Category Archives: featured

Vets Return to Normandy for 75th Anniversary

For Kim Rosenlof’s original article published by AIN, click here.

Don’t call these men heroes, although to most of us who cannot fathom enduring what they went through during World War II, they definitely are heroes. But most of the veterans who came home from that devastating war say the soldiers, sailors, airmen and other personnel who didn’t make it home were the real heroes.

The year 2019 marks 75 years since the WWII invasion of Normandy, France, in which 1.3 million Allied personnel landed on the French beaches over several weeks to overrun 380,000 Axis troops and begin the liberation of Nazi Europe.  The initial day of the invasion, June 6, 1944, is often referred to simply as D-Day, even though nearly every planned engagement in the war had its own “D” day.  This one, though, was the largest and one of the costliest.

More than 9800 white crosses cover the grounds of the American Cemetery overlooking Omaha Beach in Normandy. Photo by Dean Rosenlof

Approximately 10,000 Allied personnel were killed, wounded, or missing at the end of the first day of the invasion. As horrific as D-Day was, the men who survived didn’t get to say, “OK, I’ve done my part, time to go home and let someone else fight.”  While the Allies achieved many of their objectives, establishing beachheads on all five codenamed beaches by the end of the day on June 6, victory was not at all certain, and the survivors had to fight on, often hedgerow by hedgerow, taking individual towns throughout the Normandy region.  About 110,000 more casualties would be incurred over the next six weeks of fighting as the Allies pushed inland to drive Nazi forces out of Normandy. After that, the D-Day survivors still had several more months of fighting ahead in France, Belgium, Holland, and other parts of Europe before the Nazi regime was finally conquered and surrendered on May 8, 1945.

Many of the WWII veterans who made it home buried their feelings and memories of the war with their fallen comrades, refusing to talk about what they experienced. Decades later, however, those men and women who survived war, disease, and other ravages of daily living began to see merit in letting their wartime stories be told for the benefit of future generations. And they began to return to Normandy for D-Day anniversaries.

Those who were at the 50th anniversary in 1994 claim it was the largest in terms of veterans who returned. Certainly that is understandable considering most veterans would have been in their late 60’s and 70’s. Twenty-five years later, there are still an amazing number of WWII veterans alive (about 400,000 American WWII vets, with approximately 400 dying each day according to some figures), most in their 90s and some over 100 years old.

Various sources placed the number of WWII veterans returning to Normandy for the 75th anniversary at approximately 300 although likely there were more that decided not to wear uniforms or participate in the various anniversary events.  Arriving by plane, train, car, bus, or ferry, the vets in their WWII uniforms were treated like rock stars with standing ovations, autograph requests, photo requests, and media interviews.

Royal Air Force WWII veteran David Teacher of the 103rd Beach Unit surrounded by re-enactors at the Pegasus Bridge museum during 75th anniversary of D-Day. Photo by Kim Rosenlof

Some arrived on their own; others as benefactors of veterans groups such as the non-profit Forever Young Senior Veterans group, based in Tennessee. Forever Young sponsored 14 American WWII veterans to return to Normandy for the 75th anniversary; for some this was their first time back since the war.

Others have returned over and over. Royal Navy Seaman Petty Officer Lewis Trinder served on the HMS Magpie during the Normandy invasion, looking for German submarines that could disrupt the flow of the invasion. Yet the spry nonagenarian entertained passengers by singing songs from WWII in the aft lounge during the five-hour ferry ride from Portsmouth to Ouistream on June 4, 2019. When Lewis returned to his seat, Kim approached with a blank D-Day journal purchased in the ferry’s gift shop and asked him to sign her book.  He began telling about his time on the Magpie and the work to hunt down submarines without the type of electronic equipment we have today. Instead, the Magpie staff were fed coordinates by intelligence teams who used the  cracked the Enigma code to intercept, interpret and relay messages from the German subs themselves. Still living in England, Trinder has returned to Normandy so many times that his photo graced the cover of the 75th Anniversary Normandy Visitor’s Guide.

To be continued…

Re-enactors pose at Longues-sur-Mer gun battery during the 75th Anniversary of D-Day. Photo by Kim Rosenlof

Extended Review of CloudAhoy Software

Flying magazine asked me to write an article about CloudAhoy software for a post on their website. This was a fun article to write. Before contacting CloudAhoy developer Chuck Shavit about this software, I reviewed several videos posted on the CloudAhoy website to get a good feel for what the software would do, and I was impressed. I won’t repeat the details that are expressed both in the article and on the website, but suffice to say that any data you capture during the flight using onboard GPS, altitude / heading reference system (AHRS), and/or accelerometer can be displayed in graphical and visual playback.  Cool!

Chuck and I had a pleasant chat about CloudAhoy, which he started developing in 2010 when he was working on his instrument rating and wanted a visual way to debrief his approaches. The iOS apps have been available since 2011, and he started charging for the subscription in 2013. To me, $65 per year is very reasonable to be able to play back your flights with the data graphically and visually represented, if you’re so inclined to play them back.

I can certainly see this tool being useful for pilots in any kind of flight training—new, working on an instrument rating, or even transitioning to a new aircraft (especially a tricycle gear pilot working on their tailwheel endorsement). But I’m not sure that the everyday pilot will take the time to play back a flight… until they need to!

And that’s where I think the real power of CloudAhoy comes to play for “seasoned” pilots. In the article I used Chuck’s quote about using CloudAhoy to prove that a pilot didn’t bust Class Bravo airspace. But he also mentioned CloudAhoy being used to defend noise abatement accusations, analyze non-stabilized approaches, and even for post-accident flight analysis.

We talked quite a bit about stabilized approaches in taildraggers since my husband flies a Waco Classic and a T-6 Texan, and there have been a few times when it would be nice to look back at a playback of the flight and pinpoint exactly what inputs turned those approaches into hairy landings. Unfortunately, unless you remember exactly what day each flight occurred, it can take a while to load each flight, review the landing and trying to visualize what actually occurred.

I used data from Foreflight on an iOS device to review the software, get screen captures, and write the article. There may be an easier way to do this, but I essentially exported one flight at a time out of Foreflight to a KML file, and then imported the KML file into CloudAhoy. Altogether each flight took just a few minutes to import and convert to graphical data.

But I never did find the unstabilized approach I was looking for. Even though I was pretty sure I had the right date and the right flight, there are a few foibles to using altitude and attitude data from a smart device rather than from an aviation-calibrated instrument. On more than one flight, CloudAhoy put the aircraft into and below ground based on the inaccuracy of the smart device’s GPS. This is why any pilot who is seriously interested in using CloudAhoy’s capabilities for debriefing flights should get data off of an aviation-approved device (their FMS if they have one, or a standalone GPS / AHRS device). Chuck mentioned the Stratus, and we have one but haven’t really flown with it because we haven’t taken the time to strap it down in either aircraft.

Chuck also mentioned that they’re working on upgrading the software to be able to accurately present aerobatic maneuvers despite intermittent GPS signals (no signal when the aircraft is upside down!). They’re working on contract with the U.S. Air Force, so no details can be given out yet, but Chuck says that he hopes to release this capability in 2019.



Air Medical Transport Conference – October 2018

During the week of October 22, 2018, I was privileged to cover the Air Medical Transportation Conference in Phoenix for Aviation International News. Although I had been told that this conference was more medically focused than aviation focused, I saw enough pilot and helicopter themed sessions that I felt confident that the conference would not be a waste of time. It did not disappoint.

Not only were there interesting sessions ranging from crew experiences with incapacitated pilots in flight, to checklist absurdities in aviation and medicine, but I also was able to reconnect with several people I knew from the helicopter industry. It was definitely a worthwhile venture. I’ll post stories from AIN as they are printed/posted, likely in December or during Heli-Expo 2019.

In the meantime, here are a few photos from the event.

Dave Weber made the case that over dependence on checklists can lead to a reduced ability to reason, especially in emergency situations.
Motivational speaker Patrick Snow encouraged the audience to set and work toward goals, insisting that knowing exactly how they would achieve those goals was not necessary to set them, but that the “how” would reveal itself over time.
Jenny Thorp of the winning Sim Cup team STARS works on a “patient” during the final round of competition.
Paul Spring from Phoenix Heli-Flight presented both safety and financial reasons for installing camera and data recording systems in the cockpit.
Recent changes in medical insurance have increased the number of injury codes from about 4,000 to 12,000. Here are a few of the zaniest.


AeroInk’s principals — Dean and Kim Rosenlof — are both hot air balloon pilots. The company owns two hot air balloons. The smallest at 69,000 cu. ft. and sporting a black-and-white checkerboard scheme around its equator is named Tango. The largest at 105,000 cu. ft. and essentially red with a white equator is Happy Hour. At one time the company had a third balloon, Voyager, with vertical black, pink, and neon yellow stripes, but this balloon had to be retired in about 2007 due to age.

Kim Rosenlof has served as balloon coordinator for various balloon festivals in Arizona, including at Sun City Festival, Chandler’s Ostrich Festival, Prescott Valley Rotary Balloon Festival, and Prescott’s Mile High Balloon Fest.

Featured Client – Van Horn Aviation

Kim Rosenlof has served as marketing coordinator for Van Horn Aviation since 2009. She writes and distributes press releases, produces advertisements and marketing materials, takes photographs and video for company use, designed and updates the company website, and coordinates features with various magazines. She is also in charge of the company’s social media platforms including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, and has used various software programs to produce short videos for the website, such as the Volcanic Air video below.