On March 11 we lost a chapter member, Karen Young, whom most of us had only begun to know. She and her passenger Thomas Spickermann (also a pilot) died in a fatal crash near the Ohkay Owingeh Airport north of Espanola, New Mexico. She had been a member of our chapter since June 2015.
The Karen Effect.… that’s what I called it. Flying with Karen made me a better pilot. For the last few months, we had been doing pattern work and practicing aviation maneuvers together, while also doing impersonations of our flight instructor, Michael, to help reinforce all that he had taught us. When I was working on something like not turning too early from base to final, I would watch Karen do it and she would explain the details of her technique to me. Then, at my next lesson, I would be so much better at it that even Michael would comment on the improvement. This is the Karen Effect. When I told her about it, she just laughed it off, wouldn’t take the credit, and congratulated me on my improving skills. But, it happened repeatedly. I kept telling her that the Karen Effect was real!
After most every flying experience, we would call each other and share lessons learned. We would enthusiastically describe the “dumb things” we had done that day and how we recovered from them. We both laughed about it and learned from it. When flying, I constantly think about all the things we learned together. That will never change.
Karen also delighted in taking her family flying, especially her boys. We often talked about our boys – her two being about 10 years younger than my two. She asked me about parenting advice in the teenage years. She sent me pictures and videos of them in the plane, making a radio call to the Santa Fe tower, and doing ridiculous flight simulations that made me laugh out loud. She was a dedicated mother and was so proud of those boys.
I think the Karen Effect extends beyond aviation. She was such a wickedly smart and deeply kind person that just didn’t have a mean bone in her body. Hanging out with her not only made me a better pilot, it made me a better person. That was a gift she gave to everyone she knew. I will miss her greatly but know that I will never fly solo as she will always be in that seat beside me, doing Michael impersonations… Blue skies, my dear friend.
— Tina Andres