formerly "The View From Up Here"

Formerly titled "The View From Up Here" this column began in the Liberty Gazette June 26, 2007.

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June 25, 2013 Dumb Chicks

The Liberty Gazette
June 25, 2013
Ely Air Lines
By Mike Ely and Linda Street-Ely

Linda: Chick Flick Alert! A video posted a few years ago still gets a lot of attention because two very attractive women, one blonde, one brunette, seem not to know one end of an airplane from another. The video begins with the women texting, "Let’s go shopping" and replying, "Oh yeah!!!"

The blonde, in skirt and heels, pours oil in one of the fuel tanks in the wing of a small Cessna, daintily kicks the chocks out of the way and proceeds to pull the airplane out onto the ramp. Enter the brunette, pulling the little Cessna further (while wearing heels), then climbing in the cockpit for "pre-flight inspection" which includes trying to sync the altimeter with her watch.

Then out comes the "map" which seems to cause them some confusion until a nice gentleman comes to the rescue and turns it right-side-up, for which they are giggly appreciative. The next scene brings more laughs with the ladies in the cockpit pulling down visors to apply make-up, and when it’s time to start the engine the prop doubles as a great nail polish dryer!

Headsets adorned upside down, excess luggage weighing down the little two-seater so the tail begins to drop and the nose rises, and then, its wheels-up… oh dear, what do these pedals do?

Mike: I imagine both women have grown tired of being judged by their looks, hence this video. The brunette is Sandra Krier, who, after suddenly becoming a single mom of two with no education went back to school, earned an IT degree and then learned to fly and bought an airplane. The blonde is Catherine Cavagnaro, Professor of Mathematics and Chair of the Department of Mathematics and Computer Science at the University of the South in Tennessee. Catherine has served as a spin demonstration pilot at the University of Tennessee Space Institute (UTSI), and served on the research and flight test team, testing effects of ice on aircraft. She’s no dizzy blonde. She also teaches aerobatics and spin recovery – a very important skill for pilots – at her Sewanee Aerobatic School at the Sewanee-Franklin County Airport on the campus of the University of the South.

The runway sits atop the Cumberland Plateau about 100 miles northwest of Chattanooga and the school is a commitment Catherine made several years ago when she worked as a flight instructor for the late Bill Kershner.

You could say Kershner "wrote the book" on spin training, but actually he wrote several. Bill helped many pilots and flight instructors acquire the skills to keep them flying safely, teaching them in his 1979 Cessna Aerobat named "Two Loops Lautrec." 

Formerly the Supervisor of Flight Testing at Piper Aircraft in the early 1960s, Bill assisted Cessna Aircraft Company by writing the manual for their then-new Aerobat. That evolved into his Basic Aerobatic Manual, which serves as the foundation for spin training and aerobatics courses.

Catherine came along and helped Bill with valuable research and now honors his wish to continue aerobatic training through her own Sewanee Aerobatic School. When she introduced "Wilbur", her 1979 Cessna 152 Aerobat, "Two Loops" was renamed "Orville".

Bill passed in 2007 and Orville has moved to the National Air and Space Museum at the Udvar-Hazy Center. Even with this proud legacy, Catherine’s great sense of humor shows what a really down-to-earth person she is. To see the video, search "dumb chicks who can’t fly a Cessna".

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