antigua, the former colonial capital of Guatemala.

During my 45 minute midnight drive, I learned my favorite new word: "bacho," which is pothole in Spanish. I was to find this word to be very helpful over the next week of traveling local roads both major and minor.

The city of Antigua has so many beautiful courtyards, churches and haciendas full of smiling locals happy to help the touristas. Their central plaza is a town gathering place and sitting there with a coffee from the soda fountain shoppe nearby was a constant source of entertainment as we watched the world go by. As you can see from some of my photos, I got involved in buying a few gifts for friends back home, practicing my bargaining techniques at the same time.

My stay at the Hotel Casa de Don Pedro was another treat (www.hotellacasadedonpedro.com). Benjamin and Cecilia Villegas are most hospitable and friendly and their lovely hacienda has comfortable rooms with lots of outdoor seating area to enjoy the lovely gardens and view of Fuego in the distance. If you want to learn more Spanish, talk with Benjamin and he can arrange a tutor for your stay or just converse with you and help you enjoy you stay even more.

If you have a few days to spare, I recommend at least 3 nights in Antigua for a wonderful experience that can include hiking, biking, exploring churches and marketplaces galore. It was wonderful to be able to experience the people and culture through the eyes of friends, new and old, in such a beautiful country with so much history. I look forward to returning later this spring to work on my Spanish and watch Fuego spew more plumes of ash.

I highly recommend Guatemala to those looking to explore any of the many countries south of the border!

Below are just a few of my favorite photos from the trip.