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Reya Kempley

A beautiful, vintage T-33, with its distinctive straight wings and bulbous tip tanks roared past show center in a knife-edge pass. My wife Janet and I were watching the airshow at this year's Aviation Roundup in Minden, Nevada, and chatting with air-taxi pilot and flight instructor Dave, who was there with his sleek Piper Meridian promoting his air taxi service, Gary Air. As we jabbered about airplanes, flying, and my recent flight training, Dave showed us a little book he'd just picked up at the show entitled Flight Emergency, a collection of fictional but realistic emergency scenarios that explores the possible outcomes of various decisions.

"This looks really good," he said. "The author has a booth just over there."

We made our way over and introduced ourselves to author Reya Kempley, a young woman who's become a pilot relatively recently. In the course of her training and her early experiences as a private pilot, Reya found herself wanting a deeper working knowledge of aeronautical decision making. But while most pilots might be content with a little extra study or some more dual instruction, Reya seems to have taken to heart that the best way to learn something is to teach it. She wrote a book on the subject!

And she's done an excellent job. She presents scenarios in a vivid and engaging way, taking advantage of the "principle of intensity" to help the lessons stick in the mind. Pilots will easily be able to project themselves into her characters' predicaments, and by actively choosing from the available decisions they can experience the possible outcomes much more interactively than is usually possible with a printed book. Flight Emergency is one of the better uses of this technique that I've seen.

We bought a copy of Reya's book and chatted with her about her process in writing it, how she approached various experts for advice and technical reviews, and her plans for marketing the book.

"It's amazing how supportive and helpful people have been," she said, noting that prominent aviation authors including Rod Machado and Max Trescott generously gave their advice, reviewed her manuscript, and provided endorsements.

Late that afternoon as the shadows lengthened and the large cumulus clouds to the East began to dissipate, Janet and I took off in my club's A36 Bonanza in a stiff crosswind. We circled for altitude Northwest of Minden in the thin, hot desert air before turning on course to cross the towering Sierra Nevada and the North Shore of crystal-blue Lake Tahoe.

"That was a fun show," Janet said as Minden and the Carson Valley receded behind us. "I particularly enjoyed chatting with Reya."

"Me too. She's done good work," I agreed. "It bodes well for the future of general aviation!"

"That it does!" Janet replied with a smile.

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