Wednesday, February 28, 2018

By the Seat of your Pants

The talk was about flying and whether women make good pilots. Frankly if anyone, man or woman, gets a licence and time in their log book they are way ahead of critics who raise the gender issue. Nevertheless  whilst it is far more usual for men to fly aircraft and helicopters than for women, I hazard that a woman 'doing it' just to prove she is as good as any man will not get far.  He and she share some common features, the requisit skills and almost compelling love of flying being right up there.  The drive is what differentiates them both from the ordinary man and woman in an office job.

We had a helicopter pilot in for a few light bevvies: a charming young German woman.  Helicopters are her great interest - she is a chopper techie by trade, - and not all that expensive but they are slow. Helicopters can't carry very much either. Helicopters run out of fuel before they have flown very far. Compared to an airplane you sacrifice a tremendous amount of utility but.... in exchange for the ability to land anywhere and the ability to fly very low and/or slow.

'Choppers' can go where no man or woman has been before ! 

Helicopters are also fun and challenging.  They also often offer a better career path than airplanes; the world is drowning in airplane pilots (well, not quite) but desperately short of helicopter pilots.

Mona Seeburger is meeting that demand.

To be a chopper pilot takes 'application': fine motor coordination skills: a fast brain that can process a huge information and sensory flow; an excellent sense of balance and .... a sensitive bum. The 'feel' of an aircraft strapped to you is mediated through the seat and wearing thin pants and even thinner underpants gives a girl some advantage! 


It takes a lot of training, and like most fixed-wing pilots, that training never stops. The earlier you can get much of it in, the better. But to 'go beyond' the usual, you have to go to the back of beyond.

Mona went to Canada to fly with Mischa Gelb who owns BC Helicopters with his wife Amy and his brother Sancho. The flying is just superb. In this video they go through different mountain flying techniques, flying in one of two Cabri G2's, operating between 4000'-6000' in magnificent mountains. Just watch and wonder at the 'workload'.

Mona has quite a few flying hours under her skirts. She has a new YouTube channel with helicopter videos from her trip there in Canada and in Germany and different parts of Europe.

You can, should you wish, see some of the videos she has made and the sights she has seen here....

Leave a note saying I sent you.

Meanwhile here is one to be going on with.

We raised a glass or too of fine foreign bevvy of distinction to Mona and wished her well.

I see a long career ahead.

Perhaps she can take an old Knight up to the mountain tops one day.



  1. Hi to all, how is the whole thing, I think every one is getting more
    from this website, and your views are pleasant in support of new people.

  2. She looks so happy and radiant as she pilots the helicopter.

    I love how she listens intently to her instructor (without saying a word) so that she can learn from him :-)

    1. Yes, she is honing skills which are clearly there already. And the chap was confident in her ablity. Look at the pedals. He barely put his feet to them. He was very good at itemising the elements of the procedures, pointing out the winds and speed effects which are vital around mountain tops.

      Watching competent professionals at work is deeply satisfying as well as instructive.

  3. "The talk was about flying and whether women make good pilots. Frankly if anyone, man or woman, gets a licence and time in their log book they are way ahead of critics who raise the gender issue."

    Respectfully yet completely disagree. There are many posts in which I've put women's testimony from within the forces that the gender bias is taking on safety proportions - standards for the women are far less than for the men. This is a major issue at the moment.

    This is about the physical side:

    As for pilots, you only have to look at Amy Johnson and other high profile pilots to see the issues coming through constantly and there are good reasons, not all the women’s fault. This was though:

    I know you so desperately want the female to be able to do this but just like Hope Hicks in the USA who just resigned ... the ladies just can't.

    1. Desperate, I am not, James. But you protesteth too much. If you had seen and met the number of fine young chaps that I have, who had been 'chopped' at some stage of their flying career, you would know that even the Hultgreens of the world are streets ahead of you and I in such skills.

  4. Yes but that's a silly argument because I'm not in that game. Were I in that game, I'd be streets ahead of the Hultgreens.

  5. For other readers [as you already know this], I find the ladies very much to my taste as company and admire their skills in many things - I’ve many times acknowledged their superiority to us in various fields. I also am moved by your opening pic of the lass.

    But flying my plane, where one slip is death? I admire your faith. A friend was writing of the WW2 female Spitfire pilots and he added that women pilots are safe in that they’re sticklers for process and today, flying is all checks and process.

    But, he said, put them in situations of duress and their reaction is to vehemently go back to process, over and over ... I’ll cease now because I protesteth too much. :)

    1. Let me take off my helmet and scabbard for a moment. I recognise the strengths and weaknesses that both men and women have. 25 years as a science-based and qualified shrink (in real life) showed the heights and depths of both. In a previous 20+ years in military aviation I have seen upward of 70 planes crash, and every one flown by a chap. I have seen splendid pilots do the most ill-begotten actions and have even studied them with all the skills of my second career. Pilot error is rarer today than back then.

      I have great admiration for pilots. Their mental and physical qualities are far and away superior to the vast majority of folk when it comes to flying aircraft under pressure. Getting to be even a journeyman pilot takes effort, skill, time and application. Those who will not make it, do not usually make it. It deserves recognition rather than overly critical comparisons over genitalia. I salute both men and women, youngsters and old hands who can handle a machine in the skies. Do they make mistakes? Of course. Mostly those errors do not end in catastrophe. Mostly you don't get to hear of them.

      To be a 'top' pilot, military or civil, fixed wing or rotor is for a different class of folk and who knows there may well be a distinction between males and females at that extreme end of the bell curve. But then they are the very best.

      I am aware of your views James, my friend, and have some general sympathy, but in this instance I claim superior knowledge and relevant experience.

      Have a pint.


  6. I've had a busy week, meant to tell you before now that I thought this positive post on the ladies was lovely, thank you - always impressed with anyone, male or female, that can do something I can't :)

    I, too, was impressed with her listening to her teacher without speaking while being instructed :)

    Not that I think asking questions is a bad thing, male or female - just not while you're actually flying because of the danger aspect!

    If you don't ask questions, then it's assumed you know/understand everything, which of course you don't, as a student :)

    Not sure what Hope Hicks or politics has to do with this post about flying, (most politicians couldn't fly a paper airplane), but as I said previously, she wasn't the only person to be appointed to Trump's cabinet who wasn't qualified, male or female - appointed because either they or their fathers were wealthy campaign donors - nor is she the only person to resign - in fact, there have been several, including one other female.

    I suspect many of these current ones are the result of the FBI background checks which were started but never completed, which affected Jared Kushner's security clearance, but I could be wrong.

    Thus, I'm unsure why she's the only one focused on and what she has to do with this post, but alrighty. I do appreciate your commentary on the subect :)

    A little confused, though, I admit, because I also see since, there's been two negative posts focused on women - but only for the extremist leftist women, is it? ;)

    Seems to me both sides are making things about gender that shouldn't be in different ways.

    Not a huge fan of those women you mentioned anyway, but there are worse on both political sides, male and female, IMO.

    Confused, but it's okay - you don't need to prove yourself to me or anyone, Amfortas. Carry on :)


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