What are they thinking?

The other day something remarkable happened, it was how it was done and by the person who did it.

A plane going from New York to Texas lost an engine, well not really lost; the damn thing blew up, exploded, went where it was not suppose too.  A large part of the engine was found 60 miles north of Philadelphia, the rest of it came down with the plane.  The plane, an older model Boeing 737, was cruising at 30,000 plus feet when the engine blew apart, it broke a window and opened a gash in the fuselage.

A woman seated next to the window or very near was sucked part way out of the plane, another passenger immediately grabbed her and with the help of a couple of others were able to pull her back into the plane.  According to the reports several other passengers had minor injuries.

ARABIAN GULF (July 31, 2016) – An F/A-18F Super Hornet  prepares to make an arrested landing on the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (Ike) (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class J. Alexander Delgado/Released)

During all this the pilot, a US Navy veteran, had her hands full, you read right I said her, Tammie Jo Shults.  She was the first woman to qualify to fly the F/A18 in the US Navy and qualify as a Top Gun pilot, but being a woman she could not be a Top Gun flyer, but she could be a trainer, because women were not allowed to fly in combat.  She trained our finest Navy aviators.  During  her own training she landed planes on the decks of aircraft carriers pitching and rolling on the sea.  She learned to fly, as they say, by seat of her pants.  The F/A18s were not fly by wire as most planes are today, these lessons came in handy when her Boeing 737 lost its engine.

Older Boeing 737s are not computer controlled as they are today.  So when the engine blew she had to use the yoke to fly her aircraft.  The first thing she had to do was get that plane down from 30,000 feet to 10,000 just to equalize the pressure between the inside and outside of the plane, that took about 10 minutes.  During the next 10 minutes she brought the plane in for a landing with only one engine and she could not use either the flaps in full extension or the reverse thrust on the good engine.  So she was coming in, as they say, hot.  Without the flaps and reverse thrust she landed her plane praying the whole while that the tires would not blow or the brakes overheated and failed.  After landing she went into the cabin and calmly talked with the passengers.  Now that is one remarkable lady.

Now the most remarkable part of this story is how the media told the story, they had it down just like I have above but more graphic.  But it was how they gushed all over her and said how cool and calm she was.  How she must have had nerves of steel.  The only thing they left out was that she, being a woman, she did not get all emotional and hysterical about the whole thing.  She was cool and knew what to do.  Her hormones did not get in the way as the media thought they would.  “No”, she was trained to do this job, hours and hours behind the stick of a military plane, and many more hours training Navy aviators without letting her  hormones get in the way.  This lady is a real professional.

I just hope and pray that our vision of women starts to change, as to allow women the full measure and equality that men have had for generations.  One thing about the military, women and men receive the same pay for the same work, same grade, and time in service.  We talk about equal opportunity in employment but most of it is just talk.  Until we get serious about it, nothing will change.  As long as employers forbid employees to discuss wages and salaries the problem will continue to exist.  The employer is the greatest stumbling block to progress, let us bring this discussion out of the back rooms and into the light.  Women deserve to be treated better than that.


When was the last time?

I posted this article in July 2015, with the the situation today I decided to republish this post.

When was the last time you were pulled over by the police? At times it can be very scary, but not as scary as it is to someone of color. The last time I was stopped, I remember that I was taking my daughter to an appointment with her orthodontist . I do not remember the circumstances of the stop other than the officer was friendly, he took my license, registration and insurance card, ran it through his checks. Afterward he calmly and politely told me to be careful and let me go. This was late 1988 in Beaverton, I had just retired from the Army, was working as a carpenter and I was 40 years old. Oh yes, I am white.

Let us change things just a little bit. It is still 1988 and I am 40 years old, just retired from the Army, working as a laborer and I am black. How would that police officer react to me then? I do not know, but I do know one thing, that if I had said just one word out-of-place I could have found myself at the police station and Lord only knows what they would have done with my daughter. My wife was at home and we had only one car.

That is only one example of white privilege. I know that I can drive down the street a few miles an hour faster than the limit, and get away with it. I have changed lanes without signaling properly. I can walk down the street of my neighborhood at 10:30 or 11 o’clock at night without being challenged. How many of our brothers and sisters of color can say that? They do not need to be black, they can be Hispanic, Asian, or even Native American.

When I went into the Army in 1968, there was racial discrimination going on. As I learned later it was not like it had been just a few years earlier. The Army was coming out of its own era of race riots and discrimination and they realized that something needed to be done. It was not until 1972 that I attended my first race relations class. Growing up in Portland where I had attended a school that was 90% black for a couple of years I thought I was ahead of the game. In that first class I started to learn what was meant by white privilege.

I watched my peers get promoted before me which only made me work harder to gain that promotion to remain with my peers. When I reached the higher levels of rank I found that I had a lot of friends within that rank structure. We did not just associate only with members of our own race but mixed comfortably together.

Retiring and returning to civilian life was a big jolt. Going into construction was an even bigger jolt. I was use to the sheltered life of the military. The racial separation that I now encountered was a strange world that I had entered. Construction has its own discriminatory structure and it is not just race, if you do not have connections you will find the going tough. The phrase FBI does not refer to that federal agency but to Friends, Brothers and In-laws, and when they say brothers they definitely do not mean the women within their own family. They want it to remain a man’s world. My wife’s step-father was a retired carpenter and even with that I had to find my own way in the industry.

Americans have a way of pushing things they do not want to think about under the surface and out of sight. These past 6 ½ years has bought the subject of race back out in the open again. Calling our President names, mocking him with pictures and trying to hamstring him and thwart all his endeavors to lead this country and try to deny him his place in history. When I was growing up I was taught to respect the office and the man (or woman) who holds that office no matter what your opinion of them was.

I hear people from the south talk about the confederate flag and the heritage it symbolizes in their lives. Really? That piece of cloth that symbolizes racism, slavery and bigotry, but more importantly treason. Is that the heritage that you want to hold on too? Is that the heritage you want to pass down to your children? Most of those I hear speak about this so-called heritage would not have had the money to buy one slave but cling to that worn out idea of what the southern way of life was. They are so afraid that someone will take away their perceived privileges.

The flag of treason is finally down and may its symbol be placed in the same place in the annuals of history as that of all other oppressive parts of our world’s history.