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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July 22, 2014 Pinch Hitter

The Liberty Gazette
July 22, 2014
Ely Air Lines
By Mike Ely and Linda Street-Ely
Linda: Pilot and aviation writer Doug Ritter desperately wanted his wife Sue to know how to land the plane in case he became incapacitated. He relates a story as an example of why this was so important to him. The true story is about a couple flying over Fairbanks, Alaska when the pilot husband suddenly suffered a brain hemorrhage. Just the day before this happened the wife had attended a flying companion course, often called "Pinch Hitter", which she credits for saving her life. She had learned how and where to call for help on the radio, how to get control of the airplane, find the nearest airport, and land safely.

Doug writes for Avweb and shared his thoughts in the hugely popular aviation digital publication. It doesn't seem very responsible to leave someone you care about with no backup when there is a very viable alternative available. 

He had tried for years to convince Sue to take the course. When she did, she realized she should have done it years before. Her appreciation, enjoyment, and comfort level with flying all found a new high, so much so that she shared her experience with her husband’s audience this way:

I did what I came to do. I learned how to safely take control of the plane and land it if I needed to in an emergency. I learned to not feel shy about asking for help if I need it. I have … no qualms about asking for help to get to a major airport and bigger runway if I have the fuel. I feel in control.
The Pinch-Hitter course gave me the knowledge and confidence to handle an emergency situation. … I can also be an even bigger help to him and I now enjoy our flights much more. It's fun.
It took me over ten years to be "convinced" to take this course. It doesn't hurt, it isn't fattening, and I should have done it years ago. Earning my Pinch-Hitter wings was one of my proudest moments. – Just Do It! — A Reluctant Participant's View of the Pinch-Hitter Course, Avweb, Jan. 5, 1998

Next month non-pilot flying companions will have an opportunity to take a Pinch Hitter course in Houston. They will learn fundamentals of flying, talking with air traffic controllers, and basic emergency procedures.

If you or someone you know could benefit from this course, please share. We will be holding it at the West Houston Airport, 18000 Groschke Rd; Houston, TX 77084 on Saturday, August 16, 2014, from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. 

The cost will be minimal (lunch) and flights can be arranged individually following the ground school.

With an all-star line-up of some of the best female flight instructors in the nation we’ll cover safety, basics of aerodynamics, aircraft instruments and parts, basic navigation and chart reading, checklists, radio usage and communications, GPS usage, traffic patterns and landing, and emergency procedures.

We love to share our passion for flight, but this offers more – this could save a life. Here’s the web address, pass it on:

To register, RSVP by August 10, 2014 to Yasmina Platt at 

Anyone interested may contact me with questions:

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